2:00PM Water Cooler 12/29/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Gnashing of Teeth and Rending of Garments

UPDATE Trump: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of the computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind of security we need” [New York Magazine]. My Twitter feed is filled with snark on this, but again, if you actually look at what Trump said, he’s right. In every detail. The article concludes: “The president-elect’s statement makes more sense when you remember that he has no idea how to use a computer or even the word cyber.” And no idea, fortunately for us all, how to run his public email account off an unsecured server. And so far as I know, the only people to use the word cyber seriously are Homeland Security IT types in the Beltway. Which isn’t encouraging.

Trump Transition

“Turf War Before Trade War” [Foreign Policy]. Summary: The Blob doubts that the Trump administration can deal with “the interagency.” They could be right!

“Key to this practice is something called “balance billing,” and it’s why the American Medical Association is strongly supporting Donald Trump’s pick of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare. Balance billing is forbidden for Medicare enrollees, but Price wants to allow it — thus allowing doctors and hospitals to devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors” [The Week].

Our Famously Free Press

I added the gold color to this tweet:


2016 Post Mortem

“The Year in Review: Russia and the 2016 U.S. Election” [Council on Foreign Relations]. Crowdstrike and anonymous sources, amplified… Notably, the CFR claims that the “doxing” was a “mix of fabrication and truth.” I can’t recall, off-hand, reports of faked documents, but if the CFR’s claim is meant to apply to the DNC and Podesta email, it’s a lie. In fact, it’s a Big Lie.

UPDATE “The office in Brooklyn was filled with the best and brightest. The little offices in Michigan and Wisconsin were not. People in the field reported that they were giving out too few yard signs, that door-to-door canvassing revealed life-long Democrats saying they would vote for Trump, and that rallies were under-attended. It didn’t feel like a winning campaign in crucial states. But the valedictorians listened to their data experts, their fellow A students, and did not divert from their algorithmically determined strategy” [Medium]. “In the end, the snobs lost to the slobs, but true to the character of the well-educated, they simply will not hear criticism that does not come from the similarly credentialed.” A version of Chris Arnade’s riff on “front row kids.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Failed Globalization And Austerity Agendas Led Directly To The Rise Of Trumpism— A Guest Post From George Soros” [Project Syndicate]. “I find the current moment in history very painful. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of closed societies – from fascist dictatorships to mafia states – are on the rise. How could this happen? The only explanation I can find is that elected leaders failed to meet voters’ legitimate expectations and aspirations and that this failure led electorates to become disenchanted with the prevailing versions of democracy and capitalism. Quite simply, many people felt that the elites had stolen their democracy.” So the answer is to give the Clintonites another $20 million to set on fire and throw into the air? And if not that, what?

“But on the other hand, about half of Clinton voters also believe that Russia tampered with vote tallies to help elect Trump, a theory that the Obama administration has repeatedly said there’s no evidence to support. This poll result is yet more proof that waning trust in the integrity of the democratic process is bipartisan, and that liberals should maybe keep any smug comments about paranoid, evidence-ignoring Trumpkins in check” [WaPo]. It’s not just that the administration said there was no evidence; it’s that there isn’t any. And the decentralized and varied nature of our voting system, coupled with the fact that the machines aren’t connected to the Internet, make for a strong prima facie case against even the most devilish Russkis hacking the vote. In other words, half the members of what we used to call the “reality-based community” have lost their minds. It’s also especially unfortunate that Stein, in her butchered recount effort, actually reinforced the insanity, since her first statistical consultant reinforced the meme that “the Russkis did it.” To be fair, no doubt Stein jumping on Clinton’s red scare bandwagon induced some of the more vulnerable Clinton supporters to give her money and get on her list. So it’s an ill wind.

“No one begrudges Obama some R&R after eight taxing years. But the memoir can wait. And while he should absolutely promote the next generation of Democrats—and work on redistricting with Eric Holder, as he’s also planning to do—those projects will take many years. The left has more immediate, pressing political concerns. Until the opposition finds a new, dynamic leader, it should be able to count on the great one it’s already got.” [New Republic]. If Obama were on the left, this might be relevant.

I was wondering where the “Resistance” branding came from; the French Communist Party during World War II, I assumed. But no:

And I can’t imagine any leadership more suited to organizing resistance — really, just another way of saying “fighting for” (but never winning) — than the Clintonite hackocracy. But isn’t Neera’s yellow logo cute?

“I searched my inbox for “resist OR resistance” and, sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed — since November 8th, I’d received 68 emails that associated democrats with “the resistance.” From MoveOn to Democracy for America & from ActBlue to Elizabeth Warren — every liberal newsletter seems eager to be part of the new “resistance.” As it turns out, Keith Olbermann — who, for those who don’t know, is the liberal version of Bill O’Reilly — has even changed the name of his show from “The Closer” to “The Resistance.” And why not? With the new Star Wars flick on the big-screen & a neo-fascist moving into the White House, the timing couldn’t be better!” [John Laurits].

UPDATE “Lessons for the anti-Trump resistance from American history” [Yahoo News]. Let me try to pick out the worst sentence: “What organizations and institutions could prove to be the savviest and most influential in curbing Trump’s authoritarian tendencies?” Savviest…

“Special report: I spent 5 years with some of Trump’s biggest fans. Here’s what they won’t tell you” [Medium].

Stats Watch

International Trade in Goods, November 2016: “Trade looks to be a major negative that will be holding down fourth-quarter GDP. The advance trade deficit in goods widened sharply for a second straight month in November” [Econoday]. “Exports have been very weak so far this fourth quarter, down 1.0 percent in November following October’s 2.5 percent shortfall. Food exports have been especially soft as have vehicle exports, and capital goods exports fell very sharply in the latest report. Widening the gap have been sharp increases in imports, up 1.2 percent on top of October’s upward revised 1.5 percent increase. Imports of industrial supplies posted a very sharp increase in November as did food imports. Most other readings on the import side are narrowly mixed.”

Jobless Claims, week of December 24, 2016: “Initial jobless claims fell back as expected” [Econoday]. “Holidays often make for anomalies in this series including the latest week when an unusually large number of states, 10 in total, had to be estimated. This raises the risk of a sizable revision in the next report.” But and: “The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect].

Wholesale Trade, November 2016 (preliminary): Wholesale and retail inventories “jumped”[Econoday]. “The increases in this report are a surprise and, though a positive for the fourth-quarter GDP calculation and an offset to this morning’s widening in the goods trade gap, will revive talk of unwanted inventories.”

Commodities: “Earlier this year a river near the city of Norilsk in Siberia, the eponymous home of the world’s top nickel and palladium producer, turned blood red possibly caused by a break in the mining company’s slurry pipe carrying concentrate to the plant” [Mining.com]. “Norilsk is a top 10 mining company with its ADRs trading in New York affording the company a $25 billion market value. The company produces roughly a fifth of the world’s nickel, mainly used in steelmaking, and half the world’s palladium used in autocatalysts to reduce emissions. Its operations in Russia, Australia, Botswana and South Africa also produce significant quantities of copper and cobalt, platinum, gold and silver as byproducts.”

Fodder for the Bulls, but not very much: “November 2016 Leading Index Review: Most Indicators Marginally Improving” [Econintersect]. “Most of the leading indicators are based on factors which are known to have significant backward revisions – and one cannot take any of their trends to the bank. I continue to pose the question – “what good is a leading indicator where the data is continued to change after it is issued?”. … At this point, Econintersect sees NO particular dynamic at this time which will deliver noticeably better growth in the foreseeable future.” Summary:

Leading Indicators Conclusion: mixed but not indicating a recession over the next six months.

  • Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) growth rate is average for times of economic expansion and its rate of growth is accelerating.
  • ECRI’s WLI is forecasting stronger growth in the business cycle six months from today.
  • The Conference Board (LEI) 6 month rolling average is indicating a marginally improving rate of growth over the next 6 months.
  • The Philly Fed’s Leading Index continues to forecast growth but remains in a long term downtrend.
  • The Econintersect Economic Index is showing weak growth.
  • RecessionAlert’s Weekly Leading Economic Index is currently gaining and remains in typical growth expected in times of expansion.

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of December 25, 2016: “Eased back” but “still very strong” [Econoday]. “Strength in consumer confidence doesn’t always equate to immediate gains for consumer spending but it does point to greater confidence in the jobs outlook.”

Retail: “Surging online orders and last-minute shoppers helped retailers make up for a slow start to the holiday-shopping season, fueling hopes that higher wages, the rising stock market, and lower food and gas prices prompted Americans to spend more” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Retailers on Pace for Best Holiday Season in Years”]. “In a sign of the surge of online shopping, United Parcel Service Inc. said it expected to ship 14% more packages this year than last, more than 700 million in total, a record level by volume. FedEx Corp. plan a 10% bump.”

Retail: “Dollar General’s discount stores are a fire disaster waiting to happen” [Reveal News]. “That’s the message from current and former federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials, who’ve been admonishing the company for years.”

Shipping: “Scrapping in 2016: Record year for containerships” [Lloyd’s List]. “The shipbreaking industry is set to end 2016 on a positive note, having experienced a record high volume of boxship scrapping. Mainly due to the recovering steel price, demolition rates across the main regions have improved significantly from multi-year lows.”

ETFs: “The robo space in terms of Canada and the U.S. are similar in offering a broad-based offering. They both provide online financial advice to clients at a low cost, mainly using ETFs. And much like our counterparts in the U.S., here in Canada, we’re able to leverage technology to offer local solutions online” [ETF.com] “Where we differ from the U.S. is, in Canada, the regulatory environment is slightly different. We’re required to have a portfolio manager and an advisor review every account with the client. So we have a follow-up process with each client. It’s not pushed through, like simply “click, click, click.” There actually has to be interaction with an advisor.” What, humans in the loop?!

The Bezzle: “The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley” [Fortune]. “Lending Club’s loan doctoring? That’s not what startups are about. Same for WrkRiot, the startup that abruptly shut down after an employee accused it of forging wire-transfer documents. Or Skully, the failed maker of smart motorcycle helmets, being sued for “fraudulent bookkeeping.” Or ScoreBig, the struggling ticketing site being sued by brokers. Or Rothenberg Ventures, the firm under investigation after using investors’ money to finance founder Mike Rothenberg’s side startup. (The firm says it informed investors.) Or Faraday Future and Hyperloop One, ambitious, well-funded companies now tainted by lawsuits and accusations of, respectively, overhype and of mismanagement. (Faraday has not commented on its suits; Hyperloop denies the accusation and had settled its suit.) Or any of the dozens of smaller shady accounting shortcuts, growth hacks gone awry, and other implosions too minor to make headlines.” And Theranos. And Uber.

The Bezzle: Sleep startups [New York Times, “The Restless Quest for a Good Night’s Sleep”]

The Bezzle: “Half of 2016’s Top Grossing Movies Were Comic Book Adaptations” [247 Wall Street]. (#3, Zootopia, was reviewed by Outis here.) In rank order: Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Strange. The rental extraction is better with adaptations, maybe? As opposed to creating a new property?

The Bezzle: “Stock buy backs are an alternative to paying dividends. On difference is that $ paid as dividends constitute income taxable at the going dividend tax rate, while the $ spent to buy back shares are only taxable to the sellers of the shares to the extent there are capital gains. So, just as an educated guess, with buy backs taxable income is reduced by perhaps 90%” [Mosler Economics]. “Also, repatriation may or may not happen, and it may or may not result in any change in investment, or even stock buy backs. All it does is reclassify income as domestic rather than foreign, which may or may not lead to further consequent actions by those corporations.”

Globalization: “Acording to sources from Taiwan-based suppliers, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is tapping its main smartphone rival, Samsung, to manufacture and supply the new AMOLED displays for its upcoming iPhone 8 devices next year” [Stock News].

The Fed: “Three of the four officials who gain votes next year on the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting committee are from a minority group in the central bank’s leadership: They aren’t economists” [Wall Street Journal, “New Fed Voters Bring Wide Range of Experience to Rate-Setting Panel”]. “They draw from a mix of experience in banking, engineering and academia. The three also bring relatively fresh perspectives because they all joined the Fed within the past two years and have never before voted on the Federal Open Market Committee.”

“Americans use debit cards twice as much as credit cards” [MarketWatch]. “Previous studies have shown that debit cards were gaining on cash as the go-to payment for small purchases, even those less than $5. The percentage of cardholders who use debit cards for small purchases hit 27% in 2016, an increase of five percentage points since 2014, according to a survey released earlier this year of about 600 people with major credit cards from CreditCards.com. For the first time, consumers spent more on their debit and credit cards worldwide in 2016 than they did in cash, according to separate research firm Euromonitor International. … In terms of dollar amounts, however, Americans are still using their credit cards for large purchases.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 29 at 11:19am. Wavering…

Our Famously Free Press

“The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept]. “Despite how much online attention it received, Jacobs’ Guardian article contained no original reporting. Indeed, it did nothing but purport to summarize the work of an actually diligent journalist: Stefania Maurizi of the Italian daily la Repubblica, who traveled to London and conducted the interview with Assange. Maurizi’s interview was conducted in English, and La Repubblica published the transcript online. Jacobs’ ‘work’ consisted of nothing other than purporting to re-write the parts of that interview he wanted to highlight, so that he and the Guardian could receive the traffic for her work. Ever since the Guardian article was published and went viral, Maurizi has repeatedly objected to the false claims being made about what Assange said in their interview. But while western journalists keep re-tweeting and sharing the Guardian’s second-hand summary of this interview, they completely ignore Maurizi’s protests – for reasons that are both noxious and revealing.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Here’s what a “digital Miranda warning” might look like” [Ars Technica]. This is not the real thing:

You have the right to remain silent. This right includes declining to provide information that does not require speaking, such as entering a passcode to unlock a digital device, like a smartphone. Anything that you say or do can be used against you. Any data retrieved from your device can also be used against you. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?

Health Care

“What Obamacare needed was two things: About twice as much funding, and [a] higher tax penalty for not buying insurance” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Biggest Mistake in the History of Science” [Alternet]. “The human races were invented by anthropologists like Johann Friedrich Blumenbach back in the eighteenth century in an attempt to categorise new groups of people being encountered and exploited as part of an ever expanding European colonialism.” That late? In a survey of the members of the American Anthropological Association, “To the statement, “Racial categories are determined by biology”, 88% disagreed or strongly disagreed.”

News of the Wired

“U.S. engineers developed lens system, paving way for cheaper, lighter cameras” [New China]. “U.S. engineers have developed a system of flat optical lenses that can be easily mass-produced and integrated with image sensors, according to California Institute of Technology (Caltech).”

