2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has accepted Trump’s offer to be U.S. ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported late Tuesday, citing a trio of sources close to the matter. Branstad, who met with Trump on Tuesday, has a close relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is Iowa’s second-largest export market. As the Bloomberg story pointed out, Branstad’s friendship with Xi, which goes back to 1985, was a main factor in Trump signaling — during a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, a few days before the election — that the Iowa governor would be his “prime candidate to take care of China” [Politico]. Here we see a liberal taking time out from defending Boeing:

Yes, the “Think” Progress dude later deleted his tweet. But first impulses are so telling, aren’t they? And they wonder why they keep losing.

“Fixing trade with Mexico requires raising labor standards” [Sandor Levin, The Hill]. “The economics of production in Mexico are built on labor conditions that fall far short of even the most basic internationally recognized minimum labor standards. It is nearly impossible for workers there to organize and bargain collectively. Almost all of the few unions in Mexico are shams, focused on protecting employers from their workers, not the other way around. That’s why Carrier can pay a Mexican worker 10 cents for every dollar it pays an American worker.”


2016 Post Mortem

“The Clintons have done enough damage: Steven Strauss” [The Tennessean]. Spiking the blame cannons quite effectively, from a member of the Board of Contributors at USA Today. Here’s an interesting fact I missed: “Every moment on the political campaign trail is precious. Clinton’s loss in Wisconsin, for example, might have resulted from her never having visited that state during the entire campaign. Yet, Clinton insisted on flying home most nights during the campaign season — a significant expense of money and, more important, of time and lost opportunities. Imagine if she had used those evenings for more rallies and more contact with local voters in the battleground states — to listen to their needs and concerns.” Indeed.

“Van Jones: Only a ‘Love Army’ Will Conquer Trump” [Rolling Stone]. No, no, no, no, no. For one thing, I don’t want to hear “love” in the mouth of a politician. Even I’m not that cynical. For another, don’t share your f-e-e-e-l-i-n-g-s. Show me concrete material benefits. “Paint my car,” as the punchline to that old Roseanne joke goes.

“[A]bout one quarter of whites who didn’t even think blacks and whites should date each other still supported Obama for president” [WaPo].

“Rep. Keith Ellison: I will resign my seat if I win DNC chair” [Star-Tribune]. I dunno. Wasserman-Schulz was pretty effective in rigging the primary for Clinton, and she was only a part-timer.

Trump Transition

Donald Trump: “What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen. And yet I represent the workers of the world” [Time]. Which describes the vacuum the goddamned Democrats left quite precisely. Dear Lord. (And what’s the deal with Time not even shortlisting Sanders for “Man of the Year”?

“John Kelly, Retired Marine General, Is Trump’s Choice to Lead Homeland Security” [New York Times].

“‘We’re not going to do [an ObamaCare] replacement,’ Schumer said of the Senate Democratic caucus. ‘If they repeal without a replacement, they will own it. Democrats will not then step up to the plate and come up with a half-baked solution that we will partially own. It’s all theirs'” [WaPo]. Which is silly, because ObamaCare is a “half-baked solution.” Anyhow, good to know where Schumer’s priorities are.

“Trump’s not so crazed speech in Ohio” [Ian Welsh]. Good to see somebody else actually looking seriously at a Trump speech and working from a transcript, instead of press reactions (see Naked Capitalism here, here, here, and here.)

“The job of the executive branch, headed by the President, is to enforce the law. And it’s perfectly legal for companies to move production, etc. to other countries” [Mosler Economics]. “However, the President elect is seeking to have companies that are acting legally alter their business plans by using leverage/retribution such as threatening tariffs and altering govt. contracting terms and conditions. Unconstitutional abuse of executive power?” Unlike liberals, who are rushing to create a “safe space” for Boeing, Mosler makes a serious point. But I’m not sure he’s correct. I seem to remember that when Kennedy did this, it was called “jawboning.”

“So far, Trump is acting a lot like Obama” [MarketWatch]. “Both leaders love Goldman and using the heavy hand of government to interfere in private business.” With a long list of parallel examples from Obama, including Obama wanting to kill Marine One (the President’s helicopter) and jawboning Caterpillar over layoffs. Plus ça change

“Why a Trump economic boom isn’t so farfetched” [Kenneth “Spreadsheet” Rogoff, MarketWatch]. “I am certainly not saying that repealing Obama-era regulation will improve the average American’s wellbeing. Far from it. But businesses will be ecstatic, maybe enough to start really investing again. The boost to confidence is already palpable.” Ah. The Confidence Fairy.

The Voters

UPDATE “Why Pat McCrory Lost and What It Means in Trump’s America” [Public Policy Polling]. Two reasons: Unpopular policies, and Moral Mondays nailing him on them. (Note that PPP is a Democrat shop.)

UPDATE “After the defeat of Hillary Clinton, what should the US left do next?” [New Statesman]. Vivid anecdote:

One left-leaning activist, who prefers to be identified by his blogging pseudonym Cato of Utica, campaigned door-to-door for Clinton. He explains in visceral detail his disillusionment with the party he’d worked within for roughly a decade: “I was heavily involved in North Carolina in places where the recovery never even touched. These were working poor people, and the doorbells didn’t work. If the doorbells are broken, what else is broken inside the house? What else isn’t the landlord taking care of? I looked at our candidates and none of the people I was pushing were going to address the problems in these people’s lives.”

Good summary, interesting not least because apparently the Democratic Socialists of America can only get quoted by a publication on the other side of the pond.

Our Famously Free Press

Stats Watch

I’m including yesterday’s stats.

Factory Orders, October 2016: “[A] very strong month for the factory sector as durable goods orders rose 2.7 percent” [Econoday]. “Aircraft (both civilian and defense) was October’s special strength, excluding which the gain in orders falls sharply but still comes in at a very solid 0.7 percent…. Core capital goods orders (nondefense excluding aircraft) did rise in October but not much, up only 0.2 percent and well short of offsetting a 1.5 percent decline in September. Weakness here points to trouble for business investment in the fourth-quarter GDP report. And shipments for this category have gotten off to a bad start in the quarter, down 0.1 percent in October.” And but: ” As previously discussed, manufacturing is a lot smaller than the service sector, and after falling to lower levels with the collapse in oil related capital expenditures growth is resuming at the lower levels, as the lack of aggregate demand moves deeper into the service sector” [Mosler Economics]. However: “There will still be doubts surrounding investment levels, but he data suggests that the manufacturing sector was gaining some strength ahead of the November Presidential election. The concern now will be that renewed dollar strength following the election will tend to halt the recovery as exports are subjected to renewed pressure and imports increase” [Economic Calendar].

Productivity and Costs, Q3 2016: “productivity which rose 3.1 percent for the highest reading since second-quarter last year” [Econoday]. “The rise in compensation, however, was higher than that for output.” Oh, bad show!

JOLTS, October 2016: “Job openings dipped 1.7 percent in October” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year, openings are up 2.1 percent in contrast to a 2.2 percent decline for hiring. Openings have been ahead of hiring the past two years, consistent with other data indicating that employers are having a hard time finding the right people.” If only there were some force… call it… call it an invisible hand… that would solve this problem! And: “Both employment and JOLTS job openings year-over-year growth have been slowing for the past year. This aligns with Econintersect’s Employment Index and the Conference Boards Employment Index – but both indices are forecasting moderate employment gains similar to the last fjour months weaker employment growth” [Econintersect]. And: “Job openings are mostly moving sideways at a high level… This is another solid report” [Calculated Risk].

Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index, November 2016: “Job creation remained strong in November” [Econoday]. “According to the Job Creation Index, a measure of hiring activity that began in January 2008, November’s reading tied its high of plus 33 and remained similar to October’s score of plus 32.”

Employment Situation: “Growth in multiple jobholders continues to trend up (bottom line in graph below). Meanwhile, single jobholder growth remains in an easing trend, falling to a six-month low in November” [Econintersect]. The economy is so great people have two or three jobs!

International Trade, October 2016: “The nation’s trade deficit widened substantially in October, to a higher-than-expected $42.6 billion and reflecting a 1.8 percent decline in exports and a 1.3 percent rise in imports” [Econoday]. “Goods exports were soft across the board including for foods/feeds/beverages (down $1.4 billion in the month) and also industrial supplies (down $1.0 billion). Exports of consumer goods fell $0.9 billion with exports of capital goods, barely in the plus column, held down by a $0.6 billion dip in civilian aircraft. The offset is services exports which at $63.3 billion is the highest on record and largely reflects global demand for the nation’s technical and managerial services.” Heaven help the world… And: “Trade deficit moving back out. I expect a lot more to come this quarter and next. Oil is getting more expensive and the quantity imported is up as well. The ‘one time’ soybean export bulge is behind us, and global trade in general has slowed” [Mosler Economics].

Gallup US Economic Confidence Index, November 2016: “Americans’ confidence in the economy continues its post-election improvement. Confidence has now been above the neutral mark for three consecutive weeks” [Econoday]. “The recent increase in economic confidence appears mostly to be a reaction to the presidential election — chiefly among Republicans, who are much more likely to view the economy positively after Donald Trump’s victory.” Hmm.

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 2, 2016: “Mortgage rates increased again but purchase applications for home mortgages still managed to rise 0.4 percent in the December 2 week, as previously indecisive and cautious buyers chose to lock in what are still relatively low rates before they move higher” [Econoday].

Commodities: “The world’s second most traded bulk commodity after oil, iron ore (+16% since the election and 83% year to date) has defied expectations and while the price of the steelmaking raw material is influenced more by stimulus in top consumer China, Trump’s infrastructure push should provide some support” [Mining.com].

Shipping: “The percentage of returns has also grown with the advent of e-commerce. “In the Internet age, returns have been driven to a much higher rate—two to three times higher than with a brick-and-mortar store,” says Tony Sciarrotta, executive director of the Reverse Logistics Association, an organization of companies and other players involved in returns management” [DC Velocity]

Shipping: “The next big losers in the shipping industry crisis are likely to be ports and terminals, leading to a decline in safety and services” [The Load Star]. “Yesterday, at TOC Middle East, shippers, analysts and forwarders urged the sector to halt the price race-to-the-bottom across the supply chain, to protect the remaining players…. TT Club statistics show that 73% of accidents come from operational errors – which could be mitigated by training, Lack of maintenance leads to 16% of accidents, while lack of contingency planning for events such as poor weather make up the last 11%.” Remember the oil tanker that exploded in the Pakistan ship breaker’s yard? Like that.

Shipping: “Hundreds of shippers still waiting for cargo in Hanjin boxes ‘held hostage’ by out-of-pocket ports” [The Loadstar]. “It has not been formally disclosed by authorities, but there are thought to be tens of thousands of Hanjin containers at Singapore terminals, effectively abandoned by shippers unable or unprepared to pay the deposit and other charges required to release the boxes.”

Honey for the Bears: “Restaurant traffic suffers first decline in five years as fear of recession takes hold” [MarketWatch]. “Traffic at U.S. fast-food restaurants fell 1% in the third quarter to mark the sector’s first traffic decline in five years, the industry tracker NPD Group said Tuesday. Total restaurant visits were also down 1%, hurt by the now familiar list of factors that have weighed this year, ranging from the higher costs of eating out, changing consumer behavior and higher bills for items such as rent and prescriptions.” When fast food is no longer an “affordable luxury…”

The Bezzle: “Human scum Jonathan Gray of Blackstone Group LP went on the biggest homebuying spree in history after the U.S. foreclosure crisis, purchasing repossessed properties from the courthouse steps and through online auctions. Four years, $10 billion and roughly 50,000 homes later, he will find out if his gambit will pay off. [Wall Street Journal, “Wall Street as Landlord: Blackstone Going Public with a $10 Billion Bet on Foreclosed Homes”]. “Blackstone and others investors believed that the housing collapse presented a rare opportunity to acquire homes for less than it cost to build them. Millions of foreclosures created a market large enough to justify investing in large systems to manage and maintain sprawling portfolios of rental homes. … Blackstone [aimed] to acquire enough in each market to make maintenance efficient enough to profit.” I dunno what “secret sauce” private equity brings to the table here. To be fair, Maine has the oldest housing stock in the nation, and they tend to be sprawling structures, not crap shacks, but that said: Every building manager I’ve tried who was tech-focused was a disaster. The only way to manage a Maine house is to know the physical plant, know the seasons, know the tenants, know the vendors, and do frequent spot checks on the building. Building management, in other words, will not scale as Blackstone hopes (assuming Blackstone actually wants to be a good landlord. What was I thinking?)

The Bezzle: “Our new report, The Banks That Finance Private Prison Companies, uncovers the banks that provide financing to the two largest private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly CCA). The companies rely on Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks for money to build new prisons, get huge tax breaks and expand their control of the criminal justice system. All the while, the banks profit from charging interest and fees” [Capital and Main]. “CoreCivic.” Love it.

The Bezzle: “Google parent Alphabet Inc. and others in Silicon Valley are broadening their sights from the digital to the physical world in a bid to expand their influence, and their bottom lines. They promise to reinvent everything from cars to thermostats to contact lenses. Yet in a sign of how innovation is stalling broadly in the American economy, they are finding their new terrain far harder to control than their familiar digital turf” [Wall Street Journal, “Silicon Valley Stumbles in World Beyond Software”]. Maybe Google could “innovate” by reversing the crapification of search and introducing some customer service. And maybe Apple could “innovate” by reversing the crapification of its hardware and software. Just a thought. Anyhow, the problem seems to be… stuff.

Alphabet’s 58 self-driving cars have traveled 2.2 million miles [which isn’t much], but they are still flummoxed by snow [not a lot of that in Silicon Valley] and drive so conservatively they can disrupt traffic. Its high-altitude balloons designed to beam internet to remote areas have sometimes crashed in shreds, baffling engineers. A planned interactive jacket was delayed for a year in part because its sensor-embedded threads snapped under the pull of industrial looms. The tech giant abandoned projects involving cargo blimps, vertical farming and seawater-to-fuel technology that proved too difficult or expensive.

Turns out engineering that involves stuff is hard. Makes you wonder how good Google’s software engineering really is. And their management, which seems to have a lot more money than sense. Eh?

Political Risk: “There is a high degree of probability (approaching 90%, I’d say) that Italy will experience a severe banking crisis in the next few quarters. Perhaps they can stave off the problem for a year, but something will have to be done about the banks. We’ll go into that later in the letter, since the plight of the banking system is the root cause of all the country’s other problems. Without a banking crisis, Italy would still be the political mess it has been for 65 years, but the banking mess turns the political mess into an economic mess” [Econintersect].

