2:00PM Water Cooler 1/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“What exactly a [US-UK bilateral] deal would look like is still up in the air, but it would in many ways be a natural next step for the two nations, given their close historical ties. The U.K. is already the United States’ seventh-largest trade partner and its biggest source of foreign investment” [Politico].

“Trump appeared to suggest Wednesday night that he would make good on his pledge to hold Mexico accountable for paying for the border wall through the renegotiation of NAFTA, telling ABC’s David Muir that payment “will come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon” [Politico].

“The biggest winners from the construction of Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful, powerful” wall along the US-Mexico border are likely to be Mexican cement companies and construction workers” [Guardian]. So maybe there is a solution space…

“Trump’s termination of the TPP has put another pan-Asia trade pact under the spotlight: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which covers more than 45 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of global trade” [Bloomberg]. “Led by the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, RCEP seeks to harmonize existing trade ties between China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It is considered a lower quality trade deal compared with TPP, with less stringent rules on intellectual property, labor and environmental standards, and the operation of state-owned enterprises. The next round of talks are scheduled to start next month in Japan.”

“Japan completed the TPP ratification process last week, well aware Trump planned to drop out. Abe said its goals were still important for Japan and the TPP could be a model for trade deals with other nations, including those in Europe” [AP]. “Malaysia’s Second Trade Minister Ong Ka Chuan said that the remaining 11 TPP members will meet to discuss the next steps. ‘Twelve countries signed the (TPP), but now one wants out. The other 11 can continue by making change to the clauses. There are many possibilities that these 11 countries can still proceed with,’ the Bernama news agency quoted him as saying. He didn’t elaborate.[Australian Prime Minister Malcolm] Turnbull said that in theory China could join the pact following the U.S. departure. But that would require a revamp of the deal. ”

“Navarro and Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross will push for agreements that tighten rules-of-origin requirements, crack down on steel and aluminum dumping, and reduce the trade deficit by requiring nations to buy more U.S. products, the former economics professor said in an interview on CNBC. They are also concerned about state-owned enterprises having unfair trade advantages and would look to find a way to combat that, he added” [Politico].


Trump Transition

“So far, Republicans have not moved to end the filibuster, and individual senators have strong reasons to support supermajority requirements, even if the majority party wants simple-majority rule. That’s why both parties were willing to keep the filibuster in place even when nominations they really cared for were killed by the procedure. As long as majority party senators believe compromise is a possibility, they’ll probably keep the filibuster in place, even if it limits their ability to pass some bills” [Bloomberg].

Then again:

* * *

“Trump says torture ‘absolutely’ works as his government readies a review” [Chicago Tribune]. Good wrap-up. Of course, if Obama had prosecuted some torturers, none of this would even be an issue.

“That New ‘Black Site’ Plan Isn’t New, It Came From Mitt Romney’s Campaign” [BuzzFeed]. “The most substantive change to the document is the addition of a full paragraph on the draft’s first page and an annotation within the proposal, which account for anti-torture statutes that have been passed since the 2012 memo was first written. The National Defense Authorization Act provision, which limits government interrogators to techniques listed in the Army Field Manual, presents a ‘significant statutory barrier,’ according to the new version of the document.”

“White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the draft order didn’t originate in the White House” [Wall Street Journal]. “But a U.S. official said that the order had, in fact, been sent by White House officials to National Security Council staff on Tuesday, with a request that they review it and prepare it for a public release on Wednesday.” Which didn’t happen…

“In 2009, following the abuse of prisoners at its Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the US government made a significant decision. It moved the responsibility for ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ from the CIA to a new government organization: the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG). The move upset many CIA insiders; torture had been in their toolkit since the early days of the cold war. The remarks of one official at a HIG-organized conference on torture in Washington DC can be summed up as: how could a new agency, created to both conduct and study torture, replace the decades of practice and perfection attained by the CIA?” [Nature]. So, if the reporting on the ‘Black Site’ plan is correct, does that mean Trump was trying to make nice to the CIA?

* * *

“Mexico’s President Cancels His Visit to the White House” [New York Times]. Read this. It’s not really reporting. It’s just snark. Our famously free press has found a new way to be lazy.

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era” [WaPo]. I’d like to think that the State Department hasn’t become as politicized as the intelligence community, but it’s probably not so.

“List of 50 infrastructure projects used by Trump transition team came from consulting firm” [McClatchy]. Good detail, and the Trump administration is already leaking like a sieve. That’s a good thing!

“How Trump has made millions by selling his name” [WaPo].

New Cold War

Another liberal lost his mind:

By releasing emails that were true? I hate to cast Vladimir Putin as a little child, but there’s a Hans Christian Anderson story that springs to mind here….

2016 Post Mortem

Amanda Marcotte leads the resistance from a mountain redoubt somewhere in Vichy:

“I am done” and “I am so done” are common formulations used by IdPol liberals. It’s a common trope at Kos. I’m not sure why that is.

Hall of Mirrors

“Every family knows that if they handled their household budgets the same way the U.S. government does, they’d be ruined, Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget chief nominee, said during his Senate confirmation hearing this week” [McClatchy]. “So what does that mean to the South Carolina Republican congressman’s family? After all, his financial disclosure statements indicate that he hardly shies away from debt in his private life. And by all accounts, he’s not ruined.” Holey Moley. “Government is like a household” right in the lead. Help me.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“From Realignment to Reinforcement” [Jacobin]. “The Democrats’ dependence on money and technical wizardry, their addiction to neoliberal policies, and the resulting slump in their vote in much of the country make them vulnerable to an assault from the outside. Starting at the local level, getting active on real issues that matter to the countless victims of neoliberalism, organizing and going door to door, these forces can form the future base for a democratically organized, mass membership party of the Left.” Yes, attempts to reform the Democrats have failed. Yes, attempts to form a new party have also failed, just as consistently.

“Dems to David Brock: Stop Helping, You Are Killing Us” [Daily Beast]. “Two sources told The Daily Beast that in the last couple of months Brock and his team reached out to former Clinton campaign officials, including ex-national press secretary Brian Fallon, to join Brock’s new anti-Trump ‘war room.’ All, however, declined the offer simply because ‘no one wants anything to do with him,’ one source recalled. (Fallon did not respond to a request for comment.)” Delicious schadenfreude, that the Clinton and Obama teams are now firing the blame cannons at Brock.

“A powerful temptation, moving forward, will be to take liberals at their word when they insist that their goal is to oppose fascism and to oppose Trump. The Democratic primaries, in which the Democratic establishment deliberately sabotaged the campaign of the most electable opposition candidate, should have permanently disabused everyone of that notion” [Carl Beijer].

“Protesters on Tuesday shut down a Minnesota House of Representatives hearing after lawmakers voted to pass a GOP-led measure that would charge activists for law enforcement costs associated with disruptive demonstrations” [Salon]. “The bill was proposed by Republican Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River, who said local law enforcement has spent $2.5 million dealing with protests in the last 18 months…. Zerwas singled out the civil disobedience tactic of protesters blocking local freeways when presenting the bill to the house civil law committee. Protesters blocked highways in response to the July fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a black man who was killed in front of his girlfriend and child, by police officer Jeronimo Yanez at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Smoke bombs, tear gas and pepper spray were used on the crowd and dozens were arrested. ‘I have an entire constituency that feels as though protesters believe that their rights are more important than everyone else’s,’ he said. ‘Well, there is a cost to that. Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus. She didn’t get out and lay down in front of the bus.'”

