2:00PM Water Cooler 1/27/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Air Force One the [Mexican border] tax could raise $10 billion a year, enough to “easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone” [Politico]. Of course, Federal taxes don’t “pay for” Federal spending. It’s amusing to see Republicans trapped in their version of the austerity box.

“Trump’s pick for EU ambassador: TTIP unlikely: Professor Ted Malloch, the man Trump chose to be the next ambassador to the European Union, told the BBC earlier this week that he didn’t see much chance of a U.S.-EU free-trade agreement because the 28-nation bloc appears to be falling apart” [Politico].


Trump Transition

“Will Donald Trump coopt conservatives on Capitol Hill, or will he be coopted? This tug of war will be one of the most important storylines of 2017, and after a week of caving to the new president, there were glimmers yesterday that at least some principled conservatives in Congress will assert themselves after all” [WaPo]. Presumably the principled conservatives whose constituents didn’t vote for Clinton, even after her pivot away from Sanders voters toward suburban Republicans?

“In addition to a loaded slogan–‘America First’-and a questionable demeanor, it is now apparent that President Donald J. Trump actually has a governing ideology. His Inaugural Address, the strongest and most coherent speech he’s ever delivered, was a clear statement of that philosophy. It may change the shape of domestic politics. It may overturn the international order that has existed for 70 years. It certainly deserves more than the “divisive” dismissal it received from liberals–and more than the puerile crowd-size diversion that its perpetrator stumbled into during the days after he delivered it” [Joe Klein, Time]. “Here’s the crucial paragraph: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” Don’t you hate it when Trump’s right?

Revolt of the Worker Bees

There are plenty of credentialed professionals — pharma salesmen, scrip doctors, bent “financial professionals,” the scorps, university administrators — that I have little sympathy for. However, people boring ice cores in the Arctic, or taking care of our national parks are a different matter. So this is interesting:

Maybe Wikileaks would be willing to host a scientific data? From my armchair at 30,000 feet, I can’t help that an effort to make sure all the public’s data stays public would benefit from a co-ordinated, branded effort (not to mention offshore hosting).

Gnashing of Teeth and Rending of Garments

“How did it come to this? To begin with, two things Trump (and many others) have observed are correct. It has indeed been a dispiriting few decades for the middle class and the poor, and especially so for the less-educated working class” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. Not to mention the excess deaths. Those were dispiriting, eh? “We have lost, we are lost. Not an election, but a civilization. Where does that leave us? I think the metaphor is one of (political) resistance.” What do you mean, “we”?

“Yes, Tom Brady’s Friendship With Donald Trump Matters” [The Nation]. “Trump uses these relationships as a tool of legitimization.” I understand that liberals are fomenting a legitimacy crisis, despite the presence of Pence as an insurance policy (or did I miss that Pence is a responsible Republican?). But last I checked, Trump won the electoral vote, fair and square. Was appointed by the Electoral College, fair and square (and after a hilarious backfire where “faithless electors” actually voted against Clinton, not Trump). Took the oath of office. And now Democrat Senators are in the process of approving his Cabinet appointments. Meanwhile, the CIA, who surely knows if anybody does ifTrump is really a traitor (that is, controlled by Putin) or, in the alternative narrative, a fascist, has confined itself to releasing easily debunkable reports and dossiers, instead of (say) sending in a wet team which (see von Stauffenberg) they are morally obligated to do, if Trump is indeed the second coming of Hitler. So in what sense is Trump “illegitimate”? In the immortal words of William Gibson (All Tomorrow’s Parties): “Fortunately, it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”

Women’s March on Washington

“Enter the Pussyhat” [N+1]. A survey of participants. More like this, please!

Our Famously Free Press

“The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it.” [Margaret Sullivan, WaPo]. “White House press briefings are “access journalism,” in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source — are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead.” Like that’s bad? “Spicer’s statement [on crowd size] should be seen for what it is: Remarks made over the casket at the funeral of access journalism. As Jessica Huseman of ProPublica put it: “Journalists aren’t going to get answers from Spicer. We are going to get answers by digging. By getting our hands dirty. So let’s all do that.” I like Sullivan, but two things: First, I’d have a lot more sympathy for journalists “getting their hands dirty” and seeking facts if both the venues Sullivan worked at — WaPo and the Times — hadn’t spent the 2016 suppressing news about Sanders, or smearing him. Second, journalism where access is to the President may be dead, but it seems to have been replaced by journalism where the access is to anonymous CIA officials. So, reports of the death of access journalism are, sadly, greatly exaggerated.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“More important still—the most important moment of the first week—was the meeting with union leaders. Mr. Trump gave them almost an hour and a half. “The president treated us with respect, not only our organization but our members,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, by telephone” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, “Trump Tries to Build a ‘Different Party”]. “The lengthy, public and early meeting with the union leaders was, among other things, first-class, primo political pocket-picking. The Trump White House was showing the Democratic Party that one of its traditional constituent groups is up for grabs and happy to do business with a new friend. It was also telling those Republicans too stupid to twig onto it yet that the GOP is going to be something it’s actually been within living memory: the party of working men and women, a friend of those who feel besieged.” I don’t believe that for a minute, but ya know, when I look at this “resistance manual,” or the “Unity Principles” of the Women’s March, I don’t see concrete material benefits for the working class. I don’t see Medicare for All. I don’t see free college. I don’t see a Post Office Bank. I don’t see a $15 an hour minimum wage. And on and on and on. In other words, I don’t see “the party of working men and women” in the Democrat Party either. This after a primary in which a seventy-something Socialist pushed all those policies to millions, very successfully. Could there be a reason for that erasure? What is it, really, that’s being resisted? After all, the Obama administration successfully resisted passing card check…

(Obama did not, of course, pass “health care.” He passed a(n insanely complex) market-based health insurance plan that wasn’t a universal benefit.)

“The election of Donald Trump has sent millions of people pouring out onto the streets to protest a man they think is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bully who will destroy US democracy in his quest to establish himself as supreme fascist ruler of the country” [CounterPunch (Re Silc)]. “Maybe they’re right…. But where were these people when Obama was bombing wedding parties in Kandahar, or training jihadist militants to fight in Syria, or abetting NATO’s destructive onslaught on Libya, or plunging Ukraine into fratricidal warfare, or collecting the phone records of innocent Americans, or deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers, or force-feeding prisoners at Gitmo, or providing bombs and aircraft to the Saudis to continue their genocidal war against Yemen? Where were they? They were asleep, weren’t they? Because liberals always sleep when their man is in office, particularly if their man is a smooth-talking cosmopolitan snake-charmer like Obama…” It strikes me that this is a little bit like the “blaming the voters” thing that establishment Democrats do. I think one can rightly ask where the leaders and organizers were; I don’t think it makes sense to ask why millions weren’t self-mobilizing. And the real issue, I’ve urged, is how that “energy” will be exploited; if by the likes of Neera Tanden, “resistance” is really just a synonym for “restoration,” a return to the status quo ante.

“For the coun­try to re­gain his­tor­ic­al bal­ance, either the Re­pub­lic­ans will have to start fight­ing among them­selves or the Demo­crats must drift to­ward the cen­ter. It may take both” [Charles Cook, The Cook Political Report]. “My bet is that Re­pub­lic­an elec­ted of­fi­cials are go­ing to be ex­tremely re­luct­ant to pub­licly break with Trump, des­pite his an­em­ic poll num­bers. GOP of­fice­hold­ers and party of­fi­cials will con­tin­ue to fear the wrath of the Trump back­ers at the first sign of cri­ti­cism. With so few Re­pub­lic­ans likely to face strong Demo­crat­ic chal­lenges in 2018, either be­cause few GOP seats are up or be­cause few House in­cum­bents are in com­pet­it­ive dis­tricts, primary chal­lenges are their biggest fear, so they are un­likely to do any­thing to an­ger the Trump faith­ful. On the Demo­crat­ic side, can any­one win the nom­in­a­tion run­ning from the middle?” Gillibrand “ad­vert­ised her left­ward move,” and Booker “[struck] a sim­il­ar pose.” Help me.

“Today’s wild scene on the streets of Philadelphia of several thousand people marching, chanting and protesting Trump’s speech at the Loews Hotel to congressional Republicans has already become practically routine” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “It’s the New Normal, and yet – except maybe for that awful thing that happened back in 1861 – America has never seen anything quite like this, with so many regular folks so eager to demonstrate their disapproval of a new president by any means they can think up.” Ugh. “Folks”? Come on. (Incidentally, “crowd size” is a key part of protest narrative; and the photos I saw of the Philly demo looked pretty thin on the ground, which is the way that “several thousands” looks, in fact. Trump isn’t being stupid when he makes crowd size a point of contestation; see Margaret Sullivan above.)

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, December 2016: “Civilian aircraft is the usual culprit behind volatility in the durable goods report but not in December, as defense aircraft makes a second straight appearance. A 64 percent downswing in orders for defense aircraft reversed a similar upswing in November and pulled down total durable goods to a much lower-than-expected 0.4 percent decline in December. But when excluding transportation equipment, orders actually hit the consensus at plus 0.5 percent” [Econoday]. “The strength in the report is centered in capital goods where core orders (nondefense ex-aircraft) posted a strong 0.8 percent gain with November’s increase revised 6 tenths higher to 1.5 percent…. A significant negative in the report is a 0.6 percent decline in unfilled orders which continue to shrink. Lack of work to do is a negative for employment.” And: “[T]he three month rolling average which declined but remains in expansion. The real issue here is that inflation is starting to grab in this sector making real growth much less than appears at face value. The trends on this series are not indicating any real economic improvement” [Econintersect]. And hold your horses on capital spending: “There will be a high degree of uncertainty over 2017 investment trends, especially with companies expecting significant changes to taxation and trade policies. There is a risk that major investment plans could be delayed until there is greater clarity over tax and trade policies” [Economic Calendar].

