2:00PM Water Cooler 12/30/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this Water Cooler is a bit light, because I got started late. But an early Happy New Year to you! –lambert


Trump Transition

“Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy” [Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate]. “US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires. This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power.” As readers know, I think this is the right message, not the liberal “conflict of interest” talking point. To be an oligarch is to be conflicted, so yammering about conflict is to miss the point.

UPDATE “With Russia sanctions move, Obama leaves Trump with tough choices” [Japan Times]. FWIW, I view Obama’s moves as half-hearted, particularly given that Clintonites regard Trump as a witting agent of Putin (that is, a traitor (hence, should be prevented from taking office on January 20 by any means necessary)). If Obama wanted to send a strong signal, he wouldn’t be closing down Russian compounds that have been around 44 years, he’d be recalling our Ambassador from Moscow. I think he’s out to make life hard for Trump, and to get the Clintonites — and The Blob — off his back, and not much more. We’ll see what the long-promised report shows, but my guess is that there will be no exposed evidence, and no named sources. That is, Obama’s case will be even worse than the case Bush put together to justify the Iraq War, which at least had the status of a National Intelligence Estimate and the benefit of an inter-agency process that produced dissent (in the form of footnotes).

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “Milo Yiannopoulos, controversial Breitbart editor, lands a reported $250,000 book deal” [Los Angeles Times]. Breitbart and Pantsuit nation — peas in a pod!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“[A]t least a size­able num­ber of Amer­ic­ans are quite hope­ful that things will get bet­ter over the next year, at least in part be­cause of Trump’s elec­tion. It also might be worth not­ing that the sur­veys showed that much of the op­tim­ism was among older Amer­ic­ans. With the stock mar­ket run­ning pretty much at re­cord highs since Novem­ber, and older Amer­ic­ans gen­er­ally more in­ves­ted in the stock mar­ket than young­er people, this op­tim­ism may be re­lated to or caused by the mar­ket’s per­form­ance. But it’s not quite clear which is the cart and which is the horse. Are people feel­ing bet­ter be­cause the stock mar­ket is do­ing well, or is the stock mar­ket do­ing well be­cause people are feel­ing bet­ter, or maybe both?” [Charles Cook, National Journal].

“By all accounts, Bill and Hillary Clinton never had any such qualms, and now their quarter-century project to build a mutual buy-one, get-one-free Clinton dynasty has ended in her defeat, and their joint departure from the center of the national political stage they had hoped to occupy for another eight years. Their exit amounts to a finale not just for themselves, but for Clintonism as a working political ideology and electoral strategy” [Politico]. If this article, and Yglesias’s “Smoking Rubble” piece in Vox, are indicative of the political class hive mind, whatever the Clintonites are ginning up with their Russian War Scare isn’t going to work (ergo, Trump will take the oath of office on January 20.)

“A Perez win now would be seen as a major insult to Sanders and his supporters. Precisely because there isn’t an overt policy void between the two leading contenders, the Perez candidacy looks to Sanders backers like an effort to punish Ellison for having supported Sanders in the primary — or, at the very least, to make sure that those connected to Sanders personally are shut out of power” [Vox]. “Ellison as chair would go a long way toward redressing the grievances accumulated up over months of a long, bitterly-fought primary. Perez as chair would almost certainly exacerbate them.”

“Pete Buttigieg, the mayor here who national Democrats often mention on the shortlist of rising stars in the party, said he is nearing a decision about whether to run for DNC chair and would step down as mayor if he were to win the job” [Politico]. “. And Buttigieg, who is gay, has gained attention this year after being the subject of a profile in a New York Times with the title “The First Gay President?” President Barack Obama also mentioned him as a top Democratic prospect for higher office in an interview with The New Yorker. ” Buttigieg wrote a prizing-winning essay on Sanders in 2000. In 2016, he supported Clinton.

“[Chris Arnade] is politically progressive and a week before the election angered his side, and some media folk, by foretelling the victory of Donald Trump. The people he met were voting for him. Many saw the America they’d grown up in slipping away. They wanted a country that was great again. They experienced elite disdain for Trump as evidence he might be the one to turn it around” [Peggy Noonan, “Shining a Light on ‘Back Row’ America,” Wall Street Journal]. “Happy New Year, everyone. May we do work worthy of the moment.”

Stats Watch

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, December 2016: “Slowing in orders pulled back December’s Chicago PMI…. New orders continued to expand… Backlog orders moved back into contraction, production slowed, while employment held steady.” Below consensus range [Econoday]. “In a special question, 51 percent of the panel see the new administration’s policies helping their business next year, specifically tax reform and deregulation. Forty percent see no impact and 9 percent see negative effects.” This index is quite volatile. (Consensus was between 56.0 to 58.6, versus actual 54.6. Econintersect writes that consensus was 50.7 to 54.0.) And: Below consensus [Calculated Risk].

Econintersect January 2017 Economic Forecast: “We are continuing to forecast marginal improvement of the economy – with the economy frozen in a condition of snails pace growth” [Econoday]. “USA economic internals are pulsing and out of phase with each other. I could cherry pick dynamics and paint a very positive or very negative picture of the economy. However, barring an unexpected turn of events – we expect our index in the future to continue to moderately strengthen…. Leading Indicators Conclusion: trends are generally improving, and not indicating a recession over the next six months.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 24 December 2016: An Unbelievably Good Week” [Econintersect]. By “unbelievable” they mean “not believable.” “So this week’s data is an outlier caused by week 51 last year ending in the week between Christmas and New Years (a low volume period) – and this year week 51’s cutoff was before Christmas. It is too risky to try to logically analyze the data this week.”

Shipping: “[Deutsche Bahn] operator carried more than 40,000 containers along the traditional ‘Silk Road’ route this year – a new record – compared to 35,000 in 2015” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “‘This paves the way to increase container units to about 100,000 by 2020, thus tripling the number transported in 2014,’ said DB board member and former minister of Angela Merkel, Ronald Pofalla, in a statement.” Not a very large number.

