2:00PM Water Cooler 1/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Martin Luther King Day

Our Famously Free Press

“Con­sider the sa­la­cious, over-the-top al­leg­a­tions in a 35-page dossier pre­pared by a former MI6 Brit­ish in­tel­li­gence op­er­at­ive for a Wash­ing­ton-based polit­ic­al-re­search firm that CNN de­scribed and BuzzFeed pub­lished. In­ter­twined with plaus­ible, but un­veri­fi­able, ac­cus­a­tions were items that were clearly in­ac­cur­ate or even laugh­able. The ef­fect of the doc­u­ment is to in­ocu­late Trump against po­ten­tially more com­prom­ising in­form­a­tion that Rus­si­an in­tel­li­gence or oth­ers may try to use to un­der­mine the le­git­im­acy of our polit­ic­al pro­cess and elec­tions. It even gives him a meas­ure of pro­tec­tion against any derog­at­ory in­form­a­tion, re­gard­less of wheth­er it’s true” [Cook Political Report]. Either “fake news” as a partisan device has jumped the shark, or it’s become a generic term. The latter might — he said cautiously — end up helping critical thinking; after all, any concept of “fake news” that doesn’t include Judy Miller’s WMD “reporting” for the [genuflects] New York Times is just “any stick to beat a dog” material.

“A hellscape of lies and distorted reality awaits journalists covering President Trump” [WaPo]. As opposed to?

Trump Transition

“Sometime early last fall, John Dean says he began having nightmares about a Trump presidency. He would wake in the middle of the night, agitated and alarmed, struggling to calm his nerves. ‘I’m not somebody who remembers the details of dreams,’ he told me in a recent phone call from his home in Los Angeles. ‘I just know that they were so bad that I’d force myself awake and out of bed just to get away from them'” [The Atlantic]. I’ve heard other examples of this phenomenon from the Beltway.

“President-elect Donald Trump has tapped two fellow New York-area real estate developers and partners, Richard LeFrak and Steve Roth, to lead a council of 15 to 20 builders and engineers that will oversee his $1 trillion infrastructure proposal” [The Week]. “LeFrak, like Trump the wealthy scion of a New York real estate dynasty, has known Trump for decades and the two men socialize together. Roth is chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, which controls two of Trump’s most valuable assets — the president-elect earned some $22.7 million pretax last year from the two projects, office buildings at 1290 Sixth Ave. in New York City and 555 California Street in San Francisco.” Well, it’s an oligarchy. We’ll see who benefits from the infrastructure spending performed in this mode; my guess is that it won’t be voters, of either party.

“John Lewis, Donald Trump, and the Meaning of Legitimacy” [David Remnick, The New Yorker]. David Remnick has lost his mind. He — and Lewis — lead the effort to delegitimize Trump with the discredited Russian hacking story much beloved of Clintonites. Heaven forfend that Lewis or Remnick should delegitimize Trump by pointing to millions of voters disenfranchized by CrossCheck, disproportionately poor and black, and a straight replay of how Jebbie helped steal election 2000 for W in Florida! I mean, that sounds like the sort of civil rights issue that [genuflects] the John Lewis of old would have taken seriously. Not fairy tales about Vlad the Impaler!

“Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan” [WaPo]. “President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.”

“Trump’s right about drug prices: Our view” [USA Today]. “Donald Trump has certainly gotten the pharmaceutical industry’s attention with his ruminations about drug prices. Within 20 minutes of last Wednesday’s news conference, in which the president-elect called for the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, the industry shed roughly $25 billion in stock value. Trump is nothing if not blunt, and in this case, he happens to be right. Drug companies are, he says, ‘getting away with murder. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly, and we’re going to save billions of dollars.'” Could be that jawboning big pharma is Trump’s ace-in-the-hole on health care reform?

2016 Post Mortem

“David Brock Wants To Build His Own Koch Donor Network” [Buzzfeed]. “The Brock retreat will offer donors a lineup of closed-door meetings focused almost entirely on ways for Democrats to claw back political power and oppose the next president: Clinton pollster John Anzalone on “Tactics To Win”; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and veteran strategist Ron Klain on Donald Trump’s first 100 days; former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, by videoconference, on redistricting; and three sitting attorneys general on strategic role of Democratic states in the first term. Next week’s retreat, according to Brock, has drawn interest from new donors. Of the 120 who are confirmed to attend, about one third, he said, have never given to one of his organizations, including a ‘new contingent’ from the Silicon Valley community.” Well, there’s plenty of stupid money in Silicon Valley, so I’m sure Brock’s new grift will be a success.

“It is our claim today that, in retrospect, the original series identified a contagion at the heart of the Obama Coalition: the weakness with rural and small-town voters. We believe that this contagion was (a) consequential and (b) spread throughout Barack Obama’s two terms” [RealClearPolitics]. “We’ll discuss (b) throughout the series, but we wanted to offer a few notes on (a). The spread of this contagion was consequential for two reasons. First, as we described in the previous piece, rural and small-town America still casts a lot of votes. In some of these geographical divisions, rural and small-town America casts a majority of the votes; winning less than a third of those votes in the region would therefore doom a Democratic campaign. Second, rural and small-town America is, generally speaking, efficiently spread throughout the United States.”

“CNN/ORC Poll: Most say Russian hacking didn’t change election outcome” [CNN]. “But there is less agreement on whether the intelligence community’s conclusions are correct. About 43% say it is extremely or very likely that the intelligence community’s assessment is correct, with another 32% saying that is somewhat likely. About one-quarter, 24%, say it’s unlikely to be true. Democrats are more likely to think the intelligence community’s assessment is correct: 74% of Democrats see that as very or extremely likely, compared with 17% of Republicans.”

When you’ve lost Bob Woodward:

“Can the DNC be saved?” [CNN]. Yes. Fire all the Clintonites.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Political agnostics who are skeptical about Big Government “solutions,” left or right, view the current hullabaloo about the Trump presidency with some detachment. What’s remarkable to us is the extremism, not just of those bitter about Clinton’s loss, but by insiders who are threatened by the possibility Trump may upset their insider skims and scams” [Of Two Minds].

Obama Hagiography

“BARACK OBAMA BELONGS TO THE AGES” [Todd S. Purdum, The Atlantic]. “Now he belongs to the ages” is, of course, Stanton’s famous remark at Lincoln’s deathbed. Lincoln. Dear Lord.

“The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R.” [David Leonhardt, New York Times]. “[Jonathon Chait’s] book is a brave one, because journalists are usually loath to call a politician successful, for fear of being branded naïve or partisan.” Chait. Eeeeeew. Remember that Spy Magazine feature, “Logrolling In Our Time”?

Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, January 2017: Respectable [Econoday]. But: “This month new orders are barely positive whilst backlog remained in contraction (but less so). This is far from an excellent survey” [Econintersect]. But: “Although there was an improvement in the employment index it remained in negative territory at -1.7 and the average workweek index was -4.2 from -7.0 previously” [Economic Calendar].

Shipping: “Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported – and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation’s container port traffic” [Calculated Risk]. “On a rolling 12 month basis, inbound traffic was up 0.6% compared to the rolling 12 months ending in November. Outbound traffic was up 0.9% compared to 12 months ending in November. The downturn in exports in 2015 was probably due to the slowdown in China and the stronger dollar. Now exports are picking up a little – but the stronger dollar might impact exports once again.”

Construction: “Hotel developers looking to speed up a project’s time to market are increasingly turning to new-breed modular hotel designs, which have evolved to the point where customized, fully finished guestrooms are now factory assembled and shipped to the job site. And as evidenced by the variety of modular hotel projects now underway nationwide, it’s a product that’s not nearly as cookie-cutter as one might expect” [Hotel News Notes]. Could modularity be an alternative to “stick built”? Or is it already?

Retail: “American consumers splurged to close out 2016, but the spending wasn’t evenly spread around. New figures from the government showed strong gains in car sales and in online shopping, with overall sales surging 4.4% in the fourth quarter, but little other good news for the retail world” [Wall Street Journal]. ” In all of 2016, spending rose 11% at online retailers and fell almost 6% at department stores. The figures show the retail economy is getting stronger but that companies still are scrambling to change their supply chains as fast as consumers are changing buying patterns.”

Retail: “An unprecedented volume of online sales drove another record year for returns, with holiday shoppers projected to return more than 5.8 million packages via UPS during the first full week of January 2017, including 1.3 million packages on Jan. 5 alone, the Atlanta-based transport and logistics giant predicted” [DC Velocity].

Retail: “Retailers are converting empty mall space into makeshift distribution centers used for package pickup and returns of goods bought online. At the same time, online merchants are opening physical stores to reach more customers, either via short-term leases in pop-up stores or long-term tenancies like Amazon.com” [Wall Street Journal, “Mall Owners Find Relief From Unlikely Source: Online Retailers”]

Shipping: “Strong global air freight growth in recent months looks set to continue into 2017, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting ‘encouraging signs’ of the high peak season demand continuing into 2017, particularly from consumer electronics and their component parts” [Lloyd’s Loading List].

Political Risk: “After a lackluster outturn in 2016, economic activity is projected to pick up pace in 2017 and 2018, especially in emerging market and developing economies. However, there is a wide dispersion of possible outcomes around the projections, given uncertainty surrounding the policy stance of the incoming U.S. administration and its global ramifications. The assumptions underpinning the forecast should be more specific by the time of the April 2017 World Economic Outlook, as more clarity emerges on U.S. policies and their implications for the global economy” [International Monetary Fund].

Political Risk: “Trump: Dollar Is ‘Too Strong’ And ‘It’s Killing Us'” [Barron’s]. Great headline, from this story: [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump Warns on House Republican Tax Plan”]. Where the lead is: “President-elect Donald Trump criticized a cornerstone of House Republicans’ corporate-tax plan, which they had pitched as an alternative to his proposed import tariffs, creating another point of contention between the incoming president and congressional allies.”

Political Risk: “The investment community, like Americans themselves, is grappling with how literal [sic] to take the seemingly visceral remarks. Some of the strident positions taken during the campaign have been softened, including the nomination of at least five men from Goldman Sachs, not pushing for criminal charges against Clinton, and citing China as a currency market manipulator on Day 1 (which, in any event, is now said to be not the day after inauguration but Monday January 23). It is the uncertainty that is weighing on the greenback today” [Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve].

Political Risk: “‘Textbook short squeeze’ for the pound — analysts assess May’s Brexit plans” [MarketWatch].