Political Risk: “But the engineering that helps China maintain its reputation as a superbuilder is increasingly financial… and the hundreds of ‘industrial funds’ used to back projects come weighted with complications. Critics say the funds, which use money from ordinary investors who expect present returns, merely disguise debt while piling more obligations onto strained local governments. [Wall Street Journal].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 11:36am. Mr. Market normalizing…


“Eminent Domain Moves Front and Center in Battle Against Pipelines” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “But many of the liberal groups in Nebraska were saying — no eminent domain for private gain.” Good interview with emininent domain maven Alexandra Klass, professor of law at the University of Minnesota. “Let’s say President Trump approves that permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on day one, which he said he will do. That doesn’t mean the pipeline gets built. It just resurrects the lawsuit that has been on hold in Nebraska over whether you can use eminent domain in Nebraska for oil pipelines.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Kerry James Marshall’s Met Breuer Retrospective Breaks the Canon Wide Open” [ArtNet]. This show is in New York. Has anybody been?

Our Famously Free Press

“Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have announced that they will be working together to curb the dissemination of terrorist material online. The Web giants will create a shared industry database of hashes—digital fingerprints that can identify a specific file—for violent terrorist imagery and terrorist recruitment materials that have previously been removed from their platforms” [Ars Technica]. No potential for scope creep there!

“Of Nine Tech Companies, Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump” [The Intercept].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Vietnamese women who fought for their country” [BBC]. “We always had some threat: enemy, disease, dangerous animals. Our hair fell out from malaria and we did not have enough to eat. But the strength of the mind became a physical strength. We would never give up.” And they won.

Class Warfare

“Economic growth in the United States: A tale of two countries” [Thomas Piketty, Washington Center for Equitable Growth]. “First, our data show that the bottom half of the income distribution in the United States has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s. From 1980 to 2014, average national income per adult grew by 61 percent in the United States, yet the average pre-tax income of the bottom 50 percent of individual income earners stagnated at about $16,000 per adult after adjusting for inflation.5 In contrast, income skyrocketed at the top of the income distribution, rising 121 percent for the top 10 percent, 205 percent for the top 1 percent, and 636 percent for the top 0.001 percent.”

” From Full Employment To ‘Inclusive Growth'” [Econospeak]. “But why worry about redistribution when ‘technology platforms such as taskrabbit, Alibaba, etsy, and Sama can help give smaller-scale producers and service providers a direct stake in global markets’? Not to mention the burgeoning opportunities to sell Chiclets to Uber drivers stuck in traffic jams! After all, ‘more inclusive growth requires frank talk about risks and concrete initiatives to help people adjust to new realities.'” Nonsense from Mark Carney who, as a Canadian, I had assumed to be sane. Crushed again!

News of the Wired

“This accessory fixes everything that’s wrong with Apple’s new MacBook Pro” [CNet]. Ports!

Annals of typography:

“Raise your hand if you doodle while taking notes” [Nature]. Suggestions for visual note-taking (which I use on some projects myself, and find very useful. And fun).

* * *

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:


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. tinheart

    Regarding the Intercept link “Of Nine Tech Companies, Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump”. It’s very click-baity/fake-newsy.

    If you read the article,Twitter was the only one who even responded to the hypothetical question. Six of them didn’t even bother with a response, one of them had “no comment”, and Microsoft’s comment was the “We are committed to diversity” boilerplate.

    It’s more like a “Of Nine Tech Companies, Only Twitter Bothers to Give a Substantive Answer to Our Hypothetical Question about a Muslim Registry (Six Companies Sent Our Request to Junk Mail)”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here’s the quote:

      The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.

      I find the lack of response telling; I mean, it’s not like tech firms don’t have well paid PR people to handle such matters. Your mileage may vary, and apparently does.

      And I find your characterization of reportorial questions from The Intercept tendentious, to say the least. Here’s the methodology:

      After two weeks of calls and emails, only three companies provided an answer, and only one said it would not participate in such a project. A complete tally is below.

      Nothing click-baity there at all. Smarter Silly Valley suck-ups, please.

      1. tinheart

        Mr. Strether, I apologize for any implied mis-characterization of The Intercept’s work. I’ll admit to not knowing how requests from a website like The Intercept would be handled by the PR office of a major technology firm like Apple or Google.

        However, I shall stand by my criticism of the headline: it implies (in my opinion) that the other eight companies gave some variation of “yes” as a response.

        1. hunkerdown

          With respect, you underestimate “a website” at your own peril. Especially “a billionaire’s website”, which are even more influential (for better or worse).

        2. aab

          Your word usage is revealing. The Intercept is a “website.” But that’s somewhat like calling the New York Times a pad of paper. The Intercept is a journalistic enterprise, funded by a well-connected billionaire and led by one of the most famous critics of government surveillance and corruption in the English-speaking world.

          This is is why all those companies evaded giving a direct answer. If they could honestly have said, “no,” they would have. It is the job of the PR department to deal with EXACTLY these kinds of inquiries promptly. The Intercept displayed a great deal of patience. If the Times had had the moral courage to ask, they would not have waited two weeks for an answer. The headline is accurate. A headline is supposed to entice you into reading the article. That’s part of how journalism works. Major papers used to keep people on staff who ONLY wrote headlines; that was their specialty. They were (and if any still exist, still are) incredibly valuable to the enterprise. A good headline is not required or intended to be a summary of the entire story, including the conclusion. I can’t tell whether it’s naivete on your part, affirmative bias favoring Big Tech or traditional, corporate media companies, or it’s mere stubborness. But you’re basically accusing of The Intercept of committing well-crafted journalism, then suggesting that practicing journalism is bad.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        An excellent description of the “volatility voter”:

        So some people — and not nearly as many as you would think — chose to roll the dice and vote for an outlier.

        What have they to lose? They have been rolling snake eyes for three decades now. Perhaps some change is better than more of the same?

        I think they are wrong, but I do understand the sentiment.

        Go ahead, say you are going to hire fifty people for good jobs with benefits and watch the line form in the night with people sleeping in the cold for a chance at a good job.

  2. JM

    Re: Mosler’s point on “the job of the executive branch, headed by the President, is to enforce the law. And it’s perfectly legal for companies to move production, etc. to other countries.”

    I have to say the media just keeps failing and failing and failing on Trump. Increasingly we see the media framing this as Trump picking “winners and losers” a la industrial policy which is just laughable on its face. I mean, heaven forfend the Office of the President say anything negative about a specific corporation. Someone needs to nip this form of pearl clutching in the bud because ACTUALLY picking winners and losers is something far more complex — see Chalmers Johnson’s account of MITI in Japan and Alice Amsden’s account of South Korea (“Asia’s Next Giant”).

    At least in the case of South Korea, picking winners and losers meant running extensive planning operations (i.e. forecasting) from which the national government would force the Treasury to offer subsidized credit on the condition that corporations (Chaebols in South Korea) meet production targets for exports at a given cost (i.e. increase market share, etc.). There was extensive monitoring in the form of regular planning meetings and nearly daily phone calls. When the leaders of a Chaebol didn’t meet their targets they got the ax (in other words, Park Chung-Hee was comfortable saying “YOU’RE FIRED!).

