Links 12/15/16

Avoid the bureaux de shortchange The Times. People have to be told this?

NASA Produces First 3D Animation of Global Carbon Emissions NASA (furzy)

The Irrationality Within Us Scientific American (resilc). If you were rational, you could not deny the inevitability of death, which is critical to having at least some enjoyment in life.


Exclusive: China installs weapons systems on artificial islands – U.S. think tank Reuters (furzy). See also our post today.

Witnessing Japan’s Growing Antiwar Movement Truthout (resilc)

Court finds “deliberate and systemic” bank corruption MacroBusiness


Re-monetisation Debacle: Why Didn’t the RBI Print the New Notes At Foreign Printing Presses? The Wire (vlade)

Entrenching Capitalist Agriculture in India Under the Guise of Development Counterpunch (Wat)

EBA makes final recommendations for strengthening loss-absorbing capacity of banks in Europe European Banking Authority. Banks may need to pony up as much as €276 billion to prevent taxpayer losses.


Brexit trade deal could take 10 years, says UK’s ambassador BBC. As we said from the outset…

Brexit deadline not feasible, say insiders Politico. Again as we said from the outset…

Brexit plan will not be published before February, says David Davis Guardian

European Commission to be appointed chief Brexit negotiator with UK Sky

How the Brexit divorce will play out Politico

Flanders wary of Brexit deals with large EU member states EurActiv

Italy’s best hope: Berlusconi Politico. Lambert would probably say, “Kill it with fire!”



We were the target of a special hacker attack on Tuesday – not your usual DOS type. This time it was a surgical strike at the internal programming of the site. No way of telling who paid for it, except that they started work at about 9 am Moscow time. My bet is that it was Mordashov in his attempt to obliterate this.


The graffiti kids: How an act of teenage rebellion sparked the Syrian war Globe and Mail (resilc)

There Is More Than One Truth to Tell in the Awful Story of Aleppo Reader Supported News (furzy)

Trump’s Foreign-Policy Appointees Are Set to Provoke War With Iran Nation (resilc). Iran has made clear it will attack directly only in defense, and that it will strike back brutally (as in torch Saudi Arabia, for starters). So the only way to “provoke” them is to attack and then somehow pretend there was no attack. Our media is no doubt up to carrying that off.

Trump Transition

Trump to U.S. businesses in China: drop dead Reuters (furzy). I was gobsmacked in the late 1990s and early 2000s when US companies went whole hog for locating production in China. I thought the political risk was far too high. But I never imagined that the political risk would prove to be US political risk.

Source: Twitter cut out of Trump tech meeting over failed emoji deal Politico (vlade)

Trump Casts Browbeating Aside to Tell Big Tech He’s an Ally Bloomberg. Trump also gave Bezos one of the worst seats at the table….

Google extends conservative outreach as Trump calls tech meeting Reuters (furzy)

Mainstream Republicans Think They’re in Control Bloomberg. As we’ve said, underestimating Trump has proven to be a losing strategy. But he might not mind playing nice with conventional Republicans.

Exclusive: Top U.S. spy agency has not embraced CIA assessment on Russia hacking – sources Reuters (furzy)

G.O.P. Resistance Builds to John Bolton as State Dept. Deputy New York Times. I wonder if Trump really wants him or Bolton was a concession to certain extremists, or just a bargaining chip. Trump’s key attribute is being wildly improvisational. Narrow rigid ideologues are impediments unless they are in token positions. What becomes of Bolton will become an interesting test case of how Trump governs and what his priorities are.

Scientists Frantically Copying Critical Climate Data as Energy Dept. Refuses to Release Names EcoWatch

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails – they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for ‘disgusted’ Democratic whistleblowers Daily Mail (Wat)

Democratic House Candidates Were Also Targets of Russian Hacking New York Times. Just so you know what the NYT lead story today is….

Loath to Meddle in Election, Obama Delayed Blaming Russia for D.N.C. Hack New York Times (furzy). Translation: It’s Obama’s fault too!

The Russian Bear Uses a Keyboard Craig Murray

Judge orders Colorado electors to vote for Hillary Clinton Associated Press (furzy)


2016 Post Mortem

How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election Politico. Important and damning.

2016 Election Results: Detroit Machines Registered More Votes Than Voters, Report Says International Business Times

Records: Too many votes in 37% of Detroit’s precincts Detroit Free Press

North Carolina G.O.P. Moves to Curb Power of New Democratic Governor New York Times (resilc)

Gov. John Kasich vetoes Heartbeat Bill, signs 20-week abortion ban Columbus Dispatch (furzy)

RFK, Jr: ‘Standing Rock Defines a New Era in Environmental Advocacy’ EcoWatch (furzy)

How Ranked Choice Voting kills 3rd Parties in Australia Range Voting (User Friendly). Does say the system is marginally less bad for third parties than the US system.

New McCarthyism

No One In Congress Wants To Regulate Fake News BuzzFeed (resilc). They’ll let Facebook and Google do the dirty work.

Yellen Takes Post-Hike Victory Lap Bloomberg

Trump forced the Fed to raise rates. The results could be ugly. Fabius Maximus (furzy). The Fed may take the position that Trump is going to engage in significant deficit spending, but his infrastructure plan is going to rely on giving incentives for large scale private sector borrowing and won’t have much if any fiscal impact.

Private Equity’s Latest Differentiator Bloomberg (DO)

Private Equity Fund Adviser Settles with the SEC for Violations Relating to Co-Investments with Affiliate SEC. Another wet noodle lashing.

Fed lifts rates, sees faster pace of hikes in Trump’s first year Reuters

Back to the future: Ray Dalio, founder, Bridgewater Associates, explains why the 1930s hold clues to what lies ahead for the economy The World in 2017 (vlade)

Class Warfare

VALLEY OF THE DOLTS: Silicon Valley’s power brokers want you to think they’re different. But they’re just average robber barons. The Outline (vlade)

Flint Residents Face More Trauma With City Relying On Dirty River Shadowproof (Judy B)

Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools New Yorker (resilc)

Wall Street Jobs Won’t Be Spared from Automation Harvard Business Review (vlade)

Antidote du jour. The elephant is eating furzy’s jackfruit:

furzy elephant linkw

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun


    How Ranked Choice Voting kills 3rd Parties in Australia Range Voting (User Friendly). Does say the system is marginally less bad for third parties than the US system.

    The key reason I think why 3rd parties find it hard in Australia with RCV is that it only has a small influence in single seat constituencies (so far as I know, the OZ Senate is chosen from a mix of one and two seat constituencies). You only have a viable path for power for smaller parties when there are multiple seats available per constituency (the exception being if those smaller parties have a strong regional base – this is how the LibDems and Scots Nats survived in the UK despite having a one person one vote system). Its always been a curiosity to me as to how the US managed to avoid having regional parties of any significance.

    What is harder to measure is whether it influences the type of candidate elected. In countries with variations of transferable votes it does tend to push candidates to the mainstream centre, as a candidate seen as more ‘moderate’ is more likely to attract preferences than the candidate seen as representing a more extreme faction of the party. Its again hard to quantify, but it also tends to favour more personally likeable candidates.The candidate who is seen as personally likeable will get more transfers from other parties than others (its a common joke in Ireland that while our typical elected representative might be a bit intellectually inadequate, they are always good lads/lasses to have a pint with).

    1. integer

      The key reason I think why 3rd parties find it hard in Australia with RCV is that it only has a small influence in single seat constituencies (so far as I know, the OZ Senate is chosen from a mix of one and two seat constituencies).

      Gimme a break. Why would anyone listen to you about Australia after the condescending comment that you clearly felt the need to spout into the comments section of the China article?

      1. integer

        This is what I am responding to btw:

        This deployment has probably more to do with patting the heads of the Aussies and telling them how important they are than any China issue.

        There are many less judgemental ways of putting this view forward imo.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            So can you please tell me when, at any stage in the last half century or so, the US foreign policy/military establishment has enacted any policy with regard to Australia that has not been condescending? What other term can you use when the US puts uses its best equipment in a manner which is militarily useless, but which fulfils the requirement to make the owner of the base feel important?

            1. integer

              So can you please tell me when, at any stage in the last half century or so, the US foreign policy/military establishment has enacted any policy with regard to Australia that has not been condescending?

              No, because it is not about US foreign policy. It is about the way you chose to put your point forward. Unless of course you are a spokesperson for US foreign policy. Are you? It actually might be handy having someone who was a US foreign policy spokesperson as a regular NC commenter.

              Anyway, I may be wrong here, but Ireland, not the US, is the country I have mentally linked to your username. Am I wrong?

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Not that its particularly your business, but yes I am from Ireland, with many family connections to Australia.

                I find your comments, apart from being irrelevant to this thread, completely bizarre. I have no idea what your objection is or to whom I’m supposed to have condescended to. Since you seem to have misinterpreted my comment as supportive of US foreign policy I can only assume you have either misunderstood my original comment, or that you have simply have no idea of the geopolitical history between the US and Australia. Either way, you would be doing everyone a favour by confining your comments to the relevant thread so readers can come to their own conclusion.

                1. integer

                  Well, I’m glad my memory was accurate. Perhaps I’ll find some articles on how the Irish (not the Irish government, mind you) love corporate welfare. Funnily enough I had a bit of a run in with a few Irish chaps today, tradesmen with very poor attention to detail/quality control and no working Visas. They backed down but perhaps I’ll still send them back to their home country. Anyway, I’m done with this conversation.

                    1. integer

                      Andrew Watts: you are a special exception.
                      You will note I took a reasonably long break before beginning to comment here again.

                    2. integer

                      Btw, I take it as a compliment that you went and found my older posts. You must be highly motivated for one reason or another. Hahaha. The times and places that you show up in the NC comments section is very revealing imo.

                      Btw I believe Mel Gibson had a problem with Jewish people rather than Israeli foreign policy, however please feel free to conflate the two. I won’t be doing that, though.

          2. jonboinAR

            The poster you’re annoyed with is being condescending in a pointed way, IOW, criticizing Australia for being the US’s pup. I think you should address that (whether you agree, or not). I don’t take the remark on the other thread to mean the poster believes Australia to be inherently an inferior country, but that they’re putting themselves in that position by sucking up to the US. Is it so, or not, in your opinion? (But I don’t think it was meant to be a gratuitous insult.)

      2. RabidGandhi

        Your attack against PlutoniumKun is really uncalled for. Basically you are arguing that because you disagree with his tone in another post on AUS (where you did not comment) that he is therefore disqualified from making other comments anywhere w/r/t AUS. This in spite of the fact that PK has consistently shown himself to be extremely knowledgeable on Asia/Pacific issues. Furthermore, since your username is connected with Australia, if someone disagrees with your tone in a comment about the US does this mean you should be disqualified from discussing the US?

        If you disagree with him either here or in the other post, then please argue on the merits. Here you did not address any of PK’s contentions on RCV, and your only complaint from the other thread (again posted here… why?) is that “[t]here are many less judgemental ways of putting this view forward imo“. Again, addressing tone, not merits.

        Others here have pointed out that you have been unnecessarily agressive of late, and this is further evidence. Please be more civil.

        1. integer

          Firstly, you will note that I am careful not to confuse the US government or their policies with the wishes of the general US population i.e. Americans. Secondly, isn’t South America your bag? It’s all I’ve ever seen you post about. Have you ever seen me step into the fray on one of you and Haygood’s seemingly endless and certainly tiresome arguments? Didn’t think so.

          Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ve ever personally insulted anyone in the NC comments section. I have had a few hurled at me though. If you are talking about me calling out other commenters bs, I guess I am guity as charged. Sigh.

