2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Two key players on Trump’s trade team — USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross — are still not confirmed, but their workload is already stacking up with word from the White House that they will review all 14 current U.S. free-trade agreements for possible changes in addition to seeking new deals” [Politico]. “The remarks heighten expectations that Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could discuss talks on a bilateral deal when the two leaders meet at the White House this month. Last week, Abe signaled he was open to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S. after Trump formally withdrew from the TPP in one of his first acts as president.”


Trump Transition

“Senate Republicans took an extraordinary step Wednesday to move forward with two of President Donald Trump’s top Cabinet nominees after confronting a boycott from Democrats. Under committee rules, it is required that at least one Democrat be present for the panel to vote to send a nominee to the Senate floor. On Tuesday, not a single Democrat showed up, putting the two nominations at a standstill. Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, pointed to the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ surrounding the gathering and allowed the Republicans in the room vote to suspend the rules of the committee. With the committee rules suspended, the 14 Republicans in the room voted to move the Mnuchin and Price nominations to the full Senate, even without the presence of a single member of the opposite party” [CNN].

“‘If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,’ Trump told reporters during a meeting with judicial advocates in the Roosevelt Room” [The Hill]. Background on the nuclear option at NC here; remember when Obama used the nuclear option to defeat Republican obstruction and pass Medicare for All in 2009? Oh, wait… To be fair, Harry Reid did modify the filibuster four years later, in 2013, to get some judges appointed. And here we are; sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

“Potential nominee profile: Neil Gorsuch” [SCOTUSblog]. Best background.

“The Daily 202: Supreme Court pick rewards Republicans for sticking with Trump, vindicates McConnell strategy” [WaPo]. This is actually a good round-up, with lots of linky goodness.

“Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat” [New York Times]. “Supreme Court nominations are among the most important decisions a president makes, and certainly the most enduring: A nominee like Judge Gorsuch could sit on the court for more than three decades. At a rally last summer Mr. Trump said: ‘Even if you can’t stand Donald Trump, you think Donald Trump is the worst, you’re going to vote for me. You know why? Justices of the Supreme Court.’ That may have played well on the campaign trail, but Mr. Trump’s failure to choose a more moderate candidate is the latest example of his refusal to acknowledge his historic unpopularity and his nearly three-million-vote loss to Hillary Clinton.” Shaking their tiny fists…

At least this is creative:

Good for Sherrod Brown. Cory Booker was probably “nauseated” by this…

“The case for Supreme Court term limits has never been stronger” [Vox]. And how is that going to happen?

This classic piece of Voxness is of a piece with all the Democrat stiffing and blinding since election day. It’s all about process. Poor election result? Work the faithless electors (which backfired). Or abolish the electoral college (which they are powerless to do). Or yammer about “democratic norms” (which they are powerless to protect). Or whinge about unfairness (which means is that the Republicans knew how to work the rules better than they did). All this whinging is about process. It has nothing to do with concrete material benefits to voters. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest a radical shift in strategy for Democrats, so radical I’m gonna set it off in bold:

Democrats! Start winning elections!

Then you’ll have the power to do stuff! You could even give voters nice things! You can’t beat something with nothing, and to voters, process is nothing! It would help Democrats if they stopped reinforcing failure by leaving losers in charge, and if they didn’t double down on fail with strategy and tactics. If I never hear another Trump piss joke in my life, it will be too soon. “Progressives” turned making jokes about W’s stupidity into an art form — now, of course, he’s a beloved figure with a lovely family because Trump — and what did it accomplish? Two terms for the dude, and horrible policies that Obama only rationalized and normalized. Stop it!

“Trump administration is radicalizing Democratic voters, creating a challenge for the party, Rep. Adam Schiff says” [Los Angeles Times]. That’s a shame. This is classic:

“We have two of the most capable strategists as the head of our House and Senate Democrats,” Schiff added, referring to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Democratic leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“If anybody can grapple with this, they can, but it’s going to be a challenging and moving target day to day.”

“I just hope that we can channel that energy in a way where we can provide a check on this administration because I’ve never been more worried about the country’s future than I am right now,” he said.

“A check on this administration” says it all. When are Democrats going to be for something? I mean, besides Third Way-style Clintonian excrementalism?

“So most members of Congress had no idea the travel ban was coming, but a handful of congressional staffers helped the Trump administration write it? And they signed non-disclosure agreements so they wouldn’t even be able to tell their bosses (members of Congress, and, ultimately, US taxpayers) about the side work? And everyone is OK with this? The disclosure that staffers on Rep. Robert Goodlatte’s House Judiciary Committee worked alongside Trump aides on this order should be rocking Capitol Hill. It suggests that the administration was trying to work as quickly as it could and as quietly as feasible – a potentially troubling template for the future. If members of Congress aren’t troubled by this, they’re missing a big warning sign for the separation of powers” [The Note].

“Lob­by­ists and re­port­ers alike will look back at the eight years of the Obama pres­id­ency as a sleepy peri­od with not that much go­ing on. While it is hard to ima­gine many of Trump’s pro­pos­als will ac­tu­ally make their way through the le­gis­lat­ive pro­cess, even the threat of some of these things hap­pen­ing has to be taken ser­i­ously giv­en that Re­pub­lic­ans con­trol not only the White House but the House and Sen­ate as well. Trump can also do a lot of things by ex­ec­ut­ive or­der. Who can be sure of any­thing any­more?” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. Volatility, however, creates opportunity….

Gnashing of Teeth and Rending of Garments

“Clinton will reflect on 2016 race in new book” [AP]. ” The book, still untitled, is structured around hundreds of favorite quotations that have inspired her. The publisher said Clinton will use the quotes to ‘tell stories from her life, up to and including her experiences in the 2016 presidential campaign’ and into her thoughts on the future.” So, she can still fund staffers to collect the quotes. “Clinton will also resume her relationship with the Harry Walker Agency. Wednesday’s announcements mark a growing re-emergence for Clinton.” That was fast.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Among all Americans in the [collected and reported by communications marketing firm Edelman as a supplement to the firm’s annual global trust survey], 57% believe the ‘system’ is failing while only 10% believe it is working. A third were uncertain” [247 Wall Street]. “More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they were concerned about widespread corruption; nearly as many (74%) said they were concerned about globalization; and two-thirds said they were concerned about erosion in social values. Almost as many (66%) said they were concerned regarding immigration, and 61% were concerned about the pace of change and innovation. Along voting lines, 67% of Trump voters were fearful that the system is failing, compared with 45% of Clinton voters. Trump voters were twice as likely to fear immigration and globalization.”

“This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World” [BuzzFeed]. We ran this in Links back on 11/17, but it’s worth a rerun. Bannon is certainly crazypants, but is he more crazypants than The Blob? Hard to say.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, January 2017: “[V]ery strong” [Econoday]. “New orders accelerated at a 2-year high in the month with both output and employment also showing gains. In an unusual sign of strength, the sample is intentionally boosting inventories in anticipation of strong conditions this year.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, January 2017: “[S]ignaling the strongest conditions in the factory sector since the oil-price collapse of 2014” [Econoday]. And: “[A]bove expectations… and suggests manufacturing expanded at as faster pace in January than in December” [Calculated Risk]. And: “12 of the 18 industries reported growth for the month with business generally optimistic” [Economic Calendar]. But: “Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession..Note that new orders sub-index insignificantly improved” [Econintersect].

ADP Employment Report, January 2017: “ADP is calling for substantial strength in Friday’s employment report, at 246,000 for private payrolls” [Econoday]. “More negative pull comes from public construction spending which fell a sharp 1.7 percent in the month. Educational spending fell 2.2 percent with highways & streets down 0.6 percent.” And: “well above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “This report is very good with growth in almost every sector. ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth” [Econintersect]. And: “ADP is often not exactly in line with the BLS report, but what the report does tend to do is indicate a directional bias” [247 Wall Street].

Construction Spending, December 2016: “Construction spending fell 0.2 percent in December but details show welcome gains for housing” [Econoday]. And: “Public construction returned to contraction year-over-year whilst private construction remained in expansion. Overall, construction ended 2016 on a soft note – but did improve overall over 2015” [Econintersect].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of January 27, 2017: “[F]ell a seasonally adjusted 6.0 percent” [Econoday]. “Though seesawing weekly on a seasonally adjusted basis, purchase applications have been surprisingly strong given the rising mortgage rate environment… far beyond expectations.” And: “Even with the recent increase in mortgage rates, purchase activity is still holding up” [Calculated Risk]. “However refinance activity has declined significantly.”

