Links 12/12/16

Methane surge needs ‘urgent attention’ BBC

Autumn 2016: Warmest in U.S. Weather History Weather Underground

Ronaldo, Mourinho and the Paper Trail to the Caribbean Der Spiegel

Vanguard founder calls for politicians to re-examine ETFs FT. He could be talking his book, but that doesn’t automatically make him wrong.

Watchdogs say that what your child tells a “smart” doll is being recorded and monitored Quartz

On the Record: Bernie Sanders on Basic Income Medium


Presiding over a crumbling empire The Independent (Malta)

Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win Der Spiegel

Italy’s Monte dei Paschi to Reopen Debt-to-Equity Swap Offer WSJ. The chances were “vanishingly small,” let us remember…

UniCredit sees net capital gain of $2.3 billion euros from Pioneer Reuters

Vandals destroy 400,000 bottles of Italian sparkling wine in historic estate ‘sabotage’ Telegraph

Italy poses a huge threat to the euro and union Wolfgang Münchau, FT

EU’s Moscovici says sees no threat of Italian banking crisis Reuters


Mosul Dam collapse ‘will be worse than a nuclear bomb’  Al Jazeera. That would be bad, although it’s a duelling consultants story…


‘I don’t know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy’: Trump questions decades-long stance South China Morning Post

The Tsai-Trump Call: The Dynamics in Taiwan The Diplomat

China Warns Trump Against Using Taiwan for Leverage on Trade Bloomberg

Health Care

New push to replace Obamacare reignites old GOP tensions WaPo

What’s The Story With Obamacare? Health Affairs Blog

Our Famously Free Press

Five Things You Notice When You Quit the News Raptitude

A big change to U.S. broadcasting is coming — and it’s one Putin might admire Editorial Board, WaPo. “The Obama administration — perhaps anticipating a Hillary Clinton presidency — supported these changes.” Life’s little ironies….

Google Helps Spread Fake News [Fake News & Ad Revenue – Testing] Another Word for It

2016 Post Mortem

The ObamaCare Not Comey Effect emptywheel. With a handy chart. Although who knows what the last pebble was, in the avalanche of #FAIL.

The Blame Game Eschaton

Democrats Must Go Beyond Mere Opposition to Trump Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Top Tech Leaders to Meet With Trump WSJ. I’d love to hear Trump ask Tim Cook why the new MacBook Pro sucks. Because it’s the sort of thing he’d say. “The Mac used to be so great! What happened, Tim? And I ordered a couple gross of AirPods as a stocking stuffer for Barron. Where are they?”

Why Scientists Are Scared of Trump: A Pocket Guide New Yorker

Donald Trump And Exxon: CEO Who Could Be Secretary Of State Runs Company That Often Lobbied The State Department David Sirota, Business Insider

Forget populism — Trump’s picking orthodox Republicans Los Angeles. Should be re-assuring, given that orthodox Republicans are the same people Clinton appealed to. Right?

* * *

C.I.A. Judgment on Russia Built on Swell of Evidence NYT. This:

It is unclear why the C.I.A. did not produce this formal assessment before the election, although several officials said that parts of it had been made available to President Obama in the presidential daily briefing in the weeks before the vote.

Making Obama a Russian stooge too, eh? Obama never wants to be made to look bad, so he’s not gonna like this at all. And which “officials”? Which “parts of it”? What was the formal process? Was it a finding? Were there footnote?

CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports Guardian. But read below the headline for an alternative narrative. Not a hack, a leak?

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.

“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.

“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

The CIA’s Absence of Conviction Craig Murry (GU). Must-read account of Guardian story above.

Are CIA statements on Russia proof? Believable at all? MishTalk (Furzy Mouse).

Russia’s Hand in America’s Election Editorial Board, NYT

Reince Priebus: ‘RNC Was Not Hacked’ ABC. Responding to a NYT story: “based on unnamed sources.”

Trump vs. Congress on Russian hacking Politico. Trump vs. establishment members from both parties (McCain and Schumer, the “alt-center”); the headline conceals elite factionalism.

The Not-Majority Leader Promises Bipartisan Investigations in Russian Cyberhackery emptywheel. Where’s Mitch McConnell?

* * *

How to Expose Trump’s Dastardly Bait-and-Switch Robert Borosage, The Nation. You can’t beat something with nothing. Democrats won’t win by showing how awful Trump is. They can only win — IMNSHO — with a simple platform that offers concrete material benefits to all working people, regardless of identity. Borosage doesn’t even begin to provide such a platform. Start with single payer and a post office bank. For example. And get the cops to stop whacking black people with impunity.

Trump faces an early test with Republicans over Russia McClatchy. Thing is, Trump already went through the same establishment guys like a hot knife through butter. So…

Modeling Vladimir Putin Marginal Revoluton (from 2014).

Class Warfare

What Would It Take to Replace the Pay Working-Class Americans Have Lost? Neil Irwin, NYT. A trillion over a decade, “a hard sell in any political environment.” Unlike bank bailouts and wars, of course.

Automation Can Actually Create More Jobs WSJ

Who Will Write Us a Syllabus for Sneerology 101? Kevin Drum, Mother Jones. Chris Arnade and J.D. Vance would be a good start. Vance is more popular in the Acela corridor, since (at least in the “tough love” Hillbilly Elegy) he takes a cultural approach. Arnade is far more gritty, and I prefer him; alert reader Rich flagged him in 2013 (!). In 2016, Arnade wrote what is in retrospect a key post on “volatilty voters.” As it happens–

Chris Arnade photographs the ‘back-row kids.’ He knew they could elect Trump. Margaret Sullivan, WaPo

The ridiculously invasive virtual interview process applicants are subjected to at Amazon Quartz

Bill Gates Among Rich Individuals Backing $1 Billion Energy Fund Bloomberg

The Fifth Side of the Triangle The Archdruid Report

The Color of Consciousness NYRB

Antidote du jour (via):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. cnchal

    Top Tech Leaders to Meet With Trump

    While we are thinking up questions for Trump to ask Tim Cook, why does Apple stay silent about Amazon selling fake Apple products, all of which are coming from China, while fanatically defending it’s rounded corner design innovation?

    1. integer

      That’s a very good question, which this clip of Steve Smith taking yet another brilliant catch in Friday’s Aus. vs. NZ one day cricket game does nothing to answer. They are both parasitic corporations though, and evidently have very little interest in accepting responsibilty for subjecting workers to inhuman working conditions, and even less in taking steps to rectify the problem. Bezos and Cook probably sit around together laughing while comparing how many of their workers have died from being overworked and/or committing suicide. Scum.

      1. juliania

        “. . . this clip of Steve Smith taking yet another brilliant catch in Friday’s Aus. vs. NZ one day cricket game. . .”

        (sigh) You had to remind us. Well, at least Key is gone. Bye bye, TPP.

        Once there was Vettori. . .

        1. integer

          Sorry. Aus. was actually pretty lucky that Warner batted well. Anyway, feel free to return the favor when NZ gets the upper hand, which will no doubt will happen in the near future. :·)

      2. clinical wasteman

        Aus. & NZ (the settler-states, not just the sports teams) are both parasitic corporations? Yes indeed.

        1. integer

          Pretty sure they are called nations, but whatever. Examples of corporations are, as referenced in my above comment, Apple and Amazon. Something got you upset?

    2. subgenius

      Doesn’t the apple logo have a juicy hint of discordianism to it…..maybe woz was a discordianism plant. Atari went with Bob.

      Although we subgenii and discordians frequently guest star in each other’s doctrines…

  2. vlade

    Re: Russia. I’m no fan of Russia (or I’d say it’s current rulers), by far (and there’s plenty of evidence in the comments at NC).

    But this “hacking” is just dumb. Well, even if we assume that Russians hacked DNC and released the emails – so what? The content of the emails wasn’t denied or discredited, so people got what DNC was writing.. If anything, it’s like a crook shouting “but you published my emails showing I’m a crook”.

    Hilbots are simply in denial,, and trying to put the blame on everything but Her Ladyship. Well, maybe there were people who couldn’t get over her being a woman (and nothing else). Maybe there were people who got swayed by the last minute CIA stuff, or the “leaks” (and nothing else).
    But then, I’d still make two points:
    – why then select her in the first place when you knew all this baggge was with her?
    – for good grief, it was against Trump! Any reasonable alternative should get so much margin over Trump that any of the above problems in isolation should still leave a candidate with yuuge margin of victory

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”
      “I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

      It seems we’ll need to wait until Murray either commits suicide, has an unfortunate accident or is the victim of an unforeseen terrorist attack before the truth of this story can be assessed.

      What makes this whole thing so bogus as far as I’m concerned is that Assange’s absolute denial that the Russians did it is never even mentioned. This IS a story about Wikileaks after all. You’d think some anonymous source would at least make the effort to call Assange a liar, rapist, KGB agent or degenerate unworthy of being believed. But they don’t.

      What makes this whole thing so creepy is that it’s being done at all. It seems the spooks have gone crazy out of control. Did they really love hillary this much?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Supposedly, the reorganization of the CIA after 9/11 means the CIA isn’t the organization dedicated to intelligence analyst but support for specific operations. What is left is direct activities such as their activities in the Middle East and the political wing. Cyber attacks should be dealt with by the NSA and FBI these days, but why is the CIA weighing in? The answer based on the DHS reorganization is the CIA doesn’t have the potential whistle blowers. The agents work elsewhere and an be dismissed or simply don’t work for the CIA anymore, but the CIA is part of pop culture and not full of Snowden IT dorks.

        1. neo-realist

          The Company has been dedicated to operations for decades, e.g., Truman’s article after the JFK Assassination.

      2. Ted

        There is more than circumstantial evidence that the Persian gulf medieval kingdoms had paid a lot of money to the Clinton’s in anticipation for HRC as president. There is also more than circumstantial evidence the the CIA and the medieval gulf states are in bed together over extremist jihadism in Syria and elsewhere. All those “investments” in HRC went *poof and election day. Thus, the Psy-Op currently under way in DC.

        1. integer

          If Saudi Arabia loves the Clintons so much that they are willing to give them hundreds of millions of dollars, and the Clintons are willing to accept it, perhaps Trump could provide Bill and Hill with a one-way ticket to their favorite kingdom.
          I imagine the house of Saud(ism) wouldn’t have too much trouble finding a way to extract their money’s worth from the D-party’s favorite couple.

      3. MyLessThaPrimeBeef

        What was leaked and was it genuine or fake?

        But that is all forgotten. Now, the focus is, the Russians hacked to install Trump.

      4. polecat

        you need to take it a bit further Ms. Everdeen …. it’s the spooks, together with the Quants and the top White-shoe lawyer boys, that have turned things into such a blazing clusterfuck !

    2. jgordon

      You are spot on! If Hillary were only hated or merely incompetent she would have won handily against Trump. But here Democrats had the balls to foist up a nominee who was both widely hated and outrageously incompetent–and now whine about how unfair it is that she lost.

      There is no reforming these people. Gather them all up in a big plastic bag and throw them out back with the rest of the refuse. You all had better be working out the framework for a new Party right now, because if it’s left up to the Dumbocrats America might be a smoking crater in four years. PS of course I’d help out, but I’m not a people person and organizing groups isn’t really my bag.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        To be fair, I believe part of the Hillary support was based around buyers remorse over Obama. The Democrats can’t challenge Obama directly for fear of being called racist which the Dems used so gleefully against lefty critics of ACA. They know Obama henchmen will use the same smear.