“What happened when I spent a week with an AI voice assistant in my head” [CNBC]. ” I always felt self-conscious that people were giving me funny looks because it looked like I was talking into thin air. ”

“Everything You Need to Know About Consent That You Never Learned in Sex Ed” [Teen Vogue]. “I’d like the freedom to hook up without continually asking permission for each individual act. But consent is really important to me, so I’d like you to tell me if something doesn’t feel good, if you want me to slow down or stop. Does this work for you? Do you feel comfortable saying ‘no’ when you want to say ‘no’? Or would you rather me check in with you more regularly? Totally cool either way.” I’m sympathetic, but it’s not exactly “that loosener of limbs, Love reptile-like strikes me down,” is it?

* * *

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


AM writes: “I think this is some type of magnolia, but not sure. It is a massive tree, on the grounds of the Palazzo Torrigiani, just outside of Lucca, Italy. Its leaves provide wonderful shade in the hot Italian summer.”

Readers, I’ve gotten many more plant images, but I can always use just a few more; having enough Plantidotes is a great angst deflator. Plants with snow and/or ice 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. Bullwinkle

      If you want to upset yourself then go over to the NYT article’s comments. One person is advocating for Obama to void the election and declare martial law (!)

    2. JoeH.

      I found out about this on RT this afternoon. Yes, I read RT. Why, like the lead-up to the Iraq war, I could not answers to questions from MSM and went elsewhere. Then i watched CBS Nightly News. I have my own conclusions about this, but wait to see what happens next. I don’t believe that the Russians will accept this action willingly. I do believe that this is an effort by our dark side of our government to provoke before Trump assumes power. I am very concerned about the future. The United States has lost the way. Atomic weapons are now setting there smiling at us. Comments.

  1. TheBellTolling

    “What Obamacare needed was two things: About twice as much funding, and [a] higher tax penalty for not buying insurance”


    “But Democrats weren’t willing to be hacks”

    I must have missed that

    1. jrs

      It needed at the very least COST CONTROLS, mechanisms to keep costs from increasing. Or yea you could bankrupt individuals and pour endless amounts of government money into the healthcare industrial complex.

      1. Art Eclectic

        The health insurance industry has massive amounts of money to spend on lobbying and advertising. Fighting them is a losing battle unless you’ve got an almost united government that’s willing to go head to head with them. We don’t have that.

        I don’t see the GOP doing much in the way of promoting cost controls over the next 4 years.

      2. Eureka Springs

        We needed to kill insurance companies (I believe in the death penalty for corporations), cut cost by half or more while implimenting cost controls and bargaining.

        There isn’t a corner in Hell warm enough for Kevin Drum.

        1. John

          No, don’t kill insurance companies…give them the registration and liability assessment and insurance rights for gun ownership…just like cars. But do stop their predation on sick people.

        1. TheBellTolling

          Truly. The Cost Control is in collective bargaining of prices for care. Would dwarf any cost savings provided by “managed care”[/sic] in the last 3 decades

          1. JTMcPhee

            Ah, yes… Markets. Equilibrium. Homo Economicus will triumph, if only he can bargain collectively for care prices and medications and stuff…

            Face it, folks — we’re a broken mess, and there ain’t much likelihood that people of good will and decency who recognize comity when they see it have a prayer of overcoming the massive momentum of GREED, embodied in the “political economy” that the organized looters have assembled, bit by corrupt, grasping bit, over many generations. Nature abhors an asymptote — this curve does not bend, it just stops.

    2. tegnost

      right, ok, more dough from the gov to the health insurance complex, and more dough from the impoverished in order to have a bigger stick to hit them with….that’s the answer!…”I can’t afford the $700 penalty unless it’s $1400, then i’ll be able to afford it.” The dems are working overtime to make themselves obsolete. Someone should remind them of molly ivins first rule of holes. What the ACA needed was to be affordable, but while math is really really hard, simple math is near impossible.
      “The Simple Song
      The first thing I thought as I walked down the road,
      was the last time I remembered to do everything as I was told,
      it took all my concentration to remember all that stuff,
      only to find out there’s no such thing as enough

      So break the mold, don’t take your place in the fold
      ’cause all the actions on the margins

      The next thing I wondered as I wandered on my path
      was how often this strange world can be explained in simple math
      one plus one is always two, this is not an idle fable
      Don’t let me add it up for you or you’re the sucker at the table

      You can sit down for a game with your friends, but those black eights and those black aces
      just might come calling again…

      The last thing on this topic, before I complicate it further,
      and you go back and check my math, or ponder poor old wild bill’s murther…
      Of all of these simplely simpleton things
      just remember all the time where you were when you begin

      That’s right, stake your claim,
      that way when you wander off,
      you’ll find your way back in the end”

      The dems didn’t stake their claim, and now they have nowhere to find their way back to…and are suffering the requisite identity crisis as a result.
      The first step is to stop digging.
      “But Democrats weren’t willing to be hacks”…OM effing G
      I missed that , too…
      When your cocoon is whirling on the edge of the deferent, you are not the center of the universe, although it may seem like it if you don’t open the window and fly out then look back and realize you can’t go home again? (my lame attempt at a friedman unit)

    3. Altandmain

      Mr. Kevin Drum seems to be little more than Democratic partisan.

      Obamacare has not led to the great improvement in healthcare as was advertised. Large sections of the law were written by insurance executives. It simply cannot due to the inherent conflict of interest.

      What the US needs is a universal healthcare system. That is the only way to ensure full coverage. Americans continue to pay more for inferior quality healthcare.

      1. EGrise

        I always thought that the only reason Drum was considered a liberal is because he was slightly less reptilian than his Orange County Republican neighbors.

  2. Bob

    I have always enjoyed predictions for the coming year and this list from Doug Kass doesn’t disappoint. I think his assessment seems correct especially regarding “Surprise #4: “The Unartful Deal” — The President-elect’s Popularity Quickly Fades as “The Dude (Doesn’t ) Abide.” and “Surprise #5 :Trump Grows Restless After Some Failed Initiatives and Loss of Support. He Begins to Lose Interest in His Job After He Finds Out How Hard It Is to Get Anything Done and Becomes The First Part-Time President in History. Vice President Mike Pence gains more responsibilities, but a splintered Republican Party begins to unravel and little effective legislation is passed.”


    1. davinati

      Kass was saying the same thing during the election, that trump was just marketing and when the going got tough he would just fold and endorse the inevitable coronation of Hillary. But he didn’t. He fired two ineffective male campaign managers and hired a very effective woman who was the first in history to win a presidential campaign.

      He is doing a good job of staring down a CIA false flag operation about the election being stolen by Putin and ‘fake news’ sites before he even gets inaugurated.

      I think he is way underrated as a manager by the media and I do not think he tolerates insubordination which was by Obama, Bush and Reagan.

      I do not like many of his policies but if he can purge the neocons from the CIA and State, trash TPP, TTIP and TiSA, renegotiate NAFTA and preserve Social Security and Medicare, he can be considered the best president by far of the last three.

      Given the disatserous review Kas gives, his stock market forcast seems pretty tame.

  3. bob

    “And I can’t imagine any leadership more suited to organizing resistance”

    I think that’s accurate, in some sense. Not in the sense that the blue-dogs-breakfast wants.

    Leia is a leader by birth. A General at 20? Sure. It’s exactly the type of resistance that the dems wanted –resistance to anyone but “the chosen” being able to challenge them.

