Links Christmas Eve 2016

Yves here. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of the usual feel good holiday stories? And is that an effort to force us to the movies (or the bottle) for a fix of Christmas/Hanukkah cheer? Please provide items I missed in the comments section. I hope you have a festive and happy celebration.

Hidden Figures: the movie Nature (Chris M)

How to Be a Stoic New Yorker (furzy). Today’s must read. I have an unread book of Epictetus. Time to dig it up. The Stoics are also a plot driver in the very much underrated Tom Wolfe novelk A Man in Full (admittedly, the first 50 pages of this very long book aren’t up to the level of the rest, so bear with it)

The Long, Lonely Fall of a Heisman Trophy Winner New York Times. Chuck L: “I realize this piece is not exactly in a holiday-cheer vein, but this is also traditionally the season to think on those we’ve lost in the past year.”


Jeremy Corbyn: If Theresa May wants an early election, Labour will vote for it Defend Democracy

Outspoken Prince Charles again shows he’s not much like Queen Elizabeth II Washington Post (furzy)

New Cold War

CIA chief warns against in-kind retaliation for Russian hacking: NPR Reuters (EM). So we’ll hack their voting machines…which I would assume like ours are not connected to the Internet.

Vladimir Putin expresses hope for improved Russia-US relations Financial Times. Heads are exploding over Trump’s enthusiastic response.

Russia may play bigger role in N. Korea issues Korea Times


Despite Pressure From Trump, UN Votes to Demand End to Israeli Settlements Common Dreams (furzy)

Trump intervenes to sideline Obama over Israeli settlements Guardian (UserFriendly)

Why UN resolution on settlements would be bad for Palestinians Electronic Intifada. UserFriendly: “​And why Obama really did it….​ Too good to be true.”

Obama Allows Toothless UN Resolution Against Israeli Settlements to Pass Intercept (Dr. Kevin). Good discussion of different Presidents on Israel. Guess who has been its best friend?

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

US Government Quietly Starts Asking Travelers for Social Media Accounts Common Dreams (furzy)

Motherboard Series on Smartphone Cracking Motherboard (Bill B)

Trump Transition

Trump threatens to upend U.S. nuclear weapons policy (furzy)

China’s fast response on Trump’s ‘nuke’ tweet failed evolution

Trump Said the U.S. Should Expand Nuclear Weapons. He’s Right. Politico. The smell of pork….

America’s National Security Agencies Under Trump: Lessons from the Nixon Administration War on the Rocks (resilc). Important.

Trump’s Cabinet Choices Have Given A Lot Of Money To Senators FiveThirtyEight. Will they stay bought or do the, um, inducements need to be ongoing?

Trump protesters plan to open ‘movement house’ in Washington DC Guardian (resilc). Not taking visible space, as Occupy did (which is what made it so upsetting to the authorities) but still a sound idea.

Donald Trump scrambles to untangle business ties as conflict of interest issues loom Washington Times (resilc)

Donald Trump’s presidency brings terror risks to buildings that bear his name McClatchy DC. Per the Tom Engelhardt piece yesterday.

Carter is only former president to RSVP for Trump’s inauguration Politico

Preparing for Trump: A Ten-Point Plan Common Dreams (furzy)

2016 Post Mortem

Biden: Clinton never figured out why she was running The Hill. Bill C: “Killer corrupt political robot/machine with no head.” Moi: She was running to be the first woman president! Isn’t that enough?

How people’s sensitivity to threats illuminates the rise of Donald Trump Washington Post

Why US liberals are now buying guns too BBC (kf)

How Much Did Wikileaks Hurt Hillary Clinton? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Why Did Planned Parenthood Supporters Vote Trump? Slate. UserFriendly: “Wow, actual journalism from Slate. Of course it’s 2nd hand from Planned Parenthood.”​

Black Snake Bleeding Out: How DAPL Is Duping Investors Common Dreams (furzy)

Georgia Cop: Let Me Fly Confederate Flag… or Else Daily Beast. The cop has a point, assuming that people in the community know where police officers live. The better move would have been to move the officer off all duties that involved discretion in making charges or subject all such decisions to immediate review (which would be a functional demotion without actual loss of pay or title, so the union and the officer couldn’t beef). Maybe a desk job in a precinct? They have those in NYC, but there may not be enough in this town or they may be perceived as cushy.

Point of View: North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy News & Observer (Mason Dickson)

New McCarthyism

To Go the Way of the Great Auk: the Clintons and the Media Counterpunch

Making Defamation Law Great Again: Michael Mann’s suit may continue Washington Post. Note that there has long been a tension between First Amendment rights and defamation, and the pendulum has swung in recent decades even further in the direction of “free speech” rights (the Citizens United decision being another example). This may not be the best decision in terms of reversing that trajectory but it may signal a change in judicial mood.

Ayn Rand and Corporate Tax Cuts Won’t Mend the Economy New Yorker

Wells Fargo draws senators’ ire on fraud accounts response Winston-Salem Journal

Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Trump to “Engage” on Gigantic Corporate Tax Cut Intercept (furzy). On the one hand, Silicon Valley has been hugely opposed to Trump, and he hardly needs corporate allies for his tax cut plans. On the other hand, Apple has headline value.

Twitter is ‘toast’ and the stock is not even worth $10: Analyst CNBC. Cathy O’Neil, who blogs as mathbabe, interviewed for what was nominally a big data job there +4 years ago when big data was really hot. She decided not to pursue it because management was hostile to data analysis and wasn’t about to give the person who got the job the authority they’d have at similar social media companies. So as much as I like Twitter, it looks as if they made their bed quite a while ago.

Class Warfare

How to avoid and handle surprise medical bills The Hill (UserFriendly)

Five malnourished kids found living in car at Walmart with healthy parents, police say Washington Post (furzy)

Will the populists of the future try to smash the machines? The Week (resilc). “Sabotage” derives from French workers throwing shoes (sabots), in those days, made of wood, in factory equipment.

Combating Wage Theft under Donald Trump American Prospect (resilc)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H). Honey bee on poinsettia, from the South Coast Botanic Gardens:


And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. ProNewerDeal

      Happy Holidays to you & to all!

      Happy ending of the Lame Duck Congress without 0bama getting his “Precious” TPP & Grand “Bargain” Ripoff. IMHO this is a great Christmas present that really warms my heart :0 Hopefully 0bama will get nothing for Xmas from his Ebenezer Scrooges owner/funders as a result, he failed in these 2 tasks. Big props, respect, & admiration to the tireless work & vigilance of Yves & Lambert in covering these 2 issues.

  1. Cry Shop

    Confederate Cop
    Possibly they should have asked her to give up the car, to not wear her uniform going to/from or around her home, etc. and to surrender her gun, etc. and see if she was willing to go out in public afterwards. I’d be interested to know what was in her oath of office, and if there were any part of it regarding upholding the Constitution.

    Secondly, when I see these things, I always wonder what they would do to a black cop flying a Black Panther flag, and why such situations have yet to appear in the news, vs. Confederate flags everywhere.

    1. ambrit

      “I always wonder what “they” would do…..”
      I’d say it was because the Confederacy was a faction of the elites in conflict with other factions of the elites at that time. Thus, semi legitimate. The Black Panthers, on the other hand, were true “outsiders” challenging the elites of their time ‘in toto.’ Can’t have someone who challenges the entire system being legitimized, can we. (Not if “we” want to hang on to “our” perks and privileges.) Also, the Confederacy was dead and gone a century ago. Cotton is no longer King. The oppressions and hurts that bedevil the “non-White” people of America are still very much with us. Previously, the distraction of “Race” has served as the fig leaf that hid the shame of the elites. Now that the elites have moved on to “equal opportunity oppression,” the chance for “United Front” push back against their “rule” is increasing. By promoting yet again good old fashioned race baiting, whether against poor blacks or racist whites, the elites are trying yet again to “divide and rule.”
      I’d say, what would happen if that police officer were to fly the Red Flag on her front porch? Then we’d see some fireworks.

    2. Carolinian

      I seriously doubt Roswell cops take an oath swearing to uphold the Constitution but if they did the free speech guarantees would seem to favor the fired cop. As to “Confederate flags everywhere,” I happen to live in the South and can assure you that the once common banner is rarely seen these days.

      The appropriate course of action would have been for Roswell to ask the woman not to park her government vehicle under her confederate flag (which in any case she offered to take down rather than be fired). Here’s hoping the city government has lots of money for lawyers and settlements.

      1. Antifa

        From the story it appears that her deceased husband had that flag up at their house for decades. Why was it not a problem for the police department all that time?

    3. clinical wasteman

      Wouldn’t the hypothetical black cop most likely be flying the Panthers flag as a captured trophy/provocation?
      Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed, the detectives created by Chester Himes in the Harlem Cycle, might have sympathised privately (with the Panthers, not the trophy-hunter), but their fictional lifespan goes back to 1957 and ends in 1969 with the astonishing, unfinished Cotton Comes to Harlem (that’s ‘cotton’ as in the slave-grown export commodity, not as in Cotton Mather or anyone else’s name). That last book is carefully overblown and paranoid as ordinary hell, but it may be the one work of Amercian ‘satirical’ literature as formidable as JR by William Gaddis, written a few years later.
      So maybe it’s less than surprising that Himes wrote the whole series in France, where the cops were even worse if anything and would all been white at the time, but also where a black intellectual might sometimes not be a pariah. He wrote them in English for money from a polar publisher who had the books translated into French long before anyone in the anglophone world would print stuff like that. (Has anyone ever seen one of those early French editions, by the way? Speaking as a translator, I still can’t image how those ones did it, because the language Himes used was such a singular mash-up of decades’ worth of actual Harlem slang with his own almost Jocyean invention of variations on it.)

