Links 1/1/2017

French workers get ‘right to disconnect’ from emails out of hours BBC

Political risk means all 2017 investment bets are off FT

Jho Low’s Price For Selling Malaysia Out To China Via The East Coast Rail Project Sarawak Report (RS).

Modi Offers Subsidies for India’s Farmers as Cash Shortage Bites Bloomberg

Why aam aadmi is not mad at NaMo despite DeMo Times of India. “[T]he average Indian often appears to wait for the urban sophisticate to reveal his learned opinion so that he can feel the exact opposite emotion.” Seems a little binary. And the writer is, himself, an urban sophisticate. So…

Cashless society makes bank statements longer FT


U.N. backs Russian-Turkish Syria efforts, as cease-fire wavers USA Today

Gunman Kills at Least 39 People in Istanbul Nightclub Attack Bloomberg


A Socialist Market Economy With Chinese Contradictions Adair Turner, Project Syndicate

China’s Factory Activity Remains in Expansionary Territory, Despite December Slide WSJ

Easing China’s Housing Bubble Has Unintended Side Effects Bloomberg

5 Upheavals To Expect Along The New Silk Road In 2017 Forbes

Brexit transition deal may avert UK economic ‘catastrophe’ FT. Editors write the headlines…

Our Famously Free Press

Is it just me, or are Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia on the Hudson being unusually sloppy in their War Scare/Red Scare reporting narrative? Here are some recent stories, with subsequent corrections:

Two Russian Compounds, Caught Up in History’s Echoes NYT. But they got the wrong house:

The correction shows that material from “the White House and FBI officials” went directly to page A1, without being checked for accuracy. So I guess we have state media after all?

Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say WaPo. But the utility wasn’t hacked, and the laptop in question wasn’t connected to the grid:

The correction shows that WaPo never bothered to contact Burlington Electric; their statement.

And of course there’s WaPo’s (defamatory) PropOrNot piece, which set the bar for correction about as low is it can be set:

Recent Polls Say Nobody Else Trusts the Media, Either The Writings of John Laurits (MR).

Economic Efficiency versus Democracy: On the Potential Role of Competition Policy in Regulating Digital Markets in Times of Post-Truth Politics Josef Drexl and Ludwig Maximilian, SSRN “The efficiency approach, as advocated by the Chicago School in particular, only provides a very narrow approach to competition law analysis that relies on the preferences of consumers. This approach remains especially insufficient for the regulation of firms that provide citizens with politically relevant news and information. “

New Cold War

Senator McCain says U.S. stands with Ukraine against Russia Reuters. While visiting Kiev.

Putin’s Masterstroke of Nonretaliation Foreign Policy

On Trump’s Reaction to Putin Not Expelling American Diplomats Ian Welsh. The hysteria knobs are already at 11. Where do we go from here?

Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid The Intercept

Your Weekly Alarming Anonymous Friday Night WaPo Dump: Vermont Electrical Grid Edition emptywheel

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election Ars Technica

FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report: A Fatally Flawed Effort Jeffrey Carr

Grizzly Steppe IP and Hash Analysis

Critiques of the DHS/FBI’s GRIZZLY STEPPE Report Robert M. Lee

Trump Transition

Trump leaves open possible Taiwan meet, questions Russia hacking Reuters

Donald Trump Is Unpopular, and So Is the GOP’s Agenda Jamelle Bouie, Slate

How Trump’s Regulation Skeptic Helps Wall Street Navigate the Rules WSJ

If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama James Risen, NYT

2016 Post Mortem

Why the Democrats’ 2017 comeback dream is like nothing we’ve seen before WaPo

Identity Issues Don’t Distract From Economic Issues — They Are Economic Issues New York Magazine. If all identity issues are economic issues, does that mean that all economic issues are identity issues?

Nice Things Eschaton

The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System NYRB

After helping a fraction of homeowners expected, Obama’s foreclosure prevention program is finally ending WaPo. Runway foamed!

Happy New Year

2017 is not just another prime number 松鼠博士的魔法眼鏡. Math-minded readers?

The Pessimist’s Guide to 2017 Bloomberg. NC ran this when it appeared, but for those who missed it…

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: 2016 — What the … ? McClatchy

Thin Green Line: 20 Groups Standing Between You and Doom Counterpunch

The 99 best things that happened in 2016, from Ebola’s eradication in West Africa to saving the manatees Quartz

A Leap in the Dark The Archdruid Report

Arkansas Prosecutors Obtain Warrant for Amazon Echo Audio Recordings Democracy Now!

Guillotine Watch

Peak San Francisco: Michelin Starred Quince Is Now Serving Food On An iPad SFist. Froth?

Demand curve The Economist

Uber and Airbnb business models come under scrutiny FT

Class Warfare

A Change Is in the Air James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario

The Econocracy: a review Stumbling and Mumbling

The UBI already exists for the 1% Matt Bruenig

London Rolls Out the Blood-Red Carpet for Kleptocrats NYT

Dares, Costly Signals, and Psychopaths Ribbon Farm

Maybe We Haven’t Seen Any Aliens Because They’re All Dead Nautilus

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail Scientific American

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. Hana M

    Happy New Year! This is from 12-19 but it’s worth reading as a perspective on Trump from Asia.

    According to Machiavelli, “the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him.” So, to determine Trump’s plans, we should start with his appointments.

    Among Trump’s picks for national security, defense, and foreign policy positions, a pattern quickly emerges: all are Middle East and Russia specialists. Trump, it seems, plans to reverse his predecessors’ approach of isolating Russia. Instead, he will use Russia to help him manage the Middle East.

    For Trump, who is first and foremost a businessman, letting a competitor take care of his enemies appears good for the bottom line. (It also perfectly complements his declared intention to charge US allies for protection.)

    1. jgordon

      As Laozi said, make the mistake of underestimating your enemy by imagining that he’s evil and you’ve already lost. Trump has many problems as a leader, but the left’s caricature of him as a racist oaf, which they unfortunately seem to believe, is going to make it even easier for Trump to destroy them.

      Anyway it looks like Trump’s foreign policy is going to be beneficial to American interests at least–quite the change from the nigh traitorous foreign policy agendas of the last several administrations. I don’t care how bad he is domestically. If Trump’s foreign policy is based in reality we can at least survive.

      1. mad as hell.

        “I don’t care how bad he is domestically. If Trump’s foreign policy is based in reality we can at least survive.”

        Surviving poorer, sicker and disillusioned. It would be a lot faster exiting this world by getting a bomb dropped on your head then planning on surviving when you can’t get health insurance, don’t have enough cash to make ends meet and anxiously wait for the republicans plan on gutting the safety net.

        Be careful what you wish for!

        1. jgordon

          Well you have it right. The continuation of Obama’s policies very likely would have resulted on bombs being dropped on our heads–nuclear bombs. Obama was an incompetent boob, and Hillary promised to be much worse. It’s a miracle that we somehow managed to survive under these boneheads.

          As for the stuff Trump will or won’t do for people domestically? So what. Sure better social programs and less corruption would be nice, but those are the first-world problems that America no longer has the luxury to contemplate. Bare survival at a subsistence level is the brightest future most have available now, whether we have an administration interested in single payer and honest governance or not. The paradigm you all are operating under is simple incompatible with geopolitical reality and the resource base available to us. Sure we could have high quality lives by not flushing 99% of the energy and resources we have available to us down the toilet, but most people would rather die than have that happen. So let them.

        2. PhilK

          Millions of US citizens are already living in the dystopia you’re projecting onto Trump. That’s the major reason he won the election.

        3. polecat

          We are going that direction regardless of who’s sitting in the president’s chair …

          Even a Sanders, or a Stein would only slow down the descent into the rocky gorge we’re all headed towards … and yes, many of us are going to be sicker, poorer, and disillusioned .. even, I dare say, some Davos folk, before we ever pull ourselves onto smoother ground !

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There was a novel translated (among different translations) as Shank’s Mare.

            From Wikipedia:

            The two main characters, traveling from Edo to Kyoto on their pilgrimage to Ise Grand Shrine, are called Yajirobē (彌次郎兵衛) and Kitahachi (喜多八). The book, while written in a comical style, was written as a traveler’s guide to the Tōkaidō Road. It details famous landmarks at each of the 53 post towns along the road, where the characters, often called Yaji and Kita, frequently find themselves in hilarious situations. They travel from station to station, predominantly interested in food, sake, and women. As Edo men, they view the world through an Edo lens, deeming themselves more cultured and savvy in comparison to the countrymen they meet.

            Hizakurige is comic novel that also provides information and anecdotes regarding various regions along the Tōkaidō. Tourism was booming during the Edo Period, when this was written. This work is one of many guidebooks that proliferated, to whet the public’s appetite for sight-seeing.

            Food, sake and women, from one Hiroshige station to another Hiroshige station – it is really a fun novel to read, for men, that is.

            Tourism was booming.

            I think so was the economy of Nihon.

            Right after or right in the middle of Sakoku (closed door policy).

            And you can add to the unforgettable sin of Isolationism the sin of living much more sustainably than contemporary Americans.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            By the way, potter-cat, have you ever tried to add agate to your glaze?

            Apparently, that is the secret to Ru celadon (each piece of the less than 100 in the world is easily north of $20 million, I guess).

            I have a few pieces the texture of which feels like jade, when I run my fingers over them.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Agate is quartz, with an extremely high melting point. Are kilns hot enough to incorporate it?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I think they smashed it up first. With further grinding, then perhaps applied in a colloidal form with the rest of the glaze ingredients.

                I believe that was what they did with the Qing dynasty iron-red glaze, except they added colloidal gold, and other monochromes.

        4. Pat

          As someone who already can barely afford the ‘insurance” and sure as hell cannot afford any health care on top of that insurance, I can tell you most of America is already there (and by the way I don’t qualify for subsidies so I’m not remotely considered poor). And it isn’t just Republicans gutting the safety net. I guess you missed all the Democrats who voted to reduce SNAP benefits. Or apparently notice that the last two Democratic Presidents had slicing and dicing earned benefits on their agenda, the last one fought for it more than he fought for any part of the safety net.