Retail: “Starbucks is also facing pressure from declining traffic at shopping malls and restaurants as customer shopping habits change and people increasingly choose to eat at home” [Business Insider]. “But Schultz insisted that Starbucks is immune to that industrywide trend because the coffee chain provides an emotional experience for consumers, he said.”

Coops: “From Grocery Stores to Labor Unions, Cooperatives Were the Answer” [Yes! (DB)]. Round-up of Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina (part of a series).

Coops: The city just released a report on the second year of the initiative. In fiscal year 2016, it supported 27 worker cooperatives to launch their businesses, supported business development services to a total of 49 worker cooperatives (totaling 280 worker-owners), and saw 164 new hires at worker-owned firms that received support from the city (not all hires are full worker-owners). The city also reports that it supported outreach to 2,164 entrepreneurs interested in converting existing businesses into worker cooperatives. All of those numbers are higher than in last year’s report” [Next City (DS)].

Stocks: “Apple adds massive amounts of cash to the balance sheet every quarter, which is obviously a good thing. But as long as the company cranks out cash instead of using it effectively, earnings growth will be discounted” [Thomas Kee, MarketWatch]. Kee recommends shorting Apple. Punish them for taking away the MagSafe Connector!

* * *

Still working through the Bezzle Backlog:

The Bezzle: “The high prices Americans pay for generic drugs may have been cooked up by pharmaceutical salespeople on golf courses, at a New Jersey steakhouse or over drinks at “Girls Nights Out” in Minnesota” [Seattle Times]. “Details emerging from an investigation show that drug-company employees gathered regularly at such places and conspired to keep prices and profits high, according to interviews and a complaint filed in U.S. District Court by the attorneys general of 20 states, including Washington.”

The Bezzle: “On Wednesday, a participant in JPMorgan’s $21 billion 401(k) plan filed a class action lawsuit against the bank, claiming that its retirement fund managers picked in-house investment products over cheaper rivals, costing employees ‘tens of millions of dollars in losses'” [DealBreaker]. “Not only did the retirement committee choose pricier JPMorgan products for its employee retirement funds, the lawsuit claims, they also failed to structure the investments as collective trusts, which are commonly used by large institutional investors to reduce costs. The suit also questions the retirement committee’s use of JPMorgan business partner BlackRock for passive investments when other vehicles would have been cheaper.” Tragic. If we would just hand over Social Security to Wall Street, they wouldn’t be forced to go bottom feeding like this…

The Bezzle: “Uber ordered to pay $20m in fines following (probably last ever) FTC investigation into dishonest advertising” [Pando]. “You might have missed it, what with the world ending and all, but this past Thursday, Uber agreed to pay a total of $20m to drivers in 18 US cities after making false claims about the earning potential.” For a moment, I thought that meant Uber made false claims about “earnings potential” to investors…..

The Bezzle: “In New York, a June study by two non-profits that advocate for affordable housing found that the top 20 neighborhoods for Airbnb listings in Manhattan and Brooklyn had average rent increases almost twice those found in the city as a whole between 2011 and 2015” [Bloomberg]. “A group of New Orleans-based volunteers published a paper that found that the average rent on an entire home on Airbnb in that city was $251 a night, compared with an average of $26 a night for a full-time renter. A study in San Francisco found that neighborhoods with the highest number of evictions in a one-year period also had the highest number of commercial hosts on Airbnb.” And code enforcement in cities has been gutted, so renters have taken to hiring private investigators to catch the landlords doing this….

The Bezzle: “As privatized platforms like Academia.edu look to monetize scholarly writing even further, researchers, scientists and academics across the globe must now consider alternatives to proprietary companies that aim to profit from our writing and offer little transparency as to how our work will be used in the future” [Forbes]. “In other words: It is time to delete your Academia.edu account.” Yes, that *.edu extension is deceptive.

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk hasn’t given up on his vision to add a digital layer of intelligence to our brain” [Business Insider]. As long as the business model is software-as-a-service…

* * *

Political Risk: “[Transparency International] said populist leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump and French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen regularly drew links between a ‘corrupt elite’ and the marginalization of working people. But anti-establishment parties generally failed to address corruption once in office, the group said” [Reuters].

Political Risk: “̌The Fed is likely to respond to fiscal stimulus that requires borrowing by jacking up interest rates. That seems to be the signal that Yellen, and at least one of the central bank’s other top officials, are sending” [MarketWatch]. The Donald better crank up “Audit the Fed.” Which would be popular.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 11:27am. Nervous stomachs…

Class Warfare

“Reclaiming the Commons” [Boston Review (DB)]. “The fact that people volunteer their time to work on community gardens, or that scientists openly share their research results with trusted colleagues, or that people post useful information on the Internet for free, seems aberrational or at least marginal in terms of conventional economic thinking. But while cooperation may not conform to the general rule of rationally self-interested behavior, the efficacy of social negotiation and cooperation can be seen in dozens of smaller-scale commons.”

“It may come as a surprise that Americans are less likely to start a business, move to another region of the country, or switch jobs now than at any time in recent memory. But dynamism is in retreat nationwide and in nearly every measurable respect” [Economic Innovation Group].

“Workers at Trump’s Washington hotel vote to join union, casting spotlight on potential conflicts” [WaPo]. Nice to read about the marches in favor of this. Oh, wait…. Seriously, you’d think this would be a golden opportunity for Democrats to frame themselves as being for — as in for something, anything — the working class. And the hotel is right in DC! But hotel workers are smelly proles, I guess. They don’t work at Starbucks on their laptops…

News of the Wired

“The secret to living a meaningful life” [BBC]. The jargon is a bit thick, but the idea of “personal projects” is, to me, compelling. I have several, and they’re helpful.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Peter):

Mazatlan blossom. Winter’s not the same everywhere…

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Roger Smith

    “RESISTANCE” Coming November 2017 MSRP: $23.99 Chapter 1: Meditations in the Woods…

    The Walden of our times… Clinton will emerge from her hermitage with a full beard.

    1. nowhere

      “Thus Spake Clintonthustra”

      “Man as a race is merely a bridge between animals and the Übermensch. Clinton also makes a point that the Übermensch is not an end result for a person, but more the journey toward self-mastery.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Likely the Clintons’ headstones will play an endless tape loop featuring highlights of their speeches, so they can continue haranguing us till eternity.

        Also a wishing well, so Chelsea and Marc can harvest the quarters thrown by visiting pilgrims. And a coin-operated peanut dispenser to feed the squirrels.

    2. redleg

      “It’s Not My Fault”
      “The Foundation of My Country”
      “My Turn – How Putin Ruined the Coronation of The Liberator of Libya and Helper of Haiti”

  2. JohnL

    Bumper sticker in the ‘hood. “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one”

  3. Jim Haygood

    Clinton has another project in the works: She will reissue her best-selling “It Takes a Village” in an illustrated edition for young people, Simon and Schuster told the AP.

    That Trump-I-am
    That Trump-I-am!
    I do not like
    That Trump-I-am

    Do you like
    Humbug and sham

    I do not like them,
    I do not like
    Humbug and sham

    Would you like them
    Here or there?

    I would not like them
    Here or there
    I would not like them
    I do not like
    Humbug and sham
    I do not like them,

    And so forth …

    1. Anne

      Or perhaps, she can write “Trumpelstiltzkin.”

      [full disclosure: I didn’t come up with that, I saw it in a headline at the WaPo on Sunday]

        1. uncle tungsten

          Gore sold out the environment at the Kyoto protocol signing with $Bill Clinton. That was when real change needed to happen. Gore failed and repented with a useless video. Gore failed!

