Links 1/18/17

Yves here. I’m a bit thin at launch time. Please tune in later for a fuller ration.

Squirrel ‘threat’ to critical infrastructure BBC (David L). I can attest to this second-hand. Squirrels took a car out temporarily by chewing on the wiring. Mothballs under the car have proven to be effective.

Calculating the perfect jump Tastefully Offensive

Game Of Thrones’ Character’s Shocking Return May Confirm Huge Leak Huffington Post (furzy). I must be the only person dumb enough to have read the books and avoided following what has happened on the show out of the belief that Martin will get around to finishing the books. And separately, it was getting tired to see how many characters Martin brought back from apparently being dead.

This electric car is the first zero-emissions vehicle to finish the Dakar Rally TreeHugger (resilc)

The Heroism of Incremental Care New Yorker (furzy). Horrible title. The doctors are not heroic. The patients are for not having given up, particularly given the propensity of doctors to be overconfident re their ability to cure a chronic ailment, and then worse, that some blame the patient when their interventions fail (either by suggesting they were non-compliant or that the problem must be in their head if they didn’t get better).


China’s housing boom ends as prices fall in top cities Financial Times

Brexit. I know I should post on the May speech, and hope to soon, but the 50,000 version is she has thrown the steering wheel out the window when the EU is bigger and has made clear it is not going to swerve. She incoherently says she will exit the single market yet expects a deal that will preserve access and let the UK limit immigration. The EU has said repeatedly that is na ga happen and that any new arrangement has to fit in the framework of existing trade pacts, and these features alone don’t. In other words, the Brits are accomplishing the difficult feat of making the Germans look reasonable. But the UK press is just as deluded as the Tories are, and that seems to be influencing US coverage. These dynamics are so much like Greece v. the Trokia, in terms of the misreading of the power dynamics and the downside that it is freaky. But the Greeks really were badly downtrodden, the new leaders could be forgiven for naivete and desperation, Varoufakis had the correct economic analysis even if the Eurozone was not going to undo its hopelessly destructive budget rules to end austerity and was therefore invested in the fallacy of punishing borrowers when the bad structure of the Eurozone guaranteed that you’d have chronic trade imbalances and Germany was unwilling to do anything to change that. The Greeks in other words were right in a ton of respects but were destined to lose, and their misplaying of the negotiations resulted in Trokia getting punitive and the harm to them thus being even worse than it would have been. The Brits are vastly less sympathetic actors, since the EU knows well that the Brexit vote was the result of a Conservative intra-party power play that spun out of control, and the collateral damage for this stunt will be colossal. They are being obtusely reckless, as opposed to reckless out of desperation and misplaced hope.

Mays Brexit-Pläne: Ich will, ich will, ich will Speigel (Jean-Louis). Google translate here. Spiegel is actually pretty restrained. Key sentence: “The disadvantage of her speech is that it has now convinced the rest of Europe definitively that the British government is not only ugly, but also blind to reality.”

Theresa May’s blurred Brexit lines Politico

UK ministers warn EU against ‘punitive’ Brexit deal Financial Times

Russian sex workers are world’s best, boasts Putin The Times (Dr. Kevin). So he has an extensive enough sample to make a personal recommendation>?

Key NATO Commander Agrees With Trump, NATO Is Obsolete Antiwar (resilc)


Over Two Million Yemenis Displaced by Conflict International Organization for Migration. Resilc: “Nice job, Obomba.”

Iraqi army prepares west Mosul offensive BBC

New Cold War

Four Looming Flashpoints Facing President Trump TomDispatch. I was going to cross post this, but it goes overboard on the “Putin is an aggressor” image the MSM and Beltway have been selling hard (not that Putin does not have interests that are opposed to ours, and that he has been trying to advance Russia’s interests). For instance, it depicts Putin as having superpower ambitions, when we were the ones who destabilized Ukraine, which is on his doorstep, and supported (arguably helped install) a Russia-hostile government which included about 15% neo-Nazis in key positions who started threatening Ukrainians of Russian descent (one YouTube video has a senior defense official urging ethnic cleansing and saying soldiers should keep what they take). It was no accident that a country where people of European and Russian ancestry had gotten on peacefully suddenly fractured on ethnic lines. I’d like to get reader input, but this exaggeration of Russian bad-ness appears designed to justify having the Baltics on the list of flashpoints (as in we are justified in exerting influence there). And pray tell, how would the US react if Montreal succeeded and started making US-hostile noises? Would we sit pat? The piece also weirdly fails to mention that the Chinese have built artificial islands on atolls that were previously submerged part of the day to justify their maritime claims.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch


Imperial Collapse Watch

Americans Lose When America ‘Runs’ World Order National Interest (resilc)

How NATO grew fat and Russia took advantage The Week. Resilc: “It’s about military jobs, budgets for toys and nice living including retirements.”

Key NATO Commander Agrees With Trump, NATO Is Obsolete Antiwar

Trump Transition

About Half of Americans Think Russia Interfered With Election Through Hacking, WSJ/NBC Poll Finds Wall Street Journal

Veteran U.S. Intelligence Officials Call for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof George Washington

Nearly 60 Democratic lawmakers now skipping Trump’s inauguration Washington Post (furzy)

Immersion Therapy in the Trump Archive New Yorker (furzy). With all due respect, I see no evidence that anyone has gone through what Trump said about himself on multiple appearances on the Howard Stern show.

Trump accuses civil rights leader Lewis of lying about inauguration Reuters. Even on those occasions when Trump is correct, he loses by being so obsessed with winning these fights.

Terror and the Mexico border: How big a threat? Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

Donald Trump faces lawsuit over sexual assault claims Financial Times. Aiee, I hate sounding like a Trump defender, but some relevant facts the story omits: Defamation cases are hard to win. Now admittedly it is likely that the plaintiff does not expect to win but hopes to embarrass Trump in discovery. But to get a judge to take a case seriously, the plaintiff has to be able to prove significant monetary damages. The underlying conduct allegedly took place in 2007 so memories from so long ago are suspect. And New York has anti-SLAPP law, not the toughest considerably how quickly the cases moves forward. Delay is bad for plaintiffs in litigation.

What I found behind Trump’s showy façade The Times (furzy). Important in the sense that it gives a more nuanced picture of Trump than most.

Rex Tillerson got burned in Venezuela. Then he got revenge. Washington Post (Sid S)

F-35’s ‘Grotesque Overruns’ Now Past, Says Pentagon Chief Bloomberg. If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you, although he probably has a Clintonian definition of “grotesque”.

Commerce Pick Wilbur Ross to Divest at Least 80 Holdings New York Times

Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears ThinkProgress (Scott)

Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build “God’s Kingdom” Mother Jones (resilc)

Unlike Trump, Americans want strong environmental regulator Reuters (EM)(

When a Foreign Government Interfered in a U.S. Election — to Reelect FDR Politico

2016 Post Mortem

Matt Taibbi’s New Book: ‘Insane Clown President’ Rolling Stone (Bill C)

Trump’s Counter-Punch: A Persuasion Tactic and Clinton’s (Terrible) Tweets: A Persuasion Analysis ExtraNewfeed

Obama’s Unnecessary Wars and ‘Humanitarian’ Interventionism American Conservative (resilc)

Resignation and divisions at exclusive Maryland golf club over Barack Obama membership – and his Israel policies Telegraph (furzy)

Clintons Shutter Global Initiative as Donations Dry Up New American (Timotheus)

Mark Zuckerberg Spent Martin Luther King Day Building a Community Garden in Oak Cliff Dallas Observer (Joe H). In case you doubted it, Zuckerberg sure looks like he is running for President.

Our First Stand Rally With Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters YouTube (Kevin C). Chuck Schumer….kill me now.

Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning CNN. Obama occasionally does the right thing, so good for him.


On Health Care, We’ll Have What Congress Is Having New Yorker (furzy)

The Deportees Taking Our Calls New Yorker (resilc)

Second Theranos Lab Failed U.S. Inspection Wall Street Journal

Trump’s Options for Weakening Dollar Extend Beyond Tweets Bloomberg. This is important. The strong dollar policy was integrally linked to promoting the US financial services industry, which was inaugurated by none other than ex Goldman Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, who has maintained a stranglehold on the Democratic party through allies and acolytes at Goldman and Citigroup. A strong or at least not weak currency is essential to being a major financial center.

Bank margins to be boosted by labour-saving automation but long term challenges loom Financial Times

Class Warfare

Lagarde Urges Greater Wealth Distribution After Populist Surge Bloomberg. Awfully late to take the other side on this issue, but barbarians at the ramparts do focus the mind.

Antidote du jour. Lambert and I noticed how we’ve had a big run of beautiful bird pix for months, so I am going to rebalance to mammals for a bit. From Mountain Woman: “Young cow elk born Spring 2016 feed on weeds peeking through the snow.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. kj1313

    Squirrels ate the wiring of my Toyota a few years back. Not happy getting a bill from my mechanic for $300.

    1. HopeLB

      Maybe Toyota should stop using acorn flavored insulating plastic.
      Our neighbo’s screen must be made of the same stuff. The resident grey squirrel, who mocks/terrorizes her indoor cat and who routinely picks the unripe pears, takes a few bites and leaves them about the yard, chewed through the neighbor’s screen and ate her perfectly ripe peaches while the indoor cat was home!

      1. MtnLife

        Squirrels ate through our cabin and house walls on multiple occasions. Red squirrels are the worst. They’re a half step above mosquitoes. They viciously attack grey squirrels and bite their testicles off – playing the long genetic game and the terror game at the same time. The real question here is: will this lead to a GWOS (Global War On Squirrels)? Will we have a Squirrel Team 6 hunting Osquirrelama bin Laden, leaving canoed squirrel corpses in its wake?

        1. Jim Haygood

          Worst squirrel attack evah:

          (Dec 10, 1987) An adventurous squirrel touched off a power failure in Trumbull, Conn., that shut down the National Association of Securities Dealers’ automatic quotation service for 82 minutes yesterday.

          A Nasdaq official estimated that the power failure might have kept slightly more than 20 million shares from being traded.

          Power in the Trumbull area, where Nasdaq’s main computer center is situated, was restored by the United Illuminating Company shortly after the squirrel lost its life – and Nasdaq its power – at 10:43 A.M.

          For years afterward, I mocked the Naz as “the market that was shut down by squirrels.”

          It’s still a little squirrely, if you ask me.

          1. auntienene

            A squirrel took down a NJ data center in a related industry I worked at years ago, around 1981-82. I think they have something against the financial services biz.

          2. Grebo

            I was working in bank once when there was a powercut. When the lineman came he said “the line was cut down by the squirrels”. “My God!” I thought, “the rodent revolution is finally here!”
            Then I realised “The Squirrels” was the name of a pub half a mile down the road.

        2. EndOfTheWorld

          I have a lot of squirrels too. Have you ever used them as a source of food. I plan to try an air rifle on mine when I get around to it. Or traps.

          1. shinola

            My grandmother used to chicken fry squirrel as well as rabbit. Perhaps it was the cooking method but it really did taste quite similar to chicken (dark meat)

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            I have to confess to having eaten squirrel twice. It’s really redneck :-).

            They were delicious. And even though game is generally super lean and requires the addition of fat to taste decent, my recollection is both times they were prepared simply, maybe just braised. But go get a recipe.

            If you trap them (my father was a trapper in his later years, a redneck hobby he took up to help a friend who had a farm and the coyotes were getting the baby lambs), be sure to get humane traps or snares. My father did have some ethics about being a hunter and trapper, and not having the animal suffer unduly mattered to him.

            1. aab

              You beat me. I’ve had wild venison — not the fancy kind, the regular “poor man takes his rifle into the woods behind his farm to get meat for his children” kind — but I do not think I could eat a squirrel. I love squirrels. Even the ingenious one who figured out how to remove my daughter’s lunchbox from the stroller, unzip it, remove the baggie of cheerios, carry it over the fence, and then sat on a tree limb waving it at me while nibbling.

        3. craazyboy

          grey squirrels need a false flag strategy to protect their nuts!

          A nutbin ladin soma safe place?

        4. ChiGal in Carolina

          I have found using one of those super soaker water guns from the 90s quite effective. Filled with a solution of ammonia and water they really repel the squirrels that were the scourge of my back yard in Chicago, getting into the garbage cans, scattering dirt from the planters, eating the flowers.

          Their range is so great I could drench NJthe condos they built for themselves in the trees and after that they would not return to that nest, ever.

          The ammonia triggers a reaction as if to a predator’s piss.

          Golden showers, anyone? lol

    2. cm

      The mechanic removed two dead mice from my car’s heater system. They repeatedly set up a snug home in the air filter housing.

      1. Portia

        woodland mice are always looking for better accommodation–several families lived in the roof of my truck. they sounded like a herd of tiny horses galloping around up there. the problem was they would decide to go out while the heater fan was running.

        1. crittermom

          Having lived rural for decades, & as a result having critters such as mice, ground squirrels & even pack rats try to take up residence in my vehicles, I seem to have found a simple solution.

          All of the critters avoid light, so I now have a solar spotlight ($10) that I let charge during the day outside by sticking it into the ground (or flowerpot, or whatever), which I pull up at night & put in my car.
          It lasts all night with a full daytime charge in the sun, & the critters now leave my vehicle alone.

          I lived off grid for 20 yrs (until ‘losing’ my home), so love anything solar!

          1. Portia

            thanks, that’s good info. I no longer have a vehicle, having “lost” it to a bank when disability caught up with me, and so very sorry you “lost” your home.

  2. integer

    Russian sex workers are world’s best, boasts Putin

    Fwiw I parsed Putin’s (admittedly ambiguous) statement as saying that Russian women in general are the best in the world. Here is the actual quote:

    Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”

      1. integer

        Good question and I hadn’t considered that. He was speaking in Russian. Here is a video of the statement with what seems to be a real time voice-over translating to English. It is cued to the relevant part. Watching the statement on video, it actually does seem likely that he was talking about Russian prostitutes, but I noticed he added what was translated to “I’m sure” at the end of the quote given above, as in “they are the best in the world, I’m sure (not that I would know from experience)”. In any case, I don’t know Russian so can’t vouch for the accuracy of either of the translations.

        1. Stormcrow

          Reminds me of Freud’s inscription when forced to sign a document saying he had not been mistreated: “I can recommend the Gestapo to anyone.”

            1. Procopius

              Have you ever noticed the little twinkle that sometimes appears in Putin’s eyes when he’s getting a dig in at the U.S.? Like when he commented on how many oil trucks were travelling the highway under the observation of the planes that supposedly were bombing ISIS? I’ll bet there was just a little smirk on his face when he said that about Trump rushing to meet girls of loose morals. Gotta take your enjoyment where you can find it.

        1. craazyboy

          I think he was groping for a Russian word that would best translate to
          “hottest”, but by hair missed was.

    1. Ed

      Thanks for providing the actual quote. You and Putin brightened my morning.

      He is correct of course. Russia does have the best women of loose morals in the world.

      1. Procopius

        Nonsense. The best are here in Thailand, but I admit that from photographs it appears many of the Russian girls are very pretty. We get some very pretty ones from Uzbekistan here, too, if you really insist on the European blond look.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Some of my former colleagues in private banking, family office services etc. say that clients are complaining about East European escorts masquerading as French and Italian. Escort firms want cheap labour and often encourage this pretence. After a few words in French or Italian, it dawns on the investor that said provider is Slavic, not Latin.

      1. a different chris

        hahaha… I.. I…can’t even begin to imagine what kind of mindset there is where this would make a difference… but I’m admittedly not worldly in these things.