        They were trying to turn the clock back to the good old days when the Dems held Congress before Obama. Nostalgia blinds, and they picked the clowns who ushered in the end of sixty years of Democratic control of Congress. The elected Dems wanted to move beyond Barack “the difference between 1994 and 2010 is you’ve got me now” Obama. Hillary is a challenge to Obama befitting of cowards which elected Dems usually are, but it is a challenge.

        1. Yves Smith

          I’m not on board with the racism theory. We criticized Obama early and often on policy grounds and were never tagged with being racist.

          IMHO the bigger factors are:

          1. The Clintons are flagrantly corrupt. You may not like Obama’s politics and his fellow travelers, but he doesn’t have a whiff or money or other personal scandals

          2. Obama is likeable. Clinton is not. That is one of the big reasons they kept her in tissue paper.

          3. For those paying attention, Hillary has a track record of making a mess of everything she touched

          4. Some voters didn’t like the dynastic overtones.

          1. Kemal Erdogan

            yes, indeed. And, my additional point would be that people hate bribe takers a lot more than bribers. Clinton being bribe taker and Trump is the one who pays bribes. People apparently decided to cut the middleman (always most disliked species on earth) and get the real thing, whatever it is.

    3. RenoDino

      Playing the Russian Card is Plan B. Plan Bs are always messy, sometimes dumb and often illegal. A Plan B is always risky because if it fails retribution is a certainty.

      Plan B is now is play.

      Anything less than full commitment and perfect timing will result in Plan B failing and taking out what’s left of the loyal opposition. This kind of high risk, high reward move is not their usual cup of tea so it’s a big ask, but they are desperate to stay in power and remain relevant. How desperate we are about to find out.

    4. Vatch

      I’m no fan of Russia’s current rulers, either, but the claims that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election are surreal. There are two types of people who manipulate elections in the U.S.: Republican politicians and Democratic politicians — not Russians.

    5. Waldenpond

      Yep. The party of democracy (and it’s base) is upset that factual writings concerning the business of the people have been made available to the public and in response they want the elites to select the president.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      Republicrat Red beat Republicrat Blue by a small margin. The Republicrats won again. Of course how could they lose. We lost again. Of course how could we win.

      While we thrash and gnash about Russian plots, fake news — what news? — and dissect the why Blue lost and Red won — what is happening below the radar? We have a new pattern of declines and ascents evolving in our oligarchy but that pattern remains murky. We may have dodged a bullet — conflict with Russia — but have we really? That’s the question most troubling me. The rest of team Red’s actions promise more of the same with some different winners and losers among the oligarchs and the rest of us lost long before the election.

    7. Chief Bromden

      WaPoo is using professional interlopers of others’ sovereign affairs as its source to accuse others of interloping in U.S. sovereign affairs. Dear WaPoo, I’m wondering if you are having a bit of a credibility crisis. You are not going to seize the narrative back by doubling down on crazy. The plan to time capsule the U.S. public back to 1950 red scare plays like a poor Hollywood remake.

      “Let’s see. In 2010, Amazon cuts off WikiLeaks, proving its willingness to cave to the intelligence community.

      In 2013, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, buys the Washington Post.

      In 2016, during the presidential campaign, WikiLeaks releases tons of email data exposing Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and associated players.

      In 2016, after Clinton loses, the CIA—now Amazon’s business partner, and by extension, the Washington Post’s business partner—tells the Post that Russia influenced the election on behalf of Trump, and also implies/asserts that Russian hackers supplied Wikileaks with those tons of email data…

      And the Washington Post accepts what its business partner, the CIA, is saying at face value and then leads the charge to blame Russia for handing the election to Trump.

      The Post doubles down and absurdly accuses numerous sites and blogs of being a) “fake” and b) conscious or unconscious dupes of the Russian government.

      A nice neat package.

      Who exactly is the fake news outlet?”

      1. alex morfesis

        Wouldn’t it be wondrous for these soon to be unemployed micc practitioners to use their skills to create an open access database of business opportunities globally for small american business instead of the current scenario with data being funneled to multinational nincompoops…

        Oh…wait..what did I just say…sorry, must be the medicine not fully wearing off…been sneezing and weezing these last two days in bed…friends soon to be calling me rudolf the red nosed ubee…

    8. Stelios Theoharidis

      Can we please stop interpreting this election as part of some sort of overarching narrative that we had before the election. Yes, Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college, but not because she wasn’t Bernie Sanders, or more progressive, or more populist, or less corrupt. She was venal, centrist, corrupt, all before the election, and she was polling ahead of Trump then. And, how does that narrative find itself within the honest facts that she clearly wasn’t abandoned en masse, she had 2.8 million more votes.

      Trump won the electoral college because our politicians, despite over 700 tries, have never mustered enough power to remove the electoral college. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. But, she knew that she had to win the electoral college and so did Trump, and so did everyone else out there. Because, due to an accident of history we can’t really remove the electoral college. She also lost because Americans don’t vote enough, that hasn’t changed from prior elections, and it is mainly a factor of disenfranchisement that is historical. Again, these aspects were pre-election.

      So what is different? Well Comey made the announcement a week before the election, clearly that lost her some points. The point loss she had due to Comey was immediate and clear. Second to that was probably Wikileaks and the long string of information hacked or leaked. Third was probably misinformation and the inability of many of our citizens to process real and unreal information coming to them. What did we expect people that think the world is 6,000 years old to be able to discern between real news and fake news on Facebook? Especially with a President elect sharing Alex Jones? Those are actually new aspects, they clearly were shown to have affects on polling. Fourth is probably the candidacy of Jill Stein, but, her alternate Gary Johnson probably had a negative affect on Trump’s votes. So those two might actually rule each other out.

      Then you can add all of the real issues that Hillary Clinton had, like almost every politician and Presidential candidate in history has had, conflicts of interest, nepotism, etc. All things that Trump transparently had as well, or for the most part he was even more guilty of having. She wasn’t Bernie Sanders, but neither really was Trump. But, was that really new information to anyone?

      Having 2.8 million more voters isn’t a win. But, using an institution that goes back to the 3/5s compromise is a win. But, unless that institution does what it was initially formed for, to vote against a Presidential candidate that is unqualified or could potentially represent a danger, that is not a win. Lets be real and honest here. Our political structures are a mess.

  3. rjs

    re: Methane surge needs ‘urgent attention’ BBC
    “After a period of relative stagnation in the 2000s, the concentration of the gas has surged.”
    “Methane has many sources, but the culprit behind the steep rise is probably agriculture,”

    that’s right. there’s been a paradigm shift in global agricultural methods over the past few years. no change in any other source of methane, such as the way we drill for natural gas…

    1. craazyboy

      It’s the 99 percenters yuuge increase in fillet mignon consumption over the last 8 years. That’s alotta bull for not much steak.

    2. Sam Adams

      One of the major sources is the Siberian tundra. It is a huge methane sink. As it warms, it releases methane. Climate change is existential, steak not so much

        1. clinical wasteman

          ‘Collecting seaweed…’: the owners of their ancestors already tried imposing that (minus the tea and TV) around 150 years ago [], leading to short-term super-profits for said owners, followed by mass export of desperate humans to places like New Zealand and, not coincidentally, the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Methane from leaking wells and gas infrastructure tends to have a distinct geographical fingerprint. The various papers relating to the methane surge indicate that this fingerprint is missing, which is why the researchers are looking at more diffuse potential sources. One possibility is that increased rainfall due to climate change is altering methane emissions from some soil types worldwide.

      Of course, increased emissions from fracking, etc., can’t be ruled out yet, but I’ve not seen any reason to question the belief of the researchers that it is probably from other sources. Its probably more worrying if its from diffuse sources, a positive feedback from climate change, because that will make it much harder to address. Either way, its a deeply worrying issue, one more reason to be profoundly depressed at what we’ve done to the planet.

      1. Titus Pullo

        It’s the Arctic clathrates melting and the permafrost warming. Guy McPherson is truly a doomer, but he does have a good list of feedback effects going on with global warming.

        I’m not saying he’s right (he gives humanity 10 years I think), but he is definitely a resource for seeing the bigger picture of the systemic changes occurring in the climate, atmosphere, and oceans.

        Personally, I think civilization is doomed, especially industrial civilization. And if we don’t build communities of resilience within a generation, I think our species is doomed as well. While a part of me is gleefully expectant of seeing Wall St. sink beneath the waves, I know that the cost in human life and human misery is something I can’t even begin to fathom (let alone the cost in animal life).

        The only way to stop what is coming is to end industrial civilization, and even then, it’s mostly too late. There will be no techno-utopian solution to anthropogenic climate change.

        That’s why I suggest to people I know who don’t have kids, not to have any. I chose not to have kids after learning about clathrates in the 90s, (I studied non-linear dynamics in school as well as implicitly understanding phase changes, so I was already somewhat aware of this issue, plus I got lucky in never impregnating someone).

        But I am a perpetual doomer, so take my words with a grain of salt, if you have any hope left. Me, I kicked my hopium habit in 2009.

        1. MyLessThaPrimeBeef

          Again, the destination is easy to understand.

          It’s about how to reach there with some human dignity, and not with a worsening wealth inequality that brutally allows the rich to monopolize the lifeboats on this Titanic.

          So, expect more exploitation. Expect less ruth, that is, the overlords will be ruthless-er (whatever quantity of ruth they have now, they will have less of it).

          Maybe one billion dollars is enough. You need $10 billion, you lazy hedge fund manager.

          1. subgenius

            I have been pondering this question, and recently come to the conclusion that reality is in fact stranger than fiction.

            We apparently have a world stage dominated by a delightful combination of dr strangelove and idiocracy.

            Caricatures of bond villains abound.

            I seem to be living in snow crash, heading towards the road.

            The only step left is to emerge as an Alan Moore character.

            All hail eris!

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I also want to add that, that moment of realization that that destination is before us, is not quite the beginning of the end of our species (perhaps it will be agonizingly slow and tortuous, to inflict maximum pain), but only the end of the beginning of our struggle to free ourselves from inequality and exploitation

    4. Steve H.

      On average, temperatures are up, but if the variance increases faster than the average, the likelihood of record lows is almost as high as for record highs. The extrema serve as valid dis-confirming facts, and our decision processes tend to be based on extrema and not averages.


    5. Vatch

      All the readers who posted comments claiming that agriculture can’t the the only culprit for the increase in methane are correct. According to the BBC article, there was almost no increase in methane from 2000 to 2006, yet meat production has grown steadily over the past 50 years. If agriculture were such a significant cause of atmospheric methane, I think we would have seen methane growth during 2000 to 2006. Clearly there are other causes, such as oil and gas drilling, melting permafrost, and releases from ocean floor clathrates, as others have already said. Here’s a concise chart showing the steady increase in meat production from 1961 to 2011:

      Of course, cattle and other sources of meat are part of the problem, but only part of it.

      FAO dot org also has a wealth of data, but it takes time to wade through all of the information.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        From what I understand, the argument is not that it is increases in agriculture that may be the cause, it is that it is alterations to rainfall patterns that may be increasing methane outputs from tilled soil. Or put another way, soils in some areas are water saturated for longer through the year, increasing anaerobic breakdown. Surprisingly little seems to be known about methane emissions from normal soil decay processes, so its not beyond possibility that quite subtle changes in agriculture are having big impacts.