GDP, Q4 2016 (advance estimate): “A perhaps unwanted build in inventories drove up fourth-quarter GDP which, however, could only manage 1.9 percent annualized growth. Inventories added 1 percentage point to the quarter in a build that will have to be worked off given weakness in final demand which rose only 0.9 percent and down from 3.0 percent in the third quarter” [Econoday]. “Heavy inventories will work to pull back production and employment in the ongoing quarter. But the wildcard is still the consumer who, benefiting from a strong jobs market and strong confidence, can still give the first quarter a lift.” And but: “The consumer spending decline, the trade balance worsened – and GDP should have been worse due to the gaming of inventory hocus-pocus. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate improvement from last quarter” [Econintersect]. And: “Still no worries – residential investment will pickup (still very low), and oil and related non-residential will also pickup” [Economist]. On the other hand: “And without the undesired inventory build due to lower sales, it would have only been up .9% for q4, and .25% lower year over year. Personal Consumption (which includes health insurance premiums) has gone from +q2;s 4.3 to q3’s +3.0 to q4’s +2.5 and we’ve kicked off the new year with a big drop in vehicle sales and a big drop in housing starts, etc.” [Mosler Economics].

Consumer Sentiment, January 2017: “Consumer sentiment remains very strong…. and at the cycle highs where it’s been since the November election. Prospects for future income are the highest in a decade, though the sample is split between optimism among Republicans offsetting pessimism among Democrats” [Econoday]. “[A] point to remember is that the post-election spike in confidence, both consumer in confidence and business confidence, did not result in great strength for the fourth-quarter economy.” And, quoting the University of Michigan’s report: “When the same consumers were re-interviewed from six months ago, the survey recorded extreme swings based on political party affiliation, with Democrats becoming much more pessimistic and Republicans much more optimistic. Such divergences will ultimately converge since consumers hold economic expectations to be useful decision guides, which will require both sides to temper their extreme views” [247 Wall Street]. Hmm… And: “Final January 2017 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Highest in 12 Years” [Econintersect].

Rail: Up 2.6% when you back out coal and grain. “Almost all the data was positive this week. The rolling averages improved. It seems the improving trend continues” [Econintersect]. “Stuff” is moving!

Shipping: “Total 2016 intermodal volumes are down annually” [Logistics Management]. “IANA President and CEO Joni Casey said at the RailTrends Conference, which was held last November in New York by Progressive Railroading magazine and independent railroad analyst Tony Hatch, that decreases in ISO [i.e., international] volumes have hit all North American markets, while most of those same regions continue to see domestic volume growth. She described the current ISO outlook as a ‘mystery and a challenge’ to industry stakeholders.”

Shipping: “Carriers are starting 2017 with fewer trucks than they had at the start of last year, and may look again at their fleet plans if the business doesn’t find some balance” [Wall Street Journal].

Fodder for the Bulls: “Both ECRI’s and RecessionAlerts indicies are indicating moderate growth six months from today. Both indices are in a growth cycle with both indices improving. Still, they are indicating conditions 6 months from today may be somewhat better than today” [Econintersect].

Honey for the Bears: “The only way to describe Friday’s key economic reports would be disappointing. The durable goods reading for December was soft, and the first-quarter look at fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was significantly softer than you might have hoped for in the wake of the post-election rally” [247 Wall Street]. “While these reports might give some of the economic policy critics more fodder, the reality is that many of the policies that were promised during the election will not actually start showing up until later in the 2017 and into the 2018 readings. And that assumes that they will actually succeed in Congress.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 58, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 27 at 12:08pm. Treading water.

News of the Wired

“A dystopian business simulator” [The Founder].

“Is the Default Mode of the Brain to Suffer?” [New York Magazine]. It’s really tempting to regard this article as a consequence of Trump’s victory…

“Paralyzed man regains use of arms and hands after experimental stem cell therapy at Keck Hospital of USC” [USC Stem Cell].

“New research into the underlying molecular mechanisms of opioids has made possible the discoveries of new compounds that might just allow for the relief of pain without some of the worst side effects of traditional opioids” [Smithsonian]. Conveniently timed…

* * *

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 (B1whois):

B1whois writes: “I delight in seeing the hubris of man overtaken by inevitability of nature.”

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.




    Ford’s (F.N) 2017 earnings will be hit by a delayed currency impact of at least $600 million from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the U.S. carmaker told Reuters, putting last year’s record European profit levels beyond reach.

    The company will no longer benefit from currency hedges that had been shielding it from the pound’s slump since the June 23 referendum, Ford of Europe boss Jim Farley said on Friday.

  2. stillfeelintheberninwi

    “Federal Reserve officials in November 2011 were debating whether unemployment was caused by bad work ethics and drug use – rather than by the greatest financial crisis in 80 years. This debate then factored into the argument over setting monetary policy.

    “I frequently hear of jobs going unfilled because a large number of applicants have difficulty passing basic requirements like drug tests or simply demonstrating the requisite work ethic,” said Dennis Lockhart, a former Citibank executive who ran the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. “One contact in the staffing industry told us that during their pretesting process, a majority—actually, 60 percent of applicants—failed to answer ‘0’ to the question of how many days a week it’s acceptable to miss work.”

    The room of central bankers then broke into laughter.”


    This is why people voted Trump…these elites haven’t a clue what life is like for the “working” person.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Wait a minute — are Citibankers getting drug tests? And what about the management team at the Atlanta Fed?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        If not enough people can pass drug tests to fill the available positions (which I find highly dubious) maybe the answer is stop giving drug tests. I don’t believe employers test for alcohol use but if you show up to work drunk well then you’re probably in trouble. Should be the same for other substances too. What you do on your own time is your own business.

        But clearly the bankers’ arguments are just a thin excuse to keep wages down as they have for decades now, because as you said if bankers had to go through the same testing regimen they have no problem imposing on others, there would be a lot fewer bankers.

        And a lot better world for the rest of us.

        1. Tomonthebeach

          Maybe you would like to pay for the mess caused by an injured lathe operator who was doing ecstasy till 1AM before coming to work a bit off. If you have a choice between a druggie and somebody with clean urine, which applicant is most likely not to shut down your assembly line or cause accidents?

          Curious how druggies rationalize that it is evil management and not their own slacker behavior that keeps them marginally employed.

          1. Lord Koos

            Someone who smokes a joint on the weekend is “a druggie” as far as a drug test is concerned, yet it is alcohol abuse that causes the most missed work and other troubles on the job. But nobody tests for that.

            1. aab

              Doesn’t the pot test come up positive for like a month after you’ve used it? It’s something really nuts.

              Funny how the “anti-druggie” comment picks Ecstasy aka MDMA, which is a pharmaceutical with known therapeutic uses. I have never used it, but having been around people while they are, it’s not likely that the lathe operator coming down from it would be any more of a risk than a parent up all night for several days with a sick kid, who doesn’t get sick days from the employer. Or the employee with undiagnosed sleep apnea because his employer doesn’t offer robust health care access, like in several recent train accidents.

              And the evidence that alcohol abuse is both more prevalent and more harmful in the home, the workplace, behind the wheel of a car, operating machinery, in short, in every single way, than marijuana, Ecstasy, and most other street drugs is extensive.and well-documented.

              (Lambert, does this count as inappropriate fighting with a commenter? I was honestly anxious this morning that I’ve been too combative here lately.)

        2. bob

          They should have been outlawed years ago. It’s gone too far, now it’ll never change. There’s an entire industry around it.

          Even in states where marijuana is now legal, it’s not, if you want to be employed.

          It’s also the “worst” or most debilitating drugs that they can’t test for. Coke is gone quick. Acid is effectively never three. Booze?

          I think it’s one thing that if a person is stumbling around the job, but to pre-screen everyone?

          Just try and imagine back 20 or 30 years and tell everyone, that as a condition of being even considered for employment, that they have to visit someone who’s not a doctor, and provide a urine or blood sample.

          How far we’ve fallen.

    2. sgt_doom

      I’ve been hearing this drivel for over fifty years, so much Fake News!

      One of several things I applaud this new president is his shouting loud and clear — enough Fake News already!

      In Seattle I hear idiots on our local KIRO “news” station absolutely convinced the CIA is right, even though they have no concrete evidence and their pathetic report was soundly debunked in the New York Review of Books, of all places, since after all — seventeen intelligence agencies claimed to have signed off on that drivel.

      (And no, I didn’t vote for Trump as I’ve never voted r-con in my life, but his threat and dressing down in a tactful manner to the CIA sure as heck impresses me!)

      1. Procopius

        They have no idea how ignorant they sound. For one thing, there aren’t actually 17 intelligence agencies — there are 16 and a coordinating center, the DNI. Only three of the agencies actually have any capability to investigate computer hacking, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the NSA. There is only one agency which is permitted to investigate espionage in the U.S.; the FBI. If there was internet hacking involved the NSA would know everything about it (and undoubtedly do), but Clapper, whose word is far from reliable, claims they have no idea how the email packages got from the servers to Wikileaks. This seems to support the contention that the leaks were the work of insiders, not hackers. RT broadcasting programs critical of some American policies is NOT evidence that Putin personally directed the operation.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think this is the best part:

      Dennis Lockhart, a former Citibank executive who ran the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. “One contact in the staffing industry told us that during their pretesting process, a majority—actually, 60 percent of applicants—failed to answer ‘0’ to the question of how many days a week it’s acceptable to miss work.”

      Because, ya know, people never get sick, never have family emergencies, never own cars that break down, and on and on and on. Life’s little precarities…

      What a jerk. I’m sure there’s a circle in hell for Lockhard, but I don’t know which one…

      1. Procopius

        Probably one of the upper ones — or outer ones. I’ve never read the poem so don’t recall how he placed the circles. I’d say the ones who claim a lot of applicants failed the drug tests deserve a lower (worse) place, because that really isn’t true. When they tried drug testing welfare applicants in places like Florida (I seem to recall Rick Scott’s wife owned the testing company) practically no one failed the test.

  3. L

    Maybe Wikileaks would be willing to host a scientific data? From my armchair at 30,000 feet, I can’t help that an effort to make sure all the public’s data stays public would benefit from a co-ordinated, branded effort (not to mention offshore hosting).

    This is one important aspect of America that is often neglected. In discussions with friends of mine from other countries they are routinely surprised by how much data we collect and how much of it is genuinely public. In many countries for example weather data is not shared for free at NOAA.gov if it is shared at all. Even in England one must often pay for government data that was already paid for by the public.

    This has already arisen in Climate change. The “climategate” hacker was in part motivated by the lack of access to data. Much of the data that was not shared however was data that belonged to the UK government who puts strict limits on sharing it with UK citizens. The fact that we adhere to a “you already paid for it, you own it” policy is generally under-appreciated IMHO.

      1. L

        No. You are missing my point. I am, not defending the climatgate hack which was spread far and wide in a deliberate attempt to smear. I am noting that we as a nation share more “public” data than others.

