2:00PM Water Cooler 1/12/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

I’ve admitted it! It’s 2017! And 2017 is already great:

Be the third donkey…


“For trade watchers, perhaps the most striking moment came when Tillerson broke with the president-elect on one of his signature policy stances — free trade deals — telling senators: ‘I do not oppose TPP.’ He quickly added, however, that he shares some of Trump’s “views regarding whether the agreement that was negotiated serves all of America’s interests at best'” [Politico]. “As for NAFTA, when he was asked whether he agreed with Trump that the agreement was a ‘big mistake,’ Tillerson said it has gotten outdated and ‘needs a re-look.'”


Trump Transition

“Thomas J. Donohue, the ever-energetic 78-year-old president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –emphasizing he is ‘not here to offer a retirement speech’ — urged the new Washington to forge ahead on a new path of sustainable, higher economic growth” [Logistics Management]. “And in bucking from Republicans anti-tax dogma, Donohue is again calling for a ‘modest’ increase in the federal tax on motor fuels to help pay for what Trump has promised will be up to $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over 10 years.” A trillion over a decade isn’t much, especially when you compare it to what the banks shook the country down for, and what we got out of it. Still, Donohue violating anti-tax dogma is an interesting straw in the wind.

Trump presser: “The dollar lost ground on disappointment over a lack of significant comments on fiscal policy” [Economic Calendar]. Yes, we’re not hearing much about that, are we?

“Sen. Mark Warner had just brought up Russian hacking and the 2016 election during a high-profile Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing when the lights went out” [Roll Call]. “‘Due to Pepco conducting electrical work in the surrounding neighborhood, the Hart and Dirksen Senate Office Buildings has experienced a partial electrical disruption on multiple floors,’ Senate Superintendent Takis Tzamaras wrote in an email to Senate staff around 10:45 a.m.” Sure, sure. That’s what they say.

“Trump’s pick for CIA leader [Mike Pompeo] said he would refuse to restart enhanced interrogation techniques” [WaPo]. Good for him, though note that WaPo is still using the mealy-mouthed “enhanced interrogation tecnniques” instead of “torture.”

“Trump aide Monica Crowley plagiarized thousands of words in Ph.D. dissertation” [CNN]. At Columbia?! How the heck did that happen? Who was her advisor? I don’t know if Trump’s voters care about this, but Trump ought to heave her over the side on general principle.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Reeling from their inability to stop his election, envious of his power to make people believe his most ridiculous statements, and rinsed by a needy mood for self-soothing, the media and other American institutions are greeting the era of Trump by lowering their ethical and professional standards and indulging in attention-seeking hysteria. However cathartic it may be, the effect is suicidal for the media and dangerous for the nation” [The Week]. “[O]ur institutions can’t temporarily suspend the very standards that grant them credibility and expect to survive.” And it’s always possible to make things worse…

“[B]oth parties are built upon unstable coalitions. For Democrats, it is a coalition driven by demographics. The Democratic mantra for the last eight years has been built around the idea that an increasingly diverse and urbanizing electorate was going to build them a permanent Electoral College majority. But, as we saw in 2016 and every midterm election since 2008, the only Democrat who was able to mobilize the “Obama coalition” was Barack Obama himself” [Cook Political]. A coalition held together by one man isn’t a coalition at all, as I pointed out in early in 2016. As for the Republicans: “Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell have had their policies and priorities teed up for years. They’ve just been waiting for a GOP president to help implement them. Trump, meanwhile, has shown an incredible, um, flexibility on issues, policies and priorities. Without an ideological core to drive him and with no experience in the give and take of the legislative process, there’s no telling what, or how, he will govern.”

“The [Democrat] party is approaching the confirmation process as one of the first steps in its rebuilding effort following painful November losses” [RealClearPolitics]. “That effort includes getting opposition research and outside messaging groups into high gear, fundraising off of certain confirmation hearing highlights or controversies regarding some nominees, and coming up with a way to paint the administration they will run against in four years in an unflattering light.” Hysteria is good for fundraising, so expect it to continue.

So Booker signals he’s going to run in 2020 by the noise he made at the Sessions hearing. Then he took care to build up his campaign warchest:

“In 2020, the Democrats could run Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyonce, Matt Damon, or Rosie O’Donnell. Some might guffaw at this idea. After all, wouldn’t running a celebrity candidate further associate Democrats with coastal elitism?” [The New Republic]. “But Democrats’ main problem last year wasn’t in appealing to anti-elitist voters; it was in getting out the party’s base. A magnetic, attractive movie star would have a far better chance of accomplishing that than just another accomplished, dowdy politician.”

“Bernie Sanders can win in 2020, but he has to make a critical choice right now” [CNBC]. I wish Sanders were four years younger….

“Is Bernie’s Revolution Taking Over The California Democratic Party?” [Down with Tyranny]. Yes, according this story in Links this morning. Note the role played by the (badass) National Nurses United. Organizing infrastructure really, really helps and where else to you find it?

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of January 7, 2017: “Jobless claims remain very low” [Econoday]. “This time of year, given short holiday weeks, is always difficult to adjust for, yet the data continue to point to stable and healthy conditions in the labor market.” And but: “The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect].

Import and Export Prices, December 2016: “Cross-border inflation rates continue to show improvement, up 0.4 percent for import prices in December and up 0.3 percent for export prices” [Econoday]. “Finally emerging from a 2-1/2 year slump that was triggered by the 2014 collapse in oil prices, year-on-year growth in import prices is nearly at the 1.7 percent rate for consumer prices. Increases in import prices, though possibly centered in petroleum, are nevertheless looking to become a positive factor that could help lift overall inflation.” And: “Import and export prices are now inflating year-over-year after years of deflation” [Econintersect].

Commodities: “In 2017, across natural resources 250 funds are look to raise just under $120 billion. Of those only 13 are primarily focused on metals and mining and are hoping to raise $10bn (although some of $2.9bn for diversified funds could go into mining). The biggest mining-focused fund is China’s Power Capital which is seeking $3bn to invest in Asia. Diversified US-based Energy and Minerals Group is looking for $4 billion” [Mining.com].

Retail: “The company said it would 100,000 full-time jobs in the United States in the next 18 months” [247 Wall Street]. “A great deal of the coverage of the announcement focused on the decision as part of the Trump add-jobs-in-America-or-suffer-the-consequences movement, which appears to have captured all the Big Three car companies. Lost in that analysis the that the e-commerce company must have had a holiday season of explosive growth as it continued to suck the life out of brick-and-mortar retailers.”

Shipping: “The dry bulk fleet is expected to grow at a slower pace than in previous years, thanks in part to higher demand growth and limited ordering of new vessels amid the worst market in history.Deutsche Bank expects average fleet growth of about 1% per year for the next three years” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV of illegally using hidden software that allowed significant excess diesel emissions, the result of a probe that stemmed from regulators’ investigation of rival Volkswagen AG” [Reuters].

The Bezzle: “Google parent company Alphabet confirmed that it is opting for balloons instead of drones in its quest to deliver internet service from the sky” [France24]. Maybe they can put the money they’re saving into customer service.

The Bezzle: “The U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday it is setting up an advisory committee that will include leaders of major automotive and technology companies, including General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra as co-chairman and executives at Amazon.com Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., Alphabet Inc. and FedEx Corp. among the 25 members” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Sets Up an Advisory Panel on Self-Driving Cars”]. “The DOT named as co-chairmen Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who sharply criticized Mr. Trump at last year’s Democratic National Convention, and it included on the panel Robert Reich, a former secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton who has strongly attacked GOP labor and economic policies.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 61, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 12 at 12:11pm. I wonder if this is a result of the deafening silence on infrastructure?


“California rainfall ebbs but flooding continues” [Reuters (EM)].

Health Care

“Texas’ Other Death Penalty” [Texas Monthly]. The health care system.

“How about people with pre-existing conditions? Just 135,000 people enrolled in the ACA’s temporary Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Another 226,000 people were previously covered by 35 state “high-risk pools.” States can resume responsibility for this group of high-cost individuals. For example, Alaska just established a high-risk pool for 500 chronically ill residents to prevent 23,000 Alaskans from facing 40 percent premium increases in the individual market” [Twila Braze, Daily Caller]. I hate to link to the Daily Called, but in my experience Braze, though on the right, doesn’t make stuff up. Frankly, that people with pre-existing conditions should be covered is so obvious to me as a matter of justice that it never occurred to me to count them. Readers?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

How bourgeois:

Decapitation works fast:

Class Warfare

“Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren’t born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, ‘managed,’ and ‘supervised’ by other human beings” [The Hampton Institute]. Hierarchies are artificial constructs designed to serve a purpose. They are a necessity within any society that boasts high degrees of wealth and power inequities. They are a necessity for maintaining these inequities and ensuring they are not challenged from below.”

“In a report from Bankrate.com, the firm found that almost six in 10 Americans don’t have enough savings to pay for a $500 car repair or a $1,000 emergency room bill” [247 Wall Street]. “While Millennials may be looked down on by older demographics, they are the most equipped generation to pay for an unexpected expense using their savings. It was found that 47% of those within the ages of 18 to 29 responded that they would use their savings to cover such a burden, up from 33% in 2014.” I’d argue that’s not virtue, but a rational response to the neoliberal destruction of universal benefits and government services generally.

“[A] good deal of [Wallace] Stevens’s poetic output conveyed a feeling of sehnsucht (“inconsolable longing”). For example, in ‘Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz,’ Stevens writes of American southerners (although the words just as easily apply to their author) as ‘voices crying without knowing for what, / Except to be happy, without knowing how.’ The object of Stevens’s inconsolable longing changed over time. In his early professional days, when he first moved to New York City, it was his hometown of Reading, Pa. Writing to his future wife, Elsie, Stevens lamented that he ‘lost a world’ when he left there” [The American Conservative].

News of the Wired

“AT&T’s Sponsored Data program may violate net neutrality, the FCC says” [WaPo]. “The warning comes as part of a white paper published by the Federal Communications Commission, which finds that AT&T’s Sponsored Data plan and Verizon’s FreeBee Data program could choke off the rise of online video companies that are not owned by or affiliated with the telecom giants.”

“Wide Impact: Highly Effective Gmail Phishing Technique Being Exploited” [WordFence]. I have images turned off in my email so I can’t click on them….