The Fed: “New York Fed President William Dudley on Tuesday encouraged homeowners to find “prudent” ways to tap into the equity that has built up in the homes, saying the boost in consumption would be a welcome shot-in-the-arm to the economy” [MarketWatch]. What could go wrong?

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on liberalism (“The libs have just gone mad. It is to be seen if Trump can keep them at bay”) [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 57, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 17 at 11:59am. Mr. Market is hiding under his desk until Friday?

Health Care

“Get Health Insurance Through Your Employer? ACA Repeal Will Affect You, Too” [Health Affairs]. “Less noticed, but no less important, the ACA also brought critical new protections to people in large employer plans.”


“Behind New Zealand’s wild plan to purge all pests” [Nature]. “The country is gearing up to get rid of rats, possums, stoats and other invasive predators by 2050. Is it a pipe dream?”

“The United States endured 15 weather-related billion-dollar disasters in 2016, the second most to occur in a given year dating to 1980, according to NOAA. Only 2011 had more with 16 weather-related disasters costing that much” [Weather.com (PT)]. “Near-record warm temperatures blanketed the United States from coast to coast in 2016, propelling the Lower 48 to its second warmest year on record.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Evanston releases video of police stopping man suspected of stealing his own car” [Chicago Tribune (TG)].

Class Warfare

“The Davos Disconnect” [Bloomberg]. “One thing that’s up: revenue for the WEF itself. Payments from partnerships – the corporations and consulting firms that take center stage at Davos – was up 25 percent over the previous year. Memberships and participation income was flat but the organization enjoyed an overall increase of 14 percent.” Everything is fine.

“Illinois legislators OK corporate tax giveaway amid budget crisis” [Chicago Reporter (TG)]. It’s bipartisan!

“Workers in their 20s are more likely to get free food than health insurance” [Quartz]. “But what the young adults lack in stability, they make up with free food. That’s the top job perk reported by those between 18 and 29, according to a survey Jobvite released today (March 23) that polled 2,035 adults in the US. Thirty-five percent of them say their companies provide them with free snacks and meals—a benefit that’s become more common than health and dental insurance for this demographic.”

“The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States” [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

“Google’s goals with the AMP Project are laudable, but there are major security and UX concerns that need to be addressed. In its current form, AMP is bad for the open web and should be changed or eliminated” [80×24]. But: “Make no mistake. AMP is about lock-in for Google. AMP is meant to keep publishers tied to Google.” That is “laudable” how?

“Aldous Huxley, Dying of Cancer, Left This World Tripping on LSD (1963)” [Open Culture].

“Unlike tech companies such as Apple and Snapchat, which keep employees in the dark about projects and ambitions, Facebook routinely shares all kinds of secrets with all of its workers at Friday afternoon Q&A sessions that Zuckerberg has been running for a decade” [ReCode]. “What’s most surprising: Almost none of it leaks out…. We spoke with more than a half-dozen current and former employees, and almost all of them mentioned peer pressure as a key motivator for keeping secrets secret. … ‘People would be pissed if someone else leaked something,’ explained one former employee. ‘You don’t betray the family.'” That’s called omerta. What could go wrong? Especially if Zuckerberg runs for President in 2020….

* * *

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 (Isolato):

Isolato writes: “These mysterious remnants to Incan culture are located in the Sacred Valley and, it is theorized, were agricultural research stations as each level had its own microclime…..that I’m not so sure! B/W infrared.”

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. Steve H.

    : Could be that jawboning big pharma is Trump’s ace-in-the-hole on health care reform?

    Could it be that in this case, and with the F-35, the predictable drop in stock price from his tweets could be taken advantage of by his friends?

    1. Anne

      Starting to feel like Trump is giving us his version of Bush’s “now, watch this drive,” except in Trump’s case, it’s more like “now, watch the stock market!”

      And maybe this is another reason why Trump’s plan for – I don’t even know what to call it – “segregating?” his assets is possibly wholly inadequate if his comments are able to move markets to financially benefit him and his family.

      Here’s one thing I think I know, for sure: maybe Trump does have an effect on drug prices, somehow, but they aren’t just going to sit back and take it, they’re going to get it back from somewhere. I, for one, would be curious if the elimination of drug advertising would have any downward influence on drug prices. My husband’s and my usual response after the litany of side effects is dutifully read to the TV viewer – and the list is long (I am especially intrigued by the one that goes something like, “in some cases, lymphomas have happened” – complete lack of agency) – is “Hey, I want to take that drug!” This follows on a news story recently about the negative health effects of marijuana, which we are told, sadly, we don’t have a lot of information about because we can’t study it the way it needs to be. Have these people listened to the known side effects of legal drugs prescribed by doctors? Have they ever checked out the side effects of ingesting alcohol?

      Come on, people, this is all about money, money, money!

      Anyway, I’m off track here, sorry – I guess this is my roundabout way of saying we (1) need more transparency on Trump’s holdings, and (2) a much better watchdog on his financial dealings than we currently have – which is exactly none, I think.

      And no, I don’t think he’s going to save us from the evil pharma overlords.

      1. Steve H.

        : Come on, people, this is all about money, money, money!

        Is it wrong to say that this is just speculation? I mean, like speculating on the stock market, folks… (slow clap)

        I don’t think we’re gonna get that transparency or watchdog, since the gains for the winner are so high. Paraphrasing Steinbeck, the elites see themselves as temporarily depressed presidents. Isn’t it odd that the Clinton Global Initiative is shutting down, when the namesake couple has time freed up to be able to dedicate to it, that they apparently didn’t think they would have?

        Following Turchin, the inter-elite competition implicitly has mechanisms for control which mean there are losers (see Lehman Brothers), but the winners get real benefits (see Goldman Sachs). Where Trump is Disruptive and Innovative is that he’s causing market shifts without one iota of actual power, through a Twitter account! And that he’s an unpredictable loose cannon, which means (going back to pharma) Ambien sales skyrocketing in the D.C. area, if John Dean is any bellweather.

        1. cwaltz

          You’ve got to give it to Donald though. He’s never promised transparency and anyone who thought the guy who wouldn’t release his tax returns was going to give us transparency was really fooling themselves.

          1. Steve C

            Trump’s jawboning the dollar lower is very FDR-esque and is a signal he wants a successful presidency. Obama should have done this eight years ago. In fact, the dollar, euro, yen and pound are all overvalued. But the Hamiltonians with all their dollar-denominated investments would have reacted with horror.

            As Ian Welsh says, if the reasonable people don’t do the necessary things, they’re going to get done by people you don’t like with results you don’t want.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > if the reasonable people don’t do the necessary things, they’re going to get done by people you don’t like with results you don’t want.

              Trump was baked in, in 2009. If not Trump, somebody Trump-esque. A more hafalutin metaphor: Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

        2. Anne

          Well, let’s just say that I don’t think it’s about bringing the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals to the world at reduced prices – not without there being some kind of financial benefit.

          I’m sorry, but I don’t see Trump as innovative as much as I see him as impulsive and unstable; I think people tend to forget that he hasn’t always made the best deals…

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            Don’t forget RFK, Jr. will lead the investigation into vaccines, which is the biggest cash cow for big pharma. If the truth really comes out about the vaccine/ autism link, the liability suits will bankrupt one or more drug companies. This is another thing hurting their stock prices.

            1. Katharine

              What’s with the vaccine obsession?

              Vaccine. 2014 Jun 17;32(29):3623-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.085. Epub 2014 May 9.
              Vaccines are not associated with autism: an evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies.
              Taylor LE1, Swerdfeger AL1, Eslick GD2.

              …Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

              1. Knot Galt

                Articles on vaccines are very much like articles on climate change. Who are you going to believe? Either way, we are acting at our own peril from paralysis and a lack of trust brought on by no accountability and lack oversight.

                1. polecat

                  yes .. authority, and by extension ‘experts’, are losing credibility by the day ! People can only be taken for marks for only so long, before they lose confidence in the institutions that, formerly, held meaning ! Everything’s a SCAM … Science, Education, Sports, Finance (no surprise there ..) Foreign Policy, Governments, Intel Agencies … EVERYTHING !

                2. Yves Smith

                  Sorry, the leading group of anti-vaxxers has already flamed out in terms of credibility. They did some small scale research (way too small to be deemed more than suggestive) that confirmed their pet vaccine-autism theory. Then they hired a blue chip team of medical researchers to do a larger scale study to confirm the small scale study, and the big study showed the autism theory to be bunk. See here for details: Antivaccine activists fund a study to show vaccines cause autism. It backfires spectacularly.

                  I know second hand the couple that is one of the moving forces behind this campaign, Rick and Laura Hayes. Rick is a PE guy out of CalPERS, one of the very few to make the jump. Laura has a severely autistic son and refuses to believe it might be due to her and her husband’s genetics. She also apparently is an angry person in general. And the LA Times codedly seems to confirm that take:


                  I was told of a time when Laura and Rick were at a dinner in someone’s home, and one of the wives was a medical professor who is rigorous about the scientific underpinnings of medical practice (she’s made some evidence-based recommendations in her field that go against pop beliefs, so she’s been on the front lines of defending clinical research). She probed the evidentiary basis of the anti-vax campaign, and even though Laura is a chief spokeswoman, it shortly became clear that Laura’s scientific claims didn’t pass muster. As someone at the dinner said, “The women nearly came to blows.”

                  Due to Rick’s PE connections and ability to raise money, this campaign has gotten way further than it should have. Rick and Laura live in Sacramento, which is also why the anti-vaxxers have a strong California base.

                  Having said that, I do agree with the notion that we may be vaccinating children too much in aggregate (as in for too many things that don’t pose a big health risk to them or the public, contrary to measles, which kills infants under 6 months old, and polio), and that might have something to do with other ailments. But we also seem to have bigger proximate causes for increased public health problems like diabetes, staring with too much food, too much processed food, too little exercise, too little stress, too much absorption of Bad Stuff (like BPA and aluminum) from cookware and packaging, too many hormones and antibiotics fed to animals that get into the food chain and have nasty knock-on effects. I’d put those way higher on the list to attack.

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    According to the CDC, the rate of autism is still increasing. It’s an epidemic, and very socially destructive (my wife taught special ed for years). We really need to know what’s causing it, since it’s clear that vaccines didn’t. There’s a study implying it was pesticides, pyrifos in particular – I just posted a link for that, but I don’t remember where! Chemicals are the obvious candidate. There is probably genetic predisposition, but genetics wouldn’t cause this increase, since it’s maladaptive.