Shipping: “3D printing ‘no major threat to freight'” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. Interview with Supply chain expert and author Mark Millar. “‘But while I’m convinced that AM’s time has come, I don’t see it revolutionising mass production and global supply chains as some observers are predicting, at least not in the medium term.’ Nor is [Millar] expecting it to exert a significant impact on intercontinental freight flows and expressed surprise at the conclusions of a research paper published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which estimated that as much as 41% of the air cargo business and 37% of the ocean container business was at risk because of 3D printing.” Well worth a read for the off-shoring/on-shoring/right-shoring discussion, relevant to policy under a Trump administration.

Shipping: “This time last year few would have predicted that as the final day of this very tough 2016 looms the sector with the best fundamentals is dry bulk. Dry bulk owners have been through the mill this decade but finally after much scrapping, the Baltic Dry hitting record lows in the first quarter and massive restraint when it comes to new orders, there is no segment in shipping with better investment potential than this one” [Splash 247]. A good roundup of a tumultuous year.

Household Income: “According to new data derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), median annual household income in November 2016 was $58,221. Median household income at the beginning of the great recession in December 2007 was $57,723. The Sentier Household Income Index (HII) for November 2016 was 99.7, slightly higher than the October reading of 99.4 (January 2000 = 100). The level of real median annual household income in January 2000 was $58,410, which marks the beginning of this statistical series” [Econintersect]. Sixteen years of treading water.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 65, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 30 at 12:31pm. Still drifting lower…


“As Groundwater Dwindles, a Global Food Shock Looms” [National Geographic]. “Nearly half of our food comes from the warm, dry parts of the planet, where excessive groundwater pumping to irrigate crops is rapidly shrinking the porous underground reservoirs called aquifers. Vast swaths of India, Pakistan, southern Europe, and the western United States could face depleted aquifers by mid-century, a recent study finds—taking a bite out of the food supply and leaving as many as 1.8 billion people without access to this crucial source of fresh water.” Hoo boy. And water is what Michael Burry is investing in…

Class Warfare

“How Little Kids Figure Out Who’s in Charge” [New York Magazine]. “Surprisingly, the form of power that kids recognize latest is perhaps the most obvious one: giving orders, which the study participants didn’t seem to grasp until age 7 at the earliest. But as Jarrett noted, it’s to their advantage to master the subtleties early.”

News of the Wired

It’s a wonderful world:

Water Cooler will return in 2017. I expect continued volatility!

* * *

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 (PS):


PS writes: “A eucalypt with tracks in the bark made by scribbly gum moth larvae. Zig-zag pattern and retracement are characteristic.”

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!

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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. Altandmain

    At this point, I’m thinking that there isn’t going to be any serious change until the top 10%ers begin to feel the pain from the 1%.

    So far, the 90 – 99% percentile may not be gaining as much as the top 1% or for that matter, the top 0.1%, but they are still doing a lot better than the rest of society, and at the expense of the rest of society.

    A very big problem is that they have a lot of clout … and it’s not being used for the benefit of the rest of society, but often at its expense.

    This is going to get a lot worse I think in the near future for the rest of us less well off people.

    1. PQS

      I think one of the yuuuge problems is that the 99% haven’t the slightest idea how RICH the RICH really are. They really think it’s a guy who owns a successful business pulling down six figures or something. They can’t even fathom literally pallets of money that people like the Kochs have to just burn. Hedge Fund types that make a Billion dollars a year and pay 16% taxes on? Pfft. People don’t get this. (They dont’ hear about it, either, except from Bernie….)

      Which is why every single time I’m in casual conversation about ridiculous excess, I always, always say “Well, that sounds like an argument for higher taxes on the rich.”

      1. Vatch

        You are correct, it is a huge problem. Many people really don’t understand just how wealthy the top 0.01%ers are. It was briefly discussed a couple of days ago in these comments:


        Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can spread the word about just how excessively rich the richest people really are? The information is out there, but few have any awareness of it.

        1. Isolato


          I sometimes put it this way…I am lucky enough (thanks great grandparents!) to be..oh, in the top 2 or 3 % depending on how you count, but the difference between me and sleeping in a dumpster is a couple of million dollars. The difference between me and Bill Gates is 50 billion.

          And no matter how loud I shouted nobody ever seemed to hear how much the Bush Tax Cuts had tilted the table in my direction. But I went from being self-employed and paying nearly 50% of my income in taxes to retiring on investment income and paying about 10%.

          I think people just say in their heads “I wish that was me”. Not “We should change that”.

        2. PQS

          Graphics and video.
          After the last election, I’m convinced it need to be very simply stated in 30 seconds or less.

          I’ve seen great graphics showing how much money a million dollars is and a billion, compared to an average sized human, but I’m no genius at linking things here…

          Maybe Lambert/Yves could start a thread topic of great graphics on this stuff!

          1. Ed S.

            Here’s one way to think about it:

            Lamborghini Aventador – MSRP about $400,000

            Would take an average working stiff about 8 years 3 months of GROSS income to purchase
            Would take a $1 Billion / yr Hedgie about 48 minutes of gross income to purchase.

          2. cnchal

            I like using Nimitz class aircraft carriers to get a bearing on big numbers. They were $4.6 billion each, and were Bill Gates money pile used he could buy nearly twice as many than were built. His net worth is zeroing in on a tenth of a trillion dollars, and if he finds an eleven bagger on the stawk market could be the worlds first trillionaire. Goes for the Kochs and Captain Greed too.

            With a trillion dollars, one could buy 217 Nimitz units, and the average family would have to work for 80,702 years to pay for one, not counting ongoing living expenses.

            Lord Blackfart of Goldman Sachs fame, being just a mere billionaire could only buy the propellers and keel section of a Nimitz unit, which means he is barely able to float his boat.

        3. PQS

          Graphics and video.
          After the last election, I’m convinced it need to be very simply stated in 30 seconds or less.

          I’ve seen great depictions of how much money a million dollars is and a billion, compared to an average sized human, but I’m no genius at linking things here…

          Maybe Lambert/Yves could start a thread topic of great graphics on this stuff for sharing!

        4. PQS

          Graphics and video.
          After the last election, I’m convinced it need to be very simply stated in 30 seconds or less.

