2:00PM Water Cooler 1/5/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Our Famously Free Press

“CNN Uses Fallout 4 Footage in a Report on Russian Hacking” [Gamespot]. ” The video shows an angled shot of a computer screen displaying random strings of text. The cliche-ridden shot is, in fact, a common sight in Bethesda’s Fallout games.” Say, on the whole “fake news” thing: Maybe the big guys could clean their own side of the street first?

UPDATE “WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived” [The Intercept]. “Baron himself, editorial leader of the Post, is a perfect case study in this irresponsible tactic. It was Baron who went to Twitter on the evening of November 24 to announce the Post’s exposé of the enormous reach of Russia’s fake news operation, based on what he heralded as the findings of “independent researchers.” Baron’s tweet went all over the place; to date, it has been re-tweeted more than 3,000 times, including by many journalists with their own large followings.”

Armed Services Hearing on “Russian Hacking” “Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States “

“Intelligence Chief Criticizes ‘Disparagement’ of Findings on Russian Hacking” [New York Times]. No doubt! Video, witness lists, testimony here.

Emptywheel tweeted it. From early in the hearings:

Unfortunately, as we saw from a YouGov poll, half of Democrats believe the Russians did tamper with vote tallies. And from later:

But nobody did. And:

So I guess we’re never going to see anything more than what CrowdStrike, a DNC vendor, put together?

“Thursday Morning Briefing: U.S. spooks say they have the goods on Russian hacking” [Reuters]. I guess we’ll have to see what the reports, plural say (different versions will be published by security level, with the top level being “compartmentalized”).

Trump Transition

“Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy” [Simon Johnson, Informed Comment]. ” US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires. This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power. Given that the Republicans also control both houses of Congress – and will soon make many judicial appointments – there is virtually no effective constraint on the executive branch.”

UPDATE “Rex Tillerson has never held a government position, but he does have a long track record of conducting foreign policy as the leader of ExxonMobil – one of the largest and most profitable oil companies ever” [Iraq Oil Report]. Interesting case studies…

UPDATE On ObamaCare: “‘Immediately, what we’re saying, is we’re not going to pull the rug out from under anyone. There’s not going to be any changes in 2017. There’s not going to be changes in 2018,’ [Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)], a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, said on CNN” [The Hill]. “‘Those products have already been approved by the state insurance agencies, or for the 2018 time, are in negotiation right now,’ he continued.” That seems sensible, but I’m not sure it’s the sense of the GOP caucus.

“The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform” [ Barack Obama, Harvard Law Review]. “Throughout my time in office, using an array of tools and avenues, I have pushed for reforms that make the criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more effective at keeping our communities safe. I have tried to bring that case directly to the American people in a number of unprecedented ways.” “Tried.” “Pushed for.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Please kill me now:

Bugg’s bio says she’s a “Green Party Organizer Political Activist.”

“Stein Final Recount Costs Below Estimates; Will Receive $2 Million Refund” [Free Beacon]. “The breakdown of expenses has since been removed from the site.” Really? Is that correct? I can’t find it, but I don’t find the GP site easy to navigate.

“Fundraising pitches from the mainstream Dem organizations have made me want to puke” [Eschaton]. “A Clinton win would have papered over the obvious, that other than the presidency the Dems have been a disaster since 2010. A Clinton loss means that can’t be ignored. You guys (not just the Clinton campaign, but the entire apparatus that has been sucking up all of the money and effort and attention for years) fucked up.” I don’t see the point. The “guys” and “the apparatus” all got funded to run the #Resistance to Trump, so where’s the problem?

“Did Gerrymandering Give Republicans Dominance in Legislature?” [Oklahoma Watch]. “In a possible watershed case decided in November, a three-judge panel struck down the Wisconsin state assembly’s redistricting map by saying it unlawfully favored Republicans. The case is notable because it’s only the second time in the nation’s history, and the first time in decades, that a redistricting map was thrown out on partisan grounds. It is also significant because two judges wrote they were partly influenced by the plaintiff’s use of a relatively new mathematical measure, called the ‘efficiency gap,’ that is intended to detect evidence of partisan gerrymandering in any state.

“Monopoly is a main driver of inequality, as super-fat profits concentrate more wealth in the hands of the few. The effects of monopoly enrage voters in their day-to-day lives, as they face the sky-high prices set by drug company cartels and the abuses of cable providers, health insurers, and airlines. Monopoly provides much of the funds the wealthy use to distort American politics” [Barry Lynn, Washington Monthly]. “For these and other reasons, the Clinton campaign, along with the White House and the Democratic Party, made a huge mistake by failing to flesh out their anti-monopoly message. Yet the full dimensions of the missed opportunity are greater yet. Properly understood, the anti-monopoly frame doesn’t just offer a way to talk to Americans about their material needs; it’s also a way to connect to deeply and broadly held American ideals, like the freedom to be one’s own boss and the liberty to choose one’s own course.

UPDATE “How Dwindling Union Power Helped Usher In Trump” [The American Prospect]. “Trump succeeded in these states and among the white workers in them because we live not in a post-truth world, but in a post-union one. Strong unions would have helped convince white workers to turn out and vote for Democrats, and would have offered them an alternative to Trump’s narrative that blacks and immigrants are to blame for stagnant wages. But Trump capitalized on declining union strength in key Midwestern states that had previously been dependably Democratic.”

Stats Watch

ADP Employment Report, December 2016: “[P]ointing to a softer-than-expected employment report on Friday” [Econoday]. “ADP’s employment estimate had a good year, accurately forecasting directional shifts in private payrolls more times than not. But ADP called for unusual strength in November which proved solid but not spectacular.” But: “The rate of the decelerating year-over-year trend of jobs growth increased this month – and is the slowest rate of growth since April 2013. ADP is showing jobs growth equalling the rate of people entering the jobs market” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of December 31, 2016: “Seven states had to be estimated and holiday weeks are always difficult to adjust for, but initial claims in the December 31 week are strikingly low” [Econoday]. And: “The trend of the 4 week moving average improved this week. This marks 96 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect].

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, December 2016: “The good jobs (GGJ) rate was 44.7 percent in December, down from 45.7 percent in November. While the GGJ rate often declines somewhat in December, this represents the first month with a year-on-year decrease since April 2014.” [Econoday]. “The percentage of U.S. adults who participated in the workforce in December in any capacity — by working full time, working part time, or not working but actively seeking and being available for work — was 66.5 percent, down a full point from 67.5 percent in November and the lowest recorded since April 2015.”

Challenger Job-Cut Report, December 2016: “Challenger’s layoff count remains very low and consistent with strong demand for labor. The count, however, is up slightly from unusually low readings” [Econoday].