                    Less urgent: we did, after all, inject babies (including my son) with mercury for years. If it didn’t cause autism, shouldn’t we know what it did cause? There’s a natural experiment: the religions that refuse vaccines.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      I agree this is an issue and (like the rise in Alzheimers) there is almost certainly an environmental component. But it could be multi-causal. One very frustrating issue is that we test for toxicity of chemicals in isolation, when there is evidence that they interact (in terms of their impact, not in terms of a literal reaction) and often at very low thresholds.

                    2. teri

                      I’ve wondered about glyphosate in the environment (in foods, water, and soil) as a causative agent. Seems to be some correlation between the increased use of such herbicides/pesticides and an increase in health problems like autism, Alzheimer’s, intestinal tract diseases, etc.

                    3. Foppe

                      teri: unless it also enters the human body via meat/dairy/egg consumption, glyphosate overuse is much less of an issue in the EU (because of the GMO ban for plants meant for human consumption), yet I don’t believe (changes in) autism rates differ all that much.

                    4. argonut

                      Foppe, Glyphosate overuse IS a big issue in Europe, as it’s commonly used as a pre-harvest dessicant for most ‘seed’ crops (grains, pulses, sunflower, canola, etc). In German it is known as ‘tot spritzen’ – death spray – and is usually administered only 7 days before harvest

              2. Reify99

                A lot of children died from these preventable diseases–

                “At the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases were widely prevalent in the United States and exacted an enormous toll on the population. For example, in 1900, 21,064 smallpox cases were reported, and 894 patients died (1). In 1920, 469,924 measles cases were reported, and 7575 patients died; 147,991 diphtheria cases were reported, and 13,170 patients died. In 1922, 107,473 pertussis cases were reported, and 5099 patients died (2,3).”


                After the vaccines were introduced the graphs of disease incidence all look like something falling off a cliff.


                Bottom line is, they work. Spectacularly. More bang for your healthcare buck. My beef is actually about the vaccines they are dragging their money driven feet on. But that’s for another time.

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                You can cite studies, but what will you tell the thousands of parents who had a happy bubbly infant who got his vaccine shots and then immediately went into seizures and regressed into lifelong autism. I challenge you to watch “Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime.

                1. River

                  I’d tell them that they need to cope with their grief better.

                  Tell the millions who have been vaccinated and have had no problems. why risk their health, or the health of those with compromised immune systems or the elderly who require herd immunity.

                  It was BS when Wakefield brought it up and it still is.

                  Vaccines are one of humanity’s success stories. When smallpox variolation had a 10% mortality rate, people still lined up for the jab. That’s how bad these diseases are.

                  1. cwaltz

                    I’m pretty sure that would be a cold consolation for someone who actually lost a child.

                    Are you equally as likely to offer YOUR children up as sacrifices in the off chance that their sacrifice might cure cancer or another worthy disease. If not, you should probably rethink your commentary.

                    1. Atypical

                      My comment was directed to EndOfTheWorld’s post above seeking to promote guilt onto parents who vaccinate.

                      I think you misunderstood my point.

                2. Elizabeth Burton

                  Thousands of parents? Really? Based on whose research? And could we please note that the only thing “anti-vax” about Kennedy is that he questions the use of thimerol as a preservative, and that is what he believes should be studied?

                  There are proven genetic factors for autism. It is also true there are some children who are sensitive to factors contained in vaccines—my youngest had a bad febrile reaction to pertussis and had to wait till he was older to receive it. A high fever can also cause seizures, which can in turn cause brain damage that could manifest as a condition similar to autism.

                  The original “study” that allegedly linked vaccines to autism has been thoroughly debunked. Period. Children have been vaccinated (and stopped dying of preventable diseases) for most of a century. As someone who contracted one of those preventable diseases before there was a vaccine for it and now enjoy the belated consequences thereof, I have no patience for all of the “yes, but…” rubbish by those who would rather watch children die than accept they are brainwashed.

                  1. EndOfTheWorld

                    You have spoken. “It’s been debunked.” I guess you are God. Not many people die from mumps or measles. Autism was unknown before the 1930’s so you can’t say it’s genetic. It should be up to the parents whether they want to get their kids vaccinated. The movie which I continually bring up and which you want to avoid talking about (“Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime) makes a good case for obstruction on justice and destruction of docs, etc. by the CDC. What if you have a kid that gets the shots and becomes autistic? The cause and effect is acutely obvious to these parents, and there are many.

                    1. Sally

                      Dang, where to start.

                      Let me introduce you to Google…..

                      “Not many people die from mumps”

                      Before there was a vaccine against mumps, the disease was common in the United States and caused complications, such as permanent deafness in children, and occasionally, encephalitis, which could result in death, although very rarely. Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year, and many more unreported cases occurred. (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/hcp.html)

                      “Not many people die from …measles”

                      In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 134 200 people died from measles in 2015 – mostly children under the age of 5. (http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/)

                      “Autism was unknown before the 1930’s so you can’t say it’s genetic.”

                      Eugen Bleuler coined the word “autism” in 1908 among severely withdrawn schizophrenic patients. Back then, autistic people were put in sanitariums.

                      “The movie which I continually bring up and which you want to avoid talking about (“Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime) makes a good case for obstruction on justice and destruction of docs, etc. by the CDC.”

                      Totally debunked. Instead of watching tv maybe you should read a little. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/05/25/7-things-about-vaccines-and-autism-that-the-movie-vaxxed-wont-tell-you/?utm_term=.fdb5e9ccb483

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    Thank you; that’s the one I was trying to remember.

                    the increase (the CDC says it’s still increasing) has to be environmental; the obvious candidate is the sea of chemicals, notably pesticides, we live in. Pyrifos is probably just one of many.

                    But it’s difficult to fund studies that are so against the interests of powerful people. I’m surprised that one got done. Good for somebody

            2. uncle tungsten

              RFK Jr is a patsy. Watching that place will damage your common sense while the pocket is picked. Enough with BS about vaccines.

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                If you watch the movie, “Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime, there are parents there that swear up and down they had a beautiful baby until the vaccine shot. Immediately they regressed into autism. Some have before and after videos of the child. You are saying all these people are lying and those videos are faked? Studies can be faked. These people saw the cause and effect up close and personally, if they are telling the truth. You’re saying every single one of these parents is a liar? Have you seen the movie?

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > If you watch the movie

                  I think that’s literally the worst appeal to authority I’ve ever read.

                  I guess we’ll just abolish pediatrics in favor of crowd-sourcing parental anecdotes, then?

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > vaccines, which is the biggest cash cow for big pharma

              I don’t think that’s right. Health Affairs:

              During the past fifty years, the number of pharmaceutical companies making vaccines has decreased dramatically, and those that still make vaccines have reduced resources to make new ones. Pharmaceutical companies are gradually abandoning vaccines because the research, development, testing, and manufacture of vaccines are expensive and because the market to sell vaccines is much smaller than the market for other drug products. Congressional action could assure both a steady supply of existing vaccines and the promise of vaccines for the future….

              Pharmaceutical companies are businesses, not public health agencies; they are not obligated to make vaccines. Events during the past fifty years have made the manufacture of vaccines more expensive and their sale less profitable. What follows here are case studies of two important vaccines, one for polio and the other for influenza, and the factors that either encouraged or discouraged their production.

              1. Bugs Bunny

                Companies invest in 4 types of treatments in this order : LD versions of current molecules, novel treatment molecules, novel biologics (including treatment vaccines), and finally vaccines to prevent infection. Why? ROI.

    2. Paid Minion

      One wonders if he has had the same experiences providing insurance coverage for his employees like other businesses have has………..more and more money, for crappier and crappier coverage.

      Or has he used his exceptional negotiating skillz (just ask him) to get a better deal than the average schlub.

      You want government run like a business? Now you are going to get it. Whether you like it or not.

      I don’t know why the media thinks they have to make up BS stories I suspect he’s going to give them plenty of scandals to write about in the near future.

      Plenty of “grabbing them by the pu##y” to be done. And his supporters will cheer him on, as long as it’s liberal/socialist/commie/progressive pu##y he’s grabbing.

  2. shargash

    Re: the Atlantic hagiography.

    If by “Ages” Purdum means “dust bin of history,” then, yes, I would agree that Obama belongs there.

    1. Hana M

      They can still try: As David Dayen has shown, the chain of title for housing in many of the hottest real estate markets (FL, CA, NV) became so corrupted by MERS and repeated fraudulent mortgage transfers for packaging in complex mortgage backed securities that homeowners who had completely paid off mortgages were receiving foreclosure notices.

      1. crittermom

        IIRC, some families DID lose their homes, despite the fact they were paid off.
        And I believe ALL titles involving MERS are now corrupted since the deed & the note were split.

        I don’t know if they’re still available to read, but I read a couple of the SIGTARP reports & they were VERY damning of HAMP, just in reporting the facts. (Like how SunTrust had one room full of so many unopened HAMP applications the floor was literally caving in from the weight, while they were foreclosing on those very folks)

        I distinctly remember reading in one report how 82% of us with Chase Bank lost our homes under HAMP at one point.

        BTW, I finally received my check from a Chase class action I was involved in where they violated the FCRA.
        Settlement was for $8.75 million.
        Each of us victims received a whopping…………..$8.93.
        I hate to spend the price of a stamp to mail if off for deposit.

      1. pretzelattack

        oh, i hadn’t realized that. she’s a republican who wants to hold financial criminals accountable, imo. and she seems to be too willing to compromise on that, from what i’ve read here.

    1. Marco

      Thanks for posting the link! A testament to cowardice and being overly clever by half. And that Bernie rally in Warren, Michigan?

      “That’s the future of the Democratic Party,” Joe Scarborough, echoing Mika Brzezinski’s sentiment, said on Morning Joe Monday. “He sounds just as relevant today as he did a year ago.”

      Weak Tea Warren losing Joe and Mika ;-)

      1. Chromex

        At the rally in Warren he did not say “we are here to demand single payer”. He said “we are here to save/ defend Obamacare”. Call me when you get serious, Bernie. Obamacare is not worth saving. And his single payer campaign this spring was popular and should not be a memory. The Dems have proven they should be totally abandoned; why won;t Bernie do it?

        1. Adamski

          If by “abandon” you mean start a third party, he didn’t actually lead the Progressives in Vermont and if he had been a third party candidate last year no one would have heard of him except as that guy who caused Clinton to lose Florida… He still supports single payer of course but the rallies are a Democratic thing. If he wants single payer he knows he isn’t going to get it by “heightening the contradictions” first by making millions lose their insurance alongside the GOP. If he did, no one would trust single payer advocates, which would delay it ever getting passed, and he’d be killing people in the process!