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Mrs. Mop):

Readers, I’ve gotten more plant images, but I can always use just a few more; having enough Plantidotes is a great angst deflator. Plants with snow and/or ice are fine!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Knifecatcher

    Re: Bankrate story – is there such thing as a $1k ER bill anymore? We paid nearly $3k for our unexpected trip, which involved 15 minutes with the doc, no tests or scans, and only a single dose of Childrens’ Tylenol for consumables. (5 year old tried to poke his eye out with a stick and failed – but only just).

    And of course our crapified insurance hadn’t hit the deductible so we had to pay the whole bill out of pocket.

    1. Vatch

      I’m lucky — I only have a $150 deductible, which is what I paid when I needed five stitches in my hand last year. The total bill was “only” about $1250, probably because I never saw an actual doctor. A nurse practitioner sewed me up. The explanation of benefits from the insurance company later showed that they only paid the hospital about one third of the billed price. I’m sorry that you had to pay the whole thing; I guess the insurance companies only enforce their standard payable fees when it’s their money on the line.

      1. optimader

        The kids I grew up with, that would have been crazy-glue/packaging-tape unless a finger articulation was compromised


        btw..Animal bites should be left open and bandaged and treated w/ antibiotic so they heal from the inside out..

        I remember in my misspent college youth an idiot scuba diver in Honduras (feeding a moray eel cheese wiz out of a can, guess what happened when she ran out?) who came to my friend’s dad (a surgeon) insisting he sew her up.
        He only bandaged her with butterfly bandages and gave her some kick-ass antibiotics. She was sure she was being undeserved (w/ gratis treatment) because he refused to sew her up, potentially trapping an infection.

      2. mk

        Wow. I got three stitches by a doctor at my local urgent care for a dog bite last May, cost $285. That’s why I refuse to get health insurance. It’s a risk, but spending $12K a year vs $285 for 2016, I feel like I made a sensible decision.

        1. Carl

          It most certainly is a risk. In 2005, at the age of 45, I experienced an infected appendix. The bill (in 2005 dollars) came to $37,000.00. I’m sure today it would be more like $75,000.00. And that’s for a comparatively minor operation, the mechanics of which have long ago been mastered.

    2. ian

      I had a similar experience: 3 stitches on my sons finger. Treated by nurse (no doc), sutures and lidocaine was $1800. It got me wondering about how anyone could hope to reform health care when the accounting is so completely out of whack with reality.

        1. Praedor

          Not a bad idea.

          Or Vet clinics (we are all animals with the same body layout, from birds to horses, and Vets have to learn a LOT more than mere MDs…they have to learn dozens of different species).

          Of course, vet clinics are pricey themselves.

          I’m thinking people need to keep a stock of “Bactine” (store brand…lidocaine), povidone iodine, butterfly bandages and sutures. Soak a nasty cut with lidocaine to kill off immediate pain, flush with povidone, soak again with lidocaine as needed while putting in a couple stitches or placing a butterfly.

          1. BondsOfSteel

            I’ve been thinking about this a lot since it’s looking likely I’ll lose my access to insurance.

            How hard is it to do my own stiches? Can you get instruction/certification? I’m assuming you don’t need a license to practice medicine on yourself.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Praedor made it sound doable. A first-aid class might be a good idea, useful to more than just you. Injuries are most likely to your hands, though, so you’d be working one-handed. Just putting a bandaid on your hand can be difficult. If you don’t have family available, cultivating a circle of friends would be wise. Maybe all go to the first-aid class together?

              There are more than just you in this boat.

              This discussion does make me appreciate Medicare, though.

            2. Dave

              It’s easy, just like sewing on a button. It’s hard to find those curved needles though.

              Just like sewing on a button and putting the needle through your finger multiple times. The anesthesia is the tricky part.

              1. wilroncanada

                Curved needles are available from most sewing stores. I use them all the time to sew stuffed chickens or turkeys.
                Im thankful for Canadian medicare, which has its own limits–eyeglasses, dental care, hearing aids.

              1. Anonymous

                Tried all that on a dog bite and still got cellulitis

                Needed an ER visit, bolus of antibiotic, and course of Augmentin.

        2. Daryl

          Barbers used to perform surgery, no reason we can’t go back to that. Just make sure to sweep up that hair really good before cutting people open.

    3. nippersmom

      We have HMO coverage, which doesn’t have a deductible. The copay for an emergency room visit is $300; if it’s something that can be handled at an urgent care facility, the copay is only $60. Our insurance coverage is definitely one of the biggest perks of working for a state entity.

      1. Praedor

        But being an HMO you have to get permission to see a real doctor beyond your family doc. That means repetitious and long waits.

        You have a back issue. Instead of going to the expert (orthopedic doctor) you have to go to the family doc. That doc will toss you some pain pills and say “get rest”. When that fails, s/he MAY pass you on to someone who knows what they’re doing or may order more tests…anything to keep you from seeing the expert on back/bone/joint issues.

        I HATE HMOs. If my back is hurting, I go to an orthopedist. If I have a bladder infection I go to a urologist. I’ve suffered under an HMO before an it is the same every time. You have to always go through the silly failure chain. First see the family doc who will toss a couple aspirin at you and recommend rest. When that fails, they try something else. It would all be over if they skipped to the end and simply let you go to the expert.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          I suspect that your failure chain starts with an inadequate general practitioner. Ours is great, and she has never let us down in regard to prompt referrals to appropriate specialists.

          Maybe you need to factor this in when assigning the point of “failure”?

  2. LarryB

    This is interesting on a couple of levels. One for the sense of entitlement it displays, they can’t seem to envisage a world where economists are dispensable. Also for the delusion that economists think their scribblings somehow rise to the certainty of mathematics.

    1. Kukulkan

      From the article:

      A prevailing view in economics right now is that economic growth has permanently downshifted due to lower population growth, the aging of the population and a decline in productivity. The downbeat outlook of Northwestern economics professor Robert Gordon has increasingly become conventional wisdom. His book “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” argues that the best inventions, like running water, electricity and the combustion engine, are behind the human race and have already provided the bulk of their boost to productivity growth. The latest computing inventions, Gordon says, have only limited upside for productivity and may also have passed. His forecast is for only muted productivity growth in the years ahead, which means muted overall economic growth.

      Okay, if growth is no longer possible, or only possible at a reduced rate, then shouldn’t economists be trying to develop a way of organizing the economy that would provide adequately for everyone — or at least as many people as possible — that doesn’t rely on continuous growth? Rather than perpetuating a system that only works because of continuous growth feeding into it?

      Because if the era of continuous high-level growth is over, people will develop new ways of organizing how they produce and distribute the goodies, only it’s not likely to involve calm, peer-reviewed discussion. Or economists.

    1. shinola

      Thanks UF! I thought it was very amusing. I would recommend it as a companion to the Pilkington article that precedes today’s water cooler.

      The Who also had these words of warning decades ago: “Meet the new boss / same as the old boss”;)

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I don’t care how much I pay, gonna buy that bus for my baby some day. Homo economicus? Not here.

  3. Vatch

    “Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren’t born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, ‘managed,’ and ‘supervised’ by other human beings” [The Hampton Institute].

    This is a complex subject, but I’ll hazard a guess that Colin Jenkins, the author of the article, is wrong. Our close relatives the chimpanzees and gorillas have dominance hierarchies, and one’s position in the hierarchy can be enforced by violence. Even bonobos have dominance hierarchies, although they are much less violent than their cousins. Human hierarchies have existed for tens of thousands of years, which has been verified by differences in burial goods at grave sites. With the invention of agriculture around eleven or twelve thousand years ago, hierarchicalism really took off.

    I’m not saying that hierarchies are good simply because they are natural. Complex hierarchies and the associated severe inequality are very bad.

    1. Synoia

      Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren’t born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, ‘managed,’ and ‘supervised’ by other human beings.

      True, maybe, for hunter gatherers, but unlikely.

      Otherwise the assertion is not supported by any facts for any human group anywhere. Please provide examples which support this statement.

      I’ve lived in many places and seen many things. I’ve never even heard of a group of humans without a leader, and hence a hierarchy.

      What is this Author, a Libertarian Wacko?

        1. mudduck

          Many native North American groups were led by wise women and shamans, with war chiefs looking after security. Hierarchical minded Westerners wanted to deal with “the Chief,” not the women or witch doctors.

          1. Oregoncharles

            In other words, outsiders misunderstood the hierarchy based on their preconceptions. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a hierarchy.

            It’s common in pack animals, which people are, for males and females to each have their own, partially independent status hierarchies. Wolves, for instance, as Yves notes somewhere in here.

        2. Kukulkan

          Are these hierarchies based on personality, age and charisma? Or on position? That is, do people defer to someone because they respect them personally, or because they happen to hold an office, rank, or title?

          As far as I can tell, humans naturally fall into personality-based hierarchies, but they are variable, with who outranks who being a function of circumstance and the problem being addressed as much as anything else.

          Logical hierarchies, with a clear pyramid where someone at a certain level outranks everyone below them, and is outranked by everyone above them, seem to be a social construction.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          That is a fascinating article. I suppose that there would be symposia on funeral practices is obvious when you think about it, but it wasn’t to me. Here are two quotes that caught my eye:

          As has become increasingly clear, purely egalitarian societies, that is, ‘societies in which no one outranks anyone’ as Marshall Sahlins (cf. Flanagan 1989) once put it, are hard to imagine. Subtle hierarchical principles govern any known society, despite their egalitarian practices or leveling ideologies, which may even hide striking disparities in wealth, prestige or access to power. What formally egalitarian societies do display is an elaborate, continuous and sometimes fully conscious attempt to control, with various degrees of success, the aggrandizers’ claims (Hayden 1995, 2008). A minimum of social preeminence is vital for a critical perpetuation of cultural information (Shennan 1996)


          while there are many dimensions of Upper Palaeolithic material culture indicating a hierarchy of knowledge, competence and most likely prestige, there are fewer direct clues to how social authority worked and how far the prestige competition went. The visible behavioral patterning is not necessarily the outcome of hierarchical systems (i.e. vertically differentiated). Heterarchy, as a horizontal differentiation of competence, authority and prestige (Crumley 1995), or sequential rather than synchronous hierarchy, could have effectively led to similar outcomes. Moreover, neither does temporary authority unavoidably lead to permanent offices, nor do lifetime offices necessarily result in hereditary hierarchy. In many hunter-gatherer societies, elaborated egalitarian mechanisms, ranging from food sharing to assassination, are recurrently activated in order to prevent this outcome (Clastres 1995; Woodburn 1982). In other words, the visible ‘order’ may be simply the result of multiple parallel or interfering lines of authority and initiative, for which age, gender, kinship and special competences played a dynamic and variable role. A modest authority, based on personal prestige, lifetime achievements, and sex/age status, both incapable and unwilling to overtly challenge the powerful egalitarian order, suffice to explain most Upper Palaeolithic burial and domestic contexts.