        So somebody pretending to enjoy being intimate with you is OK but a faking their accent ruins it? Umm… OK.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Chris. It appears that the rich are different from us and are working through a checklist. Their money allows them that luxury, I suppose. Moneta has worked in private banking and wealth management, so may have similar anecdotes.

        2. RUKidding

          Snort! Made me laugh. Yeah, right, those, uh, noises that these ladies of the night make must be faked with the correct accent or it just ruins everything. And I mean: everything!! heh. Go figure.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Russians women, particularly the blondes, and Czechs can be really gorgeous. I can’t see how many man would regard them as second tier save lesser Romance language fluency, but that hardly seems to be the issue in the scenario you describe.

        NYC is full of Russian “models” who have a funny way of being ornaments at financial service industry parties. I also met a rich guy whose Russian wife had the air of being a postcard bride (he was both arrogant and socially awkward and he met her online when she was still in Russia)

        1. Oregoncharles

          The Vikings founded Russia, especially the Ukraine. They travelled up the rivers from the Baltic and then down to the Black Sea and Constantinople. They didn’t just pass through. The Boyars, the Russian aristocracy, were theoretically descended from them to the bitter end.

        2. Ohnoyoucantdothat

          Second that comment. Met my wife during business trip to Ukraine in 1999 and was amazed by number of gorgeous women on the street. Got whiplash from constantly turning head left and right to take in all these beauties. Sad part was so many of them pushing baby carriages but no husband. Divorce is a big problem here. But there is yin/yang in this … Russian women are quite independent and the don’t suffer fools lightly. Men need thick skin and lots of patience to live with them. I’ve been with my wife since 2000 and it’s been a rollercoaster ride much of the time. Foreign men have a hard time with this as they are expecting a loving, submissive mate and are stunned to get a scrapper instead. We have a teenage daughter and she’s also becoming a beauty but with the same hard character. Pity the guy who tries to tame her.

          1. Procopius

            I have a suspicion any guy who expects to find a submissive woman is on a fool’s errand. In the novel Sayonara one of the neighbors of the G.I. who has a Japanese wife is always getting beaten by his wife. Here in Thailand a standard cartoon is the guy trying to sneak home from a night out “with the boys,” while his little lady is waiting with the stone pestle from the mortar where she prepares all kinds of food (baking is not a traditional Thai method of cooking, so they don’t have rolling pins).

      3. aab

        The explanation seems obvious to me. The market is flooded with Russian sex workers. It doesn’t matter that they’re beautiful. It doesn’t matter if they’re good at their job. They’re not rare enough to validate the status of their user/buyer. So they are unacceptable. Besides, if you’re paying a premium for a French woman and you’re getting a Russian woman, you’re getting ripped off. That’s asymmetrical information! That’s unfair!

        1. RabidGandhi

          Perhaps disclosure regulations (viz. ethnicity, inter alias) should be tightened and enforced. Do procurers have fiduciary responsibility in this regard to their clients/potential clients? Maybe not since their net margins are significantly lower than those of (random example off the top of my head) pension fund managers.

    3. RabidGandhi

      Sounded to me like he was parsing, not wanting to get misquoted by the local press for dissing Russian sex workers.

        1. JustAnObserver

          Absolutely. One more nail in the coffin of American Exceptionalism. Que the MSM starting a “we must not have a sex worker gap” panic.

    4. Eclair

      Criminy! I find myself morphing into a female Hulk, or, maybe, a ‘craazywoman,’ when I hear these guys dissing women sex workers. And, women.

      I believe that Putin made a comment a few days ago about the US intelligence community being lower than prostitutes (because I ranted to my husband about it), and now he is boosting about Russian ‘girls’ of ‘loose morals’ and nattering on about Trump having met the ‘most beautiful women in the world.’

      Male world leaders thoughtlessly consigning whole groups of women to a category of ‘immoral’, while equating female ‘beauty’ to nothing more than big boobs, big hair, and a willingness to parade half-naked in front of the leering stares of dominant males, should be the behavior that is considered ‘immoral.’

      Decades ago, I read an observation; that males wage war because they are enraged that they cannot bear children. And, they denigrate women for the same reason.

      1. Portia

        are men enraged because they need women for something they are incapable of doing? is that why men are trying to clone humans and do everything they can with AI (even sex)? how humiliating indeed to have to depend on a woman for anything

      2. Massinissa

        ” that males wage war because they are enraged that they cannot bear children. ”

        Uh, firstly, the percentage of men involved in waging war is relatively small, and women like Hillary Clinton or Maggie Thatcher or whoever have never been particularly disinclined to go to war. So I dont really appreciate you trying to gender warfare as if its only a male thing.

        As for the denigrating women part, honestly? That might very well be very accurate.

      3. alex morfesis

        Methinx men who fetish a butt on the chest fembot are more often than not covering a licentious desire for non hetro carnality…mayhaps it is just my observations from big city living…or being annoyed one too many times by non hetroz with fembotz on their arms…

      4. ChrisPacific

        Well put. I usually enjoy Putin’s ironic observations on US policy idiocy, but talking up Russian sex workers a few sentences after implicitly condemning them with the ‘lower than prostitutes’ comment struck me as particularly repellent. It’s so… proprietorial. He’s happy to boast to the rest of the world about the quality of the Russian merchandise, but give them respect as human beings? Not so much.

        So: no, you are not the only one who was angry reading that.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Not to mention that he implies that being a prostitute is morally reprehensible while being a client of one is perfectly OK.

          I’ll stop now before I get mad again.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Prostitution is still illegal in Russia even if only in the most mild manner possible. So I don’t see how Putin could treat it as a legitimate activity (which it is, men on average are hornier than women and get very irritable when that itch isn’t scratched) any more than Obama could sanction smoking marijuana when the Feds still see it as a crime. Look at how timid he was about gay marriage. Only when it was really safe to do so did he give a weak endorsement.

          1. ChrisPacific

            It was legalized in New Zealand a bit over 10 years ago, and has become somewhat more visible since then. It seems to have improved things for the women, who are now treated as workers deserving of (e.g.) health and safety protection rather than criminals. Public reporting has also taken a different tone – for example, you’ll find stories about it in the business section of the paper now, and sex workers are more willing to be interviewed or speak out.

            The end result seems to have been a net increase in the incidence of people treating each other like human beings and looking out for one another, so on those grounds I’d definitely consider it a good thing.

          2. aab

            Yves, there are plenty of studies on human sexuality that suggest otherwise. Misogyny, patriarchy and the resulting power differentials explain a lot more. Another indicator: as married women gain power, status and economic equality in the workplace, their infidelity rates rise to equal those of married men.

      5. hunkerdown

        If I read you right, performing sexual and psychological labor is exactly the same “sin” as selling out the material interests of an entire country? That’s a very interesting conception. I believe the sexual ascetic movement needs to show their work. Most of their reasoning strikes me as invalid, specious, or nonexistent. So, tell me about American marriage, whose differences extend no further than price.

      6. aab

        Threads focused on commenters here finding certain women hot and why are common enough that I would be down for a nice long thread objectifying men and their bodies. We just have to get Putin to say something about it first, I guess.

    5. craazyman

      I bet they probably are the best, or among the best, in the world.

      Russia put rockets into space, they have a space station even. They have lots of math and science accomplishments. They used to win lots of Olympic medals. Like in ice skating competitions. They have ballet and a vast literature.

      There’s lots and lots of very hot Russian women. There’s no reason their prostitutes shouldn’t be among the best in the world. I’d believe it. It doesn’t sound like fake news to me. But I certainly don’t believe any nonsense about Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes. I mean really. Seriously. Does anybody with a brain cell believe something like that? Who makes this stuff up, somebody from the Lawrence Welk show audience with a crew cut and white shirt and tie after having a beer?

      I’m tempted to buy more of the Russia ETF RSX, thinking it might go back to $30 or higher even. That’s not a 10-bagger but it’s, like 40% or something like that. That would be better than nothing. And I may do it. But I’ll probably chicken out. I’m still stunned that every thing I did lost money for about 2 years. Then I stopped trading completely and devoted my time to Youtube videos. I haven’t lost anything since then.

      1. craazyman

        anybody remember Anna Chapman, the Russian spy who made the scene in New Yawk? whoa! She was hot. Whoa!

        Evidently I read in the NY Post that all the guys who dated her got together to commiserate with each other, they became a band of brothers, a band of Anna-Bros. The woeful longing for the hotness they had that they’d have no more. It was like John Keat’s poem about Le Belle Dames Sans Merci. If anybody reads that, they can find it online. And if you read it, you can see what good writing is. Then you can use the instruction so-gained in your comments, which might elevate them to readability instead of formless incoherent immediately forgettable screeds of barely literate political ranting that has all the appeal — i.e. the idea of reading them — of drinking a glass of vomit.

        She wasn’t a prostitute, from what I remember reading, just a professional spy, but it shows you what’s possible at any rate. Anna Chapman and John Keats both, they both show you what’s possible.

        1. Ulysses

          “formless incoherent immediately forgettable screeds of barely literate political ranting that has all the appeal — i.e. the idea of reading them — of drinking a glass of vomit.”

          C’mon– tell us what you really think!!

      2. Procopius

        I’ve been wondering about that, too, where have all the professionals gone? The propaganda since 11/8 has been deplorable — unconvincing, incoherent, even childish. Presenting evidence that RT, the Russian news channel, criticizing something amounts to the Russian government attacking the United States is absurd.

    6. Andrew Watts

      Maybe it’s an insider joke. The KGB was rumored to have run a training school for “girls of ill repute” for use in their covert operations. The whole “ours are undoubtedly the best in the world” passage could be in effect saying that their intelligence agencies are the best. Putin wasn’t that subtle when he openly mocked the CIA in a Charlie Rose interview though.

      1. Jason K no name Fame

        Before Gitmo closed some folks got lap-danced and then gotta little fake menstrual blood on them (they weren’t into it I’d bet). Some were guilty of being enemies. Somebody thought it up, lots approved of it, and watched while somebodies performed their duties (maybe contractors from Tyre, or local guest workers). That’s loosely in the same moral circle as pee I’d bet. Wipe the videos, like, with a towel?

  3. RabidGandhi

    Homeless Workers Movement Leader Jailed Yesterday for Protest [Folha de São Paulo]

    First a bit of background: over the last decade, South America was notable for being the only region not to participate in the US Extraordinary Rendition programme. This was just one part of a 180° reverse from previously being the region with the worst human rights record, usually at the behest of the US Government under Operation Condor. Nevertheless, with the new wave of rightwing “business-friendly” governments taking power, we are seeing a rapid return to the bad old days, with the region having political prisoners for the first time in years (according to the UN), with labour leaders being assasinated (in Colombia and Honduras, inter alias), and with social movements being discredited and criminalised, as is now the case with Brazil’s anti-eviction movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto.

    Yesterday MTST’s co-ordinator, Guilherme Boulos was unlawfully arrested for participating in a peaceful protest against an eviction in eastern São Paulo. For years, the rightwing Brazilian press has been calling this group “bandits” or “terrorists” merely for acting to prevent homeless people from being evicted from shanty homes. Now by arresting Boulos and charging him with “incitation”, the Temer government has taken a major step towards jailing people for political protest: a clear reversion to the repression of years past. I translated Boulos’ interview with Folha below:

    Folha de São Paulo: Why were you arrested by the police?
    Guilherme Boulos: This is a political imprisonment. They accused me of incitation to violence. They violently evicted 700 families, but it was I who incited violence? This is unlawful detention. They accused me of things that they had no proof of.

    Folha: What were the charges?
    Boulos: Incitation to violence, aggression, disobedience. The MTST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto, Homeless Workers Movement) came out to guarantee the rights of the people being evicted, seeking a peaceful negotiated settlement. The riot police moved forward, threw bombs, and wanted to find a scapegoat.

    Folha: in a note, the government claims that rockets were launched.
    Boulos: The police came into a community where 700 people live. They had lived there a year and a half until that morning. The houses were consolidated, with all of their possessions. They went in with three tanks, with water guns, with teargas and rubber bullets. In other words, the problem is that some people tried to offer minimal resistance to this? This is a complete reversal of values. One police officer seems to have been injured while over ten people were injured from the community.

    Folha: Did you or anyone from your movement participate in this attempt to resist?
    Boulos: That never happened, it’s a blatant lie; a scurrilous political charge without the slightest evidence.

    Folha: Did the police cite other protests as the reason for your arrest?
    Boulos: When the captain of the riot squad arrested me, I asked what the grounds were. He told me that it was incitation to violence, other crimes, and he referred to other protests by the movement, especially one that occurred in front of the house of [installed President] Michel Temer. He also commanded the riot squad on that occasion when there was a conflict with the MTST.

    Folha: Your imprisonment occurred at a time when the [São Paulo] Secretary of Housing [and others]… have accused the MTST of being favoured during the previous government and of being facades created by criminals.
    Boulos: There is a move in the country to criminalise social movements. There is an attempt to discredit the movements by saying that the movements want favours, want advantages, thus minimising our fight for rights. This discrediting is paving the way for criminalisation.

    The neoliberal economic model as an axiom can only be implemented accompanied by repression. Expect to see much more of this.

    1. Ed

      I am fairly confident that Brazil will have an old-fashioned military coup in the next few years, though the army has very much been the dog that has not barked so far. They may even come out against the kleptocrats.

      1. RabidGandhi

        While it is a distinct possibility, I would not be fairly confident of that.

        Military coups went out of style in South America because there was too much citizen pushback (eg, Venezuela 2002, Argentina 1987). The pattern thus far is that in place of supporting a coup, the élites instead deform public institutions to implement neoliberal economic policies that they could not implement democratically (eg Paraguay, Honduras, Brazil). Overt coups lead to too much pushback, so the oligarchs have to find other, more effective methods. Right now, these methods consist of a big push to invalidate “populist” candidates from running (eg, kangaroo court actions against Lula in Brazil, CFKirchner in Argentina…) in order to divide the vote, and to dominate the media to propagandise the populace.

        The Brazilian oligarchs are not wedded to Temer, and they would be just as happy to have another similar Neolib in office, so long as Lula and the PT are barred from power. A military coup would be the least effective way to ensure that. Not out of the question, but not likely.

        1. Carolinian

          Yes the “soft coup” is all the rage these days. You use media assets to portray the target as “illegitimate.” Oh wait we weren’t talking about the US.

          The late unlamented Democratic candidate was big on this tactic as seen in Honduras and Ukraine and she probably did hope to have protests shove Putin out of office. The Brazilians are likely working from our playbook regardless of whether the CIA (or Kissinger…still around) are involved.

          1. David Carl Grimes

            I wonder if the US will invade Venezuela in order to “save” it from further economic collapse. The US will get the oil it has always wanted and can abandon Iraq. A win-win for Trump and Tillerson.

            1. Carolinian

              Don’t think we need to invade. That’s what US Embassies are for. However whatever we are or aren’t doing in Venezuela it may not be about the oil as the US is currently awash in the fracked version.

              BTW the biggest cheerleaders for an end to Chavismo seem to be those “liberals” at the NY Times. I’m not aware that Trump has taken much interest.

              1. Katniss Everdeen

                ….. it may not be about the oil as the US is currently awash in the fracked version.

                All the more reason to get control of Venezuela’s oil and keep it off the market to decrease supply and increase price. Oh, and save Texas.

                1. RabidGandhi

                  As is so often true, we should look to Neera Tanden for guidance:

                  We have a giant deficit. They have a lot of oil. Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.