    The politics of Star Wars, and it’s creator, George Lucas, are very very ugly. We should acknowledge that, much more often, instead of trying to further the hagiography.

    George, Rahm and Hillz, sitting in a tree…

    CALL THIS BS OUT FOR WHAT IT IS. MARKETING. The holy, god-given-at-birth-right of your betters.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Birth right…

      Of course, the up-and-coming hegemons are making super-genius babies most scientifically, I have read some time ago. That’s another form of birth right. And these kids will be occupying the most elite and expensive colleges (their translated equivalent of Occupy Cal State Chico, for example).

      Maybe we can have some kind of IQ affirmative action program – an applicant is handicapped by his/her parents’ combine IQ score.

      “His parents total 280, but her parents combine for 183. She’s our candidate. She has overcome more in life, with a more disadvantaged head start, according to our current best theory.”

      1. bob

        That’s how the queen stays around?

        “She’s a little slow, due to all the inbreeding necessary to keep the crown safe. We’ll have to give her another castle…with staff.”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I was watching the film Cambridge Spies and found out at the end of the war, Blunt was sent to retrieve, from the Americans, some embarrassing letters penned by a relative of her to the Leader.

              I wonder if Blunt had a high IQ, being a Cambridge guy and all.

  4. fresno dan


    It is really amazing how the political and economic establishment types feel the need to deny that trade can actually have a negative impact on manufacturing jobs and total employment in their arguments against Donald Trump’s trade policies. George Will gave us a great lesson in this silliness in his column today.

    There also has been a surge of people questioning the basic economic logic than in an economy that is below full employment (certainly the state of the U.S. economy for the first six years following Great Recession and arguably still the case today) that substituting imports for domestic production reduces output and employment. Our national income accounting geniuses point out that in the identity:

    GDP = C +I + G +(X-M),

    the imports term appears as a negative because the imports have already been counted positively in one of the other components. This means that we do the subtraction to avoid double counting.
    There’s GDP and there’s GDP that the plutocracy gets to harvest more of….guess which one there is more of….

    1. HopeLB

      In conjunction with the obvious economic race to bottom dollar wages that deindustrialization has caused, progressives/antiTPPers/true conservatives should stress the US’s future and present lack of innovation due to not making things (Lambert had a link to the study last week) and also to the national security aspect (Generals bemoaning the fact they’ve got Chinese circuit boards running our air craft carriers).

      1. Spring Texan

        Yep, making things is satisfying and it’s also educational. Provides a foundation for development that retail jobs do NOT.

        1. JTMcPhee

          But… but… retail jobs teach sales trickery, fraud, and obedience to commands from above! What do you mean, no foundation?

    2. AngloSaxon

      and I can’t believe you can’t see how positive trade in US services boosted the shit out of GDP per capita since 1983.

      Posts like these represent the failings of posters. Think before you post.

      1. tegnost

        per capita, as in there’s 99 impoverished people in a room and bill gates walks in and they’re 100 per capita millionaires? which services are you referring to specifically?

    1. UserFriendly

      President Obama has expelled 35 Russian nationals and sanctioned five Russian entities and four individuals for an alleged cyber assault on Democratic political organizations during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House announced today.

      “I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” Obama wrote in a statement. “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

      hum, well that seams mild enough.

      The president pledged that his administration will provide a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election, as well as “malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections.”

      The announcement is not the culmination of the broad review of Russian hacking recently ordered by Obama. That review is ongoing, and the government is expected to release its findings before Obama leaves office next month.

      Yeah… I wonder what that report is going to look like.

      1. tgs

        He has also promised cyber attacks – both public and secret whatever that means. That strikes me as pretty dangerous since Russia has promised to respond in kind.

        1. Daryl

          Chances are, this is already happening. I doubt it will suddenly increase.

          However, is this the first time a government has announced it was going to launch cyber attacks?

          1. barrisj

            “Sanctions” announced the same day that Russia/Putin/Turkey proclaim a cease-fire in Syria…coincidence, I’m sure. Not to worry, one of the US-backed “rebel” groups, Ahrar al-Sham, decided to pull out at the last moment.
            Merciful Jesus, the sooner the O-Man and his bitter-enders eff off, the sooner some degree of peace can come to Syria – or at least the absence of active warfare.

            1. titfortatforwar

              hillary and the other crazies from the basement have declared cyber attacks as an act of war.

              they are now provoking russia cybernetically knowing that russia is always working tit-for-tat. when russia then answer with some cyber-stuff, these crazies will have their reason to attack.

              some people are really hell-bent on war with russia…

              i really hope that the stuff trump says about russia is true not just a decoy.

              and the europeans… how stupid are they? the war will basically be fought on eu territory. why the &$3)39 would they buy intonthis shit? media in eu just repeating the response but not even asking the obvious question: where is the evidence? how could they hack the election if no voting machines are connected? how come that the only attack found, or at least publicly notified stemmed from us own homeland security?

    2. Waldenpond

      Half the stories are hackhackhack the other half are the 35 were kicked out for harassing American diplomats in Moscow.

      I also love the piece that a 44 year old Russian spy farm in Maryland is just now being shut down.

      1. Aumua

        Yes, so far it’s very muddy as to exactly what the reasons are, which I suspect is due to the fact that they are somewhat short on evidence all around. Does that even matter these days? I’m not sure it does.

        Just run the story, whatever. These news stories are all written by committees, cause it takes a committee to make sure the reporting is not crossing any of the narrative lines. The credits for this story on Reuters go to no less than 6 people.

        1. Paid Minion

          Short of evidence, or not willing to publicly show what evidence their is, to avoid compromising their abilities?

          OTOH, admitting that Hillco and other Democrats had such pizz poor security that they were easily hacked to begin with is not the image they want to project.

          Maybe native born US Republicans hacked them. Then gave the info to Wikileaks and/or the Russians to cover their tracks

  5. Carolinian

    So is Neera Tanden going to suit up and pilot a tie fighter against the Death Star? Aren’t they a bit confused about which party is most enthusiastic for Empire at the moment?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Rebels fly X-wings, Empire flies Tie-Fighters. Tanden’s qualified to tweet, which is not really piloting anything.

      1. polecat

        a ‘Twee-Tieter’ .. it just spins and spins, in ever-tighter circles, until it collides with itself …

        It’s my understanding that every establishment Demorat owns one !

  6. dcblogger

    to the best of my knowledge, neither Bernie Sanders nor Our Revolution has ever sent out email with Resistance anywhere in the subject line or body of the message.

    1. Anne

      What do you see as the difference between “resistance” and “revolution?” Is there one? Can they stand alone, either of them, or do they need to be paired to be effective?

      Does Sanders have to use words that you approve of in order to be deemed to be serious, or capable of success? I could understand what appears to be your own resistance to Sanders, had he just disappeared from view, never to be seen or heard from again, except in the most minimal way, but he’s stuck to his message, even when the Clinton campaign did all it could to hamstring his efforts.

      I’m pretty sure that if he’d been using “resistance” in his messaging, you’d find some way to turn that into a negative, so let’s face it: he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t, right?

      It’s almost like you don’t want him to succeed.

      1. hunkerdown

        Anne, I read that as Bernie standing apart from the bourgeois Party by using language more appropriate to everyone’s situation, not just that of self-satisfied Democrat Beliebers. It’s almost like you want the Party to succeed, whether it deserves to continue as a going concern or not.