      1. clinical wasteman

        Apologies for clumsy phrasing: Gaddis wrote — or at least published — ‘JR’ in 1975, six years after Himes killed off … the Harlem Cycle with the apocalyptic ‘Cotton…’. Not the other way around.

      2. ambrit

        The film adaptations of Himes works stand on their own as good stuff. Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond Saint Jacques nail the characters and the milieu.

  2. Carolinian

    The Biden/Hill link is missing but here’s the LA Times interview that was on this site yesterday.

    I think Biden gives a fairly shrewd analysis of Hillary when he talks of her ambivalence about running and says she only did so for glass ceiling reasons. Of course candidates always run for their own reasons–Trump too of course–with the general welfare of the country somewhere in the back seat. But the fact that the Dems in general seemed to share her tunnel vision is the real story of 2016. People like Sanders and Warren–with a broader view–were shoved to the side.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      According to Wikipedia, after some early “business reversals,” joe biden’s father became a successful used car salesman. I’d say that the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

      His approach when failing to convince people that he knows what’s best for them is to “talk” differently, or more, to them, and throw in a couple of “hell” references along the way. Because the middle class will always trust a guy in an expensive suit who says “what the hell” once in while. Always be sellin’.

      I don’t consider a guy who shills for lenders with a bankruptcy bill that indentures middle-class kids with perpetual penury to be particularly insightful or concerned about the middle-class, and I feel the same way about his opinions on any other issues, including hillary’s motivations.

      Listening to him always makes me feel like I need a shower.

      1. Pat

        Yeah, aw shucks regular Joe is a snake. Similar to Trump, I give Biden credit for being able to read the public better than most. Both of them can spot public sentiment on the issues faster than most of todays politicians. (Biden went pro gay marriage earlier than the Democratic establishment for instance.) Unfortunately neither of them are interested in really helping.

      2. Ivy

        Remember Biden’s constituents. His home state has big hitters in finance, credit cards, lending and the other flavors of debt enticement. They can afford a lot of campaign donations and lobbyists, just a convenient train ride from DC to ply him wherever he parks himself.

        1. Dave

          Every student burdened with an interest bearing loan for a useless degree that they must pay off for the rest of their life has corporate banking whore Joe Biden to thank for that.
          It’s called the “Delaware Punch”.

      3. clinical wasteman

        Alexander Cockburn got it right in 2008:

        Biden need not detain us. In his single person is combined everything that is loathsome about the Democratic Party. He’s a phony through and through, serf of the credit companies and virtually incapable of opening his mouth without unleashing a falsehood, a plagiarism or an absurdity. On his criminal record are the bankruptcy bill, many horrible statutes prosecuting the war on drugs, the crime bill.

        1. Cry Shop

          Like Wu Yi, China’s ex Foreign Trade Negotiator, Biden probably never to a bribe himself, they both pointed influence seekers to their family members’ influence pedaling business.

          Wu Yi sister hired Bill Clinton at least 4 times to make speeches, during moments when China’s currency manipulation exemption was up for renewal, and Hillary was Sec of State.

      4. VietnamVet

        The Obama/Biden/Clinton legacy is that the Democrats have no bullpen. All that they have left are corporate shills. Martin O’Malley was the best of the lot and he bombed spectacularly. Can corporate media be circumvented to nominate a left leaning democrat populist? In the end, if there is no progressive taxation to redistribute hoarded wealth to benefit society; the plebes revolt.

        Happy Holidays :)

    2. Pat

      It is all arm chair analysis, but since Clinton has been running for President since her first Senate run, I think the supposed reasons for any ambivalence are garbage.

      She wanted to be President, what she was ambivalent about was having to campaign. Unfortunately even the most qualified candidate ever was not just going to be installed, so by ambivalent I mean extremely p*33ed off at how unfair and unnecessary the process was. And that process kept throwing sand in the Cakewalk they thought they had arranged. From Bernie and his popularity to Trump’s resilience, they refused to get the message that she wasn’t wanted, instead they just got dismissive and even more arrogant.

      I don’t know why Clinton was driven to run twice for President, but like Romney, McCain, and on and on, she chose to do so. And unlike them gamed the system to seemingly guarantee she would become the second President Clinton. Nothing ambivalent about that.

      1. Carolinian

        Hillary’s year was 2008. Supposedly after her loss she said she was “done.” Of course I have no special insight into her motives but given her age and possible health issues ambivalence seems quite plausible to me.

        As for Biden and his insights, he actually knows the woman so may have more of an inside view than we do.

        1. Pat

          And she said she was not interested in running for President in 2000 when she ran for the Senate. So she has a history of being less than candid about her ambitions.

          If she really were done why take State? A position she was not particularly qualified for it, and one that is demanding. She had four years left in her second Senate term, and could easily stay there with little need to campaign for decades. There are only two reasons: better positioning for a second Presidential run AND to sell influence. And no I don’t consider public service to be remotely a reason for Clinton.

          As for Biden, see Katniss’ comment above. And add that I do think he is smart enough to accept that all those people who spent millions so the Clintons could burn through a billion dollars to lose to Trump are not going to be down with “Damn that Putin!” as a reason for the loss. Mark him as one of the first mainstream politicians to throw the failure back on Clinton without directly calling her incompetent just ambivalent.

        2. beth

          I am unable to trust Biden for anything after Waco. He is very good at fiction.

          WACO: The Rules of Engagement – Top Documentary Films

        1. dcblogger

          precisely so
          for those who just got here, Biden is responsible for Clarence Thomas getting on the Supreme Court
          he is the author of the Bankruptcy Deform Act, and was known as the Senator from MBNA
          he is the author of the dirty war actPatriot Act
          he is horrible

          1. Carolinian

            Not sure what Biden’s checkered history has to do with his opinion re Hillary’s campaign. Or should all his views just be shunned?

            1. Pat

              There is no reason to shun every product sold in infomercials, but there is a good reason to approach them with caution especially if the spokesperson has a record of selling dross as gold.
              Biden has a record of misrepresentation of his own and the party’s actions.

              For some reason you want to believe Clinton failed due to some unconscious desire not to be President (which is what the ambivalent excuse comes down to) rather than arrogance and incompetence. I don’t nor do I believe Clinton’s actions in any way support Biden’s supposition. So be it.

              1. Carolinian

                Jeez. He’s just shooting the sh*t with some reporter. And he’s saying that Hillary lost because her only pitch was “I’m a woman” and that she ignored the working class. These are all things a lot of people around here would agree with.

                All of the above (also not threatening war) should have been obvious to anyone truly driven to win. Hillary did indeed only want to win on her terms and to my mind that’s ambivalence because that’s not how you run for president. This is why she had to corral all those superdelegates and work the refs with the DNC. She certainly is incompetent, but I suspect she herself knows what a lame politician she is. Getting elected was always Bill’s job.

                Just because Biden is a sellout and a shill doesn’t mean he can’t be right sometimes.

                1. Pat

                  Funnily enough I think your comment indicates that we agree about what Clinton wanted and didn’t want. She wasn’t remotely ambivalent about being President she WANTED that. What she she didn’t want was to have to campaign and show any interest in the rabble and what they might want (the wealthy donors sure, the rabble no). I agree with everything you said about her as a candidate. And I think it is clear that gaming the system was not an effective method to campaign for President. Unfortunately where I believe your position falls apart is they still thought it was until the evening of November 8. Sub contracting the most trying aspects of your ‘job’ is not ambivalence, if you believe the job is still getting done. They were so sure they had done what they needed and were winning that the last days of the campaign they had already shifted to the transition. They, Clinton AND her team, were arrogant and delusional and yes incompetent but not ambivalent. See I don’t doubt for a moment that if reality had pierced their bubble Clinton would have managed to whistle stop through every county in PA, OH, WI… She would have hated every moment of it, but she would have done it.

    3. timbers

      Democrats have become yester-years Republicans and I have not detected any introspection among them on why Hillary lost. In fact to them she won (popular vote). My dem friends don’t see this (of them becoming like Republicans of yesterday), in their fake news bubble. But they do helpfully tell me to stop “wining” whenever I bring up the people Obama/Hillary are/want to kill and bomb around the world or the conflicts they caused and new ones they want to start. I ask them did they tell dems to stop wining over the Iraq War under Bush? I tell them I live outside the fake news bubble matrix and while human just as prone to error as anyone, I have a much better chance of seeing what’s true.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No introspection (needed).

        ‘She ran a perfect campaign.’

        It’s always a good idea to review and critique.

        Trump should ask if he could have done a better job.

        The same with Hillary.

        Sanders surely asks what mistakes he made.

        For no one is so infallible that one failed only because the other team cheated.

    4. Earl Erland

      WTH. Ambivalence about running for President? What’s next in the loss analysis from the Dems? HC was recruited by Putin?

    5. Ignim Brites

      Among the possible unacknowledged reasons for her failure was that she was the wife of a former, fairly popular and shallowly successful, President. That cast a long, if not, at least superficially, dark shadow. There was more than a whiff of caudilloism in the background as though Bill Clinton was such a magnificently potent man that he could deliver the Presidency to himself through his wife.

      Another possibility is that the polling models failed to adequately compensate for her absolutely thunderous landslide victory in California. Consequently, the campaign leadership did not take seriously her tenuous position in PA, WI and MI. This will be an ongoing problem for national Democrats as the growing hispanic population of CA delivers ever more one sided results for Dems in presidential races. It would be unsurpising if Dem margin of victory in CA in 2020 is 4.5 or 5 million votes.