          Maybe Lambert/Yves could start a thread topic of great graphics on this stuff for sharing!

        5. different clue

          Maybe we need specific language for this problem. Including specific WORDS for the levels of problem-people who make up this problem. Ferdinand Lundberg tried making a start with his book title The Rich and the Super Rich.

          Perhaps we could think of the barely rich, the merely rich, the very rich and the supremely rich. Or the OPOOP ( One Percent Of One Percent), the OPOOPOOP ( One Percent Of One Percent Of One Percent), the OPOOPOOPOOP (One Percent Of . . . you get the point), etc.
          This would indicate the rising wealth levels with rising slivers of the Very Uppest Class.

          And again . . . what if people were to begin thinking in the most poetic way about the 3 level divide . . . the Top 1%, the Next 9%, and the Lower 90%?

          1. Medbh

            The language needs to have a more direct negative connotation. In many people’s minds super rich is synonymous with super successful. The 1% are hoarders, power hungry, and spiritually stunted. It’s something to be ashamed of, not admired. And they’re not the “top 1%” either, that just reinforces the ideology that they’re the best or most successful. They’re not special: they’re greedy and sick.

      2. EoinW

        I may not be the right person to comment on this subject. I just went to the store for a pair of winter boots and seeing nothing under $100 has caused an existential trauma. Obviously I’ve got no clue people pay these prices.

        Yet being in the Information Age, I find it hard to believe the majority of people aren’t aware of how rich the 1% are. Ask yourself this: even if they were aware, what would they do about it? Maybe vote Trump? I don’t see them taking to the streets and taking on the security state.

        I’m not even sure my personal quarrel should be with the rich. There are plenty of average people paying over $100 for boots – and pricing a more practical person out of the market.

        When it comes to the 1%, my beef is how many innocent people they murder with their Regime Change wars. Yet so long as it isn’t nuclear war with Russia, such wars do not pose an immediate threat on my living standard. However, the 99% spending irresponsibly does have an impact on me.

        1. Vatch

          Boots are supposed to last for many years, like a car or a furnace. We’ve had constant inflation for decades, and that, unfortunately, affects prices. However, if you’re looking for rubber galoshes that you put on over your regular shoes, you ought to be able to find plenty for less than $100. There ought to be some selling for less than $50.

          1. rjs

            i still try to keep my clothing purchases under $10 per item…it’s that vow of poverty thing, ya know…

        2. PQS

          My beef with the 1% is that they don’t pay their fair share and use their money to punish and oppress the rest of us, every day, all day. (Apart from buying off our electeds. Trump was totally right about that, and not much else.) Then they have the gall to act like they deserve this and so do we.

          Walmart telling their employees how to get on housing and SNAP benefits is a classic example. Not only is it immoral, it has literally ruined our society in a thousand different ways for this one family to act like this and get away with it. Stop Using My Taxes to Pay Your People!!

          I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

          Excessive consumption doesn’t bug me nearly as much as this sort of thing.

        3. different clue

          Unfortunately, it IS the 1% who decided to crapify the quality of boots and other things so that a $100 pair of boots doesn’t last 20-30 years like it used to. So the Upper Class decision to give the 99% ONly irresponsibly made things to buy is responsible for the 99% having only irresponsible things to buy, and hence buying irresponsible things irresponsibly.

          There are still exceptions, and shame on the “next 9%” for buying irresponsibly if they still have a responsible choice.

        4. Oregoncharles

          Thrift stores.
          Estate sales are fun,but a crap shoot.
          And you get to feel virtuous about “reusing.”

        5. zapster

          Well, the thing is, if you double your prices, you can get away with selling half as many. As the number of people that can afford to purchase them shrinks, they really have to raise their prices in order to sell any at all. And the ones that have the money have so much money that higher prices are a plus anyway. “Status”, doncha know.

        6. HopeLB

          I have a nearly brand new pair of size 6 Sorels, waterproof rubber bottoms, suede uppers with fur on the top. My daughter only wore them a few times. They are yours if you want them.

      3. remmer

        A survey done in 2005 showed how little people know about how rich the rich are.


        Respondents were asked to estimate the U.S. distribution of wealth by income quintiles and to give what they thought the ideal distribution should be. The average estimate was that the top 20% owned just under 60% of the wealth, and that they should ideally own only about a third. At the time of the study the top 20% actually owned 84% of the wealth.

      4. dbk

        From someone or other, I picked up the term “out of sight” (maybe Paul Fussell’s book “Class”) to refer to the .01%. I still use it, because it’s still the case that 90% of the U.S. public can’t even imagine the lives of billionaires and multi-billionaires – they live apart from us, their children do not mingle with ours, their vacation spots are no-access, their jets are private… we literally never see them, or how they live, unless we belong to the classes which serve them.

        I read this linked piece yesterday – the classes of gifts (an all-sapphire watch [1.3 million], a floor of the Woolworth Building [26.4 million], a rose gold jet, a hotel of one’s own, etc.) are so out-of-sight that I almost took it for a parody. It kind of makes you feel ill.


    2. Waldenpond

      I think it’s more the top 20%. There is the 1% and their closest allies the 10% but then there is another striving 10% that wants to break in. I just hope the protests focus on the 1% and stop targeting other victims. I get it, there is anger towards each other for not acting in solidarity, but the focus needs to stay on the perpetrators of the exploitative acts.

      1. Vatch

        I think people should concentrate on the richest 0.01%, or maybe the richest 0.1%. People in the top 1% are more likely to vote for oligarch friendly politicians, but most of them have little power. They aren’t the ones who have three or four homes, a yacht, multi-carat diamonds, and a platoon of lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists at their beck and call. As you say, we need to focus on the perpetrators, not on their underlings.

      2. hunkerdown

        And the ninth decile that wants to break in isn’t themselves committing any number of audacious acts on their own volition (see Neera Tanden’s “Resistance”)? No, they need to be held to account for every work they have committed against us. A much more illiberal (and therefore peace-compatible) ethic is that “following orders” doesn’t mean you get to hurt people without getting hurt back.

    3. Cocomaan

      Aka the petite and the haute bourgeoisie, if you’re a political economist of the old school.