          1. integer

            … with the wishes of the general US population or their wishes…

            Adding: I’m guessing PlutoniumKun is capable of speaking for himself. Why are you so concerned with this? Especially considering the tone I have seen in some of your retorts to Jim Haygood re: Venesuela.

          2. Andrew Watts

            Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ve ever personally insulted anyone in the NC comments section.

            Sure, because calling people f—ers isn’t offensive at all. (see previous comment) It’s not terribly creative either.

            By the way, the reason why your comments keep falling into moderation is because you previously posted under a slightly different nickname. It isn’t a CIA conspiracy.

            1. integer

              You are a special exception, Andrew Watts. The times and places that you turn up here in the NC comments section are very revealing imo.

              1. Andrew Watts

                Integer, bro, she just wasn’t that into you. Her friend intervened because you weren’t picking up the hints. When you confessed to all that right here in the comment section you inflicted a narcissistic injury on yourself.

                That’s the reason why you’re pissed off all the time and why you’re aggressively lashing out at everybody here. For a brief moment you revealed not who you want everybody to think you are but your actual self.

                Everybody deals with rejection. They don’t usually do it in the comment section of a political economy blog. That’s a whole new level of dysfunction.

                1. integer

                  Funny because the other day I had to turn down a very nice girl, which I did as kindly as possible btw, for reasons I won’t go into. Please feel free to keep trying to strike a blow to my self-regard and/or get an emotional response from me though. Fine with me hahaha. I am also very flattered that you feel the need to trawl through my older posts.

                2. integer

                  Anyway, it’s been fun, but it’s time for me to get back to watching the cricket. The Aussies are playing well and setting themselves up for victory!

            2. integer

              By the way, the reason why your comments keep falling into moderation is because you previously posted under a slightly different nickname.

              There are at least two reasons why this is inaccurate.

        2. integer

          attacks, ag[g]ression, bullying (cwaltz), steroid use (ChiGal).

          As far as I can see, I’ve simply been putting my point of view forward. Obviously it is confronting to some, but rest assured I have no plans to change my ways, short of being asked to by Yves, Lambert, or Outis. I certainly will not be changing on your behalf, RabidGandhi(?).
          Tbh, I take the pushback as a compliment, so thanks!

          1. 10leggedshadow

            long time lurker here;…interger you are not adding anything with these comments of yours. who died and appointed you the tone cop? just stop, it’s unbecoming. if you don’t like how or why something is said you can go start your own blog.

            1. integer

              No. Apart from three comments I reluctantly* made at a photography website about a decade ago, NC is the only website I have ever commented at.

              *Once I commented because someone posted a picture of a Rolleiflex that they thought was broken, however they simply had a switch in the wrong position (set for flashbulbs rather than electronic flash, which essentially disables the whole camera). Another time to warn a commenter about dishonest repair service that I had been unfortunate enough to have experienced first hand. I think there was a third but I can’t remember what it was about hahaha.

    2. ambrit

      America has had quasi-regional parties, but the History Books speed on by them. First, I can think of Sinclair’s “EPIC” party try in the early Nineteen Thirties, and then Huey Long’s “Every Man A King” campaign in the same period. Both of these nascent power centres were crushed by the nationally oriented power groups. EPIC was defeated by a massive propaganda campaign against it, in which, it should be no surprise, Hollywood played a key part. Long was assassinated, and the sponsors of that act were never bought to light, much less justice. Then, earlier, there was Bryant and the Farmers movement, (the Cross of Gold speech, etc.)
      That “have a pint with” quip reminds me of Obama having a beer with the professor and the cop at the White House. A business opportunity; “Obamas Legacy Lager.”

      1. Adam Eran

        Lawrence Goodwyn’s Populist Moment describes the post-Civil War Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s party, which actually elected congressmen and senators nationally, and was influential in the creation of the Fed. One relevant bit of this history: the post-Civil War South lost all its currency, the flower of its youth, and one of its biggest assets (slaves) as a result of that war. Goodwyn notes that the state of Connecticut had more currency than the entire Confederate South.

        So what happened? Southerners were forced to purchase their goods and farming implements on credit from the furnishing man, who often sold these with the same kind of interest payday lenders charge. Later “furnishing man” was shortened to just “the man”…as in “working for the man every night and day…Big wheel keep on turnin’, Proud Mary keep on burnin’…”

        This provides the background for today’s South, and its regionalism and not incidentally racism. How else would the plutocrats keep the tenant farmers divided?

        William Jennings Bryan was a rather unsophisticated late-comer to this movement, which (unsuccessfully) attempted to organize coops so the man didn’t have quite as much power. J.P. Morgan and the Northern bankers successfully quashed this movement.

    3. hemeantwell

      re How Ranked Choice Voting kills 3rd Parties in Australia Range Voting, it seems that the article doesn’t really offer an explanation, but rather shows that ranked voting has not produced a more representative outcome. Minor parties apparently agree and so would like proportional representation.

      Ok, sure, t’would be good. But ranked voting is better than first past the post. In my own experience it was ranked voting that saw the Human Rights Party win the mayor’s race in Ann Arbor in 1976. The Dems and Rs scotched it, and it’s been their show ever since.

      1. UserFriendly

        Yes, that was me headlining it (poorly). I may have been a touch hyperbolic. The infinitely better solution is to use Score Voting (aka Range Voting) where you score each candidate independently on a scale 0-5 (doesn’t have to be 5) and then the winner is the one who gets the highest score. It does not suffer any of the setbacks that RCV does.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I didn’t read the whole article in detail but that being said, I had the same impression you did that there was no real explanation offered. I did see this but which seems important:

        “Voters are forced to express a preference for candidates they may not wish to support in any way. (The use of optional preferential voting, as used in New South Wales State elections, is a solution to this problem.) ” emphasis added

        Never seen an Australian RCV ballot but it seems that this is saying that voters are required to rank all candidates. If that’s the case then yes, you would be giving some support to candidates you don’t want elected. My understanding of how RCV would be implemented elsewhere is that it does not require a voter to list all candidates, ie you could rank the two or three you would consider and leave two or three more of the ballot completely. Sounds like that might be what optional preferential voting is, which would likely solve the problem.

        1. UserFriendly

          No, it wouldn’t fix it. The proof is in the pudding.

          Between 1950 and 2015, exceeding my lifespan, the Australian House with IRV has elected only one single third party member – Adam Bandt – ever during that span in regular elections (not counting special off-year elections caused by, e.g, somebody dying in office).

          It’s not being able to vote two candidates at the top and worrying about putting a ‘weaker’ (3rd party) candidate higher. Score Voting fixes it.

    4. UserFriendly

      The reason it helps the duopoly is because RCV isn’t as expressive. If you have to rank them you can’t say hey I totally LOVE both of these candidates. You can’t say that you only ever so slightly like one candidate over another. Score voting gives you more expressiveness without having to worry about things like favorite betrayal.

      It’s hard to get people to ‘risk it’ on a new party when they are worried that the bad guys might win. Score voting lets them say hey, I like them both. It lets you honestly express your opinion without having to be strategic.

    5. Ed

      On the use of “Ranked Choice Voting”, which is usually known as the Alternative Vote in Australia, the topic is complicated.

      First, Australia is the only large country to use the Alternative Vote in federal elections that I am aware of, so we are looking at just one case, and its not good intellectual practice to extrapolate from one case.

      The issue is that in practice, Australia has the second most extreme two party duo-oply among larger countries in the world, the United States being the most extreme case (several low population Caribbean islands have only two parties). Minor parties have always existed in Australia and had some influence, but were not successful in winning House of Representatives districts until very recently.

      France has a similar system in principle. Both France and Australia use what is technically called “Single Member Majority”, meaning for lower house elections the country is divided into electoral districts, each of which elect only one representative, but the winner has to get a majority, not just a plurality. France however uses second round run-offs, while Australia uses the Alternative Vote. But France has lots of minor parties represented in its lower house and always has. The difference seems to be that once people see the first round results, there is a period of horse trading between the majors and the minors that results in some seats allocated to the minors, and everyone expects this and it influences their first round votes.

      Why the Alternative Vote is so hostile to minor parties getting seats is a difficult question to answer, and one possibility is that it doesn’t, since we are only looking at one case. It could just be the minor parties themselves not prioritizing winning lower house seats, since they have influence from the more proportional Senate, and in directing second-place votes from their followers to one of the two major parties. They don’t need to win any House of Representatives district and their scarce resources go elsewhere. Another possibility is that minor parties just can’t get majority support until they get to the point where they are running the incumbent, and have to get established first by “coming up the middle” and winning a plurality, or first past the vote, election.

      I think just having run-offs is a better option, but they you always get objections about the expense and lack of interest in an additional election.

      By the way, I think the two party duo-opoly in the US is maintained mainly by how elections are administered, and secondarily by the presidential/ gubnatorial centered system, and the electoral system itself doesn’t matter that much.

      1. UserFriendly

        I can’t give you any examples from Australia but with RCV it is only safe to vote your honest favorite first if they are very strong or very weak. Otherwise you risk eliminating the more viable candidate in the first round. It happened in Burlington VT’s 2009 mayoral race and it pissed off enough voters that they repealed it. Score Voting is the way to go.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just read up a little on Ranked Choice Voting, and it seems to me that it doesn’t inherently or automatically help minor parties.

        It does seem to be more open to gaming the election by those with money to field ‘designer’ candidates (each tailored to one specific issue of the other major party’s candidate, but is for all other issues of the designing party) to siphon away votes from a coalition or rainbow party with many factions.

        1. UserFriendly

          Why Range Voting is better than Ranked Choice.

          Two of IRV’s flaws are that it is not monotonic and dishonesty can pay. In the example, suppose the 1st voter, instead of honestly stating her top-preference was A, were to dishonestly vote C>A>B, i.e. pretending great love for her truly most-hated candidate C, and pretending a lack of affection for her true favorite A. In that case the first round would eliminate either C or B (suppose a coin flip says B) at which point A would win the second round 5-to-4 over C! (Meanwhile if C still were eliminated by the coin flip then B would still win over A in the final round as before.) In other words: in 3-candidate IRV elections, lying can help. Indeed, lying in bizarre ways can help.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            On top of that, we have to worry about Russians having 2 (count them, two) chances at hacking, with this new scheme of two rounds of voting (not counting the primaries/caucuses).

            “Why give them an extra strike, when the Ruskies don’t even play baseball?”

    6. witters

      Actually, this is how the Australian Senate is elected. From wikipedia: “The Australian Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I, Part II of the Australian Constitution. There are a total of 76 senators: 12 senators are elected from each of the six states (regardless of population) and two from each of the two autonomous internal territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). Senators are popularly elected under a single transferable vote system of proportional representation. There is no constitutional requirement for the election of senators to take place at the same time as those for members of the House of Representatives, though the government usually synchronises election dates”.

      I’m Australian, and this time wikipedia is correct.

  2. PlutoniumKun


    How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election Politico. Important and damning

    This was in Water Cooler yesterday, but its such a good article its worth a second go. The ineptness of the HRC campaign will I think be the subject of political management books for years to come. They seem to have been determined to break every single rule of good campaign management.

    The obsession with ‘data’ and ‘science’ seems very telling. Data and science are all well and good, but they are only as good as the people handling the data gathering and writing the algorithms. It seems that they were so ensconced in groupthink that they managed to contaminate Ada and whatever other data management systems they were using with their own biases. Ada simply told them what they wanted to hear. And the fact that they were convinced they were ahead in Michigan based on the same polling system that convinced them they were ahead against Sanders showed their inability to learn or test their systems for robustness.