        1. Anne

          I’m more interested in people succeeding, in people bending institutions to their will, rather than being bent to serve the institution.

          The Democratic Party, at least as defined by the so-called powers-that-be – really just isn’t working for me. Me and I think millions of others. I voted Green this election, but I don’t think Green is the long-term answer. There has to be more than just existing as the party that isn’t GOP or Democratic to be a real force for change.

          For what it’s worth, I’m seeing “resistance” as being less active than “revolution.” Resistance seems to me to be a rather stationery stand against the inevitable, while revolution seems to be more of a “Fk This” and taking the fight to the oppressors.

          Apologies if this isn’t making sense – I’ve been kind of muddling through my feelings about all of this, and find myself irritated and cranky in the process.

          1. hunkerdown

            What B1whois said. Who is saying what is important: the bourgeois Party has settled on “resistance” (which, as we remember from physics, generates heat, and, as we remember from the Borg, is futile) while Bernie is talking revolution (which, as we remember from the basic laws of physics, takes a significant amount of time and energy to complete). Optimistically considered, Bernie standing apart from the right-leaning Party on language points out all the illegitimacy prattle as mere brand positioning.

      1. Rhondda

        That’s what I think of whenever I think of resistance. The Borg.
        And that’s really quite appropriate.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not that they are lazy that they haven’t done anything to express opposition.

      It’s those engaged in brainwashing, sorry, opinion-making or action-coercing (maybe peer pressure is a better word)…it’s that those people are harder working (than any of us, of any race, gender, ethnicity, pet preference, etc).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s how much you’re willing to risk that counts.

          Being unfriended is a high price to pay, I imagine.

          1. different clue

            Well, if the only friends you have are in cyberspace, and few or none in meatspace, then losing your cyberfriends could indeed be psychomentally painful.

      1. hunkerdown

        It also means making sure that the conditions for the poor do not improve, in order that the ecclesiastical Democrat dramas of redemption, salvation, and devotion to one’s betters continue to be useful sales lines.

        So that’s what corporate thanatos looks like… severe dementia.

    2. ewmayer

      A.k.a. “the desire to engage in virtue signaling is strongly correlated with privilege.”

      See also the wonderful “NPR tote-bag liberal” framing.

      1. different clue

        If Free Speech Radio offered tote bags, would Free Speech Radio get more contributions? Maybe that’s the secret. Tote bags. And travel mugs.

  7. dcblogger

    The same people who dismiss Bev Harris, Greg Palast, and Brad Freidman as conspiracy theorists are now railing about Russia and the voting machines. I want to pull my hair out.

    1. craazyman

      Has politics always been this dumb or is it jus the Twitter effect?

      Every idiot in the world who can type now has their own newspaper. Hahahah.

      What a garbage barge these Lieberulls are (all except for Bernie who stands above it all with integrity and conscience. I wouldn’t eveen put him in the same universe as these power hungry delusional hacks). And I used to sort of consider myself one — a liberal thhat is. Wow I was an idiot. I still am an idiot. But at leasat now I realize it and have some circumpsection.

      It’s getting so confusing that I’m beginning to agree with Trump most of the time and when that Republiccan dude from out west just today said the Russian’s did the media’s job with the reporting on emails I about high fived the guy in spirit. That’s straight talk man. Sometimees the Dark Side of the American Moon gets lit by the sun.

      It’s so cofusing to think I’m just so glad Trump won the election! That’s amazing. I always thought he was a modern day Crassus — or anybody who would live in a house that big and do the Palm Beach scene. I don’t know abboout that. I think I’d rather go to Puerto Rico and surf at Rincon and drink beer, but to each their own.

      Well I guess I’d rather go to a Palm Beach republican party now than a lieberall dinner party. At least I wouldn’t vomit before having 7 or 8 drinks. I would If I went to the lieberuall party. Probbably upon arrival.

  8. Bob

    I have always enjoyed lists of predictions regarding the new year. This list from Doug Kass has some interesting surprises:
    “Surprise #4: “The Unartful Deal” — The President-elect’s Popularity Quickly Fades as “The Dude (Doesn’t ) Abide.” A series of authoritarian executive orders reversing the Obama legacy (affordable care, environmental regulations, birth control, easing of gun control restrictions and immigration among them) results in a coalition of Black Lives Matters activists and college students who launch an extended and boisterous national protest in major cities around the country. Trump imposes curfews but the demonstrations become more violent…..”
    “Surprise #5 :Trump Grows Restless After Some Failed Initiatives and Loss of Support. He Begins to Lose Interest in His Job After He Finds Out How Hard It Is to Get Anything Done and Becomes The First Part-Time President in History. Vice President Mike Pence gains more responsibilities, but a splintered Republican Party begins to unravel and little effective legislation is passed….”
    “Surprise #7: The Stock Market Makes Its High in the First Two Weeks of January and Goes Downhill the Rest of the Year, Ending Down 15% for 2017. A Sears(SHLD) bankruptcy, rising inflation, higher interest rates, pressure on middle-class disposable incomes (more “Screwflation”), disappointing corporate profits, ineffective fiscal initiatives, the lack of a strategic vision of the new administration, an expanding wealth and income gap and a rudderless White House weigh on stocks….”

    1. Ranger Rick

      College students and “violent protests.” Yeah, that’ll be the day. This isn’t the 60s, all they’ll manage to do is make a few extra twitter posts.

      1. River

        In the 60’s the establishment actual feared protests. Now protests are basically carnivals for bleeding off rage. I’d be worried if the protests stopped happening.

  9. cm

    On Miranda warnings, does anyone know what happens/is supposed to happen when the person answers “no” to the question “Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”

  10. Cat's paw

    RE: the resistance meme, I was slightly bemused and vaguely contemptuous when I saw the term deployed almost immediately following Clinton’s defeat.

    My relationship/understanding of the term comes from the academy where “resistance” is/was used to denote a (colonized or numerically inferior or relatively powerless minority/majority) population or community that can not effectively risk direct confrontation or conflict. For example, studies of colonialism and subaltern studies are rife with examples of social/cultural/political/economic resistance. Moreover, and on this there is plenty of room to quibble, resistance frequently connotes acts that are necessarily individual, uncoordinated, and relatively unconnected to other acts of said resistance.

    In any case, “resistance” indicates such stark differentials of power that clear, open, direct actions are virtually impossible if not unthinkable. Now, is this really the situation faced by those who oppose Trump here in the U.S.? Sure, some very poor communities and communities of color may qualify but that was already the case before a Trump admin. and likely will be after. Point is, for Neera Tanden and other credentialed 10%er’s to be taking resistance as their rallying cry is empirically preposterous and strategically idiotic. It’s literally dis-empowering. It circumscribes the field of action prematurely. It begins with an implicit, but obvious assertion that the game is already over. One can’t win. One can’t inflict any damage or gain the slightest bit of ground.

    Of course, there is some psychological benefit in “resistance” and far be it from me to deny this to anyone. But consider what this actually means when affluent American liberals and centrists see this as an effective or appropriate response to a presidential election they lost to a buffoon. That they, at least structurally, picture themselves as a Russian peasant/farmer in 1932 USSR resisting collectivization or a demoralized American Indian in 1905 recently confined to the reservation is farcically mendacious. It reveals just how decadent liberal politics has become; how out of touch with consensus reality “liberals” are at present.