      1. Robert Hahl

        The delusion of Hillary’s strength also came from primaries around the Washington beltway. Nobody could believe that Sanders was a contender because he only got 35% of the Democrat vote in Fairfax county, VA, which is a low-tax, red meat kind of place.

  3. Carolinian

    From the War on the Rocks link.

    For instance, Trump and his transition team ridiculed the competence of the intelligence community when it said that Russia had covertly interfered in the U.S. presidential election to Trump’s benefit.

    Yes clearly this shows that Trump is being foolish in not taking those daily briefings.

    There have doubtless been many honest and competent people at the CIA over the years but in general its history has been quite monstrous. The notion that we should give them the benefit of a doubt is silly.

    1. fresno dan

      December 24, 2016 at 8:13 am

      America’s National Security Agencies Under Trump: Lessons from the Nixon Administration War on the Rocks (resilc). Important.

      Richard Nixon came into office with nothing but disdain and mistrust for the CIA, absurdly convinced that the agency was responsible for his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 because they refused to debunk the missile-gap myth. Just days into his presidency, he dared the CIA to prove its worth and loyalty to him, ordering it to document foreign direction of anti-war protesters. The CIA’s director, Richard Helms, reluctantly complied, making a decision that almost destroyed the agency when it was revealed in late 1974. Helms knew that the CIA’s charter prohibited it from operating at home, but it had been conducting a nearly identical investigation for President Lyndon B. Johnson in the vain attempt to convince him that protests had no connection to a foreign power.
      The result will be an intelligence community that is frequently in the public eye and that works to raise the level of the debate in Washington. The walls of the CIA in Langley read “And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.” It is by speaking more of the truth in public that the intelligence community will keep itself above politics and all of us free.

      I am thinking the article is a satire or something…..and I’m just too obtuse to get it.
      So….the article starts by giving an example of two presidents illegally manipulating the CIA.
      Now, I have always thought the idea that the CIA is some rogue outfit going about doing bad things against the will of the US government simply absurd. If the CIA does bad things, it is because the President WANTS it to do bad things, albeit with plausible deniability built in.
      So since Johnson and Nixon there has been no CIA malfeasance???

      “And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.”
      I guess that’s not as evil as
      albrecht macht frei
      but no less ironic….

      1. clinical wasteman

        fresno dan, please don’t mistake the following for petty linguistic nit-picking: I’m in no position to ridicule anyone for typos and I wouldn’t want to anyway, not least because — as in this case — they often say something true but otherwise inaccessible. (eg. In my day job I once accidentally sent a financial sector client a translation containing a reference to coproporate [i.e. of private sector origin but also fecal] bonds. That was probably a firing offence if noticed; instead the non-reaction confirmed my suspicion that clients simply weighed the batches of translated press clippings (yes, sent by bicycle messenger in bundles of paper! It was 1998 on the Old Continent) and threw them away.)
        So anyway: albrecht macht frei: that would be Madeleine Albright (it’s an anglicized name), right? If so, yes it’s an evil thought, and worst of all she was probably the one thinking it.
        Then again a less evil reading might be: all [of] Brecht sets you free. “All” might be stretching it, but it’s surely true of the Threepenny Novel, most of BB’s poems and many of the songs written with Kurts Eisner and Weill.

  4. Wyoming

    Re: the 10 point plan to counter Trump.

    Maybe I missed it but I did not see any mention of a strong push back on almost certain attempts to gut Social Security. This would seem to be the quickest way there is to eat into Trump support as Republicans (hell pretty much everyone) is opposed to gutting it. I live in a retirement community which was clearly dominated by Trump voters and am absolutely certain that there would be a complete uproar over cutting Social Security. I would have put this issue at #1.

    It is also a way to counter Ryan’s future bids for the Presidency.

    1. ambrit

      Gutting Social Security is not on the list because the Neoliberal Democrats are on board with it. That’s another reason to jettison the entire bunch. Maybe we could somehow have Bill, Hillary and their clique exiled to Haiti. (Chelsea is a ‘special’ case. She and her family can go to the Turks and Caicos.)

      1. Cry Shop

        Yes, it’s their version of Romney Care, Bill Clinton came up with a plan to gut SS first. Bless you Monica Lewinsky for being sloppy when you swallowed.

      2. RenoDino

        Who’s wearing the Whig now? It was suppose to be the Republicans after Trump lost spectacularly. Instead, it’s the Democrats who no longer have any semblance of a party or message that resonates with the bottom 80%. Their leadership appointments in the wake of their defeat demonstrate a complete lack of appreciation for what has befallen them.

        The Democrat Party doesn’t know or can’t accept it, but for all practical purposes they are a zombie party that will never return to their former glory. They need to find a grave somewhere and quietly curl up and take a dirt nap.

        The longer they hang around, the worse it will get for real progressives with an important message now compromised by the distortion lens of the Democrats.

        Like Trump use to say, they are low energy. Post election, there’s literally no pulse.

        1. ambrit

          There are still some “Swamp Lights” floating around the Potomac tidal flats.
          Just like in a Scooby Doo episode, no one wants to admit that there are some real monsters ‘out there.’
          I wonder if that mightn’t be better spelled Scooby Do, the Way of the Scooby.
          Someone ought to drive a stake through the monsters heart. (That’s the meaning of “stake holder” after all.)

    2. B1whois

      I also noticed that the list of issues under step 5, “Protest and Engage in Civil Disobedience”
      did not include any anti-war items.

    3. redleg

      They don’t intend to gut social security. They are desperately eager to privatize it.

      I’m not sure which is worse.

      1. craazyboy

        Methinks privatizing may be way worse than anyone imagines so far. I suspect Wall Street may view the Trust Fund as a $3 trillion garbage can for crappy financial products. So far, people are worried about the fees WS may charge. I think we need to worry about the entire 100% going *poof*.

  5. Robert Hahl

    Re: Making Defamation Law Great Again: Michael Mann’s suit may continue (Washington Post),

    The headline covers up the pro anti-SLAPP bias in this story.

    The court concluded: “a jury could find, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants ‘in fact entertained serious doubts’ or had a ‘high degree of awareness’ that the accusations that Dr. Mann engaged in scientific misconduct, fraud, and deception, were false, and, as a result, acted ‘with reckless disregard’ for the statements’ truth when they were published.” According to WaPo “This is a troubling conclusion.”

    But this conclusion is not troubling, it is exquisitely correct. Mann can now have a trial, which is what he needed to make the case.

    The amazing thing about anti-SLAPP is that when it is applied broadly (where cases are dismissed unless the evidence of malice is self-evident), then if one actually needs a trail to prove that the defendant published with actual malice, that very fact is used as the reason why one can’t have a trial!

    The Washington Post as a publisher likely to be sued for defamation hopes that anit-SLAPP will be applied broadly.

  6. Ian

    Favorite christmas movie, Bad Santa (no interest in watching the second one). To good holiday cheer, Merry Christmas.

    1. ambrit

      My favourite is still “A Christmas Story.”
      A great telling of the stories of the wonderful writer, Jean Shepherd.
      “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

      1. Carolinian

        You and my brother love it dearly.

        Long ago Shepherd had a droll tv show in the early days of PBS. It was a celebration of Americana.

        1. ambrit

          “Droll” and trenchant. Does America have an equivalent today?
          And to think, many of us “met” Shepherd in the pages of Playboy magazine. (I didn’t just look at the pictures.)

          1. Carl

            Did he write more than one story for Playboy? Because I only remember one…the Ex-Lax contest in college. In any case, his book was titled “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.”

        2. grayslady

          I remember that show. My favorite was the one on “beer art”, as he dubbed it–all those awful neon and faux-Tiffany-lampshade creations that grace America’s watering holes. I also own all his books. Whenever I need a good laugh, I re-read one of his short stories.

      2. fresno dan

        December 24, 2016 at 8:44 am

        They gave me a clock when I retired – I wish I had gotten that leg lamp….

      3. JerseyJeffersonian

        He was also responsible for another great production called “The Fourth of July and Other Disasters” that I only saw broadcast one time. Apparently, it is tied up in some copyright/intellectual property conflict courtesy of some dog in the manger who deprives everyone else of this great piece of Jean Shepard’s work for pecuniary reasons. Probably too rich to care about its value to everybody who would enjoy it, merely Scroogin’ it to maintain “rights”. Typical.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I like “The Inn of The Sixth Happiness,’ especially the scene where Ingrid Bergman’s Chinese substitute (Christian-)story-teller talked about Noah meeting the baby Jesus, along with the 3 magi, because it was possible, since Noah lived to be very old.

      Many things one can learn watching good movies.

      1. fresno dan

        December 24, 2016 at 11:27 am

        Not to mention all the dinosaurs….

        God wrote in the bible that he created humans and dinosaurs on the same day. Jesus walked and talked with dinosaurs. He even had one as a pet sometimes – an Agilisaurus which he kept in his carpentry workshop. We have eyewitness accounts and scientific evidence about this, folks, and it’s all in the Bible.”

        I have to say…..I didn’t know dinosaurs could talk…

        1. ambrit

          The Materialist slant on the “inerrant” codex is that the Grey Aliens are the descendants of sapient dinosauria from way long ago. So, for Yeshua ben Yosef to have walked with dinosaurs posits that “He” was conversant with Space Aliens. Come on now, there are limits to credulity.

    3. Katharine

      I’m sticking to books. A Christmas Carol is still good if you don’t read it more than once every decade or two. I had forgotten Dickens got in so many digs at the government. Also, he has a line which some economic historian might be able to elucidate:

      “This was a great relief, because ‘three days after the sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order,’ and so forth, would have become a mere United States’ security if there were no days to count by.”

