2:00PM Water Cooler 1/30/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


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.

Trump Transition

“Top GOP senators fear Trump order could become a ‘self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism'” [WaPo]. Sad!

“Chaos over Trump immigration order may be just what he wanted” [McClatchy]. To me, the headline suggests Shock Doctrine, but the headline is sexed up by an editor, and not supported by the reporting, which includes good detail.

“In the electoral strongholds for Trump, residents seemed nonplussed about the uproar flashing across their television screens. They shrugged off concerns about botched execution, damage to foreign relations and legal challenges across the country” [Reuters]. There is some irony to the fact that the protests taking place at airports aren’t resonating in flyover country (though see below for Birmingham).

“Trump doesn’t need a deportation machine. Obama’s already built it” [McClatchy].

“WHILE TRUMP IS CERTAINLY A SINGULAR FIGURE, we’ve seen people like him before in Washington. Rich business owners get elected or appointed to positions of power all the time and, in their quest to shake things up in a confining political environment, screw things up instead. Running a private company, where you’re accountable to only yourself, is different than running a country, where you’re accountable to 324 million people and 535 lawmakers, who won election just like the president” [Politico]. Trump never did own a peanut warehouse, but the point is the same. Yes, Carter was a governor, but his experience simply did not scale to the Beltway, and his team was too small.

Our Famously Free Press

“Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election” (PDF) [Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow]. “For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads.” The air war retains strategic primary.

Realignment and Legitimacy

A tweetstorm on organizing the current round of protests from The Nation’s Sarah Jaffe. Neat stuff:

Note that the immigration community already has organizers, and especially lawyers, teed up, as it were. Will that scale? We’ll find out. It does strike me, however, that these protests demonstrate the extreme fragility and tight coupling of our infrastructure; the protests are, in essence, the same as an enormous blizzard bringing the entire air transport system to a halt. Now, if UPS, the truckers, and the longshoreman monkey-wrenched our equally tightly coupled and fragile supply chain, they could have a serious impact. They might, however, have broader and deeper concerns than refugees; say, wages and working conditions? Medicare for All?

This from Birmingham, AL (with a good round-up of history and activities here):

Things to watch for about protest pictures that I’ve noticed: (1) Not a pink pussy hat that I’ve seen, at JFK, SFO, SEA, or anywhere else. (2) Heavily cropped photos combined with high and unsourced crowd estimates. Yves, who was actually at the airport three times on the day of the protests, comments: “You can’t get 3,000 or even 1,000 people into that baggage claim area. It has all of three, maybe four carousels.” IMNSHO, once reason the brilliant victory on TPP was achieved was a rigorous focus on accuracy by activists.

Booker 2020:

Schumer wept:

* * *

#Resistance, from a Joy Ann Reid guest:

“Read David Frum.” Help me.

* * *

“Trump’s Rollback of the Neoliberal Market State” [John Robb, Global Guerillas]. “A market state, in contrast to the nation-state’s focus on broad economic prosperity and cultural integration, focuses on providing opportunity to the individual. … Finally, and most importantly to me, Trump isn’t dismantling neoliberalism to return to the old nation-state. He’s building, with the help of social networking, a new model of governance for the US. One that operates more like Russia and China does (a reactive authoritarianism).” See from 2013 “Some Approaches to the Market State: Part I” (an ambitious agenda that sadly I was unable to complete).

“The theory that Americans will blame Trump for his failures in governance ultimately assumes a faith in government procedures and institutions that no longer exists” [Carl Beijer]. Meaning liberal whinging about “democratic norms, ” which means their norms, is useless. “To defeat him, the opposition needs to abandon the submerged state and present a vision of government that powerfully and directly intervenes in society and gives people nice things:

Give people nice things, and make it easy. Provide things that it is generally understood that government should provide. Education, health care, roads, sidewalks, supertrains. Generous unemployment benefits, easier bankruptcy, affordable childcare that doesn’t have some absurd eligibility formula, consumer protection laws. Everything should be universal benefits paid for by taxing rich people more than we do. (Atrios)

Beijer continues: “Use the government to give people what they want, and Trump loses his scapegoat. Hide the government behind the market, and America has nowhere else to turn – it can only get lost in the futile ambitions of messiahs and madmen.” Smart post, well worth a read in its entirety. And it supports my priors! Adding: I think that Beijer’s “submerged state” (not the fershuggeneh so-called “deep state”) is really the same as Robb (and Bobbit’s) “market state,” and I think the latter terminology is preferable.

“An Open Letter to the Kentucky Democratic Party” [Medium]. This is, in a “Kentucky nice” sort of way, a brutal post on Democrat Party rot at the state level. You wonder why they lost?

“Recent court decisions in three states are putting carefully carved Republican-drawn state legislative districts at risk — and could even threaten the entire process of partisan map drawing” [WaPo]. Wisconsin, Maryland, Alabama.

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, December 2016: “Personal income rose a moderate 0.3 percent in December with the wages & salaries component posting a slightly better gain at 0.4 percent. The savings rate, however, fell in the month, down 2 tenths to 5.4 percent which helped to fund a strong 0.5 percent gain in consumer spending” [Econoday]. “In sum, income is still moderate and spending is solid though may be getting funded from savings.” But: “year-over-year growth of income weakened, whilst consumption was unchanged” [Econintersect]. “Personal consumption has been the major driver of GDP since the end of the Great Recession. Inflation however, is dragging down the nominal numbers – and consumption continues to outpace income growth (this month inflation adjusted consumption grew 3 times faster than income). Remember these are average numbers – not median. One has to wonder how the low end of the households are coping.” See the last link in the next stat. And, readers?

Pending Home Sales Index, December 2016: “The pending home sales index rose a very a strong 1.6 percent in December” [Econoday]. But: “The unadjusted data shows the rate of year-over-year growth declined this month – and the rolling averages declined. I see no signs that the residential sales market is improving” [Econintersect]. And: “There were very significant variations across price ranges with sales increasing close to 10% over the year for homes priced over $250,000, while there was an 11.6% decline in sales for homes priced below $100,000. The lack of supply at the lower end of the range was an important factor in curbing sales” [Economic Calendar].

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, December 2016: “The Dallas Fed joins other regional reports pointing to strength for the nation’s factory sector” [Econoday]. “This report offers a special look at the oil patch, underscoring that 2-1/2 tough years following the price collapse for oil are finally behind the sector.”

Retail: “New research shows that 20% of all grocery sales will be handled online by 2025. That figure equates to $100 billion” [247 Wall Street].

Shipping: “The [below] graph underlines that the [Baltic Dry Index] has been very volatile in recent years, particularly between 2005 and 2009 when it behaved as a bubble. The main driver of this surge was linked to commodity prices, particularly oil. The index then plummeted back to historical levels and has remained weak in spite of a recovery in global trade. A factor is that many ships were ordered during the ‘bubble years’ and have entered the market, providing capacity growth above demand growth. In recent years the BDI remains low, underlining a situation of excess capacity in the shipping industry.”

I’m wondering if there’s more to it than too much stupid money going into ships. What I’m noticing is that the BDI has now fallen — and it can’t get up! And it’s where it was at the beginning of the neoliberal dispensation. So I’m wondering whether it’s not a matter of Trump slamming the brakes on globalization; it’s been slowing for some years, making Trump froth on larger trends (a pleasant picture). Readers? Oh, and this is why all the shippers are moaning, and trying to solve their problems by even more consolidation.

The Fed: “The Fed will take a pass at this week’s FOMC meeting. The median policy participant forecasts just three 25bp rate hikes this year and incoming data offers no surprises to force one of those this month. March, however, remains in play” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch].

The Fed: “Until there is a convincing move to the 2.0% target area [of the Personal Consumption Expenditure], the Fed will find it more difficult to justify further monetary tightening. In particular, it will be difficult to convince a majority of FOMC members to tighten at a faster pace and the low reading will also support the position of more dovish members on the FOMC” [Economic Calendar]. Of course, if Trump really is a fascist, J-Yel is morally obligated to rain on his Autobahn by raising rates, dot plot be damned.

Political Risk: “2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?” (shipping rates, not the Fed) [Logistics Management]. “Up until the recent U.S. presidential election, most global economists believed that Brexit would be the major “game changer,” but then came along Donald Trump—the surprise populist winner who pledged to invest in domestic transport infrastructure while renegotiating pending international trade agreements.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 60, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 30 at 12:29pm. Can’t be greedy with Trump doing the “own goal” thing!

Health Care

“Man Dying From Cancer Spends Last Good Day On Phone With Insurance Company” [The Onion].

The 420

“Maine on Monday became the eighth state in the nation to allow adults over the age of 21 to possess and consume marijuana for recreational purposes” [The Hill].


“Rapid trait evolution crucial to species growth, study finds” [Phys.org]. “‘Recently, researchers have hypothesized that evolution of key traits at a range edge could significantly affect spread rates,’ said Christopher Weiss-Lehman, a doctoral researcher in CU Boulder’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the new study. ‘This is one of the first experimental studies to rigorously test this idea.'”

Class Warfare

Maybe sleeping under your desk for options you’ll never cash in won’t be a thing any more:

News of the Wired

“How to build a medieval castle” [History Extra]. “Top tip: Identify the places where the topography dominates transport routes: these are natural sites for castles.” Especially if you want to become a robber baron! From 2014, but should be useful under neo-feudalism. Winter is coming…

“How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” [Scientific American]. Ah, “smart.” “Innovation” in — let me check — paragraph one.

“Lossless Web Navigation with Trails” [Medium]. Tabs and Show History functionality combined…

“Harvard scientists announce they’ve created metallic hydrogen, which has been just a theory” [Harvard Gazette].

“Twitter Activist Security” [the grugq, Medium]. Very important!

* * *

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:


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Vatch

    That Onion article is downright spooky. Unlike some fabrications by The Onion, that series of events has very likely happened many times in the real world.

    1. Benedict@Large

      As a Stage 4 cancer patient myself, I find The Onion’s article extremely offensive. Remember, this is the publication that was bought out so it wouldn’t attack Hillary Clinton during her campaign, a campaign that included the absurd claim that our healthcare was just fine, needing perhaps only small fixes around the edges. A now they’re going to use this as a source for their humor?

      SCREW THEM !!!

      1. Nakatomi Plaza

        It’s a bit dark compared to a lot of their material, but it isn’t solely in the interest of humor. There’s a political argument there, clearly, that seems to serve your apparent interests.

        And The Onion has had articles mocking Hillary over the past several months. Many of them have been posted here, or am I remembering this incorrectly?

      2. Knot Galt

        I will agree that surviving cancer is a grueling life transforming event that I would wish on no one. However, the alternative is much, much worse. As a cancer survivor myself, I felt the Onion article was poignant and scarily too real. I respect your opinion but I disagree with you. The Onion article clearly states who is getting screwed at the same time underscoring the sad state of our health system.

        We are a long way from healing ourselves in part because of health insurance companies that have us all in coughing fits. Bravo, Onion!

      3. JTMcPhee

        Benedict, I’m so sorry, as I am sure others on NC are, about your condition. One might hope that empathy and understading and even wisdom might come out of the current breaking-apart — maybe there is some of that, we can hope.

        The Onion writers, like so many of us, have fallen back on habits of argumentation and persuasion that are poisoned by too many decades of saying whatever seems likely to advance an interest or position or strategy, with no or too little regard to the injury to others. It’s a narrow path to negotiate, where too many faux complainants are happy to try to shut down other voices by claims of injury and rights and moral superiority. Not to mention intimidation.

        I hope you have quality medical people and facilities working with you in your situation. Prayers for you from here.

      4. ambrit

        As the husband of a Stage III Melanoma patient, I can both agree and disagree with you.
        Phyl recently decided to stop all treatments because of the “quality of life” issues involved. One of the arguments she bought up in response to my entreaties is that she no longer wants to be a “profit centre” for any medical entity. Looking over her Medicare statements, I can see why such would be her attitude. The immunotherapy drug billings are seriously outrageous. Medicare approves roughly one fifth of the original tender, and then pays even less. Efficacy is measured in extra months of life. The quality of said life is not in play.
        As for the “magazine” being bought out to preclude anti Hillary prop-agit, well, in any self respecting Capitalism, everything is for sale, even souls.
        Sorry about the health issues. I hope you beat this. Don’t get rip roaring mad too often. When you do however, enjoy every minute of it.

    2. Phil in KC

      Poignant, dark, and bone-chillingly true. Usually, I read an Onion article for a chuckle, maybe a belly laugh. This one went to a very unexpected place. I can see how someone with cancer and a lousy insurance policy might take offense, but believe me, speaking for myself, I certainly didn’t find any humor at a patient’s expense. Instead, it made a point that can’t often me made enough, namely, our horrid health-care system.

    1. Ivy

      Perdue and his flock of chicken-pluckers are a pox on American agriculture.

      When you learn about how his industry treats ‘growers’ you won’t want to eat chicken.

    2. Carolinian

      That Alternet article is kinda lame and here’s what we know about the previous Ag Sec, Tom Vilsack.