  4. David

    For anyone interested in the current political chaos in France, today was another day rich in developments.
    The Canard enchainé (sold out today, in Paris anyway) published more Penelopegate details, notably that she earnt even more than was earlier thought – nearly €1M over 15 years. The constituency office was apparently also run from Fillon’s home address, though he received funds for it. Fillon stopped employing his wife just weeks before a new law would have made it compulsory to declare that she was working for him. Le Monde has a useful summary of the various allegations here which should be comprehensible with Google Translate.
    On the legal side, it’s now clear that, whereas the state will have to prove that Penelope was not working while she was drawing a salary (difficult, though not impossible) the allegation that she was paid by a billionaire friend of Fillon’s to work on his magazine but never did anything reverses the burden of proof, and she and her employer will have to produce evidence that she actually did something – not very easy, so far as anyone can see. If they can’t provide the evidence, then conceivably criminal charges could be brought.
    For the first time,people are speculating that Fillon might be forced out of the race quite soon, in which case the consequences for French (and to some extent European) politics are impossible to foresee, but potentially very serious; people tell me that the whole government machine is slowing down, because no-one knows who will be in charge in May, or even if the present political system will last. Significantly, François Bayrou, the respected independent right-wing politician, is publicly talking for the first time about running.
    Meanwhile, Fillon has completely lost it. He’s described the revelations as an attempted “left-wing coup” and stumbles from one unsatisfying “explanation” to the next, punctuated by fits of paranoia and outbursts of anger.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Thanks David. Le Parisien informal poll is at 73% that Fillon should withdraw.

      Macron is the Establishment choice but will he beat Marine?

      I would have a hard time putting a paper with Macron’s name in the ballot box. As would many others where I’m at.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Macron associated himself with the word “socialism” and given Hollande’s current 4% approval rating that’s probably not that clever

        1. David

          Macron was a minister in a government of the Socialist Party, on loan from a merchant bank. He’s a socialist in the same sense that George Soros is. He’s a walking compendium of neoliberal clichés, but attractive to those who want change at more or less any price except that of having Le Pen. Opinion polls today said he would beat Le Pen in a second-round match-up, for what that’s worth. Ironically, socialism as an idea remains popular in France, it’s just that it doesn’t actually have a plausible political champion.

      2. JustAnObserver

        ISTR for the 2002 French presidential election when the run-off was between Jacques Chirac and Marine’s daddy Jean-Marie the “left” told their supporters to vote for Chirac to keep Le Pen out. Leading to a famous magazine cover showing a voter with a clothespeg on his nose casting a ballot for Chirac. Are we back there again ?

        1. David

          There’s some debate about this, but I personally don’t think so. Le Pen is not her father, and the economic and social situation is much worse than in 2002. Chirac had a status that none of the current candidates possesses, unpopular as he was at the time. There’s no doubt that whoever faces Le Pen in the second round (assuming she’s there) will play this card but it won’t be as effective as last time. More likely, people just won’t vote.

    2. alex morfesis

      This fear of marine le pen working in a parliamentary system seems confused…but maybe my thoughts are pedestrian in that respect…she will not be in an American presidential type political position and will not command anywhere near 50%+ in parliament after the elections….

      Will she “advocate” for her “extreme” positions…mostly likely…but will she have the overall votes within the parliament to push anything thru ???

      Does she have some military machine about to or ready to invade her neighbours ??

      She gets elected…she stumbles around…she gets booted…her noise factory crawls back under five percent support by 2018…

      she goes off and writes a book

      1. David

        The French president is very powerful, but the government and parliament make the laws. I’m sticking to my view that Le Pen won’t get a parliamentary majority even if she wins the presidential election. It’s quite possible, indeed, that nobody will be able to form a government, which could lead to absolute chaos in France and beyond. This is why her likely opponent in the second round is so important. Le Pen isn’t going to declare war on anyone: her real target is Brussels, and if Europe were a country she’d be a regionalist demanding greater devolution of powers to local level. But the effect of her candidature might be to crash the system entirely, since she reflects a very powerful constituency (on the Left as well as the Right) which is fed up with Brussels and is demanding that its powers be rolled back. All of the other possible winners without exception think Brussels is great, and there should be more of it, so if one of them wins, there will be real problems.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Isn’t following corruption around just as much fun as a whole barrel of monkeys? Especially when they get loose in the house.

  5. L

    I do beg your indulgence but I have to get this off my chest:

    We have two of the most capable strategists as the head of our House and Senate Democrats,” Schiff added, referring to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Democratic leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York.

    What credible evidence do you base this on Mr. Schiff? Do you base this on their stunning inability to implement the party platform when they had a majority? Do you base it on the fact that they managed to go 8 years fighting a losing battle despite at times having control of two branches and having public support?

    Do you base this on their decision to treat the R’s decision to block Merrick Garland as a fundraising opportunity and not a genuine political crisis?

    Do you base this on their inability to even get the caucases behind lower drug prices?

    Do you base it on the stunning way in which they fought to keep campaign funds with the senate and house committees rather than releasing them to sustain Clinton’s failed and overpriced campaign?

    What, WHAT do you call a success here?

    1. Roger Smith

      Schiff would likely respond by calling you a Russian puppet. This guy needs to be tossed out as quickly as possible. I would believe it if someone said he was a rudimentary cyborg.

      I love the terminology he is using. “Radicalizing” as in TERRORISM! *Shock/Awe* Clutch the pearls.

        1. Roger Smith

          Carlson handed him a well deserved beating. How do Disney carousel animatronics get Congressional seats? Were those supposed to stay in the parks?

    2. RUKidding

      Thanks. I didn’t know whether to barf or bang my head against the wall (because it would feel better than reading such obvious hack tripe) when I read that.

      Those two are the WORST. Big giant corporate suck ups, who did absolute bupkiss for the rank and file, while, no doubt, they raked in the do-see-dough from their corporate sponsors.

      To quote Moon Unit: gag me with a spoon.

    3. Vatch

      Adam Schiff is a disciple of KellyAnne Conway and her theory of the categorical metaphysics of alternative facts.

    4. Quentin

      Mr. Schiff is completely aware of everything you say, L, but he nevertheless stands by his assessment of Schumer and Pelosi because he knows a lot of things you can’t understand. Maybe he is too humble to complement them openly for losing every election after 2008. ‘Heck ‘uv a job.’ Where have we heard that before? Please excuse for not being able to make a more constructive and helpful comment. I’m just a 71 year old child of his times who is appalled that the Democrats have completely turned to trash.

      1. John Wright

        “knows a lot of things you can’t understand”

        This reminds me of the Vietnam war citizen supporters who would say “the government knows things we don’t” to justify the USA’s involvement.

        In retrospect, after Daniel Elsberg published the Pentagon Papers, it was true the government did know things we didn’t.

        Not that the previously hidden information made the Vietnam war make any more sense.

    5. sgt_doom

      Well, Nancy’s son did work at Countrywide, that must count for something? (/sarc)

      And Schumer, now there’s a case study in corruption.

      But I’ve always thought Adam Schiff to be an idiot, especially since the other day I saw him on CNN (Fake News) accusing Trump of being insensitive to ISIS?

      You can’t make this stuff up . . .

    6. jgordon

      I took this is a positive sign. It shows that these people are so out of touch that they’ll soon separate from the atmosphere and venture out into deep space. Then we’ll finally be rid of them.

      1. pretzelattack

        updated ambrose bierce definition
        “exile–one who is deep space in service of one’s planet, yet is not an ambassador”

  6. cocomaan

    Lambert said:

    It’s all about process.

    My wife and I watched the DeVos hearing. While there were a few notable Democrat questions, most of the time was spent asking for a second round of questions, quibbling about precedent for questions, speeches about identity politics, and lately, quibbling about voting in absentia.

    The committee voted twice on Ms. DeVos’s nomination after Democrats protested against a vote cast on behalf of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, who was initially absent.

    I realize that the minority in either chamber has limited power, but the Democrats do not even seem to believe in their appeals to process and fairness. Warren was the most animated, but even she sat down at the end. None of them dared to go toe to toe with Lamar Alexander, especially Murray, who is tiny in stature and did not put the lie to it by standing on the table and screaming bloody murder.

    The Dems have a long way to go as an opposition party. If you want to make process your sword, you have to wield it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If the past is any guide, J-Yel’s mid-February Humphrey-Hawkins testimony to the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees will be much the same.

      Most of the committee members waste their allotted time making ideological set-piece speeches, and asking barbed questions which the Chair effortlessly deflects with anodyne circumlocutions.

      Perhaps one fifth of the members are both intelligent and informed enough to ask questions that actually elicit useful information. So little wheat, so much chaff.

      It was ever thus, and always will be. :-(

    2. sgt_doom

      You have to understand that one of the interrogators was Sen. Patty Murray (WA-faux crat), who just recently voted AGAINST lowering the costs on medicines and votes for any and every piece of legislation promoting privatization and the offshoring of jobs which passes before her.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Why would Democrats oppose DeVos? She favors privatization and other neoliberal schemes to dismantle society, and so do they. They just can’t say so openly.