          He and the Dems cannot get the GOP Congress to pass single payer. But they can stop them repealing the ACA if they make the public aware of what that will mean. Turning it into a series of single payer rallies would be a harmful distraction and allow liberals to believe single payer advocates are dangerous.

    2. John k

      If she’d endorsed him he likely would have won the nom, splitting the dem women vote. Trump won Midwest because Clinton corruption persuaded dems to stay home, remember Bernie beat Clinton in Mi… woulda been Bernie in a landslide, course dems in congress would prefer trump because corruption, Anyway, she could be veep now to a pretty old guy, well placed when he goes for reward.
      Why didn’t she? No doubt deathly fear of clintons, which explains why she refused earlier calls from Bernie and others to run for pres.
      But IMO she didn’t endorse him because, other than her banker corruption thing, she is no progressive but actually a neolib. This explains not supporting pipeline protesters and progressive issues like single payer, higher min wage, massive infra, no wars, and all the issues that are ‘populist’ because they are popular. She doesn’t agree with progressive issues.
      I hoped she would run, now happy she didn’t. Clintons defeat is making room for real progressives like Tulsi gabbard. Needs to campaign with Bernie on progressive issues.
      And Bernie should be supporting single payer instead of Obamacare crap.

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        “Other than her banker corruption thing, she’s a neolib”—in other words, she’s a phony. The banker corruption thing for her is all talk, no action. Any democrat who campaigned for HRC is in this category, even Bernie. He could have just sat out the campaign after the nom was stolen from him. Nobody put a gun to his head and forced him to “shill for Hill”—–or did they?…hmmm.

        1. cwaltz

          Sanders is a dealmaker and he’s not above making the best of a crappy deal- exhibit a- ACA vote. I’d love to know what they promised him and what made him believe them because I would have had absolutely no faith in the DNC after those emails.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          Bernie said all along that if Clinton was the nominee he would support her campaign. Being a man of his word, he did just that. That’s the personification of “ethics.” That so many people can’t seem to grasp that says a lot.

          1. edmondo

            He did much, much more than “support” her. He made numerous appearances around the country for Hillary , way more than he should have based on the utter contempt her people had for him and his supporters.

            I have lost any respect for Senator Sanders and his judgment.

            1. cwaltz

              I think you are being a bit harsh on him. While I disagree with him on strategy(I thought he should have taken the Greens up on their offer after it became clear the primaries were a rigged exercise). I thought what should have been most important shouldn’t have been the Democrats winning but supporting the electorate getting a voice(How does that happen when the party you are supporting basically discounted hundreds of thousands of voters, colludes with media, and connives behind the backs of voters) I can certainly understand why someone who prevalently caucused with the Democrats would be stumping for them to win in the WH and in Congress though.

              At the end of the day my disagreement with him does not decimate my admiration for how hard he has tried to represent “the people” over the years. His support for Hillary does not negate his efforts to make our system more equitable and pull the conversation to the left on issues like health care or education. Then again I don’t see him as some mythical savior but instead as a principled but capable of making flawed decisions person.

              1. pretzelattack

                yes. my biggest area of disagreement with him is foreign policy, but even at that he is so much better than trump or clinton.

          2. Norm

            No that is not the personification of “ethics.” When Sanders first committed to support the winner, I like to think that he did not take into account that the eventual winner and her coteries had the system good and rigged. There is nothing ethical about allowing yourself, and more significantly, your followers to be cheated and not fighting back.

          3. Benedict@Large

            Any obligation Bernie had to support Hillary disappeared when she hacked the primaries. upon which that obligation was based.

            1. Adamski

              He would still be accused of losing Dems the election if he did not endorse. He was correct to avoid that trap. He was also correct to try and run as a Dem instead of third party, for the same reason. He has changed the terms of debate even though he lost. iirc he did say he would become a Dem senator but now he is staying independent.

        3. Adamski

          He had to shill for Hill because otherwise the Dems would automatically blame him if they lost, and say that his lack of endorsement had caused Dems to stay home, electing Trump in the process. That’s what happened to Nader. So, if you want to move the party left, you have to avoid getting the blame for defeat like Nader.

          Now at least part of the Dem base realises the Russia stuff is crap and that liberal economic policies would have got “white working class” and that the “we need suburban Republicans” centrist argument is a loser. They’re learning. If Sanders hadn’t endorsed Clinton they would have learned nothing

      2. crittermom

        John k:
        “And Bernie should be supporting single payer instead of Obamacare crap.”

        He’s still in favor of single payer. This is a quote from him at that recent rally in Warren, Mich:
        “Our job today is to defend the Affordable Care Act — our job tomorrow is to create a Medicare-for-all single-payer system,” he said.”

    3. Renodino

      In 2020 the Democrats are going with A) A 78- year-old man who is not even a Democrat and B) a woman they can’t stand to run for President (sound familiar).

      The first time was such a hit, they’re green lighting a sequel. Genius.

      1. Adamski

        I think we can safely say that Warren would have been less bitterly opposed by the Dem establishment for ideological reasons, because she is to the right of Sanders. And that they would still have all been in the tank for Clinton anyway. And that Warren wouldn’t have generated half the public support and excitement that Sanders did, even though Warren would have started the race with far more recognition than him.

  3. Carolinian

    Isn’t all this hagiography of Obama more than a bit patronizing?–a subtler form of Biden’s good clean (negro) praise? Or are all these white people really praising themselves for being such staunch supporters? Obama does get much credit for breaking the presidential color barrier but that was probably his last useful act. He seems to have thought it was enough.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Jackie Robinson also broke the color barrier. And ISTR reading that he was a pretty good ballplayer before and *after* he broke that barrier.

    2. clarky90

      When I was a kid, no monster scared me as much as Vampires, and Dracula in particular. – It was because they were so beautiful, AND deadly- like the Death Cap Mushroom (Amanita phalloides)

      “The light and warmth and the Count’s (Dracula) courteous welcome seemed to have dissipated all my doubts and fears. Having then reached my normal state, I discovered that I was half famished with hunger. So making a hasty toilet, I went into the other room.

      I found supper already laid out. My host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, made a graceful wave of his hand to the table, and said,

      “I pray you, be seated and sup how you please. You will, I trust, excuse me that I do not join you, but I have dined already, and I do not sup.”

      For me, Berry O’Bomber was a Dracula. Beautiful, charming, talented…. but signifying nothing, but mayhem and fear, I cried (seriously) with joy when he was first elected. Today, I can not wait to see his rear-end, as he walks gracefully over piles of rotting bodies, from his “watch”, and out the door.

      1. Carolinian

        You have to break some third world eggs to make a “for the ages” omelet. In fairness to Obama one should say that most presidents serve as little more than spokespeople for their particular faction. Bush was also a front man as was Clinton. Reagan was so dotty toward the last that his chief of staff had to whisper what was going on in his ear.

        1. Steve C

          Whenever I see “in fairness to Obama,” I get that taste of vomit in the throat feeling. At best, his motives were to gain the approval and acceptance of the moneyed class. If it was in the cards he was going to be so worthless he should stop masquerading as the Second Coming and his followers should drop it. If the last eight years was all he was aiming for, to quote LBJ, what the hell is the presidency for?

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            I did not vote for this transparent liar and fraud in his first electoral campaign, largely because of his immediate flip flop on surveillance when in the Senate. Everything that you needed to know was right there staring you in the face. Were you looking, or did the gauzy yearnings that he would turn out differently after this unmistakable tell as to his true nature shut down your rational faculties? Or maybe it was the assiduously cultivated virtue signaling of voting for the first “Black” President that did it?

            But what really ripped it was when he told the bankers and big mahoffs of the financial world that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks.

            What? You thought that that was a threat? Really? That was, in reality, his promise to them that they would be protected, Binky. If you thought otherwise, you were duped, and duped but good.

            And the confirmation was not long in coming, as he co-ordinated the nationwide crackdown on Occupy. Any doubt was thereby removed as to which side he was on. If you still reposed “Hope” in his willingness to produce any of that “Change” he was so very fond of bruiting about, well, it says a lot about you. Him? He was a known commodity by then, and went on to cultivate his chops as a warmonger and first rate killer after those dirty peons had been put into their place.

            Harsh? Tell that to all of those people unjustly thrown out of their homes, or who lost their livelihoods because rescuing corrupt financial institutions outweighed helping them wherever and in whatever way possible. And this is not to mention all of the brown (and white…Ukraine) people blown to pink mist on this blood-spattered bastard’s say-so.

      2. JustAnObserver

        Sadly he differs from the vampire in that he will cast long, dark, shadows over “progressivism” for many years to come.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          If only because far too many people have been brainwashed into thinking he personifies “progressive.” Fearful that any drastic change to the status quo might disrupt their comfortable nests, they sanctify him (and Hillary), and blast anyone who suggests their “pragmatism” wasn’t and isn’t the only safe way to proceed.

          1. Adamski

            And because many ppl don’t know any better. Didn’t realise the Dems whipped against a public option. Didn’t realise the stimulus was too small and led to the slow recovery and this political quagmire. Didn’t think that he should have spent the last 8 yrs calling for more stimulus so the GOP would take the blame. Don’t know that he is bombing 7 countries. Or, recently, believe his lie to the press that he cannot pardon someone who hasn’t been indicted.

            Not all Dems loyal to Obama are members of an educated elite who are scared of taxes and liberal economic policy. Most aren’t.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The 2008 Obama coalition was effectively the Kerry “coalition” plus the newly registered voters where the DNC and later the campaign was active. Dean’s 50 state strategy was effectively “don’t be happy with 70% big D turnout in urban areas when 80% turnout flips states and districts so easily with very little effort.

      The courtesan class wants to pretend there was some grander Obama effect when it was as simple as providing full time organizers and lists to local campaigns. Of course, getting non voters to become voters required promises of concrete policy actions, and since then the Obama Administration, the Democrats have failed to reassemble the “Obama coalition. ” The broken promises are too fresh to be forgotten and as such Democrats are now starting from zero in many districts.

      1. Tom

        Interesting. Trump stole a page from Dean’s strategy by not ceding the blue wall states this go round, much to Clinton’s astonishment.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Not really, he made noise, but he didn’t outperform or underperform McCain or Romney in relevant states. The story is on the Democratic side.