      Reaction to Vilsack’s nomination from agricultural groups was largely positive and included endorsements from the Corn Refiners Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Environmental Defense Fund.[28] Opposition to the nomination came from the Organic Consumers Association, which outlined in a November 2008 report several reasons why it believed Vilsack would be a poor choice for the position, particularly as energy and environmental reforms were a key point of the Obama campaign.[29] Among those reasons the report cites: Vilsack has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for large industrial farms and genetically modified crops;[30] as Iowa state governor, he originated the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, effectively blocking local communities from regulating where genetically engineered crops would be grown; additionally, Vilsack was the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an industry lobbying group

      Plug in Purdue for Vilsack and trigger the outrage.


      That said I know someone who works for the Forest Service and is peeved about the current agency wide gag order. But the Forest Service too is mostly a suckup to Big Timber and not a hotbed of eviro activists.

      1. DH

        I was calling my New York Senators begging them not to approve Geithner. That fell on deaf ears.

        Ultimately, I think that the complete and utter failure to investigate and prosecute the financial sector resulted in the rise of the Tea Party, the ability of the Republicans to simply say No in Congress, and ultimately Hillary’s loss. it is not accidental that Sanders and Trump came out of nowhere (and not from within either party) to almost take out Hillary and to crush 17 established Republican politicians. The lack of action on the financial sector sent the message to the public that the regular politicians had abdicated their role.

        1. david

          It was the all around botched recovery worldwide that has us in the situation with Trump and Brexit.

          1. andyb

            The recovery for the global banking cartel wasn’t botched; it got trillions from the FED. Meanwhile the 99% got tired of the incessant “recovery” BS from Obama and all of the Central Bankers, most of who were alumni of the giant squid. Nothing like serious mini revolutions to bring “change you can believe in”. Now if the Indians can only wake up……

      2. Vatch

        When Obama took office, many people hoped that he would be a major improvement over Bush. Think back to the period from January, 2001, to January, 2009, when the Bush administration was genuinely horrible. It then took a while for Obama to reveal that he was almost as bad as Bush had been. By that time, his cabinet appointees were all ensconced in their offices. In contrast, we know that Trump will be terrible — he’s proven it by the nature of many of his nominations (Pruitt, Mnuchin, DeVos, Price, Sessions, Puzder, Zinke, and Perdue). Perdue might not be much different from Vilsack, but is that a reason to support him? We have a chance to do what we should have done 8 years ago. We can oppose yet another one of Trump’s bad nominations. Please call!


      3. Old Jake

        What makes you think they didn’t? Oh wait, you said liberals. I guess you already know the answer to that.

    3. P Walker

      If what I read is true, then the Democratic strategy *could* be the following.

      Based on the fact that Harry Reid basically changed the Senate rules to lower the numbers of Senators to confirm cabinet level positions from 60 to 51, there is no way Democrats could block much of anything. If they decided to throw a stink at each and everyone, then Democrats could be blamed for being as obstructionist as the Republicans were. We could expect the MSM and the GOP to go heavy on the “who’s the party of ‘no’ now?”

      I have a feeling the only nominee they will oppose is DeVos. The rest will go through.

      However, SCOTUS nominees require 60 votes, which means the GOP needs Democrats. Here, the Democrats can be effective.

        1. reslez

          In reality the tech giants are depriving the developing world of some of its brightest minds in order to suppress employee wages.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That, and the implication that if a foreign worker can’t come, and a dumber American has to be hired to get the job done now.

            What is that ‘making America dumber’ or ‘brain draining America’ meme?

            Our educational system or our universities are dumb? Is that what they are saying?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Some people relate to the world through more than IQ, say, for example when one is moved and feel sentimentally about a wilting flower.

                So, some voted to avoid dying.

                I am not sure we should call them dumb.

        2. Ultrapope

          Per usual, the underlying logic behind the article: diversity=profits. Lots of examples in the article:

          “…companies that prioritized innovation saw greater financial gains when women were part of the top leadership ranks.”
          “…increases in racial diversity were clearly related to enhanced financial performance.”
          “…researchers found that companies with one or more women on the board delivered higher average returns on equity, lower gearing (that is, net debt to equity) and better average growth.”
          “In just the same way, we need diversity—in teams, organizations and society as a whole—if we are to change, grow and innovate.”

          So if “creativity and innovation” (profits) did not increase with diversity, then diversity is bad?

          I guess when society values profits and markets over personal relationship, social cohesion, etc. appeals have to be made to the wallet.

        3. alex morfesis

          H1-B indian “brilliance” $cam…a gpa of 4.0 in india is all that is needed to graduate from the renowned indian institute of technology and its 16 branches…except…4.0 in india means getting between 31-40% right on your grades…in india the cgpa is rated on a one to ten scale…with ten being anything above 91%..

          they lowered the requirement for first year students from 5.0 because about 2% of the students could not even do that badly and there was political pressure to amp the numbers so there would be no dropouts…

          Reality…what a precept…

          It is a big scam…these warmed bodied imported clowns are just filler…

          which also might explain why we are all basically still looking at windows 98 on steroids…

        4. John Wright

          If little of the increased earnings of a company resulting from diversity flow to its workers, as has been the case for a long time, then the Scientific American article could have been titled, How Diversity Makes US workers Smarter, Work Harder for lower pay and Executives Far Richer.

          There are also problems with assuming that “Sure enough, the researchers found that companies with one or more women on the board delivered higher average returns on equity, lower gearing (that is, net debt to equity) and better average growth.” was as a result of having women board members.

          Quite possibly those companies could afford to promote their diversity because they were on a good growth path anyway.

          Did the additional women board members make the board more active, question management decisions, or add to corporate innovation measurably?

          Was the act of putting more women on the board simply evidence that management was already doing well and the women and the other board members simply collected their paychecks and were along for the ride?

          How about pursuing the diversity approach by selecting senior executives from widely different economic backgrounds or by selecting employees from many varied regions of the USA?

          Scientific American is owned by Springer Nature, headquartered in the UK, so the American part of the name does not imply American ownership or control.

          Looks like a foreign entity is attempting to influence USA policy, better let the Democratic party know so they add it to their list of bad foreign actors, along with Russia..

  2. cocomaan

    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.”

    The funny thing is that, if you ask someone on “the right,” as it were, about an activity like Medicare for All, or other similar programs, they will tell you that they like that idea too.

    “Sure,” they will say. “That’d be great. But we can’t do it because…” The “because” usually includes, too many freeloaders, we can’t afford it, it’s just not possible, maybe some other time, Congress won’t let me, and rarely, it’s been tried and failed. Have you ever met anyone who said no, Medicare for All is actually a bad idea that will kill more people than it saves? I haven’t. Even the most arch conservative can usually admit that, sure, it’s be swell to have it.

    A lot of the restrictions that these people put forth are, to me, failures of imagination, even concern trolling. “But what if some money gets wasted” seems like a lame excuse when you rightfully point out that people are dying as a result of a paucity of real and meaningful care. What’s the purpose of money if it’s not working for us?

    The excuses kill me and they are all excuses for doing the right thing.

    1. reslez

      What kills me (figuratively) is the claim that “we can’t afford” a health care system that would be 50% cheaper!

      What will probably kill me, literally, is the terrible quality of our bloated, failing system and the way it forces me to avoid “care” because I don’t want to get ripped off.

      1. freedomny

        Yes – I can definitely see that happening. There really is a “Medical Industrial Complex” – that encourages you to go to doctors constantly – so that they can “find” things. And, if gosh forbid you do have a major operation/incident….the next time something happens to you – well, the insurance company is going to hold your feet to the fire.

        I had a joint replacement a few years back. It cost – 100K!!! in NYC. I paid 5K out of pocket. I now need to have another joint replaced and I already have had to pay more on the initial consult then I did the first go around….and I am someone who just goes for an annual checkup. I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten a cold in my life.

        So – you have two things happening. An “encouragement” by the Medical Industrial Complex and their political beneficiaries – yes – go to the doctors often…yes often…for early detection. And then, you have the insurance companies capping you off and making the individual pay for it….

        Another thing – the physician class take it’s own class very seriously. My physician sister came with me to my joint surgery….and she made a point of introducing herself to EVERYONE as “Hi – I am Doctor…XXX” I was treated very differently than the average patient.

        Just my observations….

        1. PhilM

          Your observations are valid. I would never commit my wife to the system without being present to let everyone know who I am and what is at stake for her–and for them. Even then it is bad enough. The only ones I truly trust are the ones I went to school with. The rest need to know what they have to lose if I have to go over their notes with tears of rage in my eyes.

          I don’t need to imagine what is the result for people with no doctor in their family.

          In Montreal, the nurses brought my wife flowers from other patients’ rooms after they had been discharged home–or left otherwise. My colleagues came and read her notes, ostentatiously, five or six times a day, at the nursing station. But that was because of who she was, not who I was; and who they were, not what I was. I will never forget the compassion of the nurse–immediately recognizable in the hall, there must have been two hundred pounds of Ghana muscle in that cloud of compassion and expertise–who took care of her, tiny and fragile–as if she were his own family.

          But I still had to rescue her from freezing to death in the PACU, shivering, lips blue, because the nurses there were not paying attention.

          Further words fail me, now.

    2. notabanker

      “Give people nice things, and make it easy. Provide things that it is generally understood that government should provide. Education, health care, roads, sidewalks, supertrains. Generous unemployment benefits, easier bankruptcy, affordable childcare that doesn’t have some absurd eligibility formula, consumer protection laws. Everything should be universal benefits paid for by taxing rich people more than we do. ”

      I don’t want to be left, right, blue, red, deplorable, flyover or (sub)urban. But find me the congresscritter that will sign up for this and they will get my support and then some.

  3. Altandmain

    Interesting article from Common Dreams on how the bank conquered Washington:

    I found the Carl Beijer article very interesting. The thing about the Democrats and trying to defend the liberal order is, at some point, large sections of the American population just “check out” because they don’t see the status quo as worth defending. That is the part that the liberals (who are socially liberal, but economically neoliberal) don’t seem to understand.

    More accurately they won’t understand because they spent the past few decades bringing about the status quo. It is a matter of willful ignorance. More free trade and open borders will bring economic ruin for working class Americans. The liberals cannot understand this. In the case of corporate Democratic politicians, they were paid not to understand the plight of their constituents.

    The party is out of touch. The Kentucky Democratic Party open letter is a poignant example. They have managed to make the worst aspects of the limousine liberal attacks from the right into a reality.

    Meanwhile behind the closed doors, the very rich pull the strings on both parties.

    1. HopeLB

      Nomi Prins’ article provides a good overview of what Trump’s Bankster cabinet will enact, but I found it odd that Prins skipped over Obama’s collaboration except for a reference to Paulson imploring Pelosi to do the bailout with bonuses intact. Very odd.

      1. Waldenpond

        This is why I’ve checked out. The D base can not be ignorant of the fact that when they complain when Rs do the same exact thing Ds do, that it is part of the cycle and misuse of the system (or more accurately use of the mis-system) that keeps things moving to the right.

        It isn’t just the D/R electeds with the same agenda. It’s the base of both parties are blending. Both bases strategy is to ignore the atrocities of their own electeds as not as bad as ‘them’.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s not just that they both are with the same agenda.

          It’s that the trickster is focusing the audience on the right hand, while the left hand is pulling off the magic trick in the dark.

          “Focus on the right hand. Watch it carefully” – chimes in the very attractive, enabling assistant.

            1. RMO

              Half again as bad sounds about right to me… not looking forward to the next few years to see how well my prediction stands up against reality especially since another eight years of the status quo would have been plenty horrific. I still have hope that either the Democrat party will shape up as a result of the 2016 defeat but so far signs are not promising. If anyone had tried to tell me a year ago that the media, the Democrat party and large numbers of it’s members would be proven just as crazy and divorced from reality as the loony right by whipping up another paranoid red-scare (even stating that anti-fracking activism is a Russian plot) I would have thought that person was tripping on acid.

              This has been a clarifying election. Sort of reminds me of the scene in Spinal Tap at Elvis’s grave: “It really puts things in perspective” “Yeah, too much, too much bloody perspective”

      2. Jay M

        Paulson imploring Pelosi:
        an alliterative mutual blocking of perception
        didn’t get beyond principals level, I guess

      3. uncle tungsten

        Imho there was nothing odd. It was culpable deliberate ignorance from Prins. I won’t bother to read that book.

    2. Big River Bandido

      The “socially liberal/fiscally moderate” (or worse) formulation is completely phony, and a perfect example of the cognitive dissonance that Democrats cling to.

      A budget is a moral document — few other things we do outline our priorities with such absolute clarity.

      One who supports the dismantling of the democratic society cannot credibly claim to be a “liberal”, on anything. Such claims would be laughable, if they weren’t so insulting.

  4. Donald

    I like your perspective (meaning the opening of today’s Water Cooler), but the bodycounts of our overseas adventures in the past few decades are at least in the hundreds of thousands and possibly in the millions, especially if you count sanctions deaths, and the victims don’t even have the dubious advantage of voting in our elections. So I would equate those deaths with the domestic ones. I don’t know which are actually larger in number, but then, a policy of concentrating on what we can do to help people at home would logically go with avoiding stupid expenditures and invasions overseas. Lowering both death tolls should fit neatly together.

    And yes, both parties suck to varying degrees.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I’d like to end the wars, too. The flyover states have had it, but both party establishments still quite like them. Adding that, however, like it or not, a nation-state’s primary responsibility is to its own citizens, and that’s how our politics are set up.

