Links 1/12/17

Box of puppies found abandoned near creek KTUL

DOJ indicts 6 Volkswagen executives, automaker will pay $4.3 billion in plea deal Ars Technica

Shire pays $350 million to settle kickback allegations Modern Healthcare. “Diabetic ulcer treatment.” Yeah, patients got the treatment, alright.

UK rail network still a long way from fully automated trains FT (HH). And the rail network is a far more constrained environment than the open road.

From economic crisis to crisis in economics Andy Haldane, OECD Insights

Andy Haldane is wrong: there is no crisis in economics David Miles, FT

Tribal Warfare in Economics Is a Thing of the Past Noah Smith, Bloomberg and but Those Hostile to Negative Rates Are ‘Ignorant,’ Rogoff Says Bloomberg

The Rate of Hiring and Job-Quitting Appears Stuck in a Rut WSJ

Globalisation ‘easy scapegoat’ for global angst: WEF chief France24


City of London lobbying group drops demand for EU ‘passport’ FT

Don’t Bet Against the Eurozone Just Yet WSJ

Soros Group to Stay in Hungary Amid Trump-Inspired Crackdown Bloomberg


China’s Exorbitant Detriment, Mirror Image of America’s Exorbitant Privilege, Is Costing It Dearly CFR

San Diegans Vote for Change in Democratic Assembly District Elections as Labor Council Infighting Continues Ocean Beach Rag. Important: “Statewide, it appears that slates organized by Bernie Sanders supporters working with the National Nurses Union are on track to have won nearly 600 of the 1,100 seats up for grabs, along with 40-50 of the 80 total executive board seats.”

The New Cold War

The Coup Before the Inauguration Jack Shafer, Politico

Intel agencies ask Americans to ‘trust, don’t verify’ in new Cold War The Hill (SS).

US spy agencies in crisis over Trump claims FT

The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer The Intercept. Even if the “Deep State formulation were coherent, which it is not, I would dislike it for two reasons: It implies that the state is a monolith, and it implies that the state and civil society are distinct from each other in any other way than as objects of study (see Janine Wedel on Flex Nets). Conceptually, factional conflict in the ruling class will do just fine for me, even if it doesn’t have the earworm-like virulence and pseudo-profundity of “deep state.”

The Deep State Versus Donald Trump – New Smears And The Ukrainian Connection Moon of Alabama. Good summary.

Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire Politico. Alexandra Chalupa…

How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump NYT

The story of the Trump dossier: secret sources, an airport rendezvous, and John McCain Guardian. Another dodgy dossier, a MacGuffin in a John LeCarré novel…

Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump WSJ. Assuming that intelligence officers can be “ex.” Read the whole thing.

Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier ‘terrified for his safety’ Telegraph

Spy chief trashes leaks, assures Trump of loyalty Politico. Protesting too much, methinks.

Donald Trump Addresses Dossier’s Pedestrian Claims The Observer

Did a Federal Surveillance Court Really “Reject” an FBI Application to Spy On Trump Associates? Slate

Stop publishing unverified information, you numbskulls. Donald Trump feeds on your rumors LA Times. CNN published the rumor. Buzzfeed published the dossier behind the rumor, enabling readers to sort the rumor.

BuzzFeed was right to publish Trump-Russia files CJR

WaPo’s Factcheck of WikiLeaks Highlights Paper’s Strange View of Facts FAIR

Trump Transition

At His First News Conference As President-elect, Trump Owns the Press New York Magazine

After an aggressive news conference, questions linger about Trump’s readiness WaPo. The URL: “despite-a-decent-news-conference-questions-linger…” Editor stepped in, sexed up the headline.

White House ethics experts respond to Donald Trump’s announcement Brookings Institute. Not even sure what an ethical oligarch might be.

Trump picks Veterans Affairs insider to lead troubled agency AP

Trump taps well of protest with calls for more drilling in national parks Reuters (EM)

* * *

Today in Obamacare: Congress thought it would write Obamacare’s replacement. Trump has other ideas. Vox

HHS Nominee Might Not Be Confirmed Until Mid-February, Says Senator Roll Call. If getting Price in place is the key to the “replace” part of “repeal and replace,” this gives an indication of timing.

Trump Just Stumbled Into a Canyon on Obamacare David Dayen, The Nation. I don’t see how Trump can deliver on his health care promises by turning ObamaCare — originally a neo-liberal, market-based, Republican plan designed to head off single payer — into ObamaCare Minus, which is what Price’s “Empowering Patients First” Act is. Besides being a neo-liberal, market-based, Republican plan designed to head off single payer.

Democrats should write their own “terrific” Obamacare replacement Matt Yglesias, Vox. Matty deploys the dreaded “public option,” which liberals always do when single payer threatens to gain traction.

* * *

The Politics Trump Makes n+1. Trump compared to Carter as a “disjunctive” president at an inflection point between two regimes.

Here’s how you know Cory Booker wants to run for president in 2020 WaPo

Mexico’s gasoline protests are a symptom of a bigger crisis plaguing the country Al Jazeera

Class Warfare

The Working Class, the Election, and Trump: An Interview with Sean Posey Hampton Institute

How Hopelessness Helped Elect Donald Trump In These Times

Why Are There So Many People in Jail in Scranton, PA? Vera Institute

US’s flawed economic recovery divides Trump and Obama supporters FT

The Specter of Democracy Jacobin new data series on inequality and the collapse of bottom incomes Le Blog de Thomas Piketty, Le Monde

Assessing the State of the Economy in Real Time Using Headline Economic Indicators (PDF) CEA

The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage NYT (TK). TK: “Something at the NYT that can be read without gagging.”

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (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. voteforno6

    Re: Cory Booker for President

    He’s such a brave person, by breaking against tradition by testifying against one of his colleagues. Of course, when push comes to shove, he shows his true colors, such as when he voted against Bernie Sanders’ amendment to allow for the importation of cheaper drugs.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The corporate wing of the Democratic Party are simply Republicans. They feared Bernie more than Trump.

        The saving grace is they are such snakes and stupid enough that they will run close to 10 candidates who think they can run as Obama’s successor when Obama’s popularity is irrational and only devoted to Obama. I predict clips of Democrats repeating claims about the national debt in front of YDs with long pauses as they await for applause.

        1. Procopius

          Ah… a technical language point. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party are, properly, called New Democrats. Just ask Al From.

    1. EGrise

      Cory Booker is apparently the third highest recipient of pharmaceutical company contributions, behind only Orrin Hatch and Mitch McConnell:

      So there you have it. A point of pride among gangsters and politicians is that once they’re bought, they stay bought, so I guess Booker is the senatorial equivalent of a “made man.”

      1. Winston

        Booker is from Big Pharma state NJ.

        By the way, both NJ and CT are in big financial trouble.
        Connecticut’s Crisis Continues OR How America’s Richest State Became a Failed State
        Connecticut and New Jersey: Rich States, Poor Economies
        Prieto: N.J. property taxes will only increase without solving Transportation Trust Fund crisis | Opinion

        They are on down side of suburbanization economy, NJ is most suburbanized state and CT most atomized, as does not have functional counties. They have aging infrastructure, on older infrastructure still paying bonds despite past lifecycle. This is because suburbanization means low ROI!

  2. gregg spindler

    Somebody’s gotta do it:

    Facebook hopes to fight spread of “fake news”

    Facebook is launching a journalism project aimed at strengthening its ties with media organizations to help them expand their audiences, come up with new products and generally promote trusted news in today’s “post-truth” era.Facebook is launching a journalism project aimed at strengthening its ties with media organizations to help them expand their audiences, come up with new products and generally promote trusted news in today’s “post-truth” era.

    “It’s very early in the process but certainly something we are really excited about,” said Dave Merrell, lead product manager at The Washington Post.

    I’m so glad that Facebook is watching out for me!

    1. cocomaan

      Expect this to become a stronger narrative as Zuck prepares to run for president in 2024, and possibly another office before that. I actually think it could happen. I also think that he’d put up a good run: middle aged folks of prime voting age are the primary audience for facebook these days.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Does he have any charisma? Hillary had a 90’s attachment, partially cultivated by the deranged Republican attacks. Does anyone remember the Chelsea slumber party invite list story?

        Trump raged against status quo villains (Jeb and Hillary), but there is a reason billionaires don’t run and simply win. Trump also has a larger than life personality much like Obama.

        Why would Zuck run beyond ambition? What is his point? Obama got away with not having a point because of his story and charisma. Yes, Zuck can hire coaches to help him prepare and look better, but the Presidency is for natural stars, not over night billionaires attached to a brand pushed by people who are out to attach themselves to the brand.

        1. cocomaan

          This made me think of Peter Turchin talking about intra-elite competition turning from being a moderate competition that weeds out crappy candidates to creating frustrated classes of elites that can’t find power and begin creating rival power networks alongside the existing ones. He talks about it in our current context by playing up the proliferation of million and billionaires. There’s only ten in the top ten, but we have a lot of powerful people vying for those spots because we have concentrated our wealth.

          So if you ask Turchin, and I think he has some interesting things to say, the bleeding over from billionaires to politicians might be a struggle for recognition in a system with fewer and fewer outlets for power. Instead of established billionaires like Trump running for office, we now have neophytes vying for office.

          In other words, anything is possible when you’ve impoverished your entire country and have a gilded age.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I buy the reasoning behind why Zuck might desire to run especially as the sheen of Silicon Valley is wearing off. I just think he’ll fall on his face. Cuban could do it. He’s a star.

            Also, I think billionaires know they are parasites and desperately want to have people tell them they really deserve their money. Giving back without giving back. Trump on the other hand was likely outraged by the idea an idiot such as Jeb could be considered a front runner for the White House.

            1. cocomaan

              I’m with you, I don’t think he’ll succeed. He doesn’t strike me as someone interested in policy. But the fact that he’s even trying is creeping me out. I’ll never forget when The Onion talked about his codename of Overlord. The intelligence community will probably adore him. Between IC and middle aged mothers, he has a good base.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Those middle aged mom’s aren’t a base. He’s not Oprah (also a star). They use Facebook not ZuckerBook. He’s not in their house every day except as a creeper. Middle aged mom’s care about education issues, bills, and Healthcare. They want someone they perceive as willing to fight for their kids not someone who will Facebook problems away. The perception that Hillary would fight Republicans mattered.

                IC is that “intelligence” or “Internet”? That’s not happening. Obama was everywhere and an organic production in 2005. People went off the rails because they had a cool black friend who wouldn’t ask them to name their favorite or any jazz musician.

    2. Jen

      Wait, I’m confused. Didn’t the WaPo declare fake news dead after we deplorables refused to apply the term only to that which our betters deemed fake?