      I think you’re right about the top ten percent. I’m in the top twenty, but it doesn’t feel that way.

    4. John Wright

      I archived an old David Brooks column from Jan 12, 2003, that is titled “The Triumph of Hope over Self-Interest”

      In it he mentions: “The most telling polling result from the 2000 election was from a Time magazine survey that asked people if they are in the top 1 percent of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are in the richest 1 percent and a further 20 percent expect to be someday. So right away you have 39 percent of Americans who thought that when Mr. Gore savaged a plan that favored the top 1 percent, he was taking a direct shot at them.”

      Now this optimistic view should have taken a lot of hits over the last 16 years, but I suspect there are still a lot of Americans who expect to be rich, at least someday.

      It is indirectly encouraging, to me, that the political class is attempting to tout the Russian threat as it may be some evidence that the Bos-Wash corridor is perceiving a loss of control of the population and so needs to amp up the “evil Ruskies” threat.

      I was also encouraged to see the humbled NYTimes sub-leasing 8 floors of its NYC building after they threw everything on getting HRC elected.

      But it is difficult to see Trump as offering great hope.

      He might be shamed into doing something, while Obama and Clinton seem immune from pressure except from the elite.

  2. Vatch

    “As Groundwater Dwindles, a Global Food Shock Looms” [National Geographic].

    So naturally, people continue having on average more than two children per couple, because Alfred E. Neuman’s philosophy of “What, me worry?” reigns supreme.

    1. ambrit

      Mao had that figured out, but, silly liberty loving westerners that we are, we deplore his methods as “dictatorial, police state, commie pinko, intrusional, only benefits the elites, etc. etc.” Take out the “commie pinko” bits and we have a description of present day America, eh? As with everything else around here, no one is planning for the long term. Luckily, Gaia has her own ways of redressing the balance; plagues, famines, droughts, and other natural disasters. (Remember the Toba eruption of 74,000 B.C.?)
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory
      “Oh, the places you’ll see go, and the deaths you’ll see!” (Neo-liberal .01%er child’s story book title.)

      1. Vatch

        Remember the Toba eruption of 74,000 B.C.?

        Of course I remember it! We called that The Big One. The eruption of the Phlegraean Fields 39,000 years ago was wimpy by comparison. Ah, the good ol’ days!

  3. kj1313

    Reading the reactions to the Ellison Vox article on twitter, Matt Yglesias and Joan Walsh are pretty much saying let Ellison become the DNC chair. Perhaps there is an inkling of understanding that the future for the Dems is Bernie/FDR policies.

    1. Waldenpond

      Have a look at Ellison’s funding. Where it comes from and what he churns in relation to his R competitor.

      It looks like Ellison is a neocon on foreign policy with his war support and Syria no-fly zone (don’t forget his approved of what happened in Libya) and a neolib (neoliberalism is financialization) as demonstrated by his funding. His campaigns are serving as pass through for a lot of money.


      1. Code Name D

        I agree. Ellison is a bandaid for a bleeding wound. For all the talk of his “progressive credentials”, much of it coming from the Mighty Progressive Sage Bernie Sanders, I am not seeing Ellson giving any voice at all to the challenges the party faces – let alone the corruption that has infected the party to the core. I am seen votes for Prom Queen given more gravity.

        1. Waldenpond

          I can’t find one D that isn’t financially corrupt. When I look at who the top 5 funders of any D is, I cringe. I keep seeing people cheering the imminent death of the olds (nice generational warfare the Ds keep going) yet the younger generation Ds seem even worse than the older.

  4. tgs

    I view Obama’s moves as half-hearted

    So do a lot of Democrats. Donna Brazille and others are arguing that Obama has not hit back hard enough – a young African-American woman, a Democrat whose name I didn’t catch, on Fox last night, beside herself with rage, argued that we have to hurt Putin personally!


      1. tgs

        No, it wasn’t her. I have scoured the FN website and cannot find a clip. However, this one from ‘Democratic Strategist’, Julie Roginsky, also on Fox, has the same message:

        [Roginsky] added that the “common denominator” since the Bush administration is Putin, whom she called “an authoritarian despot who longs for the days of the Soviet Union’s greatness.

        Roginsky explained that Putin will always seek to use the West as a “foil” in order to distract Russians from his own failing economic policies.

        The Fox News contributor called on Congress to go after Putin, his inner circle and the “oligarchs who prop him up” by imposing tough financial sanctions.

        “I don’t even call them sanctions. I don’t know what this is. I call it a disgraceful and weak move by the Obama administration. … I am disgusted with how weak it is,” she said.

        Those who would like to actually hear all that can do so here.

      2. tgs

        No, it wasn’t her. I have scoured the FN website and cannot find the video clip. However, Democratic Strategist, Julie Roginsky, also on Fox, is carrying the same message: Disgusted How Weak the Sanctions Are:

        [Roginsky] added that the “common denominator” since the Bush administration is Putin, whom she called “an authoritarian despot who longs for the days of the Soviet Union’s greatness.”

        Roginsky explained that Putin will always seek to use the West as a “foil” in order to distract Russians from his own failing economic policies.

        The Fox News contributor called on Congress to go after Putin, his inner circle and the “oligarchs who prop him up” by imposing tough financial sanctions.

        I don’t even call them sanctions. I don’t know what this is. I call it a disgraceful and weak move by the Obama administration. … I am disgusted with how weak it is,” she said.

        These people are really something.

        1. fresno dan

          December 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm

          The schizophrenia on FOX with regard to standing behind Trump and not being reflexively anti Russian, versus FOX’s/repub knee jerk anti Russian ideology is really something to behold.
          Will there be a real schism in FOX /right that really splits the repubs into “globalists” and “isolationists”?
          I think it is just to early to tell if Trump has true principles and will endure pain to defend detente with Russia. The MIC are adamant that Russian HAS to be an enemy.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I started watching a little bit of FOX during the height of election season and it was bizarre for me. I recall my early years of adulthood watching them cheerlead for GW Bush’s wars and constant scare-mongering about terrorism. There’s still plenty of the latter, but they figured out that they were going to have to make themselves comfortable with Trump, even if they’d done all they could to sink him.