      What was the problem with United States securities back around 1840?

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Wow, is that cool! Thanks for sharing, will pass it on.

      And a Very Merry to Yves, Lambert, and all the good folks here at NC – may each of us find solace in knowing the days are getting longer again :-)

  7. Jim Haygood

    The Intercept’s parochial view of the ‘toothless’ UN resolution against Israeli settlements is framed entirely in terms of the US. But the 14 countries which supported it included the UK, France, Japan, Russia, Spain, New Zealand, and Egypt.

    Europe in particular has its hands full with Syrian refugees, a byproduct of the sort of peripheral wars that Israel is pleased to see, as it prepares to attempt a permanent grab of Syria’s occupied Golan Heights. No Syrian refugees in Israel, though it’s right next door. Thanks, Europe!

    Without UN Security Council enforcement, the rest of world ex-US likely will take stronger steps to boycott imports, academic and sports exchanges with the Israeli settler state. These are actions that proved effective in bringing down South African apartheid, even as the Reagan administration dragged its heels with ‘constructive engagement.’

    Trump just suffered his first big foreign policy defeat on the UN anti-settlements resolution. It’s a bracing dose of geopolitical reality for a president-elect who nominated a pro-settlements chauvinist as his ambassador to Israel. The rest of world is getting rather tired of the US polluting the global commons with its little colonial apartheid project on the Mediterranean.

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      December 24, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Obama Allows Toothless UN Resolution Against Israeli Settlements to Pass Intercept (Dr. Kevin).

      Meanwhile, Israel has elected one of its most right-wing governments in history — with a set of cabinet ministers who openly disdain the two-state solution and plan to escalate settlement building. The president-elect plans to appoint an ambassador to Israel who favors continued expansion on Palestinian land and actually helped fund settlement work as a private citizen.

      The U.S. could use its economic, military, and diplomatic ties as leverage to halt settlement expansion and demand that Israel respect the human rights of Palestinians. But in a political system where politicians from both major parties — seeking favor from megadonors who demand a stridently pro-Israel policy — react in outrage to simply asking Israel to respect international law, such a solution remains off the table.

      If one was serious about FAKE news, would not in fact almost everything written about Israel for the last 40 years in the MSM (save MAYBE its longitude and latitude) be considered fake?
      Again, questions not asked, viewpoints no covered or considered…

  8. Ivy

    The following quote from the Stoics piece seems to strike a chord with me:

    “Starting with things of little value—a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine—repeat to yourself: ‘For such a small price, I buy tranquillity.’ ”

    One challenge for the average citizen then is to decide where, if at all, to draw the line on what is of little value. Some minor annoyances are to be expected. When there is perceived enemy action to create more and more annoyances (e.g., jobs crapification, ACA, EULA, Fake News, pick any of a number of topics), then where does one start and stop?

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      That refers to forbearance in dealing with the failings of one’s servants. I suggest as a guideline to be generous with those with less power but DON’T GIVE AN INCH to those with more power. Also though, make it count – don’t tilt at windmills!

        1. Opium for the elites

          Not only class but also drugs is the basic foundation of stoicism in practice.
          Marcus aurelius started his day with a glass of wine spiked with opium.
          Check out the book Pleasure by David J Linden

          Merry and high christmas to all you practicing stoics out there!

          1. clinical wasteman

            Yes with exponents of “+” to ChiGal, ambrit and Opium: there have never been servant-class Stoics, but the served and tranquil class has never stopped telling us to be “stoical” .
            New Year wishes to all here for an uprising of Epicurean slave morality.

        2. Vatch

          Epictetus was one of the early Stoics, and he was a slave.

          Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium, a merchant from Cyprus, so he was likely prosperous for a portion of his life. However, shortly before he became a philosopher, he was stranded in Athens after a shipwreck, so he had probably dropped a few notches in the economic totem pole. (It was a different Zeno who created paradoxes about motion.)

          1. clinical wasteman

            Thanks Vatch for the instant correction about Epictetus — I didn’t know his biography and shouldn’t have assumed it. (Nor do I know of anywhere else a mistake like mine would be set right so quickly without ridicule.) I’m less convinced that Zeno lost all class status overnight because of a single “setback”, “challenge” or (gods help us) “opportunity”. I may be wrong about that too, but even if so it’s remarkable how often a travestied “stoicism” (eventually reduced to an equivalent of “self-sacrifice”, i.e. willingness to be sacrificed to others’ interests) has been preached from the top down by those who can afford to renounce things for the sake of spiritual bonus points.

    2. David

      I just wonder if there is actually an organized articulated official alternative to stoicism – “excitism” perhaps, much promoted by our thinking classes today. It would involve training in reacting emotionally and angrily to things you can’t influence, and reacting violently to actual insults, but also to perceived insults, possible insults, insults invisible to anyone but you, and words that you may think could be insulting to others except you haven’t actually asked them. Perhaps Epicetus (or come to that some of the Buddhist classics) should be made compulsory in schools and universities?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The MSM strategy seems to be one of getting people to react negatively emotionally to Trump now.

        That may be more satisfying, but, I believe, not effective.

        “He’s not my president. Recount! Ivanka’s private plane. Shame on you Electors! More billionaires!!!”

      2. Isolato

        How about Epicurus? Not exactly what you are looking for, but definitely an alternative to Epictetus!

        “For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are measures of what is good and evil; death is the end of both body and soul and should therefore not be feared; the gods neither reward nor punish humans; the universe is infinite and eternal; and events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.”

        1. clinical wasteman

          Yes, that was the point above: both Stoicism and Epicureanism are branches of proprietor ethics, but only Stoicism (in various degraded forms) could be turned into sermons for servants. An ‘Epicurean slave morality’ means: no, we will not be content to do our “duty”, and yes, actually we do want what you (up there) have, but we intend to make much wiser use of it.

        2. Daryl

          Both of them, IMO, were adjusted to fit Roman society. The Roman Stoic justifications for keeping massive amounts of wealth ring hollow. Epicureanism was even more at odds — “live unknown” does not mix well with Roman society’s imperialism and hero worship — but apparently some high-end Romans managed to reconcile this.

      3. witters

        There is Dylan Thomas:

        Do not go gentle into that good night,
        Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
        Because their words had forked no lightning they
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
        Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
        And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
        Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      4. Oregoncharles

        I think the effective modern equivalent was called Utilitarianism: that is, measuring “good” by the good it does people.

    3. Daryl

      In this case one would apply the dichotomy of control. Do you have any control over Fake News, or the ACA, or whatever? If no, they shouldn’t cause you any worry. (An honest evaluation of your control over what happens is also required — most of us have less than a sliver of control over political events).

  9. Patchouli pits

    To really enjoy statist heads exploding, Trump could just derail the wurlitzer’s neuro-linguistic programming line, Are these guys our enemy? Are those guys our enemy? How about those other guys, are they our enemy? Who’s our enemy, Who’s our enemy?

    No state is our enemy. That’s what Putin says. That’s probably the main thing Putin says to drive CIA up the wall. He won’t play along and be hostile. Iran says that too.

    There’s a reason our enemies won’t play along and be hostile. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law – an integral part of what Trump will swear to faithfully execute. Customary international law and therefore federal common law under the Paquete Habana decision, applied in binding ICJ case law including Nicaragua versus United States of America:

    Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

    CIA is vilifying Trump to weaken him. When Clinton was getting all the blowjob obloquy, What did he do? He went off and made nice with the UN. Trump can do that right off the bat. If a US President came out and said peace is the law, the crowd would go wild. The CIA mafia would melt down. Trips up all the monster/brute/shaved-ape/caveman propaganda.

    Trump pushed CIA’s girl Friday aside. Now Trump has to keep CIA on the back foot or he’s toast. Play statesman, that’s the ticket. The international community can help him get CIA under control.

  10. Bill

    HRC: “Moi: She was running to be the first woman president! Isn’t that enough?”

    Not sure that 4 years of Trump is worth it, but I’m personally very glad we avoided having that as our First female Prez.

    1. ambrit

      I don’t know how to classify this, but, the case of Martha Stewart being singled out in the insider trading prosecution, when there were plenty of men who should have gone to prison alongside her, might be germane. Plenty of venal and corrupt male politicos have been elected President in the past. What was so special about the corruption evidenced by H Clinton? Gender based evil is still strong in human culture.

      1. Pat

        At the time there was a lot of speculation that Stewart was singled out because of her democratic leanings. What I got then was it was more about prosecutorial pride than about her gender or political leanings with perhaps a bit of brand sabotage. There was huge publicity about the investigation largely because of Stewart. And though they got insider trading convictions of the principals in the case those principals refused to name Stewart as being in on it AND they couldn’t make a case without that. They were left to prosecute her about lying to the investigators to save face. Which was instructive. Suffice it to say there is probably plenty to prosecute Clinton on – which is why there was no recording or notes from those interviews. See you do not have to be either under oath OR have been mirandized to be prosecuted for lying to the investigators. It isn’t even obstruction of justice, nope just lying to them is a crime. And THAT is what they got Stewart on – not insider trading. She was never charged with that.

        Gender based evil may be common, still I’m more likely to think that is a reason for condemnation of Beyonce than for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton corrupt, dangerous, evil etc. Just during her time at State Clinton is responsible for a great deal of evil in the world and thus can be considered a force for it. Had a male done similar things I would have no problem calling them evil. See my references to Barack H. Obama, George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. Think of it this way if one were to call Reagan evil without calling Thatcher the same it would be discrimination of another type – letting the woman get off because of gender.