          In 12 years:

          Bush 2004 2,858k
          McCain 2008 2,667k votes in Ohio.
          Trump 2016 2,841k votes in Ohio

          In 12 years in Ohio:

          Kerry 2004 2,739k
          Obama 2008 2,940k
          Obama 2012 2,827k
          Hillary 2016 2,394k

          The potential electorate is growing, and it’s the same story in other states. Hey, Hillary did really well in Democratic congressional districts in California though…

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              This is why elite Dems are going crazy. Hillary, the battled tested, ultimately a tell performed worse in real terms than John Kerry.

          1. Tom

            No doubt Democratic votes were depressed (in more ways than one). But Trump did his part by barnstorming the blue wall states, which helped him win more votes than Romney in Ohio (+7%), Michigan (+8%) and Pennsylvania (+10%).

          2. JerseyJeffersonian

            And in the election of 2004 in which Kerry was the candidate, the evidence is quite compelling that there was massive vote fraud against him in Ohio.

            Says a whole lot that Hillary, when no major frauds against her were alleged, screwed the pooch to such an extent that she failed to equal Kerry’s vote total.

            1. Oregoncharles

              While she ran a terrible campaign, the real difference was Obama’s 2 terms.

              He sort of blew the cover on the Dems’ real agenda – though I thought Bill had.

      2. curlydan

        Missouri is another example of a state where the cities (exactly two, KC and St Louis) are deep blue. The rural areas, once a decent source of some Dem votes, have all but dried up for Team Blue. It’s been going on for 20+ years, though, and the Dems just stick their heads in the mud about it or force those who want change out.

        The following article about rural disenchantment with wind power offers an example of the enormous shift that has turned Missouri from Deep Purple to Red:
        “Like much of Missouri, Dekalb County… has grown increasingly Republican over the past 20 years. In 1996, Bill Clinton barely won the presidential vote there, with 43 percent to Bob Dole’s 42 percent. By 2004, Bush earned a comfortable 62 percent of the vote. Romney got 70 percent in 2012. In November, a bigly 76 percent of the Dekalb County electorate went for Donald Trump”


        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Maine has the same issues with windpower. Ruining our mountaintops to send power (and profits) out of state, and then leaving our town to clean up the towers when they age out.

          Colonialism, really.

          1. EricT

            Better than mountain top mining. At least you can ski with a wind mill up, not after they strip the mountain of coal.

  4. different clue

    Little time, short comment.

    I predict Riverdaoghter of The Confluence blog will disfellowship the following three blogs from her blogroll.

    Naked Capitalism, Ian Welsh, and Sic Semper Tyrannis.

      1. cwaltz

        I am going to guess you don’t read riverdaughter regularly. She’s had some pretty harsh words for corporate America whom she, on at least one occasion, was a victim of.

        I guess I have more faith in her ability to disagree with people and still think they may have something valuable to say.

        1. Foppe

          Can’t say that I have, though on rereading the article on which I based my above judgment I’m not sure what went wrong when I read it the first time, besides being somewhat annoyed at the tone of her writing (imo, trying way too hard to be ‘pleasant’/wrapping all criticism in velvet), which isn’t my thing. Guess I skimmed it sloppily. Then again, maybe that’s the only way to reach people who identify with the moniker “Democrats in Exile”? Anyway, duly noted, though I doubt I’ll return there often.

    1. barefoot charley

      Great video of all we have achieved, but it’s not just a rural problem. I was back in Chicago for a couple of months on elder-Dad duty in a quiet neighborhood–except from 7:30 to 8:30am Monday thru Friday. The one school bus going to Senn public high school a block from us honked every few yards to advance through backed-up blocks of SUVs and Minivans dropping their precious cargoes at school’s gate. There would be no congestion if kids could be dropped a block from school (or if they had legs to walk or peddle with like when *I* was a boy) but that would be child-endangerment. Thank god for lemmings! They help me feel better about people.

    2. Steve H.

      : But over the years, the rural schools have got bigger, the journeys have got longer.

      On my son’s marching band trips, I got a view of the megaschools of middle Indiana. Consolidation meant hallways that could be measured in increments of miles, with economies of scale on the input side, and an inevitable crush of elitism as an output. Ben Davis High School has an enrollment of about 3,000, which means the football team has a huge pool to draw from and is a *big* deal. When the band entered the field, it looked like a tidal wave over the land.

      In our county, the school buses run thousands of miles every weekday. They can’t keep drivers, have pulled administration personnel to drive, and of course just uncovered a molester. Drop-off time is a serious traffic snarl, and don’t forget how skilled high-school aged drivers are.

      Doesn’t help that local charter schools are raiding the funding. Having deVoss implement the Detroit protocols looks like another turn of the crank of monetizing the children. I know my eldest son and his wife made the choice of what Chicago burb to live in based on school funding for their kids, but they had the resources to be able to move.

      I got no answers here, just observations.

      1. Paid Minion

        Gotta have a lot of students to pay for the new Suburban cathedrals………..$60 million for a new football stadium doesn’t grow on trees…..

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The political season is over. The activists types moved on ages ago. The spectator sport traffic covered up the declines over the Hillary craze (ex. Caucus 99).

      My guess is the NYT are likely receiving an element of the spectator sport types who maybe don’t trust Dkos for missing the mark down the stretch or want to feel connected to some kind of anti-Trump establishment.

      As far as Breibart, what newspapers did Trump have? Republicans are looking for “safe places.” The Union Leader endorsed Gary Johnson, and Republicans loyally voted for Trump who won. I imagine there are plenty of teed of Republicans who are done with right wing rags over Hillary endorsements.

    2. Steve H.

      Really good observation, oho. Seems significant that Breitbart shot up after the election, so causally it’s the Trump win that pushed it up, and not vice versa.

    3. Pavel

      Well Dear Leader Markos over at DailyKos killed his own site by endlessly shilling for HRC and helping to sabotage Bernie’s campaign, and then said essentially any criticism of Hillary was against the site rules. Not sure it’s now a “progressive” site — just another DNC echo chamber these days.

      1. nippersdad

        I think that particular problem started about two weeks after O’s first election. Apparently the idea that the bannings will continue until morale improves was based upon a faulty premise.

        Wasn’t he trying to sell it off a couple of years ago?

  5. oho

    Could be that jawboning big pharma is Trump’s ace-in-the-hole on health care reform?

    I can’t think of a prominent pharma/biotech company that’s headquartered in a Red State.

    Nice juicy fat target for Trump with an occasional reluctant clap from Bernie

      1. Steve H.

        Noting Joe Donnelly of Indiana was one of the Democrats voting against Bernie’s amendment to reduce prescription drug prices. And Mike Pence was governor of the state. Granted, Lilly was one of the companies that forced him to back off his LGBT stance, but that was just – may I say it – stupid on his part. And having a back-channel on how things are implemented could be an advantage for Lilly.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Trump will use the vaccine/autism link to give immensely greater impetus to his jawboning of big pharma. RFK, Jr. heads the commission. He already knows the facts. The facts can be seen in the movie “Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime.

          1. Steve C

            Exploitation of the nonexistent autism vaccination link will show just what a heartless monster Trump is. Discouraging people from getting vaccines endangers the lives of the unvaccinated and those who can’t be vaccinated. Just for ephemeral political gain. Revolting.

          2. Anne

            Those were not facts, they were tools in a vanity project by the thoroughly discredited Andrew Wakefield, whose infamous “study” turned out to be rubbish, to attempt to restore his reputation.

            I get that parents of children on the spectrum desperately want something to blame for the disorder, but people like Wakefield have preyed on their desperation in an effort to prove something that has been repeatedly disproved and debunked.

            And Kennedy has contributed his share of that to this issue; he most certainly should not be heading up a national commission on it. You may find some interest in this: How Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Distorted Vaccine Science, which casts his work in a much less flattering light than one would assume would attach to someone with that last name.

            Let’s be honest here: Trump has glommed onto Kennedy for the same reason he’s enlisting comedian Steve Harvey to help him revitalize the inner cities: celebrity, baby.

            1. EndOfTheWorld

              So you are saying that every single parent who observed their child changing from happy infant to autistic immediately after the vaccine shot, is lying? Watch the movie “Vaxxed”, available on Amazon Prime.

              Also, you keep talking about “life threatening diseases.” Measles and mumps? Come on.

              1. Anne

                Are you familiar with “herd immunity?” In case you aren’t:

                Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.[1][2] In a population in which a large number of individuals are immune, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted, which stops or slows the spread of disease.[3] The greater the proportion of individuals in a community who are immune, the smaller the probability that those who are not immune will come into contact with an infectious individual.

                And you scoff at measles and mumps as if they are nothing. As if complications from measles cannot result in death. They can, and they do.

                So, how do you feel about these?

                Pneumonia (in 6% of reported cases) may be viral or superimposed bacterial, and is the most common cause of measles-related death.

                Acute encephalitis occurs in approximately 0.1% of reported cases. […]. The case-fatality rate is approximately 15%. Some form of residual neurologic damage occurs in as many as 25% of cases. Seizures (with or without fever) are reported in 0.6%–0.7% of cases.

                Death from measles was reported in approximately 0.2% of the cases in the United States from 1985 through 1992. As with other complications of measles, the risk of death is highest among young children and adults. Pneumonia accounts for about 60% of deaths. The most common causes of death are pneumonia in children and acute encephalitis in adults.

                Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a rare degenerative central nervous system disease believed to be due to persistent measles virus infection of the brain. Onset occurs an average of 7 years after measles (range 1 month–27 years), and occurs in five to ten cases per million reported measles cases. The onset is insidious, with progressive deterioration of behavior and intellect, followed by ataxia (awkwardness), myoclonic seizures, and eventually death. SSPE has been extremely rare since the early 1980s.

                Measles illness during pregnancy results in a higher risk of premature labor, spontaneous abortion, and low-birthweight infants. Birth defects (with no definable pattern of malformation) have been reported rarely, without confirmation that measles was the cause.


                Complications include:

                inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely does this lead to fertility problems
                inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
                inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
                inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)

                It’s hard to understand how someone can be so completely taken in by Andrew Wakefield and his pseudoscience but not even know the most basic information about the illnesses themselves.

                I’m aware that some children can react to the vaccines beyond the slight fever, injection-site pain, etc, but many of the children whose parents claim they were perfectly normal until they were vaccinated may just be latching onto vaccines as a way to explain away the slight and subtle symptoms their children were exhibiting well before receiving the vaccine.

                We don’t vaccinate babies immediately after birth. Between birth and the point at which the vaccines are given, these unvaccinated babies can contract measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, etc. Those who choose not to vaccinate put the lives of these babies at risk – as well as the lives of older individuals whose other health issues prevent them from being vaccinated.