          I think in our own context, authority could be a good deal more “modest” than it is. The discussions of authority among chickens (the pecking order seems to rotate, if I have that right) sounds rather like a heterarchy.

      1. MtnLife

        The Rainbow Family is a (dis)organization with no leaders. There are those who “focalize” (focus + organize) people to get things done but no leader or spokesperson. It makes it much harder to quash a movement that has no discernible head to remove or co-opt.

      2. Ruben

        You have it backwards.

        Natural hierarchies are useful and inevitable in small groups and evolution has helped us to refine this small-group hierarchy tool.

        However, hierarchies as existing right now in human societies involving millions of individuals are un-natural, unstable, needing a large investment in propaganda and coercion.

    2. Synoia

      Outside of parenting, human beings aren’t born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, ‘managed,’ and ‘supervised’ by other human beings”

      Meet my elder Sister.

    3. Roquentin

      If you want to borrow from Deleuze & Guattari in Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus, the hierarchy learned within the family is one of the main methods society uses to prepare you for an authoritarian society, and that the existence of the nuclear family shouldn’t be seen as separate from society but one of its basic building blocks. I’m greatly over simplifying, but one of its many basic arguments is that conditioning children to unquestioningly accept the authority of the father is a sort of training wheels version of the eventual submission to the boss, the drill sergeant, the political leader.

      I’d also argue that this split between what is and isn’t natural is tenuous at best. Even if I were to accept the argument that hierarchy “isn’t natural” it’s not like we could ever hope to return to such a state of nature, so it becomes almost a complete non sequitur.

      1. hunkerdown

        Certainly — but it’s useful to understand what we are carrying because it is necessary vs. because the cargo says so, to understand that Corey Robin, his authoritarian commentariat, and “the values ‘we’ all agree on” (the following “you f’ing pinko subversive” being left unsaid) are cargo. Total order is religion-derived woolgathering, at best. Sovereign immunity is also religious doctrine, therefore a private interest. Vestiture, careerism, and the ambition underlying them are private interests and therefore in opposition to the public interest. Someone to look up to is vainglorious transference, therefore of no interest to a public-minded society besides down-regulation. Point being, “because we’ve always done it that way” is a logic-free assertion of conservatism, and “because that’s who we are” is 50 shades of cray-cray, zealous colonist edition.

        A united front of “Oxi” can work. That’s why states universally torture, rape and murder to discourage them.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Someone to look up to is vainglorious transference

          “vainglorious transference” sounds like it ought to be in the DSM, but it doesn’t seem to be. It sounds like a keeper, if only I could figure out what it means!

          1. hunkerdown

            I was thinking of that pride some have in their own ignorance and incapacity, “Elevated to Moral Imperative“. (Ward Cunningham) Iterate once to the screwup who gets pleasure in telling others to follow the rules. Just like that Little Democrats book. Needless to say, there is no mimesis there.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > unquestioningly accept the authority of the father is a sort of training wheels version of the eventual submission

        Why “government is like a household” and “government should be run like a business,” even if they are mutually exclusive logically, are easy for the same people to espouse.

        MMT and Anti-Oedipus (great book*). Who knew?

        NOTE * I have always felt that “desiring machines” is a concept I should understand, but I never have. Help?

      3. Ruben

        You are wrong.

        The hierarchical family does not prepare the young human to accept large-scale hierarchies as seen in present large populations. On the contrary, the hierarchical family is a problem for extending the concept of hierarchy to society because the young human associate authority with genetic relatedness.

        Institutions outside of the family, artificial institutions such as schools and mass communication tools, are the key to acceptance of authority by unrelated individuals.

        The split between natural and un-natural in human institutions is clear cut. Whatever is left after all fallacies of reification have been removed, is natural.

    4. hunkerdown

      Hierarchies direct significant resources toward enforcing the Order. Empires have larger standing armies and military sectors than free states. Impoverished people, that is, those excluded from resources by the Order, tend to find their communities more heavily policed and less valued as citizens.

      Jeremy Belknap propagandized the “unable to govern themselves” bromide for his personal and/or church-corporate benefit.

      Societies with higher personal longevity and higher inequality tend to be more conservative, as vested interests constitute a larger proportion of the electorate.

      In other words, how many generations of scientific husbandry and selective breeding does it take to create “nature”? That’s why I’m not buying it.

    5. grizziz

      Ditto. My sentiments run toward equality and fighting hierarchy seems a noble effort. The status quo affects of entrenched hierarchies are pretty ugly in the lower tiers and justice would be served by altering the social system to accommodate the grievances. To argue that social hierarchies are not natural is tantamount to arguing against societies at all.
      Even slime molds create structures to reproduce.

    6. reslez

      Clearly humans are hierarchical and status-seeking. To rephrase the article a bit, hierarchies where labor is enforced and compelled are not natural within the human race. These only occur in the context of specific cultures and did not seem to exist before the invention of agriculture. The article goes on to mostly discuss how labor is regimented and controlled and how hierarchies are used for the benefit of those at the top — mostly a discussion of labor, not hierarchy in itself.

      Hunter-gatherers had very low levels of material inequality because they consciously banded together against those who tried to assert too much control over resources. After the rise of agriculture and grain supply stocks this was no longer possible to do: there was too much to fight over.

    7. reslez

      Another point worth making is that our relatives in the apes and primates possess hierarchies based on fear: violence, physical domination, social exclusion. What they don’t seem to possess are hierarchies based on admiration: cleverness, kindness, social attraction. This seems like an interesting distinction between human societies and what we see in nature.

      1. Ruben

        I doubt this distinction really exists. The more we learn about other sentient beings, the less they are qualitatively different from humans.

      1. Kukulkan

        Is status the same as hierarchy?

        Many summers ago I spent several months tracking and recording the status relations in a flock of chickens. I found that while I could determine a status relationship between any two chickens — this one outranks that one, and the one that’s outranked will defer to the higher ranking bird, yielding a position at a feeding trough, foraging area, or nesting spot, to the higher status chicken — it was impossible to draw a clear hierarchy of the flock. There were too many exceptions. A chicken might have a higher status than most birds in the flock, but would defer to one or two chickens that otherwise had lower status than the birds the first chicken outranked. It made for some very tangled charts; not neat pyramids or organizational layers.

        Basically, what seemed to be the case, was that the status of any two chickens was established on their first meeting — or, sometimes, on their first few meetings. While a high-status chicken would generally dominate in these encounters, sometimes it would just have an off day, and would loose to an otherwise lower-status bird. Such anomalies would just be carried forward. None of the chickens seemed to be particularly bothered by it; the only one who cared was me because they made the charts I had to draw up messy and complicated.

        Hence my question about status and hierarchies. Many animals have status, and can be arranged into broad hierarchies by ignoring the anomalies, but clear-cut hierarchies, with no anomalies — or anomalies existing only as backchannels — seem to be specifically human.

        1. Waldenpond

          Interesting. My chickens have a pecking order that results in a constantly fluctuating hierarchy. Rotating displays of guarding, rotating dominance displayed by standing on each other, perch rotation of level perches, perch rotation of multi-levels. I haven’t thought about which might be dominant by season or laying status.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > My chickens have a pecking order that results in a constantly fluctuating hierarchy.

            That’s fascinating. Birds are dinosaurs, are they not? One wonders if that’s how the dinosaurs organized themselves….

            Not sure it scales, though. Currently, representative democracy is our answer to scaling. I wonder if we could use sortition a lot more than we do (especially given outcomes over the last 40 years).

            1. Patricia

              I’m for much more sortition. It keeps authority in the job (definition and accomplishment) rather than in the person chosen for the work. Removes a lot of mud.

    8. flora

      Humans and the great apes are, first of all, co-operative and social beings. The benefits of group co-operation are increased material well being for all in the group. Humans are the most co-operative beings of the primate group. Yes, hierarchies develop in social beings. However, wise leadership understands that all must benefit, not just the few, or the co-operation will break down and the well being of all will suffer. If the Dem estab thinks material well-being of its base voters is unimportant then the Dems will continue to lose, imo.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There Is also evidence humans are “self domesticated” as opposed to particularly smart, wild animals. Cats and cattle (especially dogs) might be better places to look for our social order than even apes.

      2. Ruben

        The farther the leader is from the base of the hierarchy, the less connected he/she is to the co-operative drive to make all better off. That’s one of the reasons hierarchies are natural, i.e. stable and self-perpetuating, only in small groups, while for large groups hierarchies require heavy investment in propaganda and coercion for the short time they last.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Or large groups (eg. a world of 7 billion minus a few proprietors) don’t invest heavily in propaganda/coercion, but pursues common survival (or better) in a way that corresponds to present physical reality, i.e. nature. Sounds like a long shot, and as it happens I’m infinitely pessimistic. But not to the point of doubting that either a) a short-lived ‘large-group’ police state or b) perpetual war between ‘natural’ villages would be worse than trying and failing to co-ordinate provision for basic needs worldwide, i.e. wherever those are the same. Small-group ‘cultural’ affiliation/competition is a wretched, bloodthirsty zero-sum game.

          1. Ruben

            I think small-group affiliation and competition is the inevitable alternative to the present large-group propaganda/coercion system. I believe though that we have enough space for segregation and therefore reduction of belligerence. So in my reckoning tribal warfare produces vastly less total evil than full blown wars among large-groups held together by propaganda and coercion.

    9. kgc

      Of course humans have hierarchies. Where is there evidence of a society where each person is the equal in all ways of the others?

      Hierarchies seem to be part of human social structures throughout time. But in many/(most?) hierarchies there were reciprocal burdens: noblesse oblige, if you will, but real. For example, the king (or other leading warrior) must lead his troops into battle, risking his own life. (Richard III was, I think, the last English king to do so, and accordingly died.)

      Now, however, reciprocity has been dispensed with, along with the tripartite structure of earlier Europe, wherein the king allied with the plebeians against the nobles. Unless, as is possible, Trump is a recrudescence of the latter motif, which is yet to be seen…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Of course humans have hierarchies. Where is there evidence of a society where each person is the equal in all ways of the others?

        I think that’s a false dichotomy. See material above on heterarchy (from funerary practices).