              2. peter

                it may not be about the oil as the US is currently awash…

                It’s always about the oil and It’s not about what you have (the fracked version). In the 70’s America was still a net exporter of the stuff, but it knew since oil was discovered there, as had the British had before them, that the middle east was the big prize they had to control. The opportunity came after WWII and the rest is history. It’s about control rather than ‘guaranteeing supply’. It’s basically veto power on supply to other nations that have military or economic pretensions or if a conflict were to arise.
                The US have never been very dependent on middle eastern oil imports compared to, say, Europe, but the region has surely always been key in its geopolitical and military considerations and this continues til today.

                It’s what I often hear, the argument that increased fracking or move to alternative energy sources, the so-called ‘energy independence’, would mean that we can have the middle east ‘sort out its own problems’ and we can just ignore it because we don’t need their stuff anymore. That’s flawed reasoning. The US will never permit control in the region to be challenged. That’s why they take Russia’s initiative in Syria so seriously. It ain’t about poor Syrian children and lack of ‘democracy’, that’s for sure.

                Also, since this started off as a topic on Brazil and South America, the soft coup here in Brazil may also have much more to do with oil than we may take for granted. According to some cables released by wikileaks US oil companies were none to happy about the nationalistic exploitation laws regarding the ultra-deep oil discoveries off the coast of Brazil some years ago. José Serra, a leading politician from the then opposition PSDB party, basically promised the americans that if/when his party would be in power that he would scratch these laws and open it up for foreign oil companies. What better invitation does one need? Not surprising that all the corruption scandals from the last few years that would lead to PT’s removal from power were to do with Petrobrás. Analysts say that most of the intel came from the US.

                1. RabidGandhi

                  Agreed that Petrobras was clearly one of the key casus belli for the soft coup. The Snowden docs also revealed that NSA was spying on Petrobras, and you can be assured it wasn’t to steal feijão recipes.

                  Also it should be noted that Serra is now Foreign Minister, a job he essentially defined as doing whatever the US says, and in spite of his inability to even name the members of the BRICS.

            2. JamesG

              Just like the way we now “own” Iraq’s oil?

              Besides, Venezuelan oil was notoriously “sour,” loaded with sulfur that must be removed (at additional cost) in refining.

              1. Synapsid

                James G,

                Yes, much of Venezuela’s oil is heavy (viscous) and sour (sulfur rich), as you say. That’s why Venezuela sends it to the refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, where the refineries can handle it. Citgo owns three of them, I believe, and Citgo is owned by PDVSA, the Venezuelan government-owned oil company.

                Venezuela also owes China tens of billions of dollars, giving China claim to a fair share of the country’s oil, too. China has built at least one refinery to take Venezuelan oil.

  4. Steve H.

    : Zuckerberg sure looks like he is running for President.

    Is it fair to say F*c*b*k is the top media outlet on the planet? And Zuck never claimed the algo was disinterested in what you got to see.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Is it fair to say F*c*b*k is the top media outlet on the planet?”

      Faceborg is the seventh largest company on the planet in market cap:

      The top five in market cap (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon) are involved in media, but it isn’t their primary focus.

      Disney would be the largest US (and probably global) media company, ranking no. 4 in the US consumer discretionary sector:

      Faceborg is nominally classified as a technology stock, but it’s really somewhat sui generis.

      1. Ancient1

        The real reason Zuckerburg was in Dallas. From D Magazine.

        Mark Zuckerberg Helps Build a Garden in Oak Cliff and, Oh, BTW, Testifies in Federal Court. In yesterday’s Leading Off, Tim linked DMN story about Zuckerberg’s first visit to Texas and his PR-friendly MLK Day activities. What that story failed to mention, however, is that the Facebook founder would be spending his Tuesday on the stand in Dallas’ federal courthouse. Zuckerberg sat in court for five hours yesterday testifying in the $2 billion intellectual property case Oculus versus Zenimax, which Gizmodo calls “explosive.” In short, a Richardson-based virtual reality company claims the Facebook-owned Oculus stole trade secrets. I’m hoping we’ll at least see a Dallas skyline cameo in the Social Network sequel.

        1. Romancing The Loan

          The claims also include that Facebook intentionally destroyed evidence of the theft, and rumor has it that charge has legs. As always, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.

  5. Pespi

    Mark Zuckerberg has the charisma of a waxwork ghoul, he should ask Michael Bloomberg how far being really rich gets you in a presidential race.

      1. Optimader

        And he’s modest.. he only wears teeshirts!

        I remain amazed with otherwise seemingly sentient ppl that whine sbout privacy intrusion and Zuckerburg for that matter, still cheerfully engage in the FB data suck.

        “But its the only way I can interact with friends and family!” = the older Argentine woman telling me “I smoke because it helps me stay trim!”

        1. RabidGandhi

          Not all that mindless. Unfortunately in some cultures and income levels, the aforementioned social media site is the sole internet tool for many people, especially the less-technologically savvy older set. Since I have no interactions with Herr Zuckerberg’s contraption, I am often left out of many meetings of neighbourhood organisations and social groups, including our local branch of the Workers Party: “You didnt find out about the meeting? Oh we posted it on the FB…”

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, same here – I reluctantly signed up because some people I know use it as the primary means of communication. I encouraged my family to migrate to WhatsApp as an alternative for group communication – and then FB went and took it over.

            Although I wonder if there is a possible backlash against using it for non-privacy reasons. In the management meeting for the apartment building I live in, a proposal to have a FB page for general communication with residents was shot down by our lawyer committee member. She insisted that there was far too great a possibility of liability attaching to the management company in the event of some resident using it to make libellous accusations against another resident or business.

  6. kj1313


    “Trump said health care is his most urgent domestic topic, telling us he spoke with President Obama again on Monday about the topic. He back-tracked a bit from his promise of insurance for everybody, saying he wanted to find a mechanism — Medicaid block grants, perhaps — to help the poorest get insurance. “You know there are many people talking about many forms of health care where people with no money aren’t covered. We can’t have that,” he said.”

  7. begob

    On May’s speech: the dust is still settling in the UK, but the consensus in the media seems to be she has the front foot over the EU commission – the new Iron Lady (despite her diffident performances in parliament).

    Two more considered views, anti:

    and anti:

    Quote from comments on first article:

    I get the sense that the government is divided between happy-clappy free trade loons and empire nostalgists on one side, and pragmatists and the London interest on the other, the latter advocating a cynical Singapore strategy that will condemn the Brexit-voting heartlands to further decline.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As I said, the UK, and derivatively much of the English language press is close to an echo chamber and is very much out of touch with reality. May has no negotiating advantage. She doesn’t even have enough remotely competent negotiators to man the talks with the EU, let alone attempt to start bi-laterlal negotiations elsewhere (and that assumes the EU doesn’t find a way under its existing treaties to stymie that, since the UK is forbidden to negotiate trade deals on its own while still a member of the EU; the WTO has already said no negotiations are possible on a new WTO deal until the UK is out of the EU). As we discussed long form, the sort of consultants the government could hire to pinch hit have the wrong skill sets. I could add considerably to the list of how the UK is deeply deluded but I desperately need to turn in. The Brits have so overestimated their position on so many fronts it isn’t funny.

      Since I did this via e-mail, let’s dispatch the latest fantasy, that a bi-lateral deal with the US will get the UK out of its fix. A reader sent this link from Politico: US may lure more countries out of EU, says likely Trump envoy: Theodore Malloch argues that offering bilateral trade deals behind the EU’s back would be ‘ingenious.’

      The fact that Malloch is a professor who has never negotiated a trade pact and has probably never negotiated anything more complicated than a home purchase show. Elaborating on I wrote to the reader who sent this link:

      1. The UK will be out of the EU in two years from pulling the Article 50 trigger

      2. It takes way longer than that to negotiate a trade deal, even assuming the UK had enough experienced negotiatiors, which it doesn’t. It’s already going to be seriously overstretched just getting the EU exit done. Having no trade deal in place is an operational disaster

      3. Legally, the UK cannot even start negotiating any new trade deals until it it out of the EU. This is a matter of treaty. They EU has promised to be hardasses that on this issue, so the open question is how they do that. Can they bar them by going to the European Court of Justice? What other devices do they have for making the UK’s life miserable that are permissible? (the EU is big on procedure).

      4. What does the UK export? Basically, financial services, transportation parts (car parts and Airbus components mainly) and pharma. The US banks do not want UK banks getting better treatment, they want to use Brexit to eat more of their lunch. The US wants more auto parts jobs in the US. Having Boeing buy parts from old Airbus parts makers won’t be popular when Trump is pressuring Boeing to bring more jobs home. And Trump will almost certainly beat up on foreign pharma cos on price before US cos just to set a precedent.

      So I have no idea why the Brits think the US will be willing or able to help, aside from the fact that Trump, Farage, and Johnson all get on and like trying to make trouble for the EU. Trump isn’t motivated enough to undermine his own goals and those conflict with giving much more than rhetorical support to the Tories.

      The fact that the EU officials may be doing some combination of repeating their long-standing red lines or expressing consternation isn’t a sign of weakness or May getting any sort of advantage. It’s a simple statement that they are not moved and don’t see much point in investing energy in playing rhetorical footise with her.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        With regard to “the Brits have so overestimated their position on so many fronts it isn’t funny”, a friend works for the UK mission in Brussels. Said friend is like me, the child of immigrants from a bilingual former colony and of Scots origin. He was assigned to Brussels from the Treasury. The Brussels and London teams realise just how weak the UK’s position is and how vulnerable her economy is (as Mark Carney said, “The UK depends on the kindness of strangers.” It’s the echo chamber of politicians, hacks and “subjects” fed on delusions of delusions of grandeur and imperial arrogance who are driving this train smash. I am just back from the tropics and thought about staying where my parents and said friend’s parents come from. My friend is working on a colonial history doctorate and plans to return to Oxbridge by 2020. My friend does not want to work in the civil service and would prefer to teach history, as I would love to. This morning’s media reaction to May’s speech was breathtaking and depressing, especially if one has to work with people like that.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        After a few weeks in the tropics, it has been surreal to return to Blighty. One has politicians biting at what Trump is offering trade wise, but media slating Trump daily, especially in the evenings. “Albion est vraiment perfide,” as we say in the Indian Ocean.

        1. Anonymous 2

          Thank you Yves, PK, Colonel.

          Your comments are perspicacious as usual. I would like to think there was more intelligence behind May’s speech than is apparent (frankly IMO it comes across as bluster), but am not confident that is the case.

          One point of interest I suggest worth pondering is the suggestion Parliament will get a vote on the deal, if any, when presented. One possibility is that May comes back with no deal, at which point, if the Commons thinks public opinion has changed sufficiently, they might insist on a second referendum in the hope that the English public change their mind and vote to stay in.

          The Leave campaign was supported by two principal groups of voters IMO, the anti-immigration, and ‘sovereignty is sacred’ group, probably easily the largest, with at least a tinge of protectionism, but also a free-trade, open borders group, probably a lot smaller but influential, some of whom have already started to say ‘this is not the Brexit I voted for’. A clever approach would be to try to split these two groups as then the majority for Leave probably disappears. FWIW I have also observed some Leave supporters who wanted to smash capitalism and others who denounce the EU as a hotbed of socialists (yes, I know). Some just wanted to crash the pound because they had dollar income and sterling outgoings but these no doubt were very few and far between.

          I have serious reservations whether the strategy is this intelligent, however. More likely the press barons are in the driving seat (hence the close correspondence between the press and government lines). They probably see a UK political system outside the EU as even weaker and more clearly under their thumbs than it is already.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        The issue of both car parts and Airbus parts illustrate precisely why the British will get their lunch eaten. The UK companies which supply Airbus are not part of EADS (the main contractor). The role of the UK in Airbus is peripheral due to the refusal of successive UK governments to get involved in such corporatist set-ups. I suspect that all Airbus contractors in the UK will be informed that they must move to France if they wish to continue to supply parts. It will be that simple. And there is no way that they could find alternative markets in the US in the timespan, so they will do that. The Europeans will fear Trump will try to block Airbus sales (for example, to Iran) by blocking US contractors from supplying parts, so they will be working hard to onshore everything within the EU. This will also apply to military programmes, which is a strong sector for the UK. BAE will really struggle, it will be informally shut out of a lot of European projects.

        As for carparts, one of the biggest players in the UK is Nissan, which is actually mostly controlled by French based Renault. I really don’t see the French playing nice about this one the A.50 is introduced, Renault will be called in for a meeting to the Elysee, and told which factories are to be relocated.

        1. alex morfesis

          Logistics in old europe are a bit more tricky than most imagine…where exactly will nissan renault place this or these factories…the livery pyrates near threadneedle have a bit of an advantage…

          The world is about trade via vessels…the uk has distressed coastal towns with distressed industrial spaces…german industry appears to refuse to expand into east germany due to the “recalcitrance” of their fellow germans to accept crumbs as wages…

          Which available coastal towns in france can handle the supplies logistics ?

          In germany ? Holland ?

          The negotiating strength is there is no place to grow in europe…paris ?? Frankfort ?? Where are the property assemblages to allow construction of office towers ?? Industrial parks ?

          Assume an America with open and available lands…rail systems. Highways…and empty “fly over” building$ & towns…

          A bit confused about this notion that some incontinent, impotent and incompetent bespectacled wilted flower in a wheelchair with really only 12% of the german electorate behind him can rule the world…

          How many divisions does he have…?

          Do his followers imagine he will do a Pinochet and magically rise from his wheelchair ?

          The house of windsor vs the house of cards in Stuttgart ??

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Car parts are being made in Eastern Europe. Labor and land are cheap. And I’m told auto execs find Eastern European workers to be more industrious than the Brits.

            It wasn’t hard for US companies to move auto part manufacture to Mexico, or for the Japanese to move some part-making to the US when we implemented what amounted to local content rules. It does takes a bit of time to implement.

            1. vlade

              Ex Czechoslovakia has the highest car production per-capita in the world. Combined, they produce more cars than France and Italy combined.

              Although Czechs have relatively low unemployment, Slovaks less so, so plunking down a factory or two would be little problem – there’s plenty of skills to do so. Capital costs would be the same as in the UK, and labour costs would be fraction.

              Skoda workers are amongst the best paid in CZ, the average for a blue collar job is 36k CZK/month (vs. about 30k/month the average for _all_ jobs, blue and white collar, in CZ), so a cost of FTE is about 22k GBP/year. Given that UK’s median salary is about 28k/year, the pound would have to drop more than 20% to be competitive.

          2. Hen Kai Pan

            There is a story in Zen Buddhism: a seeker comes to a master and asks about the nature of the mind. The master starts pouring tea into a cup and keeps pouring even though the cup overflows. The seeker watches and screams ‘what are you doing, the cup is overflowing!’. The master says, this is like your mind, overflowing with the thoughts that you cram into it’.
            I am reminded of this by your comment. Too many thoughts, too little distinction.

        2. RabidGandhi

          I can corroborate this as I have seen examples of my French and Spanish engineering clients talking up to shareholders that they will be picking up business from Brexit. At least from the continental side, the assumption is that British firms’ lunch shall be duly eaten.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            In my line I know of situations where UK companies are being deliberately excluded from tenders in the construction/consultancy business due to fears of legal challenge from losing bidders if they win. So just the uncertainty alone will hit the UK architecture/engineering business very hard.

        1. HopeLB

          Great idea! England as a territory! Trump’s Goldman buddies would love returning the City to the Banksters and Trump could share Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth.Imagine the morning shots with both of them in their bunny slippers.Trump could twitter, “I finished the American Revolution. How great is that!”.