                1. EndOfTheWorld

                  Of course, people sometimes (very rarely) die of measles or mumps. I admit that. But I don’t see any of my many opponents on this board on this debate admitting that sometimes a happy bubbling infant is brought to the doc, gets his shots, has seizures and becomes autistic. Some of the parents have before and after videos of the child. Have you seen the movie “Vaxxed”? It’s available on Amazon Prime.

                    1. EndOfTheWorld

                      I don’t see why a movie can’t be a source. “Vaxxed” has a Princeton professor, a CDC scientist, and other big-time scientists talking about the problem. Yes, it’s a source. Have you seen it? BTW, Wakefield never said all vaccines are bad, but he did say single shot vaccines would be safer.

                  1. Adamski

                    Wakefield’s study was retracted by the Lancet and he was struck off the medical register for his misconduct. Since there is no scientific work connecting vaccines to autism, a movie is all that’s left of the wreckage.

                2. cwaltz

                  Actually usually babies are given Hep B vaccine before they leave the hospital.

                  For the record, I chose not to vaccinate for the younger of my two kids their first year. My third child died of SIDS a few days after receiving his shots for a 2 month old. His shots may have had absolutely nothing to do with his death or they could have been a contributing factor. I don’t know, nor do doctors. (My brother in laws first child ALSO died of SIDS so yeah there is probably a genetic component in my family’s case to SIDS) After reading on side effects of vaccines though I chose not to take that risk though with my next two children. My job, as a parent, was to protect and advocate for my kids, and I chose to do what I thought was best and what I felt represented the least amount of risk for my younger two. Ultimately as a parent, my job was not to protect the elderly who might have health conditions or even other children but to protect my children who might have health conditions. The parent shaming positively drives me insane on this issue. I don’t know how everyone is so insistent that vaccines can’t be a contributing factor when you have doctors saying they have no idea what causes conditions like autism, or in my case SIDS. Then again, I suspect the people doing the shaming aren’t the people who have to deal with questioning why something happened in the back of their mind every friggin day of their lives like people who actually lost or care for kids with conditions like autism. As a parent I say if science could give a definitive answer for things we’d probably have more faith in it’s practice. Until they do though and you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone grappling on what’s best I wish the heck that people would back off on the judgment.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > Ultimately as a parent, my job was not to protect the elderly who might have health conditions or even other children but to protect my children who might have health conditions.

                    Does this apply to the elders in your own family? Elders who are your “friends”? Or “neighbors”? #JustAsking

          3. reslez

            I’d appreciate it if you’d stop derailing conversations to push your favorite propaganda movie on Amazon. You don’t like vaccines, I get it, but the science doesn’t support you no matter how many dubious anecdotes you conjure up. Try citing some reputable studies. That’s how you might actually convince people here.

            A sizable chunk of the population including infants and pregnant women can’t be vaccinated. They rely on herd immunity for protection. Vaccine refusal has led to destruction of herd immunity in yuppie snowflake enclaves. People have died as a result. Children too young to be vaccinated have contracted disease as a result. People who spread anti-vaccine hysteria have blood on their hands.

            Vaccines should be evaluated on the merits, not fear-mongering that can’t be backed up. Maybe the flu vaccine isn’t as efficacious as the media says, fine, but let’s debate that, not lies about autism or how wonderful measles is.

            1. EndOfTheWorld

              OK, now I finally got somebody to admit that there is a movie. You called it a “propaganda movie.” Have you even seen it? You are implying that every single one of the parents telling essentially the same story in “Vaxxed” is a liar. How do you know that?

              1. Foppe

                1 can of tuna contains ~200x the dose of mercury found in a vaccine. Something similar holds for other predatory fish, and other heavy metals and plastics. If autism is caused by mercury (or other adiuvant) exposure, why on earth focus on vaccines as the likely trigger?

                1. EndOfTheWorld

                  Not mercury, it’s the fact that some small children are not able to detoxify when hit with too much vaccine at once. This according to one of the scientists on “Vaxxed.” (available on Amazon Prime.) I’ve heard it’s hard to get from other outlets—that’s why I have repeated this, in case somebody wants to check out the movie. No, I don’t work for Amazon, but I highly recommend the movie.

                  1. Foppe

                    Sorry, but worries over “not being able to detoxify too much at once” uttered by putative experts to me are little more than magical thinking/a bs tell, especially since every anti-vaccinator (and website) I’ve encountered wholly ignores the relevant comparisons with food (and note that this isn’t just about what the child eats, but also about what the mother eats during the pregnancy / while breastfeeding). Again, 1 “serving” (half a tin) of tuna contains ~100x the dose of mercury.
                    And if this is not at least partly about mercury and other heavy metals / PCBs (i.e., hormonally active, toxic shit), then why worry about one’s detoxification ability?

                    1. EndOfTheWorld

                      I’m not a scientist. But when you get a vaccine, as I understand it, you’re getting a denatured (hopefully) version of the disease, so that hopefully you get antibodies to the disease without getting sick. But some people get sick from the vaccines. I urge you to watch the movie “Vaxxed.” It’s available on Amazon Prime. I wonder if I’m the only person on this board who has seen it. Anybody?

      2. Oregoncharles

        there’s a big one in Kalamazoo, MI – Michigan is at least purple. Republican governor and Leg.

  6. DJG

    On free food being a more common benefit than health insurance or dental insurance. Insurance is something that recognizes a contractual obligation to compensate a worker. Free food makes you into a servant. Also, there is still that desperation out there about making the workplace into a “community,” whatever “community” means these days. I once read through a link here about the lunches at Etsy: Thoroughly wrongheaded. There are many (most) times of the day when a person should be trying to escape fellow employees, not contemplating them as a pseudofamily. And I don’t like kale.

    1. Altandmain

      Consider the cost of food versus the cost of insurance. They probably give a few dollars worth of food each work day. That’s not much compared to say health insurance where the premiums keep rising.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it should be free food + free health insurance + free transportation to/from work.

      Maybe even free lodging.

      If there isn’t enough money, perhaps they can substitute grow-your-own-food on company garden for free food.

      Everything else is not negotiable.

    3. Anne

      I see the free lunches in the workplace, and unlimited vacation time, and being able to work from home and the onsite gyms and onsite childcare and the concierge services less as benefits from a generous employer and more as inducements to make sure you are at work or working as many hours as possible. No, you don’t have to go drop off or pick up your drycleaning – the concierge will arrange for it – just bring it in and they’ll do the rest. No, you don’t have to work out before you get to the office – you can work out at the office, take a quick shower and be back at your desk working. You don’t have to go out to lunch, just run down to the cafe and see what’s on offer today – and be back at your desk working.

      I’m not saying having those things is necessarily bad, just that employers wouldn’t be doing it if there wasn’t some benefit to them – and of course, I’m sure it also is deductible, so there’s that.

      It’s also about keeping the personnel you have so you don’t have to constantly keep hiring new people that you have to train and integrate into the workplace, but mainly, I think, it’s about making it harder for employees to draw a bright line between their professional and the personal lives.

      As often as I have thought it might be good to be able to work from home once in a while, I’ve resisted pushing for it because I don’t want the people I work for to just expect that I can work whenever they need me to – I don’t want to be available 24/7, I don’t want clients calling me at home. When I’m home, that’s my time, and I get precious little of it as it is, so I’m very resistant to perks that are really just ways to make me less likely to say “no.”

    1. dcrane

      An early supporter of Obama, Chait sees the outgoing president as a figurehead for the type of liberalism he has spent his own career vigorously defending. His assessment of Obama’s tenure is straightforward:

      Barack Obama “has accomplished nearly everything he set out to do, and he set out to do an enormous amount.”

      Kind of difficult to take that seriously. Weren’t Obama’s main promises to change Washington and bring back comity? Then there’s Guantanamo, healthcare without mandates, pushback against the surveillance state (no immunity for telcos)…my memory is hazy now but this list gets longer for sure.

  7. Code Name D

    You know what the Water Cooler really needs? POLITICAL CARTOONS!!! So why not have readers send in there cartoons that cover the topic of the day? (I would send mine in, but I have a hard time making stick figures look believable.)

    1. hunkerdown

      So don’t. Dinosaur Comics doesn’t really draw much either. The old alternative comic strip Red Meat offers a worthwhile example of a slightly less constrained form delivering acerbic wit. Embrace the constraints!

    2. Arizona Slim

      Why not a paid NC political cartoonist? As in, someone who we can support through the fundraising drives for this site?

      1. alex morfesis

        ?paid nc political cartoonist? There are plenty of public domain political cartoons out there to analyze and explore from times long gone but…

        the more things change…

        Polisource dot com

        Library of Congress has “puck” etc

        Publicdomainreview dot org

        Pond5 dot com

        One of the great things about taking a snapshot of the past is one sees how society seems to have softened up and wimped out a bit…

        Photos showing a different existence

        And also the really crapified designs of things…even vehicles and vehicle seats…

        sat in an older classic vehicle last week..the comfort of the seating vs todays cloth covered benches that pass for car seats…

  8. ChrisPacific

    A pest-free New Zealand would have benefits beyond just the economic. Waking up to the sound of native birds in the capital is now not uncommon after the successful development of the wildlife sanctuary (which is just a small part of the city, but it’s surprising how far the birds will range when they have a safe place to return to).

    Supposedly it will cost $9 billion which is a bit over $2000 per person, but spread over 35 years so around $60 per year or so. I think that’s a bargain if it can be done.

    1. RabidGandhi

      The timeline has me confused, as it might be superseded by Exxon/Monsanto/Lockheed’s “Plan to Eliminate All Humans by 2050”.

    2. Gaianne

      From the linked article:

      “They are about to start a major research project to develop some of the necessary technologies, such as new baits, species-specific poisons and genetic tweaks that interfere with animal fertility.”

      This is just so totally sure to end well!


      1. Katharine

        And in any case, who’s to say what’s a pest? If you don’t know all the connections in an ecosystem, meddling can easily be stabilizing, and wipe out things you value and need.

        1. Katharine

          I know they say they’re targeting invasive species, but an invasive that has been there centuries has already made significant changes in the system. I really wonder how well they can predict the effect of what they propose to do–even if it works as proposed.

          1. Steve C

            They may screw things up but not any more than the rats, possums and roe deer already have. It may not work the way they want but it’s worth a shot to keep unique indigenous wildlife from being replaced by the most successful companions of western civilization. This kind of conservation work is exciting because it’s often amazing how quickly indigenous flora and fauna recover when released from competition from the ferals.