      So it’s a thing again now?

      1. fajensen

        Yup. The EU now has its own MINTRUTH!

        Run by something called “Stratcom East” which should not – or maybe it totally should – be confused with NATO StratCom. Very interesting times these.

        The web page looks a bit generic and boring to me, indicating a lack of ressources and skills behind it.

        But one never knows, the point of the movie Brazil was that the government can be totally corrupt, moronic and useless, police one tick above Moron, and with visible decrepitude and crapification everywhere. Yet still manage to keep themselves in power and haul any dissenter away to torture and death.

        1. Procopius

          Stratcom East? I hadn’t heard about that. I’ve noticed a puzzling thing, It seems in this latest bout of hysteria from the IC, the neocons, and the Hillarites there must be sects vying for power preventing them from unifying. They have largely lost their experts on perception management (aka PR). Lots of us have heard of Stratfor. The fact that they have to come right out and say, “I put my trust in the best people, not a psychopathic liar like Trump,” and don’t seem to understand how motivation is not proof of action suggest their campaign is in the hands of people who have never written advertising copy. They’ve actually made me raise my opinion of Clapper, although I’m glad he’s leaving.

  3. allan

    If Cashless Society + Negative Interest Rates = Theft on a Global Scale,
    does that mean Ken Rogoff could be prosecuted for conspiracy?
    Or at least committed? The quotes make him sound completely deranged.
    The macroeconomic experiment will continue until morale improves reality conforms to my theory.

    1. Benedict@Large

      OK, since no one else will say it, allow me.

      Negative interest rates are nonsense.

      Negative interest rates mean people will be punished for saving. If you want a new car, or a decent home, or maybe to retire without misery; if you even want to participate in some of those medical savings accounts the Republicans keep talking about, you will be punished. You must consume, and do so to the ultimate of you ability, or YOU WILL BE PUNISHED.

      Here’s a rule of thumb from now on. Anything that comes out of the Harvard economics department should immediately be considered the ranting of lunatics.

      1. Poopypants

        Negative interest rates indicate only one thing in our so called ‘economic system’:

        Entropy has won and what is referred to as ‘Capitalism’ has lost.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If banks are charged negative rates for their money parked at the Fed or other institutions, instead of earning positive interest, they naturally will want to make it up somehow.

          Either the banks charge their deposit customers deposit fees, or they charge their borrowing customers higher positive interest rates.

          I may be wrong here, but by that reasoning, negative interest on those rates dictated by the Fed will lead to more expensive borrowing for small business or weak-bargaining-power borrowers.

          1. Procopius

            The Fed can’t dictate the interest on mortgages or commercial loans. It only has power over the Overnight Rate and the Interest Paid on Reserves. They could reduce the IPR, rather than raising the Overnight Rate, and they could charge the banks a fee for parking their “Excess Reserves,” which would encourage the banks to lend more. I can’t tell from Tim Duy’s column if the banks are not lending because they don’t have any credit-worthy customers or if there’s no demand for loans because the only thing credit-worthy companies are borrowing for is stock buy-backs.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      “The quotes make him sound completely deranged.”

      No kidding. He mentions that negative rates haven’t solved the problems they were supposed too but that’s only because we haven’t done it moar.

      According to Rogoff, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions because the efforts to restore growth and inflation have been one-sided. But done “correctly” it can restore “complete control over inflation expectations,” he said.

      “To do it correctly, you have to make legal, tax, institutional changes,” he said. “And second, you need to be able to do whatever it takes.” Unlike current efforts, a successful implementation of negative rate policies would “involve the whole government.”

      “Central banks can’t by themselves make the legal changes, tax changes, market changes,” he said.

      He’s basically admitting that negative rates are BS but they might work if the entire global economy is restructured according to his pet theories. In the mean time he’ll keep pushing the negative rates by themselves hoping to cause enough pain that the guilty parties cave to his ideas.

      This guy is a whackjob.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        In order to have meaningful economic interactions with each other we need a unit: let’s call that unit “money”.
        Kind of like an inch or a yard or a mile. If you order a machinist to make you a cylinder that is 5/8th inch in diameter, it’s not much help if he has a different idea of what an inch is.
        Enter one delusional, pathological “economist”. Question 1, genius-face: how would anyone know whether they should enter into an economic transaction, if the “unit” required to measure it might fall to a value that is below zero? Question 2: faced with money itself that is pre-programmed to lose its face value, will people respond by A, spending more of it, or B desperately trying to save more and more of it?
        Can we please get a new set of clowns to run the world, this crop has completely lost the plot.

  4. jgordon

    So… henceforth articles from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other such fake news purveyors will be banned from FB? Anyway, just how many fake news stories have WaPo and NYT et al ran with this week? Anyone keeping count?

    1. tiebie66


      !!! CIA-verified !!!
      (This post can be read with confidence: it has been verified free of fake news, hate speech, and attempts at money laundering. It may contain information about state-sponsored terrorism, but that is OK, as we are one of the biggest state sponsors of terrorism.)

      Sent with my oldPhone using CIA-veriTalk.

  5. Kokuanani

    Re the comment on the HHS nominee story, did you mean “Price”?

    If getting Pence in place is the key to the “replace” part of “repeal and replace,”

  6. Alex

    Re: “Deep State”, perhaps “Shallow State” is a better formulation, as it better describes the ultimately insecure and venal sycophants that occupy it.

    As I like to say, most of those employed by the 3 letter agencies are just playing a fancier version of kids in forts.

    1. Roger Smith

      Games Without Frontiers

      Jeux sans frontières

      Hans plays with Lotte
      Lotte plays with Jane
      Jane plays with Willi
      Willi is happy again
      Suki plays with Leo
      Sacha plays with Britt
      Adolf builds a bonfire
      Enrico plays with it

      Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
      Whistling tunes we’re kissing baboons in the jungle
      It’s a knockout

      If looks could kill they probably will in
      Games without frontiers
      War without tears

      Andre has a red flag
      Chiang Ching’s is blue
      They all have hills to fly them on
      Except for Lin Tai Yu
      Dressing up in costumes
      Playing silly games
      Hiding out in tree tops
      Shouting out rude names

      Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
      Whistling tunes we piss on the goons in the jungle
      It’s a knockout

      If looks could kill they probably will in
      Games without frontiers
      War without tears

      Jeux sans frontières, Jeux sans frontières

      1. JustAnObserver

        For those youngsters amongst the NC commentariat that’s a Peter Gabriel song (IIRC its from So? ~1985), one of my musical heros. Genesis was never the same after he left.

        1. SOlar Hero

          Not So, It was his third eponymous LP, 1980, known as “Melt” because of the cover. Great album, also has “I Don’t Remember” and “Biko”

        2. craazyman

          I can remember the words without even looking htem up!

          Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

          early morning Manhattan
          ocean breeze blows on the land
          movie palaces now undone
          the all-night watchmen have had their fun
          sleepin cheaply on the mid-night show
          it’s the same old ending time to go
          Get out!

          I just checked on the internet and I remembered these EXACTLY as they were. That’s pretty amazing. For something from the 1970s that I listened to as a kid a few times. Evidently it stuck in my memory. Early Genesis was pretty fantastic. Phil Collins had a good career too. Those dudes were good.

          1. craazyboy

            Just listened to all the Genesis Gabriel Era albums last week. I could almost sing along to all the songs, and have been trying to arrest earworms ever since.

            Saw them twice live and also Phil Collins’ side band, Brand X in a smallish music club. They were a jazz rock instrumental band with Collins on drums, a guitarist from Atomic Rooster, keyboard player, the second best bass player in the world after Pastorious – Percy Jones, and percussionist. They were really hot and the audience was so totally awestruck we would forget to clap between numbers.

          2. jonboinAR

            Rael, imperial aerosol kid
            exits into daylight, spraygun hid,
            And the lamb lies down on Broadway.
            (From memory)

        3. Mark Alexander

          Genesis was never the same after he left.

          True, though they did manage to produce two good albums after he left. It was Steve Hackett’s departure that killed the old band we loved. I was lucky enough to catch them in ’75 on the Lamb tour — over 40 years later, I can still say it was the best concert I have ever seen.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Here’s the quote I’m enjoying today:
            Tao Te Ching, fifth century B.C., Chapter 57

            Run the country doing what’s expected.
            Win the war by doing the unexpected.
            Control the world by doing nothing.
            How do I know this?
            By this.

            The more restrictions and prohibitions in the world
            the poorer people get.
            The more experts a country has
            the more of a mess it’s in.
            The more ingenious the skillful are
            the more monstrous their inventions.
            The louder the call for law and order
            the more the thieves and con men multiply.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Most of those employed by the 3 letter agencies are just playing a fancier version of kids in forts.

      More like a cruder version — no lies or deceptions emanated from OUR forts, buddy.

      Yesterday a commenter at another site posted a shaggy dog story involving Trump. The writer was asked to yield his restaurant table to Trump. An appreciative Trump gave him a card with his cell phone number. Later he made the call, they got together and — long story short — toured the world, making love on six of the seven continents.

      Fully expecting this over-the-top fantasy to turn up in the President’s Daily Briefing within the week, followed by the Bezos Shopper.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Daily intelligence briefing to align the commander’s brain cells in the right direction.

        Daily MSM exposure by brave Americans for duty-bound aligning of their brain cells in the patriotic direction.

        What’s the difference, daily briefing, and daily MSM exposure?

        Trump is alert enough to stay away.

      2. Praedor

        I read that one! Hilarious. It starts out simple enough and then gives a big “happy ending”. Certainly to receive its own 35 page report.

  7. Steve H.

    Full link for ‘San Diegans Vote for Change in Democratic Assembly District Elections’

    This looks like the blueprint for the hostile takeover of the Democratic Party. Not so overt as Trump over the R’s. Note ‘National Nurses Union’ in there!

    Also note the invocation of the name of Bernie. It’s been useful to focus on policy for me, as most attempts to communicate via the significance of a party (‘Republican values’), or a person (‘BerNIE!’), or an -ism (‘progressive values’) seem to crash on the assumptions of the listener. Here’s a riff on the Twelve Word Platform:

    Stop bombing, progressive tax, share wealth, healthy populace, less toxins, all in & nobody out.

    1. DJG

      Steve H.: Excellent summation in the last paragraph. Is that yours? I’m going to borrow it and throw it into Facebook to see if it calms any of the bathos I’m seeing in my feed.

      1. Steve H.

        It’s a riff off of Lambert’s ‘12 word platform‘ which he is riffing off danps’s…

        and ‘nobody out‘ is Lambert, too.

        and already it’d be clearer with ‘single payer’ replacing ‘healthy populace’

        I add “less toxin’s” due to conservation activities from when I was a kid. Endangered species and Rachel Carson were an early concern. Those National Guardsmen with guns on State Street really made some primary impressions, which is why variants of ‘No War’ usually top my list.