    The point is picking winners and losers means one is capable of disciplining capital. Read any heterodox account of South Korea and you will learn that the discipline (to both capital and labor) was swift and ruthless. Can Donald Trump discipline American corporations via Twitter? Hardly. Can he shame companies into behaving in different ways. It looks like it is possible and we’re definitely going to find out. Look how preposterously sensitive financial markets are these days. Nonsense talk on Twitter about a single (admittedly important) airplane temporarily evaporated 4% of a corporation’s market value!

    Trump is not picking winners or losers. He is playing politics and doing it will. It is not a stretch for most American’s to believe major multinational corporations are not on their side. The real risk would be shaming the “quintessential” American corporation but those do not really exist anymore. So Trump accurately surmises there is very little downside risk to publicly shaming corporations that interact with the government and likely a substantial upside. And, despite all the contradictions with Trump’s populism and cabinet appointments, people that go to the polls are going to love this stuff and it is going to resonate.

      1. Frog on a Hill

        Trump is a principal. He is not an agent.

        It’s been a long time since we’ve had a principal as president.

        1. Ulysses

          This is actually a very important point!!

          This is what so terrifies the MSM punditocracy about the Donald. People like Thomas Friedman, consciously or not, have become used to making the world more congenial for billionaires– without having to take commands directly from billionaires.

          Now that the President-elect Donald can make things happen by jumping on the Twitter (and soon assemble the press in the Rose Garden) the neoliberal hacks are nervous. It’s as if President Obama, the easygoing son-in-law acting boss who wouldn’t fire you for incompetence, has been replaced by The Old Man Himself in the corner office.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “So Trump accurately surmises there is very little downside risk to publicly shaming corporations that interact with the government and likely a substantial upside.”

      I’m calling it…if Trump ever attacks Comcast and Time Warner cable, his approval ratings go to 70%+ pretty much instantaneously.

      If he attacked Monsanto, he’s steal Jill Stein’s voters, too! :) At least this one! :)

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘The point is picking winners and losers means one is capable of disciplining capital.’

      ‘Disciplining’ as in South Korea’s gov-sponsored “sorcerer’s apprentice” shipbuilding industry, still cranking out boats that nobody ordered as a jobs program.

      Maybe they can sink them on their maiden voyage, and make artificial reefs. All green, all good. ;-)

      1. JohnnyGL

        “Maybe they can sink them on their maiden voyage, and make artificial reefs. All green, all good. ;-)”

        Hey, we’re trashing the natural reefs at a blistering pace, we might need to make a few ourselves to make up for the losses!

      2. polecat

        Speaking of maiden voyages … maybe Van Jones can board the USS LOVE BLOAT …. and take the Lena Dunhams of the world in tow !

    3. Roger Smith

      “And, despite all the contradictions with Trump’s populism and cabinet appointments, people that go to the polls are going to love this stuff and it is going to resonate.”

      Excellent summary/wording of my interpretation of Trump thus far and what I was trying to articulate in a comment about Carrier last week.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Right after the Carrier announcement, the question was, what about tariffs?

        Now, we are talking tariffs.

  3. temporal

    This accessory fixes everything that’s wrong with Apple’s new MacBook Pro

    Except for the RAM and SSD being soldered to the logic board and these “pros” having the lowest repair rating IFixit gives, everything should be good to go. Until, something whacks that USB-C port and Apple tells you what they think of non-Apple devices on their single useful port that is.

    I’m fixing the keyboard on my old timey 2010 Macbook Pro as soon as the part arrives at my house, with a 20 dollar replacement. Kind of a pain, compared to the old G4 portables, but at least it is in the realm of the possible.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Having to add dongles invalidates the sleek design concept of minimizing ports. Whereas my old-school laptop with three USB ports, VGA, HDMI, and Ethernet ports connects to everything I ever want to hook it up to, with no accessories to buy or misplace.

      A MacBook Pro is like an ice chest without handles. You have to buy a cargo net “accessory” to carry it. But your friends will ooh and ahh over the design-patented radiused corners. :-)

  4. Art Myatt

    If you are concerned about being tracked by your mobile phone, with or without malware to do the tracking, then you should consider the possible uses of a Faraday cage to prevent it. There’s a rough explanation of how this works at http://killyourphone.com/, along with instructions on how to make your own Faraday cage to fit your phone or tablet. The best part is that, since this is based on fundamental physical principles and not on some “app,” there is no possibility of any sort of hacking bypassing the Faraday cage. No signals get in or out, period. You can, of course, also look up “Faraday cage” on Wikipedia or on an internet search – DuckDuckGo should be better than Google if you’re suspicious of Google data collection – to find out more. The Faraday cage is the basic idea behind the “RF secure” wallet to prevent remote access to your credit card chips or magnetic strips. There are commercial versions available if you don’t want to make your own. At any rate, it is technically possible to carry your mobile phone with you in case you want to use it, while blocking all sorts of tracking. Using a Faraday cage will also prevent any incoming calls from being received, but’s of course, you also will not be able to get an incoming call if you have left your phone at home, so that’s a wash.

    1. temporal

      Of course there is also a slightly less complex option that works almost the same way.

      Turn the thing off unless needed. If a person is really, really concerned and the phone is old enough take the battery out.

      1. reslez

        Unless you remove the batteries (all of them, and not all are obvious) most cell phones can be turned on remotely. This is a feature, not a bug… unless you value the 4th Amendment. This is why people resort to Faraday cages. You can’t hack a Faraday cage.

    2. ambrit

      One could also do what Phyllis and I often do, we being certified Geezers, (Geezers Plateau is not just a place to meditate,) which is forget about the d—-d thing and leave our “dumb phone” at home when we go out for visits or to shop.
      I do remember seeing Faraday pouches for sale on an obscure aisle at the Academy store once.
      Craazyman can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that the University of Magonia is ensconced inside a Faraday Dimension. gives a whole new meaning to The Unseen University.

    3. YY

      Use a dumb phone. $40 card phone from China, size of 4 stacked credit cards works a treat.
      Take the sim out of the smartphone and GPS will work and you won’t be tracked, although it turns into a pad and no longer a phone. But the last thing a smart phone is, is a phone.

      1. reslez

        If you’re still able to surf the web, you’re on wifi and there are plenty of ways you and your phone can be tracked.

  5. Vatch

    Does Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speak or read any Chinese? That might have some relevance for the position of U.S. Ambassador to China.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      At least he has to like Chinese food.

      “I will have your best Buddha-Jumps-Over-the-Wall, minus the shark fin, prepared by a real Chinese chef, not some immigrant novice-cook.”

    2. Uahsenaa

      Ambassadors quite often don’t speak the language of the country they work in. It’s not a massive barrier.

      What’s more important in East Asian countries is established relations, and Iowa, as a major pork producer, is extremely important to China as a major pork consumer. That, and the UI has shored up it’s budget in recent years by admitting a large number of Chinese students. The connections run deep. I personally don’t like Branstad, but if you had to pick a Republican ambassador, this is an incredibly smart choice. A number of Chinese officials who have visited the US over the years have made exactly two stops: DC and Des Moines. That’s not an accident.

      1. craazyboy

        Well, the world’s cheapest corn and wheat come from Iowa……

        As far as pork goes, the Chinese just buy a US pork company wholesale.

    3. Tigerlily

      American ambassadorships, especially to plum posts like London and Rome, are usually reserved for top drawer donors with no diplomatic background, let alone relevant linguistic and cultural skills.

      It’s not doubt part of the reason that American foreign policy has accumulated such a glowing record of accomplishment.

      1. Vatch

        One would hope that the U.S. Ambassador in London would understand the language spoken by the natives. . . .