        1. fresno dan

          December 24, 2016 at 11:29 am

          Lesson of Stewart: Never, Ever talk to the authorities without a lawyer present

          and do a search on the topic and you will find many, many articles advising that and nary a one saying not to have a lawyer. On TV police and prosecutors are presented as altruistic public servants. Even the most cursory familiarity of NC postings would reveal dozens upon dozens of instances of the authorities trying to screw innocent people. They don’t have your interests at heart, they have their own ambition at heart…

          1. Dave

            Forget Stewart, how about you?
            Every American and ESPECIALLY your teenagers should watch this video:

            Goggle it for the fastest Youtube connection. Over 2,500,000 views

            “Don’t Talk to The Police” James Duane

        2. Yves Smith Post author


          Stewart did not go to prison for insider trading.

          She went to prison for obstruction of justice. She doctored trading records and lied about it under oath. She’d been a stock broker early in her career so no way could she say she didn’t know what she was doing.

          Had she said, “I made that trade in haste, I got a call from my broker, and made a snap decision when I in the middle of things. Hours later I realized it might have been wrong but it was too late to cancel the trade,” and groveled, all she would have had to do was pay a fine.

          1. Vatch

            Thanks for correcting the record about the Martha Stewart ImClone scandal [sorry about my unintentional intentional CTR reference to the recent election :-) ]. I wasn’t aware that she was not convicted of insider trading, and plenty of other people are similarly ignorant.

          2. Pat

            Yup. She was not, which I state. I wiped the obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice counts from my memory, I was so overwhelmed by the other counts. Because my understanding is and was that those false statements convictions under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, were for lying to federal government agents and were from her voluntary statements to the FBI and the SEC. I have never found anything that says those statements were under oath. I know I can be mistaken, see above. But can you point me to anything that shows her statements were ‘under oath’? I know for a fact that there is no need for a statement to be sworn in order to prosecute under that statute, (and since you aren’t mirandized until you are charged no warning needs to be given as well). Stewart’s prosecution may have been how I found out about that little quirk in the law, but I would still like to be accurate about Stewart’s conviction if I refer to it in the future.

      2. SoCal Rhino

        Maybe gender based in the sense that the Dems are the mommy party and the repubs the daddy party and the strengths and weaknesses that are expected or tolerated of each.

      3. Michael

        I got the same impression as well, and in the end, that’s why I voted for HRC. I still hated what she, her husband, and Obama teamed up to do to the Party, though.

      4. Bill

        Did you ever figure out what makes an “ass” of “U” and ME” ?

        What made Clinton distasteful for me was that she would have continued the status quo, while lying about making things different, unlike another female candidate such as Elizabeth Warren for example. I never bought that Clinton was more corrupt than most other pols, I just didn’t want another one of them as Leader.

        In the end, I caved and voted for her due to fear of Trump. I was a Sanders voter originally.

        1. Altandmain

          I would have advised against it.

          The problem with a Clinton victory is that it would have validated the Democratic “lesser evil” arguments and would have made them know that they can get away with rigging the Primaries.

          The “left has nowhere else to go” criticisms would have been validated. In the long run, they would have sold out to the corporate interests, while suppressing the left.

          This election puts serious dents in the Establishment’s credibility in that regard.

          1. integer

            In the long run, they would have sold out to the corporate interests, while suppressing the left.

            In the long run?
            Selling out to corporate interests and supressing the left is already the default D-party ideology, and has been for quite some time.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have no way of knowing if 4 years of Trump is worth it.

      Unlike many scientific projects, we can’t run the alternative scenario for comparison.

      The only course open is to establish what one’s goal is, and vote FOR that – in this case, voting for not having her in the White House (keeping in mind that the popular vote was an issue in 2000, without knowing it would be too in 2016) was the choice many made.

      1. Altandmain

        I think that we can have a pretty educated guess.

        Clinton’s supporters were basically selling her on “fear of Trump”. Clinton was going to offer more of the same, except more pro-war.

        Essentially, a continuation of Obama and Bill Clinton, only with a neoconservative foreign policy that would have been more warlike than George W Bush. Domestically she would have given the nation’s wealth away to Wall Street, negotiated free trade agreements, and while she may throw a bone or two to the left on social issues would have worsened the situation economically. It’s probably that she may have tried to privatize Social Security.

        Then 2020 would have been a disaster. Worse, it is a census year so that would have made even an 2024 victory that much harder.

        Even if Trump is a disaster, we may not lose as much as we think. The US was screwed when Bernie lost. If Trump is a pro-Wall Street nightmare, just remember that Clinton would have been too.

        Trump is a lesser evil in that regard, especially if the economy falls under his watch. The hope is that in 2020, another Bernie will rise. Only this time, the electability arguments will be gone and a lot of the age group that voted for Clinton will have passed on, to be replaced by more Generation Y voters.

        The only flaw in the plan is if the Democratic Establishment basically makes the nomination a “rubber stamp” of their chosen one. The other I guess is how deep the authoritarian turn the US takes.

        1. Pat

          I will say that the left/realist/those paying attention voters start making the case now that Cuomo/Booker and any other usual suspects are just as unelectable as Clinton turned out to be. Not just because of the corruption in their backgrounds but because they also offer nothing to the electorate.

          I don’t know how we can go about labeling the ‘acceptable’ establishment Dems as the losers they are, but they are and it is time that was pointed out daily. And that the reason they lose is that sell out their constituents who DO have someplace else to go – home, the bar, the movies or to the snake oil salesman who at least bothers to notice they are in trouble.

          1. Phoebe

            This is the most troubling thing about the Clinton-camp line that HRC only lost because she’s a woman. If it’s accepted as true (and people seem bizarrely able to accept it despite the record of male centrist “mainstream” Dems losing their races — Kerry, anyone?), it clears the way for the usual suspects to try to tell us that Cuomo/Booker/etc. are totes electable, you all, they’re what we need, not some wacko leftist like Bernie who offers policies the voters are enthusiastic about.

            Watch. They’re going to run it with everything they’ve got. They’ll already have started.

            1. tgs

              Clinton-camp line that HRC only lost because she’s a woman

              Sorry, but the Clinton/CNN/DNC line is that Putin ‘hacked the election’ for Donald Trump.

              Ergo, no reason to change the message.

  11. B1whois

    My last 3 attempts to comment have disappeared without explanation. Since each of those attempts contained a link, this is a test post to see if I can comment if no links is included.

        1. sd

          I wrote a comment with a link, posted no problem. But then I wrote a comment without a link and Skynet nabbed me.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We have caching which means it can take up to 2 mins for comments to appear.

      And if YOUR device caches, you might not see the comment unless you clear cache.

      Links are not a moderation trigger, please do not perpetuate that myth. We like links.

      And never never repost the same comment. You are training our spam software to see you as a spammer, and if that happens, we can’t undo it.

    1. knowbuddhau

      That was great, thanks. My favorite Tiernan line goes something like, “Everyone needs time to f^ck off.” It’s very important to be able to get away and let go.

      So my friends, and I mean this most sincere, in this holiday season of our discontent, please do f^ck off ;)

      1. knowbuddhau

        Pretty sure it’s from Just for Laughs Montreal 2004. I’d find the exact quote but now I’m late for work. One of the rare times I wish I had a boss, so I could tell him/her to f^ck off, and laugh hysterically.

  12. Horatio Parker

    Greek philosophy is the true western spiritual legacy. The New Testament shows the Greek influence.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From one of the early Greek philosophers, Plato:

      “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing

      Did he go to China or did Chinese philosophers go to Greece, for in Chinese, to be knowledgeable is to 有 (meaning to possess) ‘学问‘ – where the first character is to learn, and the second, , is to ask, to inquire. That is to say, a knowledgeable person is assumed to not know, but in need of learning, AND, knows he has to learn – basically what Plate said.

      1. Horatio Parker

        Not to be pedantic, but “early” Greek philosophy, Thales etc. AFAIK is considered pre-Socratic. Since Plato is our only source for Socrates thought, in fact Plato is the watershed philosopher. Almost 900 years after Plato the Platonic era continued.

        The period for east west communication is often assumed to be during the Pax Persia, since the Persian empire reached from Greece to India.

        I don’t know anything about early Chinese thought, but to my mind the order of those characters should be reversed. Asking, or desire, or, in Greek terms, the recognition of fate, is first. Because without that desire, no learning, or, better, understanding(because understanding implies a spiritual component in addition to facts or data), can take place.

        Interesting stuff, tho, thanks.

        1. Vatch

          Since Plato is our only source for Socrates thought

          Mostly true, but not entirely. Xenophon and Diogenes Laertius also wrote about Socrates, as did the satirist Aristophanes.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right. I meant Socrates, not Plato.

          It’s similar in Japan, and as my Way Of Tea teacher says, when one completes one phase of the life-long study of Chado and is receiving a piece of paper, it is not the same as a diploma in the Western sense (that is, it is not meant as an accreditation certificate of how much you know), but a permission to go on the next phase of your study.

      2. fosforos

        But that is not what Sokrates was saying. In the “Apology” he says emphatically that artisans and craftspeople–he himself was a stonemason some of whose (anonymous) work on the Parthenon is still there–have real and important knowledge. *Practical* knowledge. The knowledge he disavowed was what we now call “theoretical.” (and, by the way, nobody called Sokrates the “wisest.” The pronouncement of the Delphic Pythoness he referred to said “no man is wiser than Sokrates,” not that Sokrates himself possessed some sort of supreme wisdom).