        1. craazyboy

          I don’t really like the term ‘single payer’ when discussing actual system choices because it implies it would be a new invention from scratch and take 4 years to implement the mechanics and hardware and software infrastructure of a new system. (like O Care) If you say Medicare For All or Expanded Medicare, it’s all pretty much done already. May need some more servers and admin/service people to scale the present system.

          As far as slogans to rally around, I’d say abstract up from “single payer” to something like “healthy populace”. That could probably be improved upon, but someone already copyrighted “affordable healthcare”, so we would need to put our thinking caps on.

  8. Anne

    “Empowering Patients First”

    Oh, please. We all know what this means: shifting more cost to the patient that is sold as making people better stewards of their health care dollars, when what it really means is less care. Less care means insurance companies just keep more of our money. Pretty soon, though, that won’t be enough for them, so more schemes will be devised to put more money in insurance company pockets at the expense of patients.

    “Empowering Patients First” What a load of crap.

      1. Praedor

        Ugh. I truly TRULY HATE that empowering crap. Trying to make patients (“customers”) the stewards of their healthcare “consumption” is as ratshit as expecting everyone to be the stewards of their retirement “investments”. Not only are you supposed to become an expert in the stock market, on hedge funds, on all the bogus nonsense that makes up buying and selling on the stock market, you are ALSO supposed to become a doctor or nurse practitioner to boot so you can fully understand and control your healthcare needs. Let’s empower everyone to be their own IT specialists, auto mechanics, pilots, bridge designers, etc. Take control of your flying, computing, use of infrastructure.

        Let’s push this. Empower “political consumers” (voters, citizens) to take charge of the politics. Let’s dispense with the leeches in DC and simply run things via our own “political empowerment”.

        1. Vatch

          Hillary Clinton was empowered by being her own IT specialist. Well, she was only temporarily empowered.

        2. Tom

          Love it! Funny thing though, even though you might empower a person to take control of a 747 in flight, it doesn’t mean they’re going to know what to do when the “low altitude – pull up” warning starts blaring. Even having 100% of “skin” in the game doesn’t suddenly make you a better pilot.

        3. hunkerdown

          That’s the point. “Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people, but let the people be taught…that they are unable to govern themselves.” -Jeremy Belknap

          What you’re seeing is the neo- formulation of that liberal principle: let it stand as a principle that power originates from the people, but let it be taught they need a credentialled expert to guide them through it on pain of fines.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Infighting…civil war in the CA Dem party.

      My first reaction is, the longer it goes, the more it favors status quo, as soft power from the rest of the D party establishment makes its corrupting presence felt…that a blitzkrieg, a surprise or am ambush is the best chance.

  9. craazyboy

    The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer The Intercept. Even if the “Deep State formulation were coherent, which it is not, I would dislike it for two reasons: It implies that the state is a monolith, and it implies that the state and civil society are distinct from each other in any other way than as objects of study (see Werel on Flex Nets). Conceptually, factional conflict in the ruling class will do just fine for me, even if it doesn’t have the earworm-like virulence and pseudo-profundity of “deep state.”

    hmm. The problem with short names and phrases for complex things. Not to be argumentative, but I would assume constant “family squabbles” in the “whatever”, and then assume ongoing opaqueness, misdirection, the occasional publically visible crack in the façade, and then the inevitable attempt to “close ranks” and/or “damage limitation” or maybe the “shock doctrine” option.

    “The Blob” works fine for me too, but here I think we need an Urban Dictionary entry to lay out the conceptual on ramp towards our meaning. Given that, the earworm quality sounds fine to me. It does have a sci-fi Space Alien ring to it, giving it a sort of self describing motive, which is a plus.

    Yes, The Deep State is not separate from our civil society, or anyone else’s unfortunately. Otherwise it would be simpler to have a cold war or something with it. Or accuse it of having WMDs. Plus it uses America as a human shield, and we certainly can’t risk collateral damage and damage or hurt America, its legitimate democratic government, or it’s Constitution in any way.

    However, there is no hurry to settle on an exactly perfect name for this. The prudent approach would be to continue to carefully study all the elements of this translucent, squishy, amorphous, yet tangled, granular and foggy somethingness and perhaps the perfect metaphor for this substance will come bubbling up.

    1. Tom

      Deep State seems like a perfectly fine placeholder to me until something better comes along. It conjures up all manner of metaphors:

      The Deep State is like the gears, springs and levers in a watch — the minute and hour hands on the face of the watch can show different times of day and you can even change the time, but the underlying mechanisms always interlock and operate the same way.
      The Deep State is like the planet’s molten core — the surface topography can change over time, shifting continents, heaving up mountains and carving out valleys, but the underlying catalyst remains unchanged.
      For a more “human” take, maybe the Deep State is like some Doomsday Bunker far below the reach of even the most advanced Bunker Buster — ignorant armies may clash by night above, while those below remain insulated and removed from hostilities.

      1. Gaylord

        The reign of money-changers and war profiteers is antithetical to the conscience of a “civil society.”

    2. fresno dan

      January 12, 2017 at 8:28 am

      “Deep State formulation were coherent, which it is not, I would dislike it for two reasons: It implies that the state is a monolith, and it implies that the state and civil society are distinct from each other in any other way than as objects of study (see Werel on Flex Nets).”

      It seems to me the “deep state” or establishment or blob or whatever you want to call it is pretty coherent:
      1. (Almost) never, ever prosecute a rich person for financial crimes (Madoff is the exception that proves the rule)
      2. Gin up war/terrorism threats. People can do this for money, but they can do it because they just like war (McCain).
      3. (Almost) never, ever prosecute the police for killing civilians. Now this is a good example – sure, juries refuse when they have video of the police beating to death someone. So sure, looks like “civil society” did something independently, but years of indoctrination from Hollywood that the police (and military) are good guys does the job.
      4. Substantively, how much difference between Hillary and the repub candidates? Sure, Sanders was the itsy bitsy crack in the monolith. Again, exceptions…rules….
      And others.
      As far as being distinct, rich people seems pretty distinct to me. But surely master, the rich are not all the same….eyes of needles, camels, etc……

      So, like Potter Stewart:
      I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.***

      ***So….is a movie of beautiful Russian hookers peeing on …a president elect pornography? (I won’t even try and address HARD Core pornography)
      I don’t consider that oeuvre pornographic. Some people do!!!
      Now, if they were old and ugly, that should certainly be illegal….

      So that’s why I call True Scotsmen kilt wearing doo-dad dangling loons…..(and what is the difference between a kilt and a skirt again)

      1. craazyboy

        Like I say, and perhaps Thomas L. Friedman would agree, this whole subject smells like a hole in the ground, and deserves further dropping into the depth of it. Maybe more holes in the ground, being hard to tell how deep they go and where the fracturing may lead?

      2. ambrit

        Someone tried making a “Blue Movie” of the Empress H pissing on Don the Builder. The audience was split, but the critics “elected” to reject the monumentally meretriciuos micturating machinations movie.
        (Remember, your non tax deductible contributions will finance needed research to find a cure for Addictive Anal Alliteration Syndrome. Thank you from the members of the American Association of Ambient Advocates of Anal Alliteration Addicts.)

      3. Jason K no name Fame

        I know political pornography when I see it and this isn’t that good. I was slogging in the notes of Devil’s Chessboard, and then was given “Trance” about or for Mk Ultra ,and both had yuge lines to read between for all salacious side-tracking aside. Too much salt? Try L. “scooter” “Libby” for all his writings.Quotations set for alot of fake names.
        Whether individuals in politics are absolutely corruptible, or the hidden hands near levers of power have strings attached doesn’t matter when Sec. Kerry brings the suitcase of mystery to the IceLord (duckduckgo Putin Kerry briefcase). It’s not short and curly hairs ’cause the bear already has those . But what’s in the funkink case…..? Russia doesn’t need Untied Snakes to lose hard., yet. Give them the mulligan, again and a free trip to Trump Scotland for finishing the round. Southern people wear kilts. Highland gorillas wear trews (with a kilt over like our Greenland Eskimos taught us). Tribal colours (Canadianoid spelling) in a survival suit.Watch a woman fold one. Oh, and uisge is what Kerry(really his name?) and the rest think of as truth when they lie and lick their lips.
        Is it wrong to shout “Fire!” in a crowded porno drive-in if, say, a third of the audience agrees withit?

    3. JTMcPhee

      Yaas, carefully study, while “it” or “they” or what-everrr go on about creating the reality we carefully study the demolition track of, and the grand slurb of Bernays sauce we are poaching in… In the “Blob” movie, you had a scientist who just HAD to keep a bit of the all-eating thing in a nice glass jar, to “study.” What could possibly go wrong? Bearing in mind, history producing echoes and rhymes and all that, that the Blob movie like the ones about Pod People were “shallow state” propaganda to keep us moviegoers all fearful about the Commies “coming to take us over and take our freedoms and our stuff…” Not looking under the right beds, apparently.

      Deep something, all right — maybe deep mass hysteria or deep cultural psychosis or some other approved DSM IV category… but then again just because one is paranoid, one being a soft-skinned, well-fleshed, omnivore-toothed, mincy-clawed meat sack, does not mean that Something Big And Evil is not comingup from behind us to Eat Us or Take Us Over… From a Gahan Wilson cartoon in Playboy:

      Nighttime:A small diner, with a large brightly lit neon, “EAT” sign up on the roof: inside you can see the cooks looking nervously, mouth open, out toward the horizon.

      Over the hill, a giant grinning monster is slithering stealthily toward the diner.

      “My God, you don’t suppose it can read, do you?”

    4. alex morfesis

      Paperklypistani…it began with paperclip, it was hidden because of paperclip and continues in the manner the paperclippers lived…

      The rooskeez spend on their military all year what we spend in one month…

      but the paperclippers still imagine dmytri is going to make it past poland and come for their cousin greta…

      That is a ling moniker though…

      Maybe just klypistan

  10. Steve C

    Senate Republicans are using budget reconciliation to repeal Obamacare. They passed a budget resolution 51-48. The rules allow this even though the Democrats always complained the filibuster prevented them from acting when they controlled things. Think what the Democrats could have done if they had had an actual agenda.

    1. fosforos

      Every Medicare-For-All supporter must wholeheartedly support the Teabaggers’ efforts for outright repeal of the Obamacare law, taking us all straight back to the situation of 2009 but without any prospect of a cosmetic “solution.” Single Payer instantly returns to the forefront, becomes the winning issue in the 2018 elections, and gets put into effect in 2021 at the latest!