          Here’s the thing, could Trump put pedal to the metal on what has been the direction of this country for the last three decades regardless of party in charge? Of course. But looking at Clinton’s “private” positions versus her public ones AND considering her disastrous view of foreign policy, it might not be as fast as she would have. Because you know wars we pay for totally are expensive and give good cover to having to cut good things. (Oh, and she also thought that working class Americans felt too entitled about benefits they pay towards their entire working life and needed to adjust their expectations of return on that ‘investment’ just like they generally get screwed on every other ‘investment’, see education, home, working hard, saving…

          We don’t know what Trump will do. We don’t know what Clinton would have done. The only difference between the two was we did have the road map Clinton and Democrats have been working from for the last almost three decades. If Trump puts the pedal to the metal it would merely accelerate our journey down the path the DLC and friends had already mapped out.

          1. fresno dan

            January 1, 2017 at 11:03 am

            I agree.
            US government view of the electorate, (and you aren’t as useful to us as lobsters):
            Dems: We’re gonna put you in a pot and slowly raise the temp to boiling.
            Repubs: No slow death for you – straight into the boiling water!

            Trump was just the first signal and the only way to signal that the electorate isn’t gonna take this anymore.
            The question about this country is: CAN this country nominate a candidate in 2020 that runs on a platform that reflects what AT LEAST 60% of the public wants on the major issues???? Or is it so captured that we just acknowledge that “land of the free” is just advertising.

            1. neo-realist

              The national committees for the Frick and Frack parties may be too captured by the 1% interests to allow a candidate that will cater to populist demands to get in a position of winning, e.g., Sanders. Maybe massive upheaval by the people, of many walks of life, might change that dynamic………unless too many get beaten, gassed, and caged for long periods of time by the paramilitary police state, which Trump may allow to take the gloves off.

        5. FluffytheObeseCat

          You are correct. Trump is clearly (based on his appointments) going to renege on the florid, expansive promises he made or alluded to in his stump speeches. At least the promises he made to the little guys in flyover.

          Sessions will stuff a lot of them in federal prisons for ‘morality’ offenses, like drug use. He will get hallelujahs from Trump’s base while incarcerating many more people for fundamentally victimless “crimes”. He won’t do much to prosecute white collar fraudsters, unless they are political enemies of the ultra-right. For them, there will be a few well publicized show trials which will pre-occupy the “news”media. The fireworks over these staged events will shield Trump’s in-group oligarchs from the rule of law.

          Pudzer will beat down what’s left of the unions. Laws against wage theft will be vigorously unenforced. Executive orders that bring overtime pay back in line with midcentury norms will be revoked.

          The price of natural gas is rising, & oil may follow given the OPEC cuts. Soon there may be joy, or at least a breather for some in the nation’s Midlands and Pittsburghs. Things may get better for a certain fraction of men in the middle. And it will be spun as an utterly fantastic resurgence of midcentury prosperity. Meanwhile, ever more single mothers will be unable to both feed their kids and pay for medical care. So…… perhaps a bit like c. 1952. Except without the unions, industrial base, or any accommodative policies from a USSR-fearing ruling class.

        6. John k

          Trump and Clinton are a wash on eveRy issue domestically.
          Protect bankers? Check.
          Support fossil? Check.
          No universal health? Check.
          No free education? Check.
          Obeisance to israel? Check.
          More austerity? Actually, he is more likely to get deficit infra than she.
          And Biden would be the same.

          So no more Middle East wars and realpolitik with Russia is fantastic.
          And less obeisance to Saudi a bonus.
          And support for Brexit.
          And maybe sack fifty warmongers at state, more at defense, and reign in CIA? More fantastic.

          Biggest hoped for bonus has always been dem elites surrender to progressive wing. Certainly Bernie and warren are ascendant, though latter not a progressive, even if usefully anti Wall Street. Maybe she’ll adopt Bernie’s winning ways…

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Obama presided over Bush’s blood-soaked policies for eight years without the slightest “change”. (Oh, wait he did double the number of illegal pre-crime global drone murder strikes). Europe is feeling the “benefits” of going along with his “we hate everyone” foreign policy approach (esp. Russia sanctions). Obama lost Turkey and The Phillipines, managed to piss off both sides in Egypt, famously turned the wealthiest country in Africa into an Islamist hellhole and refugee funnel, and spurred 400,000 deaths in Syria with his ridiculous “regime change” footsie with al-Qaeda. His Sec’y of State rammed Monsanto down the throats of the Swedes, when she wasn’t pushing the interests of her #1 campaign contributor, a bloodthirsty beheading tyrannical monarchy slaying women and kids in the Yemeni desert. So yes, ANY pullback from ANY of this would be a huge plus, and I don’t care in the slightest if it’s delivered by a man with orange hair. As far as domestic politics goes, if we can’t generate opposition then we get what we deserve.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL2

            Obama presided over Bush’s blood-soaked policies for eight years without the slightest “change”. (Oh, wait he did double the number of illegal pre-crime global drone murder strikes). Europe is feeling the “benefits” of going along with his “we hate everyone” foreign policy approach (esp. Russia sanctions). Obama lost Turkey and The Phillipines, managed to piss off both sides in Egypt, famously turned the wealthiest country in Africa into an Islamist hellhole and refugee funnel, and spurred 400,000 deaths in Syria with his ridiculous “regime change” footsie with al-Qaeda. His Sec’y of State rammed Monsanto down the throats of the Swedes, when she wasn’t pushing the interests of her #1 campaign contributor, a bloodthirsty beheading tyrannical monarchy slaying women and kids in the Yemeni desert. So yes, ANY pullback from ANY of this would be a huge plus, and I don’t care in the slightest if it’s delivered by a man with orange hair. As far as domestic politics goes, if we can’t generate opposition then we get what we deserve.

        7. Waldenpond

          There are a block of people who are financially secure. They have pensions that aren’t going to be dropped by a corporate bankruptcy, houses paid for, college paid for etc that aren’t affected by what has happened the last 40 years. A war that reached the US would be a real bummer for them.

          No matter which oligarch won, the US was always going to be poorer and sicker and less educated etc.

          1. Lord Koos

            I don’t think any retirement plan that is counting on the stock market to perform is all that secure — those with pensions might want to keep a very close eye on Wall St.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we are only 3 out 10 on the goodness scale, it’s more comforting to imagine our opponent is minus 9 (out of minus 10) on the wickedness scale.

        Relatively speaking, it feels like one’s 8 out 10 on the goodness scale, facing a worthy opponent of minus 2 wickedness.

        When one’s insecure about one’s own competence, the adversary needs to be really idiotic or stupid.

        1. jgordon

          Governing a country is like frying a small fish: too much poking ruins it. If all these very smart people who have brilliant ideas about how to run things would just go away life would be infinitely better for the people.

          Instead what we get is (ostensibly) two sides, each of whom wants to pound the fish into the pan with a mallet, then urinate on it. Jeez, the best thing these policy wonks, concerned citizens, and politicians could do is just leave us alone; why can’t they realize that? In other words I think both your side and the other side are equally bad, unless you don’t have a side at all, in which case you’re cool with me.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When those wonks, experts and smart geniuses leave the Little People alone, the greatness in each of us will shine through.

      3. Benedict@Large

        “… we can at least survive.”

        Talk about defining success downward. Perhaps this revision?

        “… compared to Clinton, we can at least survive.”

      4. JTMcPhee

        Beneficial to WHICH “American” interests? Gee, I wonder… Everyone I ask, especially those who toss off the phrase “National Interest” as if it means something, seems to have a hard time explicating wht that “interest” is — or they slide off the question into Policy-ese, or give the all-knowing smirk and emit the “Well, if you don’t know…” dodge.

        We mopes are being trained to accept the whippings and looting as just what our betters have always done and are “entitled” to do.

        1. jgordon

          I want to compare who is being more willfully ignorant here dcblogger. First, you give your racist Donald Trump quotes, then I’ll give you a racist Hillary Clinton quote tit for tat. Who do you think is going to run out of quotes first?

          I’m feeling especially generous at the moment so I’ll start the game. Hillary Clinton speaking of black youth: “They’re not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators. No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

          Alright dcblogger by my count your former candidate is at least 100% more racist than Donald Trump. Care to offer any evidence that Trump is at least equally as racist as your side? In reality, all the racists and sexists are infesting the left today, but of course you all are too brainwashed to see it.

    2. Vatch

      Among Trump’s picks for national security, defense, and foreign policy positions, a pattern quickly emerges

      Among Trump’s picks for various high level domestic positions, patterns also emerge. These people are intent on enhancing the power, health, and wealth of those who are already powerful, healthy, and wealthy.

      Tom Price, the nominee to head HHS, wants to privatize Medicare. That would make Medicare more like Obamacare, and we know what a cluster-frack that has been.

      Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head the EPA, as Oklahoma Attorney General, has done everything in his power to avoid enforcing environmental laws. This provides a financial windfall to wealthy polluters, and if he is confirmed, he can be expected to do what he can to hinder solutions to problems such as the Flint, Michigan, drinking water supply disaster.

      Steven Mnuchin, the nominee for Treasury secretary, foreclosed on 50,000 homes. Some of his attempted foreclosures were against homeowners who had done nothing to deserve foreclosure.

      Betsy DeVos, the billionaire nominee for Education secretary, wants to expand charter schools. This will divert resources from public schools, and will reduce the educational opportunities for millions of children.

      Wilbur Ross, the billionaire nominee for Commerce secretary, made his fortune stomping on the little guy. Nine months after buying the Sago mine, 12 miners died in an explosion. I guess safety isn’t important to Wilbur Ross when he’s not the one who’s at risk of being injured. In other businesses, he’s been a master of outsourcing. Apparently Donald Trump really doesn’t care so much about lost American jobs.