Anthony Scaramucci, money manager and business-news talking head: “‘So I said to Vice-President Pence, who was here tonight,’ he went on, ‘I said, ‘I’ll do whatever the hell you guys want.’ I know you probably think that’s, like, me being passive-aggressive,’ he said to me, ‘but it’s not, it’s me being even-keeled. My best service to him is acting as a fair broker for the situation, because what happens in Washington is they will stab you right in the chest with a smile on their face. It’s like the Game of Thrones and the Hunger Games screenwriters got together with the writers of House of Cards and they made a story. And the other thing I have learned about these people in Washington, Nelson,’ he said, turning to his partner, who had settled in at the bar, ‘is they have no money. So what happens when they have no fucking money is they write about what seat they are in and what the title is. Fucking congressmen act like that. They are fucking jackasses. Do you know how many congressional liaisons we are going to have? I don’t either, but I told Pence, it should be four times whatever Obama had. I don’t know how many he had, but I’m telling you that didn’t work out. I’m telling him if you want to decrease the government, you gotta increase it in certain ways. Pence was great, right, you met him, Nelson, he was great.'” [New York Magazine].

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, January 26, 2017: “[R]ose a solid 0.5 percent in December reflecting improving sentiment on the outlook and pointing to an extension, but not yet acceleration, for the economy’s moderate pace. Other data include respectable 0.3 percent gains for both the coincident index and the lagging index” [Econoday].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, January 2017: “Like other advance indications, the Kansas City Fed is pointing to January strength for the factory sector” [Econoday]. And: “The Kansas City region was hit hard by the decline in oil prices, but activity is expanding again” [Calculated Risk].

Purchasing Managers’ Index Services Flash, January 2017: Strength and optimism [Econoday]. And: “Above expectations [and] the strongest reading for 14 months” [Economic Calendar].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, December 2016: “Utility production gave the national activity index a lift in December” [Econoday]. “Given the skewing effect from utilities, the 3-month average may be a truer reading of actual activity and it is modestly negative.” And but: “[T]he three month rolling average for the last 6 months … has been staying within a very tight range. It continues to say the economy is going nowhere” [Econintersect].

International Trade in Goods, December 2016: “Exports shot 3.0 percent higher in December but were matched by the larger category of imports which rose 1.8 percent, a combination that keeps the monthly trade deficit little changed” [Econoday]. “The strength in capital goods readings is a positive that points to improvement in global business investment.”

Jobless Claims, week of January 21, 2017: “Holiday weeks often make for volatility in weekly jobless claims data, which appear to be the case for the January 21 week and the Martin Luther King holiday” [Econoday]. “Claims data, despite the holiday jump for initial claims, remain consistent with strong demand for labor.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 22, 2017: Unchanged [Econoday].

New Home Sales, December 2016: “Consistently volatile is the well deserved reputation of the new home sales report” [Econoday]. “The positives aside, this report follows Tuesday’s soft results on the resale side with both pointing to a housing sector that, instead of rising into year-end, faded instead.” And: “Big miss here. As previously discussed, it’s a case of lenders raising rates due to Fed fears when demand is low, further reducing demand” [Mosler Economics].

Commodities: “Galactic metal mining, however, would require a complex logistical supply chain system” [Mining.com].

Commodities: “Copper’s rise to an 18-month high is being fanned by production problems at BHP Billiton Ltd., which is dealing with a prolonged power blackout at a vast Australian mine and a strike threat from workers in Chile” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “̌Boxship deliveries to outpace scrapping in 2017” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Earlier this week, Drewry reported the overhang of containership orders due to be delivered this year would add to the problem of cascading on smaller trades as newly delivered large vessels push older tonnage onto north-south and regional trades.”

Shipping: “Amazon has started its long held plan to ship goods from Chinese merchants to the US, bypassing freight forwarders. Amazon has been booking space on containerlines and has managed to ship around 150 boxes since October” [Splash 247]. “The company is buying up logistics firms, trucks and air freight infrastructure in Europe and the US at the moment with a view to cutting its own logistics costs, which are believed to cost Amazon around $1bn a month.”

Shipping: “A nationwide shortage of warehouse space that drove a yearslong surge in rents is showing signs of easing, the chief executive of the biggest owner of U.S. industrial real estate said Tuesday” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: “Protectionist impulses by governments to restrict the growth of global trade and commerce will be outweighed by businesses seeking more cost-effective options to source and distribute as a way of tamping down rising inventory-carrying costs, an analyst said today” [DC Velocity]. “However, with an improving U.S. economy eliminating the continued need for ultra-low interest rates, some economists forecast the Fed will boost the fed funds rate multiple times by decade’s end until the central bank reaches what it considers a normalized target rate of around 3 percent. In this climate, companies sitting on what is estimated at $1.8 trillion of global inventories could face a significant financial hit unless they can find ways to quickly and freely move goods to market, [Alexsander Stewart, managing director, transportation & logistics for investment firm Stifel] said.”

The Bezzle: “In Navient Lawsuits, Unsettling Echoes of Past Lending Crisis” [New York Times]. Sounds a lot like mortgage servicing.

Honey for the Bears: “The Dow has gained about 10 percent since Trump was elected, and for good reason: His proposed policies would augment the stream of cash flowing to investors. Reduced corporate tax rates, for example, would leave more money to pass on to shareholders, while cuts in capital-gains rates would allow them to keep more for themselves. The mere possibility of such a windfall offers investors ample motivation to bid up stocks” [Editorial Board, Bloomberg]. And then there’s this:

More money for investors, though, doesn’t automatically translate into more prosperity for everyone. Economic growth has been weak since the recession of 2007 to 2009, in part because of very low levels of capital investment. Companies would be more likely to increase this spending if Trump offered some specific enticements, or if they saw more demand for their goods and services.

So the structural problem is aggregate demand? Did the Bloomberg Editorial Board all take out Communist Party cards, or what?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 59, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 26 at 11:17am.

Our Famously Free Press


Google cloud has editorial?

“Fake Think Tanks Fuel Fake News—And the President’s Tweets” [Wired]. Worth a read for insight into bottom-feeding species of Flexian. That said, why isn’t the Petersen Institute listed? They’ve been peddling phony baloney stats on Social Security for years, with the clear aim of privatizing it. Or how about every foreign policy think tank in the Beltway that shilled for war with Iraq? Like all of them? Why are we focusing on the long tail, here?

“Facebook on Wednesday announced three changes to the trending section. First, an article headline and publisher name will now appear below each trending topic. Second, Facebook will factor into its algorithm the number of news sites publishing about a topic, making it tougher for a single viral post to appear there. Third, where trending topics have traditionally been tailored to each person’s interests, everyone in the same region will now see the same topics” [Quartz].


“Flint’s water system no longer has levels of lead exceeding the federal limit, a key finding that Michigan environmental officials said Tuesday was good news for a city whose 100,000 residents have been grappling with the man-made water crisis” [AP]. “Residents, whose mistrust in government remains high nearly three years after a fateful switch of Flint’s water source in April 2014 while the city was under state management, are being told to continue using faucet filters or bottled water because an ongoing mass replacement of pipes could spike lead levels in individual houses. The replacement of the lines is expected to take years.” Years? If only we had some infrastructure spending to do!