    2. polecat

      Demorats ??? .. Actual agenda ???

      HA,HA,HA,HA,HA.HA,HA,HA,HA …… HA !

      …. I think it’s referred as ‘I Got Mine, Jack!’

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Step 1. Save Wall Street
        Step 2.
        Step 3. Profit and win elections with Republican voters.

        It’s a variation of the underpants gnome corporate strategy.

    3. John k

      They did have an actual agenda, let the reps pass more corp-written neolib austerism that they could complain about.

      Corps pay reps to get it done, corps pay dems to let the reps do it to us. If dems had really been fighting reps they would be the majority, but not so rich, particularly after leaving office. Mission accomplished.

    4. JerseyJeffersonian

      Oh, they had an agenda all along; just not one you would support. The More Effective Evil succeeds by obfuscation, getting you to believe their pretty words were anything other than a Rohrschach blot for you to project YOUR hopes and dreams onto. And it has worked for decades, despite the glaring disparity between rhetoric and results.

  11. Pat

    I’m truly on the outside. Even here. Had two conversations yesterday.

    First with a someone who had been really moved by Obama’s speech, and was bemoaning that we were not going to hear anything like it for a long while. I took it as Obama’s ability with English as this was a former English teacher. And stated we hadn’t had it for a while before him. They thought about it and went from Kennedy. I went Ford and Reagan like it or not spoke in complete sentences. Other person was no he was so moving. I went ‘really’, never for me ever. It was suddenly clear that she both didn’t dissect it for the parsing or notice the outright bull. Style over substance still works for a lot of people.

    Second conversation with someone upset about the news conference because Trump yelled. I pointed out that a news agency just published a report about him that was bull shit peddled by four chan even if it had managed to snag idiot McCain in the process, and perhaps they deserved to be called out. At which point I got told of their terror of him getting angry and just hitting the button. I just looked at them and said he is not going to release a nuclear bomb because he is angry, he is not an idiot. Yes, he is. They got that the man is a narcissist, but don’t understand that is an act of psychopath. Trump is not going to do something that is going to bring a nuke down on one of his favorite properties. I had to repeat he is not an idiot, he would not be where he is today if he were. He gets how people react. He has to know there is only one response for a nuclear attack. I also had to explain that get where he is today is not about inheriting a better run real estate business (even with many despicable practices) from his father but he is President of the United States and took down 17 Republicans and the Dictator of the Democratic Party to get there.

    And that is why I say I’m on the outside from many here. The man is not an idiot. He is a narcissist, a bully, a jerk, an asshole, greedy, has skin thinner than an onion etc. but he is not an idiot. And I’m coming rapidly to the conclusion that until the left, center, anyone that wants to circumvent or stop him will always fail until they recognize that. And I hate to say it because it is a vastly annoying style, but until his opposition stops trying to treat him as a buffoon, his style is going to triumph over substance as well.

    1. Hen Kai Pan

      I would not even say that T. yelled. T. told the reporter from CNN that he would not get to ask a question, and the CNN guy kept interrupting T, if anything, it was the reporter who was yelling. He was very rude and T. told him so.
      I have asked myself often what motivates T. Just more power? The urge to “serve” and to spread liberte egalite fraternite is probably not it. The urge to win? Or because he enjoys the game of how far he can go? It’s probably not just narcissism either, because his ‘public image’ is not all that good, is it. As someone wrote in some article about how he took over the Plaza, he is very good at reading people. But no, I would not underestimate him.

      1. Jason K no name Fame

        The game is a Yuge One Word Name, or real legacy. Ivanka K’Trump 2024 and Space Adm. Baron Barron Trump 2040

    2. fresno dan

      January 12, 2017 at 8:55 am

      I’ve read that the Obama farewell speech was longer than Reagan’s Bush’s, and Clinton’s – combined.
      I suspect that’s true because thematically the speech was all over the map – part campaign, part valedictory, part thoughts about the future.

    3. Mike

      Amen to that – don’t underestimate him. If he does something about US drug prices he will presumably get support

    4. Judith

      I rarely if ever listen to politicians’ speeches. (It helps that I don’t have a TV.) I would much rather consider what they have done or have not done and make a judgement based on that. I gave up on Obama in 2009 after the bank bailouts, all the foreclosures he did nothing about, and finally the surge in Afghanistan. I do think it would be interesting to conduct that sort of experiment that Oliver Sacks did (showing a group of patients with aphasia a video of Reagan giving a speech), and replacing Reagan with Obama. The patients laughed at Reagan because they could not completely understand what he was saying and used other cues instead. Apparently they were not impressed in the case of Reagan; my guess is Obama would also not impress.

      Regarding Trump: There is a lot of hard work to be done. The slow work of political change and demonstrations. But that is nothing new; it’s been true for decades. The OMG fainting couch responses seem better suited to an Edward Gorey cartoon.

      1. oh

        I’ll betcha the patients would have another laugh with O’s speech and ROFL. The patients took all the kinesthetic cues and ignored the verbal garbage!

    5. Waldenpond

      The head of the US communist party is upset at Os leaving. Just remind people of how Clinton treated the press… there are clips of her getting angry out there and remember the white noise machines she used?

      Ds with the Russia, Russia, Russia bs and Trump’s a buffoon? It’s almost like it’s on purpose so they can deflect from when they down drug importation to lower costs and save lives.

    6. ginnie nyc

      Actually, Pat, I agree largely with your assessment of Trump. In fact, I would say that not only is he not an idiot, but is rather smart, in an ADD, non-systemic way. He has learned to work around this flaw by delegating to competent people (including an excellent battalion of lawyers).

      I have a long-time aquaintance who is a left-sectarian, lives in Park Slope (ultra-bourgie neighborhood in Brooklyn). He should know better, but he constantly insists Trump is a moron. No, he ain’t. T has learned to read character very rapidly, and then goes for the weak spot. If loyalty and competence are demonstrated, you’re good.

      1. oh

        If he’s a moron, he’s done a great job of outsmarting the 17 R’s who ran against him, $hillary and the other R’s who tried to oppose him. I think Lindsey Graham and John McCain have it coming soon. The D’s have a shock or two coming. Get the popcorn ready.

      2. Massinissa

        Its getting to the point where moron is getting a new definition. Its beginning to be something like “Moron= Someone who does not have the same opinions as oneself.”

  12. Nancy Kramer

    The Fluffy cat in the antidote is not a Maine Coon because it does not have Lynx Tips on its ears.
    It is probably either a Norwegian forest cat or a Siberian Cat. Either way it sure has great ear fur.

    1. Paid Minion

      Probably not a Siberian. They have a heavy “mane” around their necks, like a lion. At least the ones that are winning best in breed at cat shows

      (Daughter owns/shows Siberians)

  13. fresno dan

    WaPo’s Factcheck of WikiLeaks Highlights Paper’s Strange View of Facts FAIR

    This specific logic about a lack of evidence is also rich in irony, since it could be used to dismiss most of the anonymous intelligence sources the Post has used in its flurry of articles about the Russian hack—two of which (11/24/16; 12/31/16) have already had to be retracted or significantly “clarified,” due to what one might call “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.” If one applied the same standards to the Post’s own reporting on the Russian hack, the paper would fail Fact Checker’s Pinocchio test.
    The latest Fact Checker article is particularly worrisome because 1) it demonstrates that the paper’s understanding of what qualifies as a “fact” is extremely dubious, and 2) it comes at a time when the outlet is as militant as ever in advancing a narrative—which may or may not be true—that will increase tensions between two nuclear powers with an ugly history.
    Given the recent history of media failings covering intelligence and national security prior to the war in Iraq (Washington Post, 8/24/04; FAIR Action Alert, 3/19/07), it is important that outlets undertaking to “check the facts” also undertake to use facts, and not merely innuendo and allegations, to do so.
    “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said at the presser where he was accompanied by top advisers Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. “But I think we also get hacked by other counties and other people.”

    Trump also shrugged off questions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help him defeat Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.
    So, does Trump REALLY believe the dems were hacked, or has he decided that this is a battle not worth continuing?

    As I say, its not the questions asked, its the questions not asked and the points of view not even acknowledged as existing. So hacking is a terrible, horrible, bad thing that endangers the country because of the bad, bad Russians…..and the Secretary of State who was a candidate for president uses poor, poor or non-existent computer security. And this person is PRESENTED as a victim, instead of someone who was so ignorant/lazy and incompetent as to take the most rudimentary/simple cyber precautions….that means her group got hacked means the country was ENDANGERED…or somethin’

    So….the solution to hacking….instead of anti-virus programs and not giving up one’s own password (and I mean that LITERALLY – don’t give up your password…”password”) is to increase tensions with another nuclear power….
    The media, working hard to beclown themselves….

    1. fosforos

      What “lack of evidence?” Eyewitness testimony may be false, but it sure is evidence admissible at any trial. Assange’s statement, to date unrebutted, is *evidence* just as much as are such eyewitness statements as “I didn’t kill anybody” or “I’m just the patsy.”

      1. hunkerdown

        This is not a court of law, but a court of public opinion. Different rules of procedure and evidence apply. We have no power to compel discovery. Likewise, we are under no obligation to accept sources or statements that have interests adverse to ours as evidence of anything but a public position.

  14. David Carl Grimes

    Funny how DOJ indicts VW executives for the emissions scandal but refuses to indict any high-level executives for financial scandals such as Wells Fargo’s fake accounts scandal.

      1. Jim Haygood

        One of them, Oliver Schmidt, already has:

        On Saturday night, the FBI arrested Oliver Schmidt, a former emissions compliance executive for Volkswagen Group, as he waited to catch a plane back to Germany at Miami International Airport in Florida.

        In a Monday appearance in US District Court in Miami, a Justice Department lawyer said that an attorney for Schmidt “had alerted government lawyers that the executive would be in Florida for vacation,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

        Schmidt’s attorney ratted him out to the DOJ? It’s an ugly fact that most professionals — attorneys, accountants, doctors, etc — have been co-opted to place the state’s dictates above the best interests of their clients.

        1. Vatch

          I’m glad that Schmidt is in custody so that he can be tried, but it’s very bad that one of his attorneys told the government where he was. I wonder whether the government attorneys lied to Schmidt’s attorney, and said that they just wanted to ask his client some questions.

        2. Hen Kai Pan

          I immediately thought that he may have been in Florida on vacation – how stupid of him, and how arrogant. The others are not in the US. I wish they would face jail in Germany. But, in Lower Saxony, the government is VW, VW is the government.

    1. polecat

      think of it as the Dept. of JUST US’s version of “Oh Look” … a “SQUIRREL !!”