      2. Ruben

        For most of human history (>95%), all hierarchies have existed in small groups only. Even in regions where large-scale hierarchies have arisen in the last 5 thousand years, most people lived outside of those large-scale hierarchies. Only at the present time most people formally live under large scale hierarchical arrangements, mostly because tax collection has become automatic to the lesser orders.

    10. makedoanmend

      “Lord of the Flies” on one level can be seen as a study of authority, individualism, exclusion and what happens when hierarchy becomes the dominant form of authority.

      I often wonder if we shouldn’t make a distinction between authority and hierarchical power. Each has their place but the power structures and decision making apparatus are different, and the situations upon which they should operate (whilst both existing at the same time) also required being viewed differently.

      Authority suggests and gives examples of why the “advice” proffered may be the best course of action. Authority seeks concensus first and has to allow for time to elapse before action is taken. Individual are consulted and always allowed to bring their viewpoint to bear. A synthetical decision is the ideal outcome, although compromise and continual change may be the only ways of dealing with fluid situations.

      A war band, needing to act or react quickly, requires hierarchy.

      Does society, especially in times of contraction, need to act hastily or with tempo and accumulated wisdom? If the later, we accept authority and try to locate it at many nodes. This leads to expansive and dispurst power. All individuals are incorporated.

      But we also need to have a system that deals with (non-fake) emergencies that is centralised, coordinated and commanding. The individual is subordinated to the “elected” emergency/temporary dictator for the duration of the emergency. Often some agency, as in doing a specific task, is alloted to an individual, but timing and resources are controlled from above and from a central location.

      Most capitalist societies are dominated by the Hierarchical/command social economy. That’s why we have to have an enemy – all the time. Hierarchy is then seen in an existential light. Right now we have neither coherent authority nor transparent hierarchy because we conflate the two methods of power and decision making into various nodes of dictatorship – both at the national and local levels via government and employment.

      We’ll never live in a perfect world, and socities will often make mistakes in allocating power that lead to their demise. Dat’s the hard knocks.

      What’s frightening now is that we’ve seemed to turned the entire planet over to conflation.

      All us plebs are just running around bitching and wondering why we’re so powerless as the nodes of hierarchy cut us loose and tell us to sink or swim. We have neither the power to impose authority and have always lacked the power (other than playing within the corporate game) of exercising power in our increasing hierarchical societies.

      (note: the social interaction of wolf socities are not necessarily as constrained by our observational blueprint as we like to think. There are recognised variations in the patterns and a realisation that we may be overlaying the hierarchical meme onto wolf socities because that is a pattern we recognise. Yes, there are only so many patterns, and wolf societies have a general pattern of central command at some levels but dispurst power patterns at other levels. That’s why studying biology, big YAY, is still so fascinating. Our perceptions change and with that our thinking.

      Our species is capable of learning and adapting in the moment without having to do so through a rather slow evolutionary genetic response.)

  4. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re: Hierarchies. I’m convinced sociopathy is at the root of this problem. And there may be something about the species that makes us all prone to this condition. Much more work needs to be done and I think the answers will make a lot of people uncomfortable.

    1. DanB

      Re “Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race.” As a sociologist, I must with regret snark: “Further research is necessary.” (Ha, ha, how do you answer this question with research?) This is, nonetheless, a central question of human nature which sociologists and anthropologists are unable to reach consensus on. If we’re in a sociopathic system, that’s mote-or-less a Marxist view and actually a hopeful sign that our cultural pathology can be overcome. If what we have now is a social system that reflects the inherent nature of humans to dominate one another -more-or-less a Weberian Iron Cage view-, the implication is clear. Another possibility: Hierarchy appears as surplus resources are generated, and an egalitarian system develops when resources cannot be accumulated, i.e, hunters and gatherers. As opposed to the certainty with which economists speak (false bravado though it may be), sociologists and anthropologists are best characterized by the phrase, “Well, on the one hand…” To me, it’s astounding how few sociologists are deeply engaged in recognizing and then studying the collapse of the current system and how it bears on the hierarchy question.

    2. Waldenpond

      I’m not amenable to being ruled, prefer independence. I don’t have the compulsion to rule others. Do kids pick that up from adults… I remember kids wanting equal shares… which brings to mind the simple ‘one person cuts, the other person selects first’ rule.

      I wiped out hierarchies in past jobs. It’s more efficient. If all members are trained on all tasks in a dept, if one person leaves, there is no hole. There is also coverage so people are free to take vacations or go to training without being swamped on return. A supervisor can spend their time on additional work as everyone is treated as a capable adult that doesn’t need to micromanaged.

    1. Vatch

      Nice article, thanks. It would be even more interesting if the article were by someone besides Matt Stoller — Thomas Friedman or Paul Krugman, perhaps. But I’m just talkin’ crazy now.

    2. katz

      that’s no blind squirrel, that’s Matt Stoller! He’s done some writing for this very site. A really smart guy.

      1. Knifecatcher

        I was referring to the venue, not the author. I also like Stoller a lot, but I don’t recall Pravda on the Potomac ever publishing his stuff.

        My only quibble was where he claimed the problem with Obamacare was that it didn’t include a public option. Picking nits, though.

        1. David Carl Grimes

          One quibble with the article. Obama specifically saved the bankers and, indirectly, the financial system.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Never give up the fight, though, like a lot of things in life, it would have been easier to oppose it in the beginning.

      “Because Obama, we did little…until.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      One more indication that either (a) Trump is not a fascist (else why hand this power to him) or (b) Trump is fascist, and the Democrats are fine with that. I grant there’s quite a lot of latitude between those two poles…

  5. timbers

    Health Care

    “Texas’ Other Death Penalty” [Texas Monthly]. The health care system.

    I read that. Depressing. Cancer in his kidneys, liver, lungs spreading throughout his body and could even get diagnosed until he was on his deathbed because no access to healthcare.

    And it’s so hard to get Democrats to understand that this is THEIR fault. It’s OBAMA’S fault. Because they had the power to change that and give this person access to healthcare, eight years ago, and did not. Instead they gave a lot of our tax dollars to drug and insurance corporations.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      To be fair, there’s a lot of blame to go around. The Democrats do deserve blame for not doing more.

      OTOH, the ACA as passed would have covered him, but the Republicans sued and allowed states to opt out. Republicans decided to turn down money to cover the poor. Republicans in Texas also decided that non-child rearing adults are not covered at all. Most states are not that heartless.

      1. Vatch

        Rick Perry, Texas governor from December, 2000, until January, 2015, is Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary. Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, is from Georgia, another state which has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

        1. hunkerdown

          We understand that metaphorically drowning a political party in the bathtub isn’t going to be easy or injury-free. The point is for *them* to understand that they are subject to discipline from below.;

          Remember, they could always have used reconciliation to get the public option, if they had wanted it. Dogs that don’t bark suggest family involvement.

      2. timbers

        but the Republicans sued and allowed states to opt out. Republicans decided to turn down money to cover the poor. Because Democrats wrote the law that way that allowed Republicans to do that.

        1. ultra

          No, the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed individual states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Judge Roberts, in particular, was responsible for that. Prior to the decision by SCOTUS, the expansion of Medicaid for low-income adults without children was mandatory for all states.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            And ObamaCare’s complex architecture, forcing people into Medicaid or into the marketplace by means-testing, enabled the Republican suit in the first place.

            If ObamaCare had been a truly universal benefit, it wouldn’t have been vulnerable to that particular assault.

            NOTE Incidentally, if you want a sign of good faith from either establishment Democrats (Clinton; Obama) or establishment Republicans (Ryan, etc.), you could look to the Medicaid estate clawback for health care when people are over 55. Not a word about it.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        That is, the architecture of ObamaCare was flawed from the beginning, because it was not designed to provide a universal benefit (like Medicare for All).

        That is totally down to the Democrats and nobody else.

  6. Benedict@Large

    Cory Booker understands that a candidate cannot expect the Democratic nomination if he/she goes against the interests of BigPharma.

    1. RUKidding

      After spending day time hours publically going after Jeff Sessions (good), Booker uses the cover of darkness to reveal who he really works for.

      Here’s a clue: it isn’t any of the 99%, whether in NJ or elsewhere.

      Talk’s cheap, but money walks – eh, Booker?

        1. Anne

          Bernie may have observed that Trump responds better to flattery than criticism, and is hoping that some judicious stroking of Trump’s ego may be of some benefit to Sanders’ goals.

          But I just don’t see the sense of paying any attention to someone whose positions are as fluid as Trump’s, and who shows some serious signs of being what amounts to a part-time president, leaving the real work to his VP and Cabinet heads. I mean, in what universe does anyone think, as Trump posited at his presser, that he could run the Trump organization AND be president, no problem? Like being president isn’t really all that hard, right?

          Big Pharma needs to be taken on, but the president-elect might want to pay attention to the fact that members of his own party have no intention of doing that.

          1. MtnLife

            I’m with you on ignoring his ramblings. However, I think Trumps “part time” presidency is him sorting out loyalties. You can learn a lot by giving an order and seeing how it is carried out. This could be him giving them enough leash (rope) to hang themselves with. With regard to PHARMA, I see the very public calling out as him getting out ahead of the congressional pack and reaching for constituent leverage. I see it being very difficult for congress to explain to the folks back home why why thought it was necessary for some little old ladies to die because PHARMA wanted to charge multiples of what their drug costs elsewhere. Hard to call your country “great” if you are paying 5x what those “socialists” in countries you look down on pay.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Trump, if he wants to, probably could deliver an actual concrete material benefit to voters by jawboning Big Pharma. Compared to, say, replacing the mandate with a requirement for continuous coverage, or blowing up the marketplaces, it’s a relatively stand-alone, discrete problem, and it would be good PR for him to beat up on them. Standing up for the little guy, etc. etc.

          2. EndOfTheWorld

            I see no signs of him being a part-time prez. Give him a chance. The guy is not lazy. He wants to get things done, IMHO, as opposed to all other presidents, who merely wanted to get along with everybody.

    2. curlydan

      ‘specially if you’re from Jersey. Kind of like Biden, Delaware, and credit cards. The strings on the puppets are awfully tight.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      Take a few minutes to read the reaction on his Twitter @CoryBooker

      People are calling BS big-time. We’re not taking it anymore.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It will be amusing to watch Democrats pull their usual bs in the absence of a cult leader to protect them.