  6. Matt

    As a Canadian, myself, I am compelled to inform the world that Canadians are not at all sane. Perhaps some…but not many. Certainly not Mr. Carney. Not that there is anything wrong with being not-sane. Sometimes being insane gets results. (Let history decide if they were positive). As a Canadian patriot, I am honoured to tell all who will listen that our first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald was a cunning rogue who patched together a pretty big country (that has done some benign-to-good things) in between bouts of complete and utter drunkenness. He even moonlighted for a few weeks by going on a whisky binge and joining a circus as it trekked across parts of Ontario. His job was to shadow a dancing bear. But boy did he get things done!

    1. divadab

      Matt – don’t forget Mackenzie-King, who when Prime Minister would visit his mother’s grave and consult her when he had difficult decisions to make. Although a quiet half-hour of meditation and contemplation of eternal verities like death is probably a sensible approach to decision-making!

    1. geoff

      I read that as well, and while I agree with the basic point that Mattis is not an obvious lunatic in the way some of the other appointments are (like say Flynn), I cannot understand how Patraeus and Mattis get so much credit for the vaunted “surge” in Iraq. If their COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy was so effective, then why are Iraq and Afghanistan in chaos now?

      That said, we could do a lot worse.

      1. different clue

        In the most limited analytical sense, after The Surge ( really working with the disillusioned Sunni-Arab Sons Of Iraq militias) to defeat al quaeda in the Sunni Arab areas . . . . the Shia Supremacist and corrupt Dictator-Lootermaster al-Maliki double-crossed every promise he made to the Sunni Arabs in general and the Sons of Iraq militias in particular. He went right straight back to Shia Supremacists Looterism and Oppressionism and over time drove the Sunni Arabs right back to al quaeda.

        So the “surgists” won the “surge” and gave the victory all tied up to al Maliki. And al Maliki then very wantonly and maliciously threw the victory away.

        So the real-world distinction which exists between the military forces which win strictly military victories and the various political scum filth leaderships in authority which throw those victories away should be faced up to. Lessons-learnable can be debated.

        1. John

          Didn’t you mean: really paying off or bribing disillusioned Sunni-Arab Sons of Iraq militias? For which “working with” is a wonderfully sanitized euphemism. Bribery is certainly one method for getting things done…but is not too effective once the money stops…hence the current chaos. The American/Neoliberal doctrine of everything for sale and I must know best because I’m rich is just more late stage imperial decline.

          1. LifelongLib

            “…paying off or bribing…”

            Nothing new about that. It used to be called fighting with silver bullets.

          2. Skip Intro

            And once they had armed and bribed the Sunni insurgents and retreated to the green zone, there were suddenly no more al quaeda to fight, mirabile dictu. The surge was a masterpiece of PR, making capitulation and retreat look like winning aggression in time for the election.

            1. Felix_47

              Based on my experience in AFG and IRQ the whole thing was a way for the connected on top to get their hands on as many dollars as they could. In fact, $4000 to the Taliban bought your Haji fuel truck safe passage from J-Bad on the Pak border to whatever FOB you wanted and I never saw one hit. The Taliban and Al Qaeda want the same things we do……a house in Santa Barbara, a ski house in Aspen and a pied a terre in London and they want their kids to go to an Ivy League school and marry a Goldman banker or a US doctor.

  7. foghorn longhorn

    People tend to forget that Ronnie Raygun the Great imposed a tariff on all imported motorcycles over 650cc in an effort to save then flailing Harley Davidson from emminent bankruptcy.
    Seems to have worked, and as an added bonus the 650cc and less market is quite vibrant to this day.

    1. JohnnyGL

      People also forget that he pushed Toyota and the European car makers to set up assembly plants in the US to avoid ‘voluntary’ import restrictions.

      He also negotiated the Plaza Accord to devalue the dollar vs. the Yen (and German Mark) in 1986.

  8. geoff

    RE “The Clintons have done enough damage” (Tennesseean), off topic of the article itself, but with their recent purchase of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Gannett (USA Today) now owns the major newspapers in all three of Tennessee’s largest cities: Memphis, Nashville (The Tennesseean), and Knoxville (The News-Sentinel). Does the concentrationof media ownership count as crapification?

  9. alex morfesis

    Mosler is out of his mind…or talking his book (hat tip upton)…corporations can move their production to where ever they want ???…

    lucky for corp general counsels most lawyers eat the nonsense fed to them by corp shill corps lex/nex and west…

  10. MightyMike

    Regarding Governor Branstad and Ian Milleheiser, the ThinkProgress guy, there are people on the coasts who have contempt for people in the people in Middle American. However, if there are also plenty people in the middle of the country who have contempt for people who live on the coasts. Barry Goldwater famously thought that it would be good to cut the East Coast off the continent and let it float into the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t remember reading what the response was, but my guess is that people just laughed it off as a goofy remark form a cranky cowboy. Of course, he was the candidate of his party, not some obscure columnist.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is a Spanish movie about the Iberian Peninsula breaking off from the continent and drifting into the Atlantic.

    2. Jim Haygood

      You have to wonder whether Ian Millhiser was even aware that Gov. Branstad has known China’s premier for over 30 years … which will serve him (and us) well in a culture where guanxi (connections) count for far more than technical knowledge.

      Probably not. Likely Millhiser was just shooting from the hip, spewing his well-honed urban bigotry for rural deplorables.

      1. Roger Smith

        But, but… did he graduate from Haahvaad? Or perhaps Columbia? What are his “credentials”? How many start ups is he invested in?

      2. Tigerlily

        …which will serve him (and us) well in a culture where guanxi (connections) count for far more than technical knowledge.

        You make it sound as if this is atypical rather than normative…including in the good ol’ US of A.

      3. craazyboy

        Millhiser probably knows corn and wheat is grown out somewhere west of the Hudson. Prolly Calefornia, or some such place. And he heard from Trump’s cab driver there is no drought in CA – so almonds, corn and wheat could probably balance the trade deficit with China. If DeeCee kicks in a few bucks.

    3. Vatch

      As I asked at 2:52 PM, does Terry Branstad speak or read Chinese? So what if he’s met Xi a few times? People who regularly attend the Davos meetings know lots of movers and shakers. Does that mean that we want to be ruled by them?

      1. Lynne

        Don’t underestimate a relationship that goes back decades in the context of increasing trade that makes China the biggest export market for many states. China is the second largest importer from Iowa and a substantial export market for other US states, and trade delegations go back and forth quite a bit, with Iowa being ground zero for exports to China. President Xi was part of one of the early visits back in 1985, when the Chinese delegation were split up in their host town to sleep in homes that had spare bedrooms (a little different from Davos). He made a point of going back and visiting his hosts when he visited Iowa in 2012. See http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0215/Why-is-China-s-Xi-Jinping-going-to-Iowa. That’s the kind of thing that matters; connections count.

        Yes, there is obviously much more to our relationship with China, but perhaps it’s a good sign that the new group is getting someone who is actually aware of the ties that middle America has been building with China, unlike some ignorant boor from the chattering classes like Ian Millhiser.

          1. Lynne

            No, but small business certainly does. For comparison, take a look at the stats for exports by small and medium-sized goods exporters from a few states surrounding it:

            SD: 75% http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports/states/sd.pdf
            NE: 81% http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports/states/ne.pdf
            MN: 87% http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports/states/mn.pdf
            IA: 83% http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports/states/ia.pdf

            Those are jobs held by, you know, working people. Meanwhile, China wants our technology. You don’t think Chinese consumers were unaffected by all the food adulteration scandals, do you?