        As to the weather data yes I see the datasets you linked to. It is my understanding from reporting I read at the time that some of the data was unshared due to licensing agreements with the U.K. government.

    1. jgordon

      Even if all the data everywhere was publically available it wouldn’t make one bit of difference, because as soon as you carefully explain to people what going carbon nuetral means that’s the end of the discussion. How many climate scientists have stopped driving cars or running air conditioners?

    2. bob

      FWIW- I’ve heard there is a law in the UK that they can’t do weather reports, dates back to WWII. Don’t want to let the nazi’s know what the weather is going to be like.

      It’s also true that the NWS and NOAA are both relying HEAVILY on google. More and more, over time, it’s not even gov. They’ve gone after both NOAA and the NWS before, trying to limit their ability to retail info, instead of wholesaling it to private actors.

      Every weather forecast you get in the US is based on NWS and NOAA. There are a few TV personalities that claim weather knowledge, but they’re just using gov data.

      If you’ve seen it on any sort of weather report, chances are you can find it for free, or at least until their data warehouse (google) decides to start charging a storage fee.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It looks like a crepe myrtle that hasn’t been pruned. They just grow every direction without pruning which reminds me of a spring time project. The side without flowers is just the windward side.

        1. nippersdad

          Crepe myrtles that haven’t been pruned invariably form a vase shape. From the shape (and the vines poking out the top), I think that this looks like a bougainvillea vine that has climbed a cypress tree.

          1. nippersdad

            Actually, scratch that: a crepe myrtle that has never been pruned would form an inverted bowl shape; very rounded, not cone shaped. They get their vase shape from having had their trunks exposed so you can see their bark.

          2. B1whois

            Bougainvillea is correct, and the location is Montevideo, Uruguay in South America during December 2016. It is about 40′ tall and was originally trained on a small trellis which is still there, but is half pulled up and disassembled by the gowing vine which has indeed jumped up and over a much-burdened cypress. When you see it you have to wonder how old it is and what the world looked like when it was originally trained on the trellis. Since it then grew over the years to become by far the largest monument in the entire Central Cemetery, perhaps it would be better to say that the photo demonstrates that “the grandeur of nature achieves dominance over the hubris of man”.
            The cemeteries of Montevideo are amazing: https://www.google.com.uy/search?client=ms-android-verizon&hl=en-UY&noj=1&v= and the even more amazing Buceo Cementerio https://www.google.com.uy/search?client=ms-android-verizon&hl=en-UY&noj=1&v=
            Vines, air plant, ferns and all manner of things gtow on the old concrete European style buildings in Uruguay. I have some more pictures of houses almost completely covered that I will be sending in to Lambert soon. Finally, in response to bugsbunny below, the photo is not digitally enhanced, although there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. I honestly didn’t realize it was such a nice photo until I saw it reproduced here

            1. polecat

              Lovely photo … but I gotta tell you … Bougainvillea is HELL to prune !!
              One almost needs to wear a Kevlar body suit due to protect ones’ skin from the spines on the stems … ‘;o

            2. rfdawn

              A trigger warning on that plantidote would have been nice. It exactly matches the color and growth habit of a bougainvillea at the home of an elderly cousin of mine. Until the place was sold, it was my family duty to keep the monster from blocking the sidewalk and bringing down the overhead power lines. When they reach that size, they do grow fast…

    1. B1whois

      A three-judge panel of judges permanently barred the state from using the current Assembly district map passed in 2011, simultaneously ordering it to create a new one for the November 2018 election.

      2011?? Justice takes far too long…

  4. Synoia

    I recommend a visit to the Graveyard where Marx is buried, Higate Cemetery to explore the hubris of man and nature expressed by your plant of the day. My brother-in-law is buried there, and when facing his home, buried well to the right of Marx, as is deserving of a life-long conservative..

    1. Gary

      “There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery”

      Talk about standing room only…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Buy land, they ain’t making it anymore.

        Will the planet be eventually covered with graves, or do we, with consent of the government, democratically, rip out some of them?

        “More education. Cremation is the way to go.”

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Hey I have an idea, let’s declare the whole planet a DMZ. Good for nature…and good for mankind too.

          1. polecat

            Wait .. I take that back !! … Substitute Wash. D.C., AND NYC, for Texas, and we can call it good !

  5. L

    On a different note, speaking of people “Voting against their interests”, the Guardian posted this article today: The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown. For me the key takeaway is this:

    But I have always thought of farmers as big fans of free trade, since the US exports a huge amount of food. Farmers turned against Jimmy Carter because of his grain embargo on the Soviet Union, for example, and farm lobbyists are forever pushing for opening up trade with Cuba.

    But these days, things are different. The way Perry tells the story, family farmers are now in the grip of a handful of immensely powerful international food companies, and the trade deals our government has been agreeing to for decades have only helped to strengthen those corporations at their expense.

    A terrifying confirmation of this thesis came a little more than a year ago, when a World Trade Organization “appellate body” basically shot down a US supermarket rule called “Country of Origin Labeling” (Cool), which had required meat and vegetables to be sold with labels announcing where they came from. American farmers loved Cool; it seemed like a commonsense sort of thing, and here was some shadowy, pro-corporate international organization vetoing it.

    Plenty of the farmers who noticed that debacle found it easy to perceive similar threats in Barack Obama’s great hoped-for TPP deal, which Obama perversely insisted on pushing for even while his hand-picked successor, Hillary Clinton, tried to convince voters that she opposed it.

    I like the use of the word “tried.” Perhaps a grudging acknowledgment that maybe, just maybe, people didn’t believe she was serious about it. And then further down:

    This time around, of course, the Democrat tried to persuade everyone that she was a reliable friend of business, while the Republican mouthed fake outrage against heartless multinational corporations.

    “People have a sense that this corporatization is out of control,” Perry continued. “And they were willing to take a chance to try to rein it in and stop it, although in some ways that was a really unfortunate choice.”

    It seems that, to hear the voters themselves tell it the vote is only “against their interests” if you do not have their real interests at heart.

      1. L

        Granted. At issue is whether supporting the Democrats is really in rural Americans’ interests. It is certainly in line with the assumptions about their interests but Thomas Frank’s well-intentioned confusion evidences how much the real impact of these policies has diverged from the assumptions of those selling them.

        In one of the many “blame on the other campaign staffer” stories that came out last month was a tale of the Clinton headquarters refusing to load poll data that their volunteers were collecting in rural counties. It was probably apocryphal but even this far after the election it appears that their supporters are still in the dark about just what calculus the farm belt is really using to make its decisions.

        1. different clue

          People keep calling Thomas Franks “confused”. They miss the point of Thomas Franks. His title ” What’s the Matter With Kansas?” was sarcastic and sardonic. Thomas’s whole point was that the DLC Clintonite Democrats supported anti-ruralitic and anti-workeritic Free Trade Agreements so voting for the New Clintonite Democrats beCAME voting against rural and worker interests. Just as against rural and worker interests as voting Republican was.

          And at least the Republicans paid lip service to the conservative cultural concerns of rural and worker people. The Clintonite Democrats wouldn’t even do THAT. So of COURSE “Kansas” votes against its new Best Enemy the Democrats. That was Franks’s whole point. Liberals dodge that point because it is too sharply painful ( “sharply” . . get it? heh heh) to face up to.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It was probably apocryphal

          It was well attested from multiple sources; links from past Water Coolers on request

          > Thomas Frank’s well-intentioned confusion

          Really? A drive-by like that demands explanation. Do you have one?

    1. B1whois


      these men saw liberals as loudmouthed Pharisees, intolerant moralists who demanded that the rest of the nation snap into line – an exact reverse of the John Ashcroft stereotype liberals used to hold of conservatives.

      A fascinating “exact reverse”, indeed. To say that we live in interesting times is no longer adequate…

    2. hidflect

      When I find food that doesn’t show the country of origin, I don’t buy it. We can all exercise our “vote” in the democracy of dollars every time we shop.

    3. Lynne

      The Clintons had a long history of screwing over small farmers. Surely you don’t believe Tyson exec arranged those “futures trades” out the goodness of his heart? Forget the media’s insistence that there was no quid pro quo; they never looked.

  6. teri

    Okay, Lambert, you can laugh at me if you must (well, not too uproariously), but can you please explain to me what mechanism pays for federal spending if taxes don’t? I ask this sincerely. I have seen this statement here before, and I have been too embarrassed to ask until now.

    1. Goyo Marquez

      What is it people give to pay these taxes?
      Who holds the patent on dollar production?
      The Federal government.
      Why does the Federal government need to take or borrow dollars if it owns the patent on dollar production?
      It doesn’t.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Um but let’s take that to its logical conclusion for a minute.

        Yes of course with our system the government can produce dollars in “unllimited” quantities. So why does the government not just print dollars in those unlimited and infinite quantities and gleefully shower them on the populace? Would we not then have the most glorious and everlasting economic boom and abundance?

        Ah, you say, but there needs to be some kind of limit. Limit on the *quantity* of this so-called “money” you speak of? For heaven’s sake, why? Why would you possibly limit the *quantity* of this magic untethered manna when *more* is invariably better?

        No no no, you say, we can have an exceedingly wise “formula”, assembled and monitored by the wisest group of Ph.Ds on the planet. These exceedingly wise elders and prognosticators are so very wise that they can predict the future! They can accurately predict the future direction and needs of an infinitely-complex global system that is hugely affected by human emotion (the economy). That way the precise *quantity* of this so-called *money* can always be made available in just the right amounts and just the right places at just the right times because their time machine will enable them to foretell exactly the right balances.

        Now having implemented said system, we can survey the results. Each and every one of the forecasts of the group of wise elders has one very important thing in common: it has been *wrong*. The system is succeeding wildly in concentrating this new manna in fewer and fewer hands. And the quantity of goods and services that can be exchanged for this wonderful manna is in universal and rapid decline around the globe.

        But I know…”we just need an even more clever formula” (said the priests to Galileo as they labored mightily to explain the motions of the Earth at the center of the universe)

        1. reslez

          It’s not that difficult.

          In our current system the money supply is over-constrained. The people who already have lots of money don’t see a problem. They don’t want anything to change, and they control government.

          MMT proposes the government spend until the economy reaches full employment. It’s not rocket surgery.