      …. going after ‘easy pickings’ as a way of avoiding dealing with the worst of the worst … because They (Just US) are part and parcel to the whole sordid mess !!

    2. bob

      Much easier when they are foreigners. The admin can whine that they tried….Extradition, it’s so hard.

      Why not try hitting them where it hurts. TAKE THEIR FUCKING MONEY

      Not VW’s money, the execs. We can go after “russian oligachs” the world over, but not germans?

  15. cocomaan

    Home sale agreements fell apart last year at double the rate of 2015, with failed sales increasing in 96 of 100 of the biggest metro areas.

    Top three cities where this is happening: Ventura, CA, Tuscon, AZ, Atlanta, GA. It’s happening in starter homes instead of luxury homes. Top three reasons these contracts fail: buyer failure to obtain underwriting, appraisal problems such as the house being worth less than the sales price, defects revealed in the inspection.

    Trulia cautions that their data is pretty shitty. They don’t know what this means.

    Anyone else hearing a giant sucking sound?

    1. fresno dan

      January 12, 2017 at 9:36 am

      I sold my house a while back, which I had paid cash for. Now I am thinking of getting a house that actually has a plumbing….
      So the difference between 3 and 4% mortgage on 200K is about a smidgen more than 100$ a month, and makes the cost of the loan over 30 years about 150K. That is not insignificant to me.
      It certainly imperils my dreams of an indoor toilet.

      1. cocomaan

        There’s definitely going to be a problem in the next ten years with the real estate market. Starter homes simply don’t exist anymore. 200,000 is not a start for anyone! If they are starter homes, cheap, they are a mess. Deferred maintenance among an impoverished population is going to be a problem.

        You aren’t alone, I think.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Prefabricated houses. Most of the houses on the street I grew up on were out of the Sears Roebuck catalog, and those were put up in 1924.

          The house across the street actually came with a full and separate, two story carriage house.

          1. ambrit

            Those Sears and Roebuck “kit” houses were well designed and needed real carpenters to “assemble.”
            I’ve been inside “Mobile home” or whatever they are called now, manufactories. Cheap and bottom line define the process. Like anything else “mobile,” these beer cans on wheels have a mediocre lifespan.
            “Starter” homes are now supplanted by the Dorm rooms the student debt serfs huddle in.


          Starter homes simply don’t exist anymore. 200,000 is not a start for anyone!


          Even in the heart of the heartland starter homes are closing in on $200,000. And rents for unimpressive apartments are often $800+. How are people supposed to afford this.

          And what is the other side of Starter Home? Retirement Homes?? How do people retire on $1200 social security and afford this?

          The future of housing terrifies me.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          In fairness, “starter homes” ain’t what they used to be either.

          Husbands and wives used to be able to share a bathroom sink, and maybe even, gasp!, share a bathroom with their children. When the family was just “starting” out. Bedrooms used to have to only be big enough for a bed and a dresser–i. e. for sleeping–and not spa-lounge-retreat acreage. If memory serves, kids could even share a bedroom without creating lifelong PTSD.

          And the kitchens. Functioning, even if mismatched, appliances and reasonably intact counter tops, regardless of material, used to suffice. Today that quaintness has given way to “open concept,” unobstructed “sight lines,” designer fixtures and appliances and stone counter tops which are absolute “necessities.”

          “Champagne tastes on a beer budget,” as my Dad used to say. But that was before credit / debt was nothing to worry about, and people not only owned hammers, but knew how to use them.

          1. katiebird

            I agree. But even where these houses still exist (and I own one) the price is rising out of affordable range for Starter (or Retiring) families. Maybe because they don’t build them anymore (as you explained above) …

            My husband calls them $10,000 houses and they go for about $135,000 -$151,000 now in my neighborhood.

            People do want them — even at those prices they go fast. But they aren’t being built.

          2. fresno dan

            Katniss Everdeen
            January 12, 2017 at 11:31 am

            I’m pretty sure its been scientifically proven or advertised that carrots chopped on a 12K granite counter top retain 90% more of their vitamins, 583 percent more beta-carotene, and 99% more erection inducing chemicals than carrots chopped on Formica….

          3. Waldenpond

            We can share a bath, but we both don’t want to share a bedroom. More of my married family and friends do not share bedrooms once the kids move out. Only 1 has a mcmansion though, the rest of us have smaller homes (1600 feet or less). We still plan on dual familyliving with the son when he and his wife or older so will have to go back to sharing a bedroom… one of us will be sleeping on the couch.

        4. Hen Kai Pan

          Starter homes: I read that to mean inner cities, poorer neighborhoods, old houses, such as described in the Scranton article, not the new & crappily built overpriced ones in the outer burbs.

      2. Lee

        Haven’t tried this myself. If you do, let us know how it goes.

        1. Isolato

          Hi Lee,

          I have lived w/a Sunmar now for 15 years in continuous use. Yes, it isn’t perfect, but on our rocky water challenged island it was the only alternative. Most of the issues are maintenance, mucking it out periodically, keeping the “mix” aerobic…the output ends up in our compost pile and eventually our garden (don’t tell!). You DO have to get over the initial distaste of emptying it out, but if you ever changed a diaper…that is worse. We never have odor problems (there is a computer fan in the vent stack) we do have to battle the occasional flies w/diatomaceous earth. We use “medium bark” as a bulking agent. Let me know if I can answer any other questions

    2. Jim Haygood

      Ten years after Bubble II (the stock/property bubble which crested in 2006-2007), McMansions built with cheap and nasty materials (such as foam exterior window trim) are starting to fall apart.

      A commenter in a Journal of Light Construction article on this subject said that to justify higher appraisals on houses that were actually built well, inspection reports are now running up to 60 pages. They detail everything from the roofing, exterior sheathing and trim to the plumbing fixtures, lighting, moldings, windows, etc to show the appraiser where costlier quality components were used in place of “contractor grade.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The other way is to add a few rooms to take in pregnant foreign women expecting American-citizen babies who used to be housed in higher visibility apartment complexes.

          There are a few penitentiary-looking houses around the neighborhood that I suspect were upgraded based on that business-model.

          You have to act fast though, and hopefully can get your investment money back before Sessions plugs that leak.

        2. polecat

          fresno dan, BE the inspector you wish to hire ….

          it means getting dirty, maybe bruised, fending off black widows, wasps, or rats …. but you can

          glean much from inspecting things yourself !

  16. allan

    Boeing plans buyouts, layoffs for engineers in first of three cuts for 2017 [Seattle Times]

    Boeing announced internally on Tuesday a new round of employee buyouts for engineers companywide, and warned that layoff notices will follow later this month for engineers in Washington state.

    Management did not disclose a target for the number of projected job cuts.

    Last month, company vice chairman Ray Conner and the new chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Kevin McAllister, warned that further employment reductions loomed in 2017. …

    A similar buyout offer is coming on Wednesday for certain classifications of blue-collar production workers, said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union. …

    Hamilton said that there will be two additional rounds of buyouts and layoffs in engineering later this year. …

    Last year, a combination of leaving open positions unfilled, buyouts and layoffs slashed the Boeing workforce in Washington state by 7,357 jobs — a 9.3 percent reduction. …

    If this is what full employment looks like …

    1. Paid Minion

      One of the latest trends in management is getting rid of the old, expensive guys, and replace them with newbies contractors in front of an “expert system”. We’ve all seen the “let us manage your problems” ads.

      Of course, when you get rid of the in-house guys, you lose the ability to determine if the contractors you hired are doing the job they were hired to do.

      This isnt a problem, if the decision to hire contractors was intended to provide scapegoats for eff ups.

    2. a different chris

      In a reasonable world (cough socialized heathcare for starters cough) they could just cut everybody’s hours by 9.3%.

      1. Hen Kai Pan

        This was done for many years in Germany. Until they replaced the ‘expensive’ higher wage/higher benefit jobs with temp workers (temp engineers – there are many of these at VW now).

  17. Jim Haygood

    Holy sh*t, we invaded Poland:

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — American soldiers rolled into Poland on Thursday, fulfilling a dream some Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989 to have U.S. troops on their soil as a deterrent against Russia.

    “This is the fulfilment of a dream,” said Michal Baranowski, director of the German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw. “And this is not just a symbolic presence but one with a real capability.”

    The armored brigade combat team arriving in Poland hails from Fort Carson, Colorado.

    No reports of casualties yet, as Polish resistance is reported to be light.

    1. craazyboy

      “No reports of casualties yet, as Polish resistance is reported to be light.”

      After 400 years they learned their lesson. Nobody ever said the Poles were stupid, they just live in a bad neighborhood.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      January 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Only a horrible, very bad cynic would suggest back room deals, i.e., some kind of non-aggression pact between Trump and Putin…..
      After all, when has a “western” country promising peace ever harmed Poland? Inconceivable

      1. Jim Haygood

        Will US occupation turn out to be more benign than German or Russian occupation?

        Ask the Okinawans how that’s workin’ out for them, 70 years on.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Okinawans have endured occupation for more than just 70 years.

          It started with the Mudan Incident of 1817 (see Wiki), followed by the Japanese Punitive Expedition to Taiwan in 1871 (also Wiki) – under the leadership Saigo (yes, from the same Saigo family of Satsuma Rebellion shortly before that), and finally, the de facto incorporation of Ryuku in 1879.

          1. a different chris

            >yes, from the same Saigo family of Satsuma Rebellion shortly before that

            I love that we have people on this site so well educated that they expect the rest of us to nod our heads knowingly at stuff like this! I feel more like the dog in that Farside cartoon “what you say vs. what your dog hears”. :)

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  As long as I get a passing grade on my paper, I am moving on to the next class.

                  “I will be credentialed soon.”

        2. RabidGandhi

          These agreements are usually bilateral. I recommend y’all start baking victory Kołacz to greet the Polish troops soon to be marching through the streets of Houston.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw…

      Hmmm, in the same sentence, tank and Warsaw.

      How many think tank divisions does the Pope have?

      “No tank, no war.”

      “No think tank, no propaganda.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        By the way, there is a doctrine that you have to concentrate your think-tanks to punch through any resistance to propaganda.

        When the opponent or test-subject walks into a newsstand (that is, the battle ground), and sees all the newspaper and magazine territories have been occupied by our think tanks, displaying our symbols, signs and flags, the brainwashing war is quickly over…in a flash.

    4. a different chris

      >Holy sh*t, we invaded Poland:

      And I am announcing an early but very strong candidate for short post of the year. ;>

    5. OIFVet

      No reports of casualties yet, as Polish resistance is reported to be light

      Poland and the Baltic pocket tigers will start WW3 and fight it to the last American tank crew.