      4. susan the other

        The UK has put itself in an impossible situation. This would make a good play, no? All that intense negotiating by David Cameron to “reform the EU” so that the UK could prosper sufficiently to stay was simply ignored by the rest of the EU members. Not even politely – just flat-out ignored. The more he was ignored the more dramatic David got. Somehow the UK thought it could bluff its way thru and I think this present behavior of May with her stubborn little speeches is just more of the same. They are buying time to figure out how to get out of this mess. (Boris Johnson looks a angelic as a schoolboy – how amusing.) Meanwhile Hollande is licking his chops over the prospect of turning France into the financial center of the EU and talking it up with JPM. And even Wilbur Ross called Brexit “the chance of a lifetime” in terms of new trade deals with the EU – which were not explained, but surely had to do with American finance. The Brits really outsmarted themselves this time.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Susan.

          The City grape vine reported that, last autumn / fall, Nicolas Sarkozy met executives from Goldman Sachs and proposed tax breaks, employer and employee, in return for relocation from London to Paris and much fanfare soon after (his) election (in the spring).

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Technically speaking, it would be against EU rules to give differential tax breaks for this. I think there will be pressure to ensure that everyone competing for financial business – i.e. Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dublin and Vienna – all play on a level playing field. But I am quite sure that there will be secret deals made – the French are particularly good at this. Watch out for suspiciously low rents for office space in Paris.

            1. vlade

              HSBC is already moving 1000 people to Paris

              That is about 20% of their European (I assume exluding UK) revenue, plus as quite a few of those will be sales+traders, the median salary is likely quite significant (I’d say north of 100k GBP, given that median finance sector salary is about 60k). 100k GBP is about 46k in tax (technically tax + NI, both employee and employer). 46k * 1000 = 46m first order tax loss on income tax. Assuming money multiplier of 1.6, it’s more like 74m tax loss – just from HSBC employees. take into account the rent HSBC pays and the various taxes, it’s likely that the amount is well over 100m.

              Say each of the others – Barclays, Lloyds, Santander, JMP, Citi, BAML, DB, Goldmans, MS, Nomura, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse, BNP, SocGen, Commerzbank, etc. etc. will move about 1000 people (some more, some less), and we’re talking about 1bln+ easily in income tax alone – as soon as next tax year. 1bln is about 2% of the uk personal taxes take (income tax, NI, CGT etc. etc.) – although it’s less than 0.2% of the total tax take.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                One Trump Tweeter tweet, and they’d be moving the same 1,000 workers to America.

                Well, maybe not, unless their work products are exported to the US, I guess.

              2. uncle tungsten

                Its a bad look when the pirates leave Penzance. Why would anybody want HSBC on their soil? Each time they show up, their is a state collapse – ask the Brits or any other pirated leftover.

      5. makedoanmend


        “Mainland cuts Europe adrift.”

        Intrepid Reporter speaking with Europe: “We didn’t notice. That’s nice.”

      6. John k

        But big trade surplus in Germany with U.K.
        Maybe exporters there forced to accept less business because politics, but they will argue for a deal. And they have more clout than financials.
        Asia would love to take up the slack. If china can build a big office building in a month or so, they can wrap up a trade deal quickly. Japan mandarins also nimble regarding better auto exports.

        Trump wants us jobs but also sees eu as a failure that doesn’t like him, relishes poking them in the eye. And lots of good feelings in us for U.K.
        Resolved with a deal that favors us.

        Certainly pain, but not just U.K. And vote by have nots is that elite londoners did not share pain or benefits from globalism… naturally pain of less globalism will also not be shared.

        Pendulum of neolib globalism has begun to fall back, and past time for majority. Of course this is a war, and war is hell. U.K. On the front lines…
        Former winners will not go peacefully into the night, but they will go.

  8. Leigh

    Trump accuses civil rights leader Lewis of lying about inauguration
    Even on those occasions when Trump is correct, he loses by being so obsessed with winning these fights

    If terrorists were to strike a blow – let’s say in a U.S. airport – at the exact same time some big hollywood-personality were to tweet something derogatory about Trump – let’s say about his tiny hands – I have no doubt which event would get addressed first.

      1. Leigh

        I would recommend a skin transplant first and foremost – his current epidermis seems unusually thin.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s a trait even a 2-dimensional chess grand master can exploit, when playing such a thin-skinned opponent.

          The grand master also knows how to play pachyderm adversaries as well.

  9. integer

    I wrote another limerick today. This one is about CIA director John Brennan’s possible ties to the House of Saud and conversion to Wahhabist Islam (hat tip Stormcrow):

    There once was a man named Brennan,
    who sought many virgins in heaven.
    So he worked for the Sauds*,
    and the CIA crowd,
    killed people in Syria and Yemen.

    * I’m not sure of the correct pronounciation of “Saud”, but for the purpose of my limerick I have assumed it rhymes whith crowd.

      1. craazyboy

        Poets often use words that only closely rhyme. But you need a license to poet, and there are strict rules about making stuff up.

    1. hunkerdown

      integer, it’s good. Sa`ud has the pharyngeal fricative or Parisian r at the `, which is usually transliterated as a vowel shift if at all (e.g. `Omar, `Eid), so not sod, but sa-ood, which slurs perfectly to cra-ood.

  10. kj1313

    More on the money pit that is the F-35

    “The Services have designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as “critical to correct” in Block 3F, but less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections in 3FR6”

    “The report specifically states that deficiencies are popping up at a steady rate—emphasis ours:

    Deficiencies continue to be discovered at a rate of about 20 per month, and many more will undoubtedly be discovered before and during IOT&E.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The F-35 will be the greatest white elephant in history. The contract is set up in such a way that its pretty much impossible to cancel. It will be like the Littoral Combat Ship – as it didn’t work at what it was supposed to do, but they couldn’t cancel the contract, the Navy are now essentially making up jobs for it to do to justify the expenditure. So its been converted to a Frigate, despite not having the range to escort transatlantic convoys, to an anti-submarine vessel despite having very noisy engines, and a minesweeper despite being far too noisy and metallic for the job.

      The US navy has already announced that the F-35 is an outstanding stealth battlefield control aircraft – which would be impressive except that this is not what it is designed for, and there are better aircraft already available which do this job much cheaper. They are slowly admitting it is no use for its core jobs – supporting troops on the ground and air to air combat.

      So instead of replacing fleets of aircraft, it will merely, at a gigantic price, replicate what other aircraft will be doing – then wait and see the multi-billion contracts that will be needed to extend the lives of F-18s and F16’s in order to do what the F-35 was supposed to do.

      1. witters

        “The contract is set up in such a way that its pretty much impossible to cancel.”

        Why are certain commercial contracts like this, when the Social Contract is not?

        And why do people keep talking in this way?

      1. MyLessTaanPrimeBeef

        On one hand, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

        On the other hand, never apologize for putting food on the family table.

        1. Portia

          apologize for where the food money came from? are there only “blood diamonds”, not blood money? let’s kick that can down the road as far as possible

          1. aab

            I think if you sat down and broke bread with the very poor citizens of Vermont (of whom there are many — the summer folk help the rest of the state to the same degree Manhattan helps the Midwest), I think you might have a little more sympathy for them getting a bite of the F-35 program. This is the jobs program the US government offers. This is it. Bernie getting it there (IIRC, he played a role in getting it, but I don’t have a link) is all the proof you need that these “purity” charges are absurd.

            Rich people/people with excess capital for status-signaling jewelry boycotting blood diamonds is not a good analogy, in my opinion.

            1. Portia

              it is not only “rich” people who avoid blood diamonds–otherwise, mainstream jewelry shops would not advertise their diamonds as “clean”. and I find it interesting that you point out it is the poor, the desperate in Vermont who will take and do anything to keep themselves alive. this is how we became enslaved in the first place–starve em, then exploit em. if you are going to apply the “purity” label to me for resisting slavery, I will not be surprised.

              1. aab

                That is not what I said, and not what I meant. I said it was a poor analogy, not that blood diamonds are no big deal.

                Vermont staying out of the F-35 program would only have meant that a poor state, whose agriculture industry has been almost destroyed by corporate agriculture and whose manufacturing base has never returned in part due to incentives elsewhere, would stay poor. It would in no way have slowed down or cut back the F-35 program. Vermont doesn’t have that kind of clout.

                Affluent Western consumers boycotting blood diamonds, as you point out, has at least had some impact here. I don’t follow it well enough to know if it has helped the ravished countries and exploited workers; I hope so. Vermont in your analogy would be closer to a worker in the mine than a consumer in America.

                I oppose blood diamonds. Personally, I’m opposed to engagement rings on principle; I don’t have one. I’m also opposed to the F-35 program. I just don’t see the point of shaming tiny little Vermont over it, when if I understand the set-up, basically every state has a piece of the program, to keep it from being cancelled. Many people are not aware of Vermont’s poverty and economic problems, because if you only travel through as a tourist, you tend to see the Disneyland version of the state. But it is, in reality, a very poor state. That’s part of why Bernie is adored there. He cared and cares for people that suffered for generations, giving them not only hope but real material benefits as well as respect.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    I remain cynical about the amounts that will be recovered (but not the legal fees!), but there seems to be progress toward some additional accountability in the LIBOR rigging case:

    “The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed private antitrust lawsuits brought by investors including big U.S. cities accusing major banks of conspiring to manipulate the pivotal Libor benchmark interest rate to move forward. The justices rejected an appeal filed by a group of banks including Bank of America Corp, Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co of a May 2016 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed various lawsuits against them to proceed.”

    1. Colonel Smithers

      That explains in part why we got e-mails from John Cryan a couple of hours ago, saying no bonuses :-).

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit.

    From a quick and random scan around the English speaking press (UK, Irish, US), the response to May’s speech seems to be cautiously welcoming, which for all the reasons Yves outlines is somewhat delusional. From what I can see too, the markets reacted neutrally or a little positively – there are even reports that Irish exporters are buying sterling, convinced that it has hit a bottom.

    I think partially this may be a reaction to the immediate over-reaction to the Brexit vote. It seemingly did absolutely nothing to the UK economy, despite predictions at the time, and I think once burned, the naysayers and bears are holding back for fear of getting more egg on their collective faces. But I think too that there seems to be a growing feeling that ‘something will be worked out’. In other words, a hard, but orderly Brexit is most likely.

    Here in Ireland, I get the real feeling that the Irish government has been so preoccupied with holding together a precarious coalition that it simply hasn’t focused on the issue. The only real work being done is on trying to attract UK based companies to Ireland. They are not dealing at all with border issues due to chaos in the Northern Ireland assembly. I get the impression there has been a complete breakdown in informal communications between London and Dublin, so Dublin is starting to share the sort of fatalistic optimism (if there is such a thing) about Brexit. This is important because historically Ireland has often acted as a sort of bridge for the UK in negotiating difficult issues in the EU.

    My language skills aren’t up to scanning the European press, but I get the impression that while more sceptical of May’s speech than the Anglos, they don’t entirely understand the deeper consequences either of a complete withdrawal of the UK from the common market. There is simply no practical default and it will cause absolute chaos.

    I think that there are real risks that the market in the broader sense (financial and political) is not pricing in the real implications of what will happen when the A.50 is served and the real negotiations start. It could lead to some very nasty surprises.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK. I am bilingual, so follow Francophone media closely and speak to Francophone family, friends etc. regularly, including this morning. Some do realise the chaos that will be caused, but still hope that a political solution can be found. That could be burying heads in the sand. One possible Hail Mary is the election of more Euroskeptical president in France, but I don’t see May taking advantage of that.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I suspect that for those within the UK government who realise how difficult this is (surely there must be some), the hope must be a hail mary of some sort will weaken the EU’s position. Le Pen could be one, although I would bet more on a banking or euro crisis as more likely. The problem is, they could only succeed then by making a bad situation much worse for everyone in Europe, so its only a ‘solution’, in the sense that they get to save face. Everyone else suffers.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Friends and former colleagues involved with policymaking in the UK, Ireland and the continent are astounded that the likes of Ireland, France and Switzerland have prepared more for Brexit than the UK.

      There was an interesting comment made on a Guardian blog this morning. Someone resident in the UK, but on holiday in South Africa, heard a South African banker say that South Africa would have to negotiate a trade agreement with the UK, but this could be better for South Africa than the EU-South African one as the UK would be desperate for a deal. One wonders if the Brits realise that.

      On a related note, I went to the French embassy last week to ask about French citizenship and / or a work permit in the event of (hard) Brexit. My French ancestry goes to far back. Although visitors from the former French and British colony do not need visas to visit the mother countries, that applies to holidays, not work.

      Friends who have EU27 nationalities are applying for their British spouses and children. In the case of the children, they tend to have the nationality, so it is a question of getting ID and travel documents. Ireland and Italy seem the least complicated. Denmark seems the most complicated.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes – exactly so. No government worth its salt will sign a bilateral deal with the UK unless it is heavily weighted in their favour. Nissan squeezed who knows what out of London to announce they will stay, everyone will see how vulnerable they are.

        There is lots in the news here in Ireland about surges in applications for citizenship or passports from the UK, although in absolute terms its not that many yet. I suspect there will be a real surge when things start to bite in practical ways – for example, for professionals who’s jobs involve contracts outside the UK and for the hundreds of thousands of expats (sorry, migrants), in Spain and France.

        1. vlade

          I very slightly disagree on the first part.

          A government which exports a lot to the UK and imports minimum from the UK will be perfectly happy to avoid potential disruptions to sign up something that is in effect a copy of existing EU treaty. Australia, I’m looking at you…

          In other word, in bilateral negotiations the gov’ts that have what UK wants will get a better deal, the gov’ts that don’t are likely to get a better deal than they could expect as a trade-off for the speed which might generate some political capital for May.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I take your point, and I agree that each individual deal would have separate dynamics depending on existing trade flows.

            However, I doubt that any bilateral deal will exist in a vacuum. Partly because the EU will no doubt impress on any party that an attempt to use a bilateral deal to disadvantage the EU indirectly will result in punitive measures on their trade with the EU. For example, any deal with the UK which could displace an existing market for, say, Danish butter or Spanish vegetables in the UK, would be looked upon very dimly by the EU. And there are numerous ways they could block it. Australia and NZ are very dependent on deals which allow access to the EU for their products, they would not want to jeopardize these.

            The other factor is that negotiators will be tempted to benchmark on other deals. So, if the US were to squeeze the UK in a bilateral deal, then there would be political pressure internally in other countries not to be seen as soft touches in comparison. A lousy deal with the US would set the tone for other deals.

            I can’t pretend to be an expert in the dynamics of these deals, but it seems to me that whatever way you look at it, the UK will be seen as the injured beast in the herd, not an equal in negotiations. Which given historically how the UK has treated its former colonies, seems a sort of justice.

            1. vlade

              My point is that for some countries, signing up to effectively the same deal as UK has right now under the EU rules will be a win. And if they can do it on T+1 (T being the time when UK really leaves the EU), it’s a political win for the UK, so potentially a price worth paying.

              Ultimately, I agree that it will be UK that’s going to lose. My current metaphor is:

              I’m going to divorce you, because you know, I want to have a lot of friends-with-benefits, and you’d not have liked that if we were still married. Ah, and I’d like you to stay my best friend-with-benefits, and I’m sure you won’t mind, will you?

              1. Anonymous 2

                ‘A government which exports a lot to the UK and imports minimum from the UK will be perfectly happy to avoid potential disruptions to sign up something that is in effect a copy of existing EU treaty. Australia, I’m looking at you…’

                I take your point but there will always be the temptation to extract a little flesh if possible, to avoid the accusation ‘you knew they were in a weak position and you took no advantage?’

                On the divorce analogy … ‘oh and I want to be able to stay in the house, with guests, whenever it suits me….’