“What can mackerel and a volcano say about climate change?” [AP]. “A cooled climate [caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora] led to deaths of livestock and changed fish patterns in New England, leaving many people dependent on the mackerel, an edible fish that was less affected than many animals. The researchers assert that bit of history gives clues about what food security could be like in the modern era of climate change.”

Guillotine Watch

“Scientists may have found the perfect spot for life on Mars — and it’s where no one expected” [Business Insider]. Great. Let’s put all the squillionaires in a rocket and shoot them off there.

“Atlas Missile Silo turned Luxury Condo” [Survival Condo]. I don’t think this is a parody site…

Class Warfare

“What price do we pay for civilization? For Walter Scheidel, a professor of history and classics at Stanford, civilization has come at the cost of glaring economic inequality since the Stone Age. The sole exception, in his account, is widespread violence – wars, pandemics, civil unrest; only violent shocks like these have substantially reduced inequality over the millennia” [Stanford News]. “”It is almost universally true that violence has been necessary to ensure the redistribution of wealth at any point in time,” said Scheidel, summarizing the thesis of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, his newly published book.”

“The tragedy of Egypt’s stolen revolution” [Al Jazeera]. “Six year after its democratic revolution in January 25, 2011, Egypt’s political realities are back to square one. Once again, a military officer has been installed in the presidential palace after an election that lacked any measure of democratic competition.” In Tahrir Square, the dog caught the car. And then they didn’t know what to do. Which is why I remain unpersuaded on Women’s March principles. To shift metaphors: The proof is in the pudding, not in the principles of how to make a pudding.

“Laborers in Britain responsible for making clothes for popular fast fashion retailers like River Island and New Look are being paid less than half the required minimum wage. An investigation by Britain’s Channel 4 television has revealed that Leicester-based manufacturers, Fashion Square Ltd and United Creations Ltd, which supply garments and accessories to River Island, New Look, Boohoo, and Missguided, among other retailers, paid their employees between 3 pounds ($3.74) and 3.5 pounds ($4.36) per hour. The hourly rate for the national living wage in Britain is 7.20 pounds ($8.97) for workers 25 years and older” [The Fashion Law]. Third World stuff…

News of the Wired

“The Song of John Berger” [New York Review of Books]. I keep meaning to link to a John Berger retrospective; this will have to do. Berger’s Ways of Seeing really did help me to see.

“If Jane Austen wrote The Empire Strikes Back” [Green Reticule].

“Five States Are Considering Bills to Legalize the ‘Right to Repair’ Electronics” [Vice]. Now if only that were true for software…

“Apollo 1: The Fire That Shocked NASA” [Scientific American].

* * *

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:

One more from Vinalhaven Sightings; very Maine, that photo. Vinalhaven Sightings is a land trust; do readers know of any other land trusts that are being documented in photographs?

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. HeadShaker

    Re: household budgets vs government budgets: I’m fairly new to NC, can someone point me to a strong article on why that comparison doesn’t hold water? I (think I) understand it has something to do with sovereign currency, but would love a detailed explanation.

      1. ChrisPacific

        And my comment on that thread where I presented an analogy that made more sense to me:


        (There was some confusion on that thread between me and another Chris, after which I changed my posting handle to something more unique).

        In a nutshell, because money is a debt to the US government, it doesn’t make sense to talk about government having a ‘balance’ in the way a household does. If you wrote an IOU to yourself for a million dollars on a piece of paper and put it in a safe deposit box, it wouldn’t make any difference to your net worth. Since the government effectively spends money into existence and taxes it out of existence again, it can’t run out of money in the way a household can. Constraints and possible negative impacts can arise if the balance swings too far one way or the other (e.g. deflation/recession if there is too little money, inflation/credit bubbles if there is too much) and because all taxation and spending is redistributive, the way in which the government chooses to do both has a big impact as well. Unlike a household though, running out of money is not a constraint for the government, because it can’t happen.

  2. Carolinian

    I’d like to think that the State Department hasn’t become as politicized as the intelligence community

    Surely the State Department is the problem. They can all go work on Hillary’s TV show.

    1. Tom

      Judging by the way her recent book flew off the shelves (not), I’m not sure if the public would have much of an appetite for Hillary!, the TV show.

      Although now that Seinfeld has left Crackle, maybe she could a swing a deal there.

      1. Clive

        Maybe Hillary! the musical? They could simply take the script and the songs from Wicked and change the character’s names. It’d run for years. Joe Biden could have a cameo as one of the flying monkeys.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I can’t help thinking that Hillary’s TV show will flame out. Y’know, like “Parker Spitzer” did on CNN.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Or like when Homer Simpson formed his own internet consulting firm. People don’t want to look at HRC talk. That’s why she couldn’t draw flies at her campaign speeches.

    3. dcblogger

      I am THRILLED with the State Dept. resignations. It means they won’t be collaborators in Trump’s kleptocracy. I hope we see more top level resignations. In fact, water cooler needs a new catagory: civil service worker bee revolt.
      There are now at least 14 “rogue” Twitter accounts from federal science agencies
      this is going to play a crucial role in the unraveling of Trump.
      we also need a new protest category for water cooler because there will be major protests in DC on AT LEAST a weekly basis, and not just DC.
      Trump is a train wreck, lets have some fun with it.

      1. DJPS

        It turns out those posts were filled by presidential appointees who were obliged to resign when the new guy took office.

      2. Carolinian

        Among the leaving is Victoria f#ck the EU Nuland. We’re thrilled too, but probably not for the same reason as you.

          1. ambrit

            Ribbentrop was “going out with” some Russian cat called Molotov in August 1939. The rest, as is said, is history.

        1. pretzelattack

          i’m doing a happy dance right now. i’m not sure how grieved i am about the rest resigning, either. state doesn’t have a very good record.

        2. NDP

          Victoria “have a cookie while you have a revolution” Nuland and Patrick “quid pro quo” Kennedy. I’m thrilled.

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        One must assume the vast majority were Obama people or Bush 43 people.

        The longest holdouts would have been appointed by Clinton or Bush 41.

        Remind me again of all the great diplomatic accomplishments under our last 4 presidents?

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think it’s a good thing that Clinton’s FlexNet got cleaned out (including the loathely Victoria Nuland, if indeed she was one of the “professionals” who left).

        That doesn’t mean that Trump’s appointments won’t be as bad or worse; but I prefer a loose stool to a coprolith, if you see what I’m saying.

        * * *

        I think it’s a good thing that worker bees are “resisting.” It would be bad if we threw the baby (government scientists) out with the bathwather (Clinton hacks). Of course, the bathwater is busily pretending it is, in fact, the baby.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m glad that the warmongering Clintonite hacks were cleaned out of State*. I don’t especially like the surgeon who performed the operation, but it had to be done. What’s interesting is that (so far) the neo-cons haven’t been given a shot:

        A recent Washington Post front page article entitled “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted” shares with the reader the heartbreak of those so-called GOP foreign policy experts who have apparently been ignored by the presidential transition team seeking to staff senior positions in the new administration. Author David Nakamura describes them as “some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administration who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.”