    1. Leigh

      “The obsession with ‘data’ and ‘science’ seems very telling”

      look what it has done to Finance and mortgage markets!!!

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The same could be said of the “obsession” with centralized command and control to the point that local, on-the-ground input was not only ignored but actively discouraged.

        I’m sure it has something to do with belief in the infallibility of the meritocracy.

        1. Spring Texan

          Along those lines, I liked this thought piece a lot:

          Centrist technocrats like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair pioneered this [“factual”] society. They preferred discussing the scientific management of the public sector to wrangling with political principles or values. They embraced a false progressivism that was premised on profitability and stopped short of any proposal the political center might object to, no matter how just. As liberals took over facts, they pushed social conflict to the non-factual realm, to the domain of values….historical events started calling liberal truths into question. The 2008 financial crash revealed the failure of liberal economics. Occupy and Black Lives Matter threw light on structural problems that triangulation and managerialism not only can’t address but refuse to. These events revealed liberal factuality for what it is: highly self-interested and selective, willing to ignore inconvenient truths, and presented as above partisan politics, as the scientific management of society.
          The people mourning the age of political truth belong to the extreme center. They are the technocrats and administrators who mistrust the experiences and suffering of regular people with as much fervor as the right-wing fringe.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Except for 1992, Clinton Inc has largely managed “good enough to lose” status. Strategy and tactics can be discussed until the cows come home, but in the end, they simply aren’t good enough to attract people. I know they wanted Republican snakes to vote for them, but decades of election results have proven Republicans consider Democrats to be traitors. Non Democrat no matter how vile will ever win noticeable Republican support.

      1. Benedict@Large

        Except for 1992, Clinton Inc has largely managed “good enough to lose” status. …”

        Yes, sort of. But I look at it a bit different, Clinton Inc has produced Clinton (W), Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Clinton (H). Of the 5, two have gotten through to the Presidency, and three have not. Downticket is much worse, losing both houses of Congress, 69 of 99 state chambers, and a large majority of governorships. This is all supposedly based on an idea called neoliberalism, triangulation, and a host of other names. But is it? Or could it simply be that Clinton Inc wins with highly-charismatic people (Bill and Barack), and loses without them?

        Because as far as the ideology component, it really is pretty hollow. In an election driven by populist outrage, for example, Hillary couldn’t think of a single bone to throw voters beyond (the lie) that she wouldn’t take anything away from what people had. Even a simple idea (from Bernie) like free state college tuition, which most states had had at some point had to be turned into a welfare patch of paperwork and qualifications and partial payments. People weren’t buying. Not from Hillary anyways. But Bill would have had everyone (exact same program) believing their kids were all going to be doctors, if only they elected him. (Trump was good at this too, although he kept himself to food on the table issues.)

        Which leads us to 2020. What do the New Democrats have in terms of charisma? Cory Booker? And downticket? Not much. Which says the New Democrats, unless they can survive on an every-other-President basis, are pretty much finished. The only question is how long will they retain enough power to keep the Sanders people out? Because that is really what they are being paid by Wall Street to do.

        1. Webstir

          So where does the commentariat think Van Jones lies along the New Democrat —-> Democratic Socialism continuum? My gut tells me he’s going to take a run at the presidency in four years.

        2. wheresOurTeddy

          Last sentence is the kicker.

          Republicans convinced some (D)s in the 80s that winning feels better than sticking to your ideals.

          Now, the corporate (D)s macro ideals are indistinguishable from their former adversaries.

          Corporate (D)s would rather complain about Trump for 1400 days than see an actual Roosevelt D like Bernie destroy their corporate welfare state with its magical revolving door.

          Down with the Oligarchy.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Anyone paying attention would note the oligarchs closing ranks to oppose Trump. Trump may put in his own brand of oligarchs, but just getting rid of the current lot is a huge plus IMO

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Trump is dividing up the oligarchs, or taking advantage of an existing divide.

              First you divide; then you conquer.

        3. UserFriendly

          It’s almost funny to me that anyone still thinks people vote/turnout based on anything besides personality. The policy is for us odd balls to dissect and influence our circles, but if the candidate isn’t compelling than they are SOL. Which is why I can’t wait for Nina Turner to run for president. That woman can give a speech better than anyone and she has the conviction to back up her words.

    3. Liberal Mole

      I think when politicians tell us how smart Clinton is its really code for something else. The campaign reflected the candidate; arrogant, out of touch, dismissive, and possibly as dumb as a bag of rocks, certainly just as competent.

      1. cwaltz

        I do suspect that she had some serious health issues that the campaign didn’t consider carefully before conducting her “it’s her turn” campaign. I also suspect they may have been at least part of the reason she didn’t campaign vigorously. She couldn’t. Her health wouldn’t allow it.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I agree.

          ISTR reading that she had to be flown home at the end of every campaign day. Something about needing to sleep in her own bed.

          All I can say is that must be some bed.

      2. Skip Intro

        Clinton was always referred to as ‘whipsmart’, which is not just a tell for manchurian candidate conditioning, but also a scary reference to her leadership style. Maybe not smart, but ready to leave a mark.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I think the obsession with big data in general will be a passing fad. The problem with big data is when you are scooping up so much of it, a lot is going to be garbage. And we all know the old saw about garbage in garbage out. You would think those in charge of running a presidential campaign would be smart enough to know that.

      When I hear people start talking about what they are going to do with the all important ‘data’, it brings to mind the groaf and jawbz joke we have around here.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          ‘groaf and jawbz’ to mock the constant ‘growth and jobs’ mantra we hear from the political class

          I may have spelled ‘jawbz’ incorrectly though ;)

      1. Webstir

        I wonder what Isaac Asimov would have to say on the subject were he alive today. I’d imagine he is rolling over in his grave.

      2. JustAnObserver

        To summarize: Data, no matter how big, is not the same as information. If we think of information in the Shannon (entropy reduction) sense of `surprise’ or `the unexpected’ then huge quantities of data can actually be pernicious and mask any true value.

    5. Webstir


      Wait, what? Oh, I’m sorry. This story didn’t make it to the links. It should have; however, because it serves as a nice counterpoint to all of the political shills.

      And I must say: I’m struggling with all of this right now. I’m only now beginning to understand the personal repercussions of adjusting to life in a post-truth world. My rational brain tells me that it is ALL bullshit, but loyalties one has cultivated their entire life are not easily discarded.

      I’ve always been a cynic, but I feel it growing to profound levels. Anyone who is a partisan is a useful idiot. There is no right or wrong, only money to be made by selling lies.

      1. Foppe

        I would refer you to Benedict@Large’s comment above, about ‘the 5 clintons’. Yes, there are also local reasons for those losses, but you can’t understand those without also looking at the developments at the national level.

      2. Waldenpond

        You just backed up your complaint about political shilling and partisanship by example of Drum that writes for Clara Jeffrey.

    6. dontknowitall

      Ineptness is not precise enough- technically reckless is a better description. It seems incredibly reckless to introduce a large untested AI-driven operation in the center of the decision making processes of a presidential race. Considering how polluted commercial databases are, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Hillary’s people were guilty of magical thinking. Also, if hackers can get into Swiss banks what guarantees are there that Ada did not spew whatever a foreign power stoved into it…sudo make me a toast…not that I think this happened but a lot was riding on a system with a single point of failure

      1. dontknowitall

        Not sure where to put this, but I just donated to the tip jar. Thank you for all the great work

    7. Elizabeth Burton

      What occurred to me as I was reading the article was that the campaign honchos couldn’t have done a better job of ensuring Trump won had they tried. Which, since paranoia and conspiracy thinking is now becoming my norm, led me to wonder if that wasn’t the intention.

      Someone who was actively doing door-to-door for Clinton apparently told a reporter they stopped when they realized what they were actually doing was reminding people to vote who were solidly behind Trump. Because the only effort was GOTV.

      And, really, other than the personalities, how likely is it the Clinton cabinet would have been any less neoliberal?

      So, question for the day: Did Clinton manage to p*** off enough people working for her they literally threw her under the Trump campaign bus?

      1. aab

        [I’ve been offline all day, and this is literally the first thing I’ve read since early afternoon. So forgive me if I’m out of touch.]

        While that’s fun to imagine, it fails Occam’s Razor. Hillary Clinton has a long, long history of incompetence and failure, whenever she is required to create and manage an organization or process. It is always too secretive, too exclusive, too top-down, too over-complicated. She always surrounds herself with sycophants, so negative information doesn’t make it up the chain of command, and needed corrections and improvements to the system or the plan do not get made. And we now getting a fair amount of granular detail about how the campaign functioned and failed that is 100% in keeping with her history.

        There is no bus. There is only a person who has not just an Achilles’ heel but an Achilles’ musculo-skeletal system, and her eager, snobbish, not as smart and competent as they think they are confederates.

  3. Richard

    Why on earth doesn’t Britain just LEAVE! As in, “walk away”. What is the downside? What are they worried about? Just freeze everything: all contracts, all agreements, all committee appointments, the European “parliament”. Forget about article 50 and everything else.

    I don’t believe there would be anything the horrible Europeans could do about it and it would save Britain a bundle of money and wasted energy.

    Just go… get out…skidaddle…

      1. Benedict@Large

        “Without me, you’re nothing, kid.”

        It’s what the financial people always say whenever anyone tries to do anything they don’t want. And it works . . . but only if you believe them. As soon as any of these countries figures out that they don’t have to borrow to spend, that threat vanishes.

    1. JCC

      Reminds me of – “Just Walk Away”. There is a lot to be said in favor of that approach.

      Unfortunately I could also see that leading to lots of refugees from from the western edge of Europe flooding the rest of the world. The pushback could get awful.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Foot-dragging is a classic, passive-aggressive response to a demand to do something you don’t want to do.

      Anyone who’s ever parented a teenager should recognize it for what it is–a load of impediments, caveats and excuses designed to wear the demander down until he forgets what he wanted and why he wanted it in the first place.

      (Please excuse the un-PC use of the personal pronoun “he,” but it takes passive-aggressive to know passive-aggressive.)

      1. ambrit

        Kudos. I struggle with the use of gender specific terms all of the time when posting. Sometimes, pro-PC can come across as smug pandering. Win some, lose some.

  4. Pat

    Interesting one of NBC News lead stories on the Today Show today is that “senior intelligence officials” have revealed that Putin was directly responsible for the hacking. And that what started as a vendetta against Clinton morphed into a move to expose corruption in American politics and undermine America’s international credibility. It may have taken a senior producer a moment to realize that following that with the news of the huge hack on Yahoo from two years ago and how they still don’t know who did it possibly undermined the assessment of those ‘senior intelligence officials’ as that juxtaposition disappeared in the eight o’clock hour.

    Mind you they still followed it up with the teaser that Dr Oz would be on later in the show to give you the signs of a heart attack and what to do to increase your loved ones chances of surviving one. That might bring their credibility into question for some.

    1. timbers

      NPR radio was all over the Putin personally did the DNC email hacking story. It directly followed NPR’s report of “blood in the streets” from Syrian/Russian soldiers killing “trapped” civilians. It’s Un-possible to even think that maybe there exists even 1 Democrat in the DNC who doesn’t love Hillary so much that they would leak the emails to Wikileaks as Assange has practically said happened. But – will this be enough to flip the electoral college to Hillary is what the MSN & blob are asking themselves.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or the emails are a red herring altogether, and Hillary simply lost because Democrats returned to the norm created under Bill Clinton. Trump’s racism helped boost minority numbers, but they were down too from the previous cycle. Were urban minorities with spotty Internet access corrupted by “fake news” sights or ticked off by their health care premiums or simply not even contacted? I’ve found poorer people who don’t vote use a strategy of whether a candidate asks for their vote or not. If the candidate doesn’t see them as votes, they don’t see them as people. It’s a great strategy.