  18. allan

    The Latest Gamble in Life Insurance: Sell It Online [WSJ]

    In October, Dan Finkelstein, a 37-year-old father of three, set out to explore buying life insurance. He went online, and to his surprise in about 20 minutes he was the owner of a $750,000 policy.

    Just a year ago, Mr. Finkelstein’s purchase would have taken a month and required blood and urine samples and other medical analysis. “I was definitely surprised how easy it was,” says Mr. Finkelstein, a computer-systems architect in Ellicott City, Md.

    He obtained his policy through Haven Life, a startup owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. More companies, including Haven Life, are trusting algorithms—using answers provided by applicants and data pulled from prescription-drug databases, motor-vehicle records and other sources—to reveal nearly as much about many people as analysis of blood and urine. …

    So, my doctor’s office can’t talk to spouse on the phone because HIPAA, but totally off-label uses of prescription-drug databases are no problemo? Continuing,

    So confident are these companies, they are making some of the industry’s best prices available for the algorithm-driven policies. Mr. Finkelstein is paying $394 a year, one of the lowest rates currently available on a $750,000 policy for a mid-30s male, according to price-comparison websites.

    The firms are making a calculated bargain: Obtaining less information than before to get a deal done is better than selling nothing at all. …

    File this under What Could Possibly Go Wrong, or Disruption Cannot Fail, It Can Only Be Failed.

    1. fresno dan

      January 12, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Now all we gotta do is get my PHARMACY able to keep my prescriptions straight….

    2. Ivy

      Those policies probably have a lot of fine print allowing some ways to rescind the policy or otherwise duck out of any payoff. “We found information after you swore to our demands that contradicts your wishes.”

    3. Jim Haygood

      NASPER (National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting) is another lovely legacy of the Drug War. Buy some medicine; everybody (including the cops and insurance companies) finds out.

      Property and casualty insurers are databasing too. When applying for homeowners coverage with Geico, I was shocked that their database already had all the construction details on my house.

      Nothing can be done about the auto and homeowners databases. But importing prescription drugs is one way to monkey-wrench the health coverage spying. The snoopers check your records, but find n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        January 12, 2017 at 11:46 am
        Where in the world do you get this stuff?

        “When applying for homeowners coverage with Geico, I was shocked that their database already had all the construction details on my house.”
        Wow, I would like to have all the construction details of my house……so….not a snowball’s chance in hell of me getting it?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The records for houses are part of the public record. You can go down to city hall, and find all kinds of stuff. It’s how you are taxed. If it’s not public, you have no recourse when an “incorrect” tax bill comes.

          Licenses, registrations, and any above board work by licensed professionals is in a public file.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Importing prescription drugs – each parcel will have be cleared by Homeland Security.

        They will tap into that database, just like the have tapped into, presumably, building permit databases.

    4. bob

      This is insane.

      My dentist won’t use email because of “security” issues and HIPPA.

      But, when I was there, saw that the admin had a screen open that had EVERY prescription that I’d gotten in the past 5 years open.

      Not just scripts the dentist had written, he hadn’t written any.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I read it earlier and can’t help much. I lost interest in reading the rest of the article at about the point in the Pikketism section he starts getting thin skinned about being called arrogant. Taleb is the epitome of arrogance and his whole point in writing that article seems to be to prove other people aren’t as smart as he is. I’m sure I’m not as smart as he is but I’d rather he at least try to explain and educate rather than lord his erudition over everybody else.

      I read the Black Swan, really enjoyed it and became somewhat of a fan. But the attention he got from that one seems to have gone right to his head. The more I read of him lately the more grating he gets.

      I wouldn’t feel bad for not understanding what he’s getting at – I think that’s kind of the point.

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Trump Just Stumbled Into a Canyon on Obamacare David Dayen, The Nation.

    With all due respect to Dave Dayen, I honestly don’t see any value in picking apart the promises of Trump and his surrogates where their “repeal and replace” strategy on obamacare is concerned. And I sure don’t look forward to months and maybe even years of compare and contrast wrangling, the best result of which would be to make obamacare look better by comparison.

    Both “plans” are bad, bad, bad, and the tremendous problem that is the american “healthcare system” will only be solved with a national system like every other first-world country has. So let’s just get on with it, and not willingly get caught in the “this or that” weeds.

    I’d like to see influencers like Dayen preemptively educate the public, relentlessly, on how a national healthcare system could be built on the existing Medicare system. Expose people to the idea so that they become familiar and even comfortable with it. Deal with the rampant criticism of Medicare expense and demonstrate how that problem is solved when all americans participate and costs become immediately controllable.

    Mainstream the group Physicians for a National Health Program and reference their ideas. Make them a force to be reckoned with instead of a fringe group few have heard of. Disruption is a popular theme–use it. Bernie Sanders has blown a big hole in the “socialism equals communism” wall–walk through it.

    It has been said that earlier in his life, Trump was a supporter of single-payer. At any rate, he’s still a businessman whose credo is “under budget and ahead of schedule.” He’s been continually accused of being a megalomaniac who wants to do big things. Why not at least try to give him some popular support to do this big thing. Corey Booker sure ain’t gonna do it. It may just be that a president like Trump is the only type of person that would attempt to take this on.

    The point is, Trump is a master salesman who’s already broken more than a few molds. And, like it or not, he’s going to be the president. Give him something to sell that the customers want, and everybody wins. But someone’s got to make the customers demand what he’s in a position to deliver. And the same old nit-picking is not going to get anyone where they want to go.

    1. Carolinian

      I like your thinking but the Dems would of course oppose giving Trump such a hugely popular win because that would be like collaborating with Hitler. The above N plus one link is a bit glib but makes an arguable point that Trump will simply be a transition figure like Jimmy Carter since he lacks support from his own party while at the same time serving as the last gasp of their aging voodoo economics “regime.” Doesn’t mean it will happen, but certainly plausible. If we are transitioning to a new regime perhaps it will be a regime that will support single payer….someday. Meanwhile we are trapped in the Iron Law of Institutions. Factionalism is all.

    2. Anne

      I’d like to see influencers like Dayen preemptively educate the public, relentlessly, on how a national healthcare system could be built on the existing Medicare system. Expose people to the idea so that they become familiar and even comfortable with it. Deal with the rampant criticism of Medicare expense and demonstrate how that problem is solved when all americans participate and costs become immediately controllable.

      Mainstream the group Physicians for a National Health Program and reference their ideas. Make them a force to be reckoned with instead of a fringe group few have heard of. Disruption is a popular theme–use it. Bernie Sanders has blown a big hole in the “socialism equals communism” wall–walk through it.

      OMFG, YES!

      There can hardly be anyone older than 18 who doesn’t have some familiarity with Medicare – those who are too young to be on it almost certainly have family members who are, but expanding awareness via actual education would be important to be able to get way ahead of the Medicare-destroyers who can’t wait to put it in the greedy, grasping hands of the private sector. That’s a race we have to win, no matter what.

      Since Trump likes to be the guy who goes bigger than anyone else, he ought to be champing at the bit to make over the health system into something that actually works; perhaps bait him with “LBJ got Medicare passed and operational in a year,” which should challenge him to do it faster and better.

      PNHP is a remarkable group of people and there is tons of info on their website; seems like there are a lot of blogs that could invite guest-posting to help raise awareness and crank up some serious interest in a Medicare For All system.

    3. ambrit

      The problem with your prescription for healthcare “reform” is the use of the phrase “every other first-world country.” America is fast regressing into Second-world status. Oligarchs don’t like first-world regimes. Too much competition from the public for resources. Banana republics knew the pain of being subservient to faceless and ruthless “foreign” businesses. Redefine “foreign businesses” as “global corporations” and we bring Mercantilism into the Modern Age. Redefine the dynamic in terms of class.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For Trump to be on Mount Rushmore, he has to

      1. give the country a national healthcare system.
      2. create jobs.
      3. stop invading pregnant foreigners.

      at the minimum. Others might demand more.

    5. JustAnObserver

      And in the meanwhile we can just add more Epicycles to HeritageCare.

      Paging Mr. (Dr. ?) Ptolemy.

  20. Brad

    Agreed on the mystification, “deep state”. It’s bureaucracy and the theory of bureaucracy. There are public “state” bureaucracies and private “market” bureaucracies. Lawyers were the origin of the bureaucracy in the US. It’s not a “new ruling class”. The theory needs further development.

    But thought the greenwald intercept article was solid. Though at this point one should now cut to the chase and demand an answer to: “Why President Pence”?

    1. fresno dan

      January 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Agreed. And it doesn’t strike me that deep state is any more nebulous than Military Industrial Complex

      But the crux of the article is what is most important:
      “Their (CIA) most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

      The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

      But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive.”

      Just as the Obama administration did so much to extend and legitimize things like the Patriotic Act and the “war on terror” we have reached the point of not only no backsliding on all these programs, but they must progress ever faster and more forcefully. A repub extending the power of the CIA? Typical. But the CIA using a repub in this manner to extend its power? not normal

      1. fresno dan


        “FOR MONTHS, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

        It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation.”

        What the people controlling the US want the relationship with Russia to be, and what the American people want it to be, are two different things.

        Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
        Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
        Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

  21. fresno dan

    Intel agencies ask Americans to ‘trust, don’t verify’ in new Cold War The Hill (SS).

    Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the new Cold War is irony. Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday’s Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility. Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.

    As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted. In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, “No, sir” to the question, “Does the NSA [National Security Association] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

    He later admitted that his answer was untrue.

    Clapper lied again in Friday’s testimony, saying that Assange was “under indictment” for “a sexual crime.” In fact, Assange has not been indicted for anything, and the government of Sweden has never even charged him with a crime. (He was initially questioned by Swedish police but allowed to leave the country.)

    In reality, he is a political prisoner, and the United Nations Working Group on arbitrary detention has found that he has been arbitrarily detained since 2010 by the United Kingdom and Sweden, and ordered his release and compensation.

    He has offered from the beginning of his political persecution to cooperate with the Swedish authorities in any investigation, and to be interviewed at any time in London. He could not safely return to Sweden without guarantees that he would not be sent to the U.S., where he currently faces a high likelihood of imprisonment (even before any trial) for having published leaked documents that exposed U.S. war crimes and other embarrassments.

    For years, neither Sweden nor the U.K. would agree to that because, it appears, their foreign ministries are collaborating with the U.S. government to keep him imprisoned.

    For anyone on a jury who had to weigh the testimony of Clapper against that of Assange, it would be a no-brainer. Not only is Clapper a proven and serial liar, but in 10 years of WikiLeaks revelations, Assange has never been shown to have lied about anything.

    “Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the new Cold War is irony.”
    It was probably 2 or 3 years ago in a comment on NC that I said that “satire and parody is dead.”
    Really, how many people could have even imagined Trump becoming president of the US? And aren’t Baldwin parodies of Trump a little flat….because Baldwin can’t say anything more outrageous or ridiculous as Trump???