        I’d note though that while there has been a steady increase in meat production, there has been a sharper increase in dairy production, mainly due to increased demand from China (or to be precise, milk producing countries are sharply increasing output in the hope China buys it all). A switch from beef to dairy usually results in a significant intensification in inputs on any farm, this could be having an impact.

        1. JTMcPhee

          So I guess nobody knows what all the mechanisms and current conditions and likely long tails are. But there is one thing that as a former environmental attorney that really annoys. I thiink the recognition is dawning that there’s no such thing as “rights,” when it comes to the shibbolethic notion of “rule of law,” especially as it applies to natural ordinary persons. It’s all just power relations. But there is a lot of activity surrounding creation of carbon trading “markets,” all of which starts with an assumption that the generators of human-produced pollutants like methane have the “right” to pollute (up to some regulatorily determined and captured number), and the rest of us are obliged to pay them not to further mess up the planet.

          1. Cry Shop

            There are scientist who have a very good idea and plenty of proof about why it’s happening, and have been saying so for well over the last 8 years. The models that predicted this event goes back to the 1960’s. Remember the news about Exxon telling scientist in it’s employ to not report their discovery’s about global warming? That goes back to 1980, and I wrote a paper about methane release models for my graduate class in Thermodynamics in 1982. Money though, has either hid their message in a load of noise and “false news” or has often enough threatened their livelihood enough that they just keep their reports to academic circles.

            It’s why I changed from anti-nuclear to anti-nuclear but working to make it safe (because humans are not going to change their behavior). Even there money got in the way, it’s why we;re still using primitive PWR and even BWR technology to build new reactors today.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Once again, I should have added a snark tag to my first sentence.

              I guess realistically, the species ain;t about to consciously and intentionally changing to a low-prettiness low-energy-use form of living. So what the heck, why not nuke it all up? Because for sure, humans can be brought to do honest competent engineering of things like nuclear plants of any sort, right? As long as money rules everything, and the C-Suite-ers and K Streeters, and decisions about technology and fixing the legal-liability and insurance and all that ancillary stuff, one wonders what the magic will be that will keep the Kleptos in Kazakhstan and Poobahs in Pakistan, all of whom have Power of the political and money sort from doing all the bad things that can be done with nuclear power technology.

              Maybe possible.. Complex, though… swimming up stream…

              1. Cry Shop

                Yes, I should have picked up the sarcasm / satire. Long sleepless nights recently have dented my perceptiveness.

                BTW, I completely agree with you on the point about “rights”, something I’ve been accused of ranting about since the days I figured out is no god or if there is a god(s), it’s nothing like any of the major organized religions tell us. In order for there to be inalienable rights, then there has to be an irresistible (godlike) force to insure those rights. No god(s) or no god(s) who give a damn, then there are no rights. Or as I also like to say, death is the only right, and even there the oligarchy is trying to establish privilege.

                Anything bestowed by humans is privilege*, and it then becomes an issue of fairness in access to privilege,

                *as an attorney, I don’t have to tell you the root/origin of the term privilege, but to any other readers, please note it meant private law, usually reserved for nobles/kings/oligarchs.

          1. Cry Shop

            You probably put in a link to an academic text. That’s happened to several of my comments as soon as I put in any reference to an academic book.

            1. Vatch

              There was a link to an FAO PDF file, which matches your description, even if it’s not a link to a university.

    6. Oregoncharles

      Wrong. The other major source is the permafrost melting, on a huge scale, and the methane hydrites under the Arctic Ocean.

      Cattle and anaerobic decomposition (sewage, manure piles, dumps) are big sources, too, but I see no evidence that they’ve increased. WHAT “paradigm shift in global agricultural methods over the past few years”? Factory farming? Feedlots? Not new.

      Fracking would be the other big one.

      1. juliania

        Speaking very unscientifically, it just seems to me that the consequences of global warming longterm have now produced a rapid change as described with the thawed permafrost and oceanic methane releases so that the cold goes up – and up is where it is at present in the northern winter.

        When I hear terms like ‘polar vortex’ a shudder comes over me, and I do wonder about what we have let loose in refusing to make governmental reprioritization in terms of energy use, so that inevitably the extremes mentioned above become an actual and natural cycle of recorrection on the geological timescale that does threaten extinction. That is, in some remarkable way, the release of vast amounts of methane, greater than our foolish polluting ways, will eventually send the climate clock back to zero and all the magical elements of creation shall resume. What an amazing planet we are on!

        Perhaps if we faced this consequence we could all become better human beings rather than the savages most are inclined to predict we are doomed to become. It is a choice, after all. And as far as I can see, nothing is certain until it actually happens.

        1. subgenius

          This rapid change has been a long time coming…

          Positive feed backs and phase change physics say it accelerates.

    7. gepay

      “The climate sensitivity of CO2 is about 1.2C° per doubling in the atmosphere – that is to gain another degree of warming from CO2 one would have double it again which we haven’t even done once from the 280 Parts per MILLION from the baseline of before the industrial revolutiion.
      However I can’t find what kind of rise would result from increasing methane – presently it is said to be 1.8 Parts Per MILLION of the atmosphere. The article said it rose .01 Parts per MILLION in the last 2 years. I am SHOCKED to my core.
      From the IPCC:
      “The existing concentrations of a particular gas dictate the effect that additional molecules of that gas can have or gases such as the halocarbons, where the naturally occurring concentrations are zero or very small, their forcing is close to linear in concentration for present-day concentrations Gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are present in such quantities that significant absorption is already occurring and it is found that their forcing is approximately proportional to the square root of their concentration Furthermore, there is significant overlap between some of the infrared absorption bands of methane and nitrous oxide which must be carefully considered in calculations of forcing For carbon dioxide, as has already been mentioned, parts of the spectrum are already opaque that additional molecules of carbon dioxide are even less effective, the forcing is found to be logarithmic in concentration”
      So, the IPCC says the forcing effect from methane is proportional to the square root of its concentration. It is not linear. It is not logarithmic like CO2. Tell you the truth I don’t have a clue how much a .01 part per MIllION is going to affect the climate. Especially as methane only lasts about a decade in the atmosphere.
      I am not worried about anthropogenic CO2 causing catastrophic climate change. From the New Scientist:
      Changes in clouds could lead to even greater amplification of the warming OR REDUCE IT– there is great uncertainty about this.—I thought the science was settled. maybe not
      “The greenhouse effect is caused by certain gases (and clouds) absorbing and re-emitting the infrared radiating from Earth’s surface. It currently keeps our planet 20°C to 30°C warmer than it would be otherwise.”—20 degrees C to 30degress C – that’s a pretty big uncertainty factor. I thought the science was settled. Maybe one should read what Judith Curry has to say about the uncertainty factor in climate science before one loses sleep over catastrophic climate change caused by man made CO2. Maybe we should spend our energy on real problems like the out of control national security-military-industrial complex. Nuclear war would cause catastrophic climate change. Maybe work on real problems like overfishing or Fukushima which is still putting hundreds of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific like it has done for the last 5 years with no end in sight. Or glyphosate or the constantly increasing children becoming autistic or otherwise neurologically damaged…(there’s so many problems that are real that need our attention.)

      1. Vatch

        Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

        While CO2 persists in the atmosphere for centuries, or even millennia, methane warms the planet on steroids for a decade or two before decaying to CO2.

        In those short decades, methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

        But policymakers typically ignore methane’s warming potential over 20 years (GWP20) when assembling a nation’s emissions inventory. Instead, they stretch out methane’s warming impacts over a century, which makes the gas appear more benign than it is, experts said. The 100-year warming potential (GWP100) of methane is 34, according to the IPCC.

        There is no scientific reason to prefer a 100-year time horizon over a 20-year time horizon; the choice of GWP100 is simply a matter of convention.

        1. gepay

          It is rare to find such an unscientific statement in Scientific American in this unqualified form : “In those short decades, methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” Is this molecules of CH4 compared to CO2? – because as I mentioned there is 200 times more CO2 in the atmosphere than CH4. Even Gavin Schimidt believes the problem of a giant methane release if the Arctic has much less ice for a while is not something to worry about : 9) in more recent past, there have been a number if times when Arctic (not necessarily globe) has been significantly warmer than today.
          10) Most recently, Early Holocene, which had significantly less summer sea ice than even 2012. Earlier, Eemian 125kyrs ago was sig warmer
          11) At neither of these times is there any evidence for CH4 emissions or concentrations in excess of base pre-industrial conditions.
          12) this means that we are not currently near a threshold for dramatic CH4 releases. Or Prof Tim Lenton from Exeter University who specialises in climate tipping points, says the process would take thousands if not tens of thousands of years, let alone a decade. Or Dr Julian Merton from the University of Sussex explained to us that permafrost doesn’t respond quickly to rising temperatures:

          “Permafrost hundreds of metres thick simply doesn’t warm or thaw much in ten years on account of its thermal inertia.”

    1. Brizie

      Thank you. It’s excellent. Its a perfect follow-up for the Tulsi Gabbard interview on NPR where Tulsi spoke about her bill to deny funding for terrorists. The reporter delivered a particularly fine slap-down to another reporter in the short Q&A.

      1. JTMcPhee

        That white-shirted “reporter,” in that sadly very sparse audience, who tossed out a nice subtle set of digs at Bartlett — “you have no proof, where’s the documentation, you can’t say what the Syrian people think, now can you?” Sneaky impeachment indeed. I could not catch his name or nominal affiliation, Christoper Rotterberg or something, from “Aften Posten,” maybe? — part of that trillion dollar spin machine Trump is “inheriting?”

        I guess the rewards for such under-the-bridge-dwelling people are sufficient to keep them applying their often huge talents to making things worse for ordinary people. The model has been around a long time — for example, — and no, this is not “about” religion, but about means of gaining and maintaining power over lots of other people. Texas school book content, and all that. And the kinds of minds and motivations that accomplish it. Kind of hard to fight, because intentionally oblique.

          1. gepay

            Definitely worth watching – I enjoyed the calm way she responded with facts – that reporter visibly oozed a slimy slipperiness.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Can we just notice the Through-The-Looking-Glass nature of Gabbard’s bill: requiring lawmakers not to fund terrorists.
        The world spends tens of millions ensuring that ordinary citizens’ money does not reach terrorists via the banking system (AML/KYC/CTF)…but we have to put legislation in place so the government itself does not fund them?

        1. polecat

          it’s beyond crazy !

          …and it points to just who our illustrious politicians… of both stripes, favor ……… and it ain’t us 80%er plebs, THAT”S for sure !

    2. YY

      I think we all remember Gary Johnson facing media derision for “What is Aleppo?”. The problem is that those who taunted Gary Johnson were the very ones (knowingly or unknowingly) who were feeding a fantastic narrative about Syria. I’d like to have those hacks view this.

    3. Ted

      What was striking was the sincerity of the woman reporting on Syria and the sneering insincerity of the Norwegian reporter who asked the question at the end. Sad but revealing.

    4. Waldenpond

      I’m wondering if this is now under the Ds NDA on US foreign media or will be. Is youtube going to be listed as journalism and have what they cover on foreign issues censored?

      This part of the wapo article regarding replacing the board of governors with a presidential propaganda appointee was funny…. because O was a beacon of freedom of information and press?