  11. ambrit

    I believe that the antidote is a Camellia. It being this time of year, (hmmm… did I just type that?) it might be a Sasanqua camellia variety. The Sasanquas are out here Deep Down South. Many have a distinctive odour that is something like a perfume meets industrial cleaner scent.

  12. Jim

    Quote of the year:

    Trump: “What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen. And yet I represent the workers of the world.”

    Is this the politics of rage without the Leninist party?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like so many things, it has been done before, in China. From Wikipedia:

      Xu Xiangqian (Chinese: 徐向前; pinyin: Xú Xiàngqián; Wade–Giles: Hsü Hsiang-ch’ien; November 8, 1901 – September 21, 1990) was a Chinese Communist military leader and one of the Ten Marshals of the People’s Liberation Army. He was the son of a wealthy landowner, but joined Chiang Kai-shek’s National Revolutionary Army, against his parents’ wishes, in 1924. When the Kuomintang began to fight the Communists in 1927, Xu left Chiang’s forces and led a Communist army based in Sichuan under the political authority of Zhang Guotao.

    2. jrs

      Class warfare is action or it is nothing. Class warfare is a verb.

      No the action of electing a billionaire doesn’t exactly cut it (even if a few crumbs manage to reach the masses).

  13. MikeW_CA

    “But businesses will be ecstatic, maybe enough to start really investing again.” Yeah. And that might cause an economic boom if what ails the economy were a lack of investment, rather than of demand for the products and services such investment might produce. Businesses invest because they need to do so in order to satisfy demand for what they’re selling. Without that demand, no amount of investor ecstasy will yield much job-creating investment.

    Republicans have been peddling “Supply Side” remedies for 40 years. It’s possible, but far from proven, that the conditions that might benefit from those remedies — that is, conditions in which investors were withholding investment that was necessary or even useful to satisfy demand because taxes were too high or regulations too onerous — might have existed 40 years ago. It’s highly unlikely that the problem with today’s economy is on the supply side.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Stocks went KABOOM today, with the Dow, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 all powering to record highs. The Nasdaq fell 0.1% short of its Nov 25th record.

    Dow 20,000 is now just 2.3% away. The big round number is likely to be tested in the next few days or weeks. Bubble III is entering its blowout phase. But the fat lady is still backstage in her dressing room.

    Well, gotta go — Dr Hussman’s out on a ledge, threatening to leap into an “air pocket.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For the good doctor, it’s always the darkest before dawn.

      Except, it gets darker, AFTER the dawn of a Dark Age…as you enter deeper into that Dark Age, it gets darker.

      So, the key here is to avoid getting too close to a dark age.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Huh … Drudge just posted a lead headline in bold red caps … DOW RACES TO 20,000!

        Memes like this can become self-fulfilling prophecies for the thundering herd.

        Maybe he saw it here first [the linked article makes no mention of Dow 20,000]. ;-)

    2. John k

      Hussman’s favorite chart predicts 1% annual total return over the next decade, and it has been a pretty good predictor for more than a half century.
      I will stay with my long bonds until the next recession.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Concur with Dr Hussman’s projection of 1% annual return over the next decade.

        But this forecast gives no useful information about how a portfolio should be positioned now — any more than a forecast that the Yankees will win two of the next ten World Series tells us which year to make that bet.

        Long bonds should do great during the next recession. Probably not so good until it starts, though.

        1. divadab

          Boy why am I not surprised to find a couple of Hussman fans on this board of contrarians and dissenters!

  15. curlydan

    Those two WSJ articles (Wall St landlords and Google’s non-digital struggles) are very similar.

    They could both be sub-titled “Can you gain easy profits while getting your hands dirty?”

    I don’t think WSJ even mentioned Google’s pullback on GoogleFiber–i.e. its foray into fiber optic cable. They came to Kansas City and started digging trenches after getting sweetheart deals from the cities around here. My thought was, why does a company like Google want to get down in the dirt so much when they can make so much money from a distance? Learning about surveillance capitalism eventually answered my question, but Google recently said that they’re not going the fiber route anymore. You see, getting your hands dirty is too tough and inconvenient.

    The same goes for Wall St landlords getting local and into “toilets and tenants”.

    I actually think they could do this at least in the short run if they buy dirt cheap houses (less available now) in targeted markets, require HIGH deposits, and outsource and squeeze the hell out of all the property management without quite breaking them. Unfortunately, they’ll eventually leave a trail of disgruntled property managers and tenants in their wake (similar to Uber with their drivers) while local landlords could likely advertise they’re not nationally managed.

    1. Art Eclectic

      You see, getting your hands dirty is too tough and inconvenient.

      Even Verizon bailed out of the fiber business. Last mile, physical delivery only works when you have a monopoly and can completely restrict other means of supply. Fiber is not the only way to get internet, cable has wired most everywhere already and there is satellite available. It’s also not a stretch that power utilities could start delivering internet access as well. Natural gas and water are the only services truly immune at this point because building out competing infrastructure is just not going to happen and it is not possible to deliver water or natural gas by any means other than physical delivery. Electric is facing increasing competition from home solar (even some wind generation) and the growing availability of storage options.

      Google would be wiser to focus on wireless access, which they’ve been testing. I’ll dump my exorbitantly expensive hard-line fiber as soon as someone provides a wireless solution.

      1. Oregoncharles

        We have wireless access; it works quite well. DSL was the only other option here (I’m not dealing with the cable company), and it was horrid. The wireless is cheaper, too. However, we’re just far enough from the transmitter that it’s necessary to have a very tall tree so the receiver can “see” the signal. This actually justifies my failure to have that tree cut down when it was doable.

        Douglas firs don’t really belong in people’s yards, but this one is justifying its existence.

        The wireless company has been around for at least 10 years. It also serves as a locally-owned ISP.

  16. Knot Galt

    The Clintons have done enough damage: Steven Strauss

    Maybe Clinton was actually ill and needed daily medical care?

    1. divadab

      I think she should have followed the (Artist who used to be called) Prince approach – he brought his entire bedroom along on tour – his roadies would take the furniture out of his hotel room and replace it with his bed and other stuff – so he always slept in his own bed on tour.

      Seems strange but it makes total sense to me. I’d rather sleep on the floor in my own bedding than in a hotel bed when traveling.

    2. gepay

      she was having trouble with the campaigning she did do – that is where the concerns about her health came from – the coughing fits – the trouble at times answering questions – the stumbling – the obvious health related handler

  17. 3.14e-9

    Re: Trump transition considering drilling on Native lands, continuing discussion…

    The Reuters story came through my FB feed two days ago (I posted it immediately in the 12/5/2016 links, but I’m on the West Coast and often too far behind the NC curve to be relevant). Right after that, another post came into my feed about legislation to grab Ute land for drilling. There was no information about the bill number or sponsor, but I looked it up on Congress.gov and am pretty sure it’s H.R.5780, the “Utah Public Lands Initiative Act.” The Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management opposed it, because it proposes turning over management of federal lands to the state of Utah, and the bill didn’t go anywhere.

    Under a Republican DOI and BLM, a reintroduced bill would have enough support to pass and could be a model for privatization being discussed by the Trump Transition team; the groundwork already has been laid. Although state management doesn’t necessarily translate to privatization, it’s not hard to see how that would be the likely outcome. It’s also not hard to see how it could create a huge division within the tribal community.