        “But,” Nakamura adds, “their phones aren’t ringing.” And I wept openly as he went on to describe how they sit forlorn in a “state of indefinite limbo” in their law firms, think tanks and university faculty lounges just thinking about all the great things they can do for their country. Yes, “serve their country,” indeed. Nothing personal in it for them. Nothing personal when they denounced Trump and called him incompetent, unqualified, a threat to the nation and even joined Democrats in labeling him a racist, misogynist, homophobe, Islamophobe and bigot. And they really got off when they explained in some detail how The Donald was a Russian agent. Nothing personal. It’s was only business. So let’s let bygones be bygones and, by the way, where are the jobs? Top level Pentagon or National Security Council only, if you please!

        And yes, they did make a mistake about some things in Iraq, but it was Obama who screwed it up by not staying the course. And then there was Libya, the war still going on in Afghanistan, getting rid of Bashar and that funny business in Ukraine. It all could have gone better but, hey, if they had been fully in charge for the past eight years to back up the greatly loved Vicki Nuland at the State Department everything would be hunky dory.

        So, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good!

    4. Waldenpond

      It is tradition. It’s theater… it’s a public display ceding the transition to the incoming administration. They submit resignations as collegiality, smooth transition of power and all that.

      1. Liberal Mole

        They submitted resignations, and were not asked to return. Not quite fired but the same effect. One swamp was drained! Though I wouldn’t be surprised if new swamp creatures were brought in. Ones who will push for regime change openly for their oil or pipelines, no more pussy footing around with these lies about democracy and humanitarian concerns.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s always been the difference. None of this responsibility to protect crapola, which turned out to be a high-minded rationalization for war with Russia in Syria (as opposed to protecting the Yeminis, the Rohingya, and so on and so forth). At least it’s clear what’s going on.

    5. Ruben

      I doubt they resigned because of politicization. At senior level resignation usually is something different, like in “I will accept your resignation …”.

  3. generic

    Eh, Van der Bellen isn’t jewish, he grew up protestant, he isn’t a democratic socialist but a member of the economic liberal wing of the Green party (supported TiPP before opposing it) and he isn’t yet 74 either. Good work for a Tweet I guess.

    1. alex morfesis

      Details, details…next you’ll be saying he was from some white rooskee pogromista no-ability family and he was just hiding out all these years as a phony green until the dust had settled…oh…my…

      well never mind then…

  4. TheBellTolling

    Good wrap-up. Of course, if Obama had prosecuted some torturers, none of this would even be an issue.

    I agree he should have prosecuted but I think it would still be an issue today.

    I think we are underestimating the lengths that people go to define themselves as opposition. Whether he prosecuted or not Repubs knew Dems were against and drew it into their ideology. Trump would still believe it works and would have shot even more fire of “how could they lock up people trying to keep our country safe while hillary is free blah blah blah”

    1. pretzelattack

      dems were against what? torture? they said they were. if i claimed to be against murder, but opposed prosecuting murderers, my opposition wouldn’t mean much.

      1. TheBellTolling

        I mean Obama did stop the torture program. Republicans took that as a chance to go all out on saying “no we are pro-torture”. They would have stayed pro-torture whether there were prosecutions or not.

        1. jsn

          “I mean Obama did (claim to) stop the torture program.” Turns out now he didn’t, did he? Prosecutions would have actually had the chance of ending it, “looking forward not back” is what those who abuse power count on. When there is an accounting, it turns out these people are cowards, when they feel protected they’re vicious predators.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Given the US loooooong history of torture, I’m not sure why anyone would believe it had suddenly stopped just because Barry said so.

            Mendacity is a system we live in.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Bush also said he didn’t torture. Maybe Obama was just more secretive; another good reason for locking up whistleblowers.

        3. human

          I’m thinking that whatever you believe he said, and its implications, that this is even worse … and undeniable:

          Terror Tuesdays, Kill Lists and Drones: Has the President Become a Law Unto Himself? 06/20/2012 03:26 pm ET | Updated Aug 20, 2012


        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Obama did stop the torture program

          No, Obama did not “stop” it. He put it into abeyance, into temporary suspension, as we can see by how easily attempts can be made to revive it.*

          Typical incrementalist bullshit.

          * Notice how this pisses all over the brave people inside government who fought it, too. Incredible.

  5. diptherio

    On the commons tip:

    French Development Agency Champions the Commons as New Vision for Development ~David Bollier

    And adding to yesterday’s link to the Communities Mag article on Permaculture and collective living, check this out:

    Boise nonprofit “Turtle Island Co-op” looks to purchase Idaho farmland for experimental agriculture community

    One of the Turtle Island Co-op’s main goals is to bridge the gap between academic life and the rural lifestyle.

    “The reason society decided to start dividing labor in the first place was so we could make more time in our days,” McKerracher said. “But what are we doing it all for if only a few of us are able to engage in academic pursuits— the fine arts? Why should that only be delegated to the few who are caught up in teaching it?”

    McKerracher went on to further illustrate the societal divide between those growing our food and those sometimes referred to as the “academic elite.” According to McKerracher, people in urban, academic communities are often concerned with where their food comes from, but would be hard pressed to create it for themselves.

    “The problem is if we need more of these sustainable, local farms, we need more farmers,” McKerracher said. “We want more people to go into the fields to make us this food. Why don’t we just go do it? Because we’re spending all our time studying something we think is more interesting. Something less culturally isolating.”

    McKerracher went on to explain that creating an academic farming community, would not only help to close this social divide, but also potentially solve the problem of the standard family farm’s sustainability.

    “The number one problem with family farms across the nation is that nobody’s kids want to stay on the farm. I didn’t,” McKerracher said. “When I talk about wanting to go back, it’s not so I can continue this family model. It’s to create this new community model.”

  6. cojo

    Re: “What price do we pay for civilization? by Walter Scheidel. Is there no mention of democratic socialist principles? I understand this is Stanford we’re dealing with, but I’m sure they’ve studied the Scandinavian model.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The Skandy model presumes there is a national notion of the “collective good” in place, but we’ve replaced that in the US with “every man for himself, screw you I got mine”. “Get rich or die trying” could be replaced with “die anyway while trying to get rich”. The model is a gated community with armed guards at the turrets…not a community that is safe because most people are not absolutely starving. Per Walter Scheidel above: yes, lots of violence will be required.

    2. PhilM

      The best society to live in as a rich person is the best one to live in as a poor person.

      Gated communities are only so big; a yacht can only be so big; ultimately, you drive off the ranch, or pull into port.

      Imagine the nation as your gated community.

      1. cojo

        All the recent talk of super rich preppers suggests they’d rather throw away their money on cold war missile silos and extensive getaway plans half way across the world rather than try to improve the society they belong to by paying higher taxes to help redistribute some of the imbalances. So misguided. Human selfishness and nearsightedness to the extreme.

        1. B1whois

          And the poor would rather fight each other about race than engage in changing thier democractic institutions. So the world burns and churns while mankind commits suicide.

        2. B1whois

          And the poors would rather fight each other about racism then engage in changing their democratic institutions. Also human selfishness and nearsightedness in the extreme.

    3. LT

      And even the Scandinavian model owes its splendor at a cost to other nations.

      So again, at what price “civilization.”

      Do you think any of the Western countries would be have their goodies, no matter how they are distributed, without the resources of all those countries founding imperialists labeled as “savage”?

      At what price “civilization?”

  7. Ranger Rick

    Struggling to understand the Egypt “democracy” story (especially given its source). What’s one form of authoritarianism exchanged for another?