      [The Obama administration — perhaps anticipating a Hillary Clinton presidency — supported these changes. Now its outgoing public-diplomacy officials will have to hope that Mr. Trump chooses an executive committed to the U.S. broadcasting tradition of independent and reputable journalism rather than a political loyalist or alt-right ideologue. ]

    5. craazyman

      Oh man does anybody think Hieronymous Bosch was just kidding? it’s hard to contemplate this phenomenon from the safety of a a red-wine fueled xanax assisted channeling station in New Yoarke City — but it’s not impossible!

      Anything human can be channeled. Channeling animals is not as simple as iit might sound, since their DNA processes what we can loosely call The Platonic Waveform differently than human DNA. It’s like listening to a radio tuned to a different station.

      The human station however is global & can be channeled reeasonbly easily. What a fiasco. Speaking of wavelet analysis, my version of Fourier analysis is the decomposition of human motivation into combinations of “pilot wave” and “gnostic wave”. Pilot wave is the set of motivations that preserve the survival of the tribal group. Gnostic wave is the set of motivations that Camus articulated in The Rebel — that reference should be suffficient. If you don’t understand then go do your homework.

      This is a rather interesting theorem — the decomposition of motivation into combinations of two pyschic wave forms. There’s lots of ideas that resonate from this — including it’s relation to so-called Hegelian dialectic — but right now I’m not in the mood to write it here. Hopefully it’s obvious. If it isn’t obvious, then consider how the fertility cult rites evolved into the vestal virgins and how the stones of the Colliseum became the stones that made the Vatican. Gnostic wave and pilot wave combined to form any sort of “action function”. FukNA. QED.

      You’d think there’d be some machine that could perceive and measure the waves. There is! It’s between your ears. Duh. LOL.

    6. craazyman

      Moderbation will make the peanut gallery go blind. Man if I get one more thoughtful comment “moderbated” I’m quitting! I’m not a moderbator I like the real thing!

      What a drek of political garbage sails through here that should be moderbated — boring unreadably dull screeds that say nothing, mean nothing, inspire nothing, waste time horribly, exhaust and deaden all thought. Reading it, if you can endure it, makes you sick of words themselves. Oh well, that’s politics for you.

      But I make an effort to write thoughtful imaginative things and each one goes into the Moderbator! I’m like 8 of 10 overs last 2 weeks.

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        craazyman, I’ve been thinking about whether there’s a way to make the moderator program more accurate in its initial pegging. Is your email address valid? If you aren’t too busy, it might be helpful for me to discuss some of the relevant issues with you further.

        1. craazyman

          Wow that was faster than Chinese food! This is like a Seinfeld episode frrom back in The Day when they ordered Chinese food and hung up the phone and the doorbell rang. Hahahahahahah,

          That’s New York for ya. Lazy flyover country losers like Trump voters and other people who don’t live in New Yoark — which by definition makes them a loser or if not that then somebody simply wandering lost in some purgatory of the mind where nothing is every anything more than confused and dimly perceived fragments of somebody else’s ideas — wouldn’t even be finishing their fantasy football scorecards or maybe waking up from their mid–afternoon couch potato naps but you guys not only posted mycomment but are “proactively” working to solve the problem! Holy smokes. Yves would be proud of you!

          I was just cracking myself up complaining. Commenting is a privilege and not a right. I’m bitching and only in fun. But yes, it’s the same email I*’ve used here since 1679 when I started reading the site. Right before my ancestors came to America in 1680. They did. That’s how long it’s been & my email hasn’t changed or my name.

          However, I understand this is a political blog and that requires tolearance for a certain level of idiocy. If that’s censured too adroitly there won’t be anybody left to moderbate. Haha. Sorry I’m just being honest.

          1. craazyman

            I should qualify my comment by saying I’m glad Trump won and just cause somebody voted for him doesn’t make them a loser. I was engaging in “hyperbole” and exaggeration. I didn’t vote but if I had voted it would have been for Trump, since Sanders quit on me after I gave him $300. But I’m not mad at him. It’s OK. I understand.

          1. ambrit

            Feel bad craazyman, feel very, very bad. I too have fallen into the “moderbation” zone. (In my case, some more “moderate and magesterial” commenters would consider it a case of “[quasi] poetic justice.”)
            My only consolation is my passport to Magonia.

  4. craazyboy

    It shouldn’t be long until we see the leaked pics of McConnell and Putin naked in a room with an underage Swedish boy.

    1. ambrit

      Don’t forget Hillary in her Dom outfit! Whipping the boy with a velvet cord.
      Plus, I didn’t know that McConnell went for pizza so hard.

  5. oho

    ‘Top Tech Leaders to Meet With Trump ‘

    not to belittle Cheryl sandbery, but Zuckerburg looks arrogant, petty for not going. or outta have a really good reason, like he’s the test pilot for Elon’s next spaceX launch.

    1. hreik

      Respectfully disagree. Zuckerberg maybe arrogant and petty but there’s no reason to meet w Trump who is a showman. Why did Trump meet with Al Gore and then select a climate denier for EPA head? He deserves no respect, lies like a rug, belittles people, bullies women, People of color, Muslims and vets, says ridiculous things, knows little about governing, Zuckerberg would be wasting his time.

      1. MyLessThaPrimeBeef

        Politics is the art of the possible.

        Or, in politics, never say never.

        Then, there is the quote about, in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies.

        I would still meet Trump… if one can’t go offense, at least get a chance at playing defense.

  6. Frobn

    As we get more and more reports of fake news it is going to get harder and as it becomes harder to determine what news is real and what is fake the default position will be that all news is fake news.

    1. integer

      As we get more and more reports of fake news it is going to get harder and as it becomes harder to determine what news is real and what is fake

      Not for me, and I feel I can safely extrapolate that sentiment to most, if not all, sincere NC readers.

    2. Terry

      regarding fake/real news, how about the Jim Hacker rule (“Yes Minister”):

      it’s never been officially denied. First rule in politics: never believe anything until it’s officially denied.

      1. clinical wasteman

        “Never believe anything…”: that piece of good advice comes from the late Claud Cockburn (first volume of his autobiography?) and was repeated as often as necessary by his son, the late Alexander.
        Although I remember that ‘Yes Minister’ show from growing up in NZ in late antiquity (they’ve moved onto the Dark Ages there now), I didn’t recall that Thatcher’s pet screenwriters lifted CC’s axiom so brazenly.

    3. DorothyT

      There’s a caption on the front page of the NYTimes today regarding an op-ed titled “All the President’s Propaganda”:

      Trump is about to take over a $1 billion government P.R. machine.

      That buys a lot of necessary public information and/or spin.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Trump is about to take over a $1 billion government P.R. machine

        Apparently, whoever built that machine thought only “good people” would use it. Madison must be spinning in his grave.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They also thought Reid’s ‘nuclear option’ regarding senate filibuster was good, until they need to filibuster now.

          And, of course, the current desire to reform the Electoral College. Maybe they will never be on the other side, ever again in the future.

          1. Propertius

            They also thought Reid’s ‘nuclear option’ regarding senate filibuster was good, until they need to filibuster now.

            I think several commenters on this very blog pointed that out years ago.

    4. Carolinian

      It’s just the latest MSM fad. They have 24 hour news channels–have to talk about something. And since it’s all purely speculative no actual reporting is required.

      Plus the two bigs, WaPo and NYT, seem desperate to regain control of the narrative. They think they will show Trump who is boss.

    5. Leigh

      I would LOVE to see our national news media outlets regulated back into the stone age!!!!!
      No more 24 hours news cycle, no more editorializing, cut it down to one hour – tells us what’s happening and then get lost.

      1. RabidGandhi

        No more 24 hours news cycle, no more editorializing, cut it down to one hour

        Great: in answer to the decrepit state of the MSM, you propose limiting press freedom, dictating what is opinion and what is fact (who decides? the current establishment?), and mandating limits on news broadcasts (thus reinforcing the distillation of complex issues into quick easy to digest soundbites that reinforce the Overton Window and inhibit challenges to the mainstream narrative).

        Horrible ideas, every last one of them.

          1. fresno dan

            December 12, 2016 at 10:15 am

            “1 hour a day coverage of the Kardashians.”
            Actually, its the lack of coverage of the Kardashians that I am interested in seeing…

          2. polecat

            no …. 2 mins. tops !

            …. and bottoms …..

            instead of the 2 min. hate …you’d have the two min. urge ….. (ducks quickly behind block wall)

          1. RabidGandhi

            I’m actually not in Buenos Aires, but I am in Northern Argentina. There is pretty widespread anger against the brutal economic austerity, but many Peronists are on board with Macri, so I think you are over-simplifying a bit. A powerful faction of the Peronist Party are die-hard militaristic conservatives who were very against the left-leaning Kirchner governments. Meanwhile, the main unions are stalling any popular actions (such as a nationwide general strike), acting as a shock absorber to protect the Macri government from the burgeoning anti-austerity anger.

            Nothing is really defined yet. In the short-term, Christmas is coming up and there are a lot of people pinning their hopes on a nebulous promise of a Christmas Bonus (aguinaldo) to get them through the year. In the medium term, congressional midterms are coming up and the Kirchnerists have a scary over-confidence that returning to power will be a cakewalk against an unpopular Macri regime.

            It’s going to be a long fight, but I’ll try to post updates here, and I’m always happy to answer any questions.

        1. Leigh

          My sarcastic attempt at neutering the press has offended.
          The way I’d like it is the way it was when I was going up – I can see your point though; it is so much more reliable now!!!!!!!

          1. RabidGandhi

            I do not understand your point, could you be clearer please? In neither your original post nor your follow-up, is it clear what was sarcastic. For my part, I never claimed the press was more reliable now. But I do not see how placing time limits or content restrictions on the press would improve our lapdog presstitutes; quite the opposite.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I’ve noticed the subtle message in the MSM about people getting sick from reading or watching too much news.

              Soon, deciding whom to vote for will be based on a candidate’s hair style or dress, whether he or she can play the saxophone, gathered from a minimal exposure to news, so you can have more time shopping…shopping for an affordable health care plan, for example.

    6. Benedict@Large

      I first got exposed to fake news back in junior high school. Back then, we used to call it the rumor mill.

  7. JTMcPhee

    Re cops whacking people of color, we Americans should cheer our top spot — the Guardian staff have been keeping track, and police killings are now over 1010 (decimal, not binary) for 2016.

    We’re Number One!

    1. alex morfesis

      The committee is honored to present the removal of 1010 refuseniks who were disrupting traffic….the five year plan is proceeding as expected…

      eric blair would like to be burried with his beloved eileen at st andrews…perhaps richard could take one of those checks he gets and instead of paying a publicist to talk about alcubierre so that he can crank up sales of homage to catalonia, he might venture to spend some of “their” money on having them spend eternity together…synthetic winds and all that…(sorry for the sidebar nc)

  8. Leigh

    Via Bloomberg:
    On Wednesday, S&P Global Inc. dropped a bombshell on the sovereign-credit ratings community.
    Sounding the alarm over the rise of populism in Europe and the U.S., the credit agency said key historic drivers of the creditworthiness of advanced economies over their emerging-market counterparts — the strength of institutions and quality of policy making — can no longer be taken for granted.

    well duh! wonder why that is…….

  9. Uahsenaa

    Some napkin math says a trillion over ten years would be 100 billion per year, which, by the way, is 25 billion LESS than the what the Pentagon was recently reported as having dumped into a black hole. Moreover, that money would actually go back into the real economy, making everyone richer in the process. How is this a hard sell?