    Here’s a story from The Salt Lake Tribune on the Tribe’s response:


    1. curlydan

      Speaking of drilling on Native lands, we need to drill right next to Chaco Canyon, amiright?


      “Since 800 AD, Chaco has stood. Once a thriving town in its own right, its ruins are now a reminder of the breadth and depth of the American past. These comments opposing the furthering of gas leasing in the Greater Chaco Region should be unnecessary; it is a national tragedy that they are not.

      Today, 91% of Northwest New Mexico public lands are under lease to oil and gas interests. On that 91% are over 40,000 active wells. This current level of development fragments critical wildlife habitat, pollutes our air, fouls our water, and risks the health of everyone who lives in the Four Corners region. New development would only exacerbate these problems.”


      1. 3.14e-9

        Thanks for the lead. I did a little digging and found the BLM document for the lease sale of the four parcels near Chaco, scheduled for January 25, 2017. It doesn’t look to me like there’s anything in it that binds the Trump Interior Department to the requirements on the developers, what few there are. The report is nearly 100 pages and boils down to, “Here’s all the information we gathered, here are the written comments we received, here are all the applicable laws, and here’s our conclusion that there will be no significant impact from fracking on these parcels.”

        I used to write for a wonky energy newsletter in Washington. I covered mostly coal, but occasionally I had to fill in for the reporter who covered BLM leasing. Much of my job was reading endless boring reports like this one, talking to environmentalists who said the reports sucked, and questioning Interior assistants to assistant deputy undersecretaries, who said the reports met or exceeded standards in all applicable laws, and the environmentalists were a bunch of obstructionists, against everything, and hypocrites to boot because they drove cars and sat in hot tubs made with petroleum products. .

        Based on my experience, which was mostly in a Republican administration, the Trump people will go through the motions and pretend not to see what the developers are doing until someone complains, then will side with the developer in claiming they have met or exceeded all requirements, forcing citizens to take them to court for every single violation.

        If you’re interested, here’s the report:

        1. curlydan

          thanks for that report! it didn’t involve quite as many acres as I thought, but it’s still crazy that they’ll likely ignore all the pleas from Natives and environmental and wildlife organizations.

  18. Vatch

    Trump has chosen Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is an enthusiastic opponent of environmental regulations, which matches some of Trump’s other choices, such as a public school opponent to lead the Department of Education and an adversary of women’s health to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Many articles, here’s one:


    1. Annotherone

      I had a forlorn hope that Trump and Ivanka’s meeting with Al Gore the other day might have done some good. Apparently not. I understand our OK Gov. Mary Fallin has been chosen by Trump as vice chair of some committee too. Trump is very welcome to both those horrors, except that they’ll do more harm nationally than they could locally, and OK will simply replace them with duplicate horrors. I guess Trump is rewarding OK for its unfortunate loyalty to “the red”. :(

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We are like we were 2,000 years ago – yearning for the immaculate one.

        Scene from then, in a remote Roman province: “He must not only save us, but should be infallible, not like that guy who got lost in the desert for decades.”

        Trump is far, far from that.

        With him, it’s like, is it half full or half empty?

        And for those can see like an eagle, maybe it’s, is it 3/4 empty or 1/4 full?

        1. Annotherone

          Or with just a few dregs remaining – mostly bitter-tasting dregs. But if one is dying of thirst…..

  19. stefan

    Yes, I saw the Kerry James Marshall show at the Met Breuer, and it’s definitely worth the visit! (It closes on January 29.)

    KJM is perhaps most famous for his painting of Nat Turner leaving behind a beheaded a white woman in a bed, but I thought that painting was far less interesting than the bulk of his work on display (two floors worth!). His paintings are large, the scope of his work is quite ambitious, he’s been working for a long time. His painting captures the poignant desire of the African-American to simply live a life of normalcy, and in this sense it’s an expression of the blues in today’s setting. His painterly handling (with a fair mix of collage) is somewhat clunky, but enables him to reach melancholy notes that are not heard often in visual art, sort of like Thelonius Monk on keyboard.

    It’s instructive to compare his show with a smaller Max Beckmann show at the Met on 5th Avenue (up until February 20th, and also well worth seeing). Beckmann’s painterliness, especially notable for its use of black, is much more “sophisticated”, while his compositions also sometimes tread a similar sort of “magical-realist” line of surrealism. Even though his enigmatic compositions are often noted for their sense of foreboding (in his case, of world war), in actual feeling his enigmas are less convincing than Marshall’s. Sophistication cuts both ways though, and Beckmann’s portraits of his wife Quappi are simply wonderful, touching us so intimately.

    Anyway, let’s just put it this way, Marshall and Beckmann are in the same league, and that’s the League of Great Painters.

    1. beth

      I haven’t seen Kerry James Marshall’s work, and don’t see his exhibit coming close enough for me to see it. Yet I have found two black artists recently that should have been in the Abstract Expressionists canon. Both Alma Thomas and Norman Lewis names should be above those of Jackson Pollock and Frank Stella. Sadly, I just learned of them this year. Both of them painted in realistic and abstract styles.

      Let’s hope this changes for new artists.

    2. AarCanard

      Black Injustice Tipping Point

      “Kerry James Marshall’s Met Breuer Retrospective Breaks the Canon Wide Open” [ArtNet]. This show is in New York. Has anybody been?

      Yes. Saw it twice–once in Chicago, once in NYC. The kind of art that really makes you aware of racism (his characters are painted with black paint and so become hard to see/read, almost disappearing) and how it ties into ideas of class (aspirations, dreams) by using old forms, sly wit, and a touch of wistfulness. Not that there aren’t any confrontational pieces, but those didn’t stick with me so much. Absolutely worth a visit.

      Seeing it the weekend after the presidential election was salutary.

  20. allan

    U.S. Senate joins House to pass sweeping stinking new health bill

    Fixed it for you, Reuters.

    Since TPP wasn’t on the table, the world’s greatest deliberative body had to find another monstrosity to ram down the voters’ throats in the name of bipartisanship. As is always the case with lame duck bills (see, 2010 and 2012), the Dems, or at least their constituents, got the crumbs and the GOP got the foie gras.

    Short term, non-guaranteed additional funding for NIH offset by permanent loosening of rules for Big Pharma.
    With Smilin’ Joe presiding over it all.

  21. Daryl

    > for violent terrorist imagery and terrorist recruitment materials that have previously been removed from their platforms

    This won’t accomplish anything. These people are smart enough to keep opening accounts, they’re smart enough to change a single pixel or character and thereby alter the hash. I don’t think perceptual hashes are anywhere good enough to prevent this either.

    1. hunkerdown

      Mass surveillance would seem to favor sensitivity over specificity as its budget grows and its volume and sourcing increases. Specificity is what the human analysts are for. The less of the full take humans have to read, the better for their operations. So an auto-flagging algo would benefit them.

      Without knowing what was on that redacted XKeyScore slide about document tracking, the effectiveness of countermeasures can’t be known with any certainty. For instance, the w:rsid attribute, a 32-bit id representing a unique edit session that Word sprinkles throughout documents whenever elements are created or touched, could be used to effectively winnow documents of uninteresting lineage out of a small corpus or fast-moving stream. After half a dozen (or less) sessions, the set of session ids present in the doc is probably globally unique to that document and its next several edit sessions, affording plenty of specificity.