      The election’s over, folks. There’s no need to argue the merits of Clinton versus Trump (spoiler: they’re both bad). It’s okay to support Trump when he does the right thing, but we need to aggressively oppose him and his nominations when he’s wrong.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        The election’s over, folks. There’s no need to argue the merits of Clinton versus Trump (spoiler: they’re both bad).

        This, in spades. So why is there SO MUCH backward-looking wailing and moaning about Clinton now on this site? Because betrayal by a (so-called) friend hurts more than the expected assault from an enemy.

        Time now to get over it and prepare for the assault, both from Trump AND establishment Ds and Rs.

  2. John Morrison

    “If all identity issues are economic issues, does that mean that all economic issues are identity issues?”

    If all cats are animals, does that mean that all animals are cats?

    1. funemployed

      “All Identity issues are Economic Issues.” Such a hopeful title, such a theoretically flaccid article. Sigh. Here’s a short version of what I hoped for.

      Working Title: All Identity and Economic Issues Derive from Power Relations that are Both Unequal and Undemocratic

      Economic Issues (operational definition): If we think of “economy” broadly as relational processes that structure how human communities transform the material world to provide them with those things they need and want, than economic issues are breakdowns in those relational processes (i.e. relationships with each other plus our environment as they change over time) that cause us to be unable to acquire those things we need and want. In this amoral sense, it is an “economic issue” for a CEO who desires a greater share of the pie in the same way it is an “economic issue” for a poor person who can’t access an expensive cancer treatment.

      Identity Issues (operational definition): Identity, for my purpose here, can be thought of as characteristics that are assumed to be relatively stable over time, that are broadly understood to exist in a certain way and culture, and that govern/significantly impact relationships with other people and society broadly. identity issues thus arise from lack of consensus within a society about those definitions and what they mean for how people so defined should belong within the society.

      Both economic issues and identity issues thus share a common characteristic: they are expressions of relations of power. Economic issues in the material realm, and identity issues in the symbolic realm. Unequal, undemocratic power relationships are necessarily dependent on the creation of both identity “issues” and economic “issues.” They are dependent economic issues because of the fluidity of material relationships that necessarily continuously change over time. This is why power is valuable. You can influence relationships in ways that materially benefit you or realize your desires (these don’t need to be direct personal benefits – e.g. convincing soldiers to go fight a war you deem just). In other words, with power, you have more say over the relational processes of production and distribution).

      The fluidity of material relationships creates a problem though. Historically, humans evolved in societies where people knew pretty much everyone they saw on a regular basis, and decisions about production and distribution were made collectively. And because basically everyone back then could vote with their feet, pre-agricultural societies were, in a sense, fundamentally democratic. Yet in a democratic society, the majority can take power and resources away as easily as it grants them, making holding onto power always precarious, and exercising it in ways that alienate you from your tribe usually fatal.

      How to solve the problem, the creation of permanent symbolic identities and narratives, mythologies, and moral systems that create and establish hierarchy as not only just, but acceptance of it and internalization of identities essential to maintaining those hierarchies. To outsiders, these often seem truly bizarre. There is a story of a vigorous discussion that Tocqueville had with some Native Americans who were touring Europe at the time. They posed him a simple question: Why do not the suffering workers simply burn down the master’s houses? For all his brilliance and effort, no answer he provided satisfied them or, upon reflection, him. After all, they certainly could. They had the numbers. Indeed, one central reason, often overlooked, that Europeans conquered the Americans was that Native American societies didn’t realize soon enough the extent to which Europeans Western society was built on a civilized/uncivilized dichotomy (the original identity “issue”), and consequently didn’t unite and thought they could ally successfully with certain Europeans. Had the Aztec Empire been even remotely united, or recognized the threat posed by Cortes and his ilk, they would could have militarily resisted the Spaniards for centuries (Jared Diamond’s ignorance of military logistics causes him to miss this fact entirely in his famous tricausal “gun’s, germs, and steel” argument.

      Consider, as a philosopher might, the following question: is anyone gay? What purpose does that designation serve? Why is it useful? If I am a penis-haver attracted to other penis-havers, do I care if I or them is gay? Firstly, nobody is attracted to anything all the time. If I want to sleep with someone, whether they are broadly attracted to people who share certain characteristics with me is incidental to whether we are mutually attracted to each other. Why wouldn’t I just say “hey, I’m attracted to you. Is the feeling mutual?” I could theoretically signal the sorts of people I’m attracted to in all sorts of way (to reduce rejection), without ever assigning some sort of identity characteristic to that (not in our society, obviously, because society would label me “gay” regardless, and I would have to deal with the consequences of that. This is a thought exercise). Secondly, what if someday, whilst perusing porn, some gay porn were to stir my loins, but only that one time. Does that make me “gay?” Is that really a relevant question to anything other than where I fit within the unequal hierarchical relationships such designation implies? Why would I feel shame at that? Why would I question my worth as a human or right to inclusion in society with “straight” person privilege?

      I challenge anyone here to come up with an example of any “identity” that we label ourselves with that wasn’t created by people in power to justify and make more durable and stable hierarchical power relationship. Economic “issues” and identity “issues” are not the same, they are categorically different, but that unexamined dichotomy does much to obscure the actual resolution of the economic vs. identity politics antithesis, which is that we are simultaneously material and symbolic creatures, that undemocratically decided (and thus irrevocable) hierarchies are antithetical to our fundamental nature as a species, and that only when culture is effectively constituted to leverage our desire for inclusion in society to obscure that fact, can they persist.

      1. LT

        Good points. We are slow to recognize much of what we consider “natural” was by institutional design.

      2. witters

        “I challenge anyone here to come up with an example of any “identity” that we label ourselves with that wasn’t created by people in power to justify and make more durable and stable hierarchical power relationship.”

        Well, I’m a philosopher, and that really got going with Socrates. And one can’t say the above about him (see how he died), though one can say it about his opponents, the Sophists.

      3. Jim


        I’m glad you finally mentioned the word “culture” in the final sentence of your analysis.

        Would you agree that the process of symbolic transmission and regulation on the collective level is what we commonly refer to when we use the word culture?

        Would you also agree that this cultural process on the individual level, with the necessary involvement of the the brain, is the mind, or culture in the brain?

        Would you then agree that culture is a mental process?

        Is it conceivable that mind and culture emerged within the boundary conditions of organic and material reality?

        Would it also be true then that human mental processes cannot be studies outside of culture?

        What are the items in our culture that have made the formation of individual identity problematic?

        It seems accurate to say that “economic issues and Identity issues are not the same, that they are categorically different, and as you also say that we are simultaneously material and symbolic.

        But does it follow that we should then endorse the causal primacy of the material over mind and culture? How about mind and culture emerging from the material?

        Is the problem with identity then embedded somewhere in our national consciousness–which you seem to imply with your comment that “only when culture is effectively constituted to leverage our desires for inclusion in society”?

        Why does our culture fail to provide each of us with consistent guidance?

  3. John Morrison

    “If all identity issues are economic issues, does that mean that all economic issues are identity issues?”

    If all dogs are animals, does that mean that all animals are dogs?

    I’m getting some kind of strange result, when I click on “Post Comment”. The next page appears blank, and my comment doesn’t appear when I return to this page. However, resubmitting leads to a duplicate comment error.

    1. Steve C

      Same thing happened to me yesterday.

      If you solved the economic issues, the identity issues would have a lot less salience. That’s the big reason why the Democrats don’t want to solve the economic issues.

      1. cocomaan

        Agreed and want to add that I don’t think the identity issues can be solved politically.

        Having our elected leaders pushing these agendas just isn’t productive if you really believe something like sexism, racism, homophobia, is a problem. For instance, Title IX in higher education has just become a bludgeon and entrenched people in their previous positions throughout the system. Universities haven’t changed their response to sexual assault in any meaningful way. Nobody has changed their minds. You can’t change these things from the top down.

        1. Jay M

          There was site maintenance yesterday, which I forgot about, and got some kind of screen that NC wasn’t working, or something. Tried shutting down and resubmitting, waiting a while, etc. Then you come back a few hours later and feel like a fool because the comment is up four times in the thread.

      1. donknowitall

        Me too, even today…what I did was close the blank page and open the link again as a fresh page and voila

        1. John Morrison

          I expect that my test (earlier reply) got through, even though I got the same result. I’ll probably see it some time later. Both of my earlier posts finally got through.

        2. annie

          yes, but the sinister part is that not only did i get a page saying n.cap. is not working but i found that someone had commented–inanely–using my user name.
          this new annie’s comment characterized as garbage matt taibbi’s ‘russian connection stinks’ piece.

    2. susan the other

      same here, this glitch is temporary while they do some housekeeping i think. About the politics of identity issues: they are fake issues bec. as we discussed already – Variation within groups is always greater than between groups. So if we can’t categorize groups ethnically how will we ever categorize smaller groups of “identities” – this is total divide and conquer sinister politics and it’s total nonsense.

      1. polecat

        Comments must be boomeranging all the way-way-ay .. .. to .. uh .. Utah-utah-tah …….. and back-back-ack … ‘;[

    3. susan the other

      About the politics of identity issues: they are fake issues bec. as we discussed already – Variation within groups is always greater than between groups. So if we can’t categorize groups ethnically how will we ever categorize smaller groups of “identities” – this is total divide and conquer sinister politics and it’s total nonsense.

  4. dontknowitall

    re “Senator McCain says U.S. stands with Ukraine against Russia”…Senator McCain did not yet get the message that he doesn’t speak for the United States after losing a presidential race and getting his hat handed to him by Trump he still fancies himself “The United States”…

  5. LT

    The Vermont utility laptop malware hype…
    To prod Sanders to do more “the Russians are coming” mantra.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Say the MSM is in a theater, and say the media is in charge of fire protection in said theater, can it yell ‘fire’ when there is no fire?

    2. hunkerdown

      One of the three system-justifiers running up the comment count on that thread, parroting the “Russian troll” line, is a DBA working for Northrop Grumman (and NSA?), trolling his way through Virginia Polytechnic. Quelle surprise!