      1. Pirmann


        Also, not sure why anyone is opposing DeVos. Because she’ll “defund public education”? The public education system is abysmal and needs to be killed with fire. Public schools are terrible. Teacher pay in this country is terrible. Anything has to be better than this.

        1. bob

          How, exactly, does bringing in billionaires, who all want their outsized cut, and removing any semblance of local control, “help” public education?

        2. stillfeelintheberninwi

          i will disagree with this sweeping statement. I live in Wisconsin, was educated in a public school in Wisconsin and have employed people educated in public schools in Wisconsin, spend my days with fine people all educated in public schools. There is no evidence that public schools are terrible. Quite the contrary. Yes, there are some schools that struggle, but the problem there is poverty.

          If you want to criticize, give some real facts that back up your argument. There is no evidence that blowing up the public school system with vouchers or some other privitization mechanism will result in outcomes that differ from that of the public schools. 20 yrs of voucher experiments in Milwaukee have not shown that they work any better.

          Teacher pay, yes that could use some improvement. Think privatization is going to help that? Hell no.

  7. flora

    ““The secret to living a meaningful life” [BBC]. The jargon is a bit thick, but the idea of “personal projects” is, to me, compelling. I have several, and they’re helpful.”

    I think it’s become harder to do, what with smartphones and social media carefully crafted to keep people glued to their screens. imo.

    “The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices? One major reason why is the number one psychological ingredient in slot machines: intermittent variable rewards.”


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Intermittent variable rewards – many biology-enslaved teenage boys should know that by heart.

      Conditioned this way repeatedly, they grow up to vote the same way.

      “I am still waiting for my Messiah, who will be perfect in every way, and fulfill all my wishes. Forget politics is the art of the possible.”

    2. JTMcPhee

      On a meaningful life: When I got back from Vietnam, there was a little crisis of meaning. Nothing like Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl had to deal with, but I found some direction and solace in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The Wiki entry on the book is pretty weak, but at least gives a taste of what Frankl worked out and then conveyed. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning

      1. reslez

        “The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.”

        We’re all prisoners of capitalism and a lot of us have no hope. Maybe that’s why death rates are increasing in the US.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Two items: first, there’s more from Frankl, to the notion that love is the effective medicine for melancholy.

          And another avenue to travel is the path of Futilitarianism. Gaggle interestingly did not return any hits when I looked at the subject recently, but DDG had a couple of entries right at the top. That appears somehow to have been fixed in the Gaggle search engine: http://www.amerika.org/social-reality/futilitarianism/ Maybe Putin trying to dismay the West? Or Hammon up to another Bernaysian trick?

          Messages in bottles…

        2. PhilM

          Your comment cheapens Frankl’s insights in a way that insults the intelligence and sensibility of everyone who has encountered either his work or the reality that inspired them. Nobody is a prisoner of an ideology. That is exactly Frankl’s point. For heaven’s sake, go read a book.

    3. jgordon

      These kinds of navel gazing exercises are both amusing and pointless. The answer to living a meaningful life is found in the Dao De Ching. Meditate on the Dao and all will become clear.

      1. PhilM

        Meditate on glass, and it will all become clear.

        It does not matter what you meditate on: the medium is the message.

  8. DanB

    “Clinton will reflect on 2016 race in new book” [AP]. ” The book, still untitled, is structured around hundreds of favorite quotations that have inspired her.” I’m hoping for a structure that hi-lights Hillary’s private and public favorite quotations.

    1. Tom

      Here are some quotes she can expound on:

      “Single Payer will never, ever come to pass.”
      “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
      “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

      1. PKMKII

        Don’t forget “there are so many places in our country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they’re scared of regulations”.

        1. Tom

          “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
          Hillary Clinton emails

            1. Tom

              I was going to add, “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?”, but I think I’ll end with your Gaddafi quote. It really captures the pure essence of good ole Hillary, Destroyer of worlds.

            2. PhilM

              This is it. The Venn diagram of evil and stupidity. This is so much more important than “grab her pussy”—although comparison are odious, to be sure.

        2. Repuglican

          “there are so many places in our country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they’re scared of regulations”.

          Wait, she said that? Man, she is really beginning to sound like a Republican.

          1. pretzelattack

            we need to free the banks from their chains so they can proceed to fail again. after all how can they justify getting bailed out if they haven’t failed?

      1. Vatch

        Aw shucks, that’s less than a dollar for each resident of China! Ditto for India. No wonder she didn’t win — her donors were too stingy!

        1. Trixie from Dixie

          I wonder if her sales #’s will be on par with the stellar #’s of her last endeavor… They couldn’t give it away.

        1. ewmayer

          Yeah, but I was hoping for a ‘submit suggestions for new book title’ link, rather than ‘pick from our choices’.

          I wanted to submit “It Takes a Pillage.”

        2. sgt_doom

          Since titles cannot be legally copyrighted:

          The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming


          Trump and Punishment

          1. Whats in a name?

            Like it. How about?

            The swine that got the pearls

            I couldn’t see the corruption for all the money

            War not peace

            Become President or Die Tryin’

            Meaningless, utterly meaningless.

            There is a Time for Everything and Every Time I Lost

            Pride and Delusion

            Pride Goes before Destruction

            When thinking about it just about any of the Proverbs would describe perfectly well how she has failed as a blood-thirsty thorougly corrupt hard-core neoliberal.

            1. PhilM

              Proverbs are much neglected; handy for any occasion: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”

        3. alex morfesis

          Title for the new “best seller” by $hillary ?
          “I Takes A Village” ??? and other lessons children learn from me…

    2. Ruben

      I remember the printing and selling of Steve Jobs autobiography, because a colleague’s wife gave it to him as a present. It was sold just after Jobs’ death. My colleague told me it was badly organized around events and phrases, totally chaotic, lacking in structure, pointless.

      I told him to his amusement, that there was not time to make it better, it has to be sold quickly, while the corpse was still warm.

      The market for such things has a short memory span.

  9. L

    On a different note, the closing of the CNN piece is telling for how things will go:

    Democrats asked that Price offer clarify on “inaccurate and misleading answer to questions about privileged and discounted access to stocks,” and wanted Mnuchin to address “inaccurate and misleading answer to questions about the potentially illegal process known as robo-signing,” among other things.
    But with the two nominations already having been sent to the full Senate, Republicans are unlikely to cooperate.
    “I don’t care what they want at this point,” Hatch said.

    I wonder what life would be like if the Democrats acted like that a little more.

    1. TheBellTolling

      That moment was 2009 and it’s gone. Republicans are going to break any checks on their power and just keep amassing power as they kill voting rights. The conservatives own the government until the boiling seas kill us off.

    2. reslez

      The current Democrats don’t fight like that because their donors and the Republican donors share 95% of the same interests. The contradiction for the Democrats is that their brand insists they talk about helping workers. Of course their donors know they don’t mean any of it.

      Democrats aren’t going to fight with strength the way Republicans fight because their donors don’t want them to win those fights. You can ignore what the Democrats say; their donors are the ones who matter. Democrats can yell about identity politics and gee it’s cute and doesn’t it make your heart feel good, but none of it makes a dime’s worth of difference in the life of the average worker. Instead we get half-hearted posturing and mysteriously consistent failures on prescription drugs and everything else.

      1. PhilM

        Absolutely. The rubber hits the road when politicians have to decide whether to “stay bought.” That means taking the money, then taking the heat, and not backing down. Then they get the money in the next cycle–exponentially.

        The major problem of the Democrats is they won’t stay bought. Half-hearted: “You cannot live by two names.”

      2. Allegorio

        The purpose of corporate Democrats, like $hillary Clinton is not to win elections or defeat right wing Republicans. As shown in the recent elections their purpose is to prevent true progressives like Senator Sanders from ever getting on the ballot. Despite not winning the Presidency, $hillary served her donors well, and will be appropriately rewarded, with huge publisher advances for a book that few will buy.

  10. allan

    University of California to divest from Wells Fargo after Afrikan Black Coalition advocacy [Daily Californian]

    The University of California will terminate $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo after repeated criticism from the Afrikan Black Coalition, or ABC, over its ties to private correctional facilities.

    ABC alleged in a press release that Wells Fargo finances CoreCivic, a company that owns private prisons and detention centers. Additionally, in 2012, Wells Fargo settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of discrimination against African-American and Hispanic borrowers.