        1. integer


          Persisting in looking at these issues through the lens of on-the-ground political rivalries will only take one so far in understanding what is really going on imo. Have you read many of the Clinton or Podesta emails that Wikileaks released? If not, why not?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I’ve read the emails or the ones noted by the Intercept.

            The emails were irrelevant to the election. The Clintons and the Democrats have so much baggage already it wouldn’t matter. Only fear of Trump saved them from complete irrelevancy.

            The emails weren’t issues in 2000 and 2004 when Democrats unsurprisingly produced similar results. Guess what? The same people ran the campaigns. The Democrats stood for their same losing goldilocks nonsense. Poor turnout among labour affiliated whites, young people, blacks and Hispanics were the stories then are the stories now. In 1996, Bill won with less than 50% of the vote, but his own numbers were marked by low black, youth, and labour turnout even after Newt had become Speaker.

            Every poor election result is explained by a different foe. Dems use to blame blacks. They then blamed money. Then Nader. Then the environment and the war. Now they blame Russia. The Clintons keep producing the same results.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Einstein’s definition of insanity fits support for Clinton Inc. Expecting different results after numerous examples of their capability is insane.

            2. integer

              Imo it’s not about the election anymore. It is about what Clinton would have permitted, wrt foreign policy, and what Trump will not. There were/are some seriously vested interests lining up behind Clinton, and the price of Clinton’s approval and her providing the means to these ends was already paid in full. Have you forgotten about the Clinton foundation already?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                What are you talking about? The Clintons have always been corrupt, but every new story is irrelevant. They were corrupt pigs in 1992 and produced poor results. Perot mattered to Bill’s election, but Clinton Inc can only muster support out of fear of the GOP, a vile lot. Fear only makes a party good enough to lose.

                Democrats are latching onto emails a day hacks because it distracts from November producing the typical and predictable Clinton results. Democrats who promised Hillary would make the sun rise in the West are being exposed as mindless zombies, and they are looking for villains to explain away how they could be so wrong. Whether you like it or not, people who care about the emails likely already knew what the Clintons are. They didn’t become grinders in 2005. They were gifting in the 1980’s. They attacked Labor in the 80’s and 90’s and produced poor election results that match the current results.

                1. integer

                  So you think the Syria/Russia hysteria is all manufactured simply to smooth things over domestically for the D-party? If so we will have to agree to disagree, which is fine with me.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    There is no shadow government. Russia is an old foe and easy to blame because most people know nothing. If they blamed taco bell or republicans who didn’t vote for Hillary, that would be easier to check.

                    Team Blue elites made promises to donors and state committee people about the wonders of Hillary. People are starting to question Team Blue elites, and they are in panic mode. Russia is about as far away as they can go. If the Dems weren’t so focused on tokenism, they would blame the Chinese, but the scam would be too obvious. What Clintonista can ever be employed again? What Hillary congressman can win statewide in a state that went for Sanders? The states that weren’t off the board had a habit of picking Sanders.

                    This applies to the media. At some point, bean counters will look at to how much Krugman types are paid and question whether a computer program with the NYT byline would produce the same results. They need an excuse that can’t be checked or verified.

                    Stein’s recount was clever. They can’t Nader her which is what Team Blue would have done. The Dems are behaving no differently than they did in 2000 and 2004. This is who the are. Hillary threw a tantrum on election night. She threw a tantrum when she couldn’t win the nomination in 2008. It’s who they are.

                    1. timbers

                      IMO Integer is correct and he is implying what I meant as well. This is about deep state wanting the wars and hegemony they thought they paid for in Clinton.

                    2. Aumua

                      See, the thing is: nuclear annihilation is not good for life on Earth, and more importantly, it’s not good for business! That’s why I still have a hard time buying the notion that Clinton would definitely be getting us into a nuclear war. War, certainly yes, Aggressiveness, posturing, and whatever actual war they can get away with, hell yes.

                      Nuclear war with Russia? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless Hillary is just off the hook bonkers psycho, in which case.. she and whoever is in on it with her would still have to convince a lot of other people to go along with it.

                      Not saying we would be better off with Clinton, just that the jury is still out on that, as far as I’m concerned. Let’s just see what happens here first.

                    3. integer

                      To NTG: So you think Soros just loves the D-party? What do you make of Victoria Nuland and her husband, Robert Kagan?

                      To Aumua: The best way I can describe the dynamics of what is currently going on in US politics is that it is like a magic eye picture. It looks like a random assortment of events and alliances, but once you see the pattern within it all, it is impossible to unsee. Unfortunately it is an extremely disturbing picture.

            3. Pavel

              This may have been in the links and discussed already but I just stumbled on a great piece (via ZH just now) by Charles Hugh Smith (NB link goes to his blog Of Two Minds). A few excerpts:

              Let’s get one thing straight right at the start: criticizing the Democratic Party and its ruling elites is not the same as “supporting Trump.”

              This either-or choice was designed to silence dissent by eliminating the possibility that domestic critics had valid reasons to disagree with the war that had nothing to do with Communism and everything to do with America.
              Now we hear the same propaganda technique being wielded by Democrats:any criticism of the Democratic Party is “supporting Trump.”

              Why has the nation turned away from the Democratic Party? Perhaps one reason is that the Democratic Party has become everything it once was against.
              George McGovern’s 1972 campaign slogan was Come home, America. The current version of the Democratic Party never met a globalist treaty or agenda that it didn’t approve.

              In years past, the Democratic Party presented itself as the party of “the working people” against the business interests of banks and corporations. The current version of the Democratic Party has embraced big banks, financiers, billionaires and corporations, cozying up to Big Money for hundreds of millions in campaign contributions and Super-PAC funding.

              As for supporting “the working people”–Hillary’s comment about “deplorables” summed up the unspoken view of the Democratic Party elites.

              The Democratic Party has become everything that it once loathed: elitist, globalist, interventionist, self-serving, warmongering and overflowing with hubris.

              Why the Democrats Can’t Let Go of Losing

              Great strong, scathing stuff. Go read the full piece.

            4. wheresOurTeddy

              Sure, the country is a mess and the party is in the wilderness, but look at all the money a few people were able to stash in Panama!


        2. timbers

          Meanwhile to paraphrase Eschaston:

          A Full And Complete List Of Issues Democrats Have Focused On To Win Back Working Class Voters They Lost In The Last Election:

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The country doesn’t need two Republican parties. Trust is broken. Refocusing won’t help people who have previously broken promises or been part of the borg. Trust has an incalculable value in business relationships. It produces repeat customers and word of mouth advertising. Trust is easy to create, but people who destroy trust can never recreate old relationships. This is the problem with Democrats focusing on message. The messengers are liars. Quoting FDR won’t make a Reagan acolyte FDR.

            New people and major acts of contrition are the only solutions. Keeping Pelosi was a mistake. Her opponent was the wrong guy, but the Democrats will never win the House as long as she is there.

        3. jonboinAR

          That logical process may have undone Sanders. He wrote off the black vote for some unfathomable reason. Black voters helped turn the tide against him. Shouldn’t’ve dissed them.

    2. a different chris

      >morphed into a move to expose corruption in American politics

      And even if we were to accept that the hacking was Russian, this is a bad thing why exactly?

      1. wheresOurTeddy

        It exposed a fixed (D) primary system and confirmed that the Clintonistas are just as arrogant and out of touch as the cartoonish depiction of them so many of us suspected all along.

        All the $ in the world can’t buy back your credibility.

      2. Uahsenaa

        One of the real tragedies in all this is that the “RUSSIANS ZOMG” line has conveniently distracted from the fact that none of the emails have been shown to be inaccurate or have even been publicly denied. In fact, the hysteria has turned public attention away from the content of said emails, which is what’s really damning.

        Like, for instance, the fact the Clinton campaign actively worked to get Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee.

        They literally did this to themselves. Unfortunately, it seems Clintonism won’t die off without coaxing.

    3. John Wright

      Perhaps Putin could be interviewed on American media about the hacks/leaks,

      He might say:

      “American media and political officials have not proven the leaked data is false.

      “American media and political officials have not proven the data was leaked as a result of Russian efforts.”

      “Americans have a saying, “The truth will set you free””

      “The citizens of America should be grateful to the people who disclosed this information, as it gives a glimpse of how America is being run for the benefit of the politically connected.”

      “Obviously, American political and media officials are fearful of a well-informed electorate”

      1. fresno dan

        John Wright
        December 15, 2016 at 9:38 am

        In the US, the questions not asked are always the very BEST questions….funny how that works….

        To reiterate Pat from 8:12 am: It may have taken a senior producer a moment to realize that following that with the news of the huge hack on Yahoo from two years ago and how they still don’t know who did it possibly undermined the assessment of those ‘senior intelligence officials’ as that juxtaposition disappeared in the eight o’clock hour.

        AND my own question: If the US knows hacking so well, can they certify that Hillary’s emails were not hacked by Russia???. What would follow from that:
        A. Russia is nice – they don’t look at State department emails even though they could!
        B. Russia looked at Hillary’s emails…uh, maybe State department cyber security is a big deal and our “justice” system was wrong not to prosecute her???
        C. Everything the State dept does isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit – don’t matter Hillary was hacked

        1. cm

          The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) leak proves the US govt is incompetent when it comes to computer/network security.

          The OPM leak was devastating — revealing *all* the intimate details of those who hold/held security clearances, yet was effectively swept under the rug.

          1. fresno dan

            December 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

            very, VERY good point. What ever happened with that?
            O right…nothing?
            and one could ask, alla animal farm, that all hacks are treated equally, but some hacks are more equal than others…..

    4. fresno dan

      December 15, 2016 at 8:12 am
      I remember very well when I got the assignment from Putin, who was riding a horse barechested, and Putin wasn’t wearing a shirt either, in my basement underground lair in my hammer and sickle jammies and fusszy commie red rabbit ear antennae slippers – I was instructed to hack the democratic party. What everybody gets wrong is that I was suppose to assure the victory of the most far right corrupt party and thus heightening the contradictions – exactly, the democrats. It seemed an easy task for a man in a Yugo and a dunkin donuts credit card – after all, forty years of the masses being screwed – the trend is your friend….but why my nefarious plan, based on historical materialism, failed is a tale for another day…..

      Knowing that Podesta frequented the Pizza parlor Comet Ping Pong and that he was susceptible to inducements, I offered him a big, fat pepperoni….topped pizza slice. I asked him, Podesta I asked him, what are the passwords to the democratic and Hillary campaigns, where your most sensitive and valuable materials are kept? After swallowing the slice, that he swallowed down to the crust, the most impressive pizza slice swallowing I had ever seen, and washing it down with a gulp of decadent capitalistic new coke, he told me: Password 1.
      I have to give you running dog capitalists credit – I never would have thought of putting a “1” on my password…..

  5. Pavel

    Someone pointed out to me yesterday:

    * Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, which he bought for $250M or so
    * Bezos is the founder and largest shareholder in Amazon
    * Amazon recently signed a $600M deal with … drumroll please… the CIA
    * WaPo along with the NYT and others are giving huge coverage of the CIA’s ostensible findings re “Russian Hacking”

    No conflict of interest at the WaPo?

    Forgive me if this is common knowledge, but it bears repeating in any case. We know that the CIA actively worked and colluded with the national media back in the 50s and 60 and 70s–Operation Mockingbird. Not sure how much this has changed.