    Word to the wise: one does not study the histories of oppressed peoples to identify with and then eventually become them. The point is to understand how power in all its variegation operates–not to intentionally cripple and dis-empower oneself and those to whom one is linked. Having said that, if one is an “enlightened” liberal, credentialed, or a member of the %10, what better way to maintain the status quo than to claim powerlessness, completely and formally co-opt up the discourse of the actually oppressed, and join the “resistance.”

    It’s as good as doing nothing, but with much better optics. Plus, one gets the martyr’s satisfaction of feeling cosmically right while being deeply wronged. All of the (moral) benefits of being oppressed with none of the (actual) hassles.

    1. Steve C

      I recall some Republicans using terms like resistance after Obama took office. The idea is to delegitimize the incumbent. This could be effective in the hands of people with an actionable agenda and political goals beyond that our funders and grandees should be the ones calling the shots. The way the Democrats are using it, resistance will just lead to more frustration and social disintegration.

      Making Chuck Schumer majority leader isn’t a cause that sends me to the barricades.

      1. polecat

        Maybe Chucky can hire Amy to write a few jokes … you know,to cut the iceberg ….. although it might just take four years or so ..to get down to the glacial fines ……

    2. hunkerdown

      “One does not study the histories of oppressed peoples to identify with and then eventually become them.” Which them? Colonizers study the histories of oppressed peoples to identify with and eventually become (or more securely remain) their oppressors.

      The Democrats almost seem to be trying their hand at manufacturing an open-source insurgency, as John Robb called the Trump campaign.

      Your great comment would make a great post too.

      1. different clue

        Perhaps the Bitter Berners could begin an open source insurgency against the DLC Clintonite Obamacrats. But of course “insurgency”, properly understood, means more and better than “resistance”. “Insurgency” means ” an uprisal and an overthrowal” in the deathless words of Spiro T. Agnew.

  11. Jess

    Obummer has just sanctioned a number of Russian companies and expelled 35 Rooskie officials. Unwilling to give links to any of the usual suspects such as Guardian, HuffPo, NYT.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would also tell the Russian Banana Company to get out of Costa Rica and other countries there that are under our sphere of influence.

      “Get your fruits somewhere else!”

    2. different clue

      Trump could prove and display his sincerity by cancelling all these sanctions and inviting the 35 expelled Russian officials to return, if they wish. I suspect the RussiaGov may well delay any “retaliatory action” to see how the Trump Administration handles this. I suspect the RussiaGov thinkers and deciders would call these added sanctions a “provocation” meant to get them onto a tit for tat hamster wheel leading to the war-action which the Clintonite-Bidenoids always wanted.

  12. Steve C

    Plantidote looks like southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora. The familiar magnolia of the southeast US. Simple shiny leathery leaves. Large showy white flowers. Upright growth. To about 40 feet. That’s what we like about the South!

    1. polecat

      Weren’t magnolias thriving during the Cretaceous ….??

      Who knows .. with the climate changing …they might be an early adapter … so that’s a plus .. right? … anyone ? .. anyone ? ….. Buellersaurus ??

      1. polecat

        yeah … I was thinking about the genus as a whole, not individual species … or hybrids.

        and aside … I have a couple of seedling Ginkos ( In training as zen garden specimens) at home … really love those trees !

        1. nippersdad

          Gingkos are gorgeous trees as well; also, as you pointed out about magnolias, living fossils. Perfect for a Zen garden! IIRC they were only found in Chinese monasteries, not in the wild, so they were saved from extinction by Buddhist monks!

          1. Hana M

            Ginkgos can be beautiful when mature where they have room to spread but they are awkward and sometimes downright ugly in the early decade or so of life. Also ginkgos are dioecious and the large, fleshy female fruits (though much prized in Chinese medicine) smell absolutely vile, especially when squished underfoot. In urban settings planting male ginkgos as street trees are obviously preferred but the growers sometimes make mistakes. This happened on my block and took two years to correct. The smell was vaguely like vomit, stuck to ones shoes and lasted months.

            1. nippersdad

              This is all true, but they are truly worth the wait. Mistakes with Gingkos can be remedied by pruning them to the ground and starting over, but mistakes made by growers are rare as reputations depend upon mistakes not being made. The vast majority of what one finds in the trade are rooted clones of male plants. There are also columnar variants that avoid having to have a great deal of space for them to spread out.

              A couple of years ago I bought several of the new American chestnuts that have been crossed back to nearly native. I was so excited about it until I read that their smell when blooming was described as “July in a whorehouse.” Not sure what that means but it sounded terrible, so they were donated to a local arboretum where I can visit them when they are not “in season.” I can only imagine what the forests smelled like when they were full of them. Unfortunate that one cannot just plant males in that instance.

            2. different clue

              The nut is edible. Perhaps the smelly fruit is the price one accepts paying in order to get the nuts . . . which are a reliable food source.

              1. different clue

                Then also too, as well in addition . . . the fruits have all kinds of practical joke potential.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Courtney Lee Adams Jr. – Nope. Steve C is correct. It’s a Southern Magnolia. I’ve got 4 of them in my yard. They’re great trees that provide lots of shade all year. Good for protecting a house from the intensity of the summer sun. The only drawback is that the leaves take forever to decompose once they have fallen. The flowers are iconic in the Deep South; practically every single artist down here has created at least one painting/drawing/etc. of magnolia blossoms.

  13. DJG

    Lambert: Kudos.

    The immortal Sappho:

    “Love shook my heart
    Like the wind on the mountain
    rushing over the oak trees.”

  14. Jen

    Re Dollar General fire traps. One opened in the next town over a couple of years ago. Have never set foot inside, but shortly after it opened a vehicle ran into the building. Looks like it pushed the wall in a bit. They still haven’t fixed the damage.

  15. Waldenpond

    I always get balance billed. How is this new? I just had tests done and it lists the billing amount, insurance payment and the balance I have to pay. If I have a medical account set up with the deductible +, it gets taken out of that, otherwise I pony up.

    I will never be able to afford pharmaceuticals/treatment for an expensive disease without giving up the only asset I have (a small house) so I know I am selecting assisted suicide if I am severely ill so they can’t get any more out of me than I am willing to pay for inexpensive health care treatments.

    1. Paid Minion

      The trick will be to survive the wholesale die off of baby boomers who decide to prematurely terminate their lives, to keep the predatory health care industry from leeching on to their final cent of net worth.

      At some point, enough people will die off to create a surplus of doctors/hospitals/etc. At that time, hooray! Free market forces will work!

      Congratulations America. At that point, after millions of people have been culled, you will have proven how superior free markets are to any kind of “socialism”

      And don’t worry. The 1%ers will do fine. They have enough money to survive the cull, and they will benefit from the reduced prices afterwards.

      Want to talk conspiracy theories? I’m betting that there is a widely read (by the corporate and government elite) secret think tank study that advocates killing off baby boomers and poor people, because “they cost too much”, and can easily be replaced by immigration.

      Forget what they say. See the effect of what they do.

    2. Isolato

      This is Where a VPN, TOR, and bitcoin can come in handy. Out there on the Dark Web all legal pharmaceuticals are for sale, just w/o the gatekeeper doctor. I’m not sayin’ you should diagnose yourself or foolishly misuse powerful drugs, but there IS an alternative. At least for now.

      1. different clue

        But out there on the Dark Web, how would we know the pharmaceuticals being offered are not Chinese fakes?