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, December 2016: Another solid month, only slightly lower than November and October [Econoday]. “The slowing in employment will not lift expectations for strength in tomorrow’s employment report but the new orders result is an important positive for the first-quarter outlook.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, December 2016: “Hiring is less active but new orders are unusually strong” [Econoday]. And: “Above the consensus forecast, and suggests about the same rate of expansion in December as in November. A solid report” [Calculated Risk].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 1, 2017: Easing though still solid [Econoday].

Car Sales: “Car sales better than expected, but the annual rate of growth has slowed and 2016 was up less than .5% vs 2015 year. So if vehicles added less than the year before, something else has to add more than it did the year before, or the annual GDP growth slowed” [Mosler Economics].

Commodities: “Beijing announced late last week it will continue to cut the capacity of its coal mines by 800 million tonnes a year until 2020” [Mining.com]. “Unveiling the plan’s details, the country’s top economic planner said the goal is to eliminate ‘outdated’ and inefficient coal capacity every year while adding 500m tonnes of ‘advanced’ capacity. The cutbacks will be focused on smaller mines in the north-east…. Main producers, mostly based on China’s western regions such as Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, are expected instead to boost supplies.”

Commodities: “Althoguht owners’ earnings have been hit by overcapacity and a dearth of cargoes in 2016, demand for iron ore in China seems to be growing significantly.Chinese annual iron ore imports are certain to reach as high as 1.1bn tonnes in 2016 marking a year-on-year trade growth of 6%” [Lloyd’s List].

Infrastructure: “Transit planners say these so-called smart roads will unlock bigger benefits from self-driving cars, including fewer accidents, faster trips and fuel savings” [Wall Street Journal, “States Wire Up Roads as Cars Get Smarter”]. “State transit authorities say they may make up some ground if the incoming administration of Donald Trump fulfills promises to increase infrastructure spending. With many states struggling to cover basic highway maintenance, planners say billions of federal dollars likely will be needed to wire the nation’s more than 4 million miles of paved roads and 250,000 intersections.” Always beware of that word, “smart.” Maybe I should have filed this under The Bezzle.

Shipping: Amazon delivered 2 billion items for third-party sellers worldwide in 2016 as a third-party logistics firm (3PL)” [DC Velocity].

Shipping: “Maersk, Alibaba team up to offer online booking of ship places” [Reuters]. “Shippers traditionally go through freight forwarders to book space for goods on container vessels, but lines such as Maersk are allowing cargo owners to book directly via the internet.”

The Bezzle: “Nvidia announced several new partners for its efforts to bring autonomous cars to public roads in a production capacity today, but the biggest by far was Audi. Nvidia is working with the carmaker to bring its AI driving tech, which is available thanks to its latest in-car autonomous computing hardware and software, to market by 2020” [Tech Crunch]. The story doesn’t say what level of autonomy has been reached so far.

Coops: “Mammals (CP 3).” As opposed to dinosaurs [Commonsplace]. Interesting podcast on co-ops!

Political Risk: “This year global markets face the most volatile political risk environment since the Second World War, of which the single biggest risk is “Independent America” under Donald Trump, [Ian Bremmer’s] geopolitical risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in its report for 2017″ [Lloyd’s List].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 5 at 11:39am. Waiting for the interregnum to end, perhaps.

Our Famously Free Press

“Renewing Medium’s focus” [Ev Williams, Medium]. “As of today, we are reducing our team by about one third — eliminating 50 jobs, mostly in sales, support, and other business functions. We are also changing our business model to more directly drive the mission we set out on originally…. We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention.”

“Medium’s pivot catches publishing partners by surprise” [Politico]. “Five members of the revenue beta program told POLITICO that they did not receive any advance notice of Medium’s change in strategy before Williams’ public announcement. One publishing partner only learned about the pivot after reading an article about it on the tech news site Recode…. This is only the latest strategic pivot for Medium.”

“But I don’t think we’ll grow old together, Medium and I. I suspect it’ll end quite tragic, actually. $132,000,000 is a lot of money after all, and that’s how much venture capital Medium has been dipped in. Before having a prayer or a song about how to turn into that multi-billion-dollar business it must to satisfy the required rate of return” [DHH, Medium].

“Winter is coming: prospects for the American press under Trump” [Jay Rosen, PressThink]. “After the debacle of 2016, trust in the news media as an institution feels lower than ever in living memory, while popular anger reaches an all-time high. The resentment is coming from the left, the right and what remains of the center.” I’m glad WaPo is going to hire 60 reporters and is making money again. Maybe they’ll be less horribly sloppy. Plus they can give Naked Capitalism some of that money for defaming us.

“Prospects for the American press under Trump, part two” [Jay Rosen, PressThink]. “If I were running a big national desk in DC, I would try to zero-base the beat structure. Meaning: if you had no existing beats for covering national affairs in Donald Trump’s America, if you had to create them all from scratch, what would that system look like?”


“A Reuters examination of lead testing results across the country found almost 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in the tainted Michigan city. Yet many of these lead hotspots are receiving little attention or funding” [Reuters]. Shovel-ready, right? Just like in 2009…

“Thanks to poor funding, gaps in oversight and letting corporate interests drive policy, millions of Americans are being exposed to lead and other substances in their drinking water through no fault of their own. This is nothing less than a national tragedy, and it will take nothing less than a fundamental rethink of how our country provides its most basic services to make sure nothing like this happens again” [Truthout].

“Elk River Chemical Spill One Year Later – A Failure in State and Federal Public Health Response” [The Way with Anoa]. “In the absence of empirical data, significant anecdotal evidence existed to address issues with the public health response but was simply ignored. Sustainable coordinated action within our communities can bring about change, but we must continue to advocate on behalf of ourselves and others despite opposition from the powers that be.”

“Ohio has become a major wastewater dump for the fracking industry, sparking fears of groundwater contamination and concerns that injection of wastewater into wells could trigger the same earthquakes currently rattling frack-happy Oklahoma” [EcoWatch].


“A San Francisco Startup Puts Everything You Need for a Two-Acre Farm in a Shipping Container” [Smithsonian (Peter VE)]. Well, except soil. And is it not at least conceivable that “third world countries” have structural issues that farm in a shipping container won’t solve?

“People living near major roads have a higher chance of developing dementia, according to a large-scale study published in British medical journal The Lancet on Thursday.” [France24]. “There was no discernable elevated risk among people living more than 200 metres from a major route. ‘Our study suggests that busy roads could be a source of environmental stressors that could give rise to the onset of dementia,’ [Hong Chen from Public Health Ontario] said.” I wonder if “smart roads” will help with this?

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Corruptions of Empire” [The Baffler]. “As President-elect, Trump seems to be snapping up any foreign policy hawk he can convince to work for him. His cabinet choices so far portend four years of careless violence. But it’s worth considering the nature of the nationalism the Democrats reinvigorated in 2016—one that is just as oblivious to the furies of a post-American world but perhaps more resilient because it wears a less offensive face.”