        1. witters

          Socrates and Plato did think we were ignorant about one big thing. At the start of The Republic Socrates says we are going to ask the biggest question of all “How should one live?” The answers turns out to be “Justly” and “in the Light of the Good”. This is practical and ethical knowledge, but it turns out to demand theoretical capacity. The shoemaker has craft knowedge – a pratical skill that does not demand this theoretical capacity. (And one can’t sensibly answer Socrates/Plato’s querstion with “be a shoemaker”. Some can be – and should be – shoemakers, but the idea that all should is incoherent. (See Plato’s “Principle of Specialisation”)

  13. Webstir

    Re: How to Avoid and Handle Surprise Medical Bills (The Hill)

    My wife and I deal with this continuously. I can’t even begin to figure how much we have recouped on medical expenses simply because we scrutinize every bill closely. The flip side of that is the lost time invested in keeping track of the F’ers. It is the NORM, not a “surprise” around where I’m from. However, I will say, we have yet to lose a battle.

    What the article failed to mention — and the technique we employ with the provider — is the usefulness of a legal threat. We always ask the question out front whether the provider is “in network.” This forces the provider to make a “representation.” Most will nonchalantly say they are b/c they want your money and the care provider doesn’t really know whether they are in network or not. Once this representation is relied upon by us, we have a cause of action under a “negligent misrepresentation” theory. This threat, is usually enough to get the provider to take in the shorts and accede to our demand that we will not pay the “surprise” overage.

    It helps that I’m an attorney. But it can work for anyone.

    1. fresno dan

      December 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Is the “in network” representation documented, or is it merely an oral representation? And an oral representation holds?
      Could the hospital claim the clerk was not authorized to make represenations regarding the status of services as being “in network?”

      Usually when I ask about “in network” they tell me to consult my insurance company – which means that I never get an actual definitive answer.

      1. Webstir

        Just an oral representation will do. And if the individual (no matter who) is an employee, then there is a respondeat superior theory, meaning the business is responsible for the employee’s representation.

        I live in a small community, and thus many of the service providers are not too sophisticated. But I have been asked before and been told the same thing you were — to check with insurance — as well.

        I haven’t been forced to litigate the point yet. A pissed off attitude, along with the threat has seemed to get their attention enough for them to take care of the out of network billing for us.

      2. ambrit

        Just like wiley politicos are they. With no definitive pronouncement on “in network” or not, no one can be held accountable. Even actual weasels gaze on in awe when a Medical Clerical Practitioner goes to work. I fear that acolytes for the status of Medical Clerical Practitioner, (the ‘other’ MCP, natch,) are forced to not only watch Abbott and Costello routines, but learn them verbatim in order to attain the requisite degree of ‘elusiveness’ the craft requires.
        Got two tens for a five?

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        Recording is probably helpful, but check state laws. In many but not all states, it is legal to record your conversations with third parties w/o notifying them. CA is one of the ones where it is not permitted.

  14. Sammy Maudlin

    RE: Rashaan Salaam

    A true tragedy, from all accounts a great guy and wonderful spirit. One of those people for whom no one has a bad word.

    Time to short the NFL. There has always been tragic circumstances around ex-NFL players (Mike Webster), but the machine kept rolling. In large part, I believe, due to their masterful marketing plan of making the league all about the quarterbacks and certain other superstars/great stories.

    However, there’s no great group of quarterbacks coming to save the NFL. Junior Seau’s death (a true superstar) might have been where the worm turned. It’s apparent that CTE could get to anyone. Chris Borland’s retirement after a surprising rookie campaign (a great story) is perhaps another canary in the coal mine.

    Young players are less and less interested in ending up like Dave Duerson or now, Mr. Salaam.

  15. Mangia Capo Brennan's sacco di balle

    CIA bought themselves a buttonman at Princeton, Matteo Faini. Now they’re making him take time off from betraying his country for CIA, and regurgitate some CIA propaganda. When CIA wants to bullshit you they get one of their foreigners to say it. Like you’re too dumb to figure that out.

    So brainwashed traditore Faini reels off this fairy tale of anxious spooks reluctantly dragged along by evil Nixon tricks. Bullshit. Watergate was not the consequence of Nixon’s misbehavior, it was a bloodless CIA coup against a guy they couldn’t fool.

    Nixon knew where the bodies were buried, he was in the side meeting at Clint Murchison’s party, and he kept digging when got into office. CIA beat him to the punch.

    1. flora

      re: Making Defamation Law Great Again: Michael Mann’s suit may continue -Wapo

      Maybe Wapo should reconsider whether its response to NC over the fake “fake news” story was really sufficient.

  16. fresno dan

    he biggest political surprise of 2016 was that everyone was so surprised. I certainly had no excuse to be caught unawares: soon after the 2008 crisis, I wrote a book suggesting that a collapse of confidence in political institutions would follow the economic collapse, with a lag of five years or so.
    Market fundamentalism conceals a profound contradiction. Free trade, technological progress, and other forces that promote economic “efficiency” are presented as beneficial to society, even if they harm individual workers or businesses, because growing national incomes allow winners to compensate losers, ensuring that nobody is left worse off.
    But what happens if politicians do the opposite in practice?
    By deregulating finance and trade, intensifying competition, and weakening unions, governments created the theoretical conditions that demanded redistribution from winners to losers. But advocates of market fundamentalism did not just forget redistribution; they forbade it.
    Things are changing.

  17. DJG

    Yves: I am skeptical of the Stoics. For several years, though, I have been reading and working with Lucretius and Epicurus. Lucretius and his skepticism, his rather hard-headed poetic mindset, his eye for the landscape, his detached attitude toward the gods are all highly adaptable ideas that we still work with. Hw managed to get atomic theory in a poem and foreshadow ideas of biological evolution.

    Also, Epicurus advocated living privately, a bit out of sight, which is good advice during this surveillance state. And the Epicureans had a hierarchy of pleasures–they were hardly hedonists. His HQ, I believe, was called The Garden. No wonder the Christians made such an effort undermine them.

    The rediscovery of the manuscript of Lucretius’ masterpiece On the Nature of the Universe is told almost as a detective story by Stephen Greenblatt in The Swerve, which I recommend.

    1. Vatch

      “The Swerve” is a fun and informative book. I heartily second your recommendation! May all of you experience ataraxia in this Saturnalia Season!

      1. Annotherone

        John Parks ~ Fellow-Okie here, albeit a native Brit. Loved the Keene video!
        This, excerpt from Dylan Thomas’s famous ” A Child’s Christmas in Wales” sums up long ago Christmases across the Pond (no link to the whole in case comment gets eaten up by whatever eats comments, but very easy to find using search engine of choice.)

        “…”Were there Uncles like in our house?”
        “There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms’ length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers…”

        1. John Parks

          Thank you Annotherone for the reference. Just as chaotic and fun as I remember. And yes, we were all fortunate to have such uncles, and our Aunt Hannah’s. (and who would they show up with THIS year!?)

  18. bob

    prince charles-

    “He noted that he was born in 1948, three years after the end of World War II. It was a time, he said, “in which my parents’ generation had fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism, and in an inhuman attempt to extinguish the Jewish population of Europe.”

    He continued: “That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief.””

    Is that what lizzy is up to here?

  19. Softie

    When the Roman Empire was on the rise, hedonism was rampant among the ruling elites. Epicureans advocated the best way to obtain maximum amount of happiness is to be moderate, just right amount of hedonism before you get nasty hangovers. However, when the Roman Empire was on decline, happiness becomes unavailable and the way to get peacefulness, according to Stoics, is to forget about the things that are hard to reach. For the boomers, they get two flavors of how to obtain happiness in one lifetime while it took a few hundred years for the Romans to experience the same. The American Empire lasted much much shorter.

    1. witters

      I found this at Do we have 2 phases of stoicism? One of Empire Triumphant, and one of Empire in Decline? That seems like an interesting story.

      “If Alexander saw his choice as that between the cosmopolitanism of world empire, and the isolated grandeur of the heroic individual’s withdrawal from the rights and responsibilities of political community into a universal and natural humanity, the Roman Stoics – like the Confucian Sages (4) – saw only the first possibility, and for the obvious reason: they were the administrative and ideological agents of a political particular whose very extension seemed to open the way to the ethical universal. It was Empire that brought the ethical universal and the political particular together, and on a world scale; and it brought them together most especially in the thought and actions of those who manned the Imperial machinery of rule. For these men cosmopolitanism was Stoicism: the high-minded service of an elite of the perfect who alone, says the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, have:

      the capacity to examine methodically and with truth everything that one meets in life, and to observe it in such a manner as to understand the nature of the universe, the usefulness of each thing within it, and the value of each in relation to the Whole and in relation to man as a citizen of that Whole, the greatest city of which other cities are but households. (Marcus Aurelius, 1983: III 23)

      Here cosmopolitanism isn’t, as with Diogenes, an heroic cleaving to the ethical universal at the expense of the ties of the political particular: it is rather the creed and sensibility of those very people who bring the two together in the administration of Empire. To be cosmopolitan is to identify with, and to serve, the ends and interests of the Roman patria. The cosmopolitan, says our Emperor, spelling out the core of the imperial faith, ‘should continually think of the universe as one living being, with one substance and one soul’ (Marcus Aurelius, 1983: III 33).”

  20. DJG

    An Italian friend of mine posted this prophetic work by La Sora Cesira, who speaks the universal language, broken English.

    Soon to become a Christmas classic, so allow me to present the ultra-cheery, La Sora Cesira & Mariah Carey, “All I want for Christmas is…sfancul”

  21. bob

    Private Infrastructure

    In what universe is cutting private investors into guaranteed profits going to save money?

    Yeah, Suez and Carlise “bought” the water systems. Much more often than not, they bought control, without any responsibility. Carlise send a check to the muni which is in reality, a loan. They go to great lengths to pretend it’s a purchase. It’s a purchase right up until they are supposed to be responsible for the system, at which point the “investors” (at least 3-4 layers of plunder) are more important than the people being served.