      2. RUKidding

        I dunno… I’ve already seen some commenters (not here; elsewhere) tsk-tsking that anyone DARE to question a vaunted Democrat, like Corey Booker. And the usual trope showed up about racism being the motive if anyone was questioning what Booker did.

        There’s still a LOT of tribalism to be had in the D-party, imo. Lesser of 2 evils. This is the best you can get. Blah blah blah lather rinse repeat.

        1. Oregoncharles

          In all seriousness, both “major” parties hire PR flacks to write comments like those. Or train volunteers. They’re very visible on some other sites, like Salon or Raw Story. I assume our moderators are keeping them mostly out.

  7. stefan

    Forget the difference between reality and television. Confusion is policy.

    Prepare for: “fabulous successes” that distract from the direction of policy; legal disputes over media freedoms; constitutional chaos.

  8. Matthew G. Saroff

    I read all my email on via SSH on a shell server.

    If someone can hack my machine through a text window, they deserve to control my machine.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ha. Using Pine? Elm? Maybe I should go that route. Would I need a server, or could I use my existing accounts?

      I used to use Pine a decade ago, and liked it a lot. I forget whether it has a search function, though. Today, I’d really need one.

      1. Matthew G. Saroff

        I use Pine, and I get my shell through Panix.com.

        I got the shell so that I could use Procmail.

    2. BillC

      I share Lambert’s interest — and questions. Any chance you got a link to a howto with recommendations for hosters and email user agents that do a good job of removing HTML and other cosmetic artifacts? (I now manage email on my home server with postfix+dspam+dbmail, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a more fail-safe and secure but still inexpensive alternative.)

  9. Tim

    “While Millennials may be looked down on by older demographics, they are the most equipped generation to pay for an unexpected expense using their savings.

    To take it one level higher than Lambert, that’s because they are already experiencing the reality that the social contract has been broken which they deduce as trust no institutions, public or private, so look out for yourself.

    1. jrs

      Yea but that is NOT NEW. It’s not like that’s just a millennial thing and wasn’t true say two decades ago, so it really doesn’t explain it.

    2. a different chris

      >t 47% of those within the ages of 18 to 29 responded that they would use their savings to cover such a burden, up from 33% in 2014.”

      As a parent of such, I can say that they have more cash because they can’t afford anything real — yeah, that needs picked out a bit, or maybe I can just sing you the “I think I’m turning Japanese” song it would be more fun.* Anyway, they can’t afford a house, or even risk getting stuck with one (not exactly a liquid asset) if they could. They can’t afford to get married. If something costs 2x and you only have 1x, you can’t buy it, but you do find yourself with 1x still in your pocket.

      *As I understand it (and I don’t understand Japan so take this with a grain of salt) this has been a problem there for a long time.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Re Donohue and the “modest increase in gas tax:” this is a straw in the wind? Maybe it’s one of those tornado-driven straws that have killed and injured people and other animals in Flyover Country…

    Gee, who pays gas tax, again? Who will be reaping the extractions and rents from “infrasucture improvements”? Folk em all.

    1. Vatch

      The only good aspect of this is that it is a tax on a fossil fuel. However, many of us who support a carbon tax would like that tax to be revenue neutral. That is, the carbon tax (or increased gasoline tax) should be offset by reductions in other taxes. Sales taxes such as the gasoline tax are regressive, and will only increase the difference between the top 0.01% and the rest of us.

      1. jrs

        Yes should be offset with other taxes or with direct redistribution. But yea pretty much anyone arguing for a carbon tax is arguing it should have an offset.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        However, the chance from “no tax is ever good!” to “this tax, at least, is good” is a change for the better, IMNSHO. Of course, it’s always possible to screw it up, but if we want to achieve a rational fiscal policy we’ve got to start somewhere.

        1. aab

          I agree with this 100%. And yet I can’t help but also contemplate how bad things are here that this tiny little baby step is a good sign.

  11. different clue

    So Tillerson supports TPP? Does that mean that Trump secretly supports TPP as well? Was it all a lie?

    The counter-TPP movement should proceed as if that may be true. The counter-TPP movement should not think that TPP is dead. it is being held in ready-reserve for re-rollout. People should be ready to prevent that.

    1. RUKidding

      Exactly. Anyone who believes anything Trump says is a fool. Wait and see what he does. If Tillerson’s in favor of TPP – no surprises there – don’t be surprised if Trump walks back that campaign promise, as well.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            Yeah, if they want to serve in his cabinet they will see things Trump’s way. As the venerable Yves remarked, Trump has a domineering personality. There is little doubt that he will call the shots. This is true of all presidents, really—-the cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the prez. Sometimes you get a prez like Obama, who was more interested in playing golf than foreign policy, so he just let the status quo prevail. Not so with The Donald.

      1. different clue

        Part of our problem is Trump’s extreme Attention Deficit Disorder. He himself doesn’t know what he is going to think from moment to moment.

        Also, he won’t understand the anti-sovereignty aspects of TPP and etc. He will just query them for being good deals or bad deals. It will escape him that some things are not a matter of the deal. Sessions may try reminding him about the sovereignty aspects, IF trump ASKS him.

        That Ross person views trade sanctions and barriers as a set of tire irons to extort better export terms with. If he feels we get better “terms” of export for “our” exporters, he will feel he has done a good thing. Europe especially should beward the Ross man. Ross will try to extort Europe into permitting the import into Europe of all the vilest filthiest Corporate GMO Shitfood there is on the planet. Will the publics of Europe be able to torture and terrorize their European Union Occupation Regime squatting in Brussels into rejecting the Rossman extortion against European food safety standards? Time to start planning your Civil Disruption campaigns, I guess.

        As to Tillerson telling the Officeholders that he supports TPP . . . there too, I don’t know. If people who worked with Tillerson can tell us whether he supported TPP when he chaired Exxon, then we will have a real answer. But since Tillerson is politically knowledgeable, and he knows that the Vile Filth Garbage Traitor Sh*t Scum CongressF*cks who support Free Trade would like one of “their own” leading the State Department, he may have told them what they want to hear in hopes of getting the job.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Yes, there is some “telling them what they want to hear” from Trump also. He wants to make it to the inauguration without getting assassinated. After that, give him his 100 days before calling for impeachment. Apparently he wants RFK Jr. to head a commission on vaccines. That’s a positive “reaching across the aisle” move, IMHO. I don’t see how you can say Trump doesn’t understand what sovereignty is. Everybody wants to call him dumb, an idiot, a racist, narcissist and everything else. Traditionally, you give a prez 100 days before you try to crucify him.

  12. jgordon

    So, millenials are the most likely to have money? Probably because they are the least likely to be married. Once married all sorts of outrageous “necessary” expenses start leaching away resources like money-thirsty vampires, and The State becomes a vigilant menace, always ready to force you into spending money on useless crap that increases financial fragility. That’s rule number one for getting by today.

    No marriage and no need to waste tens of thousands on a worthless wedding and useless jewelry. Don’t buy a house unless it’s super cheap and comes with a couple acres of land. Drive a well maintained car at least ten years old. Don’t pay for furniture or decorations, ever; there’s always free stuff sitting by dumpsters. Shop exclysively at thrift shops like Goodwill for clothes and misc stuff. You also might consider buying a well-equiped van or boat and moving into that. Never ever, ever take on debt for any reason. You do and your freedom is gone and you’re on the slippery slope to being ruined.

    Good advice for getting ahead in life. Why don’t they ever teach this in schools? Scummy educators doom their students with the standard lies designed to turn out obedient consumers constantly living on the razer edge of implosion. You have to be really on top of things growing up in this society not to be hamstrung out the gate. That’s how you get savings!

    1. RUKidding

      Good advice and, in many ways, similar to how I’ve led my life. I’m an Old now, and I do have something “put by” for “rainy weather.” I managed to live at or below my means most of my life, but I confess it helped that I didn’t have kids. Nonetheless I used to be amazed at the living standards of some of my friends.

      Boomers really bought into excess in a huge way. It’s not the way I was raised by my frugal depression era parents. I live much more like they did – comfortably but not extravagently. I’ve never figured out why my siblings went off the rails and got themselves up to their eyebrows in debt the way they did in order to maintain the trappings of “wealth.”

      I’d rather spend my “extra” cash, when I have it, on travel. Many remark to me how “lucky” I am to travel. Well yes and no. Yes in the sense that it is a luxury, but no in that I live very frugally and save constantly.

      It’s a lot harder to do that these days. I do realize that.

    2. nippersmom

      Getting married doesn’t require one to “waste tens of thousands on a worthless wedding and useless jewelry”. The only expenditure getting married actually requires is the cost of the license, which is nominal. I know plenty of unmarried people who spend/have spent more on their house, furniture, cars, etc. than nippersdad and I, or other married people we know, have. Whether to marry or remain single is not the one lifestyle choice people make, with everything else being determined by that decision.

      1. a different chris

        No but it does make establishing where place to live (who lives closer to work?) and certainly any future relocation very, very difficult. That’s an “expenditure” right there, better known as a “hidden cost”.

      2. c_heale

        I couldn’t agree more. If you include the costs for both partners, ignoring taxation (which is often favourable for marriage, but dependent on the country you live in), marriage is cheaper than two people living alone – one accommodation vs two, food and bills can work out cheaper, too. The expense with marriage comes with having children…

    3. Jim Haygood

      Your practical insights used to be imparted to high school students in Home Economics.

      But Home Econ sounded too, errr, blue collar to the aspirational upper middle class. As well, students schooled in Home Econ would cast a jaundiced eye on financing a six-figure college expenditure with debt bearing exceedingly onerous terms. College debt is precisely the sort of scam that well-prepared young people learn to take a hard-nosed look at.

      So for the greater good of all, Home Econ had to be phased out, so that its subversive truisms would not interfere with the vital missions of higher education and consumer upselling.

    4. Waldenpond

      May not be married but what % are living at home or with roommates? So people are still cohabitating to reduce overhead.

      I wouldn’t pick up something by a dumpster, but I frequent thrift stores and estate/yard sales. Once I’m done with my thrift store clothes, they get recycled to other projects. Can even cut small strips to tie up peas and beans in the garden.

      I agree with the no debt. Don’t do it or you’re screwed. I have two kids…. we’ve been very clear, come to us before hand, we’ll help if we can, otherwise you go without and if you ever do debt, you’re on your own.

      Of course, we told both adults not to marry like us. They both did. One ceremony at a park the other signed papers at our house but no parties/weddings. We’ve made clear we can’t afford kids. One has one kid, the other is considering it.