    1. pictboy3

      Because it was democratic in the beginning. Then the new government tried to adopt a constitution that was a bit too Islamist and the secularists withdrew their support, giving the army an excuse to swoop in and restore the old order.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s more tragic even than that. The Tahrir Square activist was brilliant up until the point when it came time to take power. Then they were flumoxed, had no plans, and did not know what to do. And others, who knew very well what to do.

        I remember very well when El-Baradi appeared at TS — would have been a perfectly acceptable replacement, domestically and internationally — and they hadn’t even organized a sound system so that he could be properly heard.

    1. nowhere


      But the actual report does a better job of explaining the technical reasons for the accident. Lines like “everything, including Bondarenko, was saturated with a high concentration of oxygen” are a bit misleading in that it seems to play into the idea the oxygen itself is combustible; a commonly assumed mistake.

  8. Tom

    It appears that the state department officials may not have been fired per se, rather they tendered their resignations at the start of the year expecting they would be asked to stay on and instead they were not. Some of the officials have been offered other positions within the department and at least one of the resignations is noted as being a genuine, planned-for, retirement:


    1. cocomaan

      Someone will have to chalk up the recent State Department successes that would make me cry alligator tears at these departures. Sudan? Genocide. Burma? Genocide. Syraqistan? Genocide.

      Palestine, maybe? Well, Palestine is interesting, because we let Israel build a giant wall that they’ll be the first to claim has worked at stopping intifada v3.

      State has proven itself to be at least ineffective, possibly just cheerleaders for the military.

      1. pretzelattack

        iran i guess, fwiw. i’m not going to argue they have put up much resistance to warmongering.

    2. Pat

      Not asking them to stay may be another sign that Trump is not the fool that our vaunted press wishes us to believe.

      More people should have been shown the door eight years ago, but then when you are “hiring” Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most qualified woman in the world. to be Secretary of State there is already a sign that you aren’t as smart as the press is portraying you.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      So what was “not normal” — besides the constant state of hysteria, which isn’t normal either — was not the resignations as such, but the fact that they were accepted? That’s really funny.

      So long, Vicky! Nice knowin’ ya.

  9. nowhere

    “The proof is in the pudding, not in the principles of how to make a pudding.”

    Is there a recipe somewhere that lists the steps to a successful movement?

    1. Already know recipe
    2. Violate epistemology
    3. ????
    4. SUCCESS!!!

    1. Knot Galt

      Not to appear facetious, a successful movement must contain a willingness of death and or suffering as a possible consequence. Or an exit strategy that allows oneself to get off scot free to live and fight another day.

      An over militarized police takes care of one and Big Brother takes care of the other. Which takes us back to your number 3.

    2. Dandelion

      You might read a history of the Second Wave feminist movement as an example. But generally, people start linking up over shared issues, leaders arise within various groups and connect with each other, have larger meetings, start creating recruiting information and planning actions, each action making one clear specific demand and also serving to win over more supporters. The actions have to be disruptive enough to threaten the people with the power to agree to the demand. Usually it takes many actions over a long period. The farm workers, led by Cesar Chavez, succeeded by winning over enough people that a grape boycott forced the landowners to yield. Act-Up got so disruptive they forced Reagan of all people to yield, and so disruptive to Obama, through embarrassing him at various events and then by chaining themselves to the WH fence, they forced him to change his stance on gay marriage. It’s a long process and has to be done in person and on the ground, but there a lots of roadmaps from not that distant history.

      1. nowhere

        We certainly need to be careful of confirmation bias though. There have been many movements around the world that have had the same/similar conditions, but they have failed to achieve anything substantive (if they weren’t obliterated).

        My point is that there is no recipe to follow, only seemingly similar sets of conditions. The first of which seems to be people meeting and to voice their grievances.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Act-Up was truly great, and — I can’t imagine why — the forgotten non-violent resistance movement.

        So is the question whether pink pussy hats are Second or Third Wave feminism? I’m guessing Third.

        1. windsock

          ACT UP was truly great – but then it had only one specific, achievable aim – give us treatment, NOW!

          What one demand does the nth wave feminism have?

  10. amousie

    It is almost universally true that violence has been necessary to ensure the redistribution of wealth at any point in time…

    Isn’t violence or at least the threat of violence (by the state) necessary to also redistribute or capture wealth upward?

    It’s not like the accumulation of wealth happens by accident or overnight. There are policies, goals, laws/rules sponsored by the state or sovereign to promote its own agenda. Inequality does NOT happen just because.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No, it isn’t:

        The deficiency of the book is indicated by its very title. The question is so badly formulated that it cannot be answered correctly. Ancient “property relations” were superseded by feudal property relations and these by “bourgeois” property relations. Thus history itself had expressed its criticism upon past property relations. What Proudhon was actually dealing with was modern bourgeois property as it exists today. The question of what this is could have only been answered by a critical analysis of “political economy,” embracing the totality of these property relations, considering not their legal aspect as relations of volition but their real form, that is, as relations of production. But as Proudhon entangled the whole of these economic relations in the general legal concept of “property,” “la propriété,” he could not get beyond the answer which, in a similar work published before 1789, Brissot had already given in the same words: “La propriété’ c’est le vol.”

        The upshot is at best that the bourgeois legal conceptions of “theft” apply equally well to the “honest” gains of the bourgeois himself. On the other hand, since “theft” as a forcible violation of property presupposes the existence of property, Proudhon entangled himself in all sorts of fantasies, obscure even to himself, about true bourgeois property.

        Now, we can have all sorts of discussion about the pretensions of the Bearded One to science, etc. But in arguing that property has to be situated in history, I think The Old Mole is exactly right. Hence the vacuity of the slogan you propose.

    1. PhilM

      Agree, amousie. Indeed, violence, the threat of it, and in the Hobbesian view hopefully the monopoly of it in a single clearly defined authority, underlies any organized human interaction, from the family on up. Note that such authority does not have to be one man; it can be, for instance, “duly constituted negotiations between parents,” or “a representative government.” Hobbes is often misconstrued as being authoritarian; but his true message is not about the one, few or many; it is about sovereignty: that for civil order to prevail, the sovereign power, however constituted, must have sole authority over the deployment of violence. It is about the transition from feudalism to the modern sovereign state.

      People talk about “elites” as if they are all the same; as if money really is power. Well, only sort-of kind-of. There’s a big neglect of the difference between the carrot ($ billions) and the stick (9 mm sidearm, armored personnel carrier, aircraft carrier, nuke). They relate just as potential energy relates to kinetic energy: one gives you a height to look out from; the other can kill you without you ever knowing why. Usually people grow old quickly in proportion to the amount of kinetic power they channel or direct.

      Trump just made the transition from one kind of power to another. It will be instructive to watch as he learns the personal costs of having the kinetic kind.

      1. witters

        “Indeed, violence, the threat of it, and in the Hobbesian view hopefully the monopoly of it in a single clearly defined authority, underlies any organized human interaction, from the family on up”

        Jesus! The Friday literary group is going to look very different to me today…

        1. PhilM

          Good. Then you, at least, have come to understand that even a book group can only survive for long without the foundation of the monopoly of legitimate armed force that your government disposes of.

          There’s a reading list for your group that makes the point with gruesome clarity, in case some of the others don’t get it.