      On the one hand, comments at WaPoo just got a little more risky. On the other hand, WaPoo will almost certainly never, ever adopt a real names policy…

  6. Linda

    A cup of coffee with Dave Barry’s Year in Review was an enjoyable start to the new year. More thorough and accurate reportage will be difficult to find. Thanks for the link, Lambert.


    Responding to charges from the Sanders camp that the Democratic National Committee is tipping the scales in Clinton’s favor, chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz states that “the DNC is scrupulously neutral in the contest between Secretary Clinton and the senile Commie fart.”


    Speaking of coincidences: Bill Clinton happens to find himself in the same airport as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and — as any two people would do if one of them was the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer and the other was married to the subject of a federal investigation — they meet privately aboard Lynch’s Justice Department jet. When word of the meeting leaks out, Lynch assures the press that she and Bill did not discuss the FBI investigation into Hillary’s email, adding, “nor did we inhale.”


    On the Democratic side, the month gets off to a rocky start when FBI Director James Comey, announcing the results of the bureau’s investigation, reveals that when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her official emails, some including classified material, were basically as secure from prying eyes as a neon beer sign. Nevertheless, Comey says he is recommending that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton, because, quote, “I don’t want to die.”

    Happy New Year, everybody.

    1. Annotherone

      Agreed -Dave Barry’s take is such a good foil to current hysterical goings on in mainstream media. Certainly not a tl:dr – more a l;mr (long must read).

  7. Edward

    “Is it just me, or are Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia on the Hudson being unusually sloppy in their War Scare/Red Scare reporting narrative?”

    Maybe some anarchists were hired by these newspapers and are sabotaging them from the inside. Or maybe they are Russian agents and Putin is responsible, as usual.

    1. Carolinian

      It does make you wonder about all that hagiography given to the Post’s editor–then with the Boston Globe–in the movie Spotlight. However the Post/Times coverage of Monica-gate and then the Iraq war preparations were just as off the wall so it’s likely more institutional. Must be something in the water in DC. Although NYC’s water is famously high quality so they’ll have to find another excuse.

      1. Edward

        U.S. newspapers have always been full of propaganda, especially the foreign reporting, but lately it has gotten obvious, unbelievable, and silly. Maybe in 20 years we will find out what has been going on. Are competent people running away from these tainted institutions?

        I never did watch Monica-gate because I was disgusted with the news priorities it reflected. What does it say about Americans– or at least the journalists, that they are obsessed with a tawdry affair but display no interest in the criminal bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan or of Iraq? Another thing that griped me was that journalists met Bill Clinton’s denials about the affair with complete skepticism but were 100% credulous when it came to White House claims about Iraq or other foreign matters.

          1. hunkerdown

            That’s the trouble with diversity: everyone thinks it’s “a little bit” about them, instead of all about all of us.

    2. Jim Haygood

      So the lying liars of the MSM lied about the Russian compound, lied about the Vermont utility hacking, and lied about PropOrNot.

      Three strikes and you’re out. Take ’em away!

      1. Edward

        The newspapers can get away with whatever their subscribers will put up with. This will stop when subscribers say “No”. Or the government could step in– but why would they?

        1. Isolato

          When I lived in Italy in the early 1970s each major political party had its own newspaper. The Partito Communista Italiano had Paese Serra. The Christian Democrats had Il Messagero…it actually made it a lot easier to dissect. We want to think that truth exists without a point of view, and perhaps it does, but not manifest to human beings.

    3. fresno dan

      January 1, 2017 at 8:28 am
      I posted the below yesterday, but late in the day. I still think it is an astounding.

      “Why is Mr. Trump so dismissive of Russia’s dangerous behavior? Some say it is his lack of experience in foreign policy, or an oft-stated admiration for strongmen, or naivete about Russian intentions. But darker suspicions persist.”

      The editorial concluded by connecting the president-elect’s “odd behavior” toward Russia with his lack of transparency when it comes to his business empire.

      “Are there loans or deals with Russian businesses or the state that were concealed during the campaign? Are there hidden communications with Mr. Putin or his representatives?” The newspaper speculated.

      “We would be thrilled to see all the doubts dispelled, but Mr. Trump’s odd behavior in the face of a clear threat from Russia, matched by Mr. Putin’s evident enthusiasm for the president-elect, cannot be easily explained.”

      SO it begins…..

      I was thinking my impeachment hypothesis was premature, given Trump hasn’t even been sworn in…..but now I don’t think so.

      1. Carolinian

        From above Greenwald link

        Few things are more dangerous to the journalistic function than groupthink, and few instruments have been invented that foster and reinforce groupthink like social media, particularly Twitter, the platform most used by journalists. That’s a phenomenon that merits far more study, but examples like this one highlight the dynamic.

        Says it all that when our clueless MSM finally takes up with the internet it would be via Twitter.

      2. timbers

        It’s treason to say it’s smart to allow American children to enjoy Christmas and New Years. If the Deep State/Blob/Intelligence Complex doesn’t assassinate him he must be impeached!

        Putin should have retaliated by forcing American Catholic nuns at Russian diplomatic facilities to undergo tests for evidence of transgender operations and made them use the wrong bathrooms. But instead he showed weakness to America so Obama has Russia on the run!

        1. fresno dan

          January 1, 2017 at 10:42 am

          It will be IRONY in the extreme when Trump uses the law just signed by Obama, ” “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” and declares that the Washington Post is publishing treasonous Propaganda to impede a duly elected US president.

          We are in a great battle to decide if Trump will be brought to heel under the neocon boot with regard to Russia….

          1. timbers

            Agreed. Personally I take seriously the possibility Trump will be assassinated by the Deep State and vested war/hegemony interests, IF Trump shuts these people down and sticks to his stated views on Russia and peace. Or, maybe they can convince Trump to cause enough trouble with China instead of Russia to feed agendas and will not need to get rid of Trump…who knows?

            But they will attempt to get rid of Trump’s agenda of peace with Russia and the world in general, and that may include impeachment or more drastic steps.

            If Trump sticks to his guns of mostly ignores the “Intelligence” briefings and does what’s he said in foreign policy, it will be quite an improvement. The “Intelligence” briefs is really just indoctrination of Presidents will Fake News/Fake intelligence to manipulate them onto a path of war and aggression in serve of corporate interests. These briefs should be firming rejected and laughed at and ridiculed.

            1. FluffytheObeseCat

              Trump is too impeachable to bother assassinating. His VP is well liked by Congressional Republicans. A take down will follow constitutional procedure. The only question is: will they make the effort, or will his right wing appointments and signaling protect him from the leaders of his own party.

      3. Edward

        Moon of Alabama has also written about this:

        We will find out what plans Washington has for Trump after Jan. 20, when they show their hand. I think Trump could be impeached because of some crime such as a dodgy tax return. Trump is someone who I think has spent his life breaking the rules when he thought he could get away with it. In the past, he could use his political connections to escape prosecution for his scams. Now, however, his many enemies in Washington will study his record with microscopic scrutiny. They will need to find a misdeed that will persuade some Republicans to vote for impeachment. One funny thing is I don’t think the usual adultery/honeytrap scam will work on Trump.

  8. Cry Shop

    Maybe We Haven’t Seen Any Aliens Because They’re All Dead Nautilus’

    Better yet was the article below it:

    Space Colonization and the Meaning of Life
    Colonizing the galaxy New World, Philippines, Marshall Islands (Bikini bomb tests) is the highest good humanity could achieve.

    We screwed up the earth, so we deserve a get out of jail free. Thankfully there isn’t likely to be any banker powerful enough to deal it on the universal level game of Monopoly.

    1. craazyman

      What are these scientists talking about? Aliens are all over the place. People have seen them and talked to them! I think even President Eisenhower met with them at least once.

      Ridiculous reporting. Just another example, if any were needed.

      Native Americans used to deal with the “Star People” all the time. It’s just a fact. These scientists should go out to Sante Fe, New Mexico and look around. They might see some aliens by the end of the week.

      Or they could look for planets with piles of rusting chariots and rotting horse-drawn carriages. That would show they destroyed themselves before they could invent the internet. Haha

  9. ex-PFC Chuck

    Thanks for posting the instances of fact-check-free stenographic reporting. Perhaps this could become another category of recurrent NC posts?

    1. Jim Haygood

      It’s gotten so bad, Chuck, that the category needs to be “MSM publishes something true.”

      As in their old saw, “Man bites dog.”

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        January 1, 2017 at 9:32 am

        Well, I am not quite prepared to think that EVERY “and” and “the” published by the WP is a lie….yet.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        The big dailies let the writers who aren’t writing about a small but *very* important subjects, write pretty much what they want and don’t spin their writing much, Some of the writing done in this way is even sometimes very good. Even total propaganda mouthpieces like the WaPo and the NYT at times publish great quality writing. Sports reporting is often excellent and truthful. In any case, nobody can lie 100% of the time; to do so would require omniscience.

      3. Benedict@Large

        You know it’s gotten bad when you start reading stuff in articles like, “The Washington Post has lots of people doing good reporting, BUT …”

  10. Hen Kai Pan

    When I heard about the “sanctions against Russia”, my first thought was whether Obama wants to show the world that he is a real man after all. The whole thing is a farce. Throwing a cook out of the country? And the FBI years ago having put listening devices and cameras into the trees opposite the “compound” on Long Island (according to a link published here at NC a couple of days ago), and still confusing one house with some other house?

    Spiegel, whose English articles are a lot more balanced usually than what they produce in German, has been foaming viciously about “Russians hacking the US election” for weeks, as if these Russians had hacked the actual voting machines all over the US – most Germans would not know better by Spiegel’s headlines (thankfully, a lot of its commentariat does know better, but the propaganda they spread is absolutely shameless. Who are their transatlantic masters, I wonder. Same goes for their TTIP and CETA propaganda, and news about Syria). As I glance through the Spiegel each morning, I know what I’ll be seeing in WaPo and NYT, because Spiegel’s US correspondents (Pitzke and collegues) never fail to parrot/paraphrase articles from WaPo/NYT, and generally act as if they themselves are paid shills for the democrats. Trampling on Trump and Russia seems to be Spiegel’s most favorite sport, to the detriment of the last bit of discerning thinking/ ethical journalistic principles. Pravda-ish for sure.