          1. jsn

            OTPBDH appears to be happy with the current dispensation where people who already have too much money decide how miserable they would would be if everyone else could actually earn a decent living.
            Either that or he’s into that commodity cult that somehow imbues gold with value above that of poor peoples lives.

        2. Grebo

          (S – I) = (G – T) + CAD

          Savings minus investment equals net government spending plus net trade income. No Ph.D or crystal ball required.

        3. John k

          First, the money supply is not a constant.
          Our trade deficit drains dollars from here to foreigners that want to save dollars.
          Our own savers drain money from the supply.
          Plus, our population expands, meaning if supply was constant there would be less per capita.
          Finally, money is more poorly distributed than ever, and already rich spend a smaller fraction than less rich, which in turn means the supply has to grow and distribute at least some to lower income people or else there is too little demand (spending) to purchase all we produce. Exactly what we are experiencing now.

          The fiscal deficit injects money back into the economy. Similarly, with their gov license to create credit, net new bank loans act to expand the money supply.

          With so many moving parts, how to figure out how much gov has to add such that people have sufficient cash to purchase what is made and imported?
          Simply watch the unemployment rate, and fiscal deficit spend until the rate declines to full employment. Unfortunately the reported number ignores all those that have given up, so it is critical for to BLS return the calculation to what was used under Reagan, which would show a far higher number than current. As it is the fed thinks we are at full employment now so is raising rates into a weakening economy, bringing on the next recession…

          Regarding the inflation fear that infests moneyed people and the elites that serve them… the hyper inflations that you hear about, such as Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe, begin not with excess money printing but with shortages of critical goods, often food. Money printing happens when a country has no ability to trade for goods in short supply and, in desperation, offers more and more of what they do have to allocate what is in short supply to a favored few.

          The us had a shortage of engineers in the sixties (Vietnam and space race, which favored me) and shortage of oil in the seventies (embargo), both of which caused temporary inflation.

          Think of the economy as a car engine, and gov as the oil reservoir that drains oil through taxation when the engine has too much oil (unemployment gets too low and wage inflation results) and injects extra oil when unemployment rises.

    2. paulmeli

      Not Lambert (not even close)…but…

      Put the transaction sequence on a timeline.

      Before taxes (income taxes) can accrue, someone has to earn income. In order to earn income, someone else has to spend, which is a necessary condition for income. Spending=income must occur in that order.

      If spending must precede income which must precede taxation, how can taxation fund spending?

      Last years taxes? National Accounts budgeting defines a deficit as this years spending less this year’s taxes.

      Taxes are a means to force users to use the currency of issue and to control inflation. Taxes unemploy people.

      [edit] Goyo beat me to the punch with a good alternative explanation.

    3. hunkerdown

      teri, try this trick question: who is the counterparty in “paying for” spending? And with what is it paid, and where did it originate? The notion that taxes “fund” spending fails without a miracle or a fraud. The fraud is that the powers of seignorage “ought” to be used to enforce gold-like properties and behavior upon fiat.

    4. reslez

      In order for anyone to have dollars, the government must first spend it into existence.

      Saying the government “doesn’t have” money is like saying an alchemist “doesn’t have” gold when he can create it at will.

      It’s like saying the maker of a computer game can somehow “run out” of in-game currency it creates in its game and gives to players. It’s like saying the game maker is somehow “running a deficit” of the game currency it has complete control over. Let’s say the game maker imposes an in-game tax on its players. Where do those players get the game currency they use to pay the tax? They get it from the game maker.

      The federal deficit is savings bonds. They’re safe, stable investments that pay interest. If we suddenly started paying it off the people who own those bonds — Americans mostly — would be unhappy about it. And we saw this exact thing in the 90s when Wall Street began to complain about budget surpluses. The same happened in Australia as well.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here is Warren Mosler on “How to Turn Litter Into Money,” which will supplement the other links on this thread:

      “The whole point of the monetary system is to provision government.”

  7. Foppe

    Lambert: I recently found this channel, run by someone using “Sane Progressive” as a handle, who was active for Bernie during the primary, went to the primary as a delegate, and who was at the forefront of an effort to get Bernie to talk about voter fraud (primarily during the primary), which he apparently refused to do. Might be interesting to have a listen to (also fairly critical of Bernie). Level-headed even if her style is something of an acquired taste. Seems to me a good ‘source’, possibly to platform. This vlog is about TYT/JD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvJQAI19qpU

    Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxpfmCp2Z9VPTO7eWV6ebzQ

      1. Foppe

        Please don’t lose sight of the fact that there is a meaningful difference between “criticizing actions” for the purpose of making a relevant point and “attacking” (for the purpose of “destroying someone”/virtue-signaling).

        Anyway, to the extent that he refuses to talk about voter suppression and vote-counting/ballot-stuffing fraud: yes, I would say that is necessary. If people want to take over the Dems, they will need votes, among other things.

      1. Foppe

        I think she coined it because she was driven nuts by the pro-war, pro-corporate liberalism that is sold to people as reconcilable with “progressivism”.

        1. Julia Versau

          Thanks for your comment, Foppe — you’re right.

          I watch the Sane Progressive videos almost every day. The host (Debbie) is spot on; I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with her take. She sees the corruption, the lies, the games, the war, the bankruptcy of the DNC, the hideousness of the GOP … I don’t know who people are listening to, but I’m done with established personas and regularly tune in to her, Jimmy Dore, TYT, and other info sources and commentary that strike a chord of honesty and show a willingness to fight.

          Guess I’m a sane progressive, too.

      1. Foppe

        I’ll have a look for an audio stream, but actual watching is almost never ‘required’, so multitask away — I do so, anyway.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          For productivity, I open multiple tabs in my browser. Hence, to listen to a video, I have to turn the sound up, and be assaulted by ads, talking heads, and so on. No thanks.

          In addition, a podcast is designed to be listened to. A video, by definition, is not.

  8. dontknowitall

    re “There are now at least 14 ‘rogue’ Twitter accounts from federal science agencies”. How is this a good thing public policy-wise if we don’t have any visibility about the motives of the posters to these twitter accounts, are we just to take on faith they have the best interests of the public in mind only because they put alt- before the twitter handle. At least the real agencies have visibility on most matters and, believe it or not, are accountable before our congress.

    Maybe these alt- twitter accounts are just taking up the British tradition of the shadow cabinet but I happen to think it is a dangerous idea that could backfire in a dire situation as unknown semi-official twitterers cast aspersions over all kinds of policy without being really available to explain themselves…I am waiting for the alt-FDA anti-vaxx twitter anytime now…also are we going to see the alt-CIA twitter anytime soon…

    1. Vatch

      I am waiting for the alt-FDA anti-vaxx twitter anytime now

      That will be the official U.S. government twitter account of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

  9. flora

    re: ““Trump’s pick for EU ambassador: TTIP unlikely:”

    Good news that the ambassador’s remarks are leaning against TTIP. Bit of a hedge in his comment, but at least not obviously leaning the wrong way. Early days. Thanks for the link.

  10. ScientistYouLike

    We know there were more people at the Washington Women’s March than there were at Big Cheetos’ inauguration, but does anyone know if there were more labor-officials (billed as such) at the march or at the White House labor meeting on Monday?

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    Thomas Frank is to politics, as Atul Gawande is to “healthcare.”

    Apologies for the length of the excerpt, but I couldn’t figure out how to cut it down any further. Entire piece is well worth the read.

    Our health-care system is not designed for this future—or, indeed, for this present. We built it at a time when such capabilities were virtually nonexistent. When illness was experienced as a random catastrophe, and medical discoveries focussed on rescue, insurance for unanticipated, episodic needs was what we needed. Hospitals and heroic interventions got the large investments; incrementalists were scanted. After all, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, they had little to offer that made a major difference in people’s lives. But the more capacity we develop to monitor the body and the brain for signs of future breakdown and to correct course along the way—to deliver “precision medicine,” as the lingo goes—the greater the difference health care can make in people’s lives, as well as in reducing future costs.

    This potential for incremental medicine to improve and save lives, however, is dramatically at odds with our system’s allocation of rewards. According to a 2016 compensation survey, the five highest-paid specialties in American medicine are orthopedics, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, and radiology. Practitioners in these fields have an average income of four hundred thousand dollars a year. All are interventionists: they make most of their income on defined, minutes- to hours-long procedures—replacing hips, excising basal-cell carcinomas, doing endoscopies, conducting and reading MRIs—and then move on. (One clear indicator: the starting income for cardiologists who perform invasive procedures is twice that of cardiologists who mainly provide preventive, longitudinal care.)

    Here are the lowest-paid specialties: pediatrics, endocrinology, family medicine, H.I.V./infectious disease, allergy/immunology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and rheumatology. The average income for these practitioners is about two hundred thousand dollars a year. Almost certainly at the bottom, too, but not evaluated in the compensation survey: geriatricians, palliative-care physicians, and headache specialists. All are incrementalists—they produce value by improving people’s lives over extended periods of time, typically months to years.

    Upshot: What u. s. “healthcare” needs is more technologically enabled Marcus Welby, less sensationally overpaid Grey’s Anatomy.


    1. Bugs Bunny

      In France no doctor makes anywhere near that bottom salary unless s/he is totally outside the state health system. Perverse incentives linked to neoliberal education.

    2. fresno dan

      Katniss Everdeen
      January 27, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Great article Katniss.
      I have started watching this program called “My 600 pound life” – no, this is NOT a diatribe that if only people ate less, everything would be OK. Although I am unable to find any data, I suspect that the rate of of such morbid obesity is far greater in the US, just as the US ‘leads’ in so many other mortality and morbidity indicators. There is an obstinate refusal to accept that other countries run their health care systems for less and get better results. American society never fails, it can only be failed.

      When you see such people (of course the first thing is the incredible suffering) is how is it that so many people are not seeing a doctor sooner, and how is it that proper nutrition is so ignored by the medical community and the society as a whole (rhetorical question) – of course selling crappy food and fixing the results of crappy food is very, very profitable for some. And ironically, despite these people’s great size, their immobility make them invisible. Just like the dying of so many in the heartland of the country due to “despair diseases” is, like so many problems, something that the US elites choose not to address.

      And I can’t help but note, that on page 41, Americans rate themselves in good health, which is higher than any other country, even though the objective data is that by the vast majority of criteria the US is in the lower third or even lower.