Class Warfare

“While acknowledging that ToS are an efficient and well-suited instrument to regulate the online world, we claim that ToS unilaterally impose rules, despite being presented as voluntarily accepted by the involved parties through the expression of free and informed consent. Based on empirical research, we highlight that ToS and their private implementation affect internet users’ capability to enjoy their human rights, with particular regard to freedom of expression (and innovation), the right to privacy and to due process” [Policy Review].

“Safety Pins and Swastikas” [Jacobin]. “The frameworks of liberal identity politics and “alt-right” white nationalism are proving curiously compatible.” As they would. I try not to “identify as white” because I’m not into tattoos.

The alternate universe story practically writes itself:

News of the Wired

“Which players would make it to an all-time XI of the powerhouse Indian domestic side?” [ESPN]. For cricket fans.

“Why Being Unpredictable Is a Bad Strategy” [Harvard Business Review]. “Unpredictability in competitive strategy is expensive. You don’t build a fake factory or release a fake product. You don’t suddenly pop out of one market and pop into another. (Guess what your shareholders would say.) Moreover, you don’t implement competitive strategy behind closed doors. Everyone else sees and hears what you’re doing and promising. Behaving unpredictably with one group — customers, employees, competitors, suppliers, etc. — means exposing your unpredictability to all. That doesn’t build trust.”

* * *

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 (meeps):

Meeps writes: “Man and nature reach an accord. ‘Tis to be devoutly wished.”

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

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. polecat

      Gah!!! I keep leaning soooo far to the left, I’ve fallen out of my chair … and am holding on to that fence for dear life, afraid of falling off the world !!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author


      Some images have metadata that graphics programs use to rotate the image for display, even if the image is itself not rotated. Gimp does that, but it’s slow to load. Preview does not, but is fast to load. So….

        1. Jim Haygood

          Beautiful images; thanks.

          Having built several tree houses as a kid, I have an affinity for them. My current dwelling has two huge Ponderosa pines growing up through the deck, right outside the kitchen window.

          Coincidentally, I just decided on Tuesday to name it “The Tree House,” since most houses in my neighborhood have names. Gotta get a sign made from a polished core section.

    1. Dave

      Nothing a for profit corporation does is designed to benefit the public. What they say, do, deny and distract from are all designed to develop dollars.

      1. Gary

        Dave, I do not disagree with that but there is a world of difference between criminal enterprise and providing some value for the wealth you extract. The system we are currently experiencing is not capitalism. Call it what you will, just not capitalism or even late stage capitalism.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            I think the Rules of Acquisition are based on higher morals than those practiced in today’s hu-man boardrooms.

            1. polecat

              You might have a point there, BB ! … still a good sound-bite meme though ,,,, and when paired with an actual farengi portrait ……

              … guilt by devious alien association …. ‘;]

            1. polecat

              no problem Massinissa …. thanks for the correction !

              too alien for speelcheck, I Gliese …

    2. Adam Eran

      You don’t know the half of it! See Monk & Minow’s Power and Accountability for a detailed look at how even publicly held corporations are essentially empowered, but unaccountable to even their own stockholders.

      The mergers & acquisitions, share repurchases and other recent developments have only made this worse.

  1. allan

    When Obama wouldn’t fight for science [Radley Balko @ WaPo]

    In September, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a scathing report on the use of forensic analysis and expertise in the criminal-justice system. The report, “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods,” looked at pattern matching forensic disciplines such as bite mark matching, shoe print matching, blood spatter analysis, fingerprint matching and hair fiber analysis. It also looked at DNA testing when investigators find biological material from multiple sources, a scenario that can bring human subjectivity into the testing. With the exception of single-source DNA testing, the report found serious deficiencies in all areas of forensics it studied.

    The PCAST report was damning, but if you’ve been following these issues with any regularity, it wasn’t at all surprising. That was in September. It’s now January. And not only has the Obama administration done nothing about the report, the Justice Department has publicly denounced it. That report, along with others and an administration that seemed unusually equipped to take it seriously, presented a small window in which to reform a system. That window is about slam shut. And we’re about to be governed by a new administration that seems likely to board it up, wallpaper it and overlay it with brick. This wasn’t just a missed opportunity; it was a catastrophe. And it’s difficult to overstate the consequences. …

    … when the PCAST study came out, Attorney General Loretta Lynch immediately dismissed it, stating that while “we appreciate their contribution to the field of scientific inquiry, the department will not be adopting the recommendations related to the admissibility of forensic science evidence.” Lynch joined the National District Attorneys Association and various police organizations in casting the study as no big deal. …

    Science-based criminal justice reform scuttled by HSBC’s wrist slapper. Now that’s a legacy.

    1. no one

      This article has lots of great information about a field most of us know only through fictionalized cop shows. In addition to the remarks above, I found this of note (emphasis added):

      “Inevitably, then, the amount of weight a jury typically gives to evidence from these fields of forensics depends far more on the persuasiveness of the expert witnesses than on the evidence itself. In fact, there’s a strong bias in favor of testimony that’s less scientific. In recent years, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike have called attention to the “CSI Effect,” the way the popular TV franchise has conditioned jurors to look for forensic evidence that’s definitive and foolproof…

      …most forensics fields were invented and developed by people with backgrounds in law enforcement, not in science. This is why crime labs, which claim to be scientific in nature and method, typically fall under the auspices of state police agencies, offices of the attorney general, departments of public safety and other law-enforcement-oriented bureaucracies.So not only has forensics grown less scientific over time, it was never grounded in science to begin with.

      The propaganda never stops.

  2. Vatch

    “Trump’s Extreme Oligarchy” [Simon Johnson, Informed Comment]. ” US President-elect Donald Trump is filling his cabinet with rich people. According to the latest count, his nominees include five billionaires and six multimillionaires.

    I asked about this on Dec. 30 and 31. Who are the five billionaires? Wilbur Ross, Betsy DeVos, and who else?

    1. Dave

      Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon.
      Munchkin, the Goldman Sachs guy.

      Look, a billion isn’t what it used to be. Just because you are not a billionaire yet, don’t give up hope!

      1. optimader

        ( Who are the five billionaires)
        Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon

        I think you’re wrong. Please provide a link.

        1. Vatch

          I interpreted Dave’s comment to mean that “Munchkin” and Tillerson are very rich, but they aren’t billionaires. I thought that “Just because you are not a billionaire yet” was directed to “Munchkin” and Tillerson. But maybe I misunderstood. Of course there is no evidence that either is a billionaire.

    2. polecat

      What !! …. So this is to suggest that there are NO ‘multimillionaires’ in CONgress ????

      Come On, simple Simon …. you can do better than that !