    It’s not infrastructure. It’s looting.

    1. bob

      Just adding that the “both sides of the story” angle from the times on this is completely over the top.

      Back to basics- You’re adding another few layers of plunder, and this is going to “save money”?

      “well, to be reasonable….”

      Let’s not. Let’s not be reasonable. It seems to cost a whole shit ton of money.

    2. bob

      Being “reasonable”-

      Is there ONE SINGLE INSTANCE where private companies have been brought into muni projects that has worked out for the benefit of the masses?

      I’d argue that’s Infrastructure, by definition. But, it seems the tides have turned and sending big checks back and forth, with intermediaries all taking their guaranteed 8-18%, is now called, by pols looking for gigs after “serving” their corporate masters– INFRASTRUCTURE.

      If this is the sort of infrastructure they are planning on, and delivering, we’re screwed, by definition.

  22. Kim Kaufman

    re Black Snake Bleeding Out: How DAPL Is Duping Investors Common Dreams (furzy)

    Some additional information about DAPL from The Wrong Kind of Green blog (The road to hell is paved with corporate profits and compromised NGOs) and what’s not otherwise being reported (like Warren Buffet and his BNSF Railway). Not exactly fun Christmas reading:

    Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]


  23. Oregoncharles

    “Hidden Figures: the movie Nature (Chris M)”
    Gives you hope for the human animal. There are other examples, of course: the women at the heart of Britain’s code-breaking effort during WWII (see, I don’t remember their names – we have some making up to do), or the Austrian artillerymen who did the computations for early complex lenses (literally, gymnasiums full of people at desks, passing paper around.)

    These stories may also give us some hope for getting out of the IT trap that’s been discussed repeatedly here. People CAN do those computations; it just takes rather a lot of them, and good organization. Might save us yet.

    Come to think, Frank Herbert foresaw a lot of this in Dune, didn’t he?

  24. fresno dan

    To Go the Way of the Great Auk: the Clintons and the Media Counterpunch

    “I have found a just amazing, almost surreal level of wilful and intentional blindness on the part of liberal america to the crimes of the Clintons, and to the basic corruption of the Democratic Party. One can say over and over and over and over and over that Clinton orchestrated a neo nazi fascist coup in Ukraine, a fascist junta in Honduras and an illegal assassination of a foreign leader in Libya.
    That the economy is now a disaster cannot be hidden. In fact, 90% of Obama’s new jobs were part time. Women were hardest hit during his eight years.Traditional fields for women workers in medicine and education were the biggest losers. Full time employment, the traditional 9 to 5 secure fixed job is all but extinct. There are fewer of those jobs today than during the great depression.
    Reject this binary world view. Reject any candidate who endorses U.S. Imperialism and 800 plus military bases throughout the world. Stop all U.S. intervention and stop believing the manufactured narratives on Syria, about Russia, about Castro, and about China. Most everything MSNBC tells you can be turned on its head…and it will be closer to the actual truth. The U.S. is far more guilty of everything it charges other countries with doing. As such Samantha Power deserves a special seat in hell.”

  25. fresno dan

    The Long, Lonely Fall of a Heisman Trophy Winner New York Times. Chuck L: “I realize this piece is not exactly in a holiday-cheer vein, but this is also traditionally the season to think on those we’ve lost in the past year.”

    Whether it was chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or the arc of one’s life peaking too soon and the anticipation of the long parabola ever lower as too difficult to endure is unknowable, but makes the story no less heart rending.

    John Updike
    Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
    He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
    He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
    A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
    I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
    In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

    He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
    Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
    As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
    But most of us remember anyway.
    His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
    It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

  26. Laughingsong

    Don’t have any feel-good links, but I’d like to share what’s become a most rejuvenating and simple Christmas tradition – and it sort of happened organically… Most of my friends are crafters, and work very hard starting in August to make stock for the big Holiday Market that starts in mid-November here. It closes Christmas Eve, and by that time all are pretty frazzled. I take the week off and essentially open the house for drop-ins all week. We cook up lots of food and goodies and drinks. I buy very small gifts for folks and everyone’s welcome. Most people bring stuff too. We play board games and cards, do jigsaw puzzles, watch It’s a Wonder Life (still my favorite) and Polar Express and general animation (favorites are Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea) and listen to music. This year we have a firepit in the backyard and it’s not supposed to rain, so maybe we’ll have a gathering there too. I have met many new people this way, as my friends invite others. Being painfully introverted, it’s been a boon for me.

    1. ambrit

      We really wish we had a non predatory Christmas Extravaganza venue around here, South Mississippi and New Orleans Region. All we have found though are “shows” that charge big up front fees for entry. This trickles down to jack up prices of individual items, and thus depress sales. Treasure your friends there. Around here, predatory capitalism is king.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I feel-good hearing about your crafts “organization”. How did it get started? What problems have you had with it over the years? Has $$ been a problem for providing hospitality?

    1. aab

      It’s quite handy how all laws are now named to mean the inverse of their intention. The Patriot Act is unpatriotic, the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable non-care, and now we have the formal establishment of the enforcement of government propaganda under the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act.”

      Seriously, rather like late stage Soviet society, we need to be able to read the meaning of the balcony order, but this, at least, is simple. Our bad laws are always named as an act of projection.

      Merry Christmas, everybody!

  27. shk

    Two things I like. The first is appropriate to the times.


    I lived in the first century of world wars.
    Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
    The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
    The news would pour out of various devices
    Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
    I would call my friends on other devices;
    They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
    Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
    Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
    In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
    Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
    Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
    As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
    We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
    To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
    Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
    Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
    To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
    To let go the means, to wake.
    I lived in the first century of these wars.

    –Muriel Ruykeyser

    The second thing I just like: Acid Arab’s “La musique de France.” It’s basically what Omar Souleyman says about his music: debke from the future. The title makes of it a nice get stuffed to the Front National and it works in similar ways relative to Trumplandia. But mostly, it’s great to play really loud. When driving around for example.

    1. clinical wasteman

      Thanks for the Acid Arab description — I had been skeptical because the name suggested some sort of glib plunderphonics-type enterprise, but I was clearly wrong.
      That Youtube link doesn’t work here (London, UK) though, so in case anyone else runs into the same problem, there’s a lot more at [].
      Also worth mentioning that Omar’s “future dabke” claims really does apply to that first Sublime Frequencies album (‘Highway to Hassake’ [] and the tapes it came from.
      If any Genossen/innen other than shk do like this sort of thing (not that it’s one single thing same by any means), future chaabi is also a wondrous thing (eg. EEK/Islam Chipsy:[], as is prehistoric Rai: [].

    2. Robert Hahl

      Some music of the world (not world music).

      Okhay panday by Saieen Zahoor

      Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – All Gods Are One, He is everywhere & within everyone

      Romanyi Rota – Diri, diri so kerdjan

      Rományi Rotá Jóska bácsi

      Elis Regina & Tom Jobim – “Aguas de Março” – 1974

      Mariana Aydar – Casa de Marimbondo

      Bau & Voginha de visita a Taninho Evora Boston, MA

  28. Cojo

    For a good introductory read into stoicism, may I recommend “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William B Irvine.

  29. Elizabeth

    Yves, Lambert and all – I wish you and the NC community a happy and joyous holiday season. Thank you for all your great work to make NC the best website – bar none. I loved today’s bonus antidote about the dogs rescued. Happiness is a big dog kiss!

    I also love “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    1. aab

      One of the glorious delights of our current system is that once you ruin your credit by either paying or not paying your abusive medical bills, you then can’t get a decent job.

      So, sure, don’t pay your medical bills, if you have plenty socked away in Panama, Ireland, Switzerland or the Caymans to live on afterwards.

  30. skippy

    Marry xmas from whence time starts at Little Cove – Tea Tree beach…. far removed from the multitudes of – individual – screams…. Rosebud~~~~

    With mate Philips new book to read [The Reformation in Economics­­­­: A Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Economic Theory], fish to catch, rays to absorb, looks like a nice swell for some surf action, month+ old aged rib rack marinating right now [ Lea & Perrins, tabasco chipotle, garlic, Himalayan salt, and some aged balsamic vinegar] slow cooked after searing in pan at 150C for yonks….. just to the point of the boarder between rare and medium rare and rested….

    disheveled…. next year is going to be a real eye opener for some methinks…. till then… libations all around…

        1. integer

          Also, I remember skippy recently commenting about the uselessness of the Benghazi hearings, which both yourself and Lambert felt the need to reply to in order to correctly point out that those hearings uncovered Clinton’s private server. To me it’s been pretty clear that skippy favored Clinton in the election and is upset about Trump winning, and that this sentiment was the driving force behind the comment he made that I quoted. It’s worth considering the pressure NC would currently be under if Clinton had won the election, as the fake-news assault would have been more serious by orders of magnitude. To be honest, while I am happy to concede that he’s clearly read a bunch of books about economics, I think skippy is a fool, though it should be noted that I am only putting this forward as I know that I am in full-time moderation and hence this comment won’t make it into the comments section. Of course, you are certainly welcome to put it into the comments section if you want to.

          1. integer

            Also, why did you get so upset at me the other day for quoting someone that had used the word “milquetoast” to describe Sanders? While I did agree with the sentiment of the passage I quoted, and still do, it wasn’t even a word I had chosen, and considering that was the single objection you levelled at me in your comment, wouldn’t the original commenter have been a better person to respond to? In all honesty, I’m noticing some double standards around here lately, which is disappointing.

            In any case, hope you have a nice Christmas.