    “As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted.”
    Uh, no. Clapper breaking the law, and Clapper being prosecuted for breaking the law is like saying hell could freeze solid. Sure….the devil could be dressed in mukluks and rubbing his cloven paws together ….but Clapper still won’t be prosecuted…

  22. vidimi

    holy smokes, so a foreign power has been meddling in the US elections: Ukraine!

    i wonder if that will be investigated?

    1. Massinissa

      Considering that Ukraine is basically our puppet now, maybe its a case of America intervening in America’s elections via proxy?

      1. vidimi

        that may be the case de facto, but de jure, the implications can be monumental. if trump can innoculate himself from these charges, he can have his DoJ prosecute the likes of Mccain with treason – a capital offense.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Judge Nap on why Hillary is still in jeopardy of prosecution:

    The FBI posted on its website more than 300 emails that Clinton had sent to an unnamed colleague not in the government — no doubt her adviser Sid Blumenthal — that had fallen into the hands of foreign powers.

    Blumenthal was hacked by intelligence agents from at least three foreign governments and they obtained the emails Clinton had sent to him that contained state secrets. Sources believe that the hostile hackers were the Russians and the Chinese, and the friendly [sic] hackers were the Israelis.

    Last Sunday’s revelations make the case against Clinton far more serious than Comey presented it to be last summer. Indeed, attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that he would step aside from any further investigation of Clinton, thereby acknowledging that the investigation will probably be opened again.

    Eight days left for 0bama to issue a pardon, and for Hillary to accept it.

    My guess is that in their royal bubble, the Clintons feel they can dodge and weave and buy their way out of trouble. After all, they’ve got friends in low places. ;-)

    1. tegnost

      my lingering and unsubstantiated gut feeling about the russia hacks is that it’s a way to let the 10 or 20 people on hillary’s team who should be going to jail off the hook because the whole thing makes no sense to me, yesterday the seattle times editorial board was calling it “an act of war”. won’t bother linking, just OMG these people are going whole hog on the “don’t look over there, look over here…”, but that’s just my exhausted opinion.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        In this atmosphere, to prosecute a Third-Rome hacking victim, Hillary, is to hand a victory to all Pushkin and Dostoyevsky lovers.

    2. Pat

      There was a one off headline on Yahoo the other day that said that Obama might pardon Chelsea Manning. I don’t expect either of those pardons, or any others that might be controversial or remotely the right thing to do from no drama Obama (yeah that lets Siegelman out again as well). And that means I’m distrustful enough of all of them anymore to think if any Clinton pardons come down, I will be wondering what piece of incriminating tape they do have on Obama.

  24. Katharine

    Yglesias is behind the times. Dems wrote their own replacement for Obamacare years ago. It’s called H.R. 676, The Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act. John Conyers introduces it faithfully every year.

  25. Pat

    Perhaps it is time to object to the term ‘customers’ when talking about health care. Start insisting that people seeking health care be called “patients” to start getting it to sink in that we are not talking about shopping as recreation.

    I know I object anymore to the idea that I am some way at fault for failing to shop for a necessary service when I cannot do so for numerous reasons, not the least of which can be being unconscious at the time.

  26. Toolate

    Isn’t t IC deep state furor really just obfuscation designed to actually prevent any truly meaningful response to the oligarchy/inverted totalitarian structure?

  27. Dave

    Re, The New Yorker “smug airline pilot” cartoon in Jacobin:

    Many pilots are now being replaced with $20 dollar an hour amateurs. Witness the upstate N.Y. crash in Buffalo.

    To say nothing of American aircraft being maintained by Salvadoreans and Chinese, who must read the English language technical manuals etc.

    All part of globalism and profit sucking to the top .1%, 1%, 2.1%, whatever.

    The “expensive” ones with the West Virginia drawl, the ex-military guys that you want to be your pilot, are now often working at Home Depot part time.

    Observing the contortions and apologias, the in depth analysis of what happened, the ‘solutions”, of the Hillary Clinton wing of the left wither and die is like watching and animal that has attacked you in its death agonies after you have fought it off.

    You get a primal lust as you watch its every twitch and jerk.

    1. bob

      I heard that tape at the time. The pilot went from chatty, to completely panic stricken.

      If you panic as a pilot, you die, along with others.

    2. Massinissa


      Lol, love it. I too am a bit tired of the hair splitting as to whether our class enemies are the .01, .1, or 1%. May as well take all the money from the extra .9% or whatever as well, just to be sure.

  28. Jim Haygood

    Today’s updated drought monitor shows that the area in California subject to D4 “exceptional drought” has shrunk to a small area northwest of Los Angeles, after the formerly large D4 area was downgraded to D3 “extreme drought.”

    Most of northern California and northern Nevada, north of a line running from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, was taken out of drought status entirely.

    South of that line, it’s still all drought, all the way to Mexico, Arizona, and clear on to Phoenix and Tucson.

    1. Kim Kaufman

      My understanding is that this only shows that the reservoirs might be full. It doesn’t address the acquifiers which are being depleted and not refreshed by the rain.

  29. Kim Kaufman

    “Soros Group to Stay in Hungary Amid Trump-Inspired Crackdown Bloomberg”

    This explains a lot about why Hillary and the Dems are so anti-Putin/Russia.

    1. Reify99

      Re: Soros Funded NGOs in Poland

      Interesting. I have wondered if Soros funded NGOs may have had a role in destabilizing govts, like Ukraine. If Trump manages to undermine the underminers he’s doing Putin a solid. Maybe the NATO borders will stabilize, (and the neighborhood start to settle down) albeit a little late, since it was Bush I who promised no further expansion.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s being reported (fake? genuine?) that Soros has lost over $1 billion since the election.

        Long the Mexican currency? Short S&P?

  30. oho

    ‘globalisation ‘easy scapegoat’ for global angst: WEF chief

    ..says the guy whose paycheck 100% relies on convincing multi-nationals, NGOs and gov’ts to plunk down $$$$$ to attend/set-up a booth at their conferences.


  31. Kim Kaufman

    The Coup Before the Inauguration Jack Shafer, Politico

    Funny seeing Politico quote Bob Dylan

    “This is only the beginning. Even the president of the United States must sometimes stand naked, the poet once sang. In Trump’s case, he’s been fully pantsed before he’s taken the oath.”

    but not have the nerve to name him.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It feels like coup.

      Not quite ‘The Seven Days in May,’ as the ‘Twenty Days In January’ is less energizing that no one is rushing to defend the president-elect.

      1. Amdrew Watts

        It sure seems like somebody is. Who leaked the identity of that former (allegedly) British intelligence operative who wrote that propaganda dossier on Trump?

      2. Dave

        “No one is rushing to defend the president-elect” Yet
        Assume that he is not sworn in for one reason or another.

        Thanks to the Achilles Heel of globalism, just in time delivery, New York has a three day supply of food, as do most other big cities.
        The long haul truckers and “enough” working men like Trump.

        Imagine a general transportation strike.
        You’d find out who your friends were real quick.
        The people that matter know this. They will not interfere with the transition.

  32. Waldenpond

    Ds are irredeemable: Well, getting the slot to ‘testify’ against Sessions indicates he has party backing but voting against the amendment to create a neutral fund for importing from Canada shows potential oligarchs that he is wholly committed to crushing people and his concurrent slogan for patients is to go ‘bankrupt or die’.

    46 to 52. Booker wasn’t alone of course. It looks like 13 Ds prefer to squeeze every last penny out of patients.

    1. marym

      The Democrats always stop drug re-importation amendments. You can see from the roll calls
      that they play rotating villains so as far as Booker, it was probably just His Turn.

      When they defeated then-Dorgan amendment in 2009 to support a WH deal with PhRMA Obama said he would support re-importation at a later date. I had been until that point a hope-and-change believer, but just didn’t believe him. It wasn’t the word that came to mind at the time, but that’s when I knew he and the Dems were irredeemable.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          People are beating up on Booker pretty bad on the twitter. Join the fun: @CoryBooker

          Incidentally, people tend to think that Sanders doesn’t have political chops, but his Pharma bill, besides being a good bill in itself, deked Booker into outing himself (and after all that good PR, too — including many dreadful pictures of Booker radiating concern and sincerity. Such a shame).

          1. UserFriendly

            I got a few shots off at his expense. I didn’t bother @-ing him though because he was already catching so much flack.

    1. Waldenpond

      Cats and water…. one of my cats likes water. She likes it when the faucets are left to drip. You can’t leave glasses around, she’ll dip her paw in repeatedly to lick (gross) She sleeps on the side of a bathtub with her front feet in the water or sideways with one paw and a tail in the hot water, even climbs on people to sit on them to play. Leave half an inch or so in the tub and toss in a rubber ball and she jumps in and out and around, splashes in puddles, has even a couple of times sat in the bird bath thinking a bird must eventually come get a drink. They don’t.

  33. msmolly

    “Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump WSJ. Assuming that intelligence officers can be “ex.” Read the whole thing.”

    Can’t. Paywalled. Very frustrating.

  34. Waldenpond

    Ds are irredeemable…. Reported that E Warren spent a significant amount of her time at the Mattis hearing Russia, Russia, Russia-ing.

    1. bob

      The night of the election, Van Jones set the tone on CNN.

      Before anything else, he went after Putin!

      I thought it would be dismissed as sour grapes. Nope, he was setting the agenda going forward.

  35. allan

    SMYRNA, Ga. — Police in suburban Atlanta and Krispy Kreme officials say they’re investigating a blog report that a police officer found the words “Black Lives Matter” written on his box of doughnuts when he went to pick them up. …

    From the AP, not the Onion.

    1. bob

      How can we be sure the donuts didn’t label themselves?

      Insurgent donuts!

      The next big threat. Funding being debated now in the senate. They are having trouble finding the donuts. It seems they may have been consumed by the officers anyway.

      Buzzfeed and the WaPo are on this, don’t worry.

  36. Andrew Watts

    RE: Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump Assuming that intelligence officers can be “ex.”

    The obvious question is why would they do something like that that? Which is fairly easy to answer. The United Kingdom is the country which has the most to lose from the election of Trump. The British have always had one foot on each side of the Atlantic and in the aftermath of Brexit the “special relationship” between the US and UK has become of uttermost significance. This is something that Trump as President might change and it isn’t likely British intelligence would sit by and let a little thing like an election stop them from acting upon their perceived national interest. The history of the British Security Coordination provided all the evidence I needed.