      Managing money, house repairs, land mgmt etc are all electives. Very few take them.

      1. Laughingsong

        I have found great stuff dumpster diving (some of my friends prefer the term ‘gleaning’ – :-D) … Like an almost new couch-bed futon frame (missing one screw, easy-peasy), a perfectly fine box fan (needed the power cord repaired, also easy-peasy), and a brand new – as in still in the box- plate set; 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 4 bowls, and 4 mugs.

        Of course, I live in a university town. When June rolls around we go to the university area where all this is being left in their hurry, and make out like banditos.

        1. jgordon

          I bought a book years ago called “The art and science of Dumpster Diving” when I was in the Marines. What a magnificent book!

          The first thing I did after I bought it was go through dumpsters in the precribed manner and I got so much awesome free stuff–and food–that I couldn’t believe it. The book is a bit dated, but it’s a classic. Go pick up a copy!

          Incidentally any woman who turns up her nose at dumpster diving despite how awesome it can be is not worth knowing, so this always becomes a useful litmus test when looking for a relationship.

  13. Waldenpond

    R taxes… is it that unusual for an occasional R to support taxes that don’t have much impact on the wealthy? Mexico just had protests when they increased fuel costs.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Wow, that article is pretty damning, both of Crowley and the institution that sold her a PhD. The evidence is laid out in great detail, and the confidentiality response by Columbia is absurd. Until the University deals with this directly, it will only serve to devalue the institution. Professor Betts has some ‘splainin’ to do.

  14. Waldenpond

    Trump governance… count me as sceptical that it is unreasonable to predict how an oligarch who outsources his manufacturing, puts his name on everything (privatization), replaces US workers with visas, employs his family, etc. will govern. He’s been an exploiter for decades. Even exploiters dole out some crumbs to the peasants to deflect and prevent the building of guillotines.

  15. Waldenpond

    Sanders problem isn’t his age. He looks like a hypocrite supporting Ds no matter how noxious, being the first to trot out a Trump tweet on the floor (he was memed for it), doing a Russia, Russia, Russia townhall. Every time he does this, a few more dozen are ‘done’. Imploring Sanders to choose people over money? I guess the good part is that writers, though shaking their heads, are admitting Sanders has even more closely aligned with the Ds and their money and his reputation from 20 years ago is no longer enough to coast on and will lose if he runs in 2020.

    1. different clue

      And what exactly was wrong with pulling out the Trump Tweet on the floor which he pulled out? Did the Trump Tweet itself voice sentiments with which you disagree?

      1. Spring Texan

        I loved the trump tweet on the floor. That’s exactly what we need to do, keep throwing his words back at him over and over.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s how I feel. The way to make clear that Trump can’t keep his promises is to keep throwing them back at him.

          Infrastructure would be great, if it were about public goods, which Trump’s won’t be, and was based on deficit spending, which it won’t be.

          ObamaCare replacement would be great, if it were and could ever be what Trump describes, but at best TrumpCare will be ObamaCare Minus.

          I wonder how long it will be before we get the Republican equivalent of what the Obots threw in 2009: “The President is not a dictator,” “He’s only been President X days, give him a chance” and so forth. I give it ’til the end of February.

        2. crittermom

          I loved Bernie’s display of Trump’s tweet, as well. Perfect!
          Trump’s own words are the best ammo, currently. The best way to hold his feet to the fire.

  16. Oregoncharles

    “Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race.”
    This defies biology. All vertebrate social animals have “peck orders” – personal hierarchies, based on personality, strength, etc. Humans do, too, even among hunter-gatherers with no explicit social structure.

    The real question is how far the explicit, institutional hierarchies of all (repeat: all) complex societies are outgrowths of those natural, personal hierarchies. One datum: The taller candidate for US president wins consistently. It happened again this year. It’s more consistent since TV gives voters a more immediate impression of the candidates.

    We aren’t robots or disembodied spirits.

  17. djrichard

    Note the role played by the (badass) National Nurses Union. Organizing infrastructure really, really helps and where else to you find it?

    Too bad the NNU can’t become the basis for a new party. Or can’t they? Healing in all its senses is an excellent basis for policies and party platform.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Occasionally I type “National Nurses Union” for (the badass) NNU when I should type “National Nurses United,” which is their name.

      * * *

      When I added that link, I also wanted to add a link from Jacobin that I had previously run, which urged that the only possible basis for a third party was the union “movement” because only the unions have the necessary infrastructure (read: networks of people and funding). I couldn’t find the link, but I think there’s a lot to be said for that argument, but I foolishly didn’t connect that to the NNU at the time. The same argument in favor of party-building applies to a hostile takeover of the Democrat Party, which is (crossed fingers) what the Berniecrats appear to have done. Awaiting more data….

  18. Jim Haygood

    After all he did for the Ukies:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Vice President Joe Biden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama just eight days before the two are set to leave office. Obama on Thursday called Biden the “best vice president in history.”

    Biden is only the second sitting vice president to receive the award. President Gerald Ford gave his vice president, Nelson A. Rockefeller, the award in 1977 shortly before their terms ended.

    The other vice presidents to receive the award are Hubert Humphrey (in 1980, posthumously) and Richard Cheney, although Cheney was given his award in 1991 for his service as defense secretary under George H.W. Bush.


    Wow … talk about a motley crew. Wonder if Joe and Dick will get together to celebrate their elite status as the only living former veeps with Medals of Freedom.

    Surely a Medal of Freedom is good for a pizza discount or something.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia:

      The Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì Shǐ; Wade–Giles: Erh-shih-szu shih), also known as the Standard Histories (zhengshi 正史) are the Chinese official historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century. The Han dynasty official Sima Qian established many of the conventions of the genre, but the form was not fixed until much later. Starting with the Tang dynasty, each dynasty established an official office to write the history of its predecessor using official court records.

      Conflict of Interest.

      Thus, any objective evaluation has to be done by someone else.

      Only time will tell whether Biden is the best VP.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It is fitting Joe Biden the creator of so many student debt slaves was awarded the Presidential medal of freedom and then hailed as the “best Vice President.”

      1. Jay M

        he will have the shiniest hair, great smile and fairly reasonable comebacks, from the state that cultivates corporations, Delaware

    3. Jay M

      think mof for defense sec cheney trumps joe and dick
      did the rock get it for in flagrante delicto?
      that is like the China(?)?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Vice President Joe Biden was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama just eight days before the two are set to leave office

      Throwing up a little in my mouth. Gawd knows what it was for. Nothing we know about, certainly.

      1. dcrane

        For not challenging Hillary in 2016? I was a bit surprised he didn’t go for it after she started to look really weak.

  19. Montanamaven

    I shake my head every day in utter disbelief at things I hear on Sirius Radio’s political shows. Every Wednesday in the third hour of Make It Plain with Mark Thompson, he has on the great Glen Ford. And every Wednesday Glen lobs a grenade of truth and gets irate phone calls from Obamabots. Last night a woman called in to scold Glen and Mark remarks something like “But Glen, don’t African Americans have a right to be proud of a president who served with great dignity and had a nice family with no scandals?”

    Then I hear Joe Scarborough and Mica talk about how the Obamas will always be remembered for their manners.
    I mean does anybody see that as akin to saying that they were well behaved servants who did as they were told, dressed nice, had cool friends, and didn’t get any funny ideas.

    1. RUKidding

      Yes! This! That’s how I see it when my – mostly white – friend wax lyrical about how “nice” the Obama’s are, and how they raised such good daughters, and there’s no scandals, etc. All very praiseworthy on some levels, but yes, it does feel condescending – as you say: such good mannered servants, so clean, so helpful. Sort of like the downstairs servants on Downton Abbey.

      And then: that’s your major criterion for judging Obama’s presidency? Not mine.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Confirmed and multiplied by Obama’s consistent habit of scolding Black people for their low class behavior.

        The man is quite a shape shifter, impressively so; at this point I imagine it’s so ingrained as to be at the cellular level.

    2. djrichard

      “But Glen, don’t African Americans have a right to be proud of a president who served with great dignity and had a nice family with no scandals?”I’m thinking probably more than a few people think GWB passed that bar too.

    3. polecat

      He’s akin to a Tleilaxu ‘face dancer’ ** which can change height, weight, color, speech pattern, facial features, at will …..

      **Dune reference

      perhaps he was created in one of those genetic tissue vats Tleilax is known for ….. ‘;]

  20. Waldenpond

    California rainfall…. no neighborhood trees out, the electricity hasn’t gone out yet this year and most of our roads are reopened. It was clear and frosty out this am so we have a break before the spigot turns back on.

  21. Montanamaven

    And another thing that makes me crazy is that every day on MSNBC, they repeat the falsehoods that Putin/Russia invaded Georgia and then Crimea and Ukraine. There is another great takedown of that on Counterpunch

    President Saakashvili of Georgia ordered troops into South Ossetia. Russians chased them back to Georgia. President Saakashvili left Georgia and was briefly mayor of Odessa, Ukraine. He was stripped of his citizenship in Georgia.
    Right wing anti- Russians took over Parliament and sent the pro Russian president fleeing. They then made all kinds of threats about making Russians in the East stop speaking Russian. That naturally scared the Russians in East Ukraine and the Crimeans who were essentially Russians.

    97% of Crimeans voted to go BACK to being part of Russia with an 83% turnout for the vote. With the coup in Kiev, it didn’t leave Putin with much of a choice to save his port in Crimea but he also didn’t seem to force the Crimeans at gunpoint either.

    My favorite line in this piece was

    She [Hilary]also made the extremely graceless and undiplomatic comparison of Putin to Hitler, an insult not only to the Russian president but to the memory of the 27 million Russians who died in the ultimate defeat of Naziism.

    I will never understand why anybody would consider her a diplomat. It WAS graceless,to say the least, to not understand the sacrifice of the Russian people in WWII. I guess the answer may be that you will do or say anything to be one of those “Christian Soldiers marching off to war with the cross of Jesus going on before”. I had to sing that gd song every Friday morning in third grade in the Christian grade school in Illinois I went to.

      1. Ancient1

        Look into Victoria Huland’s work in the Ukraine to try and contain the Russians, Good old American interference in another nations affairs in order to maintain the American Empire. Clinton’s handmaiden. She, Huland, is doing the same in Cyprus.