          All this talk about deliberate “delegitimizing” is a noxious thing. I for one am relieved that everything has gone according to the books thus far, and that we have gotten through the inauguration; and I hope I can look forward to seeing American traditions, which are really only a few score years old now, carry the day until some sort of shared pride in our government can reassert itself.

          1. pretzelattack

            except now they’re outsourcing more of the violence, to contractors, to other countries willing to harbor black sites, as payoffs to campaign donors. the military is the general contractor.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A volcanic eruption can redistribute wealth in nature.

      So can a hurricane or a forest fire.

      Or a plague. Is that violence or non-violence?

      And if we are talking about upward wealth distribution, as has been the case the last few decades, I think it can be done with non-violence.

      One more – do we consider Teddy Roosevelt’s trust busting non-violent wealth redistribution?

      1. LT

        I don’t see how Teddy Roosevelt redistributed wealth.
        The Roosevelts are still rolling in dough, I imagine.
        He redistributed the Phillipines’ wealth to the USA…
        Guess that could be what you mean.

  11. A

    “By releasing emails that were true?”
    Yes, because they only did it to one side. The famously *liberal* press then ran with it & Hillary ended up looking more corrupt than Donald f’n Trump.

    1. pretzelattack

      uh they didn’t have emails related to trump. so, no release. clinton was corrupt. people didn’t like that. some of them didn’t vote for her, for that reason. i personally thought it was a wash on the corruption front, but that is debatable both ways. maybe she was slightly more corrupt, maybe trump is. i’m glad she lost, and now we can fight trump more effectively than we could have fought clinton because the dinos will put more effort into fighting him.

      1. A

        In what universe is Hillary more corrupt? Did she run a charity that was a complete scam that paid for her campaigns, lawsuits, bribes and portraits of herself? If she a target of hundreds of lawsuits because she routinely stiffs her contractors and employees? Was she sued for a scam university and settle for 25 million? Did she go bankrupt multiple times and evade taxes for 20 years? I love how some here lost it over “tarmac Lynch”, yet not a single peep about NY FBI’s chummy relationship with Trump’s campaign. Huge deal was made of scandals relation to Clinton Foundation – an actual charity – and nothing on Trump Foundation whose only reason for existence was fraud.

        1. pretzelattack

          yeah the clinton foundation and its overseas branch. and bill got paid millions for a scam university just like trump’s. also i just read about a lawsuit against the dnc for not paying overtime


          not to mention the legalized bribery from banks that almost crashed the global economy but were not prosecuted, the support of fracking, taking contributions from saudi arabia and the like, with pending business before the state department.

          that universe. the one we live in. like i say, clinton may still be slightly less corrupt than trump, my corruptometer is an old model; and has difficulty with very precise measurements.

          1. HopeLB

            I would say Hill/Bill are more corrupt than Trump based solely on the global bankster fraud they promoted and unleashed upon the world. Also ask the Haitians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Hondurans, Syrians, Libyans, Columbians about the Clintons’ nefarious reach.

          2. Pat

            Commodities trade fraud. Clear money laundering to avoid campaign finance limitations.
            Oh and don’t forget part of the charity fraud having to shut down because donations dried up.

        2. EndOfTheWorld

          It’s said that Trump does not use e-mails at all. He believes in sending a paper message by courier….more secure.

          I’m sure he’s made some interesting phone calls, though, but he’s probably got enough security to make his phone lines untappable.

        3. dcblogger

          In what universe is Hillary more corrupt? Did she run a charity that was a complete scam that paid for her campaigns, lawsuits, bribes and portraits of herself? If she a target of hundreds of lawsuits because she routinely stiffs her contractors and employees? Was she sued for a scam university and settle for 25 million? Did she go bankrupt multiple times and evade taxes for 20 years? I love how some here lost it over “tarmac Lynch”, yet not a single peep about NY FBI’s chummy relationship with Trump’s campaign. Huge deal was made of scandals relation to Clinton Foundation – an actual charity – and nothing on Trump Foundation whose only reason for existence was fraud.

          so good, it had to be repeated

          1. Pat

            Just out of curiosity were you one of those well informed people who thought Clinton couldn’t lose and “invested” in her?
            Someone who laughed at Trump’s disaster of a campaign while applauding Clinton’s brilliantly run one with the extensive ground game?

        4. Irredeemable Deplorable

          The universe in which, according to the recent book by forensic accountant Charles Ortel, the Clintons washed up to $200 Billion $ through their various charity scams since the ’90s. He published the book, and the Clinton’s didn’t deny it, or sue him for slander/defamation……of course the MSM covered this extensively and in great depth…..

          Or you can live in your alternate universe, where St Hilary and kindly Uncle Bill exist……


          Personally, I regard Hilary as one of the most evil creatures to ever slither towards an elected office in human history.

          Lesson for the Democrats: if you want to win, get better candidates with better policies who arent’t mistrusted by most of the voters.

        5. Lambert Strether Post author

          > In what universe is Hillary more corrupt?

          Let me explain why this Clintonite talking point is both wrong and disempowering. As is typical of partisanship, it frames an A/B question in terms of party or even personal fealty (Democrat/liberal/Clinton vs. Republican/conservative/Trump). This is, of course, a procrustean bed, and necessarily so, since the option of “they are both terrible, though in different ways” is a limb immediately hacked up to make the body politic fit the framing.*

          First, following Teachout, corruption is the use of public office for private gain. By that measure, Clinton taking IIRC $675K from Goldman is corruption, pure and simple; they never would have paid her that sum had she not been SoS and did they not (like everyone else) expect her to run again. Keeping the distinction between public and private clean is why Clinton privatizing her email server — and then throwing away half the mail on it before she turned it over to the FBI — was so dangerous to the public good; not only would there be no FOIA anymore if everybody did what she did, the potential for influence peddling is obvious. (On influence peddling, and for a general assault on the horrid Clinton Foundation’s so-called charitable activities, see the work of Amy Stirling Cassil; a former non-profit executive, she looks a the books, so please respond with that level of detail.)

          So, the answer to your question is “this universe,” if you follow, as Teachout does, the definition of corruption that the Framers of the Constitution used. By that definition, Trump isn’t corrupt. He’s a crooked businessman who I would never do business with, but he has not used public office for private gain. (Now, he might in the future, but that’s not what we’re arguing.) And by confusing what corruption is with what it isn’t, comments like this disempower attempts to deal with it.

          There’s also the larger question of what’s really wrong with Trump. I would urge that here, too, the “Trump is more corrupt than Clinton” frame is wrong and disempowering. The real issue is not that Trump is a crooked businessman; I mean, [genuflects] Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, when to work for Travis Kalanick, who’s as crooked as they come. The real issue is that Trump is an oligarch, and oligarchy is now open (as opposed to working through brokers, like the Democrats). Of course, the Democrats can’t say that, because they depend on their own faction of the oligarchy for funding, and they want their broker role back, also profoundly disempowering. Know your enemy!

          * “Cancer or stroke? Pick one!”

          “Well, I dunno. Cancer is slow, and stroke is fast…. Do I get to say when? ”

          And so forth…

          1. A

            Thanks for the response. (I’m not a clintonite and supported Bernie in the primaries)

            Yes, being a crooked businessman is not the same as using public office for personal gain, but Trump has never held any office so of course he hadn’t.