                1. vlade

                  I assume the temptation on the UK side – but they will, to get the first few treaties on T+1 to show the world is willing and all those naysayers (hey, you’re well past middle age, balding, with beer belly and not even rich) were wrong.

                  So the pound of flesh will be political, not economical (and that will include for example a promise to lobby/lend support etc.). Especially since there will be little of economical pound-of-flesh to be extracted.

                2. John k

                  But consider Germany… she is paid a lot now thru trade surplus with U.K… so in this case the one wanting divorce is willing to continue making payments.

                  1. vlade

                    Germany had a thriving trade with Russia, which it was very much willing to cut off. I don’t know how the numbers compared though.

                    For better or worse, Germans have shown they are willing to subordinate economy to politics (or maybe I’d say ideology) a number of times.

  13. Marco

    Oh jeez…Samantha Bee gets a write-up in Fast Company. Apparently she’s a “Leader” now. Its uncanny how media personalities sympathetic to power manage to get all the fawning press. Promulgating the Bernie-Bro meme during the primary paying dividends.

    1. Pat

      In the unlikely event that a Trump administration is at the forefront of better times for the majority of Americans AND a decreased imperialistic foreign policy draws some of our “wars” down one of the big bonuses will be the massive amount of egg on the faces of those media columnists who are busy missing that CGI was just done in by Clinton’s loss. Because we all know it was previously getting donations because of its good works and Trump is an evil clown…

    2. Arizona Slim

      Hey, it’s Fast Company. America’s most innovative and disruptive business magazine.

      (Sarcasm off.)

      1. Pat

        You have to wonder how she juggled her show motherhood, that interview and the one in Bon Appetit (because when you think food you think Bee).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Bee is trying to rehabilitate Glenn Beck, and her old boss once threw together an event with three times as many people as Glenn Beck’s March on Washington.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      My sense of what is happening – confirmed by Schumer appearing with Bernie at town halls – is that it is slowly dawning on the Dem establishment that they made a huge error, and they are compounding it through their anti-Russian hysteria. I suspect that this is being driven by donors having quiet words in private. Its just a feeling I have based on how some of the pro-Clinton hordes seem to be softening their tone towards Bernie. I suspect that those who double down on their past may find they will get pushed to one side.

      I’m not suggesting for a moment that any of these people are on a road to Damascus conversion to the left, its more that they are trying to get ahead of a parade. I think those who are slow to make the change will get trampled (or put another way, will lose their jobs). Although some, I think, might see Zuckerberg a good cash cow if he really is trying to run for president. It will be interesting to see which way the rats run as they leave the good ship Clinton.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Clintonistas are out of jobs. The pro-Clinton bloggers expected Democratic largess going forward, but they simply didn’t deliver.

        There is no longer a cult figure to align themselves with followers who will shower attention on a gallery of the President standing near the secret service agent who walks the dog.

        NBC hired Greta Van Susteren and Megan Kelly. What Clintonistas didn’t get those spots because Hillary lost?

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Timmy.

          Having been back a week from the tropics, I am staggered by the lack of let-up in the UK MSM’s anti-Trump barrage. Why is the UK (MSM) so invested. One would think that the UK has more pressing matters to worry about.

      2. Carolinian

        Huge error…ya think? While I’m not a fan of all that master persuader stuff it could be that Trump is deliberately provoking the Dems to make fools out of themselves. After their overreaction he can then seem like the reasonable one by taking the middle ground and moderating all the things he said in those off the cuff tweets.

        1. a different chris

          Yes we complain about Obama’s “starting at 75% of the way” for very good reason. Trump starts at -100% of what you want and if you get to 0% he looks like a guy “willing to think about things and move a bit” and you look like somebody who tiresomely whined thru the entire process.

          Dude doesn’t have his name everywhere and is now Prezident for no reason. And the funny thing is the game is played right out in the open, heck that’s essential to it, and our supposedly smart people can’t even understand it let alone win anything.

      3. Waldenpond

        Sanders committee head is literally the pr arm of the Ds, he’s head of outreach. It is his job to recruit for Ds. One of the events was organized by Schumer, Sanders was added to the list.

        There are the addition of new soft/dark money groups. I haven’t seen any open groups, any links would be appreciated.

        Sanders seems to be moving forth with the D strategy of appealing to the right with his appeals to Trump voters etc and in general ignoring the left.

  14. Steve C

    Putin and Ukraine are roughly analogous to the 55-year US freak out over Castro’s Cuba. It almost resulted in nuclear war.

    1. Skip Intro

      Seems like a good flashpoint to me: NATO troops stationed in a war zone next to Russian troops? How hard would it be to stage an appropriate incident of sufficient apparent gravity to force Trump’s hand, or to just have NATO respond without Trump’s order? Traditionally this would happen in Poland, but Ukraine is, for the moment, more suited to providing a photogenic casus belli as a follow up to the MH-17 episode.

  15. Pat

    Charlie Rose had a let me give you the cues interview with Susan Rice this morning. I am not sure she said one thing that was not a lie or distortion.

    1. John Wright

      I’ve avoided Charlie Rose since his May 2003 Tom Friedman post Iraq war interview in which he asked Friedman if “the Iraq war was worth it”.

      The Great Bloviator Friedman responded with “unquestionably” and added his notorious “Well, suck on this” comment.

      As I remember, Rose did not respond with any follow on questions to his famous guest after this astonishing exchange, which, I believe, a skeptical and inquisitive interviewer would have.

      He seemed to take what Friedman said as golden and went back to his script..

      But in Rose’s defense, it was almost as if he was not truly listening to Friedman, which, to me, is understandable.

      Rose has the PBS patina and a well-paid job, and embarrassing a guest might derail the “gravy train”.

      1. Bittercup

        Charlie Rose always seems like he’s not listening to the person he’s interviewing. It feels like he’s just there to deliver the pre-written questions, and I’m not entirely certain he actually bothers to comprehend the responses he gets before moving on to the next question. It is particularly infuriating when he happens to be interviewing somebody who is trying to actually converse.

        1. Smell of Sulfur

          Charlie Rose is surely part of the elite establishment and his lips are firmly planted on the asses of the .001%. His income depends on it. He now appears on Bloomberg and he depends on people of extreme wealth and their foundations for funding for his show. My impression is that he spends an inordinate amount of time socializing with these people and his views and theirs are indistinguishable.

  16. Steve H.

    : A strong or at least not weak currency is essential to being a major financial center.

    I struggle with international finance, so this quote by yves was important to me:

    : To be the reserve currency issue, you need to be willing to run trade deficits on an ongoing basis so there is plenty of your currency in foreign hands. That is equivalent to having your domestic demand support foreign jobs, or exporting jobs.

    Let me make an assertion to be shredded for better understanding: The CIA/WallSt. cohort has become inimical to military sovereignty. When fiat can generate infinite benefit to one cohort, but requires exporting material productivity, then speculation severely outperforms industry. But military sovereignty requires resources like steel mills and genuine intelligence security. It the new administration courts populist support with closed borders and a weaker dollar, they will have the support of the military cohort in juxtaposition to the finance cohort.

    {I also suggest adding ‘populis*’ to the triggerword list.}

    1. Dandelion

      I’m not sure about the financial aspects, but I’ve certainly wondered for a while about the vulnerabilities of a 12,000 mile supply chain. All those factories suddenly re-tooled in the 1930s-1940s don’t even exist now.

    2. financial matters

      I think speculation can also be damaging to a currency. It also seems that our grabbing resources has hit a wall in Syria. Russia’s activities there are being seen as more humane and stabilizing which I think can also be damaging to our currency. Is it possible for the powers of the US, Russia and China to work together or will we keep breaking things and fighting proxy wars? There are global problems that would benefit by countries acting reasonably. It’s probably in the best interest of the US to act as more of a good neighbor. Immigration would certainly be less of a problem with less war and more equality.

  17. Pat

    Am I the only one who looks at Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence and sees him having it both ways again. He gets the credit for supposedly being human and forgiving towards her from the left, but still leaves her in jail with jailers who have shown themselves to be cruel and vindictive toward Manning. Jailers who might be able to make sure more time is added to her sentence for infractions they create. Jailers who do not answer to anyone who cares if Obama’s act of mercy is completed. All of which Obama knows.
    No, sorry. If Manning walks out in May I will apologize and thank Obama, but not until she is free.

    1. DJG

      Agreed. It is Obama being the usual compromiser-from-behind, and it is his years of legal training showing. Also, I’m getting an impression that, by leaving out Snowden, there is the implication that Snowden did something horrific and unforgivable that can only be remedied by returning to the U S of A for a few years of solitary confinement and mistreatment in a prison. Hmmm. Wonder why Snowden hasn’t taken up Obama and Clinton on that offer…

      1. Pat

        Oh, if he could have it both ways with Snowden, I’m not sure he would have left him out. Thing is there is no option that leaves him incarcerated, but gives Obama credit for doing the right thing. Snowden would have to be a pardon and that leaves no way to tell the usual subjects it is all for show. (The fact that Snowden would still be a target for the rest of his life from some of our more rabid IC denizens aside.)

    2. integer

      Typical 0bama bs imo. Of course that is not to say it’s not better than nothing, but considering that those who actually commited the war crimes (that Manning leaked the info on) were never prosecuted, it really is a pretty hollow gesture.

    3. sleepy

      I am under the impression that with sentence commutations there is normally a 120 day delay until actual release for some alleged “readjustment to society” issues. While I assume that the president would have the right to order an immediate release, Obama’s failure to do so seems to be normal commutation procedure, not something unique to this case.

    4. Andrew Watts

      It’s a legacy issue. Obama couldn’t pardon Gen Cartwright without commuting Manning. He’d be accused of having double standards. He doesn’t get any credit from moi.

    5. RUKidding

      As I said yesterday, if putative Constitutional Law Prof and sitting POTUS Obama hadn’t opened his yap and declared Manning guilty before she went to trial and was convicted, then perhaps Manning wouldn’t have gotten such a harsh sentence… which leaves Obama open to being Mr. GREAT Guy (as I see all the fawning over at various lefty blogs) by commuting her sentence.

      No, no credit given by me to the Great Pretender. I’m glad he commuted Manning’s sentence, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the very least he could do under the circumstance. That Guilty verdict handed down by Obama was jaw-dropping and beyond the pale. And it wasn’t something that the mean-bully Republicans “forced” him to do, either.

  18. RenoDino

    Mark Tabbi thinks he’s following in the tradition of the great Hunter Thompson in his new book about Trump. There’s no question that Thompson hated Nixon for being a sneaky little rat and made it his duty to expose him. Tabbi thinks he’s doing the same with his latest book on Trump. Only problem is Thompson might have appreciated Trump. Thompson was the first libertarian before anyone used that term.

    He was brash, colorful, offensive, and both brutally honest and inconsistent in way that befits his humanity.

    Thompson was not like the snide and snarky social commentators of our day. He broke norms that he thought were stupid. He constantly challenged the system.

    Tabbi is a child of political correctness and identity politics, two things Thompson would have never, ever accepted. Thompson coverage was both distorted and truthful, twisted yet starkly revealing. He was an original, a genius and a hothead who may have seen something of himself in Trump. Both lived their lives on their own terms, a great rarity.

      1. RenoDino

        Thompson was a prick; he just admitted it. Being a committed prick is a requirement for being President.

    1. armchair

      Unacceptable analysis. First off, when did Taibbi claim the HST mantle? Besides, Taibbi takes otherwise dull topics and puts them into understandable language. I would argue that HST topics required less lift to be interesting. Even Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail was a juicier topic than CDO’s and derivatives. Finally, HST would not have admired a scam artist who didn’t drink.

      1. RenoDino

        “I would never compare myself to Thompson – that’s a losing undertaking for any political writer – but unlike previous campaigns I’ve covered for the magazine, 2016 had a lot in common with 1972. Richard Nixon was the defining monster of Thompson’s era. We’ve now found ours in Donald Trump.”–Taibbi

        I didn’t say “claim the mantle.” I said “following in the tradition” at Rolling Stone where they both worked covering the same beat and now Taibbi says he has found his White Whale in Trump just like Thompson found his in Nixon. The comparison I made is in keeping with Taibbi’s own description of their common ground. Stylistically there is no comparison.

        Thompson fancied himself an outlaw, breaking the rules of decorum. I think he would have been intrigued by Trump who spits in the eye of the system with impunity. I don’t think drinking was a precondition for Thompson’s opinion on anyone.

  19. cocomaan

    When asked whether she thinks guns have “any place” on school grounds, DeVos said guns on school properties should be left up to the states, because, for instance, Wyoming might want a gun on school grounds to deal with bears.

    I don’t see the problem, especially if the opposing viewpoint is that there should be a ban on guns on school grounds if you receive federal money.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I love this excuse. It’s utterly insane. Bears will never go near schools, too loud.

      They could foster dogs at the schools if there is a bear problem. It will also keep coywolves away. The scent and noise of multiple dogs should solve any potential bear problem.

      1. cocomaan

        It’d be a hell of a lot safer to keep a rifle in the school under lock and key than it would be to foster dogs.

        I simply dismiss the idea that DC can know what the circumstances are for people living in the middle of nowhere. If parents want kids to carry guns to school, and the locality is fine with that, good. Go for it.

        1. TheBellTolling

          How about the school that inspired the anecdote?

          “According to a 2005 Denver Post article, several schools in the vicinity of Cody, Wyoming — which has a rebounding bear population — relied on such fences to keep wildlife from wandering onto school grounds. But neither the Post nor another article in the Billings Gazette about the fences made any mention of firearms playing a role in the schools’ anti-bear strategies.

          Audra Morrow, a teacher at Wyoming’s Valley Elementary School in Cody from 2004 to 2006, explained to Mic that no guns were necessary to ward off ursids, and that the fence and bear spray were “absolutely” sufficient measures on their own.

          “No firearms in our schools!” Morrow wrote. “We do have bear spray but have never had a problem that would require using it.””

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There usually are houses, with people living there, just right next to even a fenced school.

            And with kids milling around, going to or coming home from school.

            I can see if people say they need to do more than fencing or bear spraying.

            If you trust your sheriff to be armed, you can similarly train your principal or one designated administrator/teacher to deal with problems like bears.

            1. Massinissa

              “If you trust your sheriff to be armed”

              Im not even entirely sure I trust sheriffs to be armed.

              1. MyLessTaanPrimeBeef

                You make a good point and we have a bigger problem that requires a comprehensive solution.

                As I have commented before, gun ban for both the private sector and the public sector.

                I think in Japan and the UK, cops don’t carry guns.

                It’s easier to counter the argument that the people need guns to defend against an oppressive government, if that government is, gun-free and zero-bullet-emission.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When we are being educated daily, that, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, even Hollywood celebrities realize, from one of their own best selling movies, that we need guns in school.

          Being educated, yes, lifetime learning.

    2. Pat

      The gun in the school is going to be the least of the worries for most of the families in that mythological Wyoming school. From everything I can see DeVos and her compatriots either want there to be no public schools or only public schools that offer little education but lots of profits for their investors. And from what I can surmise, like the Post Office which most of the same people want to destroy they have no clear idea how much this will effect rural areas that might have to worry about bears, as in not enough profits from those areas and no desire to spend the money to keep schools there (or deliver mail there).

      But meanwhile lets make it all about whether they can have an unnecessary gun in the school.

      1. Katharine

        It helps deflect attention from the way you sacrifice the reputation of the accountant who prepared your nonprofit’s 990s for years, identifying you as the VP. Just the sort of “clerical error” accountants make all the time.

    3. Skip Intro

      She was thinking of the right to arm bears, and the possible complications. Wyoming takes the 2nd amendment seriously.