    The university terminated a $25 million commercial paper contract with Wells Fargo in November 2016. According to the ABC press release, the university will end its $150 million interest reset contract by April 1. Two-thirds of the $300 million line of credit will be terminated by February, with the remaining $100 million to be terminated as soon as a replacement bank is found. …

    So, not actually divestment, but ceasing doing business with. Which is even better.
    Will we ever find out whether WF created any fake accounts in UC’s name?

  11. JohnnyGL


    A co-worker sent this to me. It’s kind of funny how people who are more pro-establishment by nature are really uncomfortable in a real bar-room brawl style fight with someone like Trump and the rest of the reactionary Republicans. The guy was lamenting the sell off up public lands, and rightly so, I’d agree.

    He seemed much more uncomfortable with my suggestion that Dems should certainly fight now to stop it however they can. But absent that, they need to win the next election (possibly campaign on this very issue) and then launch criminals cases or civil law suits against the buyers to invalidate the sale and take the lands public again. After all, what’s the point of selling off the lands if it’s not to a buddy for pennies-on-the-dollar? Pretty much every privatization is like that to a greater or lesser degree. My co-worker snickered like this was radical crazy-talk and remarked about how it can’t be done and that it’s unprecedented. “So what?” was my response.

    Some Democrats just aren’t prepared to fight this kind of fight, it seems. It’s just not in their nature.

    I’m getting more optimistic in light of the targeted protests of Schumer and Feinstein. I think this mentality is changing somewhat in the present circumstances. Dem Senators seem to be more willing to try a bit harder to push back against Trump and the Repub agenda. We’ve gotta keep pressuring them.

    1. DH

      Most of the Federal lands run by the BLM are in the Western states that have predominantly Republican representation in Congress and their state houses. Most of the heavy public users of the land are Republican voters who use it for hunting, fishing, guided trips, grazing, etc. It is not clear to me why Democrats representing states that don’t have a lot of Federal land need to be the leaders of the conservation movement to preserve this land for use by the conservatives who vote Republican in the states where the land is. At some point, the Republicans in Congress need to take responsibility for the consequences of their own policy initiatives. With Obama in the White House, it was easy because they could pass lots of bills through the House and Senate that would die on the President’s desk. Those bills won’t die there anymore, so if they put a bill through they need to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Fair point of clarification on that. The idea in my head is that Dems would challenge the Repubs in their respective western states (or other Repubs could launch primaries) and get to a majority by winning in states where they currently barely exist. It wasn’t that Dems from other states would be the ones to save the Repubs from their own bad proposals.

        I’m in a strongly true-blue city, so it’s lefties like me who are sick of the Dems pushing those who would defend the party.

        But keeping in mind the realities that you describe, these privatizations sound more like modern day enclosures.

        1. EmilianoZ

          One day they’ll privatize the national parks. The half dome is gonna be some billionaire’s personal playground.

          1. DH

            Theodore Roosevelt, one of the great Republican Presidents greatly expanded the national park system.

            Clean Water and Clean Air Acts were signed by Richard Nixon.

            RCRA (Hazardous and Solid Waste), TSCA (Toxic Substances), and SARA amendments to CERCLA (Superfund) were all acts signed by Ronald Reagan.

            Republicans have been at the core of environmental protection and conservation for the past century. However, today’s Republican party believes that corporations are people and have the same rights to public lands as people.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Feinstein? Pelosi? California? Public lands are a huge issue in Oregon – we’ll see what Wyden the Weasel and Merkley (much better than expected) will do.

  12. broadsteve

    Genuine question and re: need for Democrats to stand for something:

    Do US political parties publish Manifestos?

    I know systems and the nature of political parties are very different, but every party in the UK does so at election time, great deal of fuss and column inches dedicated to their contents and so on. Not really worth the paper they are written on but they are a thing and a flaccid sort of stick to try and beat politicians with.

    So wondering if there are similar documents for Dems and Republicans or is it entirely about the positions of individual candidates up and down the ballot?

        1. nowhere

          It was pretty messy for the D’s this past campaign, in that after a very close primary season, Bernie was more or less locked out from getting any planks into the party platform.

        2. hunkerdown

          Manifestoes are more accountable than vision statements. No Congress ever got turfed out for failure to live up to its promises; indeed, lying is protected political speech when government officials do it..

    1. Brad

      No. US doesn’t have independent membership parties with programs (“manifestos”) the members can hold the leaders to. These are state-sponsored pseudo-parties. The US system is basically a permanent oligarchical-Bonapartist regime.


      1. PhilM

        If our regime were in fact Bonapartist, it would be a heck of a lot more efficient at mobilizing national resources. Wait–what exactly does Bonapartist mean? I thought that came after the revolution, not before.

    2. b1daly

      Both major parties are coalitions of unlikely allies, whose actual interests don’t align that well. The needs of the moneyed classes, who have traditionally supported both parties, get attended to above all.

      When it gets to questions of social justice, environmental protection, reproductive choice, I happen to think Dems are better than the Reps, though this seems to not be the consensus view in these parts.

      But particular ideological stances are not a big component of US politics.

      The Republicans and Democrats have shifted points of doctrine often in their attempts to govern.

      Interestingly, it was billionaire Trump who donned the sheepskin of populism this time. Now the wolf is not just at the door. He’s unpacking the U-Haul as the Sherrif totes the last of our stuff to the curb.

      1. PhilM

        This is absolutely true. Tell me again why it is the needs of “the moneyed classes” that should not be attended to above all? Aren’t they paying for government, after all? “The workers” are so very fortunate that some kind of liberal conscience allows them suffrage to begin with. I have never figured out why that should be. If you don’t pay for Netflix, you don’t stream, right? Why should you have a say in government when you don’t pay for it?

  13. DH

    Re: Alternative Facts

    Justin Trudeau’s office had to apply a lot of pressure to FoxNews yesterday to get them to delete a day-old tweet that erroneously attributed the Quebec City mosque shooting to a Muslim. It took quite a while, but FoxNews finally deleted it, probably with gritted teeth since it does go against their standard terrorism script. It was initially an unfortunate error on Monday as there was a Muslim witness who was taken into custody at about the same time as the shooter, but this error was cleared up in the rest of the media in fairly short order. It appears that some facts may be more equal than others.


  14. shinola

    Re the Seattle Times article on generic drug price fixing (The Bezzle)

    Nothing new about these “informal” tactics. Good ol’ Adam Smith had this to say:

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment or diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

    I think he may have onto something.

    1. sgt_doom

      It’s really far more complex than that — the last time I seriously researched it (2009) there were a number of healthcare-dedicated hedge funds speculating in publicly held healthcare companies, medical equipment companies, nursing and medical personnel agencies, etc., etc., etc.

      Then there’s the upward price driver of private equity leveraged buyouts, so while non-competition in pharmaceutical pricing is a factor, it is one of many . . .

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for finding that one – it came to mind when I read the excerpt but I couldn’t put my finger on the exact quote.

      Everybody seems to know about the ‘invisible hand’, or thinks they do, but they are pretty clueless when it comes to what Smith wrote about the way an economy really works.

  15. steelhead23

    I must take umbrage at the perception that the Dems need to win elections to have a policy voice. Historically, Senate and House rules regarding quorum needs and filibusters changed slowly, if at all. The need to obtain broad support for presidential appointments was respected. Even when the Democract-controlled Senate changed filibuster rules regarding presidential appointments in order to expedite confirmations of federal judges, they acknowledged the importance of broad support for Supreme Court justices and left the need for a 60-vote cloture intact. What Mr. Trump is requesting now, that his nominee be affirmed by a simple majority amounts to what I would term – backstabbing – and it would further diminish the value and prestige of the Senate. I suspect McConnell doesn’t give a damn.

    Also, while it would be possible to undo a large fraction of bad public policy following an election, were Mr. Gorsuch to become an Associate Justice of the SCOTUS, he would be there for life, and if the divestiture dingbats are able to sell off public lands they would be gone forever. The time for the banging of pans draws near.

    1. Eureka Springs

      and it would further diminish the value and prestige of the Senate.

      What value? If any, we know to whom said value is for and it ain’t 95 percent or more of us. And who could possibly continue to find such anti democratic, war mongering, charlatans, with the sole purpose of being oligarch protection racketeers, prestigious?

      Abolish the United States Senate.