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Net worth of Trump’s cabinet members:

      Wilbur Ross: $2.5 billion (Secretary of Commerce)
      Betsy DeVos: $1.25 billion (Secretary of Education)
      Rex Tillerson: $325 million (Secretary of State)
      Steve Mnuchin: $300 million (Secretary of the Treasury)
      Andy Puzder: $45 million (Secretary of Labor)
      Ben Carson: $29 million (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
      Elaine Chao: $24 million (Secretary of Transportation)
      Tom Price: $10 million (Secretary of Health and Human Services)
      Jeff Sessions: $6 million (Attorney General)
      James Mattis: $5 million (Secretary of Defense)
      John Kelly: $4 million (Secretary of Homeland Security)
      Rick Perry: $2 million (Secretary of Energy)
      Mike Pence: $800,000 (Vice President)
      Ryan Zinke: $800,000 (Secretary of the Interior)


      Estimates for Trump’s Cabinet do not include the president-elect’s own $3.7 billion fortune, or that of any officials outside the Cabinet who are billionaires or members of a billionaire family, such as Army secretary pick Vincent Viola, Deputy commerce secretary pick Todd Ricketts and Small Business Administrator pick Linda McMahon. 

      Five billionaires seems like rather a lot, even if only two of them are in the Cabinet proper.

      1. Vatch

        Thanks. I suspected that Simon Johnson was exaggerating about the billionaires, and this confirms my suspicion. But he’s absolutely correct that there are far too many extremely wealthy people in Trump’s proposed cabinet and at a level or two below the cabinet. Obama has Penny Pritzker, but I think she’s the only super rich cabinet level official in the Obama administration.

        We can expect the Trump oligarchs to be even more out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans than the people in the Bush and Obama administrations were.

            1. Vatch

              The third richest Obama cabinet member’s wealth is in the range $11.2 million to $51.5 million. Yes, he’s out of touch, but not in the same way that a billionaire or an upper hecto-millionaire is. It seems strange, but a person with “only” $20 or $30 million can be wiped out if his primary source of income suffers a major setback. Justified or not, such a person will likely experience anxiety over his retirement. He won’t be able to buy a stable of politicians as the Kochs, the Waltons, and Sheldon Adelson routinely do.

            2. Phil

              Not so. $400 million is wealth, now. $2 billion is the real deal, assuming it’s earning and not leveraged.

              The difference between $50 million and $2.5 billion is a true quantum leap. Billionaires occupy a completely different circle of power from mere deca-millionaires, who are a dime a dozen these days, and who feel distinctly poorer than their very rich friends.

              $50 million of net worth barely puts you in the upper middle class these days. At current yields, you might get an income of a crummy $700k a year after taxes. That’s hardly enough to pay for a nice vacation house on top of your main estate. These things cost way more than anyone realizes, until they own them.

              $50 million is a sad sum that renders you merely aspirational: a decent private jet costs half that, and for that matter, costs more than the income from that sum to operate regularly on flights that matter. You can’t even get to Paris with that one, either; you’re stuck in first class on some ratty airline, unless you can get a Lufthansa flight.

              Nobody with that sum is giving philanthropy that warrants a “named building” or for that matter, giving gifts of a size that anybody at a significant institution really notices. No: they’re just trying to keep from sinking back into the middle class when the recession strikes.

              Nobody I know with a mere $50 million exerts any real political power at all. And that’s the test of true wealth.

              1. allan

                ‘Single-digit millionaires’ like Hulk Hogan can’t afford justice, says Peter Thiel

                Venture capitalist Peter Thiel said [last October] that a “single-digit millionaire” like pro wrestler Hulk Hogan can’t get access to the U.S. legal system, as Thiel defended his decision to finance a lawsuit against Gawker Media on Hogan’s behalf.

                Thiel, a supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, made headlines in May when he was exposed in a Forbes article as secretly funding the lawsuit. … Thiel spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and defended bankrolling the lawsuit, calling Gawker a “singularly sociopathic bully.” The site outed him as gay in 2007.

                “If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system,” Thiel said. …

              2. Tom Allen

                Then again, Teresa Heinz-Kerry is heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune, which is worth a billion or so.

                1. Vatch

                  There’s probably a prenup that limit’s John Kerry’s access to that money. He’s rich, but he’s not a billionaire.

              3. witters

                “Nobody I know with a mere $50 million exerts any real political power at all.”

                So they are rioting? Marching? No. Now reflect on that.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Sorry, I know a private equity insider who is worth way less than that (wasn’t in the industry long) who has made a big difference, including getting legislation passed. NC forced an SEC enforcement chief to resign.

                  And what about Edward Snowden and Julian Assange? Or Erica Garner? I’m sure readers can come up with a list.

                  TPTB want you to think that to keep you from trying to exert influence.

                  1. Phil

                    Assange and Snowden are two perfect examples of what power is not. They are now both prisoners of people who actually do have power.

          1. Christopher Fay

            Hillary, that’s a centi-millionaire up to a couple of billionaire. I count the Clinton Foundations in their net worth as they sure aren’t spending of that money on good works.

      2. Code Name D

        What I want to know is if there is a similar list for Obama or Clinton campaign. Why do I get the feeling that this is just more hypocrisy from the Dems?

        1. Vatch

          There are lot of low level millionaires in the Obama administration, but Pritzker and Kerry are probably the only ones above $100 million.

      3. dontknowitall

        The implication of the constant mentions in the media of the wealth in Trumps cabinet seems to be that these big fish will run their departments independently with their own agendas without regard of what Trump promised to his very fragile, very very angry coalition of deplorables. The early evidence is that Trump is keeping that coalition firmly in mind ( most recently the Ford case ). To my mind he has shown no compunction at imposing his will in his nascent organization and I think he will try to keep a tight rein. Let us hope the unaccountable power the idiots of the two previous governments gave to him is used in ways worthy of our democracy.

  3. cm

    The Smithsonian article is click-bait.

    Can’t feed 150 people on 2 acres, $50k is absurd for what they deliver.

    Along with Scientific American’s article about the public health benefits of eliminating cash (because it has (gasp!) germs), we can see the complete downfall of previously reputable institutions.

    1. IHateBanks

      I propose adding “San Francisco Startup” to the list of words and phrases that automatically call any idea into question, much like Lambert’s “smart”.

      My wife and I have built quite a nice little homestead, where we grow a lot of our own veggies, fruit, and meat. It’s just an acre and a half, but we got a 2200 sq. ft. house to live in when we spent our $50k some 25 years ago.

    2. Katharine

      Even if what they deliver made sense, $50k is absurd pricing for their proposed market. Even here, it would be a crazy expense for most people, and in countries where the per capita annual income may be only a few hundred dollars it makes no sense at all.

      Also, this looks like a classic case of know-it-all outsiders barging in and telling communities what they ought to want, instead of listening and trying to help them produce solutions consistent with their needs and values.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Reminds me of the “organic” know-it-all priests, they traipse to Costa Rica or wherever and sanctimoniously preach their incredibly innovative new doctrine, “join us and you’ll see the light!”. Until some campesino farmer in the back row pipes up and says “hey Gringo we’ve been doing it that way for a few millenia already…”.
        $50K for a few pipes and a sunshade…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      All told, Trump’s Cabinet is worth an estimated $4.5 billion — and he still has two picks (the secretaries of agriculture and veterans’ affairs) to make.