    Oh, I forget, I live in the land of bootstraps and austerity…

  10. Anne

    The Russians…

    It’s entirely possible that I have gone down this rabbit hole, so with that in mind, let me pose a couple questions, and maybe some things to consider – lots of folks here with a better handle on this than I have, so will be interested in any reaction/response.

    It seems to me that the cart is way out in front of the horse; motive is being bandied about in advance of actual proof – proof meaning “evidence” that (1) there was hacking, and not garden-variety leaking, and (2) the Russians are responsible for it.

    If we can’t prove either of these, it seems to me there is no point is assigning motive.

    But in the meantime, the greatest damage all of this is doing is eating up time and keeping Democratic jaws locked on the alleged Russian interference as if it’s a real thing. It’s keeping them from addressing the blindingly obvious – to everyone but them, because apparently, all that jaw pressure is interfering with their eyesight – problems with the party and acting to fix them, and it’s also keeping them from coming up with a plan to deal with the shitstorm of confirmation hearings, and shitstorm 2, what his nominees intend to rain down on the people he said he was going to help.

    And meanwhile, was Trump inaugurated earlier than usual? I ask because Obama seems to have decided to decline to assert his power in still being president for 40 more days, allowing Trump to step into that void and eat Obama’s lunch. Okay, so yeah, much of what Obama could do in these last weeks could be pretty quickly undone, but am I the only one who thinks he should still be acting in the bests interests of the country and sending a message that Dems do not intend to roll over and play dead when Trump ascends to what he apparently thinks is a throne? Unless, of course, Obama’s just done and can’t be bothered to, you know, actually lead his party and the country. And the only weapon the Dems have in their playbook involves tummy rubs.

    I just see all this Russian stuff as perhaps the biggest, shiniest object since Bush/Cheney sold us a war, and that makes me wonder what the endgame really is.

    1. cocomaan

      Yeah, Obama’s lame duck status has been lamer than the usual transitions in recent memory.

      Where’s the 11th hour pardons? Are those only happening in January?

      You get the feeling he’s working on something else.

        1. cocomaan

          Hah! Maybe. But he’s made several very public statements about fake news and I think Lambert/Yves/Jerri-Lynn posted a link about him forming his own media outlet to combat Trump’s.

          Since the Democrats are entirely in the wilderness now, relying on conspiracy theory to get their points across, I get the feeling he’s doing damage control. Why he’d want to hitch his wagon to the Clintons is strange to me, but he’s probably having to salvage the little legacy he has.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yeah, joking aside, Obama seems to be working on something. He is simultaneously being amazingly co-operative with Trump while also being all too slow to disentangle himself from the rotting corpse of the Clinton machine. The one thing we can be certain of is that all he is interested in is rescuing his reputation and ensuring a very cosy and lucrative retirement. How he calculates he can do this is difficult to see, but no doubt he is working on it.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Obama does “sexy” work. If there is no immediate pay off, he has no interest. The White House is going through the motions. He will be on the Daily Show tonight to be told how good he is before he tries to hit the links.

            2. polecat

              he’s still only half a zombie, at least for a few weeks more ….. and in any case, did not get close enough to take a big bite of the Orange ………

    2. PlutoniumKun

      You ask some very reasonable questions and I don’t think there are any clear answers.

      My own personal theory is that the ‘Russians are manipulating everything’ meme started out last year as the establishment neocons started to cover their tracks over their failures in Ukraine and Syria. The Clintons then picked it up as a handy all purpose cover to distract from HRC’s emails and other various scandals. But its been such a useful meme its been picked up by various different groups with all sorts of motivations – Republicans hoping to pressure Trump, the intelligence services to boost their arguments for more resources/less oversight, etc. I think that since the ‘liberal’ media gave up all pretence of proper reporting when they threw in with HRC, its almost a reflex action now that they just go with the flow of what they are told to report.

      I’m not a huge fan of conspiracy theories – I tend to favour cock-up over conspiracy in most things, and I also think that a lot of supposed conspiracies are more opportunism dressed up as omnipotence. But I do wonder if at some stage over the summer various parts of the Blob, anticipating a HRC presidency (but with a probable Republican controlled Congress), did think about a concerted anti-Russian push, with its centrepiece military intervention in Syria, as a way of cementing HRC’s control over events, simultaneously strengthening the hands of the neocons within the establishment. The notion of engineering a crisis in order to carry out their plans is absolutely central to neocon philosophy, so I don’t think its in any way impossible that this was intended. A combination of Trumps victory and the faster than expected fall of Aleppo has put an obstacle in their way, but they may decide they have little to lose by doubling down.

      1. cocomaan

        Very good points, always enjoy reading your posts.

        I also don’t think that there’s any conspiracy in knowing that Snowden and Assange shacked up with Russia and the intelligence community is not happy about that. Snowen was a CIA spook before he was an NSA spook, remember.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks, likewise.

          You are right of course to remind us that there is a lot of stuff going on between the Russian and US intelligence agencies. I’ve no doubt the CIA see Snowdon’s presence in Moscow as a deep insult and embarrassment, and this may be part of their motivations. And of course the Russians do actively spy on the US and would interfere if they thought they could get away with it, just as the CIA, etc., do all the time in Russia.

          Its all beginning to resemble a John Le Carre novel, just without the literary elegance.

    3. sid_finster

      Normally, the investigation and evidence come before the conclusion.

      Unless the Deep State is conducting a witch-hunt, which seems to be the case here.

    4. m

      The endgame is better control of the internet by our “leaders” & a good excuse to continue beating up Russia. Kill two birds.
      Seriously, why are we not considering our own government or perhaps Fox news. Remember when Murdoch hacked English politicians, celebrities & that dead girl’s phone. Wasn’t that long ago.
      This was Podesta’s gmail & they got in by a very simple phishing technique, the guy must be an idiot.

  11. Carolinian

    From the above Arnade Medium link.

    When the Democrats under Clinton in the early ‘90s shifted towards a pro market agenda, they made a dramatic shift towards accepting the Republicans definition of value as being about the economic.

    Now elites in both major parties see their broad political goal as increasing the GDP, regardless of how it is done.

    This has failed most Americans, other than the elite, in two ways. It has failed to provide an economic boost (incomes are broadly flat), and it has forgotten that many people see value as being not just economic, but social. It has been a one-two punch that has completely left behind many people.

    With the passing of Castro one of my local PBS stations has been running shows about Cuba. These are travel type shows–not polluted by the usual news reporter agendas–and one takeaway is that Cubans are desperately poor but strangely happy. To be sure it’s a small island where social cohesion is a lot easier to achieve, but surely there is something to be said for the “social” over the “economic” if the pursuit of happiness is one of your goals. There was a time when a certain generation of counter culture Americans thought the same way but it didn’t last. We love our shiny toys and status climbing and don’t seem to be wired that way.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “We love our shiny toys and status climbing and don’t seem to be wired that way.” — I don’t really buy this.

      There’s certainly people who are like that (the status-seeking top 10-20%), and clearly our culture is engineered to reshape people in that manner so maybe more Americans are like that than is the case in many other societies.

      The problem is that there’s just very little control that people can exercise. Where’s the house I can buy that is 1) reasonably close to decent-paying jobs and good schools for my kids and 2) doesn’t require me to load up on mortgage debt? It doesn’t exist.

      Also, where’s the job that offers mediocre pay, but offers tons of vacation time and wonderful health insurance. Maybe some government jobs offer that, but there’s not many. Plus, if you’re loaded with student loan debt, you can’t afford that option, anyway. Also, if you’ve got kids under 5 and you need day care, again, you need to be making as much money as possible to cover that daycare cost.

      You know what IS cheap, though? Lots of things that don’t matter like phones/tablets that break in a year or two. Lots of toys for kids made in China. Those are all quite affordable. It’s not because people WANT them so badly, it’s just what’s on offer.

      Reasonably priced housing, day care, health care and education are absolutely NOT available for us, so what are we supposed to do?

      1. Carolinian

        I’m talking about our “culture” which is why some once thought we needed a counter culture–not about the circumstances of individuals. Obviously there are many poor communities in the US that are probably just like Cuba, materially poor but socially close. If more of our country starts to be like that then our culture may change.

        The problem with the hippie era is that it was more of a political statement. They didn’t have to live like that and in the end most of them didn’t.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It seems to me that people are closer when they are not rich, or at least not obsessed with getting more money and more things.

          And maybe countries are similar…neolithic villages were not, to us, very powerful and faced dangers everywhere and thus, people had to cooperate more.

          Technology allows us to be more independent (good), and naturally, we socialize when we want to, but we don’t have to, not as much as before (bad).

        2. Oregoncharles

          Some still do. There weren’t really that many hippies, as opposed to day-trippers (which supports your point); I wonder whether there are really that many fewer, aside from attrition. The MSM stopped paying attention, so there’s no way to know, but I know a lot of them. They aren’t politically dominant even in Eugene, but their influence and legacy are pervasive here (upper Willamette Valley – Portland is a different but related scene.).

  12. Vanilla

    In spring of 2015, news headlines claimed that California had one year of water left. That got some attention even here at NC, and folks talked about it for a few months. After a year and a half, people are still living in California. It was just a coincidence that the new Mad Max movie was released in May of that year.

    In 2016, the news seems to be talking about robots. In the summer it was lectures on the ethics of sexbots. In the fall it’s been automation replacing humans. Robots, robots, robots. It’s just a coincidence that there’s a very popular TV show on HBO about robots.

    Maybe there are real stories behind these headlines. But the decision of which stories get promoted and broadcast is an important aspect of journalism. Fake news? We’re swimming in it.

        1. JTMcPhee

          My point exactly. So what, post Robot Takeover, if there’s no water and the local temps exceed 60 Celsius? Maybe it’s all part of Skynet’s or Chthulu’s grand strategy… We build our own Daleks and War Clones, and then what?

    1. pretzelattack

      has it rained? one year of water left, if true, would be the amount stored i would think. i’m pretty sure it didn’t mean california would be out of water in a year, movies or no movies.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Or as long as she lives… which is all that counts. Would that we mopes could only rely on a literal reification of “Apres moi le deluge…”

        2. Dave

          All for her main donors:
          Something’s not right about this California water deal
          “A lawsuit by water agencies and environmental groups contends the Kern Water Bank transaction was essentially a gift of public water”

          The California taxpayer water for pomegranates scam:

          When Feinstein’s not busy handing over the public’s water to her donors, her husband is busy selling the public’s post office buildings to his pals.

    2. Prufrock

      I’m a lifelong Northern California resident. Last year we were at the edge of an urgent, immediate crisis, but we had above average rainfall during the 2015-16 season, and this year is looking good so far. This takes us away from the risk of enforced rationing, but there are still huge long term water challenges, particularly for central and southern CA.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        “there are still huge long term water challenges, particularly for central and southern CA.”…Prufrock

        And the Western US in general.

        Marc Reisner’s CadillacDesert remains the definitive text for understanding the stupidity of our water policies.

      2. B1whois

        I lived in northern California for 30 years, in Sacramento were we actually have tons of water flowing by as we are at the confluence of two large rivers. I also used to work for the federal bureau of reclamation and even spent some time in the group that runs the central valley water project. As a student assistant I collected water samples with the California department of water resources. But I had trouble understanding the recommendations for the drought to take shorter showers. Showers don’t use water, it flows across the body, into the drain, through the water treatment plant and back into the river. The only thing shorter showers save is water treatment facility capacity. Fracking removes water completely from the water cycle, yet it continues. Finally, if they are going to focus on shorter showers, why not try to reduce shaving? That seems to use a lot of water treatment plant capacity. I want to see a highway billboard showing an unshaved leg and declaring it natural. If that grosses you out, sorry, but don’t try to sooth your nerves with a long hot shower!

