2:00PM Water Cooler 2/13/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I got caught up in the Oroville situation, so I’ll add some more on politics shortly. –lambert


“President Donald Trump’s threats to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement are already rippling across the Mexican economy. Mexican output growth is projected to slow to a near halt in 2017, the WSJ’s Robbie Whelan reports, with business investment tumbling amid long-term concern over Mexico’s dependence on exports. Exports account for a third of the country’s economic activity, and some 80% of those go to the U.S. Mexico’s leaders are speeding up negotiations for expanded trade deals with the European Union and opened talks with Argentina and Brazil aimed at easing the country’s dependence on U.S. grain” [Wall Street Journal].


Alert reader Bob got interested and provide some material. Here’s a useful video giving a helicopter’s-eye view. Note that this video was taken before the emergency spillway was used. They knew they had a problem before they had to use it.

Bob comments: “[A]t about 6:30 they zoom in and show a concrete pumper truck with a concrete truck feeding it. They are trying to ‘patch’ an area below the emergency spillway with A) boulders and then B) grout. Where those pumper trucks are is where they think they have the problem.” Bob summarizes:

They have 2 ongoing problems, one new, one old:

1) the spill way is not intact. The main spillway is broken. They can’t do much to fix it, and the hole keeps getting bigger, although it’s far enough from the lake and impoundments that it’s not undermining them.

2) the emergency spillway. This is getting lost in the newz mess. That area to the left that’s meant to shed water is apparently being undermined by the water flowing over it for the first time ever. That’s the area with the pumper trucks, just next to the higher wall for the main spillway.

Not sure how it’s being undermined, but it looks like it is being undermined. This is geology of the existing hlll, and I can’t add anything to it. It may be concrete tied to bedrock (should be) but I don’t know. Too much other mess there to see.

Water like this tends to scour down til it can’t anymore.

To which I would add 3) they need to lower the lake so predicted rain later this week doesn’t overtop the dam. So, they have to use the spillways to do that, but using the spillways is dangerous. I don’t envy them the trade-offs.

Hey, as long as the cores don’t melt…

* * *

Here’s a handy diagram showing the dam and the spillways:

“Live updates: Mass evacuation below Oroville Dam as officials frantically try to make repairs before new storms” [Los Angeles Times]. “More than 100,000 people were told to evacuate because of a ‘hazardous situation’ involving the Northern California dam’s emergency spillway. At one point, the [National Weather Service] warned that the auxiliary spillway was expected to fail and could send an ‘uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.’ However, by late Sunday night, officials said the immediate threat had passed because water had stopped washing over the emergency spillway.”

“Water stops spilling over Oroville auxiliary spillway” [KCRA]. “While evacuation orders remain in place for many communities and cities around Lake Oroville and downstream along the Feather River, Lake Oroville has fallen below 100 percent capacity of 901 feet to 896 feet — 3,489,000 acre-feet of water — as of 9:30 a.m., according to the California Department of Water Resources. At its peak, the lake was at 902.59 feet… However, officials are still looking to lower the lake another 50 feet — or more than 675,000 acre-feet of water — to allow space in the lake for the upcoming storm, projected to arrive Thursday. ”

UPDATE There was an inspection of the spillway at first light (see here), but I can’t find information that gives the results, hours later [snarl]. Readers?

“Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago” [San Jose Mercury News]. “Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.” See also “State was warned about inadequacy of emergency spillway” [Oroville Mercury Register]. More quotes from locals and activists.

UPDATE “Too much water: How Oroville Dam problems became a crisis” [Los Angeles Times]. “With northern Sierra precipitation levels tracking ahead of the wettest year on record so far this winter, Oroville managers have a nerve-racking several months ahead of them. “There’s a lot of snow up there,” said Bill Croyle, acting director of the Department of Water Resources.” Yikes. So the story isn’t over with this week’s storm to come. Unless it is.

“PHOTOS: Oroville Dam Spillway Trouble and Evacuation” [KQED].


Trump Transition

“Moreover, given some past comments by Mr. Trump and his aides, many companies worry that the administration plans new restrictions on visas for high-skilled workers from abroad, among other potential changes to the immigration system that could be unwelcome to Silicon Valley” [Wall Street Journal, “Trump Takes on Tech Industry in Early Policy Moves”]. That’s the lead.

UPDATE “Reality check: After three weeks, Trump has hit a Washington wall” [USA Today]. “‘Being head of a family business is just about the worst preparation imaginable for the institutional constraints of Washington,’ says William Galston, a veteran of the Clinton White House staff. ‘Donald Trump is in for a set of experiences that will be entirely novel to him.'” That’s why Trump needs his own James Baker; but one doesn’t seem to be on offer. That said, volatility voters didn’t elect Trump because he wouldn’t rock the boat. And surely Galston knows that the Clinton Dynasty is, exactly and precisely, a family business?

UPDATE “Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down” [New York Times]. One way to shovel back the tide of bullshit is to look at the sourcing. Six paragraphs down, here it is:

This account of life inside the council — offices made up of several hundred career civil servants who advise the president on counterterrorism, foreign policy, nuclear deterrence and other issues of war and peace — is based on conversations with more than two dozen current and former council staff members and others throughout the government. All spoke on the condition that they not be quoted by name for fear of reprisals.

So the access journalism here could be true, even given priors at the Times. What I get out of the story: The Blob is pissed. And if Trump really is the person he is portrayed as being — Baby Hitler, a lunatic with his hands on the button, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera — you’d think that at least one of these sources would be willing to risk their career by going on the record about it. But no.

UPDATE “Trump’s national security adviser Flynn trying to survive crisis” [Reuters]. Same deal. Let’s look at the sourcing: “officials said.” Oh, OK. Again, if the story means that Flynn is a traitor or a Russian stooge, doesn’t it make sense that somebody would be willing to go on the record about it?

UPDATE “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins” [The Observer]. Begins? Begins?! What’s interesting is that The Observer is Kushner’s house organ. So WTF?

“‘President Trump is backtracking on every economic promise he made to the American people,’ Mr. Sanders, (I., Vt.), said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. ‘He is appointing Wall Street bankers, the same people he told us he would oppose, to very high positions'” [Wall Street Journal]. “Mr. Sanders, who has emerged as a leader of Democratic Party progressives, also pointed to pledges by Mr. Trump not to cut entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” Gotta love Bernie, plugging away on actual vote-getting policies amidst the pearl-clutching and yammering. I mean, come on. If we didn’t appoint bankers to high office, would that end racism? No!

UPDATE Sanders in West Virginia: “‘So what if you lose, you’ll win the next time,’ Sanders said. ‘Let me just tell you, I also know one of the things that really troubles me when I talk to people, they say, ‘You know Bernie, I just don’t know enough about education or economics or health care to run.’ I work in the United States Senate. If you saw some of the guys in the United States Senate, your confidence in yourself would soar” [Charleston Gazette-Mail].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Every leading contender to take over the Democratic National Committee believes Hillary Clinton focused too much on attacking Donald Trump at the expense of articulating an affirmative case for holding the White House” [which they’ve obviously doubled down on, along with doubling down on every other tactic that failed]. During their final showdown before the chairman’s election in Atlanta on Feb. 25, there was consensus that the party’s problems derive mainly from subpar organization and communication — not anything fundamental” [WaPo