      That sum is 60% higher than the aggregate wealth of Barack Obama’s current Cabinet, which Forbes estimates to be $2.75 billion — thanks largely to commerce secretary and Hyatt heiress Penny Pritzker, who is worth $2.5 billion. Secretary of State John Kerry, who married into the Heinz family fortune, adds another $150 million. The remaining members are certainly not paupers either: all but three are millionaires.

      1. cwaltz

        Are we parsing numbers though when it comes to the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire?

        The median net worth of the average American in 2011 was $69,000 give or take a few bucks according to the Census.

        I could be wrong but I’ll bet that Wall Street(either when filling positions for team D or R) isn’t filling the cabinet positions with anyone who remotely looks like you, me or the average American financially.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It could be that it’s much harder to grift one’s way to the first billion.

        Once there, one can focus on one’s true love – perhaps advocating for universal literacy or collecting art.

        1. a different chris

          Funny, I was just thinking along those lines having made the discovery that Bill Gates is now “worth” 76 billion. I remember when he became a billionare, and don’t see him as having done anything even notable (we can have our own opinions on WinBlows, oops, mine just slipped out, lets just go with “notable”) since, in fact if he’s done anything it’s negative.

          But now he’s worth 76x that?

          Ah, the only recompense for me is that it’s stock valuation, which is effectively worth a lot less – if Bill decided to dump his stock portfolio the very act of actually selling all those stocks would cut it to…to, sigh, 20-30 billion at most. Hmm, that didn’t make me feel as much better as I had hoped.

  4. 1 Kings

    That is charming:”Democrats failed to flesh out their anti-monopoly message”…

    It’s actually very easy when you do not have one. See the DNC National Convention brought to you by Comcast.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How much do we really know a person?

      Gradually, it appears (not the whole truth here) that he bluffs a lot.

      And he likes to keep people guessing, but we don’t know which is bluff, and which is not.

      Maybe he is running to get Hillary elected (this was a few months ago).

      Maybe he will get frustrated and resign or handle over work to someone else (the current meme).

      Maybe he will build a wall, or maybe he is bluff (a while ago, and maybe even now – I am just guessing here).

      1. polecat

        Maybe he’ll acually make some positive changes that benefit the common jane or joe … who knows ? ( I’m guessing as well )

  5. cocomaan

    Farm in a Box for creating a two acre farm.

    Putting aside that the farmer I live next to has a garden that is easily two acres (among many other market gardens on his property), and that you can’t feed 150 people off of two acres, and that the list of equipment they are including in the box is weird and choppy, I had to stop when I got to:

    That powers the WiFi connectivity, so there’s information access as well, to be able to monitor the farm remotely, but also to get information in terms of market prices or training systems.

    Nevermind that a Nokia 1100 doesn’t have wifi, that’s what someone in Ethiopia needs: wifi connectivity to monitor their farm remotely. Glad they included that bit so the junta they live under can shut off their water on a whim.

    This reminds me of all those “vertical urban gardening” startups that are fleecing VC’s who know jack about agriculture.

    1. epynonymous

      ‘Global’ information will not help farmers who have to sell where they have to sell.

      It’s like giving migrant workers wifi and telling them to use it to get a better paying farming job.

      I’ve been helping some of my local urban homeless, since I’m stable right now, and apparently food-stamp theft and sexual predation of people using section 8 housing is the norm.

      Nobody has ever talked about it in print, but the streets know.

      1. cocomaan

        Don’t those urban homeless know that, if they just get on twitter, they will be moments away from salvation via the twitterati? Surely if they post their problems, real action will occur.

        I’ve worked in that world as well. What’s amazing is how easily people wrapped up in the twitterverse or facebook or whatever begin to believe that there is no information not on the internet. Even the bureaucracies surrounding these welfare programs can’t be accessed via the web. It’s all still on paper. Plato would have something to say about cave walls and the true form of things these days.

  6. epynonymous

    So I don’t have the link but NPR ran a story about how the Phillipines Duerte is using Facebook to influence his public. He calls his minions the ‘influenzas’ reportedly.

    So I’m assuming the speaker knew what he was talking about when he said that FB is for sophisticated actors (and the common Philippino only gets to read headlines on FB, as to click on a link would cost them for a data plan most do not have…)

    So what if the Phillipines is not out of, but under US control?

    Is this a test of public response and controlled ‘vigilantes’ (aka murder gangs)?

    Divide to conquer.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it, then, that they are using that social media site as a testing case over there across the Pacific, for any US billionaire, over here, interested in influencing the American public?

      But it’s been done already in another form – through Twitter.

  7. Jim A.

    Re living near roads… um…tetra-ethyl lead? Do you think that could be a factor in dementia.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Live in less dense areas, and hopefully there are jobs there, or the government helps with creating.

      Thus, we need to move government offices, various public organizations (think museums, etc) and colleges/universities to rural areas.

      First, get UC Berkeley out of Berkeley, and UCLA out of Westwood.

      Artists love low rents, thus, logically, Barstow, for example. But they also live partying (OK, not all true artists), thus Downtown LA. Where there is conflict, we can detect a hierarchy of desires.

      I mean, more people living in cities means the urban real-estate owning 1% get theirs rezoned profitably for higher densities.

      “You can build 10 stories on your house. You’re several millions richer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      We really need to get out of city centers, move so as to live and (so we don’t create more commuting) work in suburbs or even further out.

      1. a different chris

        You’re going to spread 300+ million people “out”… seriously? What happens to your beloved countryside then?

        1. ewmayer

          Not ‘not’ for people old enough to be in the high-risk cohort for developing dementia in this century.

          1. Katharine

            I’m not saying TEL couldn’t have affected older people–I expect it did–but it’s not relevant to this study, which found different outcomes for people living near and far from roads after 1995, when lead would not have been one of the pollutants specifically associated with roads.

  8. Bugs Bunny

    “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform” [ Barack Obama, Harvard Law Review]. “Throughout my time in office, using an array of tools and avenues, I have pushed for reforms that make the criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more effective at keeping our communities safe”

    Lambert, you missed one of the liberal weasel words. How does a criminal justice system get “smarter” anyway? Do they send the whole mess to the Kennedy School for a summer certificate thing?

      1. Bugs Bunny

        You’re right, that kind of smart change in the criminal justice system had a big uptick during the Obama period.

  9. JohnnyGL

    Re: Lena Buggs….breathtaking….

    1st thing that came to mind was the old Office Space quote, “So what is it you would say you do here?”


    Really, isn’t that the PRIMARY function of what parties do? I’m sure there’s always a few Dems who think about defecting…if they see that tweet, they’ll sleep soundly knowing they’ll be left in the cold if they leave the Democrat Party!