      1. Katharine

        It seems to me that the term “flyover states” is increasingly acquiring the same coded quality as “inner city” since neither has any close relationship to geography. It overlooks the diversity of individuals and opinions within the physical region, and oversimplifies the views even of those who partially conform to its stereotype. I don’t find this very useful.

        I note, incidentally, that the article on Trump’s “heartland” voters is illustrated by a picture taken in Los Angeles and was reported by people in New York, Washington, and San Francisco. It is not stated how they got their quotes from people in the south and midwest.

        1. Tom

          January 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm

          It overlooks the diversity of individuals and opinions within the physical region, and oversimplifies the views even of those who partially conform to its stereotype.

          I second your emotion.

        2. sleepy

          Exactly. In metro NYC Trump carried Suffolk County NY, Duchess County NY, and Morris County NJ, in addition to carrying Staten Island within the NYC city limits.

        3. Uahsenaa

          Indeed, there’s just as much of an urban/rural divide in the so-called heartland as there is in California or New York. The major difference is our metro areas are generally much smaller (or spread out) and therefore less densely populated. However, you have to take into account states like Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, etc. which can and regularly do swing different ways politically, which would explain why the D party more or less abandoning labor is shooting themselves in the foot.

          I spent most of my childhood hanging out in union halls (my dad was a steward and regional rep), and I can tell you that what Trump is doing, if a bit ham-fisted, would play very well in any one of them. Republicans have always hated organized labor with the passion of thousand fiery suns, but now Trump is bucking that tendency to cozy up to at least some unions (more to manufacturing and construction, which lean conservative, than to service and professional, which are more liberal). If he succeeds in winning them over, the political game is lost no matter how many airport protests people organize.

      2. Anon

        Lambert, I always appreciate your writing (having found your site through the 2012 election countdown you did on Truthout way back when), but in lieu of writing all of that, why not just link to your 12 point platform instead?

        Somewhat related to that, I think we’d all do better collectively if we forgo “party loyalty” altogether and treat it like a bidding war, using the previously mentioned 12-Point Platform as a litmus test. Whether D or R, my vote is to be earned, not expected.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I don’t think it’s my place to promote it here, and I need to return to it anyhow because it may need a touch-up. I don’t know where you get “waffling,” Tom. Care to elucidate?

            1. Tom Allen

              That’s how I read “I’d like to end the wars, too….However, like it or not, a nation-state’s primary responsibility is to its own citizens, and that’s how our politics are set up.” It seems a less than forceful statement of an anti-war philosophy. I’m sorry if I’ve misconstrued what you were saying.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Ending the wars — which I would define as gutting the base system abroad and the Pentagon at home* — brings concrete material benefits to citizens in a way that is less immediately visible than (say) Medicare for All. In terms of staging demands, then, IMNHSHO it should come later, like (say) carbon-neutral benefits.

                I’m a pragmatist and I want to win. We’ve had forty years of anti-government propaganda by neoliberals. Best way to show that TINA is wrong is to implement alternatives. Things like the Post Office Bank and Medicare for All are, in a way, trust-builders. If that doesn’t pass a purity test, to be it.

                * Was any nation ever positioned in a manner less likely to need an immense military? We’re bordered by the Atlantic, the Pacific, Canada, and Mexico….

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sorry you feel that way.

          What is the alternative – making its citizens a nation state’s secondary responsibility, after those of other nations?

          Unless you say all people of the world should be the primary responsibility of each and every nation. Then, when does India start protesting about, say, bull fighting in Mexico?

          1. tyaresun

            Pax Americana brought great benefits to the Americans (including the so called fly over states) for a long time AND great suffering to non-Americans, particularly in the middle east.

            I would not equate the murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings to bull fighting in Mexico.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I don’t understand what part of Lambert’s post you don’t like;

              Yes, I’d like to end the wars, too. The flyover states have had it, but both party establishments still quite like them. Adding that, however, like it or not, a nation-state’s primary responsibility is to its own citizens, and that’s how our politics are set up.

              Except maybe a nation-state’s ‘primary’ responsibility.

      3. jrs

        I don’t know what nation states responsibility even means, let’s talk moral responsibility, doesn’t the U.S. government at least have the moral responsibility to the rest of the world to stop murdering people in the rest of the world? I mean that’s bare minimum, one could argue they have more responsibility than that, but at least that. And as far as voters and citizens can influence this (yes it’s questionable how much), they have the moral responsibility to push for it.

        1. tyaresun

          Yup, using Lambert’s argument, Saudi Arabia has no responsibility to ensure that its citizens don’t bomb the world trade center. Did not in my wildest nightmares did I expect to read that at NC.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think

            Saudi Arabia is responsible for making sure its citizens

            1. don’t bomb anything in their own country
            2. don’t bomb anything outside their country.

            The same goes for any country.

            Practically, it’s easier to do the former. The latter requires international cooperation, and can be beyond any nation’s control, if other countries, say, for example, America, can’t coordinate their own intelligence agencies.

            Thus, the emphasis is on ‘primary’ when it comes to its primary responsibility. The existence of a primary responsibility does not exclude, necessarily, secondary, tertiary, etc responsibilities.

          2. PhilM

            This is deliberately inflammatory garbage. There’s no argument here; there is not even critique; it is just arson.

        2. Fiver

          Even as a nation/state the US has a primary responsibility to uphold all of its commitments under International Law, many of which have the force of Constitutional Law – commitments it has abandoned going all the way back to deliberate mass conventional and A-bombings of civilians during WWII.

          I think it impossible for the US to ever resolve its massive internal contradictions so long as its foreign policy and actions read like one long war crime.

      4. fritter

        Agree on the nation-state purpose. Which is why I nearly had a fit when I read the Politico comment, ” Running a private company, where you’re accountable to only yourself, is different than running a country, where you’re accountable to 324 million people and 535 lawmakers, who won election just like the president” [Politico]. When was the last time someone in government held accountable? The cancer of partisanship ensures that 30% of the population would vote for Hillary even if she promised to start WW III. It took 30 years for her to kill her own brand and she still got the popular vote. I wouldn’t have a problem with Democrats or Republicans if they held their members accountable.

      5. baadmoonrising

        Simple. Just plop Dr. Kissinger in whatever state you want to become relevant and voilà: instant gravitas and even Oklahomans can “get to where they have not been”! Only one problem:


    2. Art Eclectic

      There are times when I think overseas invasions are warranted, mostly for human rights violations. However, our policy here in the US is to limit our excursions to protecting the overseas assets and business ventures of our elites.

      1. Carolinian

        Funny how those “rights violations” often turn out to be things the CIA and the ever eager US media made up. Responsibility to Protect is the purest form of bunkum unless you are going to turn it over to a truly disinterested body and it’s hard to say what that might be. The UN has been an American toady for the last couple of decades and Trump and the charming Nikki Haley are now threatening UN funding (which may actually give them some spine). The other Republicans have been making this threat for a long time while under Obama the red headed banshee Samantha Power was offering constant and quite hypocritical lectures to the other delegates on “human rights.”

        1. Fiver

          In fairness to R2P as it was intended to operate, it is important to recall its genesis: the abject failure of the US to respond in Rwanda to a desperate plea for assistance from UN peacekeepers on the ground who knew it was a simple question of enough bodies to provide effective military policing. There was no requirement at all for military engagement against an organized armed opposition. It was never intended to provide cover for US/CIA/NED-sponsored ‘uprisings’ explicitly purposed to create the conditions for military regime-change operations. It is of course cowardly and profoundly pathetic that US allies and the UN allowed the US to invoke R2P in circumstances that were contrived, where those intervening had goals other than protection of civilians, and where said intervention involved massive escalations in violence to overthrow a State with an operational military prepared to defend itself.

      2. Waldenpond

        To end genocide, lives will be lost to prevent the loss of additional lives. What is the human rights violation that warrants, at minimum, additional civilian deaths and the elimination of infrastructure?

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Chomsky has written quite a bit on the topic. I think (sorry, can’t find the link now) he said his views can be summarised as ‘first, do no harm’. In other words, don’t rule out interventions, but they need a very high standard of proof that you will not make things worse, even if on the face of it there is a conflict or even a genocide ongoing.

        I think he quoted two examples of successful interventions as Vietnam invading Cambodia, and India intervening in the Bangladesh/Pakistan War in 1972. Both probably averted genocides, even though in neither case were the motives entirely pure. You might add Frances intervention in Mali a couple of years ago to protect the capital from Islamic groups from the north (although in this case, you could argue that the intervention in Libya caused the displacement in the first place). Some UN interventions have been very successful, such as in Liberia.

        1. Carolinian

          Yes ironically two of those interventions (Cambodia, Mali) were necessary because of US “interventions.” We are the bull in the china shop.

          1. DH

            Many of our illegal immigrants are from Central American countries that were destabilized by various Cold War actions by the US and Russia. One of the major benefits of NAFTA is that it created a decent economy in Mexico so there was no need for them to come up into the US. Trump’s push to demolish Mexico’s position in NAFTA will probably generate a wave of illegal immigrants if he is successful (good luck holding them back with a wall) that will be economic refugees.

            1. JerseyJeffersonian


              As I have been given to understand from various sources and at various times, one of the most pernicious effects of NAFTA was opening up the Mexican agricultural market to the onslaught of massively subsidized, cheap U.S. corn. This had the effect of undermining the economic viability of huge numbers of previously successful family and small farming operations in Mexico. The result? Independent and locally-rooted campesinos were forced to flee to El Norte for income to support their families. There was, and continues to be, some industrialization in Mexico, mostly in the north, that was triggered by NAFTA, but a large wave of mostly “unskilled” (except in small holdings agriculture…) labor surged across the border due to the agricultural displacement occasioned by NAFTA. Oh, and a large number of the maquiladora sweatshops in the border regions of Mexico were later transferred to Asia (ah, the wonders of labor arbitrage), and even those Mexican workers wound up screwed by globalism.

              So I question the logic of your notion that a restructuring of NAFTA, or its replacement with a bi-lateral trade agreement will result in a massive wave of illegal immigrants. That has already happened, and largely due to NAFTA.

              And if your idea is that Mexico had willingly absorbed a large influx of citizens of some of those countries to their south destabilized by Cold War era struggles, I think that to be largely untrue. They neither want nor need the problems that these poor people would bring with them if they surged into Mexico. Rather, these social and economic refugees try to quickly transit Mexico to reach the U.S. And that is ongoing. Thank the Yanquis who just can’t keep their hands off of places such as Guatemala (or more recently, Honduras…thanks, Obama, muchas gracias, Hillary) for the steady-state chaos.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Yes, I think the impact of NAFTA on Mexico has been very mixed. Undoubtedly, a lot of poor urban Mexicans now have good industrial jobs because of it – but likewise a lot of poor rural Mexicans have had their livelihoods wiped out by the dumping of cheap subsidised US food. As always, economists just assume that benefits are spread equally, they are not. And lets not forget that Mexico is a major oil producer, so it has a much better macroeconomic position that most other Central American countries.

                1. Gerard Pierce

                  As I understand it, Mexico is temporarily in a good position, but those oil reserves are dwindling. I remember reading about attempts to get Mexico into an economy that does not depend on oil, That has happened to some degree, but without oil, there is a good chance the Mexican economy might collapse.

                  This is kind of out of date info and some more up to date info would be useful.

      4. DH

        In most cases, these human rights violations occur in places that are now inherently unstable due to past intrusions. Most places had relatively stable language, ethnic, tribal etc. boundaries that are usually pretty stable until something like drought etc. creates a push to migrate. The European colonial period, WW I and II, and the Cold War led to many of these areas being taken over or used as proxies. After WW I, there was an opportunity to set up country boundaries that would likely be stable based on historic ethnic and tribal boundaries. However, those boundaries were rejected and countries like Iraq were created because they are initially easier to manage from the outside since the internal groups won’t band with each other against an outside power. Only strongmen like Saddam Hussein were able to keep those places together simply by crushing dissent. We are seeing this now with Assad in Syria.

      5. witters

        “There are times when I think overseas invasions are warranted, mostly for human rights violations” – Like, “Hey, there’s a need for more human rights violations. Let’s start bombing and arming the takfiri!”

    3. integer

      Lowering both death tolls should fit neatly together.

      Exactly. Imo the cause of both problems can be distilled to a few common factors. These are (in no particular order, and I’m probably missing a few) neoliberals, neocons, corporations, and greed. Then there are the systems that have been created to camouflage these causes of domestic and international misery into the domestic landscape such as the corporate media, think tanks, elite academia, and mainstream economics.

  5. Foppe

    Sarah Kendzior’s USP is that she lives among, and writes about, working class pain, and suspected T might win. She does not, however, understand what caused that pain (choices), or who did it (both sides working together with lots of other people). So they’re deplorable ingrates who feel pain, who weren’t “reached” — because all is marketing.

  6. Bill Smith

    “Recent court decisions in three states are putting carefully carved Republican-drawn state legislative districts at risk — and could even threaten the entire process of partisan map drawing”

    In Maryland it is the Democrats which are ‘threatened’. The Democrats gerrymandered out the Republicans.