    3. Spring Texan

      If you are on Medicare, the amount you have to pay is not balance billing but co-insurance — that’s very different (but both are real money).

      Also if you are NOT on Medicare but the provider is in-network for you — that is also not balance billing but co-insurance (or your deductible).

      1. Oregoncharles

        Medicare has both co-pays, which are predictable and relatively small, and co-insurance, which is not. That means surgery can cost you an unexpected $1500 – relatively cheap, but quite a shock if you’re on Social Security.

    4. Pat

      Waldenpond, no believe it or not balanced billing is worse than your co-pay/co-insurance.

      I’m not sure how they plan to work it for Medicare, but out in ACA land balanced billing is the situation where some part of your treatment is undertaken by someone or something outside your network usually without anyone telling you or mentioning it. The typical example is someone goes in for say a knee replacement and gets hit with an outrageous bill for the anesthesiologist because they are not in your insurance’s network even though the hospital is in your network. To add insult to injury there are multiple rates for that same doctor’s time and depending on your state you may get the bill for the most expensive one. If they were in your insurance network the cost might be a thousand dollars, but the bill for those without insurance is ten times that much.

  16. flora

    re: “In the end, the [Dem estab] snobs lost to the slobs, but true to the character of the well-educated, they simply will not hear criticism that does not come from the similarly credentialed.”

    Which brings me to the #Resistance meme: it sounds like they gone from the bubble mentality to the bunker mentality.

    1. flora

      typo: “they’ve gone from the bubble mentality to the bunker mentality.”

      It isn’t about rethinking priorities or focus or programs, that’s for sure. They’re still hippy punching.

      1. hunkerdown

        Two nice things about bunkers (from the outside) are that it’s hard to punch out from inside them, and that their connections to the outside environment are often concentrated.

        It’s just a question of where to apply water, and from where. My preferred source is the Berkeley Pit.

        1. nippersdad

          How ’bout the LaBrea Tar pits? Seems like a suitable preservative for fossils that one might want to excavate and study some day.

      2. nippersdad

        I took it as the logical extension of the “stronger together” meme. Not that they were ever “with us,” but that they want to give the impression that they were. As Lambert might say, nothing is wanting but better PR.

        For once they may be right.

    2. different clue

      Maybe some Bitter Berners could sneak up to the Clintonite bunker and brick over all the doors and windows and stop up all the ventilation shafts . . . with malice aforethought.

  17. Foppe

    h/t richard Wolff:
    (Note that this is mostly about wholesalers rather than pharmaceutical companies as such.)

    While the death toll climbed, drug wholesalers continued to ship massive quantities of pain pills.

    Mingo, Logan and Boone counties received the most doses of hydrocodone — sold under brand names such as Lortab, Vicodin and Norco — on a per-person basis in West Virginia. Wyoming and Raleigh counties scooped up OxyContin pills by the tens of millions.

    The nation’s three largest prescription drug wholesalers — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. — supplied more than half of all pain pills statewide.
    For more than a decade, the same distributors disregarded rules to report suspicious orders for controlled substances in West Virginia to the state Board of Pharmacy, the Gazette-Mail found. And the board failed to enforce the same regulations that were on the books since 2001, while giving spotless inspection reviews to small-town pharmacies in the southern counties that ordered more pills than could possibly be taken by people who really needed medicine for pain.

    As the fatalities mounted — hydrocodone and oxycodone overdose deaths increased 67 percent in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012 — the drug shippers’ CEOs collected salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars. Their companies made billions. McKesson has grown into the fifth-largest corporation in America. The drug distributor’s CEO was the nation’s highest-paid executive in 2012, according to Forbes.

    In court cases, the companies have repeatedly denied they played any role in the nation’s pain-pill epidemic.

    Their rebuttal goes like this: The wholesalers ship painkillers from drug manufacturers to licensed pharmacies. The pharmacies fill prescriptions from licensed doctors. The pills would never get in the hands of addicts and dealers if not for unscrupulous doctors who write illegal prescriptions.

    In other words, don’t blame the middleman.

  18. Pat

    Wow, Drum’s article is almost as obnoxious as the title. I feel like it is someone putting a designer tapestry in front of a big whole in an outer wall where a window should be. Lots of people will oooh and aaah over the tapestry but the wind, rain and snow will still get in to damage the floor, the wall and even the tapestry itself.

    If you just want to ignore that ACA was a godawful version of health care reform to begin with, sure you could come up with things to make it “work”. And there is a hell of a lot of things that need to happen and no higher penalties are not even remotely among the top twenty five things. But I will make it simple for Drum. Take the Swiss plan, replace everything in ACA that was dropped from the Swiss plan by the oh so helpful insurance/hospital/pharmaceutical representatives over the years from the Heritage Plan all the way to the current insurance bail out version. This includes but is not limited to price controls, network size control, non-profit base plans with a real medical loss ratio, larger region, smaller number of age and gender groups and realistic deductibles and maximum out of pocket limits (when Switzerland has a higher median income level AND their versions of this end where ours begin, well…) not to mention subsidies for anyone where premiums for the base plan are above 8% of your income. IOW, you begin to design this thing to actually provide healthcare without bankrupting the businesses involved but without outsized profits either.

    But then Drum, like Obama and his fellow Democrats, is not interested in health reform providing actual health care merely in getting Americans to pay thousands every year for a useless plastic card that says “Insurance” on it.

    1. Pat

      First that should be ‘hole’ in the first paragraph, not whole. If the wall were whole…

      And In case you don’t know it, in Switzerland Insurance companies are required to offer their version of the base plan, which is non-profit, or they cannot sell insurance. And yes, many people and/or business do buy supplemental plans similar to the medicare supplements. And the regulators from the Canton’s do check that their plans meet the base requirements and are priced accordingly so it is pretty much impossible for a disgruntled insurance company to leave the ‘market’.

    2. Foppe

      I had never really looked at MoJo before this election cycle. (Anyone know if it) Was it always this uselessly pro-(D-)incumbents?

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, it used to be better. We dropped our subscription at least a decade ago. However, I’m never quite sure whether it’s me or them who’s changed.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I remember reading Mother Jones in the seventies and eighties and it seemed truly radical then to me. Today’s version is pure corporate neoliberal DNC propaganda. Just horrible, toxic, vile dreck. I was shocked by how far they’d sold out when I read one again a few years ago.

    3. polecat

      I would bet that practically all these ACA enablers & cheerleaders own stock in a plethora of related companies that grift off of said clusterf#ck !

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      If there are any surviving relatives of Mary Harris Jones, they should sue that rag and demand they stop demeaning the name of a woman who actually gave a damn about poor working slobs.

      ‘I want to put it up to the citizens, up to every honest man in this audience—let me ask you here, have your public officials any thought for the citizens of this State, or their condition?” — Mary Harris Jones

  19. dk

    FWIW, here’s the cover page to the “new” “Joint DHS, ODNI, FBI Statement on Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” report:

    The report itself is here:

    Unfortunately for anybody who’s been following this, it’s just a compilation of existing material, nothing that hasn’t been previously available.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe there is more, but even if it’s just a compilation of the best hit songs, with clairvoyance, and ueber-menschen deductive power, one can imagine, check that, one can perceive more than mere mortals can.

      “You see what is there, and ask why. I see what is not there, and ask, why not?’

    2. a different chris

      Unsurprisingly for anybody who’s been following this, it’s just a compilation of

      Fixed it for ya.