  13. BecauseTradition

    re What Would It Take to Replace the Pay Working-Class Americans Have Lost? Neil Irwin, NYT. A trillion over a decade, “a hard sell in any political environment.” Unlike bank bailouts and wars, of course.

    Properly abolishing government provided deposit insurance should require $trillions to be equally distributed to all American citizens to provide the new reserves needed for the xfer of at least some currently insured deposits with private banks to inherently risk-free accounts at a Postal Checking Service or equivalent without deflationary bank runs.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Silly Jilly smacked down:

    A federal judge on Monday issued a stinging rejection of a Green Party-backed request to recount paper ballots in Pennsylvania’s presidential election and scan some counties’ election systems for signs of hacking.

    In his 31-page decision, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond said there were at least six grounds that required him to reject the Green Party’s lawsuit.'s-Pennsylvania-recount-case

    Hope they bodily ejected her from the courthouse. :-)

    Now it’s over to the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati to whack her again.

    1. HopeLB

      Jill may be going about this in the wrong way, but I say recount and verify all 50 statesAnd in a timely manner. The only way to assure that our votes are counted is with verifiable publicly counted paper ballots. I say let’s show these proprietarily owned machines who exactly is ” We the People”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we go all 50 states, we might as well recount the votes of senators, governors, propositions, etc.

        Why just the votes for president, if this is about proprietariily owned machines, which are used for more that, wherever they are used.

      2. Isabel Tompkins-Smith

        I’m with you on the recount. Maybe an automatic recount of 2%-5% of randomly selected polling machines or places just to be sure the votes are being tallied accurately.

  15. alex morfesis

    Chine beach(ed whale)…el donaldo is either brilliant or lucky but the rebirth of taiwan as a recognized nation is not something China can stop…the myth of the great chinese hoard works in theory for and against neighbors but there is a wee bit of water between Formosa and red army territory…and the myth fell on its face when vietnam showed how china does not like body bags of their own soldiers being returned…and an analysis of the red army operationally show that historically…it didnt amount to much…the great 40 year chinese period of occupations and civil war was not exactly littered with great military victories…much more like Afghanistan with thugs fighting thugs…

    The chinese navy doesn’t exist, except some souped up torpedo boats and the purported numerically superior red army air force is in fact a nation that doesn’t retire old airplanes and lists non forward theater “trainers” as part of its vast military…

    The red army will never attempt a real crossing of the straights…due to not having the workable transport capacity(although they could attempt to covert business vessels) and they might not get half way across due to other logistics…

    Lucky or brilliant…either way…

    pass the popcorn

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its certainly true that China’s navy is nowhere near as formidable as Washington war profiteers would have you believe, but its also true that Taiwan’s defence capacity has been eroded significantly in recent years. They’ve been prevented from buying the best military equipment for decades now.

      As you say, China learned the hard way in Vietnam in ’79 not to be tempted by military intervention when there are slower but better ways, but I would also not underestimate the power of nationalist sentiment in China. Its a big ‘if’, but if a major economic reverse in the next couple of years were to create real domestic unrest, the CCP would not hesitate to create a distraction by ramping up nationalistic hysteria, and the big hotspot for that is Taiwan.

      If China made the calculation that the US would not risk its carriers in defending Taiwan, or threaten to use nukes (and I think those are reasonable calculations), then I have little doubt that given the right domestic circumstances (i.e. riots on the street of every city), the CCP would do it.

      1. alex morfesis

        The U$ would not risk anything to defend formosa…my thought is we wouldn’t need to…china would fail in an attempt at a crossing and taking…but no riots to be expected nor projected…when you control your own currency and most of the worlds governments are happy to destabilize their labor force by allowing the red communist army to trade chinese timedollars for gold and electronic gold via western securities…there will be no collapse of the communist party in china in our lifetimes…and considering how financially connected taiwan is with china, china may consider it a smart pr move to let go of formosa and focus on the south sea expansion it is working on with those 9 dashes

  16. Paid Minion

    “Automation can create more jobs.”

    Yeah, I’m sure thats what the CEOs are thinking, when they threaten people lobbying for a $15 minimum wage.

    And forget about the “highly paid robot repairer” jobs. Not only will they replace humans on a 5-1 ratio, they won’t pay the robot repairers $hit either.

    See the multitude of “can’t find skilled help” stories.

    Our local Home Despot is “incentivising” the use of their self serve checkouts. Mainly by not staffing the regular checkout lanes. Leading to long, slow lines at the self serve checkouts. Which is why I go to Lowes, because life is too short…….at least until some dumbazz MBA sells the HD plan to Lowes.

    I csn see it now……”Come to (…..), deal with real people…”

    Automated service……..because it works so well on the phone.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I recently walked out of H.D., leaving a cart with several hundred bucks worth of goods at the long human check out line for this very reason. Upon searching for an alternative I found an old employee owned plumbing supply store which saved me money with terrific customer service from the instant I walked in the door.

      1. Dave

        Remember, you can “stack” two items as they scan over the reader in a self check out line.
        “I thought it did it automatically” you can say if caught.

        It is your MORAL responsibility to steal from job destroying, small business destroying corporations.


        1. BecauseTradition


          I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the idea of corporations but I see plenty wrong with government subsidies for private credit creation and other welfare for the rich (e.g. positive interest on sovereign debt, a risk-less asset.)

          But since small business benefits from forced loans (a deposit is legally a loan to the bank, etc.) from the poor too … ?

          “The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or be so dependent upon its favours that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.” The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863. from

          I understand the desirability of low interest rates for business but there are ethical ways* to obtain them.

          *e.g. equal fiat distributions to all citizens.

  17. rd

    Re: Mosul Dam

    This is a dam that should never have been built. It is constructed over soluble gypsum geologic formations. The build-up of water head in the reservoir behind it forces groundwater to flow below the dam literally dissolving its foundation. So extensive grouting is needed, almost continuously, just to keep an acceptable status quo like running on a treadmill where you run like hell but don’t actually go anywhere. Only a totalitarian dictator like Saddam Hussein would have pushed this through. This is what happens when siting of facilities is not thought through from multiple vantage points.

    BTW – when dams fail it is like the famous quote about bankruptcy. It happens a little bit at a time and then all at once. So the current movements are the “little bit at a time” and if a large breach occurred, either through an internal erosion failure in the foundation, overtopping of a sagging section in a flood, or simply finding cracks that form in the dam structure itself, the failure would go exponential in a hurry. You can look up the Teton Dam failure on line to see how long it took from seeing a small leak at an abutment to the entire reservoir emptying – only a matter of hours.

    Here is a USACE report from 2007 on the geologic model for the dam foundations and abutments.

    1. rd

      BTW – the problem with the Mosul Dam foundation is why seawalls and levees are not viable in Florida to keep out the sea, unlike places like Holland etc. The limestone underlying much of Florida is very porous and soluble, so the sea would just flow through the bedrock up into the cities and villages from underground. It would cost massive, massive amounts of money to even attempt to do the grouting under levees similar to what is proposed for the Mosul Dam.

        1. rd

          The Portland cement is often blended with other products such as coal fly ash (beneficial re-use) or bentonite (mined in Wyoming in the US). The grout mixes are similar to the well casing cements in oil and gas well drilling (what they didn’t test in “Deep Horizon”).

      1. witters

        Don’t worry – it won’t happen. After all “Only a totalitarian dictator like Saddam Hussein would have pushed this through.”

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Mosul must be the least luckiest city on the planet. The Mosul Dam isn’t just a threat to it – its the base for what little prosperity it has left. If the dam goes, then it will not just wipe out much of what is left of the city, without rebuilding it there would be no good reason for anyone to rebuild it. The reason it was built in the first place was that Mosul was desperate for water – upstream dams in Turkey and Syria had greatly reduce flows in the summer. Saddam wasn’t completely stupid – he was aware of the engineering issues, but thought that the risk was worth it. Its certainly not the only dam in the world that requires constant engineering work to keep it safe.

      1. rd

        Most dams require periodic maintenance of various types (a major topic in the WRDA bill that just passed n the House and Senate). The lack of maintenance of many small dams in South Carolina caused a lot of damage and some deaths in major storms a year or two ago.

        The difference is that the Mosul Dam was designed on the same principle as a car with fabric wheels that require the car engine to act as an air compressor to keep them inflated while the car is operating. Any period of time without ongoing maintenance could be disastrous. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

        Mosul is also at the fault line between the Iraqi ethnic groups so much of its luck can be attributed to having multiple groups that don’t like each other all having some sort of claim.

    1. integer

      Sorry about the double post. Thought I caught it in time to add the link, but obviously my reflexes failed me. Apologies.

  18. Goyo Marquez

    One of the Clintons favorite tactics is to accuse their opponents of what the Clintons themselves are doing. So we get talk about the dangers of fake news, while they try to propagate the fake news story of Russians hacking the election.

    There’s something about being the first to make an accusation that blunts the use of that same accusation against the first accuser.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. They are exceptional. They can do, but you can’t.

      2. Never mind the accusation. The accuser should be investigated.

    2. Tom_Doak

      I was trying to explain this to my son throughout the campaign. Clinton’s proxies attacked Sanders as bein too old, when she’s show more signs of age. Attacked Sanders as not supporting the down ballot candidates, when her campaign was Hoovering donations back from the DNC to fund her ads. Attacked Trump as an abuser of women, to get in front of accusations against old Bill. Attacked him as being dangerous and liable to start a war, to divert attention from Libya, Syria, and all her neocon friends. Attacked him over hacking into emails, when she’d left the whole trove of the State Department vulnerable to hackers. And attacked him for even thinking of questioning the results of the election, only to do it herself when she lost.

      In the old days these were widely recognized propaganda tactics. It was blatant if you had your eyes open to the method.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thx for that. I’d seen an article on this earlier that a few days ago didn’t make clear that the kid who got shot was being bullied and I wondered what the crowd of students was doing standing around gawking. Now it makes a lot more sense, unfortunately not in a good way.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They are too expensive.

      I’m sure someone will benefit from their short positions.

      It’s like, if you go after Big Tobacco, someone will benefit, maybe some hedge fund guys or some lawyers. If you elect someone to the Senate, of course, he/she will benefit from a nice salary, being a senator. The name will be in many history books. But the question remains: Will he or she take on the military-industrial complex? Will he or she save your job?

  19. b.

    “Democrats won’t win by showing how awful Trump is.”


    There is an footnote to this: The voters likely to ever prefer Democrits over Repugs are also the most likely to feel betrayed by the former. Those voters righteous expectations is that the former live up to their promises, and that far exceeds any expectations that have of the latter. The protest vote – letting Trump happen, or even voting for him our of spite – illustrates this commitment to “reative destruction”. Potential voters for Democrat don’t vote to punish the Republicans.

    The Democratic Party will have to make promises and act in a way that voters can have some hope of seeing those promises kept. That will require changes in personnel, and the backbench of Rebels Without A Taint is mightly thin. Right now, given Warren’s pathetic performance, and the track record of the Progressively Caucused band of Ellison, that’s more or less a Party Of One.