    1. Katharine

      Thanks, I was going to mention that but you beat me to it. I have muttered about the gerrymandering for years. Even if honest maps meant we got back a second Republican in the House, they might also mean metro Baltimore could be represented by one member instead of three facing conflicting demands from suburban constituencies. And besides, they’d be honest, for which I have a deep and persistent preference.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “The purpose of torture is torture. The purpose of power is power.” Gerrymandering and voter suppression and election fraud are and have always been parts of the game, of achieving legitimacy via what are mostly rigged or sham elections, or violence-based authority to dominate others, by any old means.

    1. Stephanie

      How ironic would it be if Trump really is attempting 11th-dimensional chess…

      That said, I wonder how many people who voted for Trump see the ban as a negotiating tactic designed to provide cover vs a base on which to build? Are they as willing to flop over and have their bellies rubbed by Trump as the Dems were by Obama when things didn’t go their way, or will they demand enforcement?

      1. Carla

        Personally, I was wondering if any of the sincere but naive people demonstrating against Trump might consider changing their tactics if they read Adams’ piece. (Now please, I did not say that everyone demonstrating against Trump is necessarily sincere but naive — but I wonder if that subset might be moved by Adams’ analysis to choose other strategies.)

        1. freedomny

          Maybe the sincere but naive people demonstrating against Trump didn’t have time to read Adam’s piece….

          Or..maybe – they don’t understand “that subset might be moved by Adams’ anaylsis means”…WTF?

          Because I don’t. And I find your comment condescending.

          I am trying to figure out what NC wants. What it’s commentators want. Because to me…It seems like many of you are trying to “out – intellectualize” each other.

          And – I really don’t think the “situation” needs to be “intellectualized”. I think we just need to come together and help fix it.

          I have a lot of respect for people who go out and demonstrate. And, really don’t want to come off snarky….but I believe we need to stop these class distinctions in order to survie. Aned Carla – you saying “sincer and naive” as you are so above them, doesn’t help.What did you do this week Carla?



          1. freedomny

            Well – apparently couldn’t edit in time…wow – kind of like a game (lol)

            my last paragraph: I have a lot of respect for people who go out and demonstrate. And, I really don’t want to come off as snarky, but I believe we need to stop these class distinctions in order to survive. And you Carla, saying “sincere and naive” , doesn’t help.

            I do apologize for the snarky…what did you do this week Carla? Everyone does what they can in their own way. I for one want everyone to demonstrate.

            The airport demonstrations meant a great deal to me. My father was born in Franco’s Spain and was brought to the US as a baby. He was the first in his family to get a high school and college education. He also became an incredibly successful media executive. Technically I am a first generation American.

            Even though I “look” white – I have an hispanic last name that was a real resume problem for me….j lo wasn’t around when I was trying to get my first job out of college. So, I’ve always felt like a bit of an “outsider”.

            And – maybe those who are demonstrating – feel that as well. I hope you can understand.


            1. Outis Philalithopoulos

              Thanks for adding this postscript – it makes it easier to understand where you are coming from with your original comment.

              I think a lot of people who comment on this blog have felt, or still feel, like outsiders as well. They can have had that experience, and still not all agree on the most effective ways to address current problems.

            2. aab

              There are a couple of reasons why some of us on the left are somewhat negative about the airport protests.

              I will mention first that I have not read the whole thread yet. I’m trying to cut back on my online time. But I was skimming along, and wanted to say hello to you.

              The primary “problem” with the protests, as far as I’m concerned, is that they are being fueled and manipulated by the corporate media and corporate Democrats for their own ends, such as allowing the corporatists who have immiserated much of the country to look good on identity politics grounds. If politicians like Chuck Schumer and Cory Booker are rehabilitated enough that the corporatists can maintain control of the Democratic Party, the party will continue to lose elections, which means people of color and immigrants will continue to lose as well, unless they are affluent. Corporate Democrat policies have failed catastrophically, and it is a failed party at this point. It is very unlikely to climb back into power this way, and if it did, it would just continue colonizing both the American interior and working class and workers across the globe for the benefit of an ever-shrinking global elite. That would be bad.

              Since my primary desire, like Lambert’s, is to gain universal material benefits for people so they can live in security and dignity, I wish to purge the neoliberal corporatists from power. I do not believe Trump’s politics and policies will deliver the broad economic and social justice we need and deserve. Therefore, I believe we must work as best we can to drive the New Democrats out of the Democratic Party and replace them with leftists committed to economic and social justice through universal benefits and policies that will reduce economic inequality and allow the people to gain some power in this system to make sure they are no longer exploited and their needs are met.

              Given that these are my priorities, I look at the airport protests with a jaundiced eye. I recognize that Trump’s executive order is building on Obama’s orders, and the previously stated desires of Democratic leadership (like Schumer) to do exactly what Trump is now ordering. If Hillary Clinton had issued a similar order (and she might have), the corporate media would have cheered her on, and instructed all those protesters to stay home. The evidence from the Obama years suggest this would have worked. I also recognize that detaining people at airports — while inhumane — is not worse than droning innocent people in their own countries, as Obama did. It is not just a question of hypocrisy. It is also that we need to drive people like Schumer and Booker out of power, while reaching out to all the people starved, robbed and brutalized by Democratic Party policies to show that we recognize what was done to them, see them, respect them, and intend to care for them if the other party gets back into power. They’re not idiots. They see the hypocrisy of protesting “their” guy but not the guy before him who helped bankers steal their homes and jobs, and sent their children to fight and die for ExxonMobil and the House of Saud. They will be deeply alienated by this passionate defense of refugees when these same people protesting now were silent as their families and communities were broken. When Starbucks proudly offers to hire refugees of Obama’s and Clinton’s wars, but is silent about the people without jobs, homes and healthcare who have lived in the United States since birth, they see that as more evidence that globalism is deceitful and hurtful, and see the Democratic Party as their enemy.

              I want all people on the planet to live in peace, safety and dignity. I believe neoliberal globalism does the opposite of that. And I’m very worried that these protests will end up mostly helping the ugliest kind of nationalism strengthen its hold on power. People need to protest for economic change, and we need to find a way to build bridges to those the Democratic Party betrayed who have now thrown in their lot with Trump. So I’m not saying the protests are bad, per se. It’s all bad. It’s a mess.

              I don’t know if that’s helpful, but I hope you at least don’t feel disrespected by my response. That is certainly not my intention.

          2. Outis Philalithopoulos

            I didn’t think that the phrase about the “subset” was written in a way that was unnecessarily confusing. It’s true that the word “subset” could have been avoided by saying something like “those protestors that might…” instead. But it doesn’t seem fair to lash out at someone because you found something they said hard to parse.

            Carla was making the point that, sometimes, responding in a particular way plays into dynamics you might want to avoid. For example, a bullied kid can respond in lots of ways, and some of the natural ways to respond are likely to make the bullying worse. Is this “over-intellectualizing”?

            I have more sympathy for you taking issue with the term “naive” used to describe large numbers of people who feel deeply about politics. Do you similarly call out people who refer to, say, conservative-leaning voters as naive? If so, that seems like a consistent and principled stance.

            1. freedomny

              Hi – I guess I am just frustrated. Intellectualizing what is going on does not work and only serves to divide us. Intellectualizing sometimes places barriers. I did not come from a family of “intellectuals”. I came from an immigrant man who became successful beyond the norm…and all his children are “successful” by what would be the “standard”. And…all their children went to Ivy League schools.

              There is too much “intellectualizing” going on here at NC. The millennial force, I think, kind of gets it.

              We all, in our hearts, knows what needs to happen.

    2. DH

      I think there is a Persuasion Filter, Hitler Filter, Nixon Paranoia Filter, and Incompetence Filter all going on at the same time.

      I think Trump wants to be authoritarian, but not in a Hitler sense as I think he is too pragmatic without the Master Race types of concepts. He also just wants to be loved. So he views this stuff through the Persuasion Filter for negotiating.

      Steve Bannon probably does have a Hitler Filter component to him. He is probably mumbling some Hitlerian details of what should get included in Trump’s ear. Flattery will get him everywhere.

      Both Trump and Bannon probably think that the bureaucracy is out to get them (Nixon Paranoia Filter) and stop anything they want to do in their tracks. So the obvious solution is to cut any of the established pros out of everything until it is a done deal.

      A paranoid group of people focused on just putting stuff out there to persuade their backers that they are doing stuff means that the actual details of crafting policies and instructions may not occur. Since things like the execution details for immigration policy is difficult to just scrawl with a crayon on cue cards, a lot of little details get left by the wayside. As a result, you get baffled Homeland Security Secretaries in the air suddenly having to figure out in 30 minutes whether or not green card holders are allowed into the country (logic conundrums requiring instant solution would include “Gee if they aren’t allowed to return, are we supposed to throw out all the ones currently in the country?”).

      So that forms an Incompetence Filter where in the future we will not know if any executive order, executive memorandum, speech, regulation etc. was developed through a thorough logical process or just whipped up by two guys drinking shots in a bar. That is going to keep everybody on their toes with shock and awe and should fill CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations with great warm thoughts of certain business environments over the next four years. It is going to be a boon to the legal industry which is going to be sucking up all available lawyers to sue over randomly worded executive orders.

      Ironically, the Incompetence Filter will mean that the bureaucracy will probably be out to stop them just to stop the pain, thereby justifying their Nixon Paranoia Filter since you aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you.

      1. jrs

        I think maybe it is time to just think about what kind of policy we want then instead of being mind-f’ed 20 ways to Sunday. I guess I’d start with labor issues. Not because they are the only important issue or anything like that, but just to have sound grounding that might find some support.

    3. Inquiring Mind

      It’ll always be convenient to describe any extreme action as that “opening negotiating position”. Mr. Adams will be able to explain everything that way even though the simpler explanation is that Trump & Co. are further afield than most of the country and keep getting pulled back from their desired paths by the inertia of the majority.

      (Separate discussion can be had on whether the inertia of the people is what allowed the co-opting of our leadership by Gov bureaucracy until we needed to elect a bomb-thrower to get out of the rut).

      As the details of this immigration flop came out, another simpler narrative makes more sense to me: The list of countries came from the Obama Administration which singled them out as likely sources of terrorists going forward. Trump sees that list and says, I’ll just take this the one step further and stop all the people from these places. I mean, duh, Obama, so easy. Problem: Neglects to foresee that he’s going to snare a bunch of people already en route to US. Causes consternation amongst regular folks who can easily put themselves in the shoes of the unfortunates. Chaos ensues.

      If Trump & Co. had just made one small tweak to the plan, it would have gone off without a hitch: instruct US embassies worldwide to accept applications, but hold visa processing for people from the countries on the list for the 120 days. Exempt anyone already in transit with a valid visa. I bet no one in the US would have even noticed.

      Of course, Mr. Adams proposes that Trump wants to cause the chaos. I’ll propose that causing chaos is one thing, but looking like an amateur is another. Being President of the USofA who causes chaos is amateur with a capital A.

      1. marym

        During his campaign when he spoke of banning Muslims he said something to the general effect of: there are all these people coming in and we don’t know who they are and have to stop it till we find out what’s going on.

        He didn’t know then and apparently never bothered to learn that there are extensive vetting procedures for people seeking asylum, refugee, regular visa, or green card status; vetting and informal harassment at airports; and surveillance of people in this country. If he had taken the time to learn, and disagreed with some aspects of those procedures, he could have consulted and coordinated with the agencies and individuals who understand the options, and made specific changes to those procedures.

        He had plenty of time during the transition period to do that. Instead he asks Rudy Giuliani how to get away with banning Muslims, and apparently Bannon of Breitbart to write it up for him to sign.

        I don’t think he wants to cause chaos. I see him as the guy in the bar or the older relative that get all their news from Fox and think “Muslims” or “regulations” are the problem and getting rid of them is the solution; and he has surrounded himself with billionaires and white supremacists who think that’s just fine for their purposes.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          And all of that careful vetting really worked just great back before 9/11, eh? I mean it stopped those jihadis dead in their tracks. Well, yes, ultimately they were literally dead; but along with 3000+ of our citizens and guests, so I guess that has to be taken into account for a fair assessment of the quality of the “careful vetting process”.

          Maybe what needs to be reexamined is ultimately the vetting procedures themselves, and still further what we are hoping to achieve in bringing large numbers of people from cultures vastly different from our own culture into our nation? Maybe we should examine the willingness of these people to assimilate elements of our social and political system into their operating practices that are crucial to the preservation of civic peace and concord? Look to France, Belgium, the Netherlands for what happens when a radical failure to assimilate is willful behavior on the part of the immigrant group. And do we want to chance the arising of a similar situation in our own midst?

          1. mary

            Do you suppose Trump thinks the process hasn’t changed since then? His EO wouldn’t have prevented it.

            My comment wasn’t about the content or effectiveness of the process, just Trump’s apparent ignorance both.

    4. bob

      “Half the country thinks President Trump is well on his way to becoming a Hitler-like dictator. But many other Americans think Trump is an effective business person with good intentions. They can’t both be right.”

      Why not? Many business people would love the label of dictator, many have held the title, very “effectively”.

      They are not mutually exclusive. That’s a pretty big logic fail on the set up.

      As far as the intentions of trump, good luck divining that.

  7. fresno dan

    “Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical.”

    If your not cynical, I would like a tab of the LSD your taking – or maybe its ectasy

    1. JustAnObserver

      “If you’re not cynical it just means you’re not paying attention”.

      Wish I could remember who said that ?

      1. Buttinsky

        A young Greek once said to me, “There’s a very fine line between being cynical and being experienced.”