  20. Plenue

    “And so far as I know, the only people to use the word cyber seriously are Homeland Security IT types in the Beltway. Which isn’t encouraging.”

    Just sitting here surfing on the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY like it’s 1995!

  21. Michael Hudson

    Now that you’ve addd the yellow hairdo to the NYT logo, the REST looks like the Islamic flag: moon and star.
    think about it.

  22. Steve C

    Savvy. Seems like the kind of word that should be added to Obama’s self-congratulatory lexicon. Along with smart, innovative and entrepreneurial.

  23. Foppe

    Fallout from the opioid epidemic: (there may be other / more informative recent articles to be found, wsws links to additional reporting in the article)


    Social services and foster care programs across the United States are overwhelmed by the influx of children from families shattered by the opioid epidemic. In West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and other states, thousands of children have been orphaned and placed into foster care or living arrangements with relatives who struggle to make ends meet with inadequate compensation.

    1. Steve H.

      : In Harlan County, once a major coal-mining center, 26 percent of children are reported as homeless.

      We can boost labor demand all we want, that’s a lot of future instability right there.

      1. nechaev

        a stunning statistic. Sounds like a region in which a revitalisation movement is long overdue. Probably not gonna happen, though, unless Trump’s coming betrayals of his base trigger a violent reaction

        they say in Harlan County
        there are no neutrals there
        you either be a union man
        or a scab for J.H. Blair
        which side are you on, workers
        which side are you on?

        don’t scab for the bosses
        don’t listen to their lies
        us working men aint got a chance
        unless we organize

        – Florence Reece, way back in the dawn of time.

        dunno if the WaPo reportage got mentioned here – not normally i source i spend much time on but this latest installment was worth a scan: No longer ‘Mayberry’: A small Ohio city fights an epidemic of self-destruction
        if only for these snippets:

        Chillicothe (pronounced “chill-i-COTH-ee”) lies in Ross County, population 77,000. Last year, 40 people here died of drug overdoses, almost all from opioids. That number has tripled in the past three years.

        One day in September, police and paramedics responded to 13 separate overdose calls, including one fatality: a man who died in an apartment right on Main Street. Meanwhile, a woman overdosed in her car as it idled at a Valero gas station with her 2-year-old daughter in the back seat. On that single day, seven children in the county were taken into government custody.

        The county’s health commissioner, Tim Angel, says he sees multiple generations of addicts now. He’ll ask a young patient who has come in for treatment, “How did you get involved in this?” and the answer will be, “My mother shot me up for my birthday when I was 14.”

        meanwhile the Sackler family are characterised on wiki as prominent philanthropists

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Couple that cultivation with their desire for an alternative to the Dollar as the global reserve currency.

      “Make Uncle Sam peg the dollar to the Great Helmsman’s Renminbi, and let see if they can still print as much as they want (before having enough RMB) or avoid borrowing in Mao’s money.”

      1. AngloSaxon

        No, more like “co-global reserve currencies”. That is what the market wants and China can’t go back home. Market forces in progress.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Don’t worry … the developers at Caltech are probably Chinese graduate students and post docs. US engineers? Do you mean contract engineers from Infosys or Tata or are there a few US engineers still working somewhere?

  24. Cry Shop

    Black Injustice Tipping Point

    I remember the issue of “races” was well debunked in undergrad elective course textbook for anthropology of the 1970/s, so this should not be a surprise. I wish i could recall the name now, but I do know visiting students from Alabama and Georgia confirmed the same book was used in their state college systems. Hardly controversial then, but now? How the times have changed.

    Tim Wise has an interesting history of the development of the term “White race”, a pretty modern term, in at least one of his books, mostly focused on the USA, but covering Europe as well. It really flowered when chattel slavery started to replace indentured slavery. Several of his recent speeches on youtube to university audiences also cover different aspects, as well as material he has discovered since the printings.

    Noel Ignative takes on another slice of it in his book, How The Irish Became White, and Wayétu Moore explores the theme more here.

      1. UserFriendly

        IMO Guccifer was probably a Russian hacker, same for Colin Powell’s emails. The DNC emails were almost definitely leaked by a Berner at the DNC and if I had to guess I’d say a script kiddy that hated Hillary did Podesta. So the two things that could possibly be pinned on the Ruskies were by far the least influential on the electorate. The Hillary apologists and neocons are happy to conflate them all and blame Russia.

      2. John Zelnicker

        @Oregoncharles – I’m not that technically sophisticated, but I have read posts from computer security experts that software has always been insecure, meaning there is no way to provide hard evidence that any particular person was responsible for the hacks. It’s too easy to find the tools to do it and too easy to spoof the source of the hack. It’s all speculation and circumstantial evidence.

        Although it kind of pains me to say it, I think Trump is right in this one.

  25. ewmayer

    Re. the CEPR piece “Denialism on Trade”, a question from this non-economist: If consumers are going into hock to finance their consumption, in the current formulation that is that a pure plus for GDP, or is ‘net private credit creation’ subtracted from C?

    1. fresno dan

      December 29, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      I can’t say that I KNOW, but I suspect not. There is an aphorism in economics that everyone’s debt is someone else’s asset. fresno dan’s corollary is that when the rich guy’s asset goes bad, it becomes your loss…somehow.
      The problem is, after you have loaned me a million bucks is that I can take off (i.e., steal the money), or die…or buy a Picasso for a million dollars that turns out to be….FAKE. Supposedly, I have assets to pay back the loan (if I have so much money, why do I need a loan to begin with???), but all the money from the loan I spent on time with strippers and blow (cocaine) I snorted can’t really be repossessed…..

      It is a funny thing about losses due to credit – our whole system thinks its a disaster for banks (or more accurately, the owners and managers of banks) to take a loss, but the poor sap at the bottom with the least amount of money taking a loss is fine.

  26. Oregoncharles

    ” “Previous studies have shown that debit cards were gaining on cash as the go-to payment for small purchases, even those less than $5.”
    Parking meters and public copiers now often require or allow the use of a debit card. That’s a huge number of small payments that, indeed, used to require change. There’s a significant gain in convenience, once you figure out how to work the d..n thing, but at the cost of leaving a paper, no digital, trail of your movements.

    My point is that in many cases, use of the card is forced by the payment technology, not necessarily a choice.

  27. Elizabeth Burton

    I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Silverman’s interview with Bernie on one of his book-thumping stops. Assuming he’s repeating the message at every one, we can still hope.

  28. cwaltz

    What’s Stein’s counterpart did was use the information that was available in the limited timespan to present a case that would allow it to move forward with examining ballots and examining machines.

    It used the Federal government’s own meme to try and examine data and processes which was actually incredibly smart, if unsuccessful.

    I also do think it is in the realm of possibilities that other nations besides our own attempt to manipulate the results of elections(which doesn’t negate the fact that if the DNC weren’t crookedly manipulating things and the hack had revealed boring details about yoga and plans for the weekend rather than attempts to manipulate the primary that it might not have lost.) It actually, in a perverse way, kind of amuses me that Vladmir might have his own slush fund for “pro democracy” groups in his State Dept. What’s the Russian equivalent of Victoria Nuland?

    1. Lambert Strether

      > It used the Federal government’s own meme to try and examine data and processes which was actually incredibly smart, if unsuccessful.

      By “incredibly smart” I think you mean “too clever by half.” If you can’t make the case without depending on obvious partisan propaganda, you don’t have much of a case.

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