    2. Pirmann

      I must take umbrage at the perception that the Dems need to win elections to have a policy voice.

      The only umbrage to be taken is perhaps that Dems previously did win elections and yet even then they still didn’t seem to find their policy voice…

  16. Bunk McNulty

    Crazypants Bannon: On first reading, setting aside his Judeo-Christian vs. Islam war to the death, I thought he spoke sensibly about the indifference of global elites to the rest of us, and the dangers of crony capitalism. And then I thought, wait, is he not working for the very embodiment of crony capitalism? Is ol’ Steve confused, or totally corrupt? Gee whiz, which could it be?

    1. Gary

      I worry about Steve’s liver. I mean, just look at him. He’s got to have a liver the size of a Labrador.

    2. Carolinian

      Could be crazy like a fox–wants to tear down the current establish in toto.

      “I’m a Leninist,” Steve Bannon told a writer for The Daily Beast, in late 2013. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.


      Whatever one thinks of that statement it’s possible there is a plan.



      1. nobody

        Earlier today Thomas Frank posted on Facebook:

        I keep thinking Steve Bannon is a character from one of my books. But no, I never met him or even heard of him until a few months ago. Still, the resemblance is uncanny.

        I never heard of Bannon until a few months ago, either, and until a couple-few weeks ago all I knew was what I had gleaned from Ian Welch’s posts where he was mentioned.

        In recent weeks though I’ve started watching or listening to interviews and reading articles, and at this point I’m inclined towards the edumacated hunch that, yes, there is a plan, or at least there are even odds that there’s a plan. Given what he seems to believe, this is probably not good news. Not good news at all.

        “I have a bad feeling about this,” wrote Rod Dreher, reacting to the Trump Inaugural. Me too.

        1. Carolinian

          I don’t know much about him either but will say that all that Judeo-Christian talk in Lambert’s Buzzfeed link (from 2014) could be partly because he was, after all, talking to a religious conference. And to the extent that he was saying modern business and finance needs a stronger sense of ethics who can disagree? People who translate his religiosity into predictions that we are going to have a war against Islam are probably well over their skis. After all we’ve been there done that under Dubya.

        2. jsn

          All of Trumps supposed bumbling and incompetence in the campaign was exactly the same “dazzle camouflage” we’re seeing now with the visa and other executive orders. While Lubrals chase those around like my cat chases a laser dot, he’s out courting all the major unions.

          Yes, there is a plan and so far it’s been fairly successful.

          Maybe the left can get its act together independently from the Lubrals and Democrats and actually bend it to some good, as I keep saying there is real overlap between what Trump needs to do to actually succeed and what Sanders and the real left are after. As Lambert keeps saying, real material benefits for ordinary people. The Lubrals don’t want that but the left does.

        3. Allegorio

          The plan is print a lot of money, privatize, privatize and privatize some more so that ethnically privileged white people own everything, and those that aren’t and don’t voluntarily serve their masters will rot in prisons, starve or be murdered by the militarized police. It’s as plain as the broad nose on your face.

      2. jrs

        So it’s kinda Grover Norquest’s plan then? Government badly enough run to drown in a bathtub or something? Look if I thought this was going to bring anarchist paradise then wonderful … but what do you want to bet the rich are still rich, the empire is still waging wars even if ever more futile ones, and the rest of us are even worse off because since it was a deliberate plan to destroy we’re left to contend with the wreckage?

    3. Waldenpond

      I thought he wanted a hierarchy of theocratic/corporate/state (no state) rule and was in opposition to state/corporate/religious rule. I’m on overload and have a headache.

      I still think this is the elites fighting over the spoils.

    4. alex morfesis

      Steve “whatever it takes to get you to click thru” bannon believes in nothing but saying something to keep someone’s attention…and he is the blob…one of the people who it has been suggested will slide into the national security council area with him is (dr.) Sebastian Gorki…son of one Paul Gorki of purported Hungary/MI-6 fame…friend of the habsburgs…Sebastian has taught at many blob institutions

      Bannon and the transcript are amusing…before the elimination of the morganatic archduke in june 1914 there was peace around the planet…

      Is he smoking some of that stuff his ex-wife leaves in the dresser drawer ?

      Hmmm…lets see…

      american troops were in mexico shooting at pancho and his villas….

      in london suffragettes bombed a church on april 5th…

      in march German Prince Wilhelm de Wied is crowned King of Albania(not a typo) & quickly threatens war with greece…

      On or about february 21, 1000 people are killed in Lin-chuan, China…

      In january, the haitian civil war forces president oretes to flee…

      In dec. 1913, germany and britain agree to take and split portugals african “possessions”

      on november 6th, the british arrest some nobody in india named gandhi

      On october 25th, serbia, under pressure from austria, withdraws from albania(which along with the forced abdication of the serbian king on june 25th might have led to that little assassination thingee)

      Sept was rather quiet…except for the riots in dublin and the opening of the Panama canal with its first vessel in the locks…

      August wasnt too noisy…sun yat-sen has to flee china..and germans respond somewhat to the 7 Krupp steel execs who got light feather slaps on the wrist for bribery of the military to get contracts…oh and the president of mexico ordered all americans to leave the country

      In july 1913, greece & serbia declare war on Bulgaria…

      In may turkey is fighting in bulgaria

      In april an assassination attempt fails against the king of spain; and emmeline parkhurst, the british suffragette, is sentenced to 3 years for having the audacity of wanting to vote(she & her friends may have done some slight damage to the home of the exchequer dude)

      on march 18th, greek king George the 1st is assassinated & THE J. Pierpont
      Morgan is assassinated in rome(ok maybe he died naturally when she wouldn’t get off him…official cause of death was caused by “nervous prostration”)

      In February 1913, president maduro of mexico is assassinated
      In january 1913, the young turks stage a coup d’etat against the ottoman govt, setting the stage for the german backed dictatorship of the three pashas…


      And also in january 1913, some new media publicist in russia, josef Dzhugashvili, co-editor of “Pravda” sends a letter to the journal “Social Democrat” & signs for the first time in the pen name Stalin (which just means more or less “man of steel” in russian) which he will then use until his death

      So…yup…the world was quiet there steevoh…

    5. a different chris

      I was surprised by the muddled thinking, the constant mixing of things that aren’t related, or painting two different (and equally incorrect) pictures of the same (20th century) thing with some weird rambling connecting paragraph.

      He doesn’t really know what religion is, he doesn’t know what technology is, this is what Goldman Sachs produces I guess. He gives the impression that he doesn’t understand the difference between free markets and capitalism – Now, in this case, I’m pretty sure he does but his brain is just seemingly shot.

      It’s scary, though, because this kind of randomized crap spouted with authority is what makes cult leaders.

  17. Clive

    Re: Starbucks

    Starbucks does indeed induce an emotional experience while visiting one of their outlets: gut-wrenching, abject despair

    1. Arizona Slim

      I don’t drink coffee, so count me among those who don’t go to Sbux.

      But, last time I was in a coffee shop, the place seemed rather noisy. Not the sort of place I’d chose to go to.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am not too choosy – instant organic coffee tastes good enough for me.

        Hopefully, that distant coffee plantation treats its workers nicely. I can’t be there everyday to be sure.

    2. Carl

      For people who like good coffee, Starbucks is awful. They overroast their beans, and then let them get stale. Don’t even get me started on their “coffee drinks”—ugh. Many real baristas have gotten used to questioning their customers who order such things as macchiatos, because so many of them are used to the Starbucks version, i.e., full of fake whipped cream and sugar. “You know this is a traditional macchiato, right?”

    3. JustAnObserver

      and that’s just the broken WiFi :-)

      The last 5 letters of the name tell you all you need to know. It must be getting to the point where they’re teaching Crappification 101 at Business School.

      Ah for the civilized days of the Seattle Coffee Company … sigh … and *still* no Cafe Nero out here on the left coast.

  18. Waldenpond

    The Note paragraph was interesting to me. I thought jockeying for power, status and promotion was the norm. I thought acting behind closed doors was the norm.

    To me it looks like loyalty to the Con critter one is assigned to is expected but that a degree of betrayal for advancement is acceptable but NOW people have gone TOO FAR outside the bounds of acceptable finagling?

  19. aliteralmind

    What do Gnashing of Teeth, Rending of Garments, and smashing rice bowls mean? I have a vague fuzzy understanding of them, but wish someone would more clearly explain them.