  11. dontknowitall

    re “Maybe We Haven’t Seen Any Aliens Because They’re All Dead”…

    This is just wrong…imagine you are traveling in West Virginia and find yourself in a deep valley and lose radio contact, should your assumption be that a nuclear war killed everyone? We are in a “deep valley” of technological insufficiency as far as detecting “man”-made radio signals (even fairly close ones) so assuming everyone else is dead in our vast galaxy is just wrong…We should be asking SETI the following questions…

    (1) Would a powerful defensive radar signal such as NORAD emitted from a nearby star system such as Proxima Centauri (4.25 ly or 268000 AU, 1 AU=average distant of Earth to the Sun) be detectable by our current SETI technology?

    (2) Would a powerful commercial TV/radio station be detectable at such a distance?

    (3) How about a mobile phone cell site?

    (4) How about a single cell phone signal?

    If they were to answer, I suspect we would learn none of those are detectable at such distances with current technology, so our current civilization would be nearly invisible to aliens living nearby and this is why SETI is focusing on extreme/nutty ideas like someone could be aiming a powerful-beyond-belief laser at us to communicate or that everyone else is dead…

    Years ago Carl Sagan published an unfortunately forgotten paper called “Scintillation-Induced Intermittency In SETI” [James M. Cordes and T. Joseph and W. Lazio and Carl Sagan] which disabused us of the notion that even detecting a NORAD level radar signal from a star in the neighborhood would be a cakewalk.

    SETI is going to have to be done with serious money and their scientists really have to stop invoking magical beings shooting death-star-level lasers aimed straight at us from across the universe…Extraordinary claims required extraordinary evidence and all that…and by the way your average weak starlight deposits in your fancy telescope about a few hundred photons and that is a whole star emitting…

    1. fresno dan

      January 1, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I offer this post merely because I think there are so few skeptics of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Now, there may be lots of microbes in the universe. But I saw the movie “Sausage Party” and what struck me about it is that it really is the first movied promoting atheism. And the thing of it is, when I listen to Sagan, it just seems he is using advanced extraterrestrials as a God substituted. I would like for their to be a God, but I doubt it. And when people WANT there to be extraterrestrials, I ask why???
      You know, Irish people, who scarcely could be less homogenous, who live together and have one minor difference in their Christian belief never the less manage to kill each other on trumped up differences.

      1. nechaev

        don’t know what the fuss is all about – we’re inundated with extraterrestrial life of a very advanced collective intelligence: our own intelligence is simply too crude to grok it, as we demand extraterrestrial life to look, act and think something like us. Not seeing the forest for the trees, we dismissively label these invaders “microbes” and “viruses” and so are done with it. Didn’t Sir Fred Hoyle issue a pop science bestseller in the 70s titled “Diseases from Space”? Good starting point….

      2. Isolato

        Carl Jung saw the “flying saucer” mania as simply another manifestation of our projection of godhood, similar to the way mandalas “capture” the numinous.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Science is being embraced like a another religion.

          And if space is out there, and the universe was created for people to ‘go forth and multiply,’ it’s beyond insulting for us humans to not be able to hitchhike our way all over it.

          Thus, wormholes, warp-drive, etc.

          Those novels and novel-writers – they are just more texts and priests, and the masses yearn like believers have always yearned.

          Otherwise, the planet would feel like a prison or an insane asylum —- there is life out there, fun in outer-space, and we are stuck here.

          The Human Mind requires science fiction, to avoid going insane.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            To get well, to really be cured of said insanity (and not temporary hallucinatory escapes), we need to realize we will be here for a while, and it’s up to us to keep it livable.

        2. hunkerdown

          John Michael Greer noted the marked temporal correlation between the particular forms of the UFOs reported and the particular forms of whatever material the Pentagon was secretly working on at the time.

      3. dontknowitall

        fresno dan-

        I understand your point. I don’t have an inkling of what went on in Sagan’s mind re God but I am sure he understood his physics. Sagan gets pretty poetic talking about the Universe because he is rightly humbled, so if he sees his God there I forgive him.

        My comment was only in reference to the article itself rather than a comment agreeing on actual existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

        Right now there is no evidence for it but everything we have learned in this age of Hubble suggests that ‘simple’ life is very likely to exist elsewhere considering how quickly it showed up on Earth, that physical principles are the same across the visible universe, that most suns have multiple planets and that galaxies exist in unbelievable numbers. I am in this camp.

        A lot of astronomers swerved from thinking alien intelligent life was bad science fiction to not doubting it will be found sometime, I think from just the vast numbers of systems and a powerful distrust that miracles are required (Not to be confused with belief in flying saucers !!). They may be wayyyy ahead of the curve but I am not sure they will be wrong.

        1. fresno dan

          January 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm

          Oh, I agree – I hope I didn’t come across as professing certitude. I don’t know if there is intelligent alien life or not. Its just a lot of the stuff I read in my youth had a certitude that there HAD TO BE intelligent life, and we would FIND it relatively soon, based on a FORMULA, that was mostly supposition, and that certitude that there is intelligent life because the math demands it just annoys me. Reminds me of people who play the same lottery number because eventually it just has to hit….

          Even if there is intelligent life, I find it doubtful that it could ever develop technology to travel at 90% the speed of light – and maintain this speed and craft for centuries or millennia. That means its unlikely anybody even as close as 500 light years, and maybe no closure than 10,000 light years, could ever realistically visit us. And even radio signals – translate, send, and receive when each interaction is 500? 1000? years apart?

          If our own species can survive another 1,000 or 2,000 years, (something I doubt) I could see where some fluke causes the Pioneer plaque to circle back to us. Do you think humans can keep all the NASA records for a couple of thousand years? Would the humans looking at that in the future look at those “aliens” on the plaque and recognize them as “us?” Or just think aliens have really terrible music…

          And as far as robots visiting us, I imagine this scenario:

          Space craft lands (of course near the White House, because that’s just how its done – where our first robot human hybrid president governs….)

          A small rolling disc shaped object exits the spacecraft.
          It states, “UP YOURS you prodigy of incestuous procreation, which we have learned is your standard salutation by motoring your World Wibe Webs. Do not be alarmed life forms of earth! Our lifeforms, monitoring your primitive, crude, and snarky communications have built me as a gesture of good will and at a level commensurate with your intellect! – take me to your dirty carpet…..where after 12 hours of charging, I can vacuum, but not very well, for 35 minutes.

          A buxom bleach blonde screams, OMG!!! Its…its a roomba! and faints, revealing quite a bit of décolletage….The clip of the fainting blonde is put into a continuous loop on CNN….while pundits discuss the alien presence’s affect on android Clinton’s nomination prospects.

    2. temporal

      Assume that a near star, say the closest one Alpha Centauri C, somehow provided us with some sort of irrefutable proof of alien life. That would mean that if we wanted to visit, it would take a journey of 4.25 light years to get there. A journey we cannot, and probably never will, be able to make. We can barely get to the moon safely. Putting people on Mars would be far more difficult, boarding on impossible. Landing on any of the other planets and most of their associated moons is currently a one-way trip. The reason for looking, outside of the science, seems to be in the hope that that we can signal them and they’ll rush over and save us from ourselves.

      Maybe if we blew up one of the other planets, and they were looking at the right time they’d see a detectable smudge in their telescopes – probably not. If they’re remotely like our capitalist selves, though more advanced in technology, I feel pretty sure they would arrive with a book called “To Serve Man”.

    3. skippy

      Einstein was completely unaware of the scope of the Universe, it was not until Hubble that our species had the slightest clue….

      disheveled… post Hubble the scope has increased exponentially…

  12. crittermom

    RE: Obama and HAMP. (WaPo story)
    HAMP. Epic failure of a program. A complete crock of sh*t. Statements like this infuriate me:
    “The program “changed how mortgage servicers handled homeowners in distress; not only by developing a template for loan modifications focused on affordability but also by creating and enforcing standards of care that have been widely adopted by the entire industry,” a Treasury Department spokesman said.”

    Yes, it changed how banks handled mortgages and their ‘customers’, for sure, that have been ‘widely adopted by the entire industry’.
    They all learned they could completely screw the homeowners and the govt would never step in to enforce the laws.
    The banks had much more incentive to take our homes than give us modifications.

    In my book, Obummer will always go down as worst pres ever ‘cuz his ‘program’ cost me EVERYTHING. (Chase Bank took my home when I was current on pymts!)
    However, I fear Trump is aiming to ‘trump’ him on that. Hoping not.

      1. Steve C

        Many of my friends will not hear me talk about this. Obama was thwarted by the bad old Republicans and that’s that.

  13. LT

    Re: Archdruid predictions…

    What do they have up their sleeves after 0 interest ratesto keep fantasy finance ( stock market) alive?
    Privatizing SS. No way in hell can they allow the stock market to crash like 2008 or 1929 and try to sell SS privatization. The plan is to save the Stock Market in the same way the financial sector of private health insurance was saved: it amounts to pretty much a mandate for anyone receiving a pay check to be in the stock market. And the ACA already set the legal precedent to mandate the purchase of financial services/products.

    Smoke and mirrors will live on.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A competently designed plan for SocSec equity investment would scale into the market over 10 to 20 years. Going in all at once, cannonball style, would result in vastly overpaying.

      That’s not to say that anticipation of such a program wouldn’t drive up prices. But it would be a psychological effect, rather than the direct result of SocSec purchases.

      An interesting twist is that any other investor holding an all-Treasury portfolio would have to sell some Treasuries in the market to buy stocks. Not so with the SocSec Trust Fund, whose Treasuries are “non-marketable.”

      A statutory change allowing SocSec to redeem these non-marketable securities for cash from the Treasury (thus requiring new public borrowing) would be needed to make stock purchases possible in the first place.