      1. toolate

        regarding self reported health status, the footnote has an important caveat for the US:
        “Results for these countries are not directly comparable with those for other countries, due to methodological differences in the survey questionnaire resulting in an upward bias.”

      2. Tvc15

        That’s funny Fresno Dan, but not surprising, Bernay’s would be proud of his work.

        We watch on average of 5 hours of TV per day, poison ourselves with processed foods, and are bombarded with ads telling us to take a pill and you will magically be healthy like all the happy people in the commercial.

    3. toolate

      “After all, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, they had little to offer that made a major difference in people’s lives.” Really? A good doctor patient relationship, (apparently the theme of this very article) didn’t exist in the 50’s? Isn’t he just a little late to the understanding that good primary care is at the heart of every good health care system?

      Gawande is a good writer, but his influence is well out of proportion to his mediocre analytic skills! Take for example how he hyped Eliot Fisher misleading data data on Medicare spending patterns (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/06/01/the-cost-conundrum).An excellent analysis of that can be found here:

      1. DanB

        Gawande once wrote about how medicine should mimic the alleged efficiency of the Cheesecake Factory. Yes, I’d say he’s overrated.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        The theme of the article is that the nature of disease in america that is most deleterious to the health of the majority of the population has changed since the 50’s and 60’s, and the focus of “healthcare” delivery has not changed with it.

        At the mid 20th century, the most serious health challenges were what Gawande refers to as episodic–“random catastrophes”–that generalists were neither prepared nor trained to treat effectively. Incidentally, that situation was far more amenable to the concept of “health” insurance.

        Today the major problem is chronic disease which, with the help of technology, does not necessarily require the intervention of specialists, at least initially. But the system continues to pour massive resources into specialty treatment, and beggar those generalists who are best positioned to provide early and continuous intervention, mitigating and possibly resolving symptoms, lessening suffering and reducing cost.

        If you’d read the article, you’d probably not be quite as dismissive of his ideas. They make sense.

        1. Toolate

          I read the articlecarefully and have a degree in epidemiology and what he focused on is blather. Yes disease patterns shift over time[In 1950 we find the top 10 causes of death were, in order, heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, infant death, influenza/pneumonia, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, kidney disease, and diabetes] but the need for good primary care was as relevant in the 50s as it is today

          1. Yves Smith

            With all due respect, your response is dismissive when this isn’t as clear cut as you suggest.

            I merely went to the CDC’s report of leading causes of death as of 1998 (they have a report from 1900-1998; I didn’t bother looking for more recent data since the 1998 list generally proves the point Katniss made):

            1. Diseases of heart
            2. Malignant neoplasms, including neoplasms of
            lymphatic and hematopoietic tissues
            3. Cerebrovascular diseases
            4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and allied conditions
            5. Accidents and adverse effects
            6. Pneumonia and influenza
            7. Diabetes mellitus
            8. Suicide
            9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis
            10. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis

            First, tuberculosis and infant death have dropped out of the top ten. Arteriosclerosis has too. Could be a classification issue.

            Chronic pulmonary diseases are now #4. Diabetes is higher on the list and is guaranteed to keep rising. It’s become widespread so its standing in death stats isn’t the full picture. Chronic liver disease is also new.

            A 2015 list tells a similar story save chronic liver disease is off, COPD is even higher, and Alzheimers is #6:

            Heart disease
            Chronic lower respiratory disease
            Alzheimer’s disease
            Influenza and pneumonia
            Kidney disease


            And Katniss is also correct to say that more and more doctors are becoming specialists and medical schools are not producing primary care physicians anywhere near to the degree needed. You handwave past the fact that the high cost of medical school and the generally much higher pay for specialists virtually dictates this result.

            In other words, you may not like the author and may regard the methodology in his article as sloppy, but your reply is inadequate to rebut his thesis.

            1. Toolate

              It remains that he is presenting this as if he has made some startling discovery, ( and perhaps it really is for him) but the evidence for the notion that primary care is well, primary has been abundant for at least 40’years. As a primary care MD and health educator I can assure you I am not arguing that point. Only that a careful review if his writings will reveal that his talents for narrative are far greater than his talents for observation

            2. Toolate

              As you point out the list is slightly different but the fact remains that in the 50’s 7/10 of the top diseases were chronic.

  12. Darthbobber

    “The very sad depletion of our military”- on which we still spend nearly as much as everybody else put together. Our military is clearly funded massively beyond anything you could possibly call a “defensive” purpose. So this is just blather.

    As to “refusing to defend our own border”- is everything about the recent “deporter-in-chief” down our own version of the memory hole already?

    Is Customs and the Border Patrol not the biggest element of all federal law enforcement? Both in terms of personnel and in terms of funding? Exceeding the total for the FBI and Secret Service combined? Have we not already built a wall covering about 600 miles of the southern border and fences for much of the rest? +drones, surveillance blimps, SUVs, etc? etc?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Ronald Reagan’s platform called for a 600-ship navy. Thirty-six years on, reflecting the inexorable decay of America’s muscle-bound “USSR with better shopping” economic model, a 350-ship navy is Trump’s ambitious goal.

      Although if “Trump’s Folly” wall is built, it might take 400 ships to intercept all the incremental seaborne traffic displaced from land crossings.

      All in all, he’s just another brick in the Wall.

      1. Darthbobber

        Though in any serious confrontation, many of these ships are purely sitting ducks unless you confine yourself to fighting with people who lack cruise missiles or a number of other technologies. And if you’re just going to use your navy to bully nations who basically have no counterweapons, you don’t “need” even as many as we have.

        +I’m not among those who see defense as such being connected to a demand that we be able to project superior power in offensive fights anywhere on the globe against any conceivable arrangement of defensive alliances.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military

      The military can’t win wars. And I’d speculate — very freely — that the over-riding reason Obama never put “boots on the ground” in Syria (aside from the usual mercs and “trainers”) is that the Army is so broken by losing two major wars that it isn’t deployable. That’s not to say that the military industrial complex isn’t a very successful profit-making enterprise (your point). But the two are not the same.

      1. Irredeemable Deplorable

        I would say President Trump, when he speaks about “rebuilding the military” is talking about the equipment, and how much it costs (way too much) vs actual combat effectiveness.

        He has mentioned tanks – the M1-A1 Abrams is a very old design now; planes; the F-35 multi-tool wonder – designed to do everything, but which probably won’t be able to do much, at $350 M each, or $100 M each now with the recent Trump price-drop; the Littoral Combat Ship – possibly the most spent ever for the most useless piece of equipment ever; mobile artillery and AA systems and EW systems – the Russians are way ahead in this area.. etc etc. Compare these weapons systems to the Russian equivalents, which cost a fraction of their US counterpart, and probably do the same or better job, with great reliability and engineered for easy field maintenace etc.

        This process will take a decade or more, so WW III will have to be postponed, which suits President Trump’s agenda just fine, he is really not interested in foreign wars. Also gets the MIC onside, they will be busy for decades, creates or maintains a lot of high-paying jobs inside the USA, and any new systems under Trump will not use Chinese chips etc which increases national security and reduces dependence on unreliable furriners, always a Trump goal.

        Note: I am not really defending the MIC or US military spending here, this is the logic from the Trump side, as I see it, and Trump supporters are onboard with it, so it helps achieve keeping the base happy as well. Winning all around, from the Trump side view.

        I would say he is correct in a general sense, in that a strong military will deter foreign aggression, while a weak incapable military can invite it. Perceived weakness invites those who are thinking about it to take action. Of course, strength, under the wrong leadership, can also lead to disaster, like the Iraq Wars. Leaders who want war will usually get their wish. I don’t see Trump really wanting a major war, other than against ISIS style militants, and Mattis is a pragmatist, so I would judge the threat of WWIII to be much less than under the neo-con Clinton/Obama/Bush doctrines.

  13. Darthbobber

    Crowd in Philadelphia was pretty dense by Philly standards (and sustained over the course of a night and two workdays). And, like the Tea Party in its early stages it, like the “women’s” march event, pulled in a significant number of people whose political involvement in recent years has been minimal. So not just the usual suspects.
    Since yesterday and today’s gatherings stretch out over the course of quite a few hours, crowd size is variable at different times. I actually think the numbers derived from normal estimates are probably low for things like this.

    I was down by City Hall for about three and a half hours yesterday, touching base with people I knew and talking t0 people I didn’t, and while the City Hall loop was pretty full throughout, it wasn’t full of the same people all the time. People came for awhile, went back to work, were replaced by others doing the same, and then a big flood at the end of the workday.

    Interestingly, many of the usual climbing folks like “intersectional antioppression organizers” (whatever the f-that even means, don’t get me started), seem to have been sidelined as these things are morphing into numbers of people beyond what can be manipulated by their usual methods.

    But ALL of this, from all sides, DOES still have a certain sideshow aspect to it right now, as the day-to-day reactiveness on all sides will eventually be replaced by more medium-to-long term orientations.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. Since I lived in Philly at one time, I can understand the scale from this.

      > many of the usual climbing folks like “intersectional antioppression organizers”

      Climbing folks?

      > as the day-to-day reactiveness on all sides will eventually be replaced by more medium-to-long term orientations

      Exactly. And it’s how the Women’s March leadership may shape — or exploit — that reactiveness* that I find very concerning. Call me foily!

      * Again, I think it’s very easy for “resistance” to shade over into “restoration.” I think that when you classify this proto-movement as “reactive” you are exactly right (and hopefully that doesn’t shade over into “reactionary”…

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Yes, Tom Brady’s Friendship With Donald Trump Matters”

    No it doesn’t.

    I’ve read Zirin for a while and he isn’t stupid. I’m sure he is aware that outside if New England, the Patriots are despised so it isn’t like millions of people are going to start flocking to Trump because of Brady, it’s quite likely the opposite. I listen to WEEI pretty regularly and from what I can tell nobody cares – it’s rarely a topic of conversation except sometimes among the morning blowhards who pissed me off by talking politics instead of sports well before Trump came along.

    This is one more reason I don’t regret giving up my subscription to The Nation. They are proving themselves to be just another tribalist publication that will excoriate republicans but make excuses when the other side acts exactly the same way. Why wasn’t it bad when various celebrities celebrated Obama’s presidency and all the evils that came with it?

    Go Pats.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is false activism. It makes people feel relevant without doing anything. Trump and Hillary were the only people who mattered in November. Warren might have helped Sanders in Massachusetts, but political endorsements are largely meaningless affairs especially when there isn’t an endorsement.