    By the way, the BSC didn’t just target the anti-Roosevelt crowd. They went after members of the Roosevelt administration too. Adolf Berle was targeted when he tried to include British intelligence in legislation that would’ve curtailed their activities on American soil. Vice President Wallace became a target after he gave a speech advocating for amicable relations with the Soviet Union at the end of the second World War which included permitting a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. (“Why does that sound familiar?“)

    This wasn’t the most scandalous aspect of the BSC’s torrid history. The most outrageous part was the degree in which American media/intelligence agencies willingly made themselves subservient to a foreign intelligence agency. The OSS under Bill Donovan made itself in the words of author Jennet Conant in her book The Irregulars the “willing handmaiden” of British intelligence. I can probably think of a few other words and/or phrases besides that.

    It doesn’t appear anything has changed.

    1. Andrew Watts

      RE: Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump (part 2)

      One final thought: if the British Secret Services does have a hand in currently spreading propaganda like I am alleging it probably isn’t the first time they’ve privately meddled in American political affairs lately. They wouldn’t want Edward Snowden to receive a pardon because his disclosures covered GCHQ and the Five Eyes. But there’s probably an even more important reason. Snowden can’t be debriefed by American counter-intelligence so any disruptions in foreign SIGINT collection or other ops will automatically be blamed on him. This’ll be the gift that keeps on giving to every single foreign intelligence agency who has infiltrated the US intelligence community.

      I also sincerely doubt Putin would favor an unpredictable Trump becoming president either. Taking potshots at Hillary is one thing but actively taking sides is another. This assertion never made any sense. The Russians have tended to favor stability and predictability outside of cases where their strategic interests are directly threatened (ie; Georgia in NATO, their naval base at Sevastopol, etc.) ever since the Yeltsin era.

      Nor would Russia have anything to gain from smearing predominately American websites/blogs. The common denominator of the websites was their anti-Hillary views. We all know that Naked Capitalism was a bastion of support for Hillary during the election. /sarc

      1. Amdrew Watts

        Nor would Russia have anything to gain from supporting predominately American websites/blogs.


    2. Harold

      I think it may have been about the Greek Civil War, which was on-going at that time. Stalin had promised the Mediterranean countries to the British sphere of influence but the Greek grass-roots anti-Nazis resistance fighters had been communist and looked to take over all of Greece. The British hadn’t cared so much about Central Europe at the time of Yalta (actually it was Tehran): they mainly wanted to keep the sea route to their Indian possessions open. Earlier, my belief is that they were possibly upset with Wallace because of his association with the Russian mystic Nicholas Roerich, whom they suspected of sympathy with Tibetan nationalists (i.e., anti-imperialists) in the 1920s. The Tibetan nationalists became heroes later on when they were resisting Chinese rather than British imperialism. I read that interesting book by Jennet Conant, BTW.

  37. Jim

    Ruling class, Deep State and the Blob:

    One of the key reasons most of the Left has such difficulty understanding our contemporary structure of power is because it has uncritically absorbed the assumption of a Marxist anti-idealist hierarchy of reality.

    This assumption maintains that the base (understood as economic-political) posses a higher reality content (more power to bring about effects and side effects) than all other spheres ( especially the state, as well as the legal system, the educational system and all other articulations of culture).

    Consequently someone like Michael Hudson can argue that “… a free market today is a centrally planned economy, but it is not planned by government, the planning is shifted out of government to the banks.”

    His description of our modern structure of power assumes that the economic base (in this case the banks) must always be more powerful than the pathetic state which is erroneously assumed to be a mere epiphenomenon (according to his apparent acceptance of the hidden assumption of an anti-idealist hierarchy of reality).

    Similarly, Philip Mirowski’s definition of neoliberalism as “… a set of proposals and programs to infuse, take over and transform the strong state in order to impose their ideal form of society.” has also been met with cognitive confusion by much of the left. How can a strong state impose a market society when the state is assumed to always be less powerful than private economic forces.

    This anti-idealist assumption may also be at play in preferences for ruling class over deep state–but that is a more complicated and longer discussion.

    1. hunkerdown

      Quite simply, why should they adopt idealism? Liberalism is made of idealism, and has proven itself fraudulent. Since liberalism in practice amounts to an unaccountable, lying ruling class, exactly what is there to want?

      1. Jim


        I”m not arguing that anyone should adopt idealism, but simply pointing out that the acceptance of that assumption as the complete truth may contribute to a possible misdiagnosing the nature of the contemporary structure of power in the U.S–in which there certainly exists an extremely powerful State which cannot be accounted for or accepted by many on the Left because of its uncritical acceptance of anti-idealist hierarchy of reality.

        I have a separate question/issue for you–is there such a thing as a unified class will or put another way is it possible that a belief in a possible effective homogenization millions of spontaneous individual wills is a largely a delusion– for both the working class and for the so-called ruling class?

        The usual answer to this question are the magic words–better organization–but is it the case that a leap from the level of many active individuals wills to that of a standardized class will is simply the consequence of a surrogate construction?

        1. hunkerdown

          Jim, thanks for the clarification. I think I get it… like treating actors with strong interests as driven exclusively by cynicism? Which doesn’t admit of the possibility of perverse ideals having subtly trimmed their course toward a competitive, zero-sum situation, never mind directly informing their objectives? Like Blankfein and “God’s work” and that the hookers-and-blow are regrettable necessities to dull the pain? Sounds like good analysis to me.

          My first reaction to your question is to consider a class as a group of people similary situated, pardon the legalese. By that light, a movement might be a group of people oriented or aligned along some axis or axes. Similar situation relies on members’ orientation in space relative to outside forces (e.g. luck, beauty, parental nurturance). So, since it’s beddy bye time for me, I’ll cut to the answer and say, perhaps not, until conditions get sufficiently uniformly bad, which is all too easily defeated by dividing the lumpen against itself. Lots of nudges from the Universe tonight to sleep on…

  38. Oregoncharles

    “Spy chief trashes leaks, assures Trump of loyalty” – sidebar article to Politico’s “A Coup Before the Inauguration.” It’s

    Clapper’s getting nervous, and probably the entire top tier of, at least, the CIA. It’s clear they can’t really stop him, short of assassination, which is just as well.

    And about the “Deep State:” the term is popular because it expresses our observation that there’s a great deal, probably the most important part, going on behind the curtain. That’s just a metaphor, so to be explicit: in secret. There are also a great many permanent or semi-permanent people who work the gears of government, to say nothing of the interest groups in league with them. It’s really the same as “MIC,” but with an emphasis on the secrecy and obscurity of the real power.

    To that point, I think it’s valid. Implying that it’s unified or not subject to factions or public pressure is another matter. But it’s ultimately just a metaphor.

    All this reminds me very strongly of “A Very British Coup,” a BBC movie (I gather there are two versions; I saw just one.) from some years ago. In that case, the threat was a leftist PM – say, Jeremy Corbyn. But the issue is the same with any outsider. The film made the point that in Britain, the permanent government – the civil service – rises much higher in government, including the people around most ministers. It was essentially an alliance of those bureaucrats with the military that overthrew the PM.

    In the US, those high ranks are political appointees, but I’m not sure that makes a huge difference; and in particular, it means they’re all about to lose their jobs. That’s supposed to be priced in, but Trump might make a cleaner sweep than, say, Obama, who was very slow to replace those ranks.

    1. Andrew Watts

      From the article,

      “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.”

      Never believe anything until it is officially denied.

      “I assured him that the IC stands ready to serve his administration and the American people.”

      Hah! The fact that Clapper has to say this in private and/or public is an ominous sign. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  39. ChrisPacific

    The level of self-delusion in the “no crisis in economics” link is pretty high even by economist standards:

    Any criticism of “economics” that rests on its failure to predict the crisis is no more plausible than the idea that statistical theory needs to be rewritten because mathematicians have a poor record at predicting winning lottery ticket numbers.

    Is the author really suggesting that the best model that the entire worldwide discipline of economics can come up with is a stationary random walk? If so, what the heck are we paying all these people and funding all these research papers for when the sum total of their knowledge amounts to something that an undergraduate could throw together in half an hour? If not, how does this argument make any kind of sense at all?

    I am getting really sick of economists trying to compare themselves to mathematicians.

    1. wilroncanada

      You must get really sick of the fact that most economists ARE just mathematicians, high-school level mathematicians.

  40. integer

    I notice that, after I made a joke about everyone knowing that Trump looks out for number one in yesterday’s links, none of my comments have made it through moderation. I hope my joke was not interpreted as me simply saying that “everyone should already know this”.

    1. integer

      …And now I’m even more confused as the above comment went through but not the two I made here in today’s links earlier.
      Not complaining, just perplexed.

      Btw I believe the link I posted contains valuable info on what the “deep state” actually is and how it devolved to what it is today.

  41. Roland

    @Jim 1544.

    It’s a bad sign when you write several paragraphs about Marx, yet fail to mention any of the following: capital, class struggle, means of production, proletariat, or bourgeoisie.

    Therefore I think that you are ignorant of Marx.

    According to Marx, in a capitalist society the members of the bourgeois class eventually control the means of production. Because they control the means of production, the bourgeoisie eventually become the dominant class politically and culturally, too. Members of the bourgeoisie then are able to use the power of the government to benefit their own class.

    As a remedy for this, Marx, in his own plain words, recommends the conquest of political power by the proletariat.

    How, then, does this correspond in any way to your supposed notion that Marxists have disdain for the realistic power of state institutions?

    What Marx said would happen in a capitalist society is exactly what we have seen happening in our global capitalist society during our own time.

    This is simple to understand, so there is no need to resort to nonsense phrases such as your, “anti-idealist hierarchy of reality.” Such a phrase could only be born of a pro-absudist dystrophy of observation!

    The problem is not with Marx. Read the Communist Manifesto. The work is universally available. Marx is brief, clear, and cogent.

    The problem with today’s so-called “Left,” in most of the developed world, is not that they followed Marx, but that they tried to contradict him.

    Today’s so-called “Left” lost their focus on the question of who controls the means of production. The so-called “Left” persuaded themselves that the people who needed to sell labour to make a living, had somehow stopped being proletarians, and had mysteriously become “middle class”–even though they did not control capital.

    Some of the so-called “Left” began to spend more of their time worrying about people’s birth characteristics, than about people’s relationship to the means of production.

    The so-called “Left” in the developed world adopted many positions which contradicted Marx. As global capitalism matured, and the post-WWII welfare states deteriorated, the “Left” in the developed world found itself completely unprepared to undertake class struggle. Many of them, indeed, would have felt personally insulted if you called them, “proletarian.”

    Proles who didn’t even know they’re proles! And they considered themselves “Leftist” …

    No wonder the bourgeois politicians were able to kick their butts, along with the heads that were wedged up there, too.r

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