      1. heresy101

        “Investing” SS funds in the stock market is stupid, stupid, stupid!! All the funds will be lost when the 1% decide to crash the market.

        A much better idea is to make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the SOLE originator of single family mortgages. Since there is no SS trust fund anymore, cancel the F35 and other boondoggles and use that money to buy $3 trillion of mortgages for SS. Set the rate at 4.5% fixed (none of this market BS) and interest you pay on your house comes back to you and not Goldman Sachs or the Rothchilds. The philosophy is “Pay Yourself Twice”! Force the FED to loan another $6-7 trillion to SS at the 0.025% that they gave the parasites (aka banks) to have funds to buy out the remainder of mortgages. SS taxes and the interest from mortgages would allow SS payments to be increased by about 40%. A major bonus would be that you could prohibit all the crooked loans and policies that forced people out of their homes.

        “Investing” as it is commonly thought of make no sense. If the 99% want to reclaim the wealth of the country, use Warren Buffet’s method. He owns a couple of railroads and electric companies that have monopolies in about 5 states. Pension funds need to work together and buy 51% (or more) in companies that are vital to the economy (UPS, AT&T, railroads, ADM, drugstores, trucking, etc). Once ownership is obtained, give 49% of the Board to the deplorables (ie workers) and keep a 1% or 2% for overall control. Get rid of stock options, stock buybacks, and set the ratio of management to worker salary at 5 times. It won’t be very long before those dividends reach the 7.5% that pension funds need. Everyone wins except the 1% parasites!

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL2

          Fantastic program you cite. American myth-making makes people think the 1% got there by fair means and hard work, and we should all just suck it up and try to do the same. Very few have noticed that the GAO released their interim audit of the Fed (pushed by Sanders) and it showed there have been $16 *trillion* in guarantees and outright gifts to banks and corporations around the globe. Just the shavings off the side of a pie of that size would utterly transform our society. So don’t buy the myth: this is the biggest theft in the history of the world and we should all be apoplectic mad about it

      2. cnchal

        A competently designed plan . . .

        The irony. By law, to be forced to hand over money to Wall Street criminals, or be fined by the tax department for refusing. Talk about a doom loop.

        It will be a competently designed plan alright. To strip the peasants of every nickel they ever had.

  14. Julia Versau

    I couldn’t read any further than the second paragraph of the Scientific American piece — “How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail.” Lumping official 9-11 story critics in with “New World Order” folks is sloppy and untrue. Adding in “they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations” made me wince. Yes, the government does lie, by both commission and omission, and in its variant forms: data perversions, statistical maneuvers, illogic, and outright mendacity. And you don’t have to read that much to discover the U.S. penchant for the big lie: the false flag. I am hearing the gentle tug of high-sounding propaganda in most everything I read these days — including the loftily named Scientific American.

  15. susan the other

    Adair Turner on China’s Socialist Market Economy. Project Syndicate. China has a debt problem? Debt can be resolved the free market way (economic crash and/or stagflation) or the socialist way (use sovereign money and if necessary devalue your currency). China’s SOEs are confusing investors. What happens when those SOEs devalue their investments? So far China’s solution is growth. For sure the New Silk Road is their solution to keeping the whole thing going. They’ll be smart to put strict limits on foreign investments. I like this sentiment however: from the PBoC head of statistics: “The macro framework in a socialist market economy is superior to the western economy bec. the Chinese Gov. has significant power in terms of both monetary and fiscal policy. And is able to seek optimal combination.”

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL2

      Being communists they have a third way to resolve SOE debt: debt-for-equity swaps (which they’ve already begun). Nobody would blink an eye if a quasi-market based org is now simply an organ of the state. Contrast the US, with our “capitalist free market” mindset. Example: on the day we gifted Citi $174B (to keep their doors open) we could have bought 100% of the Class A common stock for $4B. But oh, no, that would not align with the “capitalist” mythos.

  16. Marco

    Curious if anyone saw Yglesias’ piece (not gonna link) about the costs per km of the new 2nd Line Subway in NY roughly 8-10 times the costs of new subway lines in Paris or Copenhagen. What is it about the American system where failure of big government initiatives are baked in the cake. We know what works in other western developed countries but they have strong reasonably competent central governments. Can we ever have that in America? Depressing.

    1. Jim Haygood

      In the early 1980s when the New York MTA’s capital program began to bring the long-neglected subways out of the “electric sewers” era, the NYC Transit Authority brought in a consulting arm of London Transport to help administer the program.

      After a half century of almost no capital improvements, in-house expertise had dwindled. Even so, the Transport Workers Union was deeply skeptical that the outside consultants might be “efficiency experts,” bent on depriving them of their post-lunch card playing after having met their work quotas for the day.

      In one notorious incident, David Gunn (president of NYCTA at the time, who was actually in charge of hiking productivity) visited the 207th Street Shop in Manhattan. The TWU workers downed tools and began banging on the sides of the cars to protest their oppressor’s presence.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s but just the first step to look at a well-run county, and say, hey, it works with high taxation.

      But if your government (not here, but a hypothetical one, say on Mars) is not well-run, that same high tax rate will simply t generate more misery.

      One, a government does not have to be funded by taxes, if it says on in its Constitution.

      Two, if service is bad right now, more taxes is not the answer.

      Three, more misery, A) because more money is being taxed away, and B) you don’t get better service.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Generally, it comes down to the lack of in-house knowledge leading to contracts which result in massive learning curves for each and every project. In most European countries there are permanent on-going public transport projects which means that both on the public side (the contract managers) and the private side there is a deep level of institutional knowledge in how to build, say, railway tunnels. There are also advantages in having long term rolling contracts. This greatly reduces the ramping up times for projects, there is no need for steep learning curves on each and every section, and there are additional savings in having long term provision contracts for rolling stock.

      1. Marco

        Thanks PlutoniumKun you get the gold star! This makes sense as we rarely do big public transit projects here in America and initiating one is starting from scratch each time. Blaming organized labor makes no sense in a heavily unionized Paris / Berlin with world-class public transit.

      2. Marco

        Thanks PlutoniumKun you get the gold star! This makes sense as we rarely do big public transit projects here in America…the institutional / technical knowledge has withered on the vineis gone. Would Jim agree that organized labor in France or Germany contributes to their success in building world-class public transit? $2.2 billion vs $230 million per km is staggering even if a great deal of union jobs are supported. I can’t imagine digging under New York would be any more complicated than Paris.

      3. marco

        Thanks PlutoniumKun you get the gold star! This makes sense as we rarely do big public transit projects here in America. We allowed our manufacturing know-how AND institutional knowledge wither on the vine. Curious if Jim would agree that organized labor in France or Germany contributes to their success in building world-class CHEAP public transit? $2.2 billion vs $230 million per km is a staggering inefficiency and certainly something a New Yorker should be ashamed of. I can’t imagine digging under Manhattan would be any more complicated than Paris.

        1. tegnost

          until it’s fixed, if you get the white screen, try to repost your comment, if it says you already said that then your comment will post, if it doesn’t show up in 5 mins then you’ve gone to mod and it’ll post when they get to it, usually not more than two or three hours, often much less…making a short comment referencing your moderated post can get you out of mod sooner sometimes.

          1. hunkerdown

            If you get a white screen your comment may or may not already have posted. What happens is that one hits Back, fixes up some imperfect phrasing or other (because there’s always something we want to correct) thus confounding the dupe checker, resubmits, and then the double-post happens.

            If you get that white screen, try these four steps: navigate Back, copy your comment box text into the clipboard, click Reload, then find your way back to where you were going to reply. Five of the last six times I needed to do all that, my comment had posted and no further action was required.

  17. diptherio

    An on-the-ground look at how India’s poor (in one area, anyway) are dealing with the demonetization:

    Surprisingly well, as it turns out…well, not that surprising, given that living without adequate amounts of cash is already a reality for most. The really surprising thing was seeing that a majority of the people living in this “slum” support the Modi govt’s actions. That was unexpected. I think there’s more to this story that we’re getting over here in the US…even here at NC.

    1. Yves Smith

      MBA students administered the survey. Remember why double blind, placebo controlled studies are the standard for drug tests? Because merely having the nurse or whoever is providing the drugs to the patient know which is the real deal v. the placebo results in them sending cues to the patient that distort results.

      Here you have people who are likely pro-Modi (or assumed to be by virtue of the huge caste difference) administering a survey IN PERSON. It’s well known in surveys that many respondents will give answers to please the person giving the survey. This alone is a huge source of bias.

      The survey is garbage.

      1. Katharine

        I am reminded of a story passed on at the time of the Grenadan invasion, when uncritical US press reports quoted people who expressed pleasure in the arrival of American troops. The story-teller remembered someone in a market in Jamaica looking at fruit and asking doubtfully, “Are those stringy mangoes?” “Oh, yes, miss, dem stringy mango!” “Well, then I don’t want them!” “Oh, well, dem not too stringy, dem just nice mango.” People, especially when they hope they might benefit from an interaction, will usually say what they think the questioner wants to hear.

  18. polecat

    A most pleasant New Year’s to you all ……

    Woke up to white this morning …. time for the Americanas to weird-out about the snow ….

  19. Marco

    The Yglesias piece today (yes he’s a dork so I’m not gonna link) is depressing. How can the cost per km of the 2nd Line Subway in NY be 8-10 times the cost of new subway lines in Paris or Copenhagen? What kind of hope can we on the left have when failure seem baked into the cake for any kind of big government initiative in America.

    1. Steve C

      As I recall, they had to dig through solid Manhattan schist. Also, they had to go deep because of a maze of shallower tunnels that have accumulated through history.

  20. George Phillies

    Izvestia on the Hudson? You published a report on “the narrative”. With some luck, there are preserved sets of notes on what the narratives were at different time, on which someone can do critical pieces.

  21. Dave

    “Subscribe to the New York Times”
    “Bill Me”

    Recycle New York Times as it arrives.
    “I never ordered this! We’ve been pranked!”