      It comes down to “who do I blame for November?” because it couldn’t possibly be my fault. Brady’s popularity is confined to New England where his support or non support for Trump would be doubly meaningless. Peyton Manning is speaking at a GOP retreat today and has bankrolled the Tennessee GOP for years (I boycott many products). Taking on Manning would be difficult because he is popular nationally. Writers looking to make it to the national or new York scene don’t want to irritate advertisers who invested in Manning.

      Peyton gave money to Jeb. Please consider this before ordering Papa Johns.

      1. dontknowitall

        I agree its not activism but it is as much activity as most people have ever considering joining in so it is a measure of the popular concern over a complete change in policy that they don’t understand yet and suspect are being misinformed about. It is human to fear what you don’t understand specially when the two sides aren’t talking and insults are flying from all sides. So there is a measure of irrational fear in the sense of being in advance of facts on the ground.

        Until Nov 8 a large fraction of the population were utterly convinced by the bought media that Hillary and her policy choices were going to win the day by a large margin and Trump was just a sideshow regardless whether they voted left or right or didn’t vote at all. Those of us who follow NC knew better. The ‘surprising’ win of the right has forced people to come to the table very very late and take seriously policies they were assured daily by the supremely confident Hillary puppet-media it were safe to ignore because Trump was not a serious candidate. The masses do not like surprises. I worry that once they sink their teeth on a likely patsy things will be ugly. The DNC might want to line up a patsy or two for severe public excoriation before the masses do it for them…and I don’t mean Putin or Trump…

        All of this is also a double whammy not only because Trump is a surprise winner but also because he is sticking to what he promised to do, so to those poor misinformed souls it seems foolhardy even dangerous to not show you care. That said, there indeed too is a large dose of “who do I blame for November?” in all this.

  15. Steve C

    You may be right about not blaming the voters but liberals can be as maddeningly clueless as conservatives.

    That said, leadership counts and the Democrats have been bereft of effective, wise or gutsy leadership for decades.

  16. BlueOregon

    “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” Don’t you hate it when Trump’s right?

    Personally, I don’t believe any of these dichotomous statements is ‘right’, in the strict sense that the statements are true.

    The assertion that the US military is ‘very sad(ly) depleted’ is obviously false. We aren’t neglecting to defend our borders and, even if we were, that would have nothing to do with ‘defending other nation’s borders’. American infrastructure is not in disrepair because we ‘spent trillions of dollars overseas’.

    Changing the first statement to “Both political parties and the owners and managers of capital have chosen to enrich foreign workers at the expense of American workers” might be closer to the truth, but that would not support the underlying narrative.

    Seems to me Trump is calling for autarky and isolationism (America First!). Which may be what Bannon means by wrecking the Establishment because internationalism, whether for the good (UN, Marshall Plan) or the bad (Vietnam War, Iraq War) has been the bedrock principle of the Establishment since 1945. Vilifying the ‘other’ – non-citizen Mexicans and Syrian refugees – comes naturally to Trump and further justifies the call.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      As far as total expenditure goes the military is clearly not ‘sadly depleted. But if you look at the total number of personnel, the numbers are way down – see here for total number of active duty 1954-2014.

      The numbers are way down considering we are fighting wars on how many fronts? Hard to keep track of these days… And that’s just the gross numbers – as a percentage of total population the decline is even steeper. But the money clearly isn’t being spent on personnel judging by the treatment of veterans. What with no-bid contracts for weapon systems that don’t work, pallets of cash disappearing in Iraq, upgrading nukes, etc. there isn’t much left to spend on actual people.

      In that regard at least he would be correct, although admittedly that may not be what Trump himself was getting at.

      1. Darthbobber

        Mattis may have a preference for more troops and fewer superweapons. The seagoing bellhops often head that direction. We’ll see. Though if, for political reasons, we can’t usually use the grunts in ways that might win, still not sure of the point.

        ONE reason for the dropoff in the antiwar movement under O besides the partisan reason was that the corpses and maimed bodies had stopped coming home at a rate of a few dozen per month. And one reason for the air war, even though it doesn’t “work”, is that they can’t sustain political support for wars of this sort if they’re taking significant casualties. And if you start fighting on the ground a “casualty avoidance” strategy imposed by political necessity is basically a “can’t be aggressive” strategy.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Let me break it down. For some definition of “we”*–

      1 we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry ABSOLUTELY TRUE (uncontested by you)

      2 subsidized the armies of other countries TRUE (uncontested by you)

      3 the very sad depletion of our military PARTLY TRUE**

      4 We’ve defended other nations’ borders TRUE (uncontested by you)

      5 while refusing to defend our own; PARTLY TRUE***

      6 spent trillions of dollars overseas while TRUE (uncontested by you)

      7 America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay ABSOLUTELY TRUE

      I think #3 and #5 are puffery. You don’t really address the others, especially numbers #1 and #7.

      If Democrats really want to have their “pockets picked,” as Nooners puts it, they should proceed exactly as you are doing.

      * “Both political parties and the owners and managers of capital” True; “we” is often used as synecdoche for a country, when, as you say, “we” is really the ruling class. We’re also not likely to see that distinction made in an Inaugural Address any time soon

      ** If the metric is money, not. If the metrics is winning wars, no.

      *** We deported some folks

  17. Oregoncharles

    “So in what sense is Trump “illegitimate”?” In the sense that he got almost 3 million fewer votes than Hillary. Not that I wanted Hillary, but the person who got the most votes should get the office. The EC is a botch.

    That’s important, and potentially useful, because some of his policies are going to be horrendous – like suppressing inconvenient science. If he actually tries to, say, end the right to abortion, we’ll need all the ammunition we can get. It isn’t all trade policy.

    That said, he is indeed legally President, and the effort by the “intelligence” agencies to overthrow him was deeply alarming. I wish he’d responded more drastically – he must actually be afraid of them. It’s a relief that it failed.

    1. Yves Smith

      As much as you don’t like it, the Electoral College is set forth in the Constitution. So you are prepared to call the Constitution illegitimate too because it delivered a result you don’t like? How about throwing out the First Amendment (no free press), the Fifth (no government seizures of property without compensation) since they are inconvenient too?

      Others have pointed out that the results are like a World Series where one team scored way more hits and runs but still lost the World Series (and there are historical ones where this happened). You’d call for rewriting the rules mid-stream.

      From Roger Bolt’s screenplay about Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons:

      Key section:

      More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the Devil?

      Roper: I`d cut down every law in England to do that.

      More: Oh! (advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you –where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws –man’s laws, not God’s –and if you cut them down –and you’re just the man to do it –d`you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I`d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety`s sake.

      Trump should indeed be opposed when he goes against the will of voters. But that’s a different matter than his standing as President. And as many have pointed out, more people eligible to vote didn’t turn out than the number of voters who voted for either candidate. Lambert predicted a legitimacy crisis no matter who won.

      And unfortunately, the way the Democrats have hemorrhaged representation at all levels of government says most voters do not see that party as representing them.

    2. aab

      This “three million votes” thing is nuts. All or almost all of it can be attributed to California. California is a one party state. There was NO Republican candidate available to vote for the Senate, for example. An incredibly corrupt guy was installed as Secretary of State, and it sure looks like this was done to make sure he could rig California. There’s a ton of evidence suggesting he did just that in the primary, and some that this continued in the General, despite the fact that it would have been unnecessary.

      Trump was not going to win California. Every single citizen of California probably knew that. Affluent Republicans certainly did. It’s logical to assume that plenty of Republicans just stayed home, although the ones I dealt with in the primary were passionate about Trump and voted for the joy of it. (It was kind of surprising to me how into him they were. Since it was a very white, very affluent, very suburban district, I knew in June Hillary’s “win Republican votes” strategy was doomed to fail.)

      Even if Republicans didn’t stay home and California wasn’t rigged in the general election, it’s a stupid way to delegitimize Trump. It heightens the tensions that could lead to actual civil war, and as I think Yves has pointed out elsewhere (I’ve been reading here today in bits and pieces), California could be punished very quickly by the Federal government if it tried to secede.

      I always hated the Electoral College, but watching what happened in this election gave me renewed respect for the founders. The rotten boroughs of the Plains states’ Senate seats, and the Senate as a whole are pretty bad. But a mega-city or two should not be able to immiserate the entire interior, use their citizens as cannon fodder, pollute their land and water just to extract and transport resources elsewhere, and get away with it because it’s easy to round up votes in a mega-city. That’s actually WORSE than taxation without representation.

      More people stayed home and refused to vote than voted for EITHER candidate, IIRC. The fact that Hillary was able to march a whole lot of souls to the polls in a very limited number of locations with all her TREMENDOUS institutional advantages tells us literally nothing about Trump’s legitimacy. It tells us a lot about how broken the United States is and how broken the Democratic Party is, though.

      He’s not illegitimate. That’s the problem. He’s the best we could get in the current system. He was the ONLY change allowed to be presented to the voters. We are not going to stop changes to abortion or any other policy by attempting to delegitimize Trump. Thanks to the terrible, terrible New Democrats, Republican hegemony reins across this land. Weaken Trump enough, you get Pence. Remove Pence, you get Ryan. How is that an improvement? There is no Resistance. Neera Tanden pushing it should be your cue that it’s utter and complete bullshit. It’s not that resistance is futile, it’s that yelling does nothing. Cute hats do nothing. An alternative force needs to push back in an organized way, and right now, the Democratic Party is doing everything it can to stop that (as Democratic elected official continue to vote FOR Trump nominees, after making a show of disapproving of them.)

      If the Republicans want to formally criminalize abortion, the Democrats can’t and won’t stop them. (Reminder that in the interior, most women ALREADY have no functional abortion access. That happened with a Democratic president in place.) Resistance would involve underground systems to get women abortion pills, set up a network of medical providers who would provide safe but illegal abortions, and transportation and monetary support to get women there. Resistance is messy and dangerous. It isn’t a hashtag.

      And delegitmizing Trump just won’t work. It didn’t work with Obama, either, you know. That’s a myth. It was convenient for Obama and the Democrats to pretend that the meanie Republicans and their delegitimizing undermined Obama, but in reality, he got everything he wanted, except for when the Freedom Caucus balked over the Catfood Commission goals, and that was NOT because they had been tricked by the birther stuff. They wanted different policy. That was it. Would they have been willing to compromise with a white Democrat? Maybe, but I doubt it. They haven’t been willing to compromise with the white leadership of their own party.