            1. ambrit

              Welcome to the inconsistent world of human beings ‘integer.’
              As for the ‘skippy’ bashing, well, let’s just say that the man is more than capable of taking care of himself.
              A great item to have, or grow, in commenting online is a thick skin. I have had to do it. I see some of the other ‘regular’ commenters here doing it. Many of those who do not or cannot don an enhanced armoured epidermis are fading memories.
              One thing I constantly tell myself whenever I catch myself acting like I am the online arbiter of taste is that everyone is expendable, especially me.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              You keep picking fights. You’ve been put in moderation as a result. Your attitude has only grown worse. This is Christmas Eve and you engage in petty nit-picking of the comments of someone else, worse a much longer established regular than you are? You seem desperate for attention. This site is not a chat board nor is it all about you. If you persist in your present vein, you will be blackslisted.

          2. Skippy


            Having read some of your comments, especially the scraps, it seems – too me – you have a propensity to project your biases on to others and then proceed.

            If you search the NC archives you will find that I was one of the first to publicly state my disdain for Hillery during her first run for president, including the Clinton dealings in Haiti post natural disaster, involvement in the Ukraine, et al. So you’ll have too excuse me when take exception to your contrived, convoluted, and ill informed perspective.

            Furthermore it would behoove you and for the sake of the quality of this blogs comment section if you got your – facts – “first”, before exposing everyone else to your rendition of a meth head in a pub swinging at perceived threats.

            Disheveled…. no need to reply as I will not engage in such uninformed diolog which ultimately devolves personal vendettas. Good day.

    1. ambrit

      Merry Christmas from the Heart of Dixie skippy.
      We here feel a sense of foreboding in the air. Very few smiles and a lot of very aggressive driving on the local streets. Though, we have ye turkey just starting in the oven. Stuffed with garlic, onions, some celery, and fennel. Bake slowly overnight at low temperature. A libation for me, sherry methinks. The wife doesn’t partake.
      Wassail to you and yours!

    2. ambrit

      Blast! I forgot tonight.
      Tonight, it’s fresh local catfish marinaded in tangerine and lemon juice. Then coated with brown rice flour and pan fried in coconut oil with chopped garlic and parsley. Serve with steamed veggies and some chips pan fried in the rest of the coconut oil. Coconut tasting chips with tomato sauce is a curious sensation.

    3. John Zelnicker

      @skippy – Sounds like a lovely place. The ribs should be delicious with that marinade. I’m writing down the ingredients so I can try it sometime.

      Best wishes to you and to all for the season. May the new year be a healthy and prosperous one for us all.

    4. skippy

      Cheers all….


      I am a sum of my parts and experiences, that at the moment I have the fortune to have a comfortable existence without excess and a nice family [it has not always been such]. The latter is how I hope to be judged by peers and society – at the end of it all.

      When the holidays are over its back to 10hr days and taking stairs two at a time, as a professional tradesman, after an 8 year hiatus due to CHI injury, which then ended up turning into a stay at home dad, whilst the wife furthered her medical career in paramedical science.

      disheveled… I suggest you do your homework before making unsubstantiated quips, NC’s archives as well as some considerable time spent on economics forums would flesh that out a bit. Oh and I do bite back, ask around.

      PS. Yves, I am honored and as always – faithfully yours… hope you and yours are well, and in my thoughts.

  31. DawnSorrow

    Re: Will the populists of the future try to smash the machines?

    Author states “Most of the multi-decade decline in factory jobs has been due to higher productivity from automation, not trade.” I’m hearing this an awful lot, but I’d like to see some sources on this. For the past 30 years we’ve seen tremendous outsourcing, and now all of a sudden it’s not a real factor? I’m very skeptical, as this seems like propaganda in an attempt to diffuse anti “free” trade activism.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it were mostly due to automation and not due to trade, then we have only imported what we have not been making.

      And of course, as smartphones have never been made here, because of trade deals, the jobs that would have been created, but weren’t, are not counted in the ‘decline.’

  32. HopeLB

    Merry Christmas Yves, Lambert and NC’s outstanding commenters! Such Gifts of wisdom and hilarity, lights strung in the mind (sometimes set to blinking and tangled,always undimmable), the heart warmed in a firey camaraderie, reading NC is Christmas everyday.
    Merriment and Blessings,

  33. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Carter at Trump’s inauguration.

    Would G. Washington be going, if he were still around today?


    Teddy Roosevelt?


    1. aab

      I would hope so.

      I have not read everything so far today — by a mile. But I miss y’all and am plunging in.

      I think it’s disgusting that all these former presidents are apparently acting like it’s noble not to attend the inauguration. Or is this another faux controversy whipped up by the courtier press? Even if it’s just a faction to faction peaceful hand off of power, it should still be celebrated, and social norms should reinforce the importance of it. I’ve never bothered to think about whether or not it’s normal for ex-Presidents to attend an inauguration, but even if it’s NOT the norm, they should do it this year. As if the person and faction Trump beat was so much more moral. If the win is illegitimate, then fight it — release real evidence, do an audit of the entire country’s votes, DO SOMETHING REAL. Otherwise, put on a nice outfit and show up. The same people who have been asserting that impolite speech and behavior is like genocide are now acting like being socially rude is an act of resistance, when it’s really an act of privilege. Shunning the party that holds power at every level of government is only safe for those at the highest levels of society in the coastal citadels.

      Ask the Tudors or the Caesars if one should take the peaceful transfer of power from one faction to another for granted.

      Off to finish making Christmas Eve/First Night of Hanukkah/Winter Solstice Dinner.


    2. Massinissa

      Reagan would have. His handlers would probably make him go. And he probably wouldn’t remember where he was or what he was doing for most of it.

  34. Epynonymous

    ” ‘By sheer volume, Barbie will probably beat out Hatchimal sales because there are more Barbie-branded goods in the market,’ said Rogers.

    Lastly, he expects drones as a category did well with shoppers, with 3,600 containers of toy drones and quadcopters imported.”

    Related: Hatchimals stockpile is surprise windfall for Arizona brothers

    – Merry Christmas to All

  35. stefan

    On Greek philosophy, a few recommendations:
    Sharon Lobell’s rendition of Epictetus is quite approachable, “The Art of Living” (readily available).
    Charles Kahn’s “The Art and Thought of Heraclitus” is truly great, a masterwork.
    Diskin Clay’s “Platonic Questions” is a seriously radical entry into the incomparable Plato.
    If you only have time to read one Platonic dialogue, try “The Phaedrus”, (my favorite, and so much fun!).

  36. aab

    This isn’t anyone’s definition of a feel good link, but I’d like to share it. It’s Elizabeth Bruenig, writing about her husband losing his job thanks to Neera Tanden and Joan Walsh days before their first child was born, then dealing with the murder of his sister shortly after the baby’s birth.

    She’s a progressive Catholic, and this is an essay about faith. I’m an atheist, but I respect the Bruenigs, and I come from a family of faith-based progressives. That’s one of the many bridges I’d like to see rebuilt. Social and economic justice Catholicism seems to be on the rise. Bernie’s speech at the Vatican, for example, was great. One of the many terrible things the corporate press did during the primary was suppress that act of outreach by the Vatican.

    Matt Bruenig popped back up on Twitter within hours of the election being called. May we all make progress towards healing solidarity in the coming year.

    1. kareninca

      My father-in-law lost his faith for a while. He grew up poor in the Depression in the anthracite region of PA; he was a slate picker as a kid; his dad was an alcoholic who died of black lung and his mom was an illiterate Ukrainian immigrant who was very resourceful. He was in WWII and went to college on the GI bill and became a professor. Anyway, my mother-in-law, to whom he was utterly devoted, took 14 years to die of Alzheimer’s. The whole thing was agonizing for him, every day of it; he stopped going to Mass. Since her care cost him about $1.5 million, to save the rest of his money for future care he might need (plus in case he needs medical help at some point) we moved him out to live with us four months ago. It is kind of squishy in our 1068 sf. Silicon valley condo. But he is back going to Mass. He went through her decline and death all by himself out in PA; he didn’t want help; it was unbelievably terrible for him (and for her of course). But now he is happy again, and religious again. He’s 92 years old and in perfect mental and physical shape; he has a lot of Masses left in him I think.

  37. leadenise

    Thank You for the “dog christmas” video. And, Thank You–Yves, Lambert, & NC community–for the incredible works and awesome commentaries. Wish the best for all in the new year.

  38. DarkMatters

    “Yves here. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of the usual feel good holiday stories?”

    There is one story, Putin’s Christmas letter to Trump, and Trump’s appreciative tweet. (perhaps not quite according to diplomatic protocol). Not that we know what it might portend for the future, but it is something to feel good about if only for this moment.

    Peace on earth to men of good will.

  39. Skip Intro

    Looks like Nate Silver is applying for Court Jester at the new Brock Disinfo venture. He explores the correlation between Hillary’s loss (as captured by polling which was proven to be seriously flawed) with the google searches for wikileaks. He shows at some points wikileaks was searched much more than FBI and those were occasionally correlated with downwards fluctuations in HRC polling. The case is only circumstantial according to him. To me it was illustrative of a very resilient isolation and wonkish arrogance. Using google searching as a proxy for the actual electorate is the kind of detachment that made the polls so wrong in the first place.
    I guess the Blame Cannon team realized that even when they gin up anonymous spooks to make claims about Putin supplying wikileaks, they fall on their faces trying to blame wikileaks for the election results. The answer is, apparently to get their top stats hack to make some handwaving graphs that they can cite without including even Nate’s weak caveats. At some point this level of denial becomes implausible. I think they’re looking for stories to tell their donors to get them to pony up again, or not demand refunds from the piles of leftover cash the campaign has squirreled away.

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