            1. ChrisPacific

              I suspect the main challenge politically would be feral cats (along with roaming domestic ones, Gareth Morgan’s pet peeve). The article discusses the need for public buy-in in order to be successful, and nothing would sink that possibility faster than a cat ban. While NZers continue to keep cats as pets, I don’t see feral cats ever being completely eliminated, even if we were to turn control over to an organization that isn’t averse to culling them (i.e., not the SPCA).

              1. Steve C

                A book appeared recently saying the reason we’re so attached to cats is that their faces have human-like attributes and the sight of them sets off the same hormonal reactions as the sight of babies. I heard the author interviewed on Point of Inquiry by Lindsey Beyerstein but can’t remember her name or the book. I personally love cats but also recognize feral cats as a big problem.

                I love my goldfish but am horrified to hear about people liberating them into the North American wild.

                1. Gaianne

                  Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
                  In the forests of the night!
                  What immortal hand or eye
                  Could frame thy fearful symmetry!

                  “their faces have human-like attributes and the sight of them sets off the same hormonal reactions as the sight of babies”

                  Well, who knew?


      2. Steely Glint

        I lived in Whitby for 10 years & although messing with Mother Nature has many perils, the pests introduced to NZ have no natural predators . Possums kill forests & also any roses (speaking as a veggie & flower gardener). That is not even mentioning rabbits. I wish my Kiwi friends the best.

      3. clarky90

        Coca Cola, tobacco and sitting in chairs all day long, have already been real-World tested, and they work! How to entice stoats and rats to sit still in chairs and eat McDonalds? That is a problem. Any scientists out there?

  9. Pavel

    I listened earlier today to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer podcast in which he discussed the boycott of the Trump inauguration by 40 or so Dems, including several NY congressmen.

    I’d boycott the damn thing myself on numerous grounds, but how do these people square their scorn and fear and charges (Trump is racist! He is fascist! etc etc) with that infamous photo of Hillary & Bill laughing it up with Mr Racist Fascist Trump at his latest wedding? Or Bill palling around on the golf course with this monster?

    BTW on WNYC and elsewhere I note that the alleged “Russian hacking” of the elections has passed from a theory without any real evidence to Absolute Truth. After all, 17 intelligence agencies said so!

    The “liberal” media lost its credibility during the campaign, as did the DNC. Now both groups are doubling down on the same tactics and think they will gain new support. I don’t think so.

    1. Annotherone

      Re the boycott of Trump’s inauguration : I must have a blind spot about this. I see it as a pointless and delusional effort. Boycott Walmart by refusing to spend there; boycott a restaurant chain where staff are ill-reated and badly paid, and such efforts might have some beneficial effect by reducing profits. What effect will there be from boycotting the inauguration? Seems more like petulant adolescent behaviour to me. But maybe my blindspot – or ignorance – on this is due to my having been in the US only since 2004 (Citizen since 2008), not yet fully attuned to the vagaries of US political attitudes.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Me? I’m boycotting the inauguration because it’s a long way from Tucson. Furthermore, it’s happening during the work day.

        1. cwaltz

          Me? I’ve been “boycotting” them for almost as long as I’ve been alive. I really just don’t have the time or energy to spend my time hobnobbing with the politicians and the elite who “won” when they were elected.

          Color me shocked that team Democrat is pouting because they basically put all their eggs in the Hillary basket and lost.

          It’s gotten to the point where it’s like watching mommy and daddy fight over who the better parent is since it isn’t like either side of the aisle actually listens to the electorate anymore.

          1. Iowan X

            Supposed to be warm this week, in the 50’s, but rain on Friday (darn it!) and no rain on Saturday. (Yay!). Big events on the Mall get worse all the time due to security. It’s like the NFL—FAR better on TV, if you like to watch that sort of thing.

      2. Oregoncharles

        On the other hand, why go?

        I think the “Rooskies are Coming” fake panic is silly; the worst they’re accused of is making the electorate better informed, I’m sure with little effect. But I think it’s worthwhile to delegitimize Trump, just so he can’t get away with too much. Losing by 3 million votes is quite enough for that. (Lewis was silly enough to invoke the Rooskies, rather than the votes. Jesse Jackson Jr. actually go it right.)

        Trump is a very mixed bag, and his nominations are not a good sign. I think Lambert had it right: gridlock is our friend. He’s already done probably the best thing he will do: block the new “free trade” agreements. Withdrawing from NATO would be a nice bonus; anything that pares down the Empire. If he lacks legitimacy, he’ll be more dependent on popular support.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > think the “Rooskies are Coming” fake panic is silly; the worst they’re accused of is making the electorate better informed, I’m sure with little effect. But I think it’s worthwhile to delegitimize Trump

          No, it isn’t. The structural damage is too great. What the Republican tactics used to impeach Clinton prove is that these bubbles persist in the body politic forever (at least in political terms).

          Why not delegitimize Trump because he’s an oligarch, which has the great merit of being true? Especially if one is on the left? The Russki thing is all about shifting blame and laying the groundwork for war. Period.

    2. RUKidding

      It’s a dead easy way to gin up so-called “Liberal” bona fides & cred. And an utterly worthless, pointless, ridiculous gesture. I could care less what these grifting weasels do during the Inauguration. It will make not one whit of difference to my life, and that’s for damn sure.

      1. alex morfesis

        Nah..podesta throwing a dnc free pizza party at comet…gonna talk about tinkle down economyx

      2. jrs

        will they also even bother if they are in the Senate to vote against Trump appointees? Congressperson barbie: voting on legislation is hard!

    1. RUKidding

      Given that the alleged Constitutional Law Professor and current sitting US President very publically declared Manning “Guity” before Manning had a trial and conviction, I consider this the very least Obama could do. So while I welcome the news and am very happy on Manning’s behalf, I won’t spare much gratitude towards Obama on this front. What Obama did up front was shocking to me (not an attorney, but I’ve worked in the legal field for a very long time) and dead wrong. Manning should have never gotten the harsh sentence that she did. I blame Obama.

        1. RUKidding

          Agreed, but OTOH, if Manning wishes to lead a quiet life away from the spotlight, I’d support that as well. She has certainly been made to suffer enough for her heroic deeds. Wishing her all the very best on a road to hopeful recovery from this awful, unmerited experience.

          1. Code Name D

            I have heard that torture and isolation as basicly made her a mental vegitable. I dout that if she had the ability to say anything further, they would be letting her out.

            1. LT

              I always figured solitary confinement always has to have some kind of torture element.
              Otherwise, I’m sure many would opt for solitary over the company you’re forced to keep in jail.

              1. Steve C

                Obama set it up so Trump can reverse it and let Manning rot in prison. Another Obama action that is less than meets the eye.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        So, did he take Assange up on his offer, then? RT America is already speculating on that, since the timing seems less than coincidental.

      2. pretzelattack

        and he should have pardoned her, not commuted her sentence. she lost a lot, not to mention 7 years of her life, long portions spent in solitary.

  10. Fiver

    To the nut of it:

    1 Surely, if the evidence exists to charge Trump on any or all of the various, serious claims made against him, it was and is the duty of Obama to instruct that the law be upheld and charges laid where appropriate.

    2 What prevented/prevents Obama from doing his duty in this regard, especially given the enormity of the stakes? Is it the quality of the evidence, or are their other considerations that prevent Obama from acting? If the evidence isn’t there, then what on earth was this all about? If the evidence is there, then what has impeded Obama?

    3 Is it so depressingly simple as: How could Obama charge Trump, if he did not charge Clinton? Do I hear a ‘Bingo!’? Does that not make Obama a President singularly lacking in courage or real conviction?

    Wouldn’t progressives’ efforts have better been served by demanding justice all around, by demanding the annulment of the 2016 Election entirely, based on the conduct of both Parties and candidates, demanding the proposed Commission (or whatever) to investigate wrongdoing responsible also for laying out a stream-lined process for a new Election for President in 2018, or some similarly serious remedial action?

    Rule of law, or fall of Rome?

    1. Tom

      Regarding point 1, the Russian hack accusation passed right by the point of, put up or shut up. If Obama and sundry really believe that Russia influenced the election enough to actually subvert our democratic process and get Trump elected, then Obama’s weak to non-existent retaliation should be seen as Presidential malpractice.

  11. EndOfTheWorld

    On the subject of Trump’s infrastructure spending: yes, he will have some rich guys running it. But it’s a good idea and should be supported by the democrats..A lot better than building bombs and fighting wars.

    1. cwaltz

      I’m going to guess you are a big fan of toll roads and selling off the state parks to balance budgets if you believe an infrastructure plan based off of private investment is a good idea.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “some rich guys running it.”

      That, I believe, would be like how the government has been run the last, well, I don’t know how many decades.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    Heaven forfend that Lewis or Remnick should delegitimize Trump by pointing to millions of voters disenfranchized by CrossCheck, disproportionately poor and black, and a straight replay of how Jebbie helped steal election 2000 for W in Florida! I mean, that sounds like the sort of civil rights issue that [genuflects] the John Lewis of old would have taken seriously.

    If the Dems did that they might actually start winning more elections. And then they would be responsible for drawing up House districts. And if they had to draw them up fairly, rather than gerrymandering all the minorities and other likely Dem voters into one district, how would John Lewis get to keep his cushy sinecure?

    1. Tom Denman

      Does Lewis acknowledge that, because of the Democratic National Committee’s evident meddling against Senator Sanders in the primaries, Hillary Clinton was NOT the legitimate Democratic presidential nominee?

    1. alex morfesis

      So will chelsea handler have chelsea manning on…will jules surrender anyway…will trump give snowden a presidential medal of honor…will anyone ever watch the nfl again…

      and what about the 800 million that Rolls Royce just agreed to pay for bribes and influence peddling…

    2. RUKidding

      Maybe Obama wouldn’t have to commute Manning’s overly harsh sentence if Obama, as a sitting POTUS and alleged constitutional law professor, hadn’t opened his big yap to publically declare Manning guilty before Manning was even convicted, much less had a trial.

      Talk about the very least Obama could do under the circumstances…

    3. Jim Haygood

      Snowden to Manning:

      In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!

      4:58 PM – 17 Jan 2017

      Snowden to Obama:

      Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama.

      5:17 PM – 17 Jan 2017

      This is a great day.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Trump to Snowden (on Twitter):

        Time to come home, Ed!

        Constructive ambiguity? Would Trump take Ed’s call?

    4. neo-realist

      While I’m happy that Chelsea will be released soon, I can’t help but think this is one of those symbolic nuggets Obama is throwing out to the left to burnish his legacy….in the absence of good economic policies for main street.