        1. William C

          ‘The gift of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who do not have it’

          George Bernard Shaw

          1. Katharine

            Lovely! Trust Shaw to nail it. I have often said realism, like Lambert, but gift of accurate observation is more pointed.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s tough to be a cynic then.

            People might confuse your cynicism with

            1. inexperience
            2. Mr. Shaw who could observe accurately.

    2. hunkerdown

      Oh, how utterly terrible and shameful it is that people should imagine other people having interests and working to pursue them. As if being precious and sentimental ever got anything useful done for the public interest.

      Cynicism is anti-liberal. Which is a very, very good reason to cultivate and indulge it to the maximum extent possible.

      1. broadsteve

        I would have thought the alternatives to cynicism are hope, belief and inspiration, not preciousness and sentimentality which I agree are fairly worthless politically.

        And surely, it is too many, rather than not enough, cynics in and around mainstream politics which have led us to where we are today.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Cynics, or sophisticates? Past courtiers called them place-seekers and other less flattering epithets.

          Bear in mind the fading underlying definition of sophisticated, as in inauthentic, debased, spoiled: “That vintner sold large quantities of wine that were sophisticated with sugar of lead, to make them seem less bitter and more palatable…”

          What a nice inversion of the import of a useful old term…

  8. shinola

    Re Lambert’s comment at the top of today’s water cooler:

    If one looks at the “tens of thousands of excess deaths from despair” from the neolib/social Darwinist POV, it’s a feature not a bug. After all, it’s the deplorables, the excess eaters that are dying. It’s not like they’re anybody who really counts – just a bunch of losers. We do have finite resources you know and those should be preserved for the deserving, those of us who worked hard and smart to get ahead…

    Of course, the one percenters never come right out and say it that way; you just have to listen with the right ears.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And as Buffett so jovially noted, in his fine avuncular way, “It’s being waged by MY class, the RICH class, and we are winning!”

        Go Team R!

        1. HopeLB

          Speaking of team R,and thenlogically moving onto team RNC because of the MSM’s “news”, and then just dropping the R altogether and speaking only of the NC Commentariat (the NCC?), where is Craazyboy? Did he feel singled out by Yves’ admonishment? Surely, it was not the vert funny Craazyboy who was being reprimanded! (Well, he called out Hayward for sort of spouting all the rightward thinktanks’ rhetoric, but so what.) Wishing you better than just being well Craazyboy, wishing that you are caught up in some math problem
          or having a good meal and wine with a great friend.

          1. fresno dan

            January 30, 2017 at 6:37 pm

            Well, I certainly hope nothing has happened to Craazyboy, but its only been a few days….it would be craazy to not allow him to go off on a bender every once in a while…..

            Or…maybe he took some of that LSD as an anti-cynicism aid…..

        2. Dogstar

          Jovially noted? Buffet made the comment in condemnation of the situation. Also said his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does and that it is a problem.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Yeah, Buffett so sincerely made that “condemnation.” He is a public benefactor that is just looking out for the public good. (Oops, sorry, I dripped some sarcasm there.)

            And he is so terribly concerned that his secretary pays a higher tax rate (on a secretarial paycheck that Forbes says is between $200,000 and $500,000 a year, poor girl, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/01/25/warren-buffetts-secretary-likely-makes-between-200000-and-500000year/) that I see he has volunteered to eschew use of the many “tax advantages” he has available to him and his corporations and just send large YUUUGE checks to the gummint to help lessen the vast indifferent inequality of wealth of which he is such a beneficiary. From Barron’s:

            “OTHER VOICES
            Warren Buffett’s Nifty Tax Loophole —
            Warren Buffett has backed higher individual tax rates–while ensuring that his vast wealth in Berkshire Hathaway is almost immune.” http://www.barrons.com/articles/warren-buffetts-nifty-tax-loophole-1428726092

            But so glad you have bought into the spin he was selling with that carefully scripted bit of misdirection — “It’s the GOVERNMENT’s fault for not taxing me enough!” I initially bought it too, until I started looking at the details and background. Why do we mopes so want to believe that there are Rich Folks like Buffett and Soros and Gates and Zuck and all who are really just plain Folks who are looking out for our interests and really “on our side” deep down inside?

    1. Benedict@Large

      Most of the finite in “finite resources” are artificial; shortages manufactured to insure health profits for the elites. Does anyone ever really EARN those multimillion dollar bonuses?

    1. Waldenpond

      I don’t like it when the victims of the elite attack other victims of the elite. On the other hand, I support tearing up the roads to the houses of the 1%, their private airports, helipads.

      1. PhilM

        Moderators–does this comment really meet the noble paradigm set out two days ago? Clear argumentation, reasoned contribution?

        Or is advocacy of “discriminating” violence justified, as long as it is directed at the 1%, whoever that may be in the judgment of the vandals and assailants?

        I would like to know where we stand here.

        1. aab

          Walden’s suggestion very carefully only referred to the 1%’s corrupt taking of the commons for private use. Their bodies and lives (even their many homes) would be untouched. They would be forced to use public airports and transportation, which might incentivize them to allow their elected servants to make public transportation and public services better.

          I’ll be interested to see if you get a response from the moderators. I am guessing it will not be your preferred one.

          I read Walden’s statement as fundamentally rhetorical, but I would certainly not be opposed to a non-violent clawing back of all this privatizing and separation of the lives of the wealthy from those they have exploited to gain that wealth.

          My objection to a more, er, physical method is mostly that it would likely spiral out of control. I was a French History major for a while, so I’m aware of the basics of the Terror. Let’s not do that.

        2. Waldenpond

          Yes, I’d like to know where we stand also…..

          You specifically ignored the first comment in which extreme violence is demanded (of militarized purveyors of violence on behalf of the state) against actual people for the measly act of making said commenter what? ….late to meet friends at the bar (the horror!)?, yet found offense with my call for what would literally be a minor inconvenience to an elite. Goodness, someone might actually be late to the theater.

          The wealthy use their power to immiserate people every day. Every death caused by homelessness is an act of violence against a person. Every death caused by hunger is an act of violence against a person. Every death caused by denial of health care is an act of violence against a person.

          I think the precious elite darlings will survive a few hour wait to have the repairs done.

          So the argument is….. extreme violence as a response to the trivial act of protesting or a trivial inconvenience to extreme wealth.

          1. PhilM

            I can see you do not fear the name of bigot. Your prejudices are clearly fully justified in your own mind. But they are bigotry, same as it ever was. And aab notwithstanding, rhetoric is not to be underestimated. Rhetoric is very important. Ramped into hysteria, used to flog masses into action, to bring armed might to bear, rhetoric has slaughtered more people than any racism ever did, and certainly more people than extrinsic war ever has.

            So the experiment here is concluded. No moderation did in fact occur yet; I confess that, ever the optimist, I did expect a little something, after Yves’s scolding about what posts are expected to contain. Internet forums have all kinds of toleration; in particular, it is tolerated to incite well-discriminated violence: in some places, I suppose, against Jews; elsewhere, against Palestinians; elsewhere, against African-Americans, Muslims, police, or bankers, or drug-dealers, or gangs. Here, against the rich.

            Happy hunting. As aab points out, M Robespierre did not get the results he craved by taking this approach, and neither did anyone else, ever.

            1. aab

              I think you may be drawing the wrong conclusion from my reference. The French Revolution spiraled out of control and hurt a lot of innocent people. I would really like to avoid a cataclysmic snap like that. But that happens when the ruling class is too corrupt to adjust and they force the lower classes to take extreme action. And while it hurts a lot of innocents, it does usually get the job done of making change. Bourbon rule ended. The Romanovs no longer rule over Russia. England hasn’t been a Catholic country for centuries.

              And yes, I’m aware that some members of the aristocracy do fine regardless. The Percys have been wealthy and titled since 1066, IIRC. But I think you’re getting a bit too worked up over a rhetorical statement in a comments section, when the actual ruling class is killing off its citizenry in real life. Rhetoric doesn’t inflame the masses; starvation and despair does. Nothing said here would trigger ANYTHING, if the elite weren’t stealing homes and hopes of a life with dignity and security. Despite what the Democratic elite seems to think, words matter less than actions, messaging less than reality. The fact that the rich HAVE all those private roads, private airports, private lives built on the blood, tears and productive energy of their fellows is far more pertinent than suggesting these advantages should be taken from them by force.

              Remember, the American people already tried the normal process. They elected Barack Obama. That didn’t work for most. Now they’re trying something else. They’ll keep trying until something works. They’re not going to die off as quickly and quietly as the ruling class might prefer. So maybe help find a solution that doesn’t involve the physical activities you find so horrifying, rather than hectoring people in a comments section.

              1. PhilM

                Thanks for the elaboration. Not to recognize that Waldenpond’s little outbursts often constitute hate speech is hypocrisy and self-righteousness, or as it is now clumsily and needlessly called, “moral narcissism.” I understand that there are dozens of excuses for hate speech against the targets of your choice. I didn’t think this was the right venue for hate speech, but I stand corrected.

                Where I do not stand corrected is in my knowledge of history. Your instances of change are not even amusing to anyone who actually knows history. It is sad, really, one of the great losses of our education system, that people with superficial knowledge can deploy names like Bourbon, or Romanov, and think they have said anything meaningful. But where there is incivility, and hate is tolerated, surely intellectual modesty is too much to ask.

    2. I Have Strange Dreams

      And this is why America Failed. The average pleb can’t stand a moments inconvenience to show solidarity with his fellows. And he follows InfoWars. Stop dreaming about fixing the system, folks. The future of America looks like Brazil. Enjoy your descent into terrain.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Chin up, pilgrim. Some of us are old enough to remember the times when we did turn the whole thing around, when we stopped a war, threw a crook president out of office, and completely changed the society. First thing the hippies said was required was raising consciousness…and I think we’re getting there.

        1. nechaev

          when we stopped a war,

          i must have missed that one. I do vaguely remember a certain General Giap and the Fall of Saigon however.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Goes to the old chestnut that “Nothing is ever what it seems,” and “nobody knows nuthin’ about what’s really happening.”

            There’s something happening here
            What it is ain’t exactly clear
            There’s a man with a gun over there
            Telling me I got to beware
            I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
            Everybody look what’s going down

            Buffalo Springfield

            In 1971 the “liberal” students at Lake Forest College were all about “stopping the war.” So they organized a protest march through the snotty streets of Lake Forest, IL, and along Sheridan Road, to Ft. Sheridan, then the HQ of part of the US supply services. And because they were a little sweaty, stopped at the first gate into the base that they came to, and waved their posters and banner and chanted stuff, and staged a sit-down, in front of the very obviously closed and dis-used gate. Did not even walk another half mile to one of the two active gates into the post. But some of them did put their bodies in the way of the War Machine by lying down on a rail spur leading into the base, one that from the rust on the rails had not been used for maybe years. And yes, I was there, a Vietnam vet.

            Ineffectual twits. But they all felt so good about themselves. Then back to the College for a teach-in, and seminars on how to avoid the draft… /which of course was perverted by the privileged to spare their precious minions any inconvenience or danger: http://thevietnamwar.info/vietnam-war-draft/

      2. Waldenpond

        People need to get to the squash court to let off steam and winter is long and brutal in some regions and only relieved by two weeks in the tropics.

      3. RudyM

        Posts link from InfoWars = “follows InfoWars.” Brilliant logic.

        I figured someone would complain about the source but decided not to look for a different one. At any rate, the MSM and left alternative media don’t appear to interested in extended video footage that includes a counter-protestor of some sort being knocked out cold by anti-ban protestors.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Episodes and anecdotes = larger reality? Only in Bernays-space, where one is talking one’s book…

    3. jrs

      are you going for right wing or middle of the road? If it’s the latter, realize it can’t be had, the forces of reaction have been governing this country for too many years, and so the only way to get back to even centrist type government might be radical action even if it’s quite non-violent like blocking highways. So to condemn it is to defend the reactionaries. Of course if you were going for right wing that was the point all along, so never mind.

      1. RudyM

        I think I am going for kneejerk reaction to something I find very upsetting. I’m some sort of independent at this point. Considered myself left-leaning liberal just a few years back, but that’s changed. Perhaps I’m headed further right. I certainly hate a significant portion of the left at this point. I do generally agree with NC style economic positions.

        1. Massinissa

          Liberals are NOT leftists. Hate liberals. They suck. Leftists are not liberals and liberals are not leftists.

    4. Big River Bandido

      Methinks you confuse or conflate “liberals” with “leftists”. They are not by any means the same.

  9. Samuel Conner

    I find John Robb’s commentary helpful, but he clearly doesn’t understand (or perhaps has heard of but does not believe in) the in-principle fiscal policy freedom of sovereign money-creating states. Consequently, he concludes that the failure of the US market state to cushion the impacts of globalization on the middle class is forced on it by “noncooperation of tax-avoiding elites”. But, as Yves and Lambert have pointed out again and again, in fact that has been the consequence of policy choices, not fiscal constraints.

    I wonder whether there is any point in trying to “reach out” to Robb to call his attention to MMT?

      1. aab

        Damn it, Lambert, if you get crappified like my phone, operating system, health insurance, etc., I don’t know what I’ll do.

    1. meeps

      I liked this piece, thanks. In conjunction with the Quanta Magazine link Yves posted (2?) days ago, there’s much to contemplate. Not many takers in either thread though (sigh). Maybe next time.