      Can we please drop the “three million votes” line? It does nothing helpful.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘If the Republicans want to formally criminalize abortion, the Democrats can’t and won’t stop them.’

        If Trump nominates a real conservative to the Supreme Court — one who recognizes that Roe v Wade was an unconstitutional and unjustified federal intrusion into state sovereignty — the result could be that instead of criminalizing abortion nationwide, Trump and the R party Congress are told to just butt out. It’s none of their business.

      2. dcrane

        The rotten boroughs of the Plains states’ Senate seats, and the Senate as a whole are pretty bad.

        Minor comment – Wikipedia has a graph ranking the states according to the number of voters per electoral vote, and I was surprised how many of the smaller states with outsized influence aren’t red ones. The smallest twelve include DC, VT, DE, RI, NH, ME, and HI. That section of the graph is most of the states that are well below the average number of citizens per EV. So while there is clearly a bias against more urban areas in the Senate, it’s not obvious that this leads to a large bias against Democrats in the current environment. Maybe I’m missing something big here.


        1. aab

          It may be minor in relation to my rant, but I think it’s an interesting question. I was thinking of that side of it when I wrote that part, and I’d love to be pointed in the direction of more analysis of the problem.

          My reference to the Senate as an institution being a problem was intended to reflect that ALL small states get over-represented in the Senate, along with other anti-democratic and pro-status quo aspects. But I think of the Plains Senators (and I’m using the term “Plains” somewhat loosely) as being the greater problem not because of the citizen to Senator ratio per se but because many of those states don’t have much community or internal economic activity in them. That’s not very articulate; I haven’t slept since Wednesday night so I’m not at 100% strength. But it seemed to me when I started learning about this that part of the problem with what I call the “rotten borough” Senate seats is that those states are so emptied out that those seats are essentially bought by large industries from outside the state. Bernie, for example, really does make an effort to reflect the needs of the people of Vermont. Leahy not so much, but then that’s true of most long-standing Democratic Senators it seems; I don’t get the impression Feinstein does anything for the people of California, either. But the Plains Senators seem to often be wholly owned by industries that are just passing through, whether it’s insurance or finance or oil. There’s no meaningful connection between the people living in the state and the industry that controls the Senator. That seems worse to me. But I’d love to get more perspective on that.

          1. dcrane

            Yes – it is interesting to consider how low population density might make those Senators easier for outsiders to buy.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            [lambert blushes modestly.]

            Don’t worry too much about it, though. We’re all horribly time-stressed, so the praise is probably less frequent and more random than it should be.

      3. A

        White rich Republicans were into voting for Trump just for the joy of it? I’m shocked. I thought it was all about anti-establishment and economic anxiety of the forgotten working class. I mean sure,Trump’s voters make more than Clinton voters, but they still can be anxious while making it!

        1. aab

          That Trump held onto the Republican base was crucial to his win. That Clinton thought she could peel them away was a crucial mistake that was key to her loss.

          Do you need me me present to you all the data about how rural voters and former Obama voters went for Trump? It’s been on this site for months now. Do you read here routinely?

          The poor don’t vote. The despairing don’t vote. And that was a key element of Clinton’s loss — people who had been pummeled by the New Democrats’ governing stayed home, more than going to Trump. Her strategy of demonizing Trump worked relatively well. She forgot to factor in that she had to get people to vote FOR her. Her suppression strategy backfired in the general election.

          It is not “anxiety.” That’s an evasive, neoliberal code word to paper over their brutal exploitation of their own base and the citizens over whom they have ruled. There is data presented on this site every single day proving and illustrating how the vast majority of the American people are suffering economic instability, insecurity and privation even in basic needs like food and housing. The majority of children in America live in poverty. The majority of black Americans lost ground economically under Obama. The majority of even professional women have lost ground by numerous important metrics like life expectancy.

          So are you arguing intentionally in bad faith, or have you not been reading the pieces here? The pieces are really good. I recommend you try them.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            17 years since Jebbie tried to steal Florida for W with the felon’s list, and voter registration is still not a core function of the Democrat Party.

            Why, one might almost believe that getting the poor and desperate for vote their interests is not a priority for them!

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > still be anxious

          I hate that smug and sneering “economic anxiety” with the passion of a million burning suns. Yglesias uses it frequently, I believe.

          It’s (neo)-liberal bullshit that reframes real suffering — see Case Deaton on tens of thousand of excess “deaths from despair” — as feeeeeeeelings.

      4. Stormcrow

        This is a terrific comment.
        I always liked the line that Hillary is the President of California.
        From a dubious source, I know. But still …

    3. GERMO

      The only logical claim that he’s illegitimately president would be that an illegitimate process got him there — and let’s face it, the Dem primary was a total setup, and Trump won because his opponent was Clinton.

      Since it was not legitimately any sort of democracy in action by which the Dems crowned Clinton years ago, but simply the wishes of an elitist, donor-crazed party of big business and identity politics on the side — then Trump shouldn’t actually be prez.

      Some people don’t think Sanders would have beaten Trump, however, but if the Democrats had been as much behind him as they were Clinton there would have been a lot of people voting. Woulda coulda shoulda I know….

    4. different clue

      Clinton got almost all those 3 million more votes in Coastal California and the rest in some other Urban Blue Zones.

      When you say that ” the 3-million-more-votes-getter” should have legitimately won, you mean that Coastal America should run Inland America as a conquered province. You and I both know that is what you mean. I wonder how manyof those 3-million-extra-votes came from anti-American traitor-voters who vote for anti-American traitor Representatives and anti-American traitor Senators like Pelosi and the two Ladies From Washington State.

      The Trump victory was legally legitimate and MORALLY legitimate. It was a vote against Free Trade Treason and Free Trade Traitors. Including Free Trade Treason Voters who tend to cluster in the Coastal Zones which make a fortune from America’s misfortune.

      1. A

        Winning 3 states by a whopping 80,000 is nothing, Trump’s win is a fluke. And hoping that losing by 3 million votes won’t have a delegitimizing effect is beyond nuts.

        As for moral legitimacy, say that to refugees being detained at airports, Dreamers raised in U.S. now living in fear of deportation, and immigrants whose crimes will now be published weekly Nazi-style.

        1. A

          Sorry, not just refugees. Green card holders. Fascism in the US but at least the TPP is dead, so it’s a wash.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            First, TPP, through the ISDS, places transnational corporate courts about the sovereignty of the nation-state. If that’s not fascistic, I don’t know what is; Mussollini would be proud. You should be rejoicing that TPP is dead, and although Trump delivered the coup de grace, it was ultimately killed by a popular movement of the left (and most definitely not by liberal Democrats; it’s hilarious to watch establishment liberal Democrats walk back Clinton’s putative opposition to it in her campaign). Instead, you minimize an important victory. Telling.

            Second, everything Trump is doing has precedent in what Obama did, including massive numbers of deportations. Let’s not confuse commonalities across administrations with the Trump team shooting itself in the foot on implementation.

            Third, please don’t conflate refugees — many of them from countries that Clinton and Obama’s wars in Libya and Syria set ablaze — with immigrants, let alone DREAMers.

            Refugees are a consequence of neoliberal globalization expressed in war.

            Our system of immigration, and especially illegal immigration, is a consequence of neoliberal globalization designed to drive down wages here, and without compensating the “losers,” as even mainstream economists now agree (see discussion of the “elephant curve”).

            I imagine that Clintonites and Third Way types are trying to climb back into the saddle with the last argument you make, but, unsurprisingly, it’s intellectually dishonest.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So in what sense is Trump “illegitimate”?” In the sense that he got almost 3 million fewer votes

      That’s not a legitimating factor. When you lose a football game because you didn’t score as many touchdowns as the other team, even though you gained more yardage, that doesn’t mean that you get to redefine winning as gaining more yardage. What it does mean is that you ran the wrong plays. And redefining losing as winning is what losers do.

  18. LT

    Re: “Time” mag Trump on infrastructure…

    Of course it fell into disrepair. That means more money for that the private contractors will get from taxpayers and now they are at the point where taxpayers pay and they can own as well.
    So “nice” we get to pay twice and for generations to come.

    If you listen to all inauguaral speeches since FDR (audio broadcasts had become more common by the 1930s), ALL Presidents sound like “populists” on inaugeration day.

    And if you read other inaugeral speeches before the mass broadcast era, you will find the same.

    If you do a mash up, they can all together sound like one speech.

  19. alex morfesis

    America seems to be devolving into a parliamentarian democracy…or perhaps re-volving into its historical “wings” within each party…much of what we call media today, in respects to immediate visual media, has changed…if one wanted to go back to see what has been said, one had to use a university database auch as the one at Vanderbilt…today, there is googtube for many (but not all) such “presentations”…

    The “truth” narrative as presented by dozens of outlets on the legacy side and dozens more on the “open media” side, has changed the dynamics of “the narrative”…

    First the koch brothers teaparty krewe

    Then the bernikratz

    Bringing us the wwf trumpettes

    Has the legacy media lost control of the narrative ?? They certainly seem to be losing control of the advertisers…although the advertisers have lost control of the consumer with crappy products and worse service…

    the japanese/Korean/german car company slide into the us auto market (imnsho) was predicated on taking advantage of the misogyny of the legacy auto makers and providing a comfortable experience for the (at that time) new female driving consumer population…

    Customer service…will political parties move to reassess who they perceive as the actual customer ?

    Will the american taxpayer start writing checks and get more financially involved in politics so they can “buy back” their democracy ??

    It is inherently unconstitutional the manner in which the republicrats have carved up the nation…it is not just a gentleman’s agreement…the court system in Delaware specifies a split in seats based on party, in the same manner we have sec and fcc…

    While evils are sufferable…

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘the japanese/Korean/german car company slide into the us auto market (imnsho) was predicated on taking advantage of the misogyny of the legacy auto makers and providing a comfortable experience for the (at that time) new female driving consumer population…’

      That was a real phenomenon … four generations ago. It began with the electric starter in 1912, so drivers didn’t need brute strength to crank start by hand.

      And then the automatic transmission (a/k/a “slushbox”) in the postwar era. Ironically, manual transmissions are still more widely available from Japanese and European makers than from US auto companies. I buy Japanese specifically to get a 5-speed manual instead of an absurd 9-speed automatic which exists solely for the purpose of “teaching to the emissions test.”