    Operation Mockingbird was a bit of a two-pronged approach to dealing with the media: on the one hand, journalists were routinely employed by the CIA to develop intelligence and gather information, or to report on certain events in a way that portrayed the US favorably. On the other, there were actual plants within the media—paid off with bribes or even directly employed by the CIA—to feed propaganda to the American public.Mostly, this program was meant to convince the public of how incredibly scary Communism was, and to make sure that public opinion favored taking out the Red Menace at any expense. Even scarier was the fact that having major newspaper publishers and the heads of TV stations bought and paid for meant that significant overseas events could be excluded from coverage in the media—events like the aforementioned coup in Guatemala, which didn’t see the light of the day in the American press at the time.Congressional hearings in 1976 (the “Church Committee”) revealed that the CIA had been bribing journalists and editors for years. Following the Church hearings, newly minted CIA director and future President George H.W. Bush announced: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.” Yet he added that the CIA would continue to welcome unpaid, voluntary support of said journalists.

    10 Dirty Secret CIA Operations

    As noted in the quote, often the MSM’s sins are those of omission, by ignoring or covering up the CIA’s dirty deeds.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Amazon is the go to in cloud computing, and they sold a version of their setup directly to the CIA. It was the very first thing that came to mind when the whole ProporNot kerfuffle erupted.

      It’s interesting to me how willing mainstream media are to be the site wherein the intelligence agencies fight their proxy wars. I suppose they make money either way…

      1. Jim Haygood

        Wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon became the operations contractor at the NSA’s giant data depository in Bluffdale, Utah. They’ve got databases and human lab rats down cold.

        Veteran MSM journos from the hard-drinking, ink-stained days call Bluffdale “the morgue.”

      1. alex morfesis

        The uber expose that came from this little not so fake news site might have hurt the slight investment made by the man owning the bezos daily shopper…

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “Rumors” have swirled for years that wapo journalist extraordinaire, bob woodward, was a cia operative masquerading as a reporter. During the election, he was also the august leader of the 20-reporter-strong wapo contingent tasked with digging up all the Trump dirt that could be dug.

      This has all the hallmarks of a “when Wikileaks hands you a lemon, make cia lemonade” type operation.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      On a related note, I saw a fascinating documentary about ‘Doc’ Humes a few years ago. He was a founder of the Paris Review who took too much LSD and became convinced the spooks were after him. He went from being a promising literary figure hobnobbing with George Plimpton to wandering around college campuses, rambling and disheveled.

      Turns out he’d been surrounded by spooks for years.

      Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you…

  6. HBE

    Left publications.

    Looking for recommendations on left publications (something you get in the mail) to get an on the fence liberal for Christmas. They do read truthout and counterpunch on occasion but unfortunately think the HuffPo is the ultimate arbiter of impartiality and objectivity, and won’t often venture beyond it’s bubble.

    I’m thinking Jacobin, thoughts, recommendations?

    PS. This is in addition to an “actual” gift, not a standalone.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Not a regular publication, but have you considered Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal? It’s more like a reference book than a newsletter, but it certainly provides a basis for evaluating “liberal” propaganda.

      1. Steve H.

        That is an excellent suggestion, Katniss. A book can give a greater depth of experience, to change a mind and a way.

    2. johnnygl

      Jacobin is my favorite, personally. I’ve been thinking of subscribing. They’ve grown very quickly for a reason.

    3. Katharine

      Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter with good information and sources to connect you with organizations that are doing something about problems reported.

    4. EmilianoZ

      Nah, Jacobin hasn’t even been named in the infamous 200 by propornot. They can’t be that subversive. For all we know they could even be MSM plants to distract us.

    5. HBE

      Thanks all, I was really torn between Jacobin and the Baffler (can’t believe I didn’t think of it). So i just decided to go with both, since both offer great perspectives, but each is certainly unique. I’m not sure there is any other publication quite like the Baffler.

      As for Listen Liberal, that’s the ultimate goal, but it really does hammer the liberals (as it should) so starting an on the fence liberal off on Thomas Frank, prior to weening them off HuffPo and NPR isn’t going to go over to well (in this instance, and I suspect in most cases) in my opinion.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      Harper’s – others have mentioned Thomas Frank and he is a contributor to Harper’s. Great political writing plus lots of other interesting non-political stuff too.

  7. Victoria

    Re: The Irrationality Within Us. Beg to differ that it’s about denying the inevitability of death. I studied the Middle Ages, in which people practiced memento mori to constantly remind them “remember you must die,” even sleeping in coffins, in pursuit of a more spiritually meaningful life. Also, I have done work with people who are dying of cancer, and when they realize they are going to die, many become relaxed, happy, and at peace. Accepting the inevitability of death is something we all have to do as we get older, or else live with the anxiety of denial, and which it would be good to do even younger, so that we understand that life is not just an endless series of physical experiences, but also a spiritual journey.

    1. integer

      Death is just the beginning of the next adventure! And if it’s not, then you won’t know any different anyway!
      Enjoy life while you can. Who knows what its significance is. Not me, that’s for sure! Hahaha.

    2. Jim Haygood

      I have done work with people who are dying of cancer, and when they realize they are going to die, many become relaxed, happy, and at peace.

      Sounds like a subject suited for a book length treatment. Let it rip.

      1. Michael

        As someone who has struggled with chronic pain, being given permission to just let go and knowledge that there is an end to it is, yes, a big deal.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Some do, some don’t. Sure you have seen “terminal restlessness” before.

      I think of it if terms of Eriksson’s last stage: integrity vs despair. If one is accepting of the life one has led, it is easier and even a relief (CA patients are often in a LOT of pain) to come to terms.

      But absolutely the denial of death and concomitant anxiety promotes irrational thinking, such as the mantra that “everything happens for a reason” or the belief in a very literal heaven where one will see deceased loved ones and you will all be together as in life.

      I agree that spirituality is the genuine solution. I would just say “everything happens.” Acceptance is the key.

      1. Antifa

        That heaven notion has always been difficult for me to swallow. It’s hard to imagine a more selfish, narcissistic worldview than the belief that at death you go to a wonderful world where everyone you ever knew is waiting, right there, exactly as they were when you last saw them. Even little Timmy, who died of meningitis at the age of two. He’s all better now, and still as cute as a button in his jammies. But he hasn’t learned to read, hasn’t grown any taller, doesn’t know anything about arithmetic or computer programming. He’s been waiting for you in situ for 84 years. What in hell has he done in all those decades? Play with his toes?

        But no, none of your relatives have grown through experience, changed through learning and interacting, apparently haven’t had any experiences or interactions other than waiting in the same clothes they were buried in for you to arrive. Not a one of them became any different over the years, for all the glory of the new realm of light and love and wisdom they now dwell within.

        Which is the horror of a situation you face. You now you get to join this never-ever-changing choir eternal, join them in waiting to greet Aunt Flo when she finally succumbs to COPD or worse from her chain smoking and bourbon habits.

        What do all of you do, and talk about, to avoid becoming and changing while passing eternity waiting for the very last of everybody’s friends and relatives to arrive?

        And what happens in three hundred years, when every person any of you ever knew or met or saw has long since already joined you in the celestial waiting room? Are you finally free to disperse, and begin growing as a living soul again?

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          For what it’s worth, I’ve met people who believe in heaven who actually do think of it as a place where people continue to “become” and “change” and “grow.”

          1. Antifa

            For what it’s worth, I’ve met people who imagine the world is full of unicorns, angels, elves, sprites, imps, wizards, witches, leprechauns, demons, and even long dead saints who will, if properly importuned, help you find a good parking space.

            1. witters

              There is a Good Parking Fairy.

              And now every comment is moderated. Every one. It feels threatening in a small way.

      2. Jagger

        But absolutely the denial of death and concomitant anxiety promotes irrational thinking, such as the mantra that “everything happens for a reason” or the belief in a very literal heaven where one will see deceased loved ones and you will all be together as in life.

        Interestingly, many of those that have had Near Death Experiences share the very same beliefs even though they lack the denial of death and concomitant anxiety.

    4. OIFVet

      I came to terms with my own mortality long ago. I also realized that the spiritual journey you speak of has ever fewer paths available, unless one counts mindless consumerism and Hollywood entertainment as spiritual. Then there is the issue of lives well lived but still cut short. My father’s was such a life, and it was cut short by the inhumane health insurance system. He died at the height of the debate over 0bamacare, whose passage short time after added insult to injury.

      As I type this, one of my cats is curled up next to me. Whoever still thinks of cats as aloof and contemtuous has not met her. Tomorrow I will have to bring her to the vet to be euthanized. She is up there in age, but her life will still be cut short by the idiocy of her previous owner, who rather than spay her stuffed her with carcenogenic pills every time she went in heat. Now her mamary glands cancer has spread all over her body and she has wasted away over the past week. Still a fighter and a loving companion, but she can now hardly even lift her head.

      It sucks losing your loved ones early. It doesn’t matter one bit that I know of death’s inevitability when their lives are cut short by greed and stupidity, these kinds of deaths are particularly hard to be accepted by the logical me.

      1. skippy

        At the end of it all your cat upgraded its life partner [slave] vs the alternative… in that… both of you won…

        disheveled…. my deepest sympathies OIFVet, will be thinking of both of you.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        It sucks losing your loved ones early.

        TMI to disclose my experience of this but suffice to say it is everyone’s worst nightmare. I will never “get over” it. Yet as a hospice social worker I have seen people with the kind of beliefs I described above enormously comforted by them. One woman had to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) for her daughter, only in her 20s, who had been on life support for months in an appalling nursing home where she had developed horrific wounds – I recall her hip bone was exposed, so much flesh had been eaten away.

        As an atheist since I was in my teens, I have come to respect rather than dismiss the functionality of this magical thinking. Just can’t buy into it myself, so yeah, it sucks.

        I am sorry for your losses.

        And btw the latest thinking re those near-death experiences is that the brain makes a last-ditch attempt to fight as the body shuts down, triggering a lot of brain activity which accounts for the images and white light that people report.

        And these survivors don’t necessarily lack denial of death. Actually, sometimes they feel that they are invulnerable, or have been spared for a purpose (“everything happens for a reason”), not exactly rational thinking, but adaptive.

        1. Jagger

          And btw the latest thinking re those near-death experiences is that the brain makes a last-ditch attempt to fight as the body shuts down, triggering a lot of brain activity which accounts for the images and white light that people report.

          I have been following near death experiences for the last 15 years or so and have seen one theory after another shot down in their attempts to explain NDEs. It is very easy to put together theories but a totally different kettle of fish to validate them. How to explain subjective experiences at the moment of death? It is sort of like trying to understand the origin or the essence of consciousness. We are lost. All we have are wild guesses. And my guess is we will personally discover the answer before science gets remotely close to explaining NDE’s.

          not exactly rational thinking,

          Why not? It is certainly not irrational or magical thinking to have a personal subjective experience and evaluate whether it is reality or not. We do it all the time. And if at the moment of death, when the body ceases to function, a person states this was my experience, who are we to arbitrarily reject their experience because current ideology rejects the concept? An ideology which lacks a clear understanding of either the origin or essense of consciousness simply has no clue as to whether our internal being disappears upon death or not. So we categorical reject the multitude of personal experiences because we don’t like the concept?? We are certainly not rejecting the experiences because we have conclusively explained their experiences as false. That seems a form of irrational thinking to me.

              1. Plenue

                That’s where the evidence leads. The alternative, that ‘we’ are at least partially some sort of mystical ghostly woo residing…elsewhere, has no evidence whatsoever.

      3. juliania

        All these are interesting and diverse comments about the inevitability of death – and it seems to me we are facing the problem on a larger scale than our own individual mortality, which I would agree is life enhancing, much more so than to pretend it won’t happen as far as the quality of said life is concerned. Facing it for our species involves the call to appropriate action before it becomes too late to act. That might not seem enjoyable, but a positive outcome would be.