    1. Aleric

      Context on Lena – she just defeated a DFLer in a (nominally non-partisan) race for the Ramsey County Soil and Water board. Her point is common sense for anyone with actual experience running at a local level. Parties provide access to resources and the use of their name. It’s up to a candidate to organize their campaign, recruit staff, raise funds, apply for outside endorsements, etc. Neither the DFL or the R party will do that – the difference is that a DFL campaign can flounder amateurishly and still roll across the finish line in St. Paul/Mpls just based on the letters by their name. A Green candidate who is unwilling to take the effort to organize their campaign and run hard will sink without a trace.

        1. Aleric

          Political parties are different types of organizations than campaigns. Candidates are responsible for campaigns, Political parties are responsible to the people/financiers/corporations that organize them. They provide resources and ideological backing (or for the corporate parties, provide cash and extract favors). For the high profile races (Governor, Senator, President) the campaign doubles as a struggle for control of the party. For down-ballot races, unless the party has decided to put extra resources in, especially in regions that aren’t contested, even major party candidates are on their own to a large degree, and can flake or flame out (and still frequently win).

          It seems concern-trollish to imply that Greens should be endorsing candidates who aren’t willing to take responsibility for their own campaign. Or perhaps there is a misunderstanding between what it means to organize a political party in order to provide resources to a campaign (which is clearly the party’s responsibility) and organize the campaign itself, as Lena is talking about.

  10. jo6pac

    I think there is an advantage to dumps rich cabinet. It cuts out the lobbyist because his cabinet members will do what’s best for themselves and not the lobbyist pay masters.

    Then since we the people have neither were screwed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The key to this politics is to align our interests with theirs.

      So, if it’s their interest to issue fewer H1B visas or make GM cars from Mexico more expensive, we see alignment.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And Trump should be aware of how people are reacting 20% hike in gas prices in Mexico.

        1. Corey

          20 percent? Where is that figure from? Here I am seeing a 3 peso increase (to 15.56 pesos/liter from 12.56) which equates to a rise to about $2.95/gal from $2.38, or 24%. There are various shortages and protesters blocking the highways. All in good fun, though. The Mexicans love the chance to get out and stick it to the Man. Much more problematic is the rapid depreciation of the peso, which is really starting to bite.


  11. geoff

    “Thus, the hundreds of thousands who died in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos; the governments overthrown in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Greece; the natural political trajectories interrupted in Iran, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt—all these events barely register in American hearts and minds. These painful historical experiences just don’t sink into our collective memory, mainly because Americans believe those wars, coups, and military dictators were necessary evils to help our victims become ideal modern democracies. America did bad things, but for good reasons.” Corruptions Of Empire, Baffler

    Disagree entirely. With the possible exception of Vietnam, most Americans have no knowledge whatsoever of those wars and interventions and never did. Even Iraq, where we’re still (ok, AGAIN) engaged, is already sliding down the memory hole. My younger child was literally taught in (a not otherwise bad) high school that the US was attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists “hated our freedom”. People can’t remember what they were never taught in the first place.

    1. RUKidding

      Agree. Most US citizens are utterly clueless about any of those wars/coups/events (and there are quite a few others not even mentioned), other than, as you say, Viet Nam. And yes, most US citizens believe 9/11 happened bc Al Qaeda hated us for our “freedumbs.” Plus most citizens are clueless about Viet Nam, why and what happened. Now it’s just a beautiful, cheap tourist destination with great beaches.

      When I tell people that we dropped more bombs on Laos than we did on Germany in WWII, most people either think I’m full of it (bc I’m a “liberal” I am just spouting liberal propaganda) or they simply don’t know where Laos is and can’t absorb the info… even people who live in places where Hmongs (who were more or less dragooned into fighting against the N. Vietnamese on “our” behalf) have been resettled.

      Our education system is pathetic, and US citizens are deliberately misinformed, lied to, or, as was the case with the dirty little war in Laos, not told about it at all, including Congress (which is why now I get angry when I’m told that the CIA only ever acts on good intentions). I have seen the nonsense that those types of “activities” happened for the betterment of all concerned, including several times (not kidding) on a website associated with the color orange but not bc it has anything to do with Trump. It’s one of the many reasons why I never read articles at that website. Please.

      1. fresno dan

        January 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm


        SEN. TILLIS: Director Clapper, I’m going to spend most of my time reflecting on the comments that you have made. The glass house is comment is something that I think is very important (Graham made the comment we should start throwing rocks).

        There has been research done by professors up at Carnegie Mellon that has estimated that the United States has been involved in one way or another in 81 different elections since World War II. That doesn’t include coupes or the regime changes, some tangible evidence where we have tried to affect an outcome to our purpose. Russia has done it some 36 times.

        In fact, when Russia was apparently was trying to influence our elections, we had the Israelis accusing us of trying to influence their election.

        SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): The notion that the soon-elected leader of this country would put Julian Assange on a pedestal compared to the men and women of the intelligence community and the military that is so deeply embedded in the intelligence community, I think it should bring about a hue and cry no matter whether you’re Republican or a Democrat there should be howls. And mark my word, if the roles were reversed there would be howls from the Republican side of the aisle.

        I posted this earlier in the “Links” section. Kind of amazing that a (repub) senator would acknowledge research that bares how much interfering in other countries we have done, and many of these were democratic elections. I have thought for a long time that the heroification of the military; the “shining city on a hill” ; “the indispensable nation” was carefully designed and crafted propaganda so that neocons could get a strangle hold on “patriotism.” People who hate the citizens of this country are now in a position to control this country…
        As they say, the last (and now 1st) refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism ….

        1. JohnnyGL

          That’s crazy to hear a Repub Senator from NC drop that nugget about how many elections the US Govt has tampered with. If he claimed it was a Noam Chomsky quote, I’d have believed it. These are strange days indeed!

  12. tgs

    Just listened to an interview with Jack Reed, Democrat from Rhode Island. He attended today’s meeting and came away with the impression that the involvement of Russia and Putin went way beyond mere email hacking. There was a master plan involving fake news planted at RT and other Russian controlled outlets (WaPo list?) as well as the use of fake news in Twitter feeds all designed to throw the election to Donald Trump.

    One big question after today’s meeting is was this an act of war. Did we just experience a ‘cyber pearl harbot’?

    This is getting weirder by the day.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Are you comparing claims about Russia hacking and releasing the emails of a private citizen to a third party in this case WikiLeaks to the events of Dec 7th 1941? If you are I suggest reading up on Pearl Harbor. One, the base at Pearl is a military installation, and the attack killed almost 3,000 people. John Podesta put embarrassing information in his emails.

      Do you see the difference? It’s really important that you understand the difference.

      If you are looking for a cyber pearl harbor, read up on stuxnet.