            I will not defend Clinton against everything stated above but do you admit that the 200 billion didn’t go to the Clintons personally? Is that the same as running a charity specifically for personal gain the way Trump has?

            Trump is corrupt by your own definition, which included a private email server to evade scrutiny and transparency. He is the only president who hasn’t revealed his tax returns!! The only reason we know about Clinton’s GS speeches/fees is because she has!
            And of course, speaking of FOI, how do you like Trump putting all multiple government agencies on compete media lockdown? You still care about private email servers?

            And we don’t have to wait for “the future”, Trump is already running an open kleptocracy. Huge business empire with conflicts of interests evrywhere: slashing fines on banks he owes money too, being in charge of LRB that will rule on his hotel lawsuits, his hotels as a direct bribery channel.

            Hillary wasn’t tough on banks? Half of Trump’s cabinet is GS. And oil and fast-food billionaires. I’m sure he’ll be very tough on corporations, he’ll cut regulations “by 75%” to start. This is what you call “both are terrible”?

            The way he will use his office for direct personal enrichment pales in comparison to anything Clinton was doing.

            I view it as a flu vs cancer, and those who chose the cancer now own everything Trump does.

    2. Pat

      The only real source we have for the “Russians hacked the DNC” storyline is a private company hired by the DNC as they were the only tech experts to examine the server,, how do we know? And mere collaboration by intelligence agencies who gave us Sadam Hussein met with the 9/11 hijackers AND has weapons of mass destruction, and have openly lied to Congress, not to mention were credulous enough to take the word of a company hired by people whose security sense was so awful even that company ripped them a new one for their processes.

      The failure or the famously “liberal” press was not bothering to point out the whole thing smelt to high heaven and not of borscht.

    3. Binky

      Mafia affiliated multiply bankrupt casino owner/wrestler/media personality and heir to NY real estate vs. yuppie twit: America chose.

      Welcome to the United States of Soprano-Kardashian?

    4. Irredeemable Deplorable

      Julian Assange has stated many times that he has lots of Trump’s files, not sure exactly what kind, but he said every time the issue was raised words to the effect of “nothing very interesting in there”.

      And the famous liberal press maintained almost total radio silence on the actual content of Wikileaks and DNCLeaks and US DoJ released e-mails….did you see them devoting entire weekend editions with all reporter hands on deck, like they did for the Panama Papers a few months ago? Me neither.

      The only outlets who delved into depth into Wikileaks etc. were on the alt-right edge, and they were read by the pro-Trump voters, who mostly had figured all this for themselves before, the leaked e-mails only served to confirm their suspicions. I really doubt many Democrat voters read Breitbart etc, or are on r/The-Donald or 4chan/pol…..

      I am sure if Wikileaks had some dirt on Trump they would publish it. And the thousands of MSM “reporters” and Democrat opposition researchers who spent millions of man hours combing all corners of the earth in desperation for something, anything to use against Trump….and all they could come up with was the “pussy grabbing” tape, and the ludicrous Buzzfeed file. But maybe if they invest another billion man hours, something will pop up.

      Notice how all those women who accused Trump of all kinds of sexual things fell off a cliff sometime before the election and were never heard from again, once some scrutiny was applied to their claims. Gloria Allred tried her double-plus best, and all she could do was a sad defamation lawsuit from one of her pet “accusers” who is outraged, outraged I tell you, that Trump took offence to her phony accusations of sexual whatevers.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I am sure if Wikileaks had some dirt on Trump they would publish it. And the thousands of MSM “reporters” and Democrat opposition researchers who spent millions of man hours combing all corners of the earth in desperation for something, anything to use against Trump

        I’m not. But as you point out, it’s hard to imagine that parallel efforts woudn’t have come up with whatever was out there.

    5. dcrane

      I doubt that very many people lined up Donald and Hillary and voted for Donald because they thought him to be less corrupt. Evidence of Trump’s corruption was all over the news media as well, people just didn’t care.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think “don’t care” is the wrong frame. I think they weighed Trump’s corruption in the balance, and other things outweighed it.*

        For example, if I were in a state where the good jobs were at Walmart and the only way out was the military, I might get a little tired of sending kids off to the wars sponsored by the cosmopolitan metropolis — very well represented, in all aspects, by Clinton — and then seeing my kids come back maimed, and the wars never won. And Clinton gearing up for another one.

        Do you not have to balance your vote that way? Lucky you.

        * See, again, Arnade’s notion of “volatilty voters.”

  12. aliteralmind

    I live streamed a meeting on Tuesday morning for three hours. It was a so-called “public” meeting with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, to listen to comments about a proposed pipeline by South Jersey gas. More than half of the people who showed up were refused entry, starting 45 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. Here’s an article about my coverage focused exclusively on those who are shut out, in the near freezing cold and rain:


  13. cocomaan

    Leaving NYT for Google Cloud, further tweet:

    Quentin Hardy ‏@anildash New thing, & thanks. I want to write about the rise of a dramatic change – computer-assisted intelligence everywhere.

    I’d love to see what the hell he’s talking about. I can’t find intelligence anywhere, computer or non computer. And whenever a computer is “helping”, it doesn’t seem to be working.

    1. EGrise

      With any luck he’ll publish it personally on his Twitter feed, and it will keep him so busy he won’t have time for anything else.

    2. KurtisMayfield

      Will he be publishing all the federal law breaking by states with favorable marijuana laws? Or is being legally consistent too much to ask?

  14. DJG

    Peak metaphor mixing leading to ethical confusion: –Zerwas singled out the civil disobedience tactic of protesters blocking local freeways when presenting the bill to the house civil law committee. Protesters blocked highways in response to the July fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a black man who was killed in front of his girlfriend and child, by police officer Jeronimo Yanez at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Smoke bombs, tear gas and pepper spray were used on the crowd and dozens were arrested. ‘I have an entire constituency that feels as though protesters believe that their rights are more important than everyone else’s,’ he said. ‘Well, there is a cost to that. Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus. She didn’t get out and lay down in front of the bus.’”

    What Rosa Parks did was just as illegal blocking a highway. Do people think that separate seating for black people was just done as good manners? It isn’t as if Rosa Parks refused to use her fish fork.

    I say: The more protest the better.

    1. Waldenpond

      The bus protest was not limited to Rosa Parks. Black churches and black independents organized transportation in contra to the traditional system. It was intended to be disruptive to the existing system.

  15. DJG

    Carthago delenda est. I am feeling like Cato, but then I also don’t mind repeating, as Lambert will attest: Torture corrupts everything. And all of these recent smoke+mirrors about torture indicate a bunch of guilty consciences and the likelihood that torture is still going on. The “intelligence community” is probably one step from dropping drugged prisoners from airplanes, the way our friends the Argentines used to do. And Obama buried the report–because his administration was scandal-free, you know. Torture corrupts everything, and it deligitimates the government. I am not amazed that Trump made his remarks. How he thinks he can govern after those remarks is beyond me.

    1. EGrise

      Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

      I’m writing a macro that always inserts the word “feckless” in front of any mention of the term “Obama administration.”

  16. flora

    re: “Five States Are Considering Bills to Legalize the ‘Right to Repair’ Electronics” [Vice]

    Thanks for that link.