    More importantly, the Democratic Party leadership would have to let go and go, and as we can see from Obama’s and Clinton’s post-representative related program activities, that will be the very last thing they are prepared to do.

    Two more elections like this at the most, and No To Incumbents will be a reasonable heuristics in the booth. None Of The Above.

    1. integer

      The D-party (that’s the D minus party btw, the lowest grade on the A-F scale that can be given without a repeat effort being required. They do deserve an F but personally I would rather let them scrape through just so they will fuck off once and for all) is dead.

      1. integer

        If I was going to start a political party, I would consider naming it the Decent party. It would be a party that favored no identity groups because it would promote general decency and respect for all people, as well as for mother nature, and when we won we would throw a decent party to celebrate.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Democrats don’t favor identity groups. They use tokenism and fear of the GOP. The Democrats have done nothing for minorities, women, young people, etc, except to offer an occasional lecture about how ungrateful these groups can be.

          1. integer

            When it comes to governing I agree, as they only care about the billionaire class, but reading the Podesta emails made it clear, to me at least, that the D-party’s election campaign employed a strategy of using significantly different messaging for each minority group they were trying to win over. I’m sure there is an argument to be made that this is just politics as usual, but it seems incredibly two-faced (or technically, number of faces ≥ 2) to me.

    2. Anne

      “Democrats won’t win by showing how awful Trump is.”

      If all they’re going to do is talk about how awful he is, then yes, I agree; if Dems are all just barking into microphones, writing sternly-worded letters and rubbernecking as they drive past the wreckage, it won’t be the wreckage that matters – all that will matter is that Trump is actually doing things, and the Dems are doing nothing.

      And I do think there’s going to be wreckage. He’s already seeing that just sending out tweets has the power to move markets – which may result in some re-thinking about how great it actually will be having someone from the business world treating the country as if it’s his own company. Right now, he’s hiring a board of directors, that he seems very excited about because they are very wealthy and know how to do fabulous deals. They are players. Wait til they start playing with the lives of the old, the poor and the sick through the privatization of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Wait until they make the health system even worse than it was before the ACA. Wait until they decimate the public education system. Wait until they send women back to the days of being chattel. Wait until they find new and more insidious ways to suppress the vote. Wait until the Christian evangelicals get stronger and bolder. Wait until none of the economic policy turns out to work and we can add looking like a third-world country to being run like a third-world country.

      And then Trump can just shrug his shoulders and tell us we knew he was a terrible businessman when he got elected, so, why are we so upset?

      And that’s not even close to being all they seem hell-bent to wreck.

      I can see this happening, all of it, because Democrats show few signs of doing anything other than what they always do, which is – essentially – nothing but whine about how the big, bad Republicans won’t let them do anything.

      1. RMO

        Trump is going to be a disaster – I’m pretty certain of that. The potential good I can see coming out of it is if the Dems pull their collective heads out and smarten up. Unfortunately that’s not looking too likely at the moment as many of them seem to be looking to blame anyone but their own poor policies and strategies for the 2016 loss. It wouldn’t surprise me (it would sadden me, but not surprise me) if they are going to continue on with the same plan they had for the last election in the assumption that Trump will do so poorly that they will be able to win some in the midterms and take the White House again in four years even if they run a CPR training dummy for president… and include in their campaign platform a mandate that every citizen making under $100K per year will have their right eye gouged out.

  20. Ranger Rick

    Speaking of fake news, it’s kind of spooky how Venezuela has virtually disappeared from the media radar despite the situation in that country going from bad to worse.

    But that’s not why I’m here: Trump tweeted this morning and essentially slapped Lockheed Martin across the face to the tune of a four percent stock price drop. There’s an interesting analysis here from the always-astute Tyler Rogoway that makes me hopeful that my earlier wishful thinking (that Trump intends to overhaul the horror show that is government contract management) was not misplaced.

    1. no one

      OMG. Trump had one job, as far as I am concerned: extirpating the Bushes & Clintons from the body politic. Now, if he kills the F-35 — what a bonus!

  21. Karl Kolchack

    From The Independent’s article on the EU crisis:

    “…there is the massive influx of migrants, attracted by Europe’s success, pushed by the wars in Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the disintegration of Libya, the incursions by IS.”

    I love how the article pretends as if the wars were completely random, like weather disasters, and not caused by the EU itself. Had the EU’s NATO members refused to go along with America’s murderous and destructive foreign policy, there would be no waves of refugees swarming its borders. The EU leaders did this to themselves, and are now reaping the whirlwind.

    1. Tom_Doak

      Did this to themselves? Well, maybe in Libya or Syria they pushed it forward. But in Iraq they had a lot of help from Uncle Sam.

  22. Doug

    A quick question re: mmt for anyone who can provide an answer. Mmt allows spending for a basic income or anything else because a sovereign issuer can’t run out of money. In my mind there is always a limit but I never hear mmters speak of a limit. The govt COULD spend a trillion but what is the downside? Isn’t inflation an obvious concern? It has to be, right? If printing and spending 1T is good, then shouldnt 100T be more good? If not, mmters should be more forthcoming with these negative consequences. Personally, I’m open to these “non-mainstream” concepts, but my too good to be true b.s. Detector goes off whenever someone brings it up…. (i enjoy reading Bill Black, but he always just says “because MMT” and mic drops and im left with that look on my face that my grandmother said would stick if i kept doing it)

    1. Goyo Marquez

      MMT’ers regularly state that too much money creation can result in inflation, so the government shouldn’t create so much money that it causes too much inflation.

      I’d suggest that, unless you have a big pile of money stored somewhere, and my understanding is that the majority of Americans don’t even have $2000 in savings, then inflation isn’t that big a deal.

      Who does inflation hurt? People who hold dollars or people who are owed dollars. Who does inflation help? People who owe dollars.

        1. Foppe

          Only so long as pensions are funded out of savings. But that’s only one solution; another is to increase retirement benefits.

        2. Goyo Marquez

          Only if their retirement fund consists of a pile of dollars or a pile of IOUs denominated in dollars, otherwise the value of their retirement fund should inflate along with everything else. That’s why adjustments for inflation is such an important part of Social Security.

    2. Foppe

      Inflation can be a concern, though it’s not necessarily. It’s important to keep in mind that we use currently the words “inflation”/”deflation” rather ideologically. As such, we allow banks to add money, which causes inflation (e.g., “housing price increases, Yay!”) or ‘unsustainably large,’ non-productive sectors of the economy (RE, home supplies, diy, kitchens), but not govts (Zimbabwe! Waaaaaah! — except when ‘we’ want to subsidize the MIC or whatever). As such, it mostly comes down to checks and balances, and the trust that people will behave. Which, in turn, is mostly a function of teaching lots of people to understand money, as that will make it possible for them to think through consequences of particular choices, and criticize actions if/when necessary. Main reason it won’t happen under current circumstances is wealth accumulation (which would lose value), but once we unteach that habit, we’re good to go. ;)

      1. Doug

        Thank you both for the comments. I can digest the issue better knowing the tradoffs that are inherent in the concept. I guess my hesitation to embrace the idea is that it requires entrusting the people who cannot be trusted to administer any such plans… I must admit that my instant reaction is not that I disagree with you re: banks expanding credit/money, but more that I tend to agree with Ron Paul! Rather than embark on this path of finding competent people to divine the “right” balance to keep things in check, why not enforce hard limits. Maybe the difference between a glass half full/empty. Your view is much more optimistic for what that’s worth. Having said all this, I think Im a hopeless neanderthal on all of these issues… I cringe whenever I hear someone comment on the “need for growth”… Its pervasive. The town I live in is growing constantly (into a town I dont want to live in anymore…). Just commenting, some battle can’t be won.

        1. Foppe

          I’m optimistic with the caveat that people will only start to make informed decisions (and we’ll only get accountability) once there is broad understanding of how money works. Education is key. (Which is why it doesn’t happen, and why the education which is provided is wrong.)
          The big problem we have currently is that the GOP deficit-finances whatever it wants while lowering taxes (etc.), while the Party for the Professional Class aims only to “balance the budget”, and only deficit-spends if the system or their savings are in the balance, because of what they’ve all been “taught” in economics & business classes. But remember that all that money that was spent on the MIC during 2000-08 (and on star wars) didn’t meaningfully affect “inflation”, apart from very indirectly.
          What I’m trying to say is that societies, because of their complexity, are quite capable of dealing with money creation from whatever source, although obviously a great deal hangs on what the money is used for. As such, the fact that we are constantly told to worry about inflation makes very little sense, except insofar as we’re repeating talking points that are handed to us by the affluent and the FIRE sector, plus a bunch of people who fetishize “Precious” Metals.

          If you want a book rec that may help you understand money better, I’d say there is no better book than Graeber’s Debt, because of how he embeds his explanation of money in interactions and societies.
          This video, too, is helpful, though more to understand how people who turn money into more money drive investment priorities, and the costs:

          1. Doug

            Thanks Foppe. Im the pessimist in the room again! Education is key. How’s that looking going forward? We, as a nation are about to overturn the First Amendment and I doubt one person out of fifty cares. I’m heartened by your explanations, though am still confused. If we were to “print” to implement a basic income (I assume this would be one of the best uses) would that be directly inflationary in a large way? Competition for housing as a huge, obvious example, would push prices higher instantly, diminishing the very benefits of the basic income on an immediate basis. Would we then hear the call for a raise in the basic income to compensate, rinse, repeat??? Again, call me old fashioned but, I would prefer a less turbo charged economy where the value of the dollar was stable. Slow down the rat race as it were. Imagine if you didnt need to constantly try to “get ahead”. Houses in your home town cost the same for your kids as they did for their parents, retirement was predictable and achievable. Im probably off topic, but all of this seems to be related in my mind. FYI: Im “wealthy” by any measure I would have had as a child, or most would have of me today, but I am unable to retire because of the economic uncertainty of the world we live in. Perhaps in the “big picture” of the haves and have nots it OK to embrace inflation as “most” dont have cash assets, but it is such a huge departure from our historic stance/policy that perhaps that should be the main debate rather than MMT. If MMT is a way to achieve “good” inflation then it may win that debate. Im not much of a policy mind, but I do appreciate the back and forth.

            1. Foppe

              I’m not saying it’s looking good, just that there is no principled reason why it *couldn’t* work / be done. There’s a distinction there. ;)

              As for basic incomes: it depends on the details. To the extent that food / basic need prices are depressed because of general poverty, they might rise a bit. Housing market is fucked up because of private debt generation by banks anyway, addressing that will do much more than adding a BI would. It might lead to more increases further down the road, but if done right I imagine it would only really be an issue in case of inflation caused by resource constraints. But again, Graeber’s book will probably help you to understand the basic idea in a pretty intuitive/accessible way. (He won’t talk about housing, though. For that, I’d recommend Michael Hudson, or for a non-MMT-er who’s very good at ‘narrative explanations’ of macro developments, see David Harvey’s Enigma of Capital.

              As for a stable dollar, what period are you thinking of, specifically?