      1. tgs

        Thanks very much for stating the obvious. Yes, I understand the difference.

        What I was suggesting in my post, written hastily, is that the ‘hack’ is being hooked up with the ‘fake news’ meme to create the idea that there was a large scale Kremlin project to destroy our democracy. That they are doing this could have repercussions for sites like NC that were listed by propornot.

        Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      So far, we have a casus belli based on “fragile” sources who cannot be named, and an email server that was never examined by a state agency. I’ll say it’s weird.

  13. TomDority

    Cyber threat testimony….. fear mongering coming from the agencies who make it illegal to produce good/great encryption technology. I believe the term is – self licking ice creme cone –
    What they really should do — keeping in line with their extrodinary insight LOL. Make it illegal for anyone to point out the obvious.

    1. Chris

      I find it hard to take the government response to this seriously because we still haven’t done anything about Chinese espionage of our industrial secrets or government information. We throw up all whole house full of “it’s really hard to prove that these people were sealing seeds for the Chinese government” but we’re damn sure the Boris Badenoff is behind hacking the DNC and will make an example of the diplomatic support staff???

      1. Skip Intro

        You’ve got it backwards. Acknowledging real damage makes the US look weak, and highlights vulnerability and an enemy scoring. That cannot be tolerated. Firing up the war rhetoric over fabricated incidents, like the russky ‘hacking of the election’, on the other hand, projects strength. It shows that we can get the world media to swallow bogus talking points and regurgitate them on command.

  14. Waldenpond

    In the everything old is new category…. carpooling uber cars = buses etc, isn’t ‘smarting’ up designated streets just repeating cable cars and street cars and their designated pathways?

  15. Waldenpond

    Aren’t we going to be experiencing internal migration as water aquifers are poisoned and/or depleted. Yes, clean bottled water is a profit opportunity and poisoning water and then privatizing it for our own good was a legitimate strategy for the soon to be former oil oligarchs. I guess the abandonment of some communities (disaster photographer opportunities too) is also a construction/infrastructure jahbs opportunity for the regions accepting migrants.

    1. Altandmain

      Michigan may be prelude then to many other communities, when looking at Detroit and the lead water in Flint.

    2. Chris

      Did you ever read “The Water Knife”? I think that before the internal migrant waves get too large we’ll see walls get built to keep people mired in their dry, dusty, misery. Say, a wall that keeps people in AZ from being able to enter NV or CA. Or a wall that keeps people in the swampy parts of the country from being able threaten people in NY or PA.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Say, a wall that keeps people in AZ from being able to enter NV or CA.

        I would think the tourism industry (CA) and the casinos (NV) might have something to say about that. Seems unlikely.

  16. ekstase

    Re: the alternate universe where Marx settles in Texas, (in the present tense, because there is no time.) Would we now have a Minnesota, (or a pre-Koch Wisconsin,) at both the top and bottom of our U.S.A. map? Would that we could. In this alternate universe thing, does wishing make it so?

    1. fresno dan

      January 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      “Now under the Obama administration, the latest effort to silence dissent, for those of you 62 or older, is someone in the government falsifying jail records to show that you were in jail/confinement for more than 30 days and sending the records to the Social Security Administration. SSA will then stop your monthly Social Security check and will send you a letter stating that you must repay back months of payments for the time you were allegedly in jail — in my case $4,273.60.”

      Now I doubt Obama is personally aware of this, but someone he appointed in the HHS (health and human services) bureaucracy should be aware of it, and THEY WENT ALONG with it. They are either complicit, or they DON’T CARE.
      And when it comes to light, will anybody be convicted of falsifying records? or at least prosecuted? Fired? OUCH!!! I hurt myself laughing. This was done because someone wanted it done.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hotel —> old folks home.

      That’s re-use, recycle.

      Another recycle idea – empty malls to be used as farmers markets, and football stadiums as homeless shelters, 6 days a week, especially those financed by taxpayers.

  17. Carolinian

    Is there any way Jay Rosen could be forced to read your Glenn Greenwald link so he would actually understand why the public has lost trust in the news media? It isn’t because of Spiro Agnew or Rush Limbaugh or Trump’s tweets. It’s because they did it to themselves. After all there are plenty of people who never listen to Limbaugh or go on twitter but who have full blown contempt for the press because they don’t like to be lied to. What’s the solution to that? Stop lying! While Rosen admits that our current media overlords lack diversity he never seems to understand that they also lack integrity. For a professor of journalism he is clueless.

    Without a doubt extreme figures on the right and conspiracy theorists are taking advantage of this collapse in press trust but the solution is not to double down on the oppo–Rosen’s idea–but to go back to serving as the objective and neutral observers they claim to be. The NYT and the Wapo coverage of the Russia accusations is a disgrace and their coverage of the campaign was utterly pro-Hillary. Rosen however is gladdened by their new found financial success. When it comes to distrust he never seems to admit that thing we all know. They did it to themselves.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      For the media at large, they have to purge the liars. At this point, the msm has lied for so long, they can’t come back. Ask yourself this, “if Maddow (insert whatever personality you wish) had a come to God moment and told it like it is about Comcast, would you watch her?” The answer is probably not because in the mean time you’ve changed your consumption patterns. Admitting to lying can only hurt their standing with the people who don’t want to acknowledge the obvious.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        If there was any thought at MSNBC that Maddow would tell it like it is on Comcast, they would not let her on the air.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      to go back to serving as the objective and neutral observers they claim to be

      I like the rest of your post but this is simply more nostalgia for a non-existent past.

  18. Oregoncharles

    “So I guess we’re never going to see anything more than what CrowdStrike, a DNC vendor, put together?”

    Since an item in Links says the FBI never touched the DNC computers, Crowdstrike is what there is. That may literally be all they have, aside from the NSA surveillance, which they can’t drag out.

  19. Synoia

    This is what is known as oligarchy: direct control of the state by people with substantial private economic power.

    I beg to differ. It is an Aristocracy, especially when having the power to pass assets to children. The US Lords control the Presidency (aka Elected King), the Senate (House of Lords), and the House (House of Commons), as as we have seen under Obama, especially with Obamacare, the House of Lords holds all the power.

    There is little difference between medieval Barons and CEOs, except hereditary positions and inheritance, and they are working on the inheritance aspect (elimination of estate taxes). With the Clinton(ugh), Bush (cough), and the Rand (family), beginning the hereditary tradition.

    One has to wonder about the Trumpet family and its hereditary ambitions.

    I notice the Trumpettes (Trumpet Ensamble) are moving to DC. I’d bet that becomes a one way move. With a little more Brass the Trumpet Ensemble could be called the Trumpet Band.

    To become the Trumpet Orchestra they need a string, percussion and woodwind section. Nominees anyone?

    1. Katharine

      I think he used the right word. According to my old Webster, oligarchy is commonly distinguished from aristocracy as being “the rule of a few for corrupt or selfish purposes.”