        I was intrigued that Scientific American would be approaching the question of “irrationality” in such a rational way. Pascal said “The heart has its reasons which reason itself cannot understand.” The Greeks said “Count no man happy until after he has died.” (Which begs the question of whether the man himself can feel happy before he dies.)

        Faith says “Prayer is standing in the heart with the mind before God.” Well, not to be exclusively deistic, standing in the heart with the mind is to me the entire human involvement in life, and when we do this, we shall be enjoying life. And, paradoxically, we even enjoy it more when it offers the least practical reasons to do so.

        1. Antifa

          Well said. Every rational mind sooner or later considers the absolute certainty of death. Implicit in that confrontation is an understanding that we are from birth caught up in a universe much, much larger than our personal selves or deeds. We didn’t start this cosmos, nor do we keep it rolling along, nor do we yet understand it. In this universe, I matter less than a grain of sand. In fact, I am utterly pointless when compared to supernovas or black holes or even the rotating iron core at the center of this planet.

          Ah, but to be aware of what and who I am, and aware that what is remains beyond my grasp — that’s not pointless. That’s everything I am worth. Call it worship, call it awe, call it soul, call it seeking, call it solitude. It is an internal condition that cannot be sold, given away, written down, or sung. And it can’t be whistled, either.

          As the Isa Upanishad asks, “What is it the eye cannot see, yet which makes the eye to see?” What stands behind this cosmos, what keeps it rolling, what is that, who is that, where is that, whatever it may be? It damn sure isn’t I.

          To pursue that question inwardly is to stand beyond I, in awe of that which is everywhere except here in my hands.

    5. fosforos

      The distinction “rational/emotional” is not very meaningful. Virtually all the decisions we make every day of our lives are perfectly rational because they are made by our “subconscious minds,” which are like opaque logic machines having roughly the same relation to our “conscious minds” as the processors in this computer have to its user interface. And when that “conscious” interface is needed to choose among alternatives presented to it by our “subconscious” minds, the choice is a rational one based on the *emotional* significance expected (rightly or wrongly) from the action–which is exactly why we are capable of being “disappointed” in the results of our actions (“I’m sorry I chose this dessert instead of that one”). That disappointment was no result of “emotional” choice–it was the result of an erroneous expectation of “emotional” result from a rational choice, and as result becomes data for the operation of our “subconscious” mental processes and plays its own little role when those processes are called on to present our “conscious” minds with a similar set of choices. And only in the most rare and extreme of cases will those choices have anything at all to do with awareness of the inevitability of death.

  8. Ivy

    Re Bureaux de change: Their proliferation in various European capitals, along with the wide variations in bid/ask spreads lead to a few conclusions.
    1. there are many people who just do not plan ahead when traveling
    2. they don’t read the fine print, and/or are somewhat innumerate
    3. they have time preference amnesia when shopping or in airport transition between cultures
    4. the change shop business model has some lucrative returns, given their pricey if small locations
    5. are there potential links to those corrupt banking practices noted in an adjoining article?

    1. Hen Kai Pan

      So according to you, people who exchange currency are “innumerate”, “do not plan ahead”, and “have amnesia”??
      I have exchanged cash at times since years, and surely not because I was afflicted with any of the traits that you project onto others. There are big differences between these places. E.g., in Manhattan, Apple Bank exchanges currency hassle free for very fair rates, as opposed to other places like Change Group, where the employees very obviously are trained to cheat. Before Modi’s started his project, in India, one went to the money changer. But the Smart phone and Uber generation does not even touch real money anymore, not even their own currency, they’d rather deal with possibly getting hacked.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Speaking of Modi’s project (can we call it memento modi?), Venezuela’s Maduro is having a go at it himself:

        Tuesday morning thousands of people across Venezuela played hooky from work to line up outside banks and deposit bundles of cash after the government gave everyone a 72-hour countdown to turn in all their 100 bolivar notes.

        President Nicolas Maduro said that by making his country’s 100 bill illegal, he is “hitting back” against mafia groups, who he claims have ties to the U.S. State Department.

        Compadres, you can keep your bills now in Cucuta (Colombia) and Germany,” Maduro gloated during a live TV appearance on Monday.

        Maduro also closed Venezuela’s border with Colombia for three days, in a move designed to stop “the mafia groups” from bringing their crate loads of 100 bolivar bills back into Venezuela to deposit at banks.

        “We will keep on hitting these mafias,” Maduro vowed.

        Hapless Venezuelans can only respond with an ironic line from Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground: “So things are bad? Well then, let them get even worse!

        Or as 0bama would say, “If you like your 100-bolivar bill, you can keep your 100-bolivar bill.” Har har har …

        1. Jim Haygood

          By no coincidence, DolarToday’s black market bolivar rate has soared to 2,818 per dollar, up dramatically from over 4,000 bolivars per dollar last week.

          Maduro will claim this represents surging confidence in the bolivar. What it actually reflects is that the means of exchange which people use to buy dollars — namely 100-bolivar bills — become worthless a few hours from now.

          So what are you gonna buy dollars with — packets of Chiclets?

    2. Bugs Bunny

      A friend travelling to the UK from the US recently asked me if she should buy traveller’s cheques or just change money at the airport…someone in her early 40s.

      I said that I didn’t think that traveller’s cheques existed anymore. Perhaps they do but I haven’t used one since 2003. They were useful before the ubiquity of ATMs.

      1. RUKidding

        Travellers cheques still exist, but some money exchanges won’t touch them.

        They can be useful as a backup in case your ATM cards get lost or stolen.

        I have a few that I keep to take with me on overseas adventures. Some banks recommend that you take some with you as a “just in case.”

        They’re not as easy to buy these days. You have to hunt them out, and there are, of course, fees to purchase them and fees to cash them. Definitely only useful as a back up.

        I still view them fondly, as that’s what I used way back when when I backpacked around the globe and used Post Restante to pick up my mail. Ah the good old days…. (now get offa my lawn!)

        1. cwaltz

          We were required to purchase them when we cashed our checks in boot camp back in the 80s. I too have fond memories of travelers checks.

        2. Hen Kai Pan

          I wish there was still Poste Restante!!!
          Someone I knew arrived in Miami from Europe years ago just after Hurricane Andrew, and his credit /bank cards did not work, because there was no electricity.
          I myself have been in Thailand when several ATMs did not work, and I got worried that if I tried one more time, the next machine may swallow my card.

    3. rd

      US bank branches in flyover country don’t even know that foreign currencies exist. Even trying to get Canadian dollars (our single biggest trading partner) gets blank stares. Once you can find a person who knows that there are other countries on the planet, they usually inform you that it will take a couple of weeks and cost an arm or a leg. I have generally found that exchanging money in the countries that you are going to is preferred, often just by paying the fee at a bank ATM. Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and buy $100 or so in local currency in the airport kiosk just so you have cash in your pocket to pay for a taxi or buy lunch before you can find a real bank ATM.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I, too, remember travellers’ checks – not all that fondly, they were a nuisance.

        An anecdote: Years ago now, we were told that ATMs were the best way to get foreign currency. So on a trip to Morocco, I sought out an ATM and walked confidently up to a very familiar-looking machine. However, I had learned my PIN # as a word, because that’s easier to remember. When I looked at the Moroccan ATM, the numbers were familiar, of course, but the letters were unidentifiable (to me) squiggles. Sinking sensation. When I told this story to an Arab friend back home, he nearly split a gut.

        There was a happy ending: turned out my fingers remembered the locations of the needed numbers, so I got the money. We were also able to use our debit card in some remarkable places, who clearly were completely wired in. Now I know the numbers of my PIN.

        In all seriousness, that trip to Morocco was a lesson in the internationalization of finance. A rug dealer deep in the souk took the card, explained that it would secure the transaction for both of us, and sent us away with the rugs. Considering we had just been dodging mule carts, amazing.

      2. Hen Kai Pan

        Once around 1988 I only had Canadian currency left, and had not considered the toll on the NY thruway. I asked around in a rest area and someone gave me some US $ for a Canadian bill. IIRC, later, there were/ or still are, signs at the toll booths that “Canadian currency is discounted by x amount”, but at least they accepted it then, or still accept it now. I would hate to see the toll booths on the NYS thruway disappear and go cashless.
        I also appreciate the fact that in Canada, I can, at least in a city like Toronto, change currency in a hotel at a fair rate.

  9. Linda

    Don’t think I’m buying Craig Murray’s account of his receiving the DNC leaks and passing them on to WikiLeaks. True or not true, WikiLeaks can’t be very happy about his remarks. Even though it is not specific, if they get the reputation of giving out clues to their sources, it will kill future leaks to them.

    WikiLeaks tweeted this morning:

    WikiLeaks Tweet from this morning:

    Only Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison (and sometimes WikiLeaks’ lawyers) are authorized to speak on behalf of WikiLeaks.

    The article in the main post above says:

    “His links to Wikileaks are well known and while his account is likely to be seen as both unprovable and possibly biased, it is also the first intervention by Wikileaks…”


    “He describes himself as a ‘close associate’ of Julian Assange…”

    So is he known to be, or does he say he is?

    The article describes him as an “operative,” “close associate of Assange,” and an “envoy.”

    Julian recently did say that the Russian govt. did not provide the information to WikiLeaks. It surprised me that he volunteered any information at all. To me, it leaves him open to being asked to deny specific sources in future leaks. This particular “wikileak” has become important enough that perhaps he thought he should break his rule this one time.

    1. tgs

      Murray is now denying (in the comments section of his site) that he received the leaks. He is saying that he met a person who may or may not be the leaker and may or may not have been using a false name. The reason for the meeting is described as mundane.

      He only claims that the person was not Russian.

      Certainly, weakens his credibility. But why lie about it?

      1. Dikaios Logos

        re; Craig Murray & the Daily Mail story

        No idea whether to believe this story, BUT that “wooded area” mentioned is best described as “immediately adjacent to the Department of Homeland Security”, American University is on the other side of the DHS campus.

        Kim Philby’s DC house is just outside of the picture’s upper right corner. Maybe the Daily Mail thinks Brits doing espionage in DC always do so around there?

        1. Gareth

          I am certain that a respectable tabloid like the Daily Mail would never embellish a story with false sensational details in an attempt to make it sexier while discrediting the source.. Murray’s mistake was to even talk to the Daily Mail.

          1. alex morfesis

            In 5 days, all will have been dealt with…the 19th is just around the corner…and then the news will have to beg president el donaldo to do or say something to keep the eyeballs rolling and the ad sales people humming…much like that weather cable thingee that forgets to mention the hurricane has cancelled so that they can sell a few more handy andy generators…

  10. Carolinian

    The Nation/Bob Dreyfuss.

    Just as the administration of George W. Bush came into office fixated on Iraq—which was the subject of the very first meeting of W.’s National Security Council on January 21, 2001—the Trump administration is likely to direct its fire against Iran. At the very least, its animosity toward Iran could lead to an escalating military confrontation and an aggressive push for regime change, while at worst it could trigger a shooting war between the two countries that could dwarf the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in both scope and intensity.

    Surprising to see a link to this hysterical hand wringing. Should one point out the reasons why Trump won’t start a war with Iran, as Dreyfuss so blithely assumes? Here’s Justin Raimondo talking about how the choice of Tillerson at State is in direct contradiction to such hyperbole.