    1. RUKidding

      I’d love to see Bannon kicked out. I think he’s quite dangerous. However, this week is yet very young, so I wouldn’t get any hopes up of seeing Bannon kicked out just yet.

      Yesterday, I caught a couple of different radio programs where there were plenty of Trump voters who expressed great approval of Trump’s immigration ban. They truly saw it as Trump living up to his promises and had absolutely no problem with the disruption and possible unconstitutionality of some of it.

      I don’t see Trump voters getting disillusioned any time soon. JMHO, of course.

    2. Tom

      Is this administration proceeding at warp speed, or what. What has it been: 1 1/2 or 2 years since Trump was sworn in?

      At this rate he’ll be talking about building his presidential Library next week (“huge,” “gold,” “beautiful!”)

        1. JTMcPhee

          And of course his opponent was in no way in favor of privatizing public wealth and assets, did nothing along that line did she, or her husband either?

    3. reslez

      I’m not thrilled. I’m angry and disgusted.

      Angry at people protesting a few dozen green card holders when literally thousands of Americans die without health care EVERY YEAR.

      Angry at useless so-called lefties yodeling about Trump when they sat on their hands for EIGHT FRICKING YEARS as Obama bombed 7 different countries simultaneously and did his own ban in 2011!

      Angry at the stupid left for chasing the motorized rabbit on command when HALF OF WORKERS earn less than $30k/year.

      Is it any wonder there’s so much noise over an issue that has ZERO ECONOMIC RELEVANCE to the lives of 99% of America? Why do you think you guys are protesting this instead of things that would make a material difference to the lives of hundreds of millions of people? “Shh, reslez, we can’t anger the donor class!” You guys are digging your political grave and too stupid to see it.

      I’m disgusted. Give me a freaking break you useless crybabies. You lose election after election and do nothing but whine about things that are, comparatively, trivia! Chuck Schumer’s crocodile tears — why doesn’t he cry about the thousands of people in his state who die every year from lack of care? The people he’s actually paid and elected to represent? The whole party is rotten to the core. On any other site I’d now be taunted with “Russia Russia Russia”, meanwhile the left prepares to crucify itself to save useless Obamacare. Well thank God for NC.


      1. Katharine

        Even if it were “only a few dozen green card holders” there is a principle involved here you would do well to remember.

        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

        Martin Niemöller knew why “a few dozen” or any other number matter. To accept unlawful and unjust actions against others is to accept them against yourself.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But they have come already.

          And many Americans are on the no-fly list.

          All are, I believe, under surveillance.

        2. djrichard

          If another country wants to perform extreme vetting of me before I can enter their country, fine with me.

          I’ll up the ante. If another country wants to bomb the hell out of the US (or foster collapse of the US through other means), resulting in a diaspora and as part of that perform extreme vetting on me, fine with me.

          But wait, when did I buy into fostering of the collapse of another country? By virtue of my hands holding hands with the previous administrations. [I don’t remember that, but let’s say it’s so for the sake of argument.] I remember somebody else having a stronger role in holding their hands: the press. Interesting to see how the press is now absolving themselves of their sins.

          1. djrichard

            And for any of the people who are out there protesting now, were they out there protesting when the campaigns were getting launched to create these diasporas? Indeed, were they out there protesting when there was no ambiguity of the chaos that was being created?

            1. Jaxbeau

              Yes, in fact they were.

              I’m old enough to have protested against the Viet Nam war, and have never stopped protesting the war machine that robs us of our economic future and murders millions without compunction.

              1. djrichard

                Fair enough. And respect.

                Just remember the bed fellow these protests (against Trump) keep with the press. The press that heretofore has been part of the war machine, for every. single. war. Against a president who’s stated objective is to stay out of war.

                Indeed, it begs the question on who benefits more from this relationship: the protestors? Or the press?

    4. VietnamVet

      I spent 37 years writing regulations, among other things, that allowed Multi-National Corporations to Mom and Pop’s to market products in the USA. A strict interpretation of the order to revoke two regulations for every new one would require halting approval of a new product until regulations that allow two marketing of two older products were revoked. This is sheer stupidity. It is criminal if the two regulations that are revoked protect the health and safety of the American people. Steve Bannon’s and therefore the President’s problems are that their alt.right beliefs have no basis in reality, they have no idea what they are doing and the Globalists are out to get them.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I spent a few years, and yes it was a long time ago so the details have gotten fuzzy, working on draft regulations in the US EPA part of the vast regulation-generating machine that is our government. I don;t see, in what has been ordered, anything like the scare notion that “two regulations protecting public health and safety will be revoked for every new one.” Have you looked at the vast, steadily growing Federal Register lately? As I recall, too, there was a regulation or regulatory determination that for school lunch nutritional purposes (under Reagan?), ketchup was ruled by regulation to be a ‘vegetable.’ (Tomatoes are technically a fruit, in any event.) The Federal Register and the mostly-captive rulemaking process are loaded with defective and special-interest regulations and rulings.

        And for the liberals, just let us recall that there is nothing new under the sun: Al Gore was supposedly tasked by Clinton to do a “regulatory reform” review, remember that? With a goal of reducing the bloat and overlap and lack of consistency of the CFR. Here’s one take on the nature of what that effort, redolent of what Trump’s drafters of executive orders and directives seem to be aiming at:


        And yes, I know what the Cato Institue is mostly all about, but it bears a look as a serious inquiry into the “regulatory reform” process and what it is likely to produce.

  10. RUKidding


    Don’t know if this has showed up here or not; apologies if it has. It’s about Uber drivers working in the more expensive areas of their region and having to sleep in their cars in parking lots. Then possibly go home (some 2 to 4 hours away) on the weekends. All in order to make enough as an Uber driver to make ends meet.

    About 2 years ago I visited India. Many of Delhi’s taxi drivers are from the Punjab (some 4 to 5 hours away). They commuted to Delhi Monday morning and slept in their cars in parking lots during the week and then went home on the weekends. Several complained to me about how hard it was to make a living this way.

    I love India, but … here we are in America… competing with India for a race to the bottom. Third world country, much?

  11. L

    “Recent court decisions in three states are putting carefully carved Republican-drawn state legislative districts at risk — and could even threaten the entire process of partisan map drawing” [WaPo]. Wisconsin, Maryland, Alabama.

    Before we get too excited about it, the fate of other similarly positive decisions remains in limbo. The U.S. Supreme court just put a decision ordering North Carolina to redraw its’ maps on hold pending a decision. While this could just be standard practice it means that one should not assume a change in the wind just yet.


  12. Tronald Dump

    Gosh, Cory Booker got up and gave a speech with tons of press and cameras around. Shocking. Given the record of the policies he supports, and given the last election, you’d think his likely run in 2020 would be DOA, but lots of people and institutions with money will push for him. Whatever and whoever was behind Clinton and Obama will get behind him, which is a disaster on repeat.

      1. aab

        The handy thing about Booker being so very, very terrible is that anyone both claiming to be a progressive and promoting Booker has revealed themselves not to be a progressive. Van Jones, sadly, falls into that camp.

        It will be a useful metric going forward, I suspect.

  13. Waldenpond

    Is it too much to hope the 20% of groceries will be online is due in part to people growing their own and those that use online services to purchase from and arrange for pick up dates from their local farm? CSAs and market shares.

  14. LT

    Re: Give People Nice Things

    What ultimately makes them “nice” is that one doesn’t have to go into debt to have them.
    The FIRE sector on our backs wants as much as possible to be expensive enough for most to have to finance (with that rentier interest).
    For example, a ride on high speed rail does not have to be financed by families or individuals like a new car would have to be.

  15. clarky90

    IMO, this is what the next 16 years are going to look like- a WWE extravaganza! The Donald Trump/Ivanka Trump tag team against the Democratic Party Heels. Grab your rubber chickens……..



    “In professional wrestling, a face (babyface) (Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump) is a heroic or a “good guy” wrestler, booked (scripted) by the promotion with the aim of being cheered by fans. Faces, traditionally, wrestle within the rules and avoid cheating (in contrast to the heels who use illegal moves and call in additional wrestlers to do their work for them) while behaving positively towards the referee and the audience“. (Those Heels, the Democratic Party, champions of Paid-for, Fake, infomercial “news”!)

    ……”The face character is portrayed as a hero relative to the heel wrestlers, who are villains. Not everything a face wrestler does must be heroic: faces need only to be cheered by the audience to be effective characters. The vast majority of wrestling storylines involve a face against a heel, although more elaborate set-ups (such as two faces being manipulated by a nefarious outside party (like George Soros) into fighting) often happen as well”.

    …”Faces are “generally known for using moves requiring technical skill, particularly aerial maneuvers, and wearing outfits using bright colors with positive associations (such as solid white). This is contrasted with the villainous heels who are generally known for being brawlers, using physical moves that emphasize brute strength (bottomless pit, big money donors, Hollywood Star spokespeople) and/or size while often having outfits akin to demons or other nasty characters”. (John Podesta)

    I thought I would just set the scene…..

    1. clarky90

      Meet President Donald Trump’s nomination for the Administrator of the Small Business Administration


      Linda Marie McMahon (née Edwards; born October 4, 1948) is an American professional wrestling magnate and politician.
      McMahon was active with the WWE from 1980 to 2009. During this time, the company grew from a small regional business in the North East to a large multinational corporation. She was president, and later CEO of the company.

      1. Jen

        Gets her out of Connecticut politics for a while, which might be a relief to some. Takes a lot to make one wax nostalgic for John Rowland but she has the touch.

  16. Anne

    Lambert, “nonplussed” does not mean what your usage of the word means to convey, but if it makes you feel any better, it is one of those words that is routinely misused:

    To be nonplussed is to be (1) at a loss of what to think, or (2) bewildered. These are the traditional definitions, anyway. The word comes from the old but now little-used noun nonplus, which refers to a state in which nothing more can be said or done, so to be nonplussed is essentially to be at a standstill or an impasse.

    Regardless of the traditional definitions, the word is very often used as a synonym of unimpressed, indifferent, or unfazed.

    The use of nonplussed in its traditional sense is increasingly hard to find in popular sources, suggesting the old sense of the word may be fading from the language. Still, it’s possible to scrape up a few instances such as these:

    Nonplussed is one of those troubling words that seems to come up most often in discussions of its use and misuse. People do still use it in earnest, but those who use it in its traditional sense risk confusing people, and those who use it in its newer sense risk being corrected by careful readers. In many cases, it’s difficult to tell what a writer means by the word. The good news is that, in either sense, the word has plenty of perfectly good synonyms.

    There’s a good chance this makes me a dinosaur, unwilling to give up on the original meaning, so pretty sure I will be confusing new-definition subscribers the next time I use it.

    1. Katharine

      All good dinosaurs read dictionaries for fun and profit! (And, as we know, profit did not originally refer to mere monetary gain but had broader connotations.)

          1. Katharine

            Well, of course she is! And the way to get unstumped, broadsteve, is to read dictionaries. If you can’t afford a new Webster’s Collegiate, at about $30 last I checked, you may find one secondhand, and browsing in it will teach you things you would never learn looking up a single word online. You have to turn pages and let your eye fall on things you never meant to look up originally, read the etymology, follow up the nice distinction of synonyms…. Granted you won’t always have time to enjoy this pursuit as it deserves, but serendipity is on your side.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              You guys just check inspired me to Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage which has been collecting dust for a while since I last cracked it open. It gives nonplus as “the verb meaning to baffle, confound” which is the usage I’m familiar with although this entry seems more concerned with spelling than the nuances of its meaning – both nonplussed and nonplused are considered correct, with the later being a more modern American variant.

              Anyway, for people who like to read dictionaries, this one is pretty good. I heard about it from a review by David Foster Wallace which is a great read itself, something not often said about dictionary reviews. If anyone’s interested it’s included in Consider the Lobster.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You mean to say, you are nonplussed?

          And you transgressors, are you still nonplussed?

    2. craazyman

      Did you notice that “Lizzard” was misspelled on that highway sign a few days ago? I wonder if they’ve corrected it yet. I would hope so. Or maybe the warning is over by now.

      If was up there now and saw a lizard I’d be nonplussed for sure.

      1. Peter Pan

        A “lizzard” is an extraterrestrial critter. A “lizard” is an earthbound critter.

        I should disclose that I’m wearing my tin foil hat.

        1. craazyman

          If I saw an extraterrestrial lizzard I’d need at least 3 xanax and half a bottle of Spanish wine from La Mancha.

          It one thing to think about it. It’s another thing entirely do actually seee it.

    3. Annotherone

      Anne ~ When I read the quote including the word “nonplussed”, used by Lambert in the links, I read it as meaning that viewers in certain states, or of certain persuasions, were initially taken aback (nonplussed) by the huge protest crowds seen on TV, THEN they shrugged it off – a 2-stage kind of thing, so maybe it was not totally inaccurate usage, by the writer, but could have been better stated ?

    4. diptherio

      That’s the journalist’s usage, not Lambert’s. However, I am nonplussed at this new definition of ‘nonplussed,’ this being the first time I’ve seen it used in the new way.

      1. Anne

        My bad – you’re right.

        Apparently, editing isn’t what it used to be (and I need to be more careful reading!).