  20. DJG

    The Feb 2017 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

    Corey Robin: “It’s no accident that one of the most spectacular confrontations since the election pitted the actors of Hamilton against the tweets of Trump. These fixed, frozen positions—high on rhetoric, low on action—offer an almost perfect tableau for our ongoing gridlock of recrimination. Clinton waged this campaign on the belief that her neoliberalism of fear could defeat the ethnonationalism of the right. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Let us not be addicted to ‘the drug of danger,’ as Athena says in the Oresteia, to ‘the dream of the enemy that has to be crushed, like a herb, before [we] can smell freedom.’”

    Regarding Washington Post regrets list:
    And boycotting the inauguration is just one more high-rhetoric low-action stance by the Democrats. Yet it seems to be very popular among the party faithful who were once preaching “incremental change.” A recipe for stagnation (more stagnation).

    1. RabidGandhi

      There must be a brilliant brain trust deep within the bowels of the DNC whose sole expertise is coming up with actions that will be both annoyingly loud and utterly ineffective. Kudos to them on a job well done.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Glad to hear that. I haven’t read the Feb issue yet but saw all the stuff about ‘resisting’ on the front cover and was starting to get a little annoyed with them thinking they might appoint Neera Tanden as a new editor. ;)

    3. HopeLB

      The musical Hamilton almost seems to have been made by the bankers as a way to normalize/celebrate neoliberalism. In Obama’s campaign speech with Sen Casey here in PA (08′), the only founder that financial Industry sponsored, Obama invoked was Hamilton, Jefferson’s enemy and the NY bankers’ man.
      The odd twist to all of this, is that it was the leadactor in Hamilton who asked Obama to pardon Rivera.

      1. aab

        I think the “lead actor” you are referring to is the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. His father is a New York Democratic Party operative aligned with Hillary Clinton. There is no twist, just a straight line.

        I did enjoy when he went on John Oliver’s show to rap and plead for Obama to rescue Puerto Rico. This had to be pure virtue-signalling. His dad could have talked to Obama about it just by picking up the phone. I believe at that exact time Miranda pere was working in Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters.

        Fun Fact: Chris Hayes had him on his MSNBC show to publicize Hamilton. I was still naive enough that I thought “why is this political show offering free air time to a musical?”

  21. Nancy Kramer

    On squirrels are pests. Where I live they dig up gardens and attack the trash even though there are tons of oak trees around so they should have plenty of acorns for food. When we had a colony of feral cats around they were very effective at frightening the squirrels away. Unfornately the board of our home owners association wanted the cats to go away and they were sent to a feral cat sanctuary due to the generosity of one of the neighbors. The cats were quite popular among the residents and the area where they lived also had absolutely no rodent or squirrel problems.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In the UK and Ireland grey squirrels (an invasive species from the US) are a major pest, while the native red squirrels are very rare having been pushed out of their range by the greys. Reds are shy and small, while I’ve seen greys taunt dogs.

      But in Ireland, the reds are making a comeback. It seems that another very rare animal, the pine marten is slowly returning to its old haunts (it was nearly wiped out by hunters because they thought they killed game birds). As it returns, the greys disappear and are replaced with reds. It seems that martens can chase grey squirrels up trees and kill them, but reds are small enough to go onto the smallest twigs to escape.

      But ecologists were trying to work out why a tiny population of pine martens could have such a significant impact on the greys – they couldn’t possibly be eating them at the rate to explain the speed of their demise. The current hypothesis is that the greys are disappearing because they are starving. The pine martens so terrify them they don’t come out of the trees to scavenge for food and so aren’t getting enough to eat. So they aren’t breeding through malnutrition.

      It seems the greys are typical bullies – they push everyone around, but when they find something that stands up to them, they run away and would starve rather than face a fight.

      1. a different chris

        If the hypothesis stands then this is a great anecdote about how “ecological balance” so often works in non-obvious ways.

      2. Portia

        it seems there are a lot of reasons for red sqirrel population flux in the UK. Where I live in the NE U.S., red squirrels are aggressive and drive out other wildlife, so I don’t know what to think.

        The Hated Red Squirrel

        Red squirrels were once persecuted in the same way – and for the same reasons – that greys currently are. With hundreds of thousands being killed by ‘squirrel clubs’, numbers plummeted. In order to boost numbers again, red squirrels were brought to the UK from Europe. Prof. Harris notes that, should appropriate habitats which could sustain colonies of red squirrels, become available in the UK, more could easily be imported.2 However, the stress of capture, transportation and release into an unknown environment is a serious cause for concern, so why not leave red squirrels where they are thriving instead of trying to force the animals to live in different areas simply so that certain people can enjoy having them there?
        Population Flux

        It is simplistic to say that grey squirrels have caused the demise of red squirrels. It is true that grey squirrels are hardier than their red cousins and can live in a wider range of habitats, which gives them a significant advantage. It is also true that grey squirrels can carry a virus, which appears not to affect them, while it can kill reds. But in a recent study, red squirrels who died from other causes were found to have an immunity to the virus, indicating that many are able to recover from it.

        Red squirrels have endured much misfortune, largely at the hands of people. They declined to near extinction in the eighteenth century because of deforestation and more were introduced from the continent. In the nineteenth century, forest plantations reached maturity and so red numbers leapt.

        This, in turn, led to them being killed by specially formed Squirrel Clubs who were paid a bounty, and hundreds of thousands of the ‘pests’ were killed. And that was all before the grey squirrel arrived.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I was puzzled about your comment that red squirrels were a pest, but Wikipedia has come to the rescue. The ‘red squirrel’ in Europe is a different species than the American Red Squirrel. The Eurasian red squirrel is much smaller than the American and very shy – it avoids people. Its a very popular animal, its never been considered a pest so far as I know.

          When Greys were introduced to Europe they brought various diseases with them, displacing the red. They outcompete for food so reds can’t recover unless greys are eliminated. Fortunately, the lovely pine marten is doing just that in Ireland. But its almost extinct in England and Wales so can’t do the same job.

          1. Portia

            thank you–however I am still puzzled because the place where I live in Vermont has red squirrels that closely resemble the Eurasion species with the very red coat and tufted ears. Definitely do not look like American Red Squirrel. they are extremely loud and got into my shed where they tore out all the ceiling insulation to make a nest. I will have to do more research to see what these are.

          2. bob

            It’s a pine vs deciduous tree delineation in the US. In area with more pines, the reds do better. In areas with more deciduous trees, the grey’s dominate.

            You don’t see much overlap. Either/or, it seems.

            The reds have a very grating cackle-


            They’re very loud, it’s tough not to notice them. They’re a bit smaller than the grey, so harder to keep out.

      3. Synapsid

        Plutonium Kin,

        Your mention of the pine marten takes us back to the post up top about squirrels eating through the wires in car engines.

        Some years ago (it may still be a problem; I don’t know) pine martens were doing the same thing in Switzerland. Got the idea maybe when a marten saw a squirrel doing it, before eating the squirrel.

        Pine martens are beautiful and adaptable. A friend of mine who was the game-control agent for western Okanonagn County, west of the Cascades in north-central Washington state, said that they had found that the best bait for trapping pine martens for census study was not the peanut butter that I had expected but was actually raspberry jam.

    2. Katharine

      Interesting. My squirrels are just friendly neighbors. The worst they’ve ever done is try to climb the screens once or twice (and knock down the thermometer before I figured out how to secure it better, but that was just teasing, because they liked to scold me when I came out to pick it up), but mostly they just do their own nut-and-seed thing.

      Does your organization have compulsive landscaping that blows away all lightweight seeds, or mucks up the grass with chemicals? That could make the natural food less abundant.

      1. B1whois

        I don’t know why, but here in Uruguay there are no squirrels. This may be why there are many many birds here.

        1. HotFlash

          I had a Japanese visitor who was fascinated by our squirrels. We have black, grey and admixtures here (Toronto), plus white ones in a few areas.

          “You don’t have squirrels in Japan?” I asked.

          “No,” he told me. “We have monkeys.”

          So, thank your stars.

    3. Dave

      It’s not a good idea to feed and try and pet these critters.
      Southwestern GROUND Squirrels are repositories for and vectors of another nuisance: Yersina pestis,
      otherwise known as bubonic plague.

      The fleas jump from squirrel to rat, rat to squirrel, to your pets and then maybe to you.

      325 people died in California from plague in the first 25 years of the 20th Century.
      Prompt medical attention can save plague victims with antibiotics.
      The use of acupuncture, vitamin C and other often valid nutritional cures used in other settings, mean you die from this infection.

  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Clintons Shutter Global Initiative as Donations Dry Up New American (Timotheus)

    The closing of CGI confirmed Peter Schweizer’s conclusions in his book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, that there are “serious and alarming questions of judgment, of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests, and ultimately, of [Hillary’s] fitness for high public office.”

    As if there was any “confirmation” needed.

    As I was walking down the street here in Florida the other day, I swear I heard celebratory renditions of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” coming from the direction of Haiti.

    No. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I heard it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      What we’d all like to know, Katniss, is by what percentage is the Clinton Foundation shrinking?

      CGI announced layoffs of 74 employees last September. Its permanent shutdown in April 2017 involves 22 employees.

      One sees claims that the Clinton Foundation employs as many as 2,000 people “worldwide.” But this figure doesn’t jibe with reported salary expenditures of $34 million.

      Divide $34 million by a guesstimated average $100,000 per employee, and it suggests perhaps 350 employees on the US payroll … of which around 100 (at CGI) are leaving.

      Shrinking like an ice cream cone in the sun, in other words. Who could possibly have foreseen that the sleazy foreign government donations (including tens of millions from oh-so-righteous Norway) would dry up when there was no more influence to peddle?

      Let it bleed.

      1. Pat

        I’m sure they will milk Chelsea’s salary out of this as long as they can. It isn’t as if either she or her husband truly have anything to hawk or skills for employment they haven’t exhausted – at least until she manages to snag that Congressional seat.
        (Sadly, I’m sure that the elder Clintons can still both command a speaking fee far above what they should.)

        1. Jim Haygood

          Funny you should mention Chelsea. She’s been out and about:

          I ask [Chelsea] what I really want to know: What are we supposed to do now?

          It might be an unfair question — no doubt Chelsea is going through her own grieving process post-election — but she’s considered by many to be the future of the Democratic Party, and there’s no doubt we need her leadership now more than ever.

          “Everything we believed before the election, we still believe,” she says. “Everything we worked so hard for, we have to continue to work hard for. It requires engagement in our own communities.”

          For many of us, Hillary Clinton losing the presidential election was a wake-up call. Once we got over our initial anger and shock, we got busy.

          We donated to Planned Parenthood. We paid for subscriptions to reliable news outlets. We planned a march. And Chelsea encourages young women to consider how they can continue to make a difference.

          Chelsea — the future of the Democratic party?

          What can a friend say but “Oy, vey!

          1. Gareth

            With Hillary unable to locate Wisconsin on a map during the general election, the task fell to Chelsea who gave a speech in Madison in the closing weeks. Zero energy, zero charisma and absolutely nothing interesting to say. You could have pulled any person out of the paltry crowd onto the stage and they would have done a better job. She was better than Tim Kaine who appeared a few days earlier, but who isn’t?

              1. craazyboy

                Clapper could leak the shocking news Obama is Chelsea’s real daddy. That would solve more problems for the Ds than I have time to list right now.(headed to the gym) Tho I regret missing out on the task.

          2. HotFlash

            Chelsea — the future of the Democratic party?

            She has a strong profile that would look splendid on a coin.

      2. alex morfesis

        $hillary foundation paying haitians 100 grand per year ?? Jim you’re such a kidder (peabody…pronounced pib buh tea)

      3. Katharine

        $100,000 is just your dream figure, not what normal people earn. You’re forgetting all the janitors, maybe average “worldwide” $5,000, and clerical staff not a lot better.

        1. Jim Haygood

          No doubt the ex-US employees are paid peanuts. But I was focusing on the US employees, mainly in New York and Little Rock. Foreign employees likely are paid from foreign grants, not from the $34 million of direct employment expenses.

          The 11 top earners at the Clinton Foundation averaged $264,000 apiece.

          Also, the $34 million figure is likely “fully burdened,” meaning an extra 30 or 35% more than salary to cover benefits, employer’s share of FICA, etc.

          If you assume an average $60,000 employment cost (likely too low for New York), it would suggest about 550 domestic employees … and a still healthy 18% rate of annual employment decline.

          We can do better than this. :-)

      4. RabidGandhi

        Well in the interests of consistency, it’s nice to see the Clintons finally applying their “kill all the jobs” strategy to the CGI. May I suggest the Center for American Progress next?

    2. aab

      Katniss, I want to extend my condolences to you and every other resident of Florida. I understand the new, DWS-approved Chair of the Florida Dems has promised that Cory Booker will be visiting the state frequently to do fundraising.

      Say the word, and I will bring over a comforting casserole.

  23. fresno dan

    With its striking crown of yellow and piercing stare, this newly discovered moth could only have been named after one man.

    The new species has been christened ‘Neopalpa donaldtrumpi’ in honour of America’s 45th president Donald Trump.

    The moth is described for the first time by evolutionary biologist Dr Vazrick Nazari in the latest edition of the journal Zookeys, after being discovered hidden in the collections if the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California.
    C’mon man – that moth is combing over those scales!

    1. polecat

      Do the larva have toxin oozing protuberances on their backsides .. topped with irregular orange ‘asteroid shaped’ spheres ..??

      I’ve heard dem birds find such things distasteful ..

    2. crittermom

      Too funny!
      On the bright side, with a new moth being named after our incoming president, I see it as a sign the presidency no longer holds the high esteem & respect that position once did–many, many years ago.
      Perhaps that’s a good thing?

      First, the queen loses the coronation, & now the new figurehead has a rather ugly moth named after him?
      I like to see it more as a sign those in the highest power should acknowledge, as a clue that the citizens of this country are losing respect for the govt & have come to see it as more of a joke in many ways.
      That’s one ugly moth!

  24. lyman alpha blob

    Checked out the Daily Show last night for the first time in a while and one sketch was making fun of Trump for not getting any A-list celebrities at his inauguration which begs some questions.

    When exactly was it that the presidential inauguration became just another red carpet for celebrities to be seen? Does the presidency now require Hollywood’s imprimatur before it is considered legitimate? Do the liberals not realize that glomming on to the Beyonces and Streeps and Clooneys of the world is precisely why they lost?

    The tone deafness is really unbelievable.

    1. Optimader

      The mutual admiration society is still miffed.
      The chicago news is still breathlessly reporting on the congresscritters that are having pressconfetences to state they will either not go to the inauguration or are still having agst about not going (but underlyingly recognize the potential for compromizing their opportunity for grift).

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yet the D-party boycotters don’t even show the initiative to organize their own anti-inaugural celebration, featuring all those missing A-list celebrities who wouldn’t be caught dead with Republicans in attendance.

        Instead they plan to spend the day in their windowless basements, watching the event on TV as they hurl their smelly old sneakers at the screen while gorging on Chinese take-out food.

        It’s the new D party alternative lifestyle. :-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Afterwards, they all move to Gallia Narbonensis to set up their modern version of Avignon Presidency.

          There, they drink Pastis and hurl shoes instead of steel balls playing Pétanque, because, well, because he is not my president.

        2. optimader

          I was thinking of inviting over a couple friends/family that were D party voters and assigning each a box of Tissue with which they could moisten w/ tears, then toss at the screen with much verve and foot stamping.

          But then I would have to watch it too :o(

          Maybe just substitute a couple episodes of Game of Thrones that have the Coronation ceremonies of Cersei Lannister’s sons.?