            When it was down to the general election, they were vaguely pro-Trump, but not slavishly so and it was interesting to see the commentators providing better quality stuff than the other networks that were constantly worked up, on message with non-stop visceral Trump-hate.

            I haven’t watched much, but they seem to be more or less okay with detente with Russia, and skeptical of the lack of evidence released so far. They’re really enjoying the Dem meltdown. And why shouldn’t they, I suppose?

            1. EoinW

              I know the feeling. I avoided FOX for the same reason for years. Yet since the election I’m more likely to have FOX as my default news station. Which doesn’t mean I actually watch it, however I’m not going even close to CNN or CBC. My sense is we might get more objective reporting from FOX, whereas CNN is so anti-Trump it can’t be objective and CBC is even more condescending.

              Election night I thought CNN did the best job. Get them to just do reporting and not pontificate and there’s still a bit of journalism left in them. CBC on election night might as well have been Clinton Campaign HQ. But after 11pm it was wonderful to flip to CBC and see them in panic then mourning. It’d be nice to think the one good thing to come out of it all was the CBC unmasked for the fake news network it actually is. However I don’t have a high enough opinion of Canadians to think they even care.

              1. barefoot charley

                I was pleasantly surprised by Fox on election night. They saw what Trump was achieving literally hours before CNN or the networks had said more than “Whaa?” They delivered actual largely intelligent newscasting, while CNN dropped to its knees ransacking Wisconsin for more Hillary voters–“Big democratic precincts in Milwaukee still to come in–strangely low turnout so far . . .”–as Fox started to marvel at the historic upset in the making. An added plus, I was less surprised by my enraged and delusional fellow Democrats next morning. Official thinking had dumbthunk them.

        2. tgs

          Sorry for the double post. When I submitted the first time, I got a ‘timeout’ error. So, I tried again, and the same error occurred. Surprised to see that both appeared.

        3. Brad

          Roginsky doesn’t seem to grasp that politically motivated expropriation of the assets of capitalist oligarchs with major world presence would set a “bad” (i.e. good) precedent. That’s why it won’t happen.

    1. flora

      Oh goody. Brazille and others want a new Gulf of Tonkin resolution? Because that one worked out well. /s

    2. LT

      Wow. I can’t bring myself to do a full sitting with cable news pundits. Lost that ability around 2009/2010. I admire your patience.

      But the beef with Putin does have a tinge if the personal. Look at the faces of Putin and Obama in photos together. It’s personal on top of everything else.

      1. different clue

        I suspect its personal for Obama at the bottom of everything else. And Putin looks upset at having to deal with a pathotoxic psychomaniac narcissist.

  5. shinola

    From the Politico article on The Death of Clintonism:

    (Hillary Clinton) “… accepted what was arguably the most liberal Democratic Party platform in history…”

    WTF??? I guess if you insert a qualifier like “arguably” you can ignore facts and say just about anything you want (such as: George W Bush was “arguably” the greatest president in American History).

      1. Daryl

        Great Society?

        Heck, Richard Nixon’s healthcare proposal was 100x as sensible as whatever Hillary wanted to do.

  6. dcrane

    Re the “end” of the Clinton project:

    I’m not so sure yet that Hillary won’t be coming back for another try. She’ll be “only” 73 in 2020 (compare to Sanders, Reagan). She so badly wanted to be president. Her loss to the misogynistic likes of Trump will be especially difficult to swallow. The Vox and Politico articles might suggest a “hive mind” that won’t take the Clintons back again, but her supporters are pushing a narrative that the election was unfairly stolen from her by the FBI and Russia. And there was a lot of money behind her that must be hurting really bad right now. I’d be relieved to hear why I’m way off base and we’ll have a new Democratic Party candidate in 2020.

    1. nippersdad

      This may make you feel better: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/hillary-clinton-campaign-donors-post-mortem-232715

      “I’m not putting another f**cking dime in until someone explains what just happened.” Classic. She is going to have to explain how and where the last billion got burned before they are going to pony up another one. OPM just got a little more expensive, and I doubt that her sense of entitlement can afford the interest rates she will be charged.

      1. Fastball

        What went wrong? They went wrong. They turned the party into a clueless organ of arrogance and privilege. The Democrats have no base and while a billionaire can pump millions into a campaign, they only have one vote in the end.

        1. hunkerdown

          They don’t need a base when they have Beliebers. They don’t need a bench when they ARE a PR firm. They don’t need a clue when they entitle themselves to occupy a permanent role in the reality show some people call Democracy.

          They’re manspreading and violating the left’s space, and they’re 110% okay with that.

        2. Code Name D

          This is not a bug, but a feature. The Democratic Party is in the business of influence pedaling. You give the dems money, they get you your tax cuts, mining leases, pollution wavers, whatever you want. But to have influence to sell, you must first win elections. It wasn’t just Clinton that was defeated here, they lost influence across the board.

          There is a fundamental contradiction at work here. To give your donors what they want, you have to ram it up the ass of the base. Push it up the ass to hard, and they stop voting for you. So there is a balance to how much you can promise to your downers and giving your base something to support.

          But Clinton never respected such boundary and treated the base like a play thing, confident they would vote for her no matter what and no matter how severe the beatings became. As a result, she made a lot of promises to donors she no longer has the ability to keep.

          Right now, they are scrambling to show that they still have influence to sell. And part of this is keeping the band together. This means keeping solid control over the memories in Congress (which they have already secured) as well as the DNC chair (which remains to be seen.)

          But they have got to have taken a major hit. The result will be a dramatic reduction in donations made to the Clinton Foundation. More than likely they will be selling future access, built on the assumption that the Democrats will sweep back into power with the next mid-terms.

          But there is also a kind of hibernation mode. Being voted out of office means becoming a lobbyist now and is just another part of the influence pedaling game.

      2. different clue

        The only way I can think of to decontaminate the DemParty is for would-be decontaminators to vote against every Dparty officeseeker who can be shown to have accepted any money from any of the usual suspect big donors. The big donors won’t lose their ownership of the Dparty until every tool and fool they have had been broken and deleted. That means voting against any Dparty wannabe at any level who accepts funding outside of a Bernie-type small donations pathway.