  22. tgs

    Re: New Cold War

    US Army, German Bundeswehr dispatch thousands of troops to Eastern Europe

    Lieutenant General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of US forces in Europe, said, “Three years after the last American tanks left the continent, we need to get them back.” He made the statement during a visit to the Logistics School of the Bundeswehr in Garlstedt, Lower Saxony. He told journalists that the measures were a “response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.”

    NC paid close attention to the ‘invaded Ukraine’ meme. There was never any evidence presented for the claim, but it is now a staple of received opinion, as is Putin was responsible for the shoot down of MH17.

  23. armchair

    Trump appears to hedge everything he does, so that the ‘mark’ can project their wishful thinking onto whatever Trump is selling or saying. Any pronouncements about Trump’s foreign policy objectives are suspect, unless they reserve judgment. For instance, can anyone explain how Trump will continue his bromances with both Netanyahu and Putin? Is it possible to be best buds with both leaders at the same time, in perpetuity? To a naive and casual observer, like armchair, it appears that Russia and Israel don’t always have the same wishlist when it come to the Middle East. Of course, maybe Trump has a big plan, or maybe he just plans to dick them over when it suits him.

      1. fresno dan

        January 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm

        Thanks for that – that is something I did not know and did not suspect

  24. Mel

    Another blank comment acknowledgment. This one at about 12:22 2017-1-1. The URL for the blank page was

    . The HTML for the blank page was (angle brackets replaced by square to post it here):


    If this is like the others, it’s as though the comment handling process put the comment where comments are supposed to go, then terminated abnormally before it could make up the acknowledgment. Hope this helps.

  25. torff

    Regarding the Econocracy review and the general topic of the teaching of economics, I’ve been using this (free!) ebook with my students the past couple of semesters. It certainly has some of its own problems, but is infinitely better than Mankiw or Krugman or the other standard bullshit you get. (I once got paid to quasi-edit a textbook by Fred Mishkin—I don’t think they expected the drubbing it received. I haven’t since been asked to do such work again.) Anyway, here’s the link, for anyone interested:

  26. Synoia

    2017 is not just another prime number

    This is nonsense:

    The prime number before 2017 is 2017+(2-0-1-7), which makes it a sexy prime, and the prime after 2017 is 2017+(2+0+1+7). 2017 itself is of course equal to 2017+(2*0*1*7)

    2017 itself is of course equal to 2017+(2*0*1*7) , as is any year with a zero int its number.

    What’s the point? 2017 predict the future of the universe?

    I predict the future to be chaotic, and thus claim and assert that any other assertion is nonsense.

    My prediction for the future also hold true fro the Trump presidency.

    1. craazyman

      Every year can be divided by 365 and equal 1.

      Whoa, that’s a similarity transform operator that works for primes and non-primes.

      It’s deep thawts time in the PG. No more fake news iin 2017, it’s the real thing from now on!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Two kinds of Fake News

        1. News that is fake
        2. News about fakes

        The second kind should be around for a while.

        “Did you hear that star X just got some fake boobs?”

        “He is such a fake!”

        We ask, can we really live without this kind of fake news?

  27. nechaev

    i’m a recent castoff from guardian cif so am not quite up to speed on all the sources NC links to. For example who is Marcy of Empty Wheel [linked to above under the title Your Weekly Alarming Anonymous Friday Night WaPo Dump: Vermont Electrical Grid Edition ?. In that piece he writes “I mostly agree with reports attributing the DNC hack to the Russians” and when pressed on that line in the comments section responds “ I’m operating with more than is in the public record. Not gut feeling”. Is he someone to take seriously on this? or not?

    1. Katharine

      I for one don’t want to take people seriously on this unless they can give their reasons, not merely say they have them. Marcy may have good sources, but until she gets specific I’m not buying her belief.

    2. voxhumana

      Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) is good. Sometimes I find her too credulous, as I am sure she’d find me too conspiratorial, but she’s a serious and respected blogger.

    3. reslez

      It’s a statement that deserves derision. Emptywheel is a good blog but far too credulous on this topic. We have to consider what possible evidence Marcy might have encountered:

      1. We might assume she’s relying on the statement of an intelligence agency employee with access to classified information. If she isn’t, we can dismiss her statement out of hand. If we give her the benefit of the doubt and assume some access to classified info, we’re still unable to evaluate her source or their trustworthiness or motivations. This makes her “evidence” worthless to us. It amounts to hearsay. For a charge that would provide grounds for a declaration of war (“hacking an election”), hearsay isn’t good enough. Hearsay deserves mockery.

      1.b. If this anonymous source is so convinced they’re right, given the importance of the topic they ought to leak their information to the public so the rest of us can evaluate their claims. I suggest WikiLeaks as an appropriate venue.

      2. Next we consider what possible evidence this hypothetical source might have encountered that would provide evidence the Russian government and Putin personally was responsible for hacking the DNC and providing the evidence to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks themselves insists the information was provided by a leaker with legit access to the data, not a hacker. So we’re asked to accept an anonymous nebulous claim that contradicts people in a position to know — people who have a track record of being correct.

      3. The evidence that has been released suggests that hackers may have broken into the DNC network, but the software tools they used were publicly available to anyone. These hackers may have been Russian or Ukrainian at a guess, but there are far more hackers not affiliated with the Russian government than working for it. Even if the hackers who used these tools breached the DNC’s network, they may not have been involved in getting the data into WikiLeaks’ hands.

      3.b. NSA whistleblowers suggest the NSA would possess direct electronic evidence of any such data transfer from the DNC or to WikiLeaks. The NSA has made no statements that they possess this evidence. Given the fact the public already knows they have this capability, their silence is loud.

      4. There have been anonymous claims that the US govt believes Russia is responsible for the hacks because, they suggest, the RNC was also hacked by the same party, but Republican information was not provided to WikiLeaks. As it stands we’ve received no data related to these hypothetical RNC attacks so we must regard this assertion with suspicion.

      5. As far as operating on “more than is in the public record” goes, Trump recently made a statement that he distrusts accusations of Russian involvement because he too is privy to non-public knowledge. There has been speculation that Trump’s campaign at some point would have been offered access to hacked data. It’s reasonable to wonder if this is the source of Trump’s certainty on the topic.

      6. A frenzy of political motivation surrounds the topic of Russian hacking. We know that neocons favor increasing tensions with Russia. We know Democrats and the Clinton campaign wish to delegitimize Trump’s presidency before it starts. We know Trump wishes to not be delegitimized. This makes all aspersions, speculations, and hypotheticals dangerous in the extreme. Until we see actual technical data we know nothing. The JAR claimed to support the Obama admin’s line but on analysis did nothing of the sort. Trust no one. Verify everything.

      7. Finally, for those of us who believe the public has a right to know, those of us who oppose fraud and manipulation of our elections by the politicians and parties who claim to serve us while they secretly pursue their own interests, we believe the leaks were in the public interest. I personally thank whichever individuals were responsible, whether that includes a murdered DNC aide, a fat 40 y.o. hacker sitting in a basement in Ukraine, or Vladimir Putin himself.

      1. tgs

        As it stands we’ve received no data related to these hypothetical RNC attacks so we must regard this assertion with suspicion.

        Worth noting that the RNC vehemently denies that they were hacked. And of course that is the basis of the claim that the Russians were hacking the election for Trump.

        I agree with you on Marcy Wheeler on this topic. When the NSA announced that they were ‘confident’ that the DNC based on the prior methods and motivations, Wheeler wrote a piece saying that ‘confident’, in this case, means that they are certain.

        I do not think that is the most plausible reading of what was said.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Yes, thank you. Show me, don’t tell me. I’m not taking *anyone* at their word with no convincing corroborating evidence on these sensitive matters. Taking the word of an anonymous source with no supporting evidence reported via a third party repeating boilerplate neocon CIA talking points, like Wheeler here in this case, would just be idiotically credulous. If you can’t prove it, just say you don’t know for sure and leave it at that. Once you’ve demonstrated you are willing to take such insubstantial assertions seriously, you are just a mark waiting to be exploited going forward. Wheeler, by asking us to believe her assertion lacking *any* supporting evidence, is clearly insulting the intelligence of her readers.

  28. fresno dan

    Dear Washington Post

    How many times do you morons have to humiliate yourselves with fake news before you understand the problem is you?

    There is no credible evidence Russia interfered in the US election. However, we do have some facts.

    Facts of the Matter

    The US waged war on Iraq on trumped up charges of weapons of mass destruction.
    The US entered a war in Vietnam on a senseless “domino theory” fueled on trumped up Gulf of Tonkin incident.
    The US helped overthrow Mohammad Mosaddegh, an Iranian Prime Minister. Mosaddegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 until 1953, when his government was overthrown in a coup d’état aided by the the US. The results were disastrous.
    The US tapped Angela Merkel’s phone.
    On the death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bragged “We came, we saw, he died.” ISIS and radicals took over Libya following the death of Qaddafi.
    Thousands of innocent men, women, and children have been killed by US drones. Obama justified targeted killings under the pretext of wars that were never declared.

    Yeah, the above has been said by NC commentators many, many, many times, but it is a good thing that the MSM lies are countered by many voices, whether ostensibly left, right, libertarian – what matters is that they see we are being force fed propaganda continuously….

  29. Ignim Brites

    “The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System”. The authors assume the continued existence of the nation for which they propose a solution. Granted there is a problem. It is unlikely that any Republican will in the next 30 or 40 years ever win a plurality of the popular vote. The Democratic advantage in CA, currently 3.5 million, will grow as the Hispanic portion of the population grows. Once CA grants citizenship and voting rights to the undocumented, likely within a year or so, it would be unsurprising if the Demo advantage in CA jumped to 7 or 8 million in 2020. There are no easy solutions but the simplest would be for CA to secede. Do you really imagine the Acela Nation will accept being ruled by CA?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Suddenly, I feel like reading up on Ferdinand and Isabella and their Reconquista in Spain.