          1. polecat

            Tissue …. ??

            Issue wipes .. preferably ‘CLOTH’ ….. resting on a hard drive !

            …. then don the fly-spittle goggles ..

    2. TheBellTolling

      It’s funny (not the segment, I haven’t watched, just the situation). Trump is obsessed with celebrity and it must be eating him inside.

      Trump and these liberal A-listers’ are perfect foils. They view their petty arguments as defining moments in history while really it’s no more than a circus side show attraction.

      1. Pat

        Thing is if Trump could be successful at lowering our military presence, increasing jobs, and producing a more successful health plan for America, 2020 could be the total opposite with people falling all over themselves to be at the party for his second. Long shot I know, but if he really does have any non Libertarian advisors maybe they should keep pointing out to him doing the right thing, not the grift, would mean that four years from now he can make them beg.

        1. uncle tungsten

          That is just too good! Thanks Portia you made my day with that. Talk about revenge of the real estate dealer. To hell with the story of p!ssing on the Russian bed, here we have Trump himself p!ssing on the USA aristocracy.

          There is justice in this obscene world.

    3. alex morfesis

      Hollywood hates trump over money…not policy…trump helped popularize and monetize semi scripted “reality” tv…costing a certain portion of the industry multi billions…

      how many peta babes walk over and past homeless people in LA on their way to a staged protest/news conference…

      how many “human rights” hollywood types insist on a no bangla no hondu no dr no hitea slave wages or child labor “license agreements” for the products in their movies or “clothing lines”…


    4. Dave

      Trump said that he’s happy that a bunch of lilly livered congressclowns aren’t showing up,

      “Thanks! We need to seats, there’s a huge demand”.

  25. cojo

    On the The Heroism of Incremental Care in the New Yorker, I think the bigger takeaway is that you need a good relationship with your primary care physician. In the article, the “cure” of the patient’s chronic migraines occurred with a long physician-patient relationship with frequent interactions. Something I’m afraid can be difficult to do with the way today’s medicine is progressing. You’ll notice the patients headaches did not go away, just the severity of the symptoms.

    Primary care physicians are being squeezed to see more patients in less time due to poor reimbursements and under served populations with too few physicians in general. This is largely due to the perverse payment structures in fee for service medicine where surgeries/procedures/tests are reimbursed at a higher rate than face to face visits. The author alludes to this with her being a surgeon and being fascinated with the work that goes on in a primary care clinic. The author nicely summarizes this in the following:

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

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

    Until this is addressed, success stories such as the management of this patient’s migraines will be much more difficult to attain.

  26. Jim Haygood

    Euphoria reigns in the Eccles Building this morning, as the 2 percent inflation target is not only met, but exceeded.

    Headline CPI rose 2.1% in the past 12 months, while core CPI (ex food and energy) rose 2.2%.

    Strictly speaking, the Fed uses a different inflation measure, core Personal Consumption Expenditures. But all these measures are correlated. CPI and core CPI above 2 percent is a big deal.

    Rate hikes for all!” cried Stanley Mellon Fischer, fist-pumping in the corridor, as the tea trolley ladies in their French maid outfits backed away in alarm at his outburst.

    I do believe it’s working, good! — Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps I am too self-centered, but I fantasize about how much my health insurance premium contributed to that patriotic price increase.

      1. craazyboy

        Exactly 6.5% of 2% = .26%, based on inflation component weighting.

        But your gas mileage may vary.

    1. Pat

      My original thought was what adorable babies. Then I realized they were bigger than I am. Still adorable, just much larger than those I usually apply that term to.

  27. Optimader

    This electric car is the first zero-emissions vehicle to finish the Dakar Rally

    Zero emission cars.. a meme for the technical equivalent of the Innumerate. I trust it was equipped 3D printed parts?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If one holds one’s breath, and has not eaten beans and thus no gas problem, one can cross a street and have a zero emission walk.

      1. optimader

        need to suit up in Tyvek… our skin off-gases, that part of why we are deliciously irresistible to mosquitos


  28. hemeantwell

    Re the Klare article at TomDispatch, I agree with Yves’ assessment.

    It’s fascinating that, although Klare acknowledges Russia’s alarm over NATO expansion, he is incapable of seeing that as the most important determinate of Russia’s response. He actually opens with Putin’s hostility to Clinton as a possible driver of Russian aggression in the Baltics, then implies that Russia might want to regain territory lost after 1991, then sloppily uses Russian intervention in the Ukraine as a model without considering its motivations.

    So we get a mishmosh of interpretations of Russia. In a basic sense, it’s largely a replay of George Kennan’s indefensible ignoring of Soviet defense requirements after WWII in his analysis of their strategic doctrine. Kennan hid that issue behind the silly claim that traditional Russian imperial ambitions + Marxist ideology turned the Soviets into a “wind-up car” that would repeatedly crash into barriers until it wound down from exhaustion. To his limited credit Klare does add the NATO worry to his mix. But does so in a way that avoids what is at this point in history the obligation of questioning any version of the expansionist Russia interpretation that US elites used to “scare the hell out of the American people” (h/t to Senator Vandenberg!) to bring the US into an aggressive posture that brought about the Cold War. To grant any legitimacy to Russian defensive concerns threatens to raise the possibility that the US/NATO can be seen as an aggressive threat. This undermines an axial theme in the ideology of US exceptionalism, the veneer of US imperialism. Klare treats this like a third rail, and I find his uncritical smorgasbord of Russian motives cowardly for someone who supposedly offers a critical take peace issues.

    1. susan the other

      2 things set off my radar: first Trump said/implied he would cancel the sanctions on Russia if they would agree to some mutual disarmament/peace things. Then Obama sent troops to the Baltics, Poland, and Norway which looked like more bargaining chips. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. But it is hard to imagine any Trump-Obama secret maneuverings to get Russia to cooperate. And just what kind of cooperation do we want from Russia? The talk last night on the F24 debate and on DW was about how Russia’s goal was to destroy the “Liberal” world order and take us all back to nation states and protected trade, etc. As if the neoliberals haven’t accomplished that all by themselves. But, If that is even remotely true, then why didn’t we include and encourage Russia to join the “liberal” world order – I think the answer is that if Russia joins up it will take away our trade with the EU and we are so jealous of our relationship with the EU that we’d never let Russia join us at all. They’d clean our clock.

  29. Portia

    “Discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.”

    This is excellent news for the planet Earth. I’ll take it.

  30. Colonel Smithers

    A bit off topic. The suspicion in the Indian Ocean, where I was for the festive season, especially where debris from MH370 washes up, is that the ‘plane was heading towards the Chagos archipelago, which includes Diego Garcia, and was shot down by US forces. No one can understand why the search was concentrated south west of Perth and why lap dog Australia is so prominent in the investigation. The currents there would not take debris to where the debris was found. The rationale may be that Uncle Sam wanted the black box batteries to run out of juice.

    1. Bittercup

      Thanks for sharing that theory: I’m not remotely qualified to actually evaluate it, but it is interesting.

      In other plane crash mysteries, Egypt A320 went down in May. It was briefly noted at the time, and then dropped out of English-language news entirely. The investigation (the public parts of it, anyway) has been lackadaisical and noncommittal. At the very least, I feel bad for the families of the passengers, who seem destined to get neither answers nor attention.

      1. Gaianne

        New information from French investigators suggests a cell phone caught fire in the cockpit.

        No, this is not definitive, but is a real possibility.

        The awkward part is that we love our cell phones so much, that we cannot admit that the lithium ion chemistry is prone to occasionally burning or exploding.

        Whether or not this proves the explanation for Egypt A320, the fact that we allow lithium ion on planes shows the depth of our denial and addiction.


    2. integer

      No one can understand why the search was concentrated south west of Perth and why lap dog Australia is so prominent in the investigation. The currents there would not take debris to where the debris was found.

      Tony Abbott took the lead on that one, and a man like Abbott doesn’t worry about things like currents. Actually, I imagine he was wondering why people kept telling him that dried fruit would cause his brilliant plan to fail. Shirtfronts for everyone!

  31. fresno dan

    “Currently, we live in a 700 square foot studio apartment but with a baby on the way, we need to upgrade to a 2,500 square foot home so we can have space for our 6 pound baby. Oh, and a sauna and a walk-in closet would be nice.”
    And this is a deeper examination of cultural real estate psychology. Why don’t they have shows like “my escrow fell through” or “my 35 year old still lives at home” or “my bank denied my loan request” to show reality? Or what about looking at a household budget pre-home buying and post-home buying a few years out? What about the reality that many couples that buy have the added burden of childcare costs that in some states, rivals that of a mortgage? This is too much to think about. Real estate buying is simple! It never goes down!
    I watch way more HGTV than I should. And if the Soviet Union could have indoctrinated communists like the US indoctrinates wanna be home owners, we all would be wearing fuzzy hammer and sickle bunny slippers….

    If it possible for a pair of human house buyers to walk into a dwelling and NOT say, “We want an open concept kitchen living area”???? Is it possible to WANT a house whose counters is not an opportunity to showcase one’s lapidary taste?

    You know, when I cook a turkey for festivus, and take it out of the oven, I often drop it (its HOT and SLIPPERY) and it bounces over into the cat’s litter box. (I am intending to move the cat’s litter box at some point in the future when I spend less time on the innertubes….) Now, brushing off the extraneous material on the turkey makes the turkey good enough.
    But with a see through kitchen, everybody can see the turkey bouncing into the litter box, and they all become germaphobes (so fastidious – what are you, all like Trump and pee-pee averse?). Not to mention everyone can see me pouring the 2 buck chuck into the empty wine bottle that cost 20$ (that I got out of dumpsters). And everybody thinks indoor plumbing is MAGICAL – its Fresno, nobody’s naughty parts will suffer frostbite.

    1. DJG

      fresno dan:
      Have you considered roasting a six-pound baby instead of a heavy turkey that falls into the litter box and spatters your revolutionary-fluffy slippers? Then you can have a see-through kitchen with dazzling polished chalcedony counters.

    2. alex morfesis

      In the mammonite caliphate, poverty is illegal and punishable by imprisonment and serial penance via perpetual driving down a carnal one way street the wrong way…

      Besides…hud doesnt fund affordable housing advertising money so the producers on real e-tea tv have to eat…

      Producers have to only do one thing…convince advertisers to advertise…there are two sub plots in content management…

      The first and most important is what will advertisers advertise on…and then in that reduced spectrum…what will people watch enough to make money beyond the production costs

      Bob villa (IMNSHO) was pushed aside since he woke up one morning and decided not everyone can afford a quarter million to million dollar rehab of some classic home…and also those who can actually pay that “legally” without mortgage “fudging” are a small piece of the economy and viewing audience…

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘we all would be wearing fuzzy hammer and sickle bunny slippers….’

      Dan, you need to upgrade to what craazyman wears in his posh digs:

      Old Etonians such as David Cameron can buy slippers available only to alumni of the school and sold at outfitters New & Lingwood on Eton High Street.

      They come in corduroy — maroon, dark blue or bottle green — with a black leather sole. Old Etonian Charles Moore (Mrs Thatcher’s official biographer) ordered a pair for his birthday some years ago.

      What’s more, the well-heeled often take their slippers when they visit friends as they don’t like to pad around in their socks.

      Gotta be someplace on the webs where us wannabe aristos could buy a pair of made-in-China Old Etonian slippers for 5 bucks.

      In the meantime, I had to settle for some crappy old maroon Hahhhhhvid slippers from Walmart to add some sartorial street cred to my mail order PhD.

  32. Jeff N

    re: “Obomba” – funny you mention that. I live in the Chicago area, and I remember in my hometown’s 4th of July parade there was a group of bourgois white folks marching in support of Obama’s upcoming US senate bid. And I was confused, like “Is this a protest? Is ‘Obama’ a parody candidate who bombs Iraq?”
    This must have been summer of 2004…

  33. Brad

    This is worth a read – actually Rhodes doesn’t sound so worried. The main import is that Rhodes, who would have come of political age in the high era of American triumphalism, recognized the disconnect with reality. Though Rhodes own rationalization is yet another cognitive dissonance that can’t recognize that the US is “at the center”, as in the eye of a hurricane, of world disorder. The Iraq war and the 2008 meltdown were but key events in that trend. After all, how else Mr. Trump, Mr. Rhodes?

    What Worries Ben Rhodes About Trump
    Obama’s foreign policy messenger opens up about the world the outgoing president leaves behind—and what Trump could do with it.

  34. Bill

    Chelsea Manning-sentence-commuted

    I don’t understand why she will not be released until May ! That gives them the opportunity to harass her further, possibly causing another suicide attempt, perhaps successful this time. It also provides the opportunity to charge her with some other kind of misbehavior that allows them to keep her even after the pardon. Lots of nasty mischief can happen in 5 months.

    1. Waldenpond

      All charges were commuted except one. The time for that one charge is fulfilled in May. She will be free once she completes that sentence.

  35. Louis

    The biggest problem with figuring out how to deal with automation is that many, if not a majority of people, are stuck in a mindset that only those in low-skilled, low-paying jobs are affected. Thus, we keep hearing the mantra of “get an education.” The Financial Times article on automation in the financial industry should serve a reminder that there’s a lot more jobs that can automated than those in fast-food.

    The nightmare scenario of automation is extreme inequality: i.e. a few people at the top doing really well, a large number of people at the bottom who are either unemployed or working low-paying jobs that cannot be automated, and not a lot of mobility between the two poles because so many of the middle-jobs have been hollowed out by automation.

    I hate to say it but if the nightmare scenario comes true, this country (the U.S.) is finished. We’re still arguing over whether everyone deserves access to healthcare in this United States—the rest of the developed world, as we know, has had universal healthcare for a while—so there is no way Guaranteed Universal Income is ever going to be implemented in the U.S., even if the realities of automation warrant doing so.

    1. Mark P.

      ‘We’re still arguing over whether everyone deserves access to healthcare in this United States—the rest of the developed world, as we know, has had universal healthcare for a while—so there is no way Guaranteed Universal Income is ever going to be implemented in the U.S., even if the realities of automation warrant doing so.’

      Change comes. Sometimes in a historical moment. The world of 2025 is going to look very different from how it looks today.

      1. witters

        “The world of 2025 [or whatever] is going to look very different from how it looks today.”

        This is trivially true or stupendously false.

  36. stukuls

    Well drivers are doing their part to kill of the rogue cyber hacking squirrels. Not a bike ride i do in the Hudson Valley around my house that I have to stop counting the dead. Usually at 30 i stop.

  37. Ancient1

    As we approach Inaguration Day, 2016, I offer you a comparison, FDR’s Inaguration speech of 20 Januay, 1937. And ask the question, have we as a people (nation) made progress?

    “But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life. 23
    I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day. 24
    I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago. 25
    I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children. 26
    I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions. 27
    I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. 28
    It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And add, ‘It’s wrong to assume we need to be involved in another war in Europe to pull us out.”

      “As I fend off one attempt after another by hardly visible spies and war hawks, I seek your support and cooperation for the next 4 years.”

  38. Lord Koos

    I have to say I’m very impressed with all the pardons and commuted sentences that Obama has done – he has done more pardons than all other presidents put together. I’ve been a very critical of Barack Obama but the quality of mercy in a politician is a rare thing.

  39. Oregoncharles

    Brexit: You notice May has been stalling? That’s one reason for the incoherence: she’s just buying time and her speeches are meant mainly for the domestic audience. Two things may happen: public opinion in Britain might change, letting her off the hook; or, rather more likely, the Eu may be in too much political trouble after this year’s elections to bother with Britain.