  22. Pat

    Enacting tariffs on corporations who move production out of the country doesn’t prohibit them from moving. It just recognizes that such moves damage the economy and put undue expense on the federal, state and local governments where those jobs no longer exist. It requires the corporations to shoulder the burdens produced by that choice rather than allowing them to continue to profit by pushing that onto the public.
    They will merely have to decide whether the move is worth it when they must pay the cost associated with that move. It isn’t as if their corporate leadership will face prison time for what might be considered a treasonous or murderous act for a “person”.

  23. Pirmann

    Trump’s speech in Fayetteville, NC last night was pretty good.

    These were the highlights, to me – I hope he’s able to follow through once in office:

    “…a commitment to only engage the use of military forces when it’s in the vital national security interest of the United States. We don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that just we shouldn’t be fighting in”

    “We will stop racing to topple foreign — and you understand this, foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with. Instead our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS. And we will. Any nation that shares these goals will be our partner in this mission. We won’t forget it. We want to strengthen all friendships and seek out new friendships rather than a rigid dogma. We are guided by the lessons of history and a desire to promote stability, stability all over and strength in our land. This destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally, folks, come to an end, come to an end.”

    “We seek harmony and goodwill among the nations of the world, and we believe that respect from mutual sovereignty helps form the basis of trust and understanding, but we don’t want people taking advantage of us anymore. We don’t want countries taking advantage of us anymore. We don’t want that. We don’t want that.”

    We will ask Congress to reform our visa and immigration programs to protect jobs and wages for American workers, and we will be appointing very shortly somebody to head up our program. And I will tell you, this person, like General Mattis, will do a phenomenal job because we’re going to stop people from coming into our country illegally, but we’re going to have people come into our country. And they’re going to come in by the thousands and the hundreds of thousands, but they’re going to come in. They are going to come in legally, right…

  24. UserFriendly

    I’m working on a policy platform for a group… Here are some of the things I’m putting for economic planks. Any suggestions?

    • Institute an Employer of Last Resort Policy.
    • Prohibit employers from checking the credit score of applicants.
    • Economic Bill of Rights
    • Reinstate Bankruptcy protections for Student Debt.
    • Use quantitative easing to write off student debt enabling young americans to participate in the economy.
    • Reinstate Usury laws setting a maximum interest rate that can be charged for loans and credit cards.
    • Enact a law that mandates that lenders cannot require individuals to pay more than 30% of their income to service debts.
    • Force banks to write off debts when housing prices drop and mortgages end up being more than the value of the house.
    • Break up the too big to fail banks.
    • Require the Attorney General to seek prosecutions every time a financial institution is fined for rule breaking.
    • Ban bank executives and lobbyists from serving in government oversight rolls without a waver.
    • Pass the working families agenda: fair scheduling, earned sick and safe time, and wage theft protections

    1. UserFriendly

      • A financial transaction tax.
      • Require that any enterprise receiving taxpayer funds shall not compensate that enterprise’s highest paid person in an amount greater than twenty-five times what the lowest compensated person receives.

      1. alex morfesis

        usury does not need to be brought back…just need a better batch of “consumer defense” lawyers who might actually bother reading the full 18 pages of Marquette Nat’l v First of Omaha [439 US 299 (1978)]…maximum allowed interest rate in the state of origin and proper authorization/dba within the state where card being offered…

        in south dakota, the max rate for loans not in writing is 15%…54-11-9 is some magical legislation thrown in to suggest that by “use” of a credit card, one has “established” a written contract…except this humble munchkin can’t find that anyone has bothered to bring suit in south dakota on the issue and there does not seem to be any affirming ruling that 54-11-9 is good law verses just legislation,,,

        further, the max interest rate on judgments in south dakota is 12% so for those who have defaulted and someone somewhere has gotten a judgment against them, one can be sure the rate is not lowered to 12% as would be required in claiming the right to use south dakota law to over ride an in state

        further, 54-11-12 describes that you can reject changes to your account but does not seem to describe any time limit to that rejection except some nebulous reference to reg z d/f…

        and as to a financial transaction tax…it already exists and is over 100 years old…during the mid 70’s crash of new york city there was a “temporary” 100% refund put in place…40 years later that annual “temp” tax refund to wall street is about 15 billion dollars per year…


    2. Skip Intro

      • Post office bank
      • Allow students to borrow directly from the fed, at the same interest that private banks do

  25. alex morfesis

    Now that the ohio he-man woman haters club has decided to “protect” a beating heart, women in ohio should sue for those same protections beyond the 9 month warranty…and insist on a “safe and secure motherhood” law which will cover roof, food, clothing, health and education for 25 years…

    keith “alfalfa” faber probably doesnt really care about the beating hearts that can breath on their own and obviously thinks that a male worm can have squatters rights by trespassing into a womans private parts…

    so maybe women in ohio should just invite themselves into his living room and kitchen since he has no problems with trespassing….

  26. ewmayer

    Random weirdness – is Amazon using ‘new math’ for their product ratings? Looking at bulk grated parmesan cheeses just now, one I gandered at (Milano’s Parmesan Cheese Tubs, Imported Grated, 80 Ounce) has a nice price of $6/lb, but average rating is 3.9/5, a tad low. So I go to the detailed user ratings, and all 5 featured reviews are very positive. OK, we know the featured ratings likely have a sell-side bias, but the breakdown here makes the math easy: 10 total ratings, 7 *****, 1 ****, 1 ***, 1**. That should yield a 4.4 average. What gives? Maybe an added demerit due to the WaPo editorial board ‘suspecting ties of this cheese manufacturer to commie-loving fake-news blogs?’

  27. UserFriendly

    You got an editor’s note Yves

    Washington Post Appends Editor’s Note to Russian Propaganda Story

    A lengthy editor’s note appeared Wednesday atop Craig Timberg‘s November 24 Washington Post story claiming that a Russian propaganda campaign aided the spread of “fake news” in the 2016 presidential election. The note lays some interesting distance between the newspaper and the work its article draws from.
    Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.
    The note follows intense criticism of the article. It was “rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations,” Intercept reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton wrote, calling PropOrNot, one of the groups whose research was cited in Timberg’s piece, “anonymous cowards.” One of the sites PropOrNot cited as Russian-influenced was the Drudge Report.
    The piece’s description of some sharers of bogus news as “useful idiots” could “theoretically include anyone on any social-media platform who shares news based on a click-bait headline,” Mathew Ingram wrote for Fortune.
    But perhaps the biggest issue was PropOrNot. As Adrian Chen wrote for the New Yorker, its methods were really messy, and verification of its work was nearly impossible. While “fake news” worked to Trump’s advantage, and email hacks of Clinton staffers pointed to Russian bad hombres, Chen writes, “the prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier.”

  28. shoephone

    I agree that the photo is a Camelia Sasanqua (fall/winter blooming). There are a few different varieties and colors and they do not all have the same fragrance–some have none, eg., Yuletide. I think the one in your photo is likely ‘Apple Blossom’ which is a nicely, not overpoweringly fragrant one.

    I find it funny, in an obvious sort of way, that Trump is so exercised about companies “sending jobs to China” when his own fine menswear line is produced there. A case of tariffs for thee, but not for me. And apparently, Boeing sending highly skilled, union-scale WA State jobs to low-pay, non-union South Carolina is A-OK. Because..those awful unions.

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