      Illegal immigrants from Flint and Deplorable districts will be welcome in the Kingdom of California.

      1. Katharine

        “…will be welcome in the [insert ‘desert’] Kingdom of California.”

        They can’t secede till they figure out how to do desalination really cheaply.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How many peaceful out-of-work American migrants does it take to conquer Andorra (pop. 79,218 in 2013)?

      Answer: 79,219.

    3. Waldenpond

      CA just voted to make the death penalty process faster, is using tax dollars to put charging stations for private companies in every podunk town mall, gives discounts to elite super water users, etc. What’s not to like? CA is neoliberal. It’s just oligarchs disagreeing over the order they get to feast on the corpse.

  30. fresno dan

    On Trump’s Reaction to Putin Not Expelling American Diplomats Ian Welsh. The hysteria knobs are already at 11. Where do we go from here?

    America and Russia have no significant real national interests that clash. It does not matter to America who rules in Georgia or the Ukraine. It just doesn’t goddamn matter to America. It does matter to Russia. America would have been better off if Assad and Qaddafi had never faced rebellions, because both were tame despots happy to cooperate with the US against Islamic terrorism (no, Israel wanting Hezbollah cut off is not an American interest and Saudi Arabia’s fear of Shi’ites should not make Americans think Shi’ites are an American issue).

    I can only hope that Trump honors his idea that American foreign policy should, and this is outrageously radical, be beneficial to the interests of most Americans….
    And how much of the “rebellion” in Syria is caused by the US, which seems to find terrorists (including Al Qaeda?) perfectly fine when it suits us?

  31. Wi

    McCain and Graham and their incessant promotion of Russian hacking provide us with a clear example of the military industrial complex hard at work to wage yet another war.

    They are trying, right before our eyes, to conjure up images of a boogeyman Russia that simply does not exist. The press is complicit as they are as much a part of the CIA directed war machine as McCain and his accomplices.

    McCain recently called for a military response. I have been waiting for Obama to negate the election.

    Thank goodness that this nonsense is now plain to see, that we are no longer so controlled by a now discredited big three media and their paper counterparts.

    1. fresno dan

      January 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      I used to wonder how anybody could have given credence to McCarthy, but Graham and McCain have shown that if anything, Americans have gotten more gullible over the years…

      1. polecat

        “Americans have gotten more gullible over the years”

        And you know, fresno dan, why is that ?? Just look at the ‘device’ you, or somebody, ANYBODY, you know, or see, holding in their hand ! … and how often ? There’s your answer …

        Just to be clear, I’m not dishing on you, or anyone else, personally, … I’m just referring to the continually encroaching ubiquitousness of fast, and often portable throw-a-way electronic I-sh#t, and it’s ability to totally distract people with vacuous(MSM Fakes), facile, gimmicky (Pokemon Go, anyone?), popular(Kardashians) .. uh .. ‘cultural’ dreck, devoid of any real thought or scrutiny.

        In the immortal words of a celluloid gladiator …..


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Why is that?

          Because everything is made easy for you (or me) to take or digest.

          Pre-cooked food, even pre-chewed.

          “How do you scramble eggs again?”

          “No ironing necessary. It’s permanent press.”

          A milestone of sort was reached when you (or me) no longer had to get up to change TV channels.

          The couch potato has been sinking ever deeper.

          “Grandpa, did you really take to take driver’s ed, and go to the DMV to get a license? Dad said he had to go to the same DMV, but to register to vote, and later, to bank, after they closed down the post office.”

          That has been the goal for a long, long time – making life simpler. No need to figure things out. Push a button here; touch a screen there. Voila!!!

          1. Waldenpond

            Seems that education could be cut off much earlier. Some basic reading, writing, rithmatic. People don’t actually need history etc as they can just look it up on wiki and debate it on twitter. Actually, with home/charter schools and testing out, that’s what some are doing. :)

      2. aletheia33

        you didn’t have to give credence to mccarthy to cooperate with mccarthyism. all you had to do was know what keeping your job depended on. most people, especially people raising children, will go along when that is at stake. it’s not realistic to expect otherwise. one cannot know what oneself would do under the same pressure.

        the kind of control of the popular mindset that was used to scare the american people to death during the cold war is simple and easy to apply. i’m not sure if it works absolutely every time. maybe some reader can point to a time when it didn’t. maybe the danes’ rescue of the jews from the nazis is such a case. but that was an external enemy in a hot war.

  32. dk

    US Govt Data Shows Russia Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware

    Long and minutely technical, but quite thorough within it’s small scope.

    Overall Conclusion

    The IP addresses that DHS provided may have been used for an attack by a state actor like Russia. But they don’t appear to provide any association with Russia. They are probably used by a wide range of other malicious actors, especially the 15% of IP addresses that are Tor exit nodes.

    The malware sample is old, widely used and appears to be Ukrainian. It has no apparent relationship with Russian intelligence and it would be an indicator of compromise for any website.

    So this doesn’t mean it wasn’t Russian hackers, or that it was specifically Ukrainians. We don’t even know exactly where this snippet came from. Indeed, the JAR could have included this as a deliberate obfuscation! It’s an illusion… or is it?!? OMG CIA/NHS FTW!!! … or not.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL2

      Look, the DHS report itself showed most of the hack traffic source was “Unknown” and the second most cited source was the U.S.A.
      The point is you just cannot say where an attack originated, it’s much too easy to bounce it through servers located anywhere in the world you like. As John McAfee (who knows a thing or two about such matters) pointed out.
      And adding in some Cyrillic text or signature sub-routines to make it look “Russian” is equally child’s play.

      Thank goodness we do not have Hilary Antoinette in charge as she repeatedly and loudly insisted that America’s response to cyber “attacks” would include military retaliation. At least our feckless Golfer-In-Chief just threw out a few Russian chefs, on his way out the door to the dustbin of history.

  33. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Easing China’s Housing Bubble…

    Before you blink, China will be reflating her housing bubble again.

    It’s like a one-trick pony show over there.

  34. VietnamVet

    The new 21st century Cold War started during the old one when the West discovered in Vietnam that a conscript army will not fight colonial wars overseas. With full employment inflation raging in the 1970s, the oligarchs bought out both American political parties. Working Americans were thrown under the bus by off-shoring and outsourcing jobs. This western plutocrat counter coup has no name.

    Now the former people’s party is in a hard place. Along with corporate republicans, they represent solely the top credentialed 10% who are doing rather well. Rather than win back former Rust Belt voters; Democrat politicians, to stay in power, have joined with John McCain and Lindsey Graham to scapegoat the Russians and ignite the Cold War 2.0. If the past is a guide to the future, a middle-class revolt and/or World War III is a likely outcome of this decision. The only other alternative is that Donald Trump survives and he and his fellow nationalist billionaires achieve his campaign promises of more jobs and a business relationship with the Kremlin.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System NYRB”

    Thanks for this one; very useful. This election has been very “clarifying” about our corrupt, dysfunctional electoral system. Maybe it’ll actually do some good.

  36. rjs

    i just saw this (from the 29th) & dont know if it’s been discussed here or not:

    The Mysterious Disappearance of Former Clinton Foundation CEO Eric Braverman –Eric Braverman, the Clinton Foundation CEO from 2013 until 2015,  has apparently been missing since October. His absence has fueled speculations in the blogosphere but so far has been ignored by the media.  Some speculate, with good reason, that Braverman may have gone into hiding after an email mentioning his name was released by Wikileaks on October 22 of this year. In the March 2015 email exchange, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden told Clinton campaign manager and confidant John Podesta there was a mole within the Clinton Foundation. Podesta in his reply told Tanden the mole was Braverman.  Braverman had abruptly resigned from the Clinton Foundation shortly before this email exchange took place. And then, after the email exchange was made public by Wikileaks, Braverman vanished from the public eye.  This seems like a story that someone might want to report.

    Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told The Daily Mail that Podesta’s emails were leaked to the organization by a disgruntled insider, not the Russians. Consequently, there are suspicions it may have been Braverman. Politico ran a long story about Braverman’s ouster in 2015. Based on email correspondence released by Wikileaks, Braverman was apparently hired by Chelsea Clinton to clean up the corruption in the foundation, but then forced out of the foundation by longtime Clinton loyalists; sources say Podesta made him a target.

    it’s from stream, a conservative site i know nothing about…could be fake news, we know there’s a lot of those sites out there…

  37. Chauncey Gardiner

    Regarding the Brexit transition article linked at FT, I am reminded of the inimitable mayor of the French town of Beaucaire who recently named a local street “Rue de Brexit”. The street is circular and goes nowhere. Think he may be onto something.

  38. homeroid

    greetings and salutations to all the commentate. I am sure this year will bring us much to discuss. Well i don’t much pipe up but hey, i might. For the start of the year i took out my hand planes and sharpened them on the water stones. A cathartic thing to do. I also called all my oldest best friends. Because hey why not! I have known them for 50 freakin years i should say hey. As soon as i figure out how to burn all my pictures to disc from this piece of shit desk top MS freakin HP nine year old… Yes 9 years i have opened it up and blown out the dust and cat hair. Cleaned the fans with a Qtip I made this thing last this long. Well till they forced MS 10 on me and i blocked it. So now it is a slow death for lack of up grades for MS 7. Guess i will just look for an older macbook. Oh and this keyboard. The letters are all worn off, could be why i shy from commenting. Wish the best to you all from Kachemac bay

  39. Vatch

    Jho Low’s Price For Selling Malaysia Out To China Via The East Coast Rail Project Sarawak Report

    I swear I am not making this up: for several seconds after I glanced at this headline, I wondered why an article about Jennifer Lopez was in today’s Links section.

  40. drexciya

    Very much related to the whole autonomous/self-driving/whatever car thing is the following article on The Register, which more or less states what we already know; AI hasn’t really progressed that much. It’s just like with chess software; they have improved mostly because of vast increase of computing power, not because they’ve become more intelligent. I really like the title; AI was the fake news of 2016:

Comments are closed.