      1. Vatch

        I agree that Johnson’s use of “oligarchy” is correct. An aristocracy is defined as rule by the best ( ἄριστος ). I suppose the meaning has been muddied over the centuries, and there is overlap among the concepts of aristocracy, oligarchy (rule by the few), and plutocracy (rule by the rich).

          1. Vatch

            I suppose a meritocracy would be a type of non-hereditary aristocracy. Both a meritocracy and any other type of aristocracy could easily transform to a selfish oligarchy.

    2. VietnamVet

      I am currently watching Netflix’s “The Crown”. Also, saw “Churchill’s Secret”. Both are riveting. The Death of an Empire. Aristocracy. Sovereignty. Bigger than life personalities. I was 10 in 1953; living history. The way we were has changed. People’s parties are dead. Consent of the governed gone. Cold blooded transnational technocrats enable the Oligarchs’ looting and hording. Rather than winning back voters by providing jobs, Medicare for all or freeing the burden of unpayable college debt; the Party of Meritocracy scapegoats Russia. Joined together with John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the liberal credentialed are hurdling the world towards a nuclear war. The only chance for peace is a Western alliance with Russia and China to eliminate the Islamic State. Plus, secure democratic sovereign states must be restored not destroyed for a profit.

  20. pmorrisonfl

    A dyed-in-the-blue Facebook friend of mine posted an article ‘Study: racism and sexism predict support for Trump much more than economic dissatisfaction’. About to dig in to the study to see what’s what, thought some here might want to look as well. I’m inclined to think economics was the driver, but try to be open to data and proper analysis. Wondering how much the data and analysis we choose to do and believe depends on what we believe.

    Article: https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/flip.it%2FGCKhWT-study-racism-and-sexism-predict-support/f-d2e1b486a6%2Fvox.com
    Study: http://people.umass.edu/schaffne/schaffner_et_al_IDC_conference.pdf

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Democrats have been disasters, and 2010 and 2014, and even 2012 all things considered were warnings of things to come. Democratic partisans who chanted in prayer to Obama and Hillary idols chose not to reform, and now they are looking for someone else to blame when Obama said he had to be held to the fire.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I don’t know if it’s possible to separate racism and, to a certain extent, sexism from economic dissatisfaction.
      When goods jobs are prevalent and economic anxiety is lower, racism is less of an issue for two reasons. If I have a job that provides me dignity and self-worth, I am not against my black fellow worker being in the same position. Also, as I get to know my black fellow worker, I learn that we share many ideas and values.

      When good jobs are not prevalent, I am angry and I may choose to direct my anger at those who appear to be succeeding at my expense. I may not have a good job due to reasons outside my control, but I may be persuaded, or inclined, to believe that “others” are not working good jobs because they are gaming the system. As I am not working alongside my black coworker, I know less what is going on inside his head and may conclude that he is more different from me than he really is.

      If the objective is to get at what is at bottom, I would suggest it is not racism, sexism or economic dissatisfaction. It is fear.

    3. JohnnyGL

      I gave it a quick read….here’s a key line: “Importantly, education has been found to be related to views on race; whites with less education generally are less tolerant of other racial/ethnic groups and tend
      to exhibit more conservative racial attitudes than those with more education (Bobo and Licari
      1989; Sniderman and Piazza 1993; Schuman et al. 1997). Thus, IF Trump’s racial rhetoric was effective, it was most likely to win him votes among less educated whites.”

      I bolded and capitalized the key word. The paper proves nothing. It just makes a case that Trump’s racism COULD have helped him. I haven’t reviewed the papers that the authors reference, but I don’t think it matters.

      I would point out, as NotTimothyGeithner does, that Dems lost a lot of winnable senate and house races, too, and have been depressing their base consistently since 2008.

      The Republican Party doesn’t seem more or less racist than 4 years ago. If the racist appeals are so effective, why didn’t other candidates do it this election cycle? Or last election cycle? They did plenty of it decades ago. It makes no sense to take Trump’s win out of context.

      Voters were determined to vote for change…one way or another.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Also, it’s worth pointing out that the paper is a glorified op-ed piece with citations. It doesn’t put forth any actual original research.

  21. Gary Headlock

    Dearest Lambert, thanks for all that you do. RE: the great plantidote shortage of 2017, I tried contacting you via correntewire to share many (many!) pictures of plants with you, but perhaps skynet thinks I lack a meat-body. Or some such thing.

  22. Chris

    This report was quietly released on the Friday before Christmas, and I don’t remember it being picked up in links. A friend told me about it today. Here it is for the benefit of the commentariat:


    It’s interesting to look at what this report says in light of what people are saying now about the “evidence” for Russian hacking. It’s also interesting that in either case, the possibility of a both/and is completely ignored. For instance, it would not change the majority of the conclusions in the report if the committee admitted the Snowden had released information about illegal surveillance of US Citizens and he had also released classified information that was critical to national security. They’d still be able to follow their “he’s not a whistleblower” logic.

    Just like with the Russian hacking story, there seems to be a drive to ignore that the information released by whatever means was not classified, was not government related information, was not correspondence between government officials, and did reveal corruption in the election process, and apparently revealed true information. So the hacking by whatever actor who did it could be both illegal and rightly frowned upon and a good thing in terms of shining a light into a process that many citizens suspected as being corrupt.

    I’m not sure what to make of all this, other than that there is a clear vested interest in maintaining the status quo and I think Snowden was right to flee rather than stay and try to rely on whistleblower protections that were never going to come. I believe Russia could have tried to influence the election but I don’t think they could have if Clinton was a better candidate. I wish all the red scare news would calm down so we could try to deal with the real problems we have as a country.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I doubt there was any impact.

      Hillary went hard after Republicans, and Republicans vote for Republicans. Trump isn’t the first Republican candidate who was breathlessly predicted as the man who would destroy the GOP, cough the last two term Republican Presidents. Her final results are not terribly far off from Kerry, Iraq War supporter, accounting for 12 years of population growth. Clintonista campaigns produce poor results and then blame figures who are both simultaneously all powerful and irrelevant.

  23. Waldenpond

    The Safety Pin piece was good. The swastika to the pin, the $1000 pin earrings, the ‘I’m not willing to say on the air that I’m not going to buy a new car’ to laughter and the call out of white millennial Fang (he just doesn’t do POC correctly)…

    One thing that seemed odd… the writer is doing a critique of identity politics which includes groups relabeling themselves yet keeps using the term alt-right which neo-nazis have selected which seems to me purposefully mocking the liberal propensity to relabel.

  24. Ed

    In re: “… A Failure in State and Federal Public Health Response”:

    Coalescing Effective Community Disaster Response: Simulation and Virtual Communities of Practice
    December 2005


    written by me from an EMS disaster-drill background, a simulation gaming-flavored experience evolving in the age of computers, and having been NIMS-certified in exercise design

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