        1. HopeLB


          Maybe this newly manufactured Russia hysteria/MSM onslaught is not due to either the Blob’s fear of US citizens’ Islamic Terrorist fatigue or to the possibilty that when US citizens become aware we were backing AlQueda in Syria, calling them moderate rebels, that Americans might think these same Islamic Terrorists can turn into the “good guys” and might not be so bad, but instead is due to our best ally, Israel, viewing Russia as an Iranian supporter, and so as the number one threat to control of the Mideast? At least this would explain why Victoria Nuland was pushing for regime change when Ukrain’s democratically elected President wanted to make a deal with Russia. She was thinking globally and long term.
          Or it could be the arable Ag land uncovered after the perma frost melts?

          1. EoinW

            The economic angle is a possibility. Use Ukraine as a GMO backdoor into Europe and also for fracking(Hunter Biden, come on down!). However, if I remember correctly, the anti-Putin/anti-Russian narrative kicked off after Edward Snowden fled to Moscow. Economics is fine and so is ideology, but embarrass any of our dear leaders and there will be hell to pay. I suspect it was as personal as that. After all, what has Julian Assange done wrong? Only the worst thing anyone could do to members of the 1%. Reveal what they really are like!

  22. Steely Glint

    Lambert, if you’re going to mention the Shock Doctrine in relation to IC reports, you have to also include the prepared solution. There is none, unless you might conclude the powers that be in both parties are looking for the neolibs/libertarians hanging on to political/economic power, creating chaos and having their economic solutions handy. Then, and only then, would we see the fight between the two. As for Trump and IC reports, please refer to http://www.juancole.com/2017/01/russian-trump-follow.html, and read the link to James S. Henry in the American Interest. Be prepared for an hour’s read & a one time, free look-see. It is mind boggling, and well documented.

      1. Steely Glint

        So what? You base your post on a somewhat undocumented link without any indication that you have read what he has to say? Cole has been under attack for his views on Israeli/ Palestinian views for a long tine. Innuendo argument is no good my friend.

          1. Steely Glint

            Oh sigh, appeal to authority? I hope that was sarcasm. NC has linked to him several times. Does the site “Appeal to Authority”? Scare quotes intentional.

            1. Waldenpond

              You did it again. haha!

              You made demands on what a writer here must do. You appealed to authority rather than list an argument with a link. You demanded someone else do homework rather than list what you felt were salient points.

              Then you deflected by comparing your individual comment to NC…. ignoring that NC is here to educate, lists multiple readings on particular subjects along with original writing and analysis.

              A brief selection is always useful with a back up link. A summary of the argument/s and what you find compelling in the argument would be useful also. More people would be likely to read your recommendation.

              1. Steely Glint

                Actually the link to Henry S. James article was a very long as I mentioned, so an overview is just about impossible. He gave a very comprehensive look at Trump’s investments in Trump tower SoHo, Toronto, and I believe Tampa. His main idea seemed to be that the IC looked at some of the investors on an individual case instead of looking at the whole picture. Russian mobsters were turned into informants, incredibly by Loretta Lynch, etc. Jez. I hope that gets you interested enough to spend a little time reading.

      1. Steely Glint

        Once again, what is your point? Did you bother to read what I linked to, or did you just go negative? Kill the messenger has historically proven to be dangerous. Is this a water cooler group that gathers around, drinks the water, and allows no new opinions? I don’t believe that is what Lambert intended.

        1. hunkerdown

          Just responding to what you posted: a link to a dubious source with a link to a known warmongering think tank and a promise of a long read. If there is content there whose aims and prejudices can not be determined just from its source, the onus is on you to excerpt and analyze and not just exploit the Jack Chick curiosity gap.

          So, if my present appraisal of The American Interest is that it exists solely to sell self-righteous war, a foregone, predetermined conclusion that benefits its benefactors and is in no way in the interest of any living thing in North America, is there a particular reason why the proper course of action is to entertain their delusions and bloviation, rather than round the warmongers up and render them unto Assad or Putin or random gang-bangers who will give them what they dearly want without endangering the rest of us?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I doubt you will find it an effective strategy to hand out assignments to NC commenters. I skimmed the introduction to The American Interest article, finding this:

          We don’t know the full relationship between Donald Trump, the Trump family and their enterprises with the network of world-class criminals known as the Russian oligarchs. Henry acknowledges that his article poses more questions than answers, establishes more connections than full explanations. But what Henry does show should prompt every American to rise up in defense of their country to demand a thorough, out-in-the-open congressional investigation with no holds barred. The national security of the United States of America and of peace around the world, especially in Europe, may well depend on how thoroughly we understand the rich network of relationships between the 45th President and the Russian oligarchy.

          So, no, I’m not going to invest “an hour’s read” in “more questions than answers” and “more connections than full explanations” (although it would have been especially helpful if you’d used your one-time read to pick out some of the actual answers and explanations). Oh well.

          More broadly: Oligarchy means rule by the rich. Trump (like various Russians, along with Buffet, the Kochs, Soros, etc.) is an oligarch. Rule by the rich is conflicted and corrupt by definition — use of public office for private gain — so all the liberal (or in this case, conservative) establishment bleating about conflict of interest is beside the point.

          It’s especially noteworthy that the intro doesn’t acknowledge that there are American oligarchs in addition to Russian ones. Are we really to believe that there are pure — unconflicted, uncorrupt — squillionaires out there, and if only we find the right one to rule us, everything will be jake? Or that if we re-balance the broker role that the party establishments have played between their squillionaire funders and the voters, that things will get better?

          NOTE In general, I think that “follow the money” is a very good plan, and Cole is right to say “Look there!” as opposed to investing their time and personal branding in making piss jokes, as career “progressives” are doing. And when there are more answers than questions, and more explanations than connections, do feel free to provide them, with quotes!

          1. Phil

            “Oligarchy means rule by the rich”

            I have seen this tag in your comments, Lambert, but I don’t think it is entirely spot-on. Oligarchy means rule by the few. That can mean rule by the rich, to be sure, yet there are many other bases for oligarchic power, among them bloodline, ideology, education, race, tradition, culture, patronage network, technocratic skill–even virtue.

    1. different clue

      My memory is that Juan Cole supported “Assad Must Go” for several years and long thought the “moderate rebels” really existed and could take over and Freedomize and Democrafy Syria if they were just aided hard enough.

      He finally gave up on that hope when it became clear the moderate liver eating cannibals were not so different from the extremist liver eating cannibals and that Assad won’t be going anywhere.

      1. Steely Glint

        I would not call that a correct assessment. I believe that he recognized that Syria was a mess, especially after taking in so many Iraqi refugees & experiencing a record drought. I don’t believe he would call any Syrians or Persians liver-eaters.

        1. Carolinian

          Actually it is a correct assessment. He also favored the Libya intervention. It’s true that Cole has spoken out for Palestinians and is doubtless a genuine scholar on the region but I have to agree with the others here: if you have a point to make just make it. Don’t give out a homework assignment. There’s a handy quote button just above if you’d like to offer some excerpts from the article that might provoke people’s interest.

          1. Steely Glint

            So I linked to Cole, and mentioned the link in his article & said it was a once in a month free view – I can’t link again, you can.

            1. Steely Glint

              Sorry, I was able to get into the article once again, so here goes.

              So why spend time collecting and reviewing material that either doesn’t point to anything illegal or in some cases may even be impossible to verify? Because, we submit, the mere fact that such assertions are widely made is of legitimate public interest in its own right. In other words, when it comes to evaluating the probity of senior public officials, the public has the right to know about any material allegations—true, false, or, most commonly, unprovable—about their business partners and associates, so long as this information is clearly labeled as unverified.

              Furthermore, the individual case-based approach to investigations employed by most investigative journalists and law enforcement often misses the big picture: the global networks of influence and finance, licit and illicit, that exist among business people, investors, kleptocrats, organized criminals, and politicians, as well as the “enablers”—banks, accounting firms, law firms, and havens. Any particular component of these networks might easily disappear without making any difference. But the networks live on. It is these shadowy transnational networks that really deserve scrutiny.

              1. Waldenpond

                OK, here goes. Oops, off to a bad start…

                Paragraph 1: CIA consultant believes CIA should give unverified data of Russian hacking (hahaha!) to sketchy outlet Buzzfeed.

                Paragraph 2: David Corn really, truly, really (pretty please) wanted to publish this.

                Paragraph 3: Is plausib.e, isn’t proven… is nonsense.
                Just as plausible…

                Paragraph 4: Foreigners can blackmail. US can blackmail. J Edgar Hoover.

                Nothing so far, but let’s keep going…

                Paragraph 5: damage, pornographic, naked, grope, Trump is disgusting. Forgiveness, teflon.

                Paragraph 6: bankrupt six times! alleged, shadowy, naive, ill-gotten, if, knowingly

                Paragraph 7: “businessman” (author’s scare quotes)possibly, alleges, links, accuses.

                Paragraph 8: strip clubs, sex parties, puritan

                Paragraph 9: surveys, doesn’t allege, heavily hints, Balzac and Puzo quotes.

                Paragraph 10: Daily Kos round up

                Paragraph 11: if, shame, reputation, propriety, far-fetched.

                Well, that was a waste of time.

              2. hunkerdown

                Alright! That’s fair and relevant and the sort of subject matter NC loves. Shadowy networks are interesting — the Chalupas and the Ukrainian government efforts to fix the election in favor of neocon Hillary, as detailed in the recent Politico Shopper article by Vogel, rather more so than the permanent war spooks’ desperation to continue their propaganda remits.

                Alas, NC linked to another TAI article already this month. Thanks for spending your cookie, Waldenpond.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > the sort of subject matter NC loves.

                  As long as there’s evidence and some nuance. Don’t you feel you’re overstating the Vogel article? After all, Chalupas was a paid oppo researcher, doing what paid oppo researchers do.

                  1. hunkerdown

                    I may well be overselling — will back off on it. At the same time, I’ll be happy to see the sisters hating life for overselling what they were selling and will read of their travails and disappointments with great interest.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, if you’re going to mention the Shock Doctrine in relation to IC reports, you have to also include the prepared solution

      Thanks for the response today to yesterday’s Water Cooler.

      First, we don’t (“you have to”) do assignments. Second, I did, in fact, provide the “proposed solution.” From the post, I ask:

      What is it that seems “politically impossible” now but may become “politically inevitable”?

      And then answer:

      2. Since November 8 we’ve had four crises of legitimacy of escalating intensity, each one pointing to a change in the Constitutional order

      Describing the change as follows:

      Needless to say, once we give the IC veto power over a President before the vote is tallied, and before the electoral college votes, and after the electoral college votes but before the oath of office and the Inaugural, we’re never going to be able to take it back. This is a crossing the Rubicon moment.