  17. Waldenpond

    Marcotte quote:

    Confession time: I’m rooting for Trump to win the Republican nomination. And not in a casual that-would-be-amusing way. When he won South Carolina, there was celebrating at my house. When he won Nevada, I did a happy dance. When pundits on tv say in shocked, repulsed tones that his nomination is starting to look inevitable, I say “Damn Skippy.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “He’s not my president.”

      Interestingly, these same protesters don’t say ‘He’s not your president.’

      What does that mean?

      Are these protesters from another country? Russia maybe?

      Are they emigrating?

  18. Waldenpond

    Carl Beijer… people should also be disabused as the person the election was rigged against is the official outreach coordinator of the DNC and the Ds are voting for all of Trump’s nominees out of professional courtesy (signaling to billionaires they are best situated for continued thieving).

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Tommorow Austria inaugurates it’s first Jewish President @vanderbellen, A a 74-year old Democratic Socialist!”

    Actually, Van der Bellen (spacing?) is a Green, the former head of the party in Austria.

    You’re welcome.

    Also: the Presidency there is a symbolic, elder=statesman post.

  20. Oregoncharles

    ” Yes, attempts to reform the Democrats have failed. Yes, attempts to form a new party have also failed, just as consistently.”

    Depends on which kind of failure you want. Attempts to reform the Dems have failed catastrophically, in that, after 30 years of such, it’s a deeply right-wing party on all but a tiny handful of “ID” issues.

    Attempts to form a new party have failed to take power, except locally (see Richmond, CA), but leave you with a platform and an organization that’s available in the event of a political collapse – which we see happening around us.

    At this point, I support Sawant’s idea of a left-wing coalition; we formed a committee to explore that in Oregon. (In Oregon, the Greens ARE the Socialists – the latter dissolved and joined the Green Party when they lost their ballot access.) But even that gives you something very small, as long as Americans remain hypnotised by the duopoly.

    At the same time, the “major” parties have been shedding support, shrinking, since 2006. The last numbers – haven’t seen a new poll – showed them with about 50% support, so 29 & 21%. That isn’t a major party. Something is going to give; I just wish I knew what. All too likely: the present illusion of electoral democracy.

    1. Jim Haygood

      it’s a deeply right-wing party on all but a tiny handful of “ID” issues.

      There is only one War Party.

      Drone Assassin Obama illustrated this beautifully.

      Even took out four US citizens.

      1. makedoanmend

        A very confusing statement:

        Are you saying that democrats only institute war and are therefore rightwing? (sidenote: I seem to remember a Republic president who resorted to war. Was he really a Democrat Party operative in wolf’s clothing?)

        Or are you implying that war is intrinsically aligned with right-wing politics and democrats are rightwing?

        (side sidenote to the universe: hmm…what’s rightwing?…an outlook, attitude? – bit like liberal?…or simply shtick masquerading for something murkier in our desires?)

  21. Altandmain

    Bernie Sanders, on corporate media and democracy:

    As a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to corporate media. The less significant it is to ordinary people, the more attention the media pays. Further, issues being pushed by the top 1 percent get a lot of attention. Issues advocated by representatives of working families, not so much.

    For the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people— poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, climate change, etc.—are fairly irrelevant. For them, politics is largely presented as entertainment. With some notable exceptions, reporters are trained to see a campaign as if it were a game show, a baseball game, a soap opera, or a series of conflicts.
    Why is it that the mainstream media sees politics as entertainment, and largely ignores the major crises facing our country? The answer lies in the fact that corporate media is owned by, well, large multinational corporations.

    These powerful corporations also have an agenda, and it would be naive not to believe that their views and needs impact coverage of issues important to them. Seen any specials lately as to why we pay the highest prices in the world for our prescription drugs, or why we are the only major country on earth not to have a national health care program? That may have something to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars each year that drug companies and insurance companies spend on advertising.

    1. John k

      Dems and the liberal press occasionally cover minority issues because, of all the progressive policies the dems used to care for, these are the ones that corps don’t care about.
      Problem is this abandons middle and lower class, and they’ve started to notice.

  22. craazyboy

    Onion – News Before It Happens:

    Entire Population Of Mexico Slips Into US While Building Great Wall.

      1. craazyboy

        Too inefficient. Mexico City will bus unemployed/underemployed to CEMEX job site at future Yuugly Great Wall. CEMEX assigns new workers to north side of borderline. Odd there is massive turnover, and no one knows where the workers went, but Mexico City keeps the buses running and CEMEX continues to get new workers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Disappearing Wall workers…

          The dark side of the first Great Wall of China* (by the First Emperor), it has been said for the last 2,000+ years, is that many builders were buried in it.

          *many small walls before him, and the current one was built about 600 years ago.

          1. craazyboy

            Of course Mexico City will need to complete the paperwork. Worker-citizen was honorably deceased in the line of duty, and went to Taco Bell Heaven. No one can ever return from Taco Bell Heaven. Not even their babies.

  23. AdamK

    Austria new Jewish president:
    from Wiki Jewish and a socialist
    “Bruno Kreisky (22 January 1911 – 29 July 1990) was an Austrian politician who served as Foreign Minister from 1959 to 1966 and as Chancellor from 1970 to 1983. He is considered perhaps Austria’s most successful Socialist leader, and a figure who parlayed a small country’s neutrality into a major moral and political role on the world stage. Aged 72 at the end of his chancellorship, he was the oldest acting Chancellor after World War II.”

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t know but you can call them pretty easy. Dial information and ask for the number for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It used to work when I was drunk and bored in college. I don’t think they believed me when I said I was Gorbachev as they never did put me through to Poppy. The receptionist was nice though.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The White House switchboard number has been 202-456-1414 for decades.

        I tried to call Jimmy Carter one night. But they didn’t patch me through. :-(

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “… a GOP-led measure that would charge activists for law enforcement costs associated with disruptive demonstrations”

    Did it ever occur to these genius Republicans that the ‘activists’ have paid for these costs already being taxpayers and all?

  25. tongorad

    Whatever Trump says about torture, it’ll will never top the “We tortured some folks.” Those 4 words say all you need to know about Obama and his followers.

    1. nowhere

      Yes, because saying you support torture and would issue an Executive Order approving of torture is better than saying “We tortured some folks.” I don’t see much difference between the two.

      Can’t Trump be the more moral President and not condone torture? Can this be answered with out resorting to “but he did it too”?

  26. alex morfesis

    Cue the music…greece glorious greece…why can’t you just tell us…while we’re in the mood…you just seem so jealous…

    just picture a stupid war…

    all the children are screwed…

    oh greece,
    glorious greece,
    merciless greece,
    horrible greece,
    oh you’re just greece…

    Supreme Court rules 8 AWOL turkish military officers who just happened to be in the neighborhood with a stolen helicopter can now walk free and live free under the protection of greece

    What a stupid provocation…as fellow nato members, they could have set up a military tribunal, held them guilty of mutiny…
    and after they serve the sentence in the “safer” prison in greece…

    Then deal with some asylum claim.

    This is just a sad sad sad example of typical obstructionist stupidity in hellas…

    truly stupid and sad

  27. LT

    I think we should hold their feet to the fire about the meme “government budgetung is like a household” and say “exactly, each household should be able to print money.”

  28. LT

    Big business has been bleeding tax cuts and subsidies out the a – – for decades and look at the state of things.
    And people still believe more of that and more “enticements” will bring prosperity to “all.”

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