    President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is the CEO of Exxon, a company that has always opposed the American empire’s favorite ploy short of war: economic sanctions. Exxon is one of the principal supporters of USA Engage, a business lobby that has for years argued against Iranian and Iraqi sanctions, and that believes in “positively engaging other societies through diplomacy, multilateral cooperation, the presence of American organizations,” and that “the best practices of American companies and humanitarian exchanges better advances U.S. objectives than punitive unilateral economic sanctions.”

    Contrary to the brainless leftist narrative that characterizes Big Oil as the driving force behind the War Party – remember “No Blood for Oil!”? – the reality is that the oil industry, including Exxon, opposed the Iraq war, just as they opposed the economic sanctions that preceded it. Iran sanctions are equally unpopular with the oil industry, and, as a New Yorker profile of Tillerson put it: “In general, Tillerson and ExxonMobil have argued against economic sanctions as an instrument of American foreign policy.”

    Of course we have no idea what Trump will do–which is a big reason for not attacking him on a “pre-crime” basis–but one does get the impression that starting a war is not high on the agenda of this “America firster.” A wait and see attitude may be indicated. There’s enough fearful talk going around already.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Iran sanctions are equally unpopular with the oil industry,’

      Guess who Iranian sanctions ARE still popular with? At, the top front-page article under “Legislation and Issues” is “Reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act.”

      The Lobby has been spoiling for a hot war with Iran for twenty years now. AIPAC’s annual D.C. confab next March looks like being a “Woodstock of the warmongers.”

    2. Waldenpond

      Yep, no idea. A person that is against sanctions to get a region to comply with US demands has to bribe the elite or use force.

    3. Antifa

      Russia views the crescent of buffer states between Turkey and the American’s mess of a Middle East as vital to their keeping out the Islamic crazies funded by Saudi Arabia and trained by America and Israel. Russia doesn’t want those people.

      Turkey, a NATO member, did not stand up to Russia on behalf of the West. Oh, it shot down a Russian fighter, but apologized very sincerely. Then it closed its borders to ISIS and ISIS oil-smuggling. So Turkey can forget about ever joining the EU, if it still admires the EU enough to want membership.

      Russia will arm and protect and stand by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah against the American right wing crazies who want the Middle East forcefully redrawn on the map.

      The only genuine reason for calling Iran an existential threat to America is that Iran can close the Persian Gulf to all oil shipments whenever and for as long as they want. Anything more is just General Buck Turgidson ranting and frothing in the War Room.

  11. rich

    Did the DOJ back down from investigating possible link between Harry Reid, $2M check, Utah bank and online gambling?

    The $2 million cashier’s check was drawn at a St. George bank Nov. 5, 2010.

    From there, it was sent by FedEx to a Los Angeles attorney who represented Ireland-based Full Tilt Poker.

    Made out to “Mail Media LTD” — a Full Tilt-owned entity used to launder online-gambling funds — the millions then were deposited at Basler Kantonalbank in Switzerland, where Mail Media had an account.

    And from there, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings is investigating whether it went into a Marshall Islands account in the name of Searchlight Holding Inc. to benefit, or even bribe, Harry Reid, the once-powerful majority leader of the U.S. Senate whom online poker companies had been courting to push a bill to legalize their gaming across the nation.

    But documents gathered by The Salt Lake Tribune from state and federal investigations, court filings and public records requests — including audio recordings of interviews and thousands of pages of transcripts, summaries by investigators, emails, requests for evidence and other materials — show that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI failed to pursue a vigorous investigation of this money and any potential tie to Reid.

    The available evidence contains no direct connection between the money and the Nevada Democrat, only that Rawlings wants to dig into that possibility.

    Federal authorities have stymied his effort, leaving Rawlings to wonder why. Were agents ordered to steer clear of that money trail? And, if so, by whom? In short, was there a cover-up?
    Indeed, the document trove tied to the criminal probes of Shurtleff and Swallow — along with a federal bank-fraud case that sent Johnson to prison — are notable for the DOJ’s disinterest in the allegations involving Reid.

    “The FBI, via the Salt Lake City Field Office, was willing to investigate these allegations … wanted to actively engage,” Rawlings said. “The Salt Lake office was taking steps to do so, but suddenly they were not.”


  12. Eureka Springs

    Reading the link on No One in Congress Wanting To Regulate Fake News prompts me to ask for a definition of fake news by those writing about it.

    I mean what’s wrong with the word Propaganda? It’s defined in many dictionaries.

    information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
    the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
    the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
    Archaic. an organization or movement for the spreading of propaganda.

    Whereas Fake News definition requires Wikipedia:

    Fake news websites (also referred to online as hoax news[3][4]) deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation to drive web traffic inflamed by social media. These sites are distinguished from news satire, as they mislead and profit from readers’ gullibility.

    One Pan-European newspaper, The Local, described the proliferation of fake news as a form of psychological warfare. Agence France-Presse reported media analysts see it as damaging to democracy. The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs called attention to the problem in 2016 when it passed a resolution warning that the Russian government was using “pseudo-news agencies” and Internet trolls as disinformation propaganda to weaken confidence in democratic values.

    I also find it laughable that all congress critters asked about ‘fake news’ are framed into looking at Facebook/social media rather than government itself. Since government actually legalizes lies, funds propaganda on its own self, its own people and on a global scale. Even the Senate Torture report… where the CIA hacked the U.S. Senates own files and got away with it. And when the Senate finished it’s own report they allowed the President to hide it in his (soon to be) presidential library for decades to come. Much more, the whole Iraq WMD propaganda, Congress/government encourages fake news more than any other entity. Secret law, secret money, classification of everything ensues. It’s both an order from on high to lie and profitable for many to do so.

    These area need addressing most of all, imo. Because Government sets the standard. Of course much more as well when one sees what WAPO and NBC Denver are up to.

    1. fresno dan

      Eureka Springs
      December 15, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Would everybody who believes “fake news” please raise their hands???
      UH….I’m on the innertubes, so I can’t actually see any raised hands……darn. That is not gonna work
      Anyway, I raise my hand…..
      guess which fake news I believed:
      1 Thousands of fraudulent ballots for Clinton uncovered
      2 Megyn Kelly was fired after she endorsed Clinton
      3 The Pope endorsed Donald Trump
      Made your guesses? The fake news that I believed was:…….wait for it………wait some more……there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
      Yeah – it was a fake question. Ironic, huh?

    2. a different chris

      I would say “propaganda” is designed to get you to think something in particular. “Fake News” is just to get eyeballs, doesn’t matter if they believe it, don’t believe it, or even notice that it completely contradicts stuff from the same source the previous week.

      Which means you are right, this kerfluffle is over propaganda not fake news.

    3. rd

      Of course nobody in Congress wants to regulate fake news. What would they have to use to back up their talking points if they did?

    4. Antifa

      To these excellent definitions of fake news can be added the tendency of social media and web surfing habits which encourage people to go to their favorite sites every day. This gives them a regular diet of news from news aggregators or original authors with a consistent bent, or set of assumptions.

      In the case of social media, their reading preferences are closely tracked, and more of the same is served up quite on purpose, thus producing a nation of people all of whom live in a bubble of news that satisfies their views.

      The challenge is to find things to read and investigate online that are outside your worldview or experience. It’s a real challenge even to take up this challenge.

  13. DJG

    Berlusconi? The article is written by a professor at LUISS, so it is the Harvard Business School speaking in italiano.

    “Italy’s political future will depend on how its anti-establishment parties perform. Recent polls have put the 5Star Movement in first place, but it is unwilling to enter into alliances. Similarly, right-wing parties like the Northern League and Italian Brothers — which are performing relatively poorly — would balk from allying with the Democratic Party.”

    “If the 5star Movement, Northern League and Italian Brothers take a combined total of more than 50 percent of the vote, the result will be gridlock — and the inability to form a government of any sort.”

    Yes, it is hard to gauge what coalition the M5S might put into place. But this weird analysis that the Northern League (a mess of anti-immigrant resentment) and Fratelli d’Italia (fascists, plain and simple), both marginal parties, would not ally with the Partito Democratico is rich indeed.

    And it wouldn’t be the first time that Italians had a functioning government with a minority in parliament. The Christian Democrats used to pull off that feat because the U S of A had such a fear of the PCI.

    Berlusconi? No.

    So this analysis is one step up from Frank Bruni, former restaurant reviewer who occasional calls up some Italian pals.

  14. Brucie A.

    re: Twitter’s “bounce” from the Trump meeting; Could it not have been about its refusal to go along with a Muslim registry? (The Intercept, Dec. 2) One that several other tech giants haven’t deigned to oppose?

    … “Update” – seems Facebook and others have changed their minds:

    The Intercept: Following Intercept Report, 22 Organizations Urge Tech Firms to Reject Muslim Registry, Dec. 12

    Inc.:Facebook, Lyft, Medium Join Twitter In Stance Against Building a Muslim Registry, Dec. 15

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    NASA 3 D animation of global carbon emissions.

    A picture or a movie?

    It would be 4 D (space-time) if it’s a movie.

  16. Ignim Brites

    “If you were rational, you could not deny the inevitability of death, which is critical to having at least some enjoyment in life.”

    If you can never say “I am dead”, how can it be rational to accept the reality of death?

    1. Antifa

      If you attend a funeral or cremation, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid the thought that, “That’s me in x number of years. There’s nothing whatsoever I can do to avoid being where this person is right now. It will happen.”

      It’s perfectly rational to consider yourself just a passing snowflake compared to the eternity and finality of death.

  17. Jim Haygood

    J-Yel broke the bond market with her “three more rate hikes” dot plot. The closely-watched 10-year Treasury blasted through the psychologically significant 2.50% round number, and is now perched at a more than 2-year high of 2.57%.

    In turn, higher US interest rates have sent the US dollar index DXY soaring to 103.14 this morning, a 13-year high. This is enormously problematic for China, caught between the rock of a revaluing currency (living hell for an exporter) and the hard place of being labeled a “currency manipulator” by the US.

    Foreign exchange rates are the Treasury’s remit, not the Fed’s. With nobody in charge at Treasury during the interregnum, the FOMC mice can play while the cat’s away. If that sounds like kids on Adderall playing with matches … it should.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being the global reserve currency issuer, we cause natural currency movements (which are the byproducts of rate decisions, made in hope of responding to the domestic economy).

      To adjust their currency in response is to manipulate currency, either to remain pegged (pegging is manipulation) or getting off the peg.

      The way I see it, pegging is the Original Sin of currency manipulation.

    2. rd

      I was almost surprised that the Fed didn’t pop the rate 0.5% yesterday given all the hyper-ventilating from Republicans about loose money and the Taylor Rule. I think they had the various positive numbers over the past quarter to back that up. She basically said we were at or close to full-employment and I don’t think the Fed Funds rate has ever been anywhere close to 1% at full employment.

      If the economy keeps chugging along I fully expect to see their three hikes next year. Trump and the GOP Congressmen will get to enjoy the benefits of something close to the Taylor Rule.

  18. Katharine

    > With nobody in charge at Treasury during the interregnum

    Enlighten us. Why “nobody in charge”? Their decisions may have short shelf-life, but surely they can still make them.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Jack Lew is still there (if he hasn’t taken the Acela back to NYC already). But nobody’s calling him for quotes anymore. And Mnuchin’s not on board yet.

      For practical purposes, Treasury’s a crewless ship adrift on the high seas.

      1. a different chris

        Haha, wanted to mention: I watched the popularly blasted Batman vs. Superman last night! Guess who the producer was? Mr. Mnuchin himself!

        I don’t think you can really call this country a meritocracy anymore, possibly MeritocracyTM would be acceptable.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Act of Teenage Rebellion…Syrian War.

    Some teenage rebellion acts are good.

    Some bad.

    One bad teenage rebellion act is to watch MTV all day long.