    1. DJG

      Matthew 13:50 King James Version (KJV)

      And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I would take iron supplements, instead of iron-rice.

          Hardly digestible. Impossible to chew.

          And In America, an iron chef would serve iron rice on an iron plate, not in a bowl.

          1. Gary

            We cook something on an iron plate down here in Texas called fajitas.
            You should try them sometime…

    2. Annothernone

      Rending of garments is a Jewish thing – an expression of grief. I seem to recall in “The Jazz Singer” modern version, the father ripped his jacket when grieving his son’s disobedience. Teeth gnashing is a biblical term denoting anger – in real life I’ve not seen anyone – at least not anyone on 2 legs – gnashing their teeth, but it’s a colourful expression! I’ve wondered about the rice bowl reference too, so thanks to the earlier commenter for explaining.

  20. DJG

    From Lambert: “You can’t beat something with nothing, and to voters, process is nothing! It would help Democrats if they stopped reinforcing failure by leaving losers in charge, and if they didn’t double down on fail with strategy and tactics.”

    Boycotting? Even if the rule is that one person has to be there. Boycotting? How many countries have ended up with political vacuums as the bourgeois parties decided that a boycott would produce results?

    Meanwhile, the Democrats and liberals haven’t figured out that economic boycotts–sometimes called strikes, just to remind folks that strikes once happened–have been remarkably effective.

    But boycotting a meeting?

  21. Waldenpond

    Site policy advice…. Links. Not so much when does a statement ‘benefit’ from a link (this is more arbitrary) but more when does copied data ‘require’ a link (this is more specific)? Rules of thumb would be appreciated.

    Saw this at one point: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/01/links-13117.html

    Where Katherine wanted source link to pasted info….. and it was felt that a link was unnecessary.
    January 31, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    It is reported that:

    the department’s Office of Legal Counsel “found the Executive Order both lawful on its face and properly drafted.”

    Others might disagree.

    But that was from her own ex-department.

    Katharine January 31, 2017 at 1:40 pm
    Source, please.
    Reply ↓
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef January 31, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    I google search this: ‘the department’s Office of Legal Counsel “found the Executive Order both lawful on its face and properly drafted,’ and find it in many stories, from abcnews, washington post, the guardina, nbcnews, politico, etc.
    Reply ↓
    1. Katharine January 31, 2017 at 2:08 pm
    Thanks! But also see below.
    Reply ↓
    2. Lambert Strether January 31, 2017 at 3:55 pm
    No. Do not assign others work.
    Reply ↓ ]

    ———————– Versus: (yes, I clearly borked my link)

    January 31, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Supreme Court Scalia redo… Gorsuch.
    Reply ↓

    January 31, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Delete Erroneous quote…..

    OK, this is a misquote. Blumenthal said Dems shoudn’t attempt to BLOCK HEARING. “do the right thing” part = verbatim
    Reply ↓

    Lambert Strether
    February 1, 2017 at 4:15 am

    That Tweet is broken. In general, please embed tweets. It’s extra work for readers to have to click through, and I don’t want claims being made about linked tweets where the actual Tweet is not visible.
    Reply ↓]

    So my clarification is for when do quotes, excerpts, etc need links and when don’t they.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was looking at all the articles that popped up when I googled, and at that moment, I figured maybe Khatarine might want to read the different ways it was covered. So, I mentioned a few news organizations. Then, I read Lambert’s comment, I was going to pick on, but got sidetracked with something I don’t remember now – it was evening and I was doing something at home.

  22. Pat

    So not only has the 2016 election been illuminating. The whole Trump presidency has been illuminating.

    Our press is largely clueless.
    And have no problem with propaganda unless it isn’t their owner approved propaganda in which case it is fake news.
    Hillary Clinton is so incompetent she manages to lose two presidential bids because her people do not understand how the delegates are decided.
    She is also unable to admit to being incompetent so she blames everything on others from Putin to Obama to Sanders.
    Trump is graceless, and obnoxious and smarter than most of his opponents think.
    He is also using powers honed by the Presidents that preceded him and really isn’t as much of an outlier to them as their coolly snide remarks might make it appear.
    Obama had great power and chose not to use it when he got into office in 2008.
    Democrats had great power and chose not to use it in 2008 and actively worked not to have that power after.
    Both did that because what they ran on and what they actually wanted to accomplish in office were two entirely different things.
    They were fully capable of enacting the change that voters demanded by voting for Obama. Trump AND the Republican Congress are making it clearer every day that any reason given for not doing it was an excuse along the lines of the dog ate my homework.
    I’m betting most Democratic leaders are more gob smacked that Republicans aren’t even pretending to play the game anymore and are just going for it, than they are that these policies are out there. And even when they use a rule, didn’t bother to think “how might they block this move”. As such they have spent most of the last week with egg on their faces even if the press isn’t letting them know that.
    That they really are hapless and not just pretending to be has been a revelation.
    I’ve spent most of the last eight years with my hair on fire. Now most of my friends are running around appalled. Wait until they figure out that 1.) the people they are counting on to help them in this largely don’t give a damn about what they want; and 2.) can’t win at checkers much less real multilevel chess.
    Could make the current rending of garments and cries of despair look like a gentle stroll in a park.

    1. b1daly

      Now that you put it like this, it’s clear our great nation has just dodge a bullet with the defeat of Clinton! I’m feeling more relieved everyday! Hopefully we shall not see the likes of Democratic electoral power again….

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      It’s all about “civility,” dontcha know. When one boils down all the hissy fits and outrage pouring from commenters on my social media feeds, it comes down to “how DARE he not do it the way properly brought-up people do?”

      The up-and-coming dog whistle now is “constitutional crisis.” I don’t disagree, since I know the right wants nothing so much as to hold that Constitutional Convention, throw out the one we have and replace it with the Articles of Confederation. However, the items to which this phrase is applied are by no means even close to violating the Constitution unless and until the laws being used to enact them are declared so by the SCOTUS.

      The ivory towers are developing cracks, and they who dwell therein are unwilling and/or unable to embrace even the concept that there are people who don’t care a whit what “proper people” do if it interferes with achieving their goal.

    3. Pirmann

      The Trump Presidency is going better than I had expected, and we’re only 10 days in. I was a pre-sychophant Bernie supporter who ended up voting for Trump, and honestly, I think he’s done better than what Bernie would have done to this point.

      E.g., killed TPP, implemented lobbying bans, made a great SC nomination who values the sanctity of life, negotiated jobs to remain in the country, is moving forward with infrastructure, immigration reform, hopefully public school reform, etc. And, I don’t think Trump is completely opposed to single payer and may in fact be open to it. I’d go so far as to say that had Bernie supported him instead of -H>er, Bernie might have been able to become part of the trusted inner circle and have more influence in regard to single payer. Instead, he keeps beating the losing resistance drum instead of working to find common ground (and there is some common ground there, if he’d stop with the Democheerleading already and take a look). Also, I think his foreign policy will wind up getting us out of a lot of the mess we’ve been in. I’d equate his beefing up the military to someone who lifts weights for bodybuilding competitions as opposed to those who lift weights in order to fight. In other words, it’s a show of strength, not to be used unless necessary.

      I’m pretty excited and optimistic about Trump’s presidency. The other thing is, Trump comes into this as someone who’s already been successful. I think he’ll be motivated by ego to be considered one of the best presidents in American history. He has money already and doesn’t need grift. He will want to leave office knowing America is great again. I think that’s why we’re seeing him waste no time in keeping his campaign promises (another thing I find refreshing).

      1. b1daly

        Immigration reform, huh.

        That quite a stew of wishful thinking you’ve cooKed up there.

        As far as I can see, to the extent Trump has taken any significant actions, he is taking action to turbo charge the transfer of resources from “the people” to a crew of heartless oligarchs. The carbon based energy industry, and the military industrial complex have been moved to the front of the gravy train. Tax policy will help directly to reduce the scandalous egalitarianism that has been ripping this country apart.

        And fetuses too. Things are looking up for fetuses, bless their tiny, immortal souls.

  23. Waldenpond

    Appreciated the co-op articles. I’m wondering if the start up monies are for the business or if that included purchase of the building. Would be great to have funding for the purchasing of the base assets as they could be coop owned and other businesses could back fill if one decides to close shop. A coop network could shift coop businesses to different buildings for best fit.