              1. Doug

                Thinking about a stable dollar is the flip side of the “growth as a necessity” model I guess. The original Fed charter was for “stable” prices as their only mandate. In this sense, I would be in favor of 0% inflation (or rather, periods of positive and negative, netting to zero). If money supply was administered correctly, it would certainly grow over time in relation to population growth presumably. But prices would not be affected. So in terms of time period, I guess infinite??? Worshiping at the alter of Growth seems madness to me. Illagi writes on the subject often and I tend to agree. Bottom line for me is if we adopt an MMT worldview, we a still subject to all of the caveats and disciplines that have proven to be the Achilles Heel of the current system. All the effort to ensure that MMT was implemented correctly and without corruption could just as easily be applied to the current system by enforcing rules that the PTB choose to ignore. I’ll state it this way: if the medical monopolies were reigned in using existing laws (see: karl denninger), and housing was not treated as a financial product (banks issuing massive amounts of credit and in effect operating as legally permitted insolvent entities – lenient cap requirements), etc. (im sure there are more, like MIC but you get the point), would we even be in such a mess that we need to consider adopting an untried system?

                As a side note, untried is obviously not entirely accurate. Its got the flavor of other “left” economic systems that have indeed been tried to mixed (at best) results. Sanders spoke glowingly of the Nordic countries and I have no doubt they are beautiful and well run socialist countries, but would their system works so nicely if not for NATO? Hidden costs are still costs. This is not to say that we cant do it better, but many of the flaws of these systems are that the corruption and incompetence of those administering them are unavoidable and therefore must be considered a real and perhaps fatal flaw. I’ll let my good old fashioned capitalist flag fly here for a moment… For all its flaws, capitalism does at least incorporate human greed (probably not the best word choice) as a major component and it is therefore on the surface for everyone to see and anticipate in all of their public interactions. The unmasked devil is much more manageable than the hidden one! Additionally, there is a true value to harnessing the competitive drive of humans in the form of profit… I know its controversial these days to support “the system” but Im afraid that policies that go too far left are scary in their own way.

                Dont mean to put words in your mouth! Just ranting. How long can we keep a stale links article going anyway?

    3. Mel

      The principle is that a society, through the government, can afford to buy anything that’s for sale in the society’s market. The real limit is in real resources, not in money. If there are no peaches, say, then the government can’t buy peaches at any price. Only stuff that exists can be bought and used.
      You will eventually find this reading Black, or Michael Hudson, or Bill Mitchell. Maybe less so in Black because he’s writing a lot lately about regulation and politics. Hudson publishes a lot outside his blog, so it’s easiest to follow him by letting nakedcapitalism track where he’s been last.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Inflation is not the ever-present concern.

      That risk will present itself in due time, but is not always there.

      The number one, constant worry is the government spends that money not for the people, but for those connected to the government.

      Like, reckless spending on adventures, or too generous retirement plans for public servants, those at the top, like senators, department secretaries, etc.

      So, be careful with a government that can spend as much as it wants, under the slogan that it should be allowed to spend without restraint in order to help you.

      1. Doug

        “The number one, constant worry is the government spends that money not for the people, but for those connected to the government.” – Yes, isn’t this a given…. I dont see how to realistically stop them.

        “So, be careful with a government that can spend as much as it wants, under the slogan that it should be allowed to spend without restraint in order to help you.” – Agreed. So doesn’t this make the entire project an exercise in wishful thinking?

        In a worst case scenario (probably not “worst case” as it seems likely to me) you have an unshackled government spending the county into insolvency via priorities the people neither support nor are helped by. And by insolvency, I don’t mean default, but an inflationary spiral that kills savings and incentivizes hot money chasing returns until some calamity brings the whole show to a stop. I already suspect that the country has leveraged its entire wealth through over-indebtedness and the only thing of value we have left is our currency – i.e. a reputation for prudence and productivity that we have long since stopped deserving. Once we spend away the value of the dollar, what will we have left? MMT’s cavalier attitude toward inflation scares me as much as the plan of our current ruler.

    5. HotFlash

      I am not sure I understand this correctly, but it seems to me that if the govt were to issue the amount of dollars in a year equal to *real* GDP, however that would be measured, then there would be no inflation. If that is true, and I think it has to be, then a guaranteed income could not cause inflation.

      1. Doug

        Hmmm. Thanks for commenting. Real GDP is essentially zero recently even using the *questionable* BLS numbers. Doing NO research I would say 2% GDP minus 1% CPI is a 1% pool of available dollars to print. 1% of $18T is $180B or $545 per person per year. Not really much to write home about (assuming $500 could help you get a home). I always assume we are talking about MAJOR expenditure in the MMT worldview. ie. a basic income of $20,000 per year for example. Im sure it would not cost $6.6T ($20K x 330M people) but probably $3.3T would be the cost annually. That’s a far cry from the $180B your model implies would be inflation free.

        Of course if we used CPI numbers that included reasonable housing components or fewer massages of various sorts, we could end up with a negative real GDP requiring removal of dollars???

  23. rd

    I think the issue of Russian hacking of the DNC is a particularly important example of how these things go off the rails. Looking at this little piece, it appears that there are some facts that people in Russia did the hacking based on cyber-security footprints. After that pretty much everything else is interpretation.

    So the primary thing I fault the press for is not clearly outlining what are the known facts and how solid are they likely to be. Once that is established, then everybody can veer off on their own tangents. Instead the press has been distributing everybody’s speaking points and rarely even mentioning if there are even known verifiable facts.

    “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts” – Bernard Baruch 1950.

  24. John Parks

    As per Der Spiegel
    “Up to 20 nuclear bombs are stored in the village of Buchel, Germany,
    deployable on German Tornado fighter jets.”

    There must be some tortured semantics going here when just a couple of paragraphs later
    the authors explain that Germany, according the 1975 NPT which Germany signed,
    and committed:
    “not to receive the transfer from any transferor of nuclear weapons or other nuclear
    explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly”

    I suppose we should now put Germany into the same category as North Korea….let the sanctions and threats begin!!

  25. fosforos

    Is “Putin-puppet Donald” the new “Crooked Hillary?”

    “Influential senators from both parties amplified calls for an independent investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, setting up a clash with President-elect Donald Trump over U.S. policy toward Russia and potentially his pick for secretary of state.

    Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued a joint statement Sunday with the incoming Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, and top Armed Services Committee Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island that Russian interference in the election “should alarm every American.” They said Congress must investigate further without allowing it to become a partisan issue.”

    “Elite factionalism?” Or something else? Like a prototypically “Mighty Wurlitzer” election campaign? Remember, the presidential election is still far from over. The next stage is next week when the Electoral College votes. Does anyone even know yet who the GOP electors are? How hard would it really be to find 32 of them who could be “convinced” by one or more of the convincing arguments at the disposition of the national-security state, that “Putin-Puppet Donald” would be a grave menace as prexdinet and it is their Patriotic Duty to throw the election into the House of Representatives, where a McCain or a Graham would emerge as the Bipartisan Savior of the Republic.”

  26. Plenue

    “Modeling Vladimir Putin Marginal Revoluton”

    This is deeply, deeply stupid. Notice how all the assumptions are right in line with western propaganda. I see no reason to think Putin wants a ‘Eurasian Empire”.

    1. craazyboy

      When you consider Russia has a population less than 150 million and a GDP around $1.5 trillion, that would be very, very ambitious of Putin.

  27. Tim

    Well’s Fargo scandal literally spreads to Prudential:

    The three Prudential employees were put on unpaid, administrative leave by Prudential and walked off the company’s premises on November 21, their attorney Christopher Chang told CNNMoney.

    The employees allege they were punished over their refusal to participate in Prudential’s “cover-up of illegal and fraudulent business practices it has engaged in — and continues to engage in — with Wells Fargo Bank.”

    One of the employees, Julie Han Broderick, was previously co-head of Prudential’s corporate investigations division.

    Also is it true that if you are selected for a public office and are forced to sell financial assets that the sale is not taxed?
    If so, then this article is totally misleading:

  28. Plenue


    ISIS completely retook Palmyra, and is now attempting to take the T-4 airbase that is the only major airfield under Syrian control in the region. Meanwhile they’re launching attacks in Deir Ezzor, probably to force Syrian and Russian air support to spread its efforts around multiple theaters. As of right now it looks like the SAA will be forced to completely withdraw from Eastern Homs.

    I’ve seen estimates that ISIS attacked with a force or 3,000-4,000. Looks like quite a few fighters did escape from Mosul after all (which the all-powerful USAF conspicuously failed to bomb as they traversed open desert). Even more would have escaped, but al-Abadi of Iraq finally decided to trash the original US plan of leaving an escape route open to the west of the city by having Shia militia capture towns in that area. This also means ISIS is fighting tooth and nail to hold Mosul even with a reduced fighting force. Thanks, Obama!

    Meanwhile, another two districts of Eastern Aleppo have been retaken. The militants now have only five neighborhoods left under their control.

    1. ewmayer

      Just had a gander at RT, where their led article on this, “New ISIS offensive on Palmyra proves terrorists should not be given chance to regroup – Russian MoD”, agrees with you re. the suspicious ease of movement of the ISIS fighters from Mosul toward Palmyra, but does not support your “completely retook Palmyra” claim — cf. my bolding:

      After arriving “unhampered” in Deir ez-Zor and Al-Raqqah, Syria, from Mosul, Iraq, some 4,000 terrorists armed with heavy weapons moved quickly on Palmyra in tanks and armored vehicles, the defense ministry said.

      Over the past couple of days, jihadists have attacked Syrian forces near Palmyra several times, Russia’s military official said, adding that the offensive had been launched from the north, east, and south.

      During the night, IS fighters deployed cars stuffed with explosives and suicide-bombers to break through the Syrian army’s defenses and managed to dig in in Palmyra’s outskirts, the Russian ministry said in its statement.

      “What is actually interesting is that the American-led coalition, which has very powerful surveillance tools, apparently failed to pick up 4,000 ISIS jihadists making their way to Palmyra with all their equipment, trucks and everything,” former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told RT, adding that Washington and its allies “didn’t lift a finger to try to stop [the IS offensive] happening.”

      1. Plenue

        It seems there’s a fair amount of confusion in the reporting right now. ISIS launched multiple attacks from Friday through Sunday, the SAA finally deciding it couldn’t hold and completely withdrawing from the city yesterday. Al-Masdar News is reporting that they’ve retreated to the T-4 airbase, which they managed to hold through two ISIS assaults, and where reinforcements have now arrived. So it looks like they won’t be kicked out of the region after all. They’re planning the quickly launched into counterattacks before ISIS has a chance to fortify their gains, but I doubt they’ll the Syrians will be able to completely reverse the situation any time soon.

        Peter Ford is also completely right. Moon of Alabama pointed out the fact that the USAF was bragging just a few days ago about bombing a bunch of ISIS oil trucks near Palmyra. They bombed some trucks but didn’t notice the massive military build up? Suuuuuure.

        Also AMN is reporting that the militants have surrender the remaining East Aleppo pocket. The siege is officially over.

  29. Plenue

    >The Blame Game Eschaton

    Good job. Keep blaming the suffering voters, never yourselves for having shitty policy. I’m sure that course will win you many future elections.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One China.

    It’s One China in China.

    To the KMT, it’s One China.

    To Tsai, it’s One China, One Taiwan.

    Any way you count it, it’s One China.

  31. JEHR

    After having read today’s articles, I feel as though I will never know what facts really are facts and what may be the truth. It just seems as though there are more than two sides to every action and no one person can know all the different sides. I am totally flummoxed today.

  32. Plenue

    >Presiding over a crumbling empire The Independent (Malta)

    Honestly, I didn’t even know the EU had a President. I can only presume the position is as effectively meaningless and powerless as the European Parliament.

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