    2. footnote4

      But what about this from the NY Post Juiciest Psychic Predictions for 2017??

      Hillary does not fade from public life. (And, advocating change, wears a skirt?)

    3. JTMcPhee

      Re “the Clantom Project,” what a nice neutral name for it: My guess is that not even the eventual (barring “tech” innovations) deaths of both Bill and Hillary will end what they were the visible operators of…

  7. Vatch

    “Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy” [Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate]. “US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires.

    I agree about the “extreme oligarchy” classification, but along with Wilbur Ross and Betsy DeVos, who are the other three billionaires? Todd Ricketts, nominee for Deputy Commerce Secretary, doesn’t count, because he’s just a member of a family with about a billion in assets. His person net worth is less than a billion. Steven Mnuchin, perhaps? Rex Tillerson is rich, but he “only” has about a quarter of a billion dollars.

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate. My browser lost its connection when I first tried to post this.)

    1. Phil

      “This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power.”

      While “government by the rich” is commonly understood now as the definition of oligarchy, oligarchy taken in context of the entire Politics is nuanced. It is government by the few, usually the wealthy, who act for their own benefit, not that of the commonwealth, and often call themselves “aristocrats.” Their qualifications could be wealth; but they could also be birth, or even just momentary political supremacy (such as the 30 Tyrants installed by Sparta). The one thing that cannot characterize an oligarch is “virtue.” Trump’s cabinet may in fact be a cabinet of truly virtuous men and women, by American standards; who among us can say for sure? I do think Bernie was one of the very very few men of Aristotelian virtue that I have ever seen on the public stage; and they do not seem very much like Bernie.

      Whether the US has an oligarchy or not, is not the question. It’s the form the oligarchy takes that is at issue. The oligarchy that we narrowly escaped is the one of “government by a few (not especially wealthy) officials for their own benefit, rather than by the law.” That is the kind of oligarchy the Clinton gang would have perpetuated.

      Trump is possibly erecting an oligarchy of wealth; but it might also turn out to be an “aristocracy,” if the few are virtuous and govern for the public good. I guess it could happen, though I am not holding my breath.

      1. Vatch

        I do think Bernie was one of the very very few men of Aristotelian virtue that I have ever seen on the public stage; and they do not seem very much like Bernie.

        No kidding. Let’s see, Zinke stole from the Navy, Pruitt doesn’t care whether our air and water are poisoned or not, DeVos wants to deny a proper education to children who attend public schools, Price thinks women should be kept in their place, Mnuchin stole from thousands of homeowners. There’s not a whole lot of virtue there.

        You wrote a good comment, although I’m still hoping that someone will identify the names of the 5 billionaires in Trump’s proposed cabinet.

      2. hunkerdown

        I’m curious how many more times we will insist on elevating others over us against our individual and collective interests and forcing whole societies to play BDSM games in order to eat before we give up on liberalism entirely.

  8. dcblogger

    in addition to everything else, the hysteria over Russia is drowning out the effort to protect Social Security and Medicare. #FeatureNotaBug

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Well, you know the old trick; when The Deplorables have blood in their eye about their condition under the operational dispensation, it’s time for a war. This distracts The Deplorables through the vicarious thrill of the Oligarch-Approved Two-Minute Hate (thereby diverting their loathing and animus from its proper target, the assholes who really and truly have the power and the reckless disregard for the citizens’ well-being that are pissing in their pockets every damn day, and looking to line their pockets still more by privatizing SS & Medicare…), and may pump up the economy enough that things get – temporarily, and debateably – better for The Deplorables.

      In this instance, although Hellery and her Brain(Damaged) Think Tank of NeoCons actually want a shooting war, in the judgment (sic) of TPTB, a Cold War Redux may serve much the same function through sustaining a mostly frictionless grift operating to their benefit without the potential downside of Hellery’s panted-after real, shooting war.

      TPTB still operate under the old construct of the Reagan years of outspending their weaker rival (We will bury you!), and getting them to give up. But Volodya and his people have seen that trick before, and instead of US-favored kayfabe in defense spending (think Littoral Combat vessels, or F-35s), they have been very focused on viable, and conflict-winning weapon systems, not to mention not playing PC games with their armed forces. So they are a very serious adversary if it came to blows. You know, by the proverbial “unforseen accident”. Fortunately, Volodya, being a chess player, will not be easily drawn by a bunch of truculent, drunken cowboys into precipitate actions. Delay, get those S-500s in place, generate facts on the ground in Syria to head off the creation of Jihadistan to threaten Central Asia & their southern flank, tend to the diversification of the Russian economy, watch Western Europe (and Turkey) commit suicide (thus impressing the hell out of Eastern Europe and West Central Asia with their respective displays of probity). Consolidate.

  9. BobW

    I think I know what happened! The Clinton campaign didn’t know about the Electoral College until the very last week before the election. This would explain everything – the advertising distribution, speaking locations, everything.

    1. Pat

      I’m still holding to my theory that Mook and Podesta were Russian moles.

      Although the incompetence of the Clinton campaign does fit with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s entire professional history. Her resume sounds good until you look at the work product for each bullet point. First major nominee for President, largest campaign chest of any presidential candidate, endorsements from every major newspaper and magazine, and the most hated presidential candidate ever for an opponent. What could go wrong?!?! No one here needs me to list the ways her campaign was incompetent and ill thought out. Was it Clinton’s usual incompetence OR Russian sabotage (where btw Clinton would still be incompetent because she hired them and didn’t get her campaign was out of touch.) Everyone has to decide for themselves.

      1. Marco

        I was rightly chided and ridiculed here a few days ago for also suggesting something similar. It’s probably safer to accept the “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” of incompetence argument. There were so many ways HRC failed that trying to find some over-arching mono-causal explanation is pointless.

      2. Phil

        Pat, you are so right. Few people have ever failed upward so hard for so long. She leaves in her wake a shambles in every single position.