      Real women shift for themselves. My granny could feather the clutch and fling the “3 on the tree” in her ’49 Ford like Sterling Moss.

  20. Waldenpond

    More like this… regarding the n+1 Pussyhat piece. I haven’t gotten through all of the personal essays (reasons for attendance, inclusion, exclusion, tiny hands), it’s going to be a slog as it isn’t a style that appeals to me…. any analysis on why a series of essays is effective would be appreciated. How to develop strategies for continued turnout?

    1. Darthbobber

      It falls into the “interesting, if true” category. But there is not, as of right now, any basis for determining whether its real or not.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Well, alternatively, it could have just been a one-time rat-fuck, and not from a “West Wing Leaker” at all, eh? You know, a political dirty trick fabricated from the whole cloth?

      Something like that at Kos, Democrat party stalwarts that they are? That would be unbelievable.

    3. VietnamVet

      David Brooks on tonight’s NewsHour: “But I do think he is a fundamentally unstabilizing force and that the people who swore to uphold the Constitution are going to have to take some measures at some point.” The Washington Post posted ”Tulsi Gabbard….Journalists following the Syria story closely are stunned by what they see as her breathtaking naiveté.” Neera Tanden tweeted that “David Duke was supporting @TulsiGabbard’s pro-Assad statements, and now I have Russians tweeting similar nonsense at me.” There is no Presidential Honeymoon. A Clintonesque PsyOp is underway that is part of the covert scheme by western Globalist to continue the Cold War with Russia. Its intent is to scuttle the lifting the sanctions. These rumors hint at invoking the 25th Amendment. Will they be successful or will Donald Trump climb one of the tanks in front of the Capitol with the Deplorables behind him and end the establishment coup and crash the government with all the untended consequences like during the fall of the Soviet Union?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > take some measures at some point

        Like what? A CIA wet team? Oh, the 25th Amendment is the new talking point. Dick Polman has lost his mind

        From the Amendment:

        Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

        So what sexual favors are liberals going to dangle in front of Mike Pence to get him to do this?

        1. dontknowitall

          I doubt very much they are demoralized at the White House after killing TPP with fire and now TTIP (says our ambassador to the EU) and cleaning out State and getting rid of Vitctoria Nuland in the first week, getting the Wall going…for them and their voters is all good news and it is only the first week on the job wait until we come to 100 days…I tell you who’s demoralized…it is the neoliberal hangers-on who hoped to get jobs ‘advising’ and who just found out after a week of trying that it ain’t happening for them no matter how much they beg. So its just projection.

    4. ChrisAtRU

      #CounterPoint If it were not true, why was the account shut down?

      But yes, #DKos as the source requires heavy salt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is the extremely successful data analytics center Kushner set up for Trump in San Antonio for Trump, right? The one the entire Trump campaign, including the Donald, kept their mouths shut about while the Clintonites were running around saying how crazy and undisciplined their campaign was? Yes, it’s been covered, though not by that link, I think.

      Yes, it’s horrible unsavory stuff, practiced across the political spectrum. Probably should be outlawed, along with public opinion polling. Kidding, but 20% serious….

  21. Eureka Springs

    Just out of curiosity I checked duck duck go on Victoria Nuland. She no longer works at the State Department.

    Let us hope it stays that way. No doubt there’s a special place in the Clinton Foundation for her.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I was a bit disappointed to see a CNN link, there hunkerdown…)

        I should have known b at Moon of alabama has a good post up now.

        Two snippets with links at post:

        Yesterday a sensational piece in the Washington Post claimed that The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned:

        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.

        The simple truth: These were people in political positions who serve “at the pleasure of the President”. They got fired even though some of them wanted to stay on. For bureaucratic reasons they had to write formal resignation letters. They did so after they were told to leave. There was also nothing sensational about that. It happens with any change of the President.


        Another fake news item currently circling is that Trump has given order to the military to create safe zones for Syria. The reality is still far from it:

        [H]is administration crafted a draft order that would direct the Pentagon and the State Department to submit plans for the safe zones within 90 days. The order hasn’t yet been issued.

        The draft of the order, which will be endlessly revised, says that safe zones could be in Syria or in neighboring countries. The Pentagon has always argued against such zones in Syria and the plans it will submit, should such an order be issued at all, will reflect that. The safe zones in Syria ain’t gonna happen.

        1. uncle tungsten

          The safe zones in Syria are being established by both the Syrian government and the Kurdish armed force. The unsafe zones are progressively being stabilized but it is agonizingly slow. It appears the white helmets have finally been evicted to Idlib province where they are disappearing into the al Qaeda dominant group.

          The pentagon just needs to keep its planes on the ground and minimize any more ‘mistakes’ by murdering Syrian soldiers. Syria has no need of any further bright ideas from the USA. It will be a much safer zone under Assad as it was before the Clinton murderous dirty tricks. Libya may even end up safe again soon.

    1. sgt_doom

      Or a Rumsfeld or Cheney foundation since she was previously Dick Cheney’s defense policy advisor?

    2. pretzelattack

      yeah she resigned in the recent exodus from the state department. trump probably not warlike enough for her, at least toward russia.

    3. different clue

      Rich people will keep giving money to the Clinton Foundation in case Chelsea gets elected to Congress . . . so as to use their pre-bought influence. If Chelsea can be defeated and driven forever into private obscurity, then donations to the Clinton Foundation will fall off and stay fallen off.

  22. Eureka Springs

    New junk mail today in my box. From – Matt from No One Left Behind

    Take action! Trump bans military interpreters

    The Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program is considered a refugee program. The Afghans and Iraqis we allow to immigrate via this program count against the annual US immigration cap. The blanket ban on immigration prevents these allies from reaching safety here in America. Will you join us in calling for the President to exempt the SIV program from this ban?

    No. How about we stop the wars instead. If I lived on one of these foreign war theaters, I would consider my fellow countrymen traitors, treasonous of the worst order, for such actions, for good reason. Banning foreign Grima Wormetongues is alright with me. We’ve enough indigenous wormetongues already.

    1. Jim Haygood

      How about we stop the wars instead. If I lived on one of these foreign war theaters, I would consider my fellow countrymen traitors, treasonous of the worst order, for such actions, for good reason.

      Osama’s sentiments exactly. And the blowback keeps on coming.

      World pollution, there’s no solution
      Institution, electrocution
      Just black and white, rich or poor
      Them and us: stop the war

      — Ten Years After, I’d Love to Change the World

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trade Hippie: Make (trade) love, not (trade) war.

        Also free from our Trade Hippie: Free (trade) love.

  23. allan

    Wells Fargo whistleblower site vanishes [NY Post]

    A government website devoted to whistleblower-related complaints at Wells Fargo has disappeared during the first days President Donald Trump’s administration.

    The US Department of Labor quietly removed a special website it created as a resource for current and former Wells Fargo employees on workplace issues, including whistleblower retaliation complaints, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a Friday letter.

    Warren sent a letter on Friday to acting Labor Secretary Edward Hugler after discovering on Tuesday that the site read: “Page not found.” …

    Andrew Puzder will get to the bottom of this just as soon as he’s confirmed.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read it. A Russian newspaper says “hacking during the United States presidential election.” The reporter (not a Russian source) says “The treason arrests in Moscow hint at a possible human intelligence source in at least one hacking episode, the intrusion into state electoral boards in Arizona and Illinois.”

      I say, who knows? I read EmptyWheel on this episode, but frankly I don’t see the point she’s trying to make. She cites to this Beltway intel dude, who thinks it’s about Steele’s dodgy dossier, not election hacking. Nobody knows anything.

      1. dontknowitall

        The US is like the bad boyfriend who thinks everything is about him. You are right no one knows a thing. How about this…the arrested people worked at Karpersky, a Moscow antivirus software company, and previously in the KGB hacking department so it is more likely that the KGB guy gave Karspersky information about hacking tools or techniques it was not authorized to have in exchange for a job, thus the treason charge.

  24. Foppe

    Lambert: I can imagine that having to make such trade-offs discourages you from viewing anything/everything.

    Myself, I use FireFox with No Script plus an adblocker that I disable for decent sites, but certainly not Youtube. As a consequence, I almost never encounter ads (there). (Also, in FF at least, you can set flash videos to only load when you click them — ‘ask to activate’ — either by permanently white-listing websites, or on a per-visit basis.)

    WRT video/podcast: to clarify: she occasionally plays other videos (with audio) to make a point, or to show you what someone said, to illustrate a point. Viewing optional.

    1. Foppe

      To add: in her video from 2 days ago ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjq9nB7wYGQ ), she mentions that she decided to help Bernie in part specifically to test whether it was possible for someone who is part of the D party to win against the leadership-supported candidate, with a specific focus on voter suppression / counting fraud and related during the primary, and that she and many others tried to talk to Bernie about this, to get Bernie to talk about this, but that he wouldn’t talk to them at all, let alone issuing press releases about this. As such, she thinks the TYT effort is blinkered/sheepdogging — especially since their proposal doesn’t mention (primary) election fraud as a problem — because she and others have already tried this.

  25. LT

    I’d been meaning to read the links to the Women’s March literature. I clicked on “Unity Principles” and closed it after the first paragraph.
    They aren’t even doing identity politics that well any more.
    Lots wrong with that opening paragraph….will let others mull over it.

  26. Procopius

    Errr… Lambert, following a quote from Joke Line, in which he quotes Trump making false statements (e.g., that the money spent on our foreign wars somehow goes there instead of to American war profiteers) you write, “Don’t you hate it when Trump’s right?”

    Do you really, really believe we have been enriching foreign corporations for many years?

    1. ChrisAtRU

      ;-) … #SubmittedForYourConsideration

      “For many decades, we’ve enriched the holders of big capital, both foreign and domestic at the expense of American worker; subsidized the military industrial complex, while perpetuating the very sad and needless deaths of thousands of our military. We’ve defended the interest of big oil through endless wars and interventions; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.”

  27. Theo

    What part of “allowing the very sad depletion of our military” is correct? Any depletion is not due to supporting foreign armies, but in allowing the creation of military contractors and mercenaries in the U.S.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Logically, it’s totally stupid.

      Tactically, it’s smart. In the narrative of protest, crowd size is something that qualifies a protest as successful. So it makes sense for Trump to try to monkey-wrench that narrative.

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