    5. integer

      Your comment begs the question: Are you nonplussed, or are you nonplussed, about new meanings for old words and/or phrases finding their way into common usage?

      No need to answer, as I’m 100% certain your answer will be: “I’m nonplussed”.

      (Sorry. In any case, I’m more of a math(s) kinda guy so there’s no need to even read this comment.)

  17. Jeremy Gilchrist

    Trainspotting Two has a text I think you will like. “First there is an opportunity, then there is a betrayal”

    Also in your opening, you refer to the decreasing life expectancy of the underpeople. Meanwhile the very rich are ceasing to die altogether, however old they are. Why should they? This has some interesting implications.

  18. DonCoyote

    Re: BDI {as a proxy for globalization} has fallen and it can’t get up:

    Mish is seeing a similar trend

    A salient quote: “Global exports priced in US dollars has varied directly with the price of oil. Protectionism had not kicked in yet, but it will.”

    And Trump pushing vigorously for “streamlined” regulation and “pipe, baby, pipe” means oil should stay low for awhile. Probably a good time to short shippers and energy companies both–any companies with heavy exposures to both good candidates for bankruptcy…

  19. Mbuna

    Re: Kentucky Democrats letter, and Democratic Party nationally.
    I concluded shortly after the 2012 elections that the Democratic Party is beyond repair and needs to be dumpstered. Everything that has happened since then has only confirmed my feelings.

  20. Sam

    Lambert, I don’t think your views are cynical, but your tactics are.

    I don’t find NC’s political coverage recommends it. I know how to find counterpunch.

    NC is still a valuable finance resource, but it’s political coverage is only worth a skim.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Not sure why you’d think NC’s political coverage is only worth a skim…

      Unless you’ve already picked a Team and you’re sticking with ’em!

      I personally find the variety and depth of thought on this site to be thought-provoking and enlightening.

      1. broadsteve

        Variety and depth from the commentariat, I would agree, otherwise variety of view a little lacking and if I can say so, often tin-eared when it comes to anything other than quite a narrow perspective on what counts as ‘worth’ in terms of political action.

        1. tegnost

          it’s a big internet broad, and the comments section doesn’t need any content free cheap shots lie yours cluttering up the place, that goes for sam too, answering a question as a means of throwing a rock. The political angle in NC for the past year and its prescience makes it all the more apparent that you suffer from pachycranial afluidic psychosepsis.Don’t think theres a pill for it, you just have to walk.

        2. Steve C

          I find that “even-handed” bullshit of the corporate media to be useless. Plenty of useful ideological variety on NC. Like the American Conservative. If you want ostentatious “bipartisan” links to useless windbags like David Brooks, or the centrist Democrat flavor of the month, countless other sites for that.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          An idea-particle super-collider.

          To recreate the Mental Big Bang, you need

          1. small idea-particles colliding at near-light speed


          2. Heavy Ideas or Idea-particles colliding at a slower speed

          So, ideas must clash.

          You purposefully experiment with them.

          Then, maybe, you discover new idea-particles or a deeper understand of Reality…maybe.

    2. dontknowitall

      Sam –

      I started writing a longer answer as to why you are incorrect but I soon gave up since it is obvious only the willfully blind cannot see what NC has brought to the table…

      1. Carolinian

        Who knew Lambert had “tactics”? And yes no picking on NC, our last little corner of sanity.

      2. Sam

        The politics are redundant IMO. Counterpunch, Truthout, etc. cover the same ground. Note that I agree with them wrt policy almost always. This is not about policy.

        But NC’s coverage of financial and economic issues is critical. They need to be heard in the mainstream, not just another leftie echo chamber. Allowing critics to conflate pension, private equity or MMT issues with the political fringe makes them that much easier to dismiss. And that is a tactical error.

    3. craazyman

      It’s gotten ALOT better in my view. Over the past few years. Calling out the id-pol fiasco and the tortured hypocrisy of the liberulls is awesome1 Realizing rednecks are human too and not having a job or healthcare makes people crazy whatever their demographic. Calling out the cnyical manipulations that empty souls ride to power. Calling out bullshit. And even seeing it in oneself and callling that out. It’s a cleansing and it’s good.

      Not that I’m very political. But I can smell truth when I see it — to mix metaphors.

      Truth has a ring to it, and it’s not a nose ring, but it’s a ring you can hear in your mind. Sometimes it’s a bit shoocking if youre used to lies — or not you, personally, but the “universal you” — that person is shocked by truth if they are used to lies. It sounds jarring and strange. But all beauty is born that way — jarring and strange. Then after a while you thhink “Whoa, that’s pretty damn good. Wow. That is good.” Well not ALL but a lot anyway. Enough for it to be real.

      But it is a knife edge, to keep it true and real and not kowtow to anyone or anything. You have to trust yourself in the quiett of your mind. That little light will tell you what’s real. Nothing else outside will. Then you’ll know.

      1. integer

        I can smell truth when I see it

        You seem to have aquired an intangible feel for how delicious a mixed metaphor can be.

    4. integer

      I don’t find NC’s political coverage recommends it… it’s political coverage is only worth a skim.

      Says you!

  21. mrsyk

    “Not a pink pussy hat that I’ve seen” Not sure why the NC crowd feel the need to denigrate the women who marched the weekend before last (this is not the only example). It seems narrow minded at best. Maybe the majority of women (and men like myself) who marched that day were marching for equality. Maybe they were marching because they are sick of being reminded that they are second class citizens. I might add that women had a lot to lose with a Trump presidency (abortion, access to reproductive health providers for example). Just saying.

    1. dcblogger

      the women’s march was WONDERFUL. it broke the gloom of the Trump presidency instantly. it reminded everyone that he is toxic. I can’t understand all the negativity around it. all these marches and action pour into one another. I am sure there will be more healthcare rallies in the near future. I notice that Nurses National Union supported the women’s march, and the airport actions. I am always comforatable when I am in the company of Nurses National Union.

      1. tongorad

        If Trump is toxic, why couldn’t the Democrats beat him? Was Obama toxic?
        What I got out of the marches is that a certain percentage of people view the election as a referendum on good vs evil, and the bad guy won. So they must “resist.”
        Seems rather selective and insincere, given the track record of the Dems.
        Identity politics uber alles.

        1. mrsyk

          Might be a matter of perspective. dcblogger appears to refer to the march as a “healthcare rally”. In this case there is a big difference between outgoing and incoming administrations. I agree with your point in general terms, but it’s important to point out that once again women’s health and reproductive rights are big losers with the new admin.

    2. Massinissa

      I don’t view it as criticism of the womens march. I view it as criticism of those damn stupid hats.

      Liked the march. Thought the hats made some of them look like loonies. It was only a minority of the marchers who wore those damn hats but they made the entire march look bad…

  22. Andrew Watts

    “The theory that Americans will blame Trump for his failures in governance ultimately assumes a faith in government procedures and institutions that no longer exists”

    In a declining society trust is transferred from institutions to individuals. Why should anybody trust institutions which are hostile to your interests and unresponsive to your needs? It’s why Trump won’t be blamed by his supporters. This is also a major reason why Bernie wasn’t guilty of sheep dogging his supporters. The loyalty of individual Berniecrats is not easily transferable to the Democratic Party and played a role in giving us Trump as president.

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but Bernie would’ve beat Trump. He received more votes in the primaries from the under-30 age crowd then Hillary and Trump received in the general election. This would’ve resulted in an electoral landslide of historical proportions if it carried over.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I read this article three times and I’m not sure if it’s real or satire. It sounds plausibly true but the hint of disdain and contempt it shows for people of that region leads me to suspect it’s satire.

  23. Katharine

    Remarkably, this is not from the Onion:

    Bannon, a former executive of the rightwing Breitbart news site, will be a permanent fixture of the “principals committee” of the National Security Council (NSC), the White House announced, but said that the director of national intelligence and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would only attend if the “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed”.

    I’m not sure if that last bit means after Breitbart has helped persuade Trump to start a war.

    1. DH

      No. It only means that national security policy will be based on alternative facts. The generals and DNI have an unfortunate habit of trying to use data (the data may be wrong, but they at least try to get and use it). It is the narrative, optics, and ideology that are important.

      1. Carolinian

        Weren’t people just complaining that Trump had too many generals in his cabinet? Confusing. For those of us with long memories the honesty of generals is a dubious proposition. And of course the previous DNI openly admitted lying to Congress.

    2. Carolinian

      Was Breitbart pushing war? Any examples? I believe Bannon, like Trump, is not too fond of Iran.

      It’s possible this move is a slam against the people who are pushing war (JCS, DNI) although Pat Lang thinks putting politicals on the NSC is a bad idea.

      1. DH

        I haven’t gotten the impression that the Joint Chiefs typically push to go to war. I do have the impression that once in a war, they want to prosecute it as one instead of pretending it is not a war.

        Usually it seems to be the civilians who want to start a war but have unrealistic expectations of what it would take to “win”, whatever that means these days.

    3. dontknowitall

      This could be interpreted as Trump taking an axe to the NSC and essentially splitting its national security theater function from the national security proper. Bannon would in on one doing his politicking but a useless appendage on the other when the generals come in. Bush and Obama melded the two and we never knew which was which…was the killing of Bin Laden one or the other? who knows…but now if we see Bannon it is theater, if we see Mattis it maybe the real thing.

  24. LT

    Just a note on political framing of debates.
    Calling the people involved in the chaos this weekend “un-American” feeds into a rightwing authoritarianism. When you continue to use the language of the oppressor it, reinforces oppression. It leaves room for it to be thrown right back at you in a debate until the word has no meaning and only stagnates moving forward.
    It just becomes a pissing match over who’s more “American.”
    Desribe it as exactly what it is or on terms that move the discussion towards a solution: unconstitutional, for example, would be better.

  25. L

    “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election” (PDF) [Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow]. “For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads.” The air war retains strategic primary.

    One minor quibble I have with this, and with most analyses of election advertising, is that they are ignoring online ads. While Clinton spent big on standard TV ads Trump basically owned my youtube feed. From September through election day it did not matter what I watched from professional information to random non-US non-english programming he was there. I strongly suspect that any model which ignores the role of online ads is basically irrelevant.

  26. oho

    Looks like Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook and H1-b visa employers have become darlings of the Left now.

    What a great time to be a shareholder—who says identity politics never pay off?

    1. djrichard

      I saw a headline that the Banks were coming out against Trump’s immigration policies too. Without reading it my initial thought was: because … they … care. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, don’t you know, lol.

      In actuality the article was about how they care for their employees. I had to suppress a laugh at that too. But they don’t really have much of an option: what else are they going to say?

      1. djrichard

        But what was surprising was that this even gets play in the press.

        Employer to employee before Trump: What have you done for me lately?

        Employer to employee after Trump: Poor dear employee. I do hope that those bad policies coming out of that bad Trump WH will not cause you any distress. Do not fear, I will fight for your right to be employed by me in the US!

    2. Waldenpond

      hmmm…. Vanguard: owner of Marathon Petroleum and Starbucks.


      Vanguard is a top institutional owner of Marathon Petroleum.

      Vanguard is a top institutional owner of Starbucks.

      If you are buying Starbucks are you contributing to building the Bakken pipeline?

  27. PlutoniumKun


    “How to build a medieval castle” [History Extra]. “Top tip: Identify the places where the topography dominates transport routes: these are natural sites for castles.” Especially if you want to become a robber baron! From 2014, but should be useful under neo-feudalism. Winter is coming…

    And don’t forget to mistreat the workers. A local story around Monkstown Castle in Cork, Ireland, is that it was built by a Lords wife as he was busy in the crusades. She agreed with builders from Kerry on a lump sum when it was finished, minus the cost of their food. When finished she presented them with a bill for food that matched exactly the bill for building the castle. She immediately retired to her new castle and locked the doors leaving some fuming castle builders outside.

    1. Fried

      They’re actually building a medieval castle about 40 minutes from where I live, but I’ve never had a look. They already have 3 or 4 castles from back when, but they’re falling apart. There’s a somewhat important road nearby, so maybe they’re planning something for when they’re finished in 100 years or so?


      If you ever find yourself in southern Austria and bored, here’s something to do!

    1. oho

      meh. I don’t condone violence. And let’s be honest. Team Schumer/Graham/Clinton v. Team Trump in a full-blown, SHTF conflict?

      My money would be on Team Trump.

    2. aab

      The resignations were a formality. They were fired, as they expected to be.

      This is an example of what Yves was talking about with the corporate media deliberately conflating actually dangerous precedents with government operating normally.

      Since the writer makes a fundamental mistake as part of their thesis, I will not be reading the piece.

    3. Foppe

      The Rosneft stuff was covered here on NC, is unrelated. The state dept firing is routine, and no more sinister than every other time political appointments are made, then fired. The rest is just correlated in time because start-of-term. Conspiracies are easy to come up with.

      Remember: After 9/11, everyone was reeling, and the media stopped doing its job, insofar as it still took it seriously after the corporate consolidation. After the Great Crash, everyone put their faith in Hope & Change Inc.. Now, there is no such distraction, only Trump(/bannon/pence), and the media is “on top of” everything. So everything “feels different”.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Strikes me as very typical of Silicon Valley: Overly schematic, and seeing patterns where there could be clouds. Seems to be getting a lot of traction, having been circulated IIRC by celebrities.