        I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect it is that any good people who know her soon come to hate her, and eventually the personal animus overcomes their beneficent motivations. That leaves the nasty brutish and short crowd to fight it out, and you get something like the health care debacle. Or the MENA situation. Or basically, anything she has ever touched.

  10. XFR

    It’s disgraceful that the U.S. isn’t doing more to pick a fight with another nuclear power, on the basis of a claim that is based purely on an irrational gut feeling that anything bad that happens to Clinton must be the fault of the Russians, that the government itself admits is not supported by any substantial evidence, and which every single one of the people who are actually in a position to know the truth of flat-out state is false?

    This actually makes the Iraq WMD scaremongering look sane by comparison.

    It looks like they’re doubling down after the EC fiasco. Either they mount a putsch against Trump on the 6th, or they end up as the laughingstocks of American history.

    This would really be a good time for the leakers to come forward, if they’re still alive.

  11. DJG

    Pete Buttigieg, political operator since he got out of Harvard and his Rhodes Scholarship year, former consultant to the Cohen Group, two-term mayor of South Bend? (See his Wikipedia entry for the glorious résumé–he’s the Democrats’ answer to Tom Cotton when it comes to résumé building and strategic use of military service.)

    And he’s recommended by former restaurant reviewer and pseudo-Italian-expert Frank Bruni? And do I see anything about his policies? Does he have policies?

    But he would also be the first Maltese-American president.

    I realize that the first gay president will not be Lady Bunny, but Buttigieg sounds like he’s just today’s flavor of Cory Booker. At least we know where Keith Ellison stands on some big issues. Buttigieg can wait.

    1. Isolato

      Whenever I see “Rhodes Scholar” the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Rhodes, one of the most horrific monsters of colonialism, set up the Rhodes Scholar program to co-opt rising leaders, to “convert” them to the wisdom of the English-German (yes) order of things. He was explicit. Rhodes Scholars, though plenty smart, are picked more for their evident future in the hierarchy.

      1. NotTonyAbbott

        Rhodes Scholars, though plenty smart, are picked more for their evident future in the hierarchy.

        Tony Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar.

  12. Brave New World

    just have to share this news the link is in spanish about the results of the 10 years of war on drugs in mexico:
    1) the number of cartels….drum roll…. doubled from 4 to 8
    2) some 85 gangs appeared that were related in one way or another to the cartels
    3) 186,534 people assassinated and 28,947 persons disappeared

    does look awfully lot like the great humanitarian interventions by cia in the middle-east where the number of terrorist groups have… drum roll… grown since the iraq war.


    Happy New Year to all you warriors out there. You are doing a great job!

  13. Paid Minion

    The Trump Supporters/Fox News watchers around here are dancing in the streets, because the Great Satan Obama is on his way out. And a guy who (supposedly) is 100% Tea-Party approved is on his way in, to “run government like a business”

    LOL. Yeah, we’ll see how much they like “running government like a business” a couple of years from now. About as much as the locals around here like Sam Brownback, is my estimation.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that a significant percentage of the population doesn’t mind being under an oppressive dictator, as long as someone else is the subject of the oppression.

    And even if Trump screws them, they would rather suffer, than admit they were wrong.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Easy does it dude, just because people didn’t want a serial perjurer, war- mad minion of Goldman, Monsanto and the Saudis does not mean there is any street dancing around here. But if you were “for” Obama you were “for” a free pass for Wall St crime, greatly expanded global pre-crime drone murder, health reform designed to make insurance billionaires richer, and yet more wage-destroying “trade” deals. We don’t have to be “for” the orange man to be against all of that complete and utter crap.

    2. aab

      What’s the point of this straw man slur? I know I’ve seen your handle here before. I’m pretty sure you predate me as a commenter. Why bother to type all this factually accurate nonsense?

      There are maybe a half a dozen regular commenters here who could be classified as “Trump supporters”. That’s GENEROUS — I can only think of one. There are a very small handful of leftists who comment here who stated that they voted for Trump. That’s not being a Trump supporter/Fox News watcher. I argued strongly from a left wing position that Trump was the lesser evil in Trump v. Clinton, and I stand by my position. But I was never a Trump supporter, and in fact, I voted for Bernie (legally) in the general election — in California, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. I also don’t watch Fox. I don’t even watch Democracy Now at this point — too compromised.

      Barely 50% of the population voted in the general election. There were two authoritarians on the menu, so I guess you could argue that anyone who voted for either major party candidate doesn’t mind being under an oppressive dictator (reminder that it is CLINTON who had committed crimes against the state, represented dynastic control and undermined the democratic process in the primary). But that seems like a pretty weak sauce argument. Are you arguing that the only people in America who object to be ruled by a dictator are Stein, Johnson and other third party voters and those who stayed home?

      And the cognitive dissonance problem is not limited to Trump voters. Look at all the people who voted for Obama and are still begging him to reveal his progressive heart that they know is hidden somewhere in a box, or the ones still tweeting about Hillary being a feminist hero when she’s hiding out at an upscale resort rather than oppose Trump. The underlying psychology that leads marks to resisting acknowledging they’ve been conned has no ideological component at all, AFAIK.

      So: why did you type this nonsense? Do you feel better now? Wouldn’t it be even more enjoyable to type at a site where lots of similarly dishonest or deluded people comment, so they can high five you? Daily Kos, Balloon Juice and Lawyers Guns & Money are all available.

      Try Talking Points Memo. I suspect Josh Marshall would be deeply grateful to anyone commenting over there tonight about politics instead of lipstick lesbian porn.

      1. aab

        Drat. There was a posting glitch, so I couldn’t edit.

        Make that “factually INACCURATE nonsense.”

        If there are more typos, they will just have to live in infamy.

        1. ambrit

          “…lipstick lesbian porn.” Hold on a minute while I pick myself up off of the floor. Now there are makeup designated subcategories of porn? What about vegan, lipstick eschewing, healthy living lesbians? We have some of those around here, living on a horse farm. They are nice as can be. Even the ‘redneck cowboys’ get along with the girls. To us out here in Flyover Country, “Lipstick Porn” is dressing up Lolitas and being very bad people. (We don’t take the corruption of children lightly. I knew a Pentacostal minister who was caught disporting himself with a sixteen year old female parishoner and paid the price. Then there was the Middle School principal who was caught with a thirteen year old ‘girl’ and “disappeared.” No one could ever get a straight answer out of the school board about that case.