    Plus, nobody knows what the Big Dog on the Block will do, but it’s presently friendlier to Britain than to the EU.

    I assume Britain has pretty good political intelligence on the Continent. That’s what consulates are for. Or do they have embassies in EU capitals? That’s one of the EU’s essential problems: it’s neither-nor. The sovereignty status of member states is ambiguous, and that’s what a lot of the current posturing is about.

    Stalling is not a strong position; on the other hand, sometimes it pays off.

  40. Oregoncharles

    The antidote: Elk. Just saw those at the Refuge. I’m guessing that’s an oak tree behind them.

    Those cuties weigh half a ton; the bulls have antlers 3 or 4 feet long. I just hope they don’t get too much closer, as there isn’t much that will keep them out of your orchard. The present browse line is bad enough.

    The first time I saw one, it was just a head peering out of the bushes by the road; I thought someone’s horse had gotten out.

    Nice seeing such a familiar face on NC!

  41. pictboy3

    I don’t understand where you all are getting this “US destabilized Ukraine” stuff from. I followed the street protests closely from the moment they started getting larger, and it seemed like people had had enough with the corruption after Yanukovych pulled out of the EU deal, combined with the sort of popular euphoria that was going on with the Arab Spring protests that were happening contemporaneously. I would wager almost every swing in Ukrainian politics since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been because of the corruption of the ruling parties. It’s a fact of life there and people were pissed about it, and felt energized by corrupt governments in the Middle East falling like dominoes. A popular uprising in the capital is a pretty natural outcome in those circumstances. The CIA can do a lot of things, most of them nasty, but they don’t have the power to get tens of thousands of people into the streets in the face of heavily armed riot police to protest their government. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

    I have no doubt that Nuland probably whispered the names of the interim government in the ears of the Ukrainians, but that was well after Yanukovych had been ousted by the parliament (including a large portion of his own party). The reading of that most charitable to the Russians is that the US stepped into an already destabilized Ukraine to try and influence things. But that’s a far cry from the implication that everything in Ukraine was going swimmingly until the big bad US stepped in. And this is leaving the part out where Putin overplayed his hand by leaning on Yanukovych to pull out of the EU agreement in the first place.

    I think comparisons to the Cuban missile crisis are right on the money, but we shouldn’t forget that episode was brought on because of the US meddling in Cuban politics to support a dictator against popular revolution. The Russians don’t have clean hands here, and no one should pretend otherwise.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If those same protesters waited four more months, they could have spoken at the ballot box.

      They then failed despite the presence of the mob to muster the votes to remove the President under the Ukraine constitution. It’s what called a “coup.”

      Did you follow the breathless broadcasts of Pat Robertson lackey, Wolf Blitzer?

      1. Vatch

        If those same protesters waited four more months, they could have spoken at the ballot box.

        Not true. The election wasn’t originally scheduled for May, 2014. The Ukrainian presidential term is five years, and the previous election was held in January, 2010, so the next election wasn’t due until January, 2015. After Yanukovych was removed from office in February, 2014, the election was rescheduled.

        1. pictboy3

          Not to mention the perennial issue of vote rigging in their elections (which is what kept him out of the Presidency the first time). But clearly if the law says it, the citizens must obey!

        2. steelyman

          Actually I think it’s you who might be mistaken. The elections had been rescheduled to the Fall of 2014 as part of a negotiation with the FMs of Germany, France and Poland.

          Here’s a chronology of the events leading to the coup against Yanukovich from Counterpunch.

          February 20th: Foreign ministers from Poland, Germany and France visiting Kiev secured President Yanukovych’s agreement that would commit the government to an interim administration, constitutional reform and new parliamentary and presidential elections.

          The protestors had succeeded in most of their aims so everything that followed was pretty much an illegal coup against Yanukovich and his legally elected government.

      2. pictboy3

        I was actually following all the Vice news dispatches that came out of there, where they, you know, talked to actual people on the scene.

    2. Jason K no name Fame

      How about Iran in 1953 ? That could be fake old news for all I care to know… /snarcgasm off. off, off dammit

      1. pictboy3

        Was a military coup, and not a popular uprising? I fail to see your point here. I didn’t say the US has never done bad stuff, I’m acutely aware. But that shouldn’t keep us from calling a spade a spade.

        1. Jason K no name Fate

          I understand that a couple days of paid agitation made Iranian military intervention necessary in order to preserve democracy, as elsewhere. Well wishers join all kinds of parades. An Oregonian anarchist said that Russia has been provoked about every 50 years since the Great Schism (latest pope is a Jesuit), and particularly by P. albion since the Glorious Step Backward , an Orange Revolution using other peoples’ kingdoms. A long term strategic competitor. When did Nudlman buy the baking ingredients ? Monsatan Cherrynoble grains in a Frack gaz /LNG oven (US LNG tankers awaiting). I smell money, and a little fear.

    3. integer

      – I would wager almost every swing in Ukrainian politics since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been because of the corruption of the ruling parties.

      Lucky they installed Poroshenko then!

      – The CIA can do a lot of things, most of them nasty, but they don’t have the power to get tens of thousands of people into the streets in the face of heavily armed riot police to protest their government.

      If one knows the correct pressure points to exploit, one can do a lot of things. If I was trying to set off an anti-Russian revolution in Ukraine, I would consider buying or somehow gaining influence with, perhaps using promises of increased political power, the leaders of the neo-Nazi cohort. To me at least, that would seem like a good place to start. Fwiw I saw protesters whipping defensively postured police with chains in some of the footage I saw of Maidan.

      – Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

      Glad to see that you are keeping an open mind. /sarc

      1. integer

        And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Svoboda was called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until 2004. Why does the latter seem so familiar? And who recommended they change their name? Oh yeah…

        1. pictboy3

          The US being engaged with the political opposition in a country does not equal a coup. Kissinger giving the green light to Pinochet in Chile and then having the CIA help the military there torture political prisoners, that was a coup. Victoria Nuland handing out cookies and saying “f*ck the EU” on a phone call hardly rises to that level.

          When there’s evidence that the US fired the shots that killed those protesters, or that they forced Yanukovych to flee, I’ll buy the coup line. Until then, it just looks like your standard diplomatic wheeling and dealing in a crisis situation. Believe it or not, the world turns without the US pulling the strings, we’re not the genesis of every political upheaval in the world.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I think it’s a continuum, and not binary. It seems clear to me that whatever Clinton’s BFF Vicky Nuland was doing, at a very minimum she was fomenting conflict next door to Russia, which is as bughouse crazy as most of Clinton’s other endeavors, including her Iraq vote, war with Libya, and a No-Fly Zone in Syria.

        2. pictboy3

          Also, I’m not defending Poroshenko here, he’s as corrupt as the rest, and I’m pretty sure the average Ukrainian would agree. However, I am annoyed at the constant theories here that every time there’s popular unrest somewhere that results in political upheaval, it must be some US conspiracy to alter the geopolitical balance. Most of our high level leaders are just not that smart, to be quite honest. They’re constantly playing catch up. Sometimes, people in corrupt countries with a bad standard of living get fed up and want a change.

          And I actually think we should still be attempting a rapprochement with Russia. Most of the bad blood is a result of our pants-on-head insane policy decisions during the 90s, where we expanded NATO to their doorstep, partitioned Serbia, wrecked their economy with our Harvard “wunderkind,” and generally behaved like Aholes. It’s no wonder they hate us right now, and we would do everyone a favor if we tried to patch things up. But you don’t get a nice equitable order in Europe by ignoring the fact that they annexed Crimea and are sponsoring a rebellion in another sovereign country.

          1. integer

            – I am annoyed at the constant theories here that every time there’s popular unrest somewhere that results in political upheaval, it must be some US conspiracy to alter the geopolitical balance. Most of our high level leaders are just not that smart, to be quite honest.

            If you’re talking about the US, I would agree with you regarding many of the establishment politicians, however you probably know that Soros is highly influential in Ukraine, and while he is a highly unethical a-hole (imo), he is no fool. The CIA circus also seems to be run by (at least somewhat) intelligent yet highly unethical people, though one wouldn’t know it from their actions of late. I won’t go into Nuland and the neocons.

            – But you don’t get a nice equitable order in Europe by ignoring the fact that they annexed Crimea and are sponsoring a rebellion in another sovereign country.

            My understanding is that Russia has been acting defensively wrt Ukraine, so at least as far as Ukraine goes, I have no interest in condemning Russia’s actions. The Russian speaking population in Eastern Ukraine were systematically terrorized after Maidan, and although they eventually fought back and gained the upper hand, they too were acting defensively. Lastly, from what I understand, Crimean residents have always viewed the Ukrainian military as an occupying force, and vastly prefer their new arrangement with Russia.

            1. integer

              The CIA circus also seems to be run by (at least somewhat) intelligent yet highly unethical people, though one wouldn’t know it from their actions of late.

              This above sentence is a bit muddled. Sorry about that. I meant to say that one wouldn’t know that the CIA had intelligent leadership from observing their actions of late, though it is not particularly unusual for desperate people to take ill considered actions.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > At the constant theories here that every time there’s popular unrest somewhere that results in political upheaval, it must be some US conspiracy to alter the geopolitical balance.

            Certainly not my attitude; I think everything needs to be done case-by-case, remembering that “the most persistent principles of the universe [are] accident and error.”

            That said, “the constant theories here” — where? from whom? — is not only too vague to respond to, it insults the entire commentariat and by implication degrades the blog. Do you think that is a wise approach?

            1. pictboy3

              I should have specified “in the comments”, although I have seen some eyebrow-raising articles cross-posted, most notably the one where the writer was calling into question the evidence that the Dutch were using to claim it was a Buk that shot down MH17. I read it as trying to cast doubt on whether or not it was the separatists who shot it down, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. What exactly is the point of such an article other than to try and suggest that it was somehow the Ukrainians that shot it down, or some other party than the Russians/separatists?

    4. 3.14e-9

      Have you forgotten the infamous “F— the EU” phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria “Toria” Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine? The call was made in late January 2014, a month before Yanukovych fled the country in the middle of the night.

      Here’s a report from John Helmer, with a link to the recording he summarizes as “Nuland and Pyatt discussing how to run the Ukraine, whom to put in the government in Kiev; whom to keep out while they do their “homework”, and how often the members of this Third Force should talk with each other, and with their US minders before “the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.”

      Nuland and Pyatt clearly were working with the opposition well before that. Here are a few pertinent excerpts from a State Department cable dated Dec. 10, 2013. The entire cable can be read on the DoS FOIA site. If I can figure out how to link to specific files, I’ll post the link in a separate comment.

      Political Developments:
      — A/S Nuland met with opposition leaders Poroshenko, Pinchuk, Kuchma; Patriarch Filaret, and the EU. Tomorrow she plans to meet with President Yanukovych, Rinat Akhmetov, and former Deputy PM Tigipko.
      — According to press reports, in her meeting today with opposition leaders, A/S Nuland stated “The United States intends to remain engaged, we are working in lockstep with the European Union to try to restore peace, human dignity, a path to Europe and economic stability here.” But the US sees no cause to impose sanctions. She said it was a “productive session.” . . .
      — Yanukovych said Ukraine will soon resume talks with the IMF, and that “If there are conditions that suit us, we will take that path.” He further stated, however, that the present conditions put forward by the IMF were unacceptable. Yanukovych said, “I had a conversation with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, who told me that the issue of the IMF loan has almost been solved, but I told him that if the conditions remained … we did not need such loans.”

      Protest Activity:
      . . .
      — Leaders of three opposition parties – Arseniy Yatseniuk, Vitali Klitschko and Oleh Tiahnybok – gave speeches at 7 p.m. on Independence Square (Maidan). Yatsenyuk claimed that one of the main objectives of the opposition is to convince Western partners and IMF to provide a loan to Ukraine. “We need to immediately resume negotiations with our Western partners and IMF. We need this to ensure Ukraine’s sovereignty, not to allow Russia to buy Ukraine for a penny, and to Sign the EU assciciatian agreement.”
      — Yatsenyuk also stated that the current opposition/Maidan strategy is to concentrate all of the protesters in the Maidan, with occasional partisan “sorties” out of the Maidan. …
      — Residents are asked to spend 3 hour shifts on the Maidan tonight.

      Seems pretty clear to me that the U.S. was meddling. It’s also safe to say that the U.S. “interfered” with the subsequent elections.

      Then there was the TechCamp, which taught Ukrainians how to use the social media for political activism. State Dept. officials said that the seminar was just the beginning of what they intended to be a “sustainable movement.” The first TechCamp was in September 2012. You’ll recall that the initial gather at the Maidan was in response to social media alerts. Yatsenyuk himself tweeted a call to action, although from what I’ve read, the original protesters didn’t want to wait three days for his event. And in fairness, many of them were suspicious of the opposition taking over, as the outcome was predictable.

      1. Lambert Strether

        All the verbiage is vague: “Meddled,” “interfered,” and so forth.

        I suggest all the verbiage can be put under the heading of “blowback, which only an entitled and/or ignorant fool wouldn’t have expected.” Of course, The Blob and our political class are why they are.

    5. Gaianne

      The coup in the Ukraine was orchestrated by the US Department of State.

      The angry protesters were indeed angry, but they got played as pawns.

      Did you miss Victoria Nuland’s “Fuck the EU” phone call to the US ambassador in Kiev?


      1. Lambert Strether

        Link, please. I really need a review of the bidding on this. Nuland’s call rises to the level of “foment conflict” but does it really rise to the level of a coup?

        I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that State policy on Ukraine was crazypants without making overly reductive claims…

  42. ChrisPacific

    The ‘Russia interfered with the election’ thing is reminding me more and more of the ‘imminent threat’ language that was used to justify invasion of Iraq. By the standard we’ve seen in some of the stories, saying nice or nasty things about one of the candidates on Facebook would qualify as interfering with the election if somebody might have changed their mind after reading it.

    Why is everyone so dead set on blowing this out of proportion? Is this just the normal aftermath when a Clinton loses an election?

    1. Vatch

      It’s ridiculous. Two kinds of people interfere in American elections: Republicans and Democrats — not Russians. People should be concentrating on Trump’s terrible nominations for cabinet officers.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Why is everyone so dead set on blowing this out of proportion?

      1) Democrat establishment avoiding blame

      2) Democrats establishment sealing their (remaining) supporters into a bubble of epistemic closure (like the dolchstosslegende) so they remain assets for future elections*

      3) “The Blob” wants a war with Russia, cold, warm, or hot but in any case profitable to their personal networks.

      Adding, I forgot:

      4) Establishment liberals giving establishment conservatives a weapon against two common enemies: a) Trump’s faction and b) the left; both, in this tellings, are traitors (because only a traitor would interfere with Clinton’s coronation).

      NOTE * Though I’d bet this new cold war scare works on older voters not younger ones

    1. integer

      I think Hollow Hollywood actors and actresses should have their own flag. Seeing as he is now somewhat of an icon to that crowd, I suggest they get Michael Moore to photocopy his ass and have a graphic designer work that image into a flag-suitable format. Seriously though, Michael Moore looks incredibly unwell these days.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe they will burn copies of the Constitution instead.

      “We are rich and famous. We’re also open minded free thinker. We burn flags and copies of the Constitution, not because we lack money to heat our houses. We burn because we know that provokes you. Zen monks burn wooden Buddha statues to keep warm and to retain their non-attachment to the material world.”

      US disdained by Hollywood elites will just have to try to remember all the words in the Constitution by heart.

      “I’m sorry, my sex symbol goddess, but aren’t you releasing carbon into the atmosphere by burning flags and books, and the cost of which can feed a few hungry kids in many countries?”

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