  13. David Carl Grimes

    Obama is leaving the White House with an estimated $12 million net worth. Fortune Magazine says he can make up to $240 million just giving speeches – 50 speeches a year at $200K a speech.

    The Clintons made that much in the 15 years since Bill’s presidency, probably because Hillary ran for President twice. Can Obama make as much if Michelle is not running for President?


    1. RUKidding

      How, exactly, does Obama manage to leave the White House many millions richer than when he entered it???

      This isn’t just an issue concerning Obama, but it never ceases to piss me off.

      It’s bad enough that these worthless grifters manage to rake in giant honking buck$ once they leave office, but at least that’s when they become (more or less) private citizens.

      Wherever did these million$ come from? And we fret and worry about Trump gettng emoluments (rightfully so, but still)…

      1. KurtisMayfield

        Obama made all his money off his books. I don’t think they have sold any of their real estate. (Including that place in Chicago that they never went back to but had round the clock surveillance anyway) And don’t forget about socking away that President salary, because really what do they have to buy??

        1. jrs

          I read this as “Obama made all his money ‘off the books’ ”

          But I haven’t become cynical or anything like that …

          The Presidential salary is 400k a year which after taxes is maybe 200k a year realistically, so maybe that would be 1 million total.

        2. Katharine

          Who says they never went back? People in the neighborhood say security is radically different when they are there.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Maybe it’s like Churchill – you need a body double, in this world full of bad guys.

            And sometimes, I think there is a Trump twin loose, making contradictory statements, just to confuse people.

          2. OIFVet

            People in the neighborhood say security is radically different when they are there.

            Not true at all! Black people get pulled over by the CPD and UofC PD for driving while black regardless of whether 0bamas are present in Hyde Park or not.

    2. neo-realist

      Me thinks Michelle will go the Eleanor Roosevelt route and get involved in public service. I don’t think she wants the drama of the White House again.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Eleanor Roosevelt was already a public force. Michelle is a traditional first lady. We might see her at Carter and 41’s funeral, but her celebrity due to being black has created the idea she belongs to the Dolly Madison (her nickname was “first lady”) style of first ladies. She’s more Laura than Hillary.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      The big donations and speaking engagements for Clinton Inc didn’t start until November 2004.

  14. clarky90

    Does anyone in the NC commentariat have an approximate number of people murdered, worldwide, over the last eight years, by the tyrant, Obama, and his violent henchmen?

  15. RWood

    In case you weren’t clear on how badly designed our society is….

    Could be a category

    From Pilger @ counterpunch to this:
    “the dilution of radioactive waste into consumer goods” (– generic wash of “fake news” — but it’s literal!)

    and that startling phrase to this surfacing on google:

    First, a decision is expected shortly from the NRC on its proposal to lift the licensing requirements for smelting of radioactive metals like technetium-99 and low-enriched uranium. Should this be permitted, such metals could then be alloyed with non-radioactive ones and made into consumer items like toys, coins, toasters, and other items of household commerce.

    Put in the context of renewed interest in direct ocean dumping of radioactive wastes, this becomes a grisly scenario for the future. The “frog in hot water” metaphor is appropriate here. It has been observed that a frog dropped in boiling water immediately leaps out of the pot, but one placed in a pot of cold water which is slowly brought to the boil cooks to death. In a sense, a nuclear war could be compared to the boiling water: a sudden conflagration and it’s all over. But the incremental poisoning of the biosphere by increasing radioactivity, produced in commercial fuel cycles, in laboratories and hospitals for medical purposes and research, and in the weapons program, is at least as deadly and far more insidious.

    Whoops! That was back in 2002…oh, well.

    And the new national repository for high-level nuke waste (WIPP) to the south is now open, breathing…

  16. Fiver

    Further reason for any honest people left in the Democratic Party to pack it in as hopelessly incapable of representing the public interest. The only way forward is for progressive Dems to decisively break from Democrats – the idea of ‘capturing it’ has already all but foreclosed.


  17. JustAnObserver

    Dudley: Strip-mine your housing equity to buy a shiny new pony (or IoT kettle).

    Does he, and by extension the assorted elites-in-their-walled-garden really think the people have forgotten that last time they followed this advice as promoted IIRC by a certain A. Greenspan?

    The fact that D. Trump Esq. will become POTUS in 3 days time tells me not just not forgotten but actively remembered.

  18. Katharine

    Just a general FYI: this Census web page is a goldmine:


    You can enter any congressional district and get stats on people, workers, housing, socioeconomic, education, and business, compiled from the American Community Survey and County Business Patterns. If you want to talk to your congressman or potential candidates about the district, it’s a great resource.

  19. ewmayer

    Re. “The United States endured 15 weather-related billion-dollar disasters in 2016, the second most to occur in a given year dating to 1980, according to NOAA. Only 2011 had more with 16 weather-related disasters costing that much” [Weather.com (PT)] —

    o Link has an extra ‘weather.com’ preceding the h-t-t-p, which must be stripped off;
    o Article notes that the total cost for 2016 was unremarkable for the time span;
    o Article fails to note whether dollars are inflation-adjusted — a billion bought a lot more in 1980 than it does today.

  20. LT

    Where’s a Sunami when you need one???
    Is it too late to remind Bay Area residents how much LA sucks (that used to be their mantra)? Tell that to all the Surveillicon Valley folks. Southern California sucks and they should stay there.
    LA sucks…it’s too spread out…etc….

  21. LT

    It’s about time to have a health care debate that ruffles the feathers of liberals as well.
    Anyone that supports a for profit system basically believes that if you’re broke and sick, you deserve to die.
    No if ands or buts about it.

  22. Pat

    Can someone give me a good reason why Chelsea Manning is being made to wait another five months?

    Was it not in Obama’s power to let her out today?

    I admit I am surprised he did this much. Still call me distrustful, until Chelsea Manning is not incarcerated and living with no further threat of incarceration this is not a done deal.

    So thanks, still not good enough.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      From what I understand, he commuted all but one of the charges for which she is serving, and the term of the one remaining ends in May. It’s not a pardon.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Any reason why he couldn’t commute the one charge she is serving?

        Is it like, the loans you haven’t made a single payment on, they are forgiven, and the ones you have been paying regularly, they are still owed?

    2. John

      Obama’s stingy neo liberal austerity commutation. It would’ve been too much to just do it today.

    3. Jake Mudrosti

      Straight out of Monty Python, it’s another “splunge” moment:
      “It’s a brilliant idea, but possibly not, and I’m not being indecisive.”

  23. Steely Glint

    Re:: David Brock
    Too bad it sounds like the same old grift. South Dakota & Missouri both voted upon & passed campaign contribution limitations. Both used an unaffiliated group (as far as I can tell) to support them in the effort. If you think about ALEX they do have a good thing going in regard to pre-written legislation. Consider the average state legislative session is three months & average state legislative pay is $30,000. Why not go to a over the counter pre-written bills? I’m not aware of any Dem. effort to do this. Progressives need to address this before the grifters.

  24. 3.14e-9

    It’s really hard sometimes not to admire Putin:

    Unsubstantiated allegations made against Trump are “obvious fabrications,” Putin told reporters in the Kremlin on Tuesday. “People who order fakes of the type now circulating against the U.S. president-elect, who concoct them and use them in a political battle, are worse than prostitutes because they don’t have any moral boundaries at all,” he said. …

    Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”


  25. gerry

    “A hellscape of lies and distorted reality awaits journalists covering President Trump” [WaPo]. As opposed to?

    It’s been a beautiful vista of lies and distorted reality.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When there is so much to do to expose the MSM, one risks (these days, especially) sounding like a Slavophile Trump sympathizer.

  26. alex morfesis

    New yorker=morefakenews…”and Ella Baker long gone, Lewis remains nearly alone in his capacity to tell the story of that era as a direct witness…”

    Side bar for a second…

    In greece there is a man in parliament whowhom the history books proclaim was a valient hero of the resistance against the german occupation and somehow snuck onto the acropolis and cut down the nazi flag…except…


    goog/tube is a problem for folks like john Lewis and Glezos…

    the #!?tube has (in greek) glezos and santos being interviewed…black and white 10 minute film with some moderator who could be keith Olbermann’s uncle…the purported “first” interview was back when you just did not have replay and could not imagine anyone might be able to take a closer and slower look at what you were saying and how you were saying it…

    I think there is a longer version but I can’t find it via search now…

    the moderator starts asking glazos about how he climbed the mountain and where he “dropped” the swahzteekah flag in a cave by the side of the acropolis…

    you dont need to know greek if you know body language to notice he is a bit “lost” remembering details…

    and a few years back when someone suggested someone should climb down and get this historically valuable german flag…

    well…luckily for glezos, the archeology folks jumped up and down and screamed “in situ”…
    (man that was close…)

    So…as to John Lewis…

    Googtube has a few version of his “$elma bridge crossing”

    Now…don’t get me wrong…he was in a huge number of firefights…but about that bridge…and again, he insists he ended up with a concussion and people with concussions tend to forget…

    So his narrative is he was
    “the first person to get hit”…

    he has repeated that many times…

    “and they beat me to the ground”…


    “they beat me with their billyclubs…”

    Again…he was at the front…he was the only person wearing a backpack (at least in the front of the march)…so even in the chaos it is not impossible to spot him…

    and like I mentioned…people who get concussions as he tells us…they tend to have foggy memories of the events…and again…he was out front and at risk…



    None of the police hit him at first…in fact he is the only person who was not hit and there were actually no police chasing right behind him…

    in his panic he tripped over his own feet and fell to the ground…

    then an officer came back and there are photos of the officer raising his club…

    but no photo of him actually being hit…and no video showing when the officer turns on Lewis…


    but he needs to adjust his narrative to connect with the visual facts

    He was there in the beginning with the bus rides with the nashville students being trained with funding from king and ideas and direction from Ella Baker…

    It takes a huge amount of discipline to leave yourself open to physical attack…over and over again…

    John Lewis was in the trenches and deserves that respect…

    but he needs to stop stretching the truth…it does not serve history well and can demean the sacrifices everyone made.

  27. McWatt

    Regards Illinois Corporate Welfare: This not only goes on at the state level, it is at the
    County level and the town level.

    I happen to live in the 2nd most indebted community, in the most indebted County, in the most indebted state in the nation. Corruption is rampant at all levels of government in the State of Illinois.

    1. OIFVet

      Yep, Rahmses is rather generous with doling out welfare to corporations and well-connected developers, and then sticking us with the tab.

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