      1. Foppe

        part of the reason is that it was in the medium.com daily newsletter. Not sure how it got picked for that.

  28. marym

    President Donald Trump signed an order on Monday that will seek to dramatically reduce federal regulations, but the policy will not apply to most of the financial reform rules introduced by the Obama administration.

    Trump’s latest executive action will require that agencies cut two existing regulations for every new rule introduced and it will set an annual cap on the cost of new regulations


    1. DH

      This one actually makes a lot of sense for two reasons:

      1. Bureaucracies grow and grow and grow…Parkinsons Law. Every company I have ever worked in has to slash overhead spending every 3-5 years because the instant the CEO takes their eyes off that ball, it starts to grow again. http://www.economist.com/node/14116121

      2. The US bureaucracy generates huge quantities of prescription-based regulations. The regulation starts with a couple of paragraphs about its goals and objectives and then has 2,000 pages listing the myriad of miniscule details and all the exceptions and special cases to the miniscule details. I work in other countries like Canada. Their federal and provincial regs are much shorter, lay out the goals and objectives in a principles based way, and then say “Give us a plan on how you plan to meet these requirements for us to review, comment on and approve.” Usually the federal regs are very principles based and the actual implementation is at the provincial level.

      1. marym

        No doubt that what you say about bureaucracy is true; and the process you describe in Canada would be a more effective approach if the goal is good governance. Here it seems likely that minus-2 plus-1 would just be a tool for the goal of dismantling civil government and replacing it with further privatization, corporate license, and pubic deprivation.

      2. makedoanmend

        Assumptions galore

        A business model and a government model are not synonymous. For starters, their goals are different … and go from there…

  29. Quentin

    Evidently Donald Trump filed on inauguration day for the next presidential election in 2020. Astounding.

    Scroll down to point 5 in the posting: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/trial-balloon-for-a-coup-e024990891d5#.2xjy6wv0m

    Or is this information unreliable? The doubt and fear is beginning to drive me over the edge. I see now that ex-president Barack Obama is reinserting himself in this unholy spectacle, putting in his five cents worth of gab. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/30/barack-obama-travel-ban-statement-protests-trump

    1. memekatt

      ZH crossposted a story from Disobedient Media on this

      By filing his election bid,

      501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations would no longer be able to engage in “political speech” which could theoretically affect the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election without running the risk of losing their nonprofit status. The move effectively bars interest groups from creating nonprofits which they could funnel money into for the purposes of opposing Trump’s initiatives. This will likely create chaos for political opponents of Trump such as George Soros, who has sunk significant amounts of money into various nonprofit groups with the intent of opposing Trump’s government. How 501(c)(3) organizations will comply with the FEC’s regulations when participating an actions which qualify as political speech remains to be seen.


      1. Yves Smith

        I hate to be a pedant, but you’d need to look at the detail to see if this is pernicious as the summary makes it out to be.

        The reason is that there is already a form of non-for-profit for political efforts. They are 501 (c) 4s. Donations to them are NOT tax deductible to the donor.

        Public Citizen is a 501 (c) 4.

        Naked Capitalism does enough advocacy that we would probably have to be a 501 (c) 4 and not a (c) 3 if we were big enough to decide to organize as a not for profit (as in not die under the adminisrativa of being a not-for-profit. We’d need to hire a manager to handle it, which gives you an idea of the ongoing compliance or else I would have to quit writing entirely).

        There are a lot of parties operating as 501 (c) 3s that ought to be (c) 4s. So the question is whether Trump is gonna crack down on abuses or go way beyond that.

  30. PlutoniumKun

    I’m wondering if there’s more to it than too much stupid money going into ships. What I’m noticing is that the BDI has now fallen — and it can’t get up! And it’s where it was at the beginning of the neoliberal dispensation. So I’m wondering whether it’s not a matter of Trump slamming the brakes on globalization; it’s been slowing for some years, making froth on larger trends (a pleasant picture). Readers? Oh, and this is why all the shippers are moaning, and trying to solve their problems by even more consolidation.

    I wonder if an explanation can be found in a shortening and tightening of supply chains. Anecdotally, I think many companies got a shock in 2008 and in the subsequent oil price rise when they realised just how long and vulnerable their supply chains were. I’ve heard several people I know in industry talking about their companies deliberately opting for greater centralisation in manufacturing and management. If you combine this with the greater flexibility of modern manufacturing plant (i.e. its possible for one factory to make many more individual components or products than was previously possible), I wonder if this could be having a measurable impact on long distance trade.

  31. torff

    I did see a number of those pink hats at the O’Hare protests on Saturday night. (I was there for about two hours.)

  32. ChrisAtRU

    The Market State & Neoliberalism

    I hope I get extra credit for the back-in-time NC readings!

    You nailed it here, Lambert (without the benefit of reading Part II yet):

    1. Nation-state: The role of the state is to provide services for its citizens. In this case, its role was to provide a space for volunteer drivers to coordinate delivery of non-emergency medical transportation, to meet the requirement that their appointments not be missed.

    2. Market state: The role of the state is to determine which provider shall collect rents for delivering a service to consumers. In this case, its role was to select a broker to co-ordinate paid drivers for non-emergency medical transportation (Here’s more linkiness on Logisticare).

    Caveat: These are my definitions. They are close to, but not the same as, Bobbitt’s definitions (note plural), which we will look at in Part II, along with the term “Constitutional order.”

    It’s Capitalism 101. The Nation State crowds out the Market State, and you can’t have that – because Markets!

    There’s a really nice anecdote that Wray used to preface his MMP article on the public purpose – The Mission to Pluto. I like that story because it shows that Nation State alone has to power to satisfy all demands of the public, even if it is capable of completely negating the private sector. The fear of crowding out is real, but misplaced (and arguably, malicious) in the context of the private sector desire to subsume things that are vital for the lifeblood of any nation – like Healthcare and Education. And that’s before you even get into the idea of “competition” as euphemism for “wage depression”.

    The MMP installment was #36 – What Government Ought To Do: An Introduction

  33. Binky

    The People’s Front of Judea has no time to care about the means of the revolution, like those ninnies at the Judean People’s Front.

  34. freedomny

    I have to say that I agree with Medicare for all being the number one priority. I wish progressive groups could all come together in solidarity and prioritize the issues…I truly believe this would come out as number one for many.

  35. dcrane

    “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.”

    +1 to this.

    The entire 2016 election consisted of this dynamic. Trump’s shock doctrine campaign tactics versus the organized shock-horror reaction of Democrats and their media allies who never doubted that everyone would agree with them on election day. The Democrats still haven’t realized that they failed because “the other guy is awful” wasn’t a compelling message, even after 15 months of Trump ugliness.

  36. Jim Haygood

    A stand on principle at the Justice Dept, perhaps for the first time in this century:

    For as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order [on immigration], unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.” — Sally Yates

    Trump fires her ass:

    The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

    Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate.


    El Caudillo Tonto [Commander Flake], as they call him in Mexico, is on a roll. Only one leeeetle problema:

    Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.


    Alrighty then. Need to get “Ku Klux Jeff” Sessions approved, pronto! ;-)

      1. CDT

        The Constitution is a fragile thing. None of you should be shrugging off Trump’s order or Yates’ firing. The continued existence of an independent judiciary able to uphold the bill of rights against executive power is in play. Wake up, please.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Isn’t Yates in the executive branch?

          A better alternative, as I mentioned below, would be demote her in the Executive branch, and the Judicial branch is independent regardless of what her boss does to her (keep, demote or fire).

        2. Waldenpond

          After voting for nearly all of Trump’s appointees, Feinstein is sponsoring a bill to rescind Trump’s ban. It has 27 co-sponsors. There are 48 members in the D caucus.

          I have come to the conclusion, after the D willful silence during Clinton, then disagreement with Bush pursuing the same exact policies and the willful silence when Obama advanced Bush’s worst policies, that the only way the D base can redeem itself at this point is to be carefully honest and spend the next four years doing nothing but screaming at Ds.

          Demand your party represent the people… small suggestion, if a celebrity shows up at one of your events, boo and shout them off the stage.
          Demonstrate you will never again be silent when Ds are voting the same as Rs…. if a D elected shows up at one of your events, boo and shout them off the stage.

          1. CDT

            Yes, Democrats and Obama have sucked on this, and hypocrisy should be derided. But we are in serious danger here.

            1. Waldenpond

              What is the more likely target… Rs or Ds? The Ds. Which will be pushed by protests? The Ds.

              This isn’t a matter of Ds stabbing the people in the back on past occasions. This is a matter of Ds stabbing their voters in the back in the here and now.

              If people believed there was a serious danger, they wouldn’t allow the Ds to rollover untouched. People would be at the doors of the Ds and shutting down their phone lines, but they are silent while Ds confirm Trump’s nominees. If people were paying attention to the Ds the people would know the Ds are planning on taking a pass on Trump’s selections as the Ds don’t want the Rs to change the filibuster rule.

              Again, silence when the Ds actions are concerned.

              1. CDT

                You miss my point. Our country is in trouble. I agree that Democrats are too feckless to save it. We must.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump could have demoted her to acting chief of the newly created division of foreign surveillance warrants, with the sole purpose of signing warrants, and let Boente be the acting Attorney General.

  37. blowncue

    Eliot A. Cohen declares that it’s time to choose sides

    “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.

    The question is, what should Americans do about it? To friends still thinking of serving as political appointees in this administration, beware: When you sell your soul to the Devil, he prefers to collect his purchase on the installment plan. Trump’s disregard for either Secretary of Defense Mattis or Secretary-designate Tillerson in his disastrous policy salvos this week, in favor of his White House advisers, tells you all you need to know about who is really in charge. To be associated with these people is going to be, for all but the strongest characters, an exercise in moral self-destruction.”

    1. integer

      Who Cares What the Neocons Think?

      The new administration should not listen to neoconservatives like Eliot A. Cohen, who enthusiastically l[i]ed America into fiascos such as the Iraq War.

      George Orwell once famously observed that Western intellectuals, more often than not, harbor a dirty secret. For all their pious talk about democracy or equality, their true temptation is to “usher in a hierarchical society where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip.” Orwell was talking about James Burnham, who went from being a prominent Trotskyist in the 1930s to a columnist at National Review espousing the rollback of Soviet Communism. But the force of his dictum applies to today’s neoconservatives, and perhaps to none better than Eliot A. Cohen.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Cohen was the neocon who thought the second Gulf War would be a cakewalk. Whichever side he’s on most rational people should probably choose the other option.

  38. dontknowitall

    Recent daily theatrics on the streets and entirely in the cities where Hillary won her ‘popular vote’ have become very annoying by their sense entitlement that is not resonating in middle America. All this chest beating over a 90 day suspension by the privileged classes against a President, who is not a career politician, in his first week in office with the magical incantation of Article 25 is just astounding, where were all these moralistic people when:

    Bush II had the Constitution stretched on the rack and pregnant middle eastern women in Philadelphia were kicked and shoved as they were getting deported from PHL and some suffered miscarriages in the police van.

    Did you parade in the streets and wear your pussyhat when reports of sexual torture at Abu Ghraib broke and Bush ( and then Obama ) kept most of the pictures from coming out and only the underlings got a slap on the wrist

    Did you protest too when Obama conspired with D and R to keep the senate CIA torture report from coming out and then just a couple of weeks ago buried it for a quarter of a century in his personal papers.

    Where were you when millions of hispanic families people were deported by Obama, our Deporter-in-Chief.

    Where were you a couple of months ago when 120 people, men women and children, attending a wedding in Yemen were desintegrated by an Obama signature strike. I bet you didn’t protest.

    Where were you when Occupy Wall Street was kicked to the curb by Obama in collusion with big city mayors as inequality in the US reaches levels normally found in places like Nigeria.

    I didn’t see you protesting when we found out that economic conditions are so bad in the South that in some places in the US life expectancy is similar to Bangladesh and 50% of Americans can’t find $500 to face an emergency.

    Did you run in the streets in protest wearing crazy makeup when you found out 90% of jobs in the last ten years are of the precarious kind that don’t provide anything like a living wage.

    Did you attend a vast mass gathering when you found out deaths from drug overdoses has reached levels found in actual disease epidemics except now its an epidemic of desperation and poverty with Police frequently finding little children dead of starvation with their young parents in the room dead from an heroin overdose.

    What about last year when the CDC told us 11,000 people died from gunshots and over 1000 from police shootings did you protest in the streets then…where were all of you outraged people then…I guess you didn’t bother because Obama talked pretty.

    A lot of Brooklyn goodthinkers with time and money to burn have come out to make trouble now that their favored candidate lost. This is manufactured outrage and people like Yates are cashing in for their next gig in elected office as she saunters out and signs the next batch Orwellian surveillance orders on her wait out. She had a choice to make, she could leave quietly in a couple of weeks when her appointment ended or use the protest to her political benefit. Comey got himself appointed FBI director and he only threatened to resign, Yates probably expects a Governorship.

    Trump’s order was valid and in this kind of issue the President is at the zenith of his power, let the courts examine the issue and knock it down if it doesn’t meet constitutional standards. I believe it does not and it is a terrible idea but that is why we have courts. I don’t need to hear a bunch of overpaid Hollywood actors Silicon Valley H1B abusers make bank on the back of the long neglected and abused American people burdened with the weight of fifteen years of war.

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