  14. Bugs Bunny

    I’m willing to go with the scribbly gum moth tracks versus a basket of dividend paying equities on the NYSE over next year. All in for the win.

  15. Altandmain

    Well, the chickens come home to roost.

    From Ars Techinca:
    White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

    I think that everyone here knew that the Democrats just wanted to try to use this to deflect responsibility. After 2003 and the made up Iraqi Nuclear Weapons, no wonder nobody trusts the intelligence agencies.

    The Democrats just invited comparison to the GOP and their decision to go to war (although they must share some of the blame there, 40% of the House Democrats and 60% of Senate Democrats voted yes IIRC on the decision to go to war in Iraq).

    They just wanted to deflect responsibility for the fact that Clinton lost to Trump. Clinton is deeply disliked, distrusted, had scandal after scandal, and was corrupt. Despite this, she looked at Trump with contempt. It was humiliating for the Democrats and they wanted to use this as a distraction.

    When push comes to shove, it comes down to this. The Democrats didn’t serve the people but the donors. People knew, saw, and enough decided Clinton was unworthy in the key states as to cost her the presidency.

    1. cwaltz

      Some of you seem to think intelligence is one sided. It rarely is. You often have conflicting information that people up higher are left to resolve. Even back before decisions were being made their were doubts about the intelligence thus the “varying reliability.”


      Part of the problem is we always seem to align ourselves with people who are suspect for example in the case of Iraq, Chalabi who seemed to have a lot of influence in the Iraq exile community.


      It also doesn’t help that we muted the influence of places like Germany and it’s intelligence officials who also warned us that some of the main sources for our intelligence was not reliable.


      Anyway people would be better off if they didn’t see things in terms of black and white when it comes to complex processes. It’s better to recognize that data can and is often manipulated by people who often have an agenda.

      1. hunkerdown

        It seems more robust and more humane to reduce the complexity than increase it. Complexity is not a legitimate public interest, nor is the existence of a ruling class.

        The point is, the CIA fails to serve the public interest, only the national one, and therefore has no right to exist in an honest society. Maybe the USA isn’t that.

        1. cwaltz

          I tend to believe complexity is reality. In an ideal world things would be transparent and people would engage honestly all the time. However, this isn’t an ideal world. Intelligence gathering is important in order to make good decisions.

          I do realize though that the CIA has done some questionable things(most often at the request of our government officials) and that as a result I can completely understand why some would call for it being disbanded.

          I just disagree about throwing out the baby with the bath water and wish that instead of disbanding it could be reformed to work efficiently.

          1. ambrit

            The problem with reforming the “intelligence” community is that it usually ends up being a change of leadership in a systemically corrupt organization. Break it all up and eliminate the duplications of effort.

          2. John Wright

            How many long standing governmental organizations ever reform from within?

            In the 1970’s there was a somewhat reform minded CIA director, William Colby.

            One can how the body politic responded to Colby’s CIA reform activity by installing two “safe” national security functionaries, G.H.W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld as suggested by Henry Kissinger..


            “Colby also focused on internal reforms within the CIA and the intelligence community. He attempted to modernize what he believed to be some out-of-date structures and practices by disbanding the Board of National Estimates and replacing it with the National Intelligence Council. In a speech from 1973 addressed to NSA employees he emphasised the role of free speech in USA and moral role of CIA as defender, not preventer of civil rights. He also mentioned a number of reforms intended to limit excessive classification of governmental information.”

            “President Ford, advised by Henry Kissinger and others concerned by Colby’s controversial openness to Congress and distance from the White House, replaced Colby late in 1975 with George H.W. Bush during the so-called Halloween Massacre in which Secretary of Defense Schlesinger was also replaced (by Donald Rumsfeld).”

            I’d argue that the actions of the CIA are known to foreign citizens and governments, while American citizens are purposely kept unaware (we’re simply making the world “safe for democracy” per Wilson, 1917).

            If the American people knew what was done by the CIA overseas, ostensibly for our public benefit, there might be less willingness to spend vast public sums when blowback (Chalmers Johnson’s term) occurs.

        2. Kevin Hall

          You know hunkerdown, you write a lot of things that I agree with. That’s a shame, because I refuse to stand beside you and support you on any of it based on your personal attacks on me in the past.

          Does it matter? Not a bit, but I just wanted you to know.

      2. Kukulkan

        It isn’t about the complexities of intelligence gathering.

        If the CIA had made a legitimate mistake in concluding that Iraq was full of WMDs in mobile labratories being driven around in the north of the country, which could be launched on 45 minutes notice and were capable of reaching the east coast of the US, that might just be an error attributable to the difficulties of the job. However, if that were the case, one would expect the agency to conduct a full review and inquiry once it turned out the conclusions were spectacularly wrong, to determine how and why they had gotten it so very, very wrong. From such an inquiry, one would expect a series of recommendations on what changes needed to be made to agency procedures to avoid such disastrous errors in the future.

        I don’t recall any such inquiry or recommendations. I certainly don’t recall anything about any changes to how the agency operates designed to avoid such errors in the future.

        This means that either:
        a) the CIA is still using the same flawed and dysfunctional procedures, so there’s no reason to think that their current work product is any more likely to be accurate;
        b) the problem wasn’t with the CIA’s procedures, the problem was that the CIA supported the claims of Iraq’s WMD because their political masters asked them to, without any concern as to whether such claims were true, meaning their current work product is also likely produced to meet the demands of their political masters, with equal disregard for truth.

        Either way, there is no strong reason to believe anything they say.

        You can call this black-and-white-thinking if you want. I call it learning from experience. Fool me once and all that.

  16. Kukulkan

    And Buttigieg, who is gay, has gained attention this year after being the subject of a profile in a New York Times with the title “The First Gay President?”

    Hey. It’s not like James Buchanan has a lot else to distinguish him. Let’s not take this from him.

    How about “First Openly Gay President”?

Comments are closed.