    1. ambrit

      Another teenage rebellion act is to join the High School Young Republican League during the tenth grade.
      (We had a real Young Republican group in my high school. It being a “progressive” school, they had a low profile. We also had a ‘CIA’ mentor/recruiter, seriously.)

      1. Jim Haygood

        In 1968 our public school civics class divided up into three presidential campaign groups: Humphrey supporters, Nixon supporters, and Wallace supporters.

        Strangely, I can’t recall any African-American kids in the Wallace group. The Wallace-ites were all goat-ropers, not surfer dudes.

      1. wheresOurTeddy

        “MTV” & “news” in the same sentence. Hilarious.

        I’d believe Grover from Sesame Street before the Oligarchy apologists at Viacom’s kids channel.

  20. Dita

    Re: DAPL and Flint – I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what became of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other indigenous protesters when they went up against Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria, in the 1990s. For now, as roughly as the water protectors were treated, still we’ve seen a somewhat softer version here on American soil. Once Trumpy gets rolling I don’t think that’s going to be the case for long.

  21. Katharine

    Just by the way: Baltimore Sun TV columnist homes in on what he hates about media coverage of “ordinary” people”

    As co-host Brian Kilmeade put it in his introduction, “Here’s Pete Hegseth, he is now eating amongst the people at Johnny V’s in West Allis.”

    Maybe it was the phrasing of “eating amongst the people,” as if Hegseth were an anthropologist sitting around a campfire somewhere in an Amazon rain forest with a tribe little known to the outside world, that got under my skin.

    1. Anne

      David Zurawik is one of my favorites – and this was an excellent column, one that the Clinton folks should be forced to read until they get it.

  22. voxhumana

    Apologies if this was linked to before, but I am unsure where I first saw it so just in case it’s new to anyone…

    Stephen Cohen schools Ken Roth (Human Rights Watch):

    click on link above video to see the whole show because at the very end of the debate the gloves come off and it gets refreshingly colloquial… if I recall right Cohen, with evident contempt, tells Roth he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Earlier in the debate Cohen respectfully calls out Amy Good man too for switching the use of “terrorist” to “rebel” just as the MSM did… he says last September everyone started eschewing “rebel” and “jihadist”

    : CNN actually let Cohen have his say over the weekend though I doubt many saw it… mid afternoon on a Sunday… I won’t search for a cnn link

    1. Dave

      The same Democracy Now that let Pelosi’s daughter rant on the other day for over 20 minutes about Russians hacking the election? That Democracy Now?

      1. Waldenpond

        It’s actually a good session …. Roth is an over the top elitist in this performance (including using airquotes, and the word ‘reality’ to counter Cohen), absolute in his proclamations. Amy Goodman’s face when Cohen calls out her out for parroting NYT and disappearing ‘terrorist’ indicates he made a direct hit.

  23. b.


    Here’s a theory: like all Clinton operations, the campaign had become a racket to maximize pay-off and influence. The decisions on where and how to spend money was guided not by the original purpose – get the candidate elected – which was assumed to be “in the bag”. Clinton had already “won”, the vote was a formality. Instead, spending was directed in pathways that maximize the fees extracted and profits made by the “critical” partners – not volunteers, canvassers, on-the-ground and GOTV, but instead credentialists, ad agencies, TV and other media channels, big data outfits, consultants etc.

    Furthermore, I propose that Clinton and her inner circle had moved on to not even downballot races but 2018. In the system of cashier checks and bank balances that defines both Congress and the intra-Party powerplays, Clinton most likely decided not to “waste” any campaign funds on an election already won – the model said so – but to preserve those resources for the pre-inauguration influence trading. After all, both Obama and Sanders had demonstrated that keeping your organization and its funds out of the party’s control establishes an independent power base within the party.

    Here’s a prediction: The Hillary Victory Fund has a lot of money left, as does the DNC (with a good chunk originating from the Victory Fund-State-DNC money laundering pipe) – money that was not spend on the election. I’d not be surprised if money transfers to the DNC increased once Brazile was appointed there. Of the funds expended, an uncharacteristically large amount will have been spent on credentialist GOTV kabuki.

    On a related note, this trend apparently even afflicted the Sanders campaign. Maybe it has become time to think of campaigns not only as recipients of voter donations, but also as seasonal employers of voters – funding volunteers. Campaigns do not lead, they support the efforts of those that live in the precincts – and with the consequences.

    Bonus item:

    1. Portia

      OMFG. re the “lazarus” donations: the FEC and the DNC say they have no control over or oversight of donations?

    2. Joe Robinson

      Yep. They may well have been incompetent, but for the full story we need to understand where the money was going.

    3. Oregoncharles

      She nonetheless spent twice as much as Trump. I think the Bezzle part of your argument is more convincing. Kickbacks, maybe? Or she wasn’t really in control? Or she suddenly realized that being President would kill her? Better Trump than her, then; he’s even older. Which might be why Ivanka’s shaping up as co-President.

  24. rd

    Re: Ray Dalio on the 1930s

    I think Ray Dalio is ignoring the importance of wealth and income inequality. By 1935, most of the wealthy had lost their shirts and become unwealthy. There was very little of rentier economy and finance left in 1935, unlike today. That low level of inequality lasted from the mid-30s through WW II and the “America was Great” periods of the 50s and 60s.

    So if a policy pushed output and income out into the economy, odds are that it was going to end up in the pockets of low and middle-income workers who would spend a fairly high percentage of it and it could recirculate. Today, money that gets pushed out into the economy by the Fed and the government tends to end up in the hands of corporations and wealthy who will largely just save it, one way or the other (stock buybacks raise the value of stocks that are held largely by the wealthy or institutions).

    So if he is concerned about policies pushing on a rope in 1935 and 1937, he should be doubly concerned today because there are fewer mechanisms to get the money actually circulating since inequality has not declined since 2007 despite the apparent parallels in the financial markets with 1929-1935.

    BTW – this is one reason I am baffled by the Republican push to slash Social Security benefits moving forward (euphemistically known as improving its solvency). Seniors spend money, not save it. A dollar sent out in a Social Security check will probably be circulated back into the economy by the end of the month. Cutting Social Security will likely reduce money velocity, which is already a problem. Having the wealthy pay some additional taxes that immediately gets circulated back through seniors would likely be an economic boost. That would be in addition to the psychological benefit of not providing incentive for seniors and their children to use burning torches and pitchforks to attack the castle.

    1. John k

      Got to balance the budget.
      Got to cut taxes.
      Got to spend more on the military.
      So… got to cut SS and Medicare.

      This means cutting the auto stabilizers and deeper recessions…

      1. wheresOurTeddy

        $ for social programs? “We can’t afford that! Solvency grumble grumble”

        $ for war? “Where do I sign?”

    2. Jagger

      BTW – this is one reason I am baffled by the Republican push to slash Social Security benefits moving forward (euphemistically known as improving its solvency). Seniors spend money, not save it.

      Because the republican party won across the board, they seem to ignore that Trump was a repudiation of business as usual including the republican business as usual. Every traditional politician, whether democrat or republican, is vulnerable to change candidates. If candidates can be found, the republicans will see a major backlash if they continue pushing their same old agenda. Both parties were rejected in this election and neither seems willing to recognize the need to change.

  25. Plenue

    >Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools New Yorker

    “Among the points that can be made in favor of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s billionaire nominee for the position of Secretary of Education, are the following: She has no known ties to President Vladimir Putin, unlike Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, who was decorated with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal a few years ago.”

    Friendship with Russia? The Worst. Possible. Thing!

    1. rd

      Re: Trump and US business in China

      I am sure that Chinese technocrats right now are pouring over US GIS databases to understand exactly what counties produce which agricultural products that get shipped to China. They will then pour over the election results. Those agricultural products will then get retaliatory tariffs specifically targeted to inflict maximum damage to Trump voters. They view this as a game of go, not checkers.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Too bad their economy is utterly dependent on sales to the US, and pretty shaky, as much documented here.

        1. witters

          Good to know US holds all the cards, and is truly a hegemonic power before whom all must quail.

          Now we can all relax.

          1. Massinissa

            In response to everyone above, I believe both sides have cards to play if this devolves into a zero sum game. Saying one side or the other is 100% powerful in a trade or currency war is BS IMO.

  26. Plenue

    “Iran has made clear it will attack directly only in defense, and that it will strike back brutally (as in torch Saudi Arabia, for starters). So the only way to “provoke” them is to attack and then somehow pretend there was no attack. Our media is no doubt up to carrying that off.”

    Well, our media seems to have convinced people Russia started the 2008 war with Georgia (even though the EU concluded in 2009 that the opposite was true).

    1. rd

      When Bush attacked Iraq in 2003, it was pretty clear that his exit strategy was through Tehran. However, some Sunnis in Fallujah and Rumallah got in the way.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “Mainstream Republicans Think They’re in Control Bloomberg.”
    The thesis makes sense, as far as i got, in that the conventional Republicans are in chain of command, like Congressional or Cabinet seats, vs. “advisers” like Bannon or Flynn. Trump is used to running a business and should be well aware of that distinction.

    However, that’s in principle. Notoriously, in court maneuverings it matters far more who has the King’s ear than who technically has power. I assume Trump knows that, too.

    Ivanka’s position is more and more intriguing. She and Kushner are very bad news for Palestinians, being committed Zionists, but her speech to the Convention was intriguing; from reports, it was shockingly progressive, and got Republicans to cheer for it! Now it looks more and more like she’ll be the real President. After all, Donald is 70, well past retirement age (as I know from personal experience). Why would he want to work hard? We…shall….see.

    “These Republicans see an historical analogy in the Ronald Reagan administration.” Reagan had Alzheimer’s, probably the whole time. I see no sign that Trump does.

    1. kgc

      Think you’re on to something w/r/t Ivanka and Kushner. At least, I’ve thought the same thing for months now, and since you seem to agree with me, we must both be right.

      BTW, I’m a 3rd-generation Oregonian from a very small town south of Portland who’s been transplanted to NYC (over 30 years now, so I’m practically a native). Still think it’s the most beautiful state in the country.

  28. Oregoncharles

    From “How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election:”
    “The Brooklyn command believed that television and limited direct mail and digital efforts were the only way to win over voters”
    Exactly ass-backwards, according to a major article in Harpers during the campaign. They quoted research showing the TV usually has little effect, especially if you’re already known to voters; what works is canvassing, which is also much cheaper but does depend on volunteers. However, TV ads are extremely lucrative for the “consultants” who make and place them, so this is a case of Bezzle, as well as grotesque incompetence.

    In fact, the incompetence is so grotesque that it revives my conspiracy theory: she was supposed to lose, because the “major” parties have a deal and just trade the presidency back and forth, 2 full terms at a time (sorry about that). I thought this year the pattern was going to break down, but what do you know…

  29. alex morfesis

    Trump 2 U.S. companies in china…welcome home…reuters article claims Total us dfi to china 1990-2015 is @ 228 bilyun…

    Today $&P 500 went up 4 tenths of 1 percent…which is about 80 bilyun bux…

    One day of small uptick equals 1/3 of ENTIRE us corp capital layout exposure in china 4 last 25 years…

    Come to poppa…

    whose your daddy…

    keep the suicide nets chinchin…

  30. Maurice Hebert

    To Yves, Lambert and other NCers:
    I humbly suggest that you do not take your eye off the ball.
    This “fake news”/PropOrNot brouhaha is a tempest in a teapot, as is the largely (completely?) unsubstantiated Russian hacking thread.

    It may be worth reconsidering the high costs of financial repression of Main Street undertaken since the GFC.

    Also please consider:

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