    1. diptherio

      Funding for Co-ops (no links to avoid the Skynet):

      Working World
      Shared Capital
      Cooperative Fund of New England

      There are others, but those three spring to mind.

  24. LT

    I heard a great example of liberal ineffectiveness, mumbo jumbo, hand-wringing, etc…
    Yesterday eve I’m listening to Ian Masters on KPFK (progressive, listener sponsored radio).
    It’s right after the announcement of the Supreme Court nomination and he asks his guests “Why didn’t the voters protest more about ths obstruction of Obama when he tried to appoint a nominee?” (something along those lines).

    Then I laughed, because if you ever caught his show in the last year or so…every other word out of his mouth was “Putin”. I wanted to scream at the radio, “Why didn’t you talk about more than Putin for the last year?”
    I turned it off, as usual, before the end of the show.

  25. Waldenpond

    Commons article: portent of doom that I am…. Just thought that the public’s lesser access to lands may mean they won’t fight for them. If a public is priced out of accessing public lands and have limited physical access, where private interests have greater rights (private stores, hotels, oil, grazing) … the view may be that the shift has gone to such a degree that the lands are already lost.

  26. Jim Haygood

    Pacifica, comrades:

    (March 2014) During an average 15-minute period, just 700 people listen to its Los Angeles station, 90.7 FM KPFK, for at least five minutes, according to Nielsen Audio, which monitors radio ratings.

    For L.A.’s other public radio stations, KCRW and KPCC, that number is 8,000 and 20,000, respectively. KPFK draws roughly one one-thousandth of all radio listeners in the Metro Los Angeles area.

    Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, is even worse off, with too few listeners to register on the Arbitron rankings, and is all but bankrupt. Last year, most of the staff was laid off, including the entire news department.


    Proof that somebody used to listen to Pacifica: its Houston affiliate KPFT was bombed off the air in May 1970 by the Ku Klux Klan.

    1. LT

      They are also scared to take too many listener calls.
      Talk radio is all about listener calls and, from what I gather, they seldom do it during drive time hours.

      1. PhilM

        It is an important corrective to listen to Canadian talk radio. The callers are articulate and calm, making intelligent observations and asking provocative questions that lead to informative answers.

        I mute the radio when someone calls in in the US.

  27. Synoia

    Gnashing of Teeth and Rending of Garments – Clintion Initiative

    Looking for quotes? Here’s one:

    Methinks she doth protest too much.

    and a second

    Something wicked this way comes

    We’d have to get Bill on record, but I believe there may be a few more from the “Taming of The Shrew.”

  28. Oregoncharles

    ” “The high prices Americans pay for generic drugs may have been cooked up by pharmaceutical salespeople ”
    My wife’s pill phobia looks better all the time. She takes stuff only when desperately sick. (I take some supplements, mostly to do with getting old.)

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 11:27am. Nervous stomachs”

    FWIW, precious metals are climbing.

  30. Waldenpond

    The secret to a meaningful life…. .

    No one answer is there… try new things and be willing to let them go.

    Break things down into small pieces (Jarrett) or have an all encompassing passion.

    “The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring to everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.” Henry Moore

    1. witters

      Why is it a secret? I suppose Henry Moore’s “every minute of the day” idea might be a secret – as it is, surely, false. An all encompassing obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t my idea of a meaningful life. And it would make everyone around you miserable.

      1. Waldenpond

        It isn’t a secret…. it’s an infinite range of options. Find your own path. I was using the Moore quote of a lifelong passion in contrast to the linked article by Jarrett on individual projects to demonstrate that.

        Maybe someone who studies physics their whole lives is miserable.
        Maybe Jane Goodall made the people around her miserable.
        Maybe people rolled their eyes when Darwin nattered on.
        Maybe artists and actors are dreary to be around.

        I can equally appreciate people who seek fleeting adventures and those that that bring beauty through a lifetime’s development of craft.

        1. Waldenpond

          Of course I had to peek….
          Proust, Dickens, Tesla, Einstein, Darwin, Michelangelo, Beethoven….

          Looks like having a lifelong passion is independent of OCD and those with OCD have made contributions I appreciate.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When the US in the middle of the Pacific ocean, will that be left enough?

      Or do we have to go all the way to China?

  31. Waldenpond

    Prison reports….


    Police mobilize outside Vaughn Correctional Center in #Smyrna, Delaware, scene of inmate rebellion. #VaughnRebellion
    NBC10 Philadelphia


    AP: The Associated Press Verified account

    BREAKING: Officials: Prison guards taken hostage by inmates at maximum security prison in Delaware; all state prisons on lockdown.


        1. polecat

          Throw in ‘the Mouth’ and ‘the Anus’ …. alias McCain/Graham … the organism that knows all, and spouts shit, in the exchange deal … then we can call it good !

  32. LT

    “Reclaiming the Commons” [Boston Review (DB)]….

    “But while cooperation may not conform to the general rule of rationally self-interested behavior…”

    Who’s general rule? Notice it is written up as if it is THE (as in one and only) “general rule.” As if it descended from the heavens and not a banksta-ruled economist.
    Another version of “TINA”….(There Is No Alternative).

      1. cm

        A very odd article…

        Nomiki Konst, a surrogate for Sanders during the primary who is now an investigative reporter for the Young Turks, is eager to make a place for people like Hill in the Democratic Party. She was quick to praise Pelosi’s famously progressive legislative record.

        “Famously progressive”???????

  33. Pat

    I was going to say no comment, but this is currently the #3 best seller among Amazon’s best sellers. The thing that makes me laugh is that normally if you click on the star rating to read the reviews based on number of stars it easily comes up. 17% of the reviews are 1 star. There is one 1 star review on the book’s page. But somehow no reviews can be found that are 1 star. If I were more flush I’d plunk down the dollar ninety nine and then rip it a new one. But obviously there is a market for ridiculous excuses. And people who believe stupidity like the Coast Guard Intelligence Agency actually investigated this…


  34. johnnygl

    Saw something in the elevator that michael flynn was ‘putting iran on notice’ regarding a recent incident about which i don’t know the details.

    Are we really going all-gulf-of-tonkin like 2 weeks into the trump administration? F-ing A, this is what happens when you do NOT punish your war criminals. The new guys roll up, and try to pick a fight, knowing full well that there won’t be consequences!!!

  35. ewmayer

    From the Reuters article on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee: “Gorsuch was in the same 1991 graduating class from Harvard Law School as Obama.”

    Jeri-Lynn, wasn’t that also your class? If so, did you get any impressions of Gorsuch?

  36. Jay M

    woke up today
    My digital neural layer messaged that I didn’t have an internet connection,
    then my operating system, MS-IC (intra-cranial) crashed.
    I clicked my heels to reboot and quickly learned that I owed Musk Interstellar Corp. $.13. Luckily I had got the dental implant that turned my mouth into a card reader, and quickly slammed the credit card into my mug. After about two minutes of booting, I felt fine enough to take the anti-depressants and atypical anti-psychotics that my doctor has me on.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Woke up, fell out of bed
      Dragged a comb across my head
      Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
      And looking up, I noticed I was late

      Found my coat and grabbed my hat
      Made the bus in seconds flat
      Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
      And somebody spoke and I went into a scream

      — Beatles, “A Day in the Life”

  37. freedomny

    Hi – I hope you all don’t mind if I plug this resource….but it is really great for people who want to resist (?)…make a difference…etc, but who may not have the time. It is called “Daily Action”. You text – Daily – to 228466 and you get a reminder every day. It instructs you to call 844-241-1141 where there is a message. The other day the message was to tell your government officials to demand certain actions against Bannon. You plug in your zip code and you automatically get routed to the appropriate politician.

    I have no idea if any of this will work….but it certainly can’t hurt. And, it makes you feel better. I find it heartening that people are now really “watching”. There was definitely backlash against C. Booker for the prescription crap and against Warren for her acceptance of Trump nominees.

    1. Ranger Rick

      You intrigued me, so I did some digging. Daily Action is run by the Creative Majority PAC, which is linked to Revolution Messaging, which in turn did work for Bernie Sanders during his 2016 campaign. RM is run by OFA alums and even has a stray sheep from the DCCC working for them.

      So while their hearts are in the right place … their track record is not very good.

  38. LT

    Re: Buzzfeed and Bannon’s worldview 2014

    It always ends up just with just of veneer of reform of the status quo. Hard to worship a system and reform it at the same time.

    Belief systems change, deal with it.

Comments are closed.