      Perhaps asking a rhetorical question and then answering it was too subtle a transition?

      * * *

      If you view part of the reason for the current liberal/Democrat hysteria as panic over their loss of power in all branches of the Federal government, it makes sense that they would retain a power base in the IC. Hence, the hysteria at questioning the CIA (“The very idea!”) and so forth.

  23. Gareth

    Speaking of Democrat party infrastructure, or lack therof:

    Wisconsin liberals blame Democratic Party infrastructure for unopposed Supreme Court race


    “After Wisconsin Democrats suffered sweeping defeats up and down the ballot in November, they will offer no challenge to Republican-backed Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler in April.

    Some on the left say that’s the fault of a weakened state party infrastructure, while others argue progressives have been intimidated by massive spending from groups on the right.”

    1. Jen

      Which would be valid if they don’t have an alternative vision they are willing to present. Bernie’s campaign being indicative of what might be possible if you grow a f***ing pair.

  24. ewmayer

    o “Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren’t born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, ‘managed,’ and ‘supervised’ by other human beings | The Hampton Institute” — An astonishingly bold claim, so what actual evidence did the authors present to support it? A wide-ranging historical survey of human societies from prehistoric to ancient to modern which supports the claim, i.e. which would thoroughly debunk “every tribe needs a chief” as myth? Er, not so much, in fact they admit “While hierarchical human relations have existed in many forms throughout history”. Basically they let their objections to modern klepto-captalism give themselves leeway to indulge in counterfactual, ahistorical twaddle-spewing. They also utterly fail to consider the emergence of hierarchical “pecking orders” as seen in virtually all social species in the context of evolution. Completely unscientific but unsurprisingly so, since it was written by a bunch of economists.

    o Had a gander at the Sydney Morning Herald’s version of the VW-settlement story … I think I threw up in my mouth a little on reading this hagiographic line: ‘The Volkswagen plea, filed in federal court in Detroit, serves as a capstone for Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s enforcement of corporate misconduct and stands as one of the top environmental cases pursued under President Barack Obama. Investigated in just over 16 months, the Justice Department case also delivers on promises to hold individuals accountable.’

    o Also worth a look: Mish’s piece of late yesterday, “Financial Times Editorial Seeks Restrictions On Free Speech to Stop False News “Propaganda War”

    1. Waldenpond

      Hierarchies…. in general humans are intellectually superior to all other species when accruing benefits to themselves yet no more intellectually or socially superior when it comes to accountability.

      People that can work and cooperate in non-hierarchical groups are outside the genetic natural order… just mal-adaptive mutations.

      It is not a distortion of the drive to survive that an individual would parasite off of other humans to the others detriment. It is a demonstration of reproductive strength that an individual would hoard to the extent that other individuals would die off. It is further a demonstration of species survival that individuals hoard and exploit their environment to the degree that the whole species dies off. Extinction is natural.

  25. Centaur

    Re Daily Caller and pre-existing conditions. I have no idea where they get the number of 135,000 but it feels very low to me. I know that, pre- ACA, my wife and I were denied coverage and ended up in a state high risk pool for pretty trivial stuff. It basically boiled down to being in our mid/ late fifties and getting more miles on the clock. I assume we are far from alone in this.

    FWIW, Families USA says that under a study they performed in 2012, nearly 20% of the young adult population aged 18-24 could be denied coverage without ACA. That number rises to 50% for the cohort aged 55-64. http://familiesusa.org/blog/2014/03/demographics-people-pre-existing-health-condition

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the distinction is between actual pre-existing conditions and that which insurance companies would use, as a pretext, to deny coverage.

      I thought the number was low, too, but I couldn’t find a better one. The Kaiser figure is from a poll, and is asks whether you or a family member” has one. That seems a little sketchy to me.

    2. Yves Smith

      I had a great deal of difficulty finding the story, but right around when the ACA was being passed, someone did a great analysis of what an insurance co exec said re denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The # didn’t sound terrible but when you compared it to claims over some level ($50K? $100k?) it was 1/2 of that total.

      The point he made was under existing law not disclosing all your previous medical conditions was considered fraud and the insurer could cancel coverage. If you submit a big claim, they go scouring through your records to find ANYTHING you hadn’t told them, like acne or a concussion years ago and then would cancel your policy.

      Long winded way of saying yes the definition is awfully malleable. And I agree that # can’t be right. There are millions with diabetes, for starters.

      1. centaur

        Even the low end of the HHS estimate of 50-129 million people subject to denial of insurance is.. 50 million! http://www.factcheck.org/2011/02/millions-with-preexisting-conditions/

        And to Yves’s point, the census of patients subject to outright insurance denial is not the whole story. Consider how insurers treated patients with pre existing conditions when said patients actually could get coverage.

        Such patients had to pay higher premiums due to the pre-existing conditions (which could price them out of coverage), or, had the conditions excluded from coverage. Exclusions could also pave the way for denying actual claims for such covered patients. The insurer would assert that the patient’s illness, while different from the an excluded condition, nonetheless was caused by the excluded condition. Fruit of the poisoned tree as it were. Fraud charges not necessary.

  26. june z

    Poet Wallace Stevens, unlike most other conservatives at the time, accepted Social Security. He said, “To be certain of a regular income, as in the case of social security, is not the same thing as to be able to repair any damage, or to meet any emergency.” Stevens, justifying SS to his coworkers at the Hartford Fire and Indemnity Company in 1937. Opus Posthumous, rev. ed., 233. He argued that social insurance does not compete with private insurance; that people, once guaranteed a regular income, could afford the types of insurance sold by private companies.

  27. witters

    If hierachies are “natural”, then my regular Thursday meeting of longtime friends is – as I always suspected – deeply unnatural. What pathology has struck us down in this awful way?

    1. Waldenpond

      I look at human thinking as muddled and our physical bodies as not particularly practical and I can’t help thinking we are much more the product of mutation than positive adaptive genetics. I also see a broad range of behavior that is normal so when I see this specific category of human interaction called hierarchy (resource accumulation) labeled ‘natural’ (ha! no one would give that term any credibility on a food package) or not… I’m kind of meh.

      Hierarchy (right to resource accumulation) just seems an indoctrinated system…. parents are forced to comply with a hierarchical system, kids are forced to comply with a hierarchical school system, workers are forced to comply with a hierarchical work system, individuals are allowed in or excluded from neighborhoods based on arbitrary hierarchies.

      Frankly, if hierarchies are ‘natural’ then inequality is natural. Which is of course the neo-liberal position…. just not so much inequality that the lower orders start building guillotines.

  28. SteveK

    Re: Monica Crowley

    Seems to me that Trump, being Trump, would cheer Crowley’s “ethics be damned” approach. It should be clear by now to everyone this side of the birth canal (infants and comatose included) that Trump not only has no ethical/moral compass or bumpers; he doesn’t even understand the concept. In Trumpland, might is right, and ends justify the means. As such, appealing to Trump on ethical grounds is an exercise in vanity.

    I wish people–especially the press–would learn, or accept, that reality already: Trump cannot be shamed! Without knowing your enemy, the best lines of attack are shrouded. In a few days Trump may have the power of the White House, but he’s still the drunk at the bar yelling about immigrants and trying to grab him some . . . whatever. As such, he should be treated with no respect, ignored if possible, mocked when able, and harmed economically and politically at every turn.

    “Resist” will not be enough. Revolt is required, and revolting, by definition, is unpleasing. At the risk of nodding positively towards a highly reprehensible individual, we’re gonna need to be more than a little nasty with Trump.

    I’d be remiss to leave w/o saying that as a Ph.D. who, after 18 months of fieldwork, wrote every word of my dissertation (with proper citation, of course), and three years out struggle to find sustenance-providing, much less profitable or intellectually rewarding work: Revoke degree and fire all committee members, at least.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump cannot be shamed

      Since so much liberal performative speech involves shaming — “calling out,” “tell X to ____” — it will be interesting to see if they can display adaptability and adopt other tactics. I’m guessing no.

  29. meeps

    The third donkey: Its solution looks creative until you see it for what it is–standard Democrat-party problem solving. Just lower the bar! ;D

    Speaking of which, from the healthcare links:

    “In a Kaiser Family Foundation national survey, 50% of respondents said they or a member of their household had a pre-existing condition.” Damn, that’s sobering. Or, exactly what one might expect to encounter in a complex, biological system?

    But this was America. Although she was already great and not to be bothered with facts n’ stuff, her coterie of credentialed experts pulled her up by her bootstraps and worked the problem. Armed only with the two rules of neoliberalism and the miracle of underwriting, they arrived at a smart, creative and innovative solution: “These high-risk pools likely covered just a fraction of the number of people with pre-existing conditions who lacked insurance, due in part to design features that limited enrollment.”

    I’ll not recount those “features” here, just wait on bated breath for the beautiful, great “improvements” sure to come from the next panel of American thought leaders.

    Did someone say it’s the year 2017?

    1. Yves Smith

      I love than donkey.

      He goes up to the bar, looks as if he’s deciding how hard it would be to jump over it, then tries plowing through, then goes, “Fuck that” and just removes it.

  30. Victoria

    Re: The Hampton Institute “Hierarchies aren’t natural phenomena”; simply untrue. Their specific critique of capitalist hierarchies is fine, but all human societies (and indeed all primates) develop some type of hierarchy, as do other animal “societies” (e.g., wolves, with their alphas and betas, and elephants, with their elders). As to humans, I recall seeing a study years ago that stated that whenever 5 or more people work together, they start to specialize tasks–it’s just more efficient than everyone trying to do everything–and also to form a hierarchy with one or two people being most responsible for making final decisions. Unfortunately those hierarchies don’t form based on merit. I call it the “gorilla problem,” because in my personal experience people tend to automatically defer to the “big gorilla”–the richest/most privileged or otherwise most “dominant” personality style–rather than selecting leaders in a more constructive and thoughtful way, or just working together co-operatively.

  31. Procopius

    I am not going to give WaPo a click, so I don’t know if they reported Pompeo’s actual words, but I’m extremely glad to see him make the statement (although who knows how much his word is worth, and he’s taking over a huge agency with it’s own culture which he will probably not be able to change). I’d even prefer him to use the phrase, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” since that would cover more ground than “torture.”

    As for Monica Crowley it seems there would be straightforward ways to find out who her PhD advisor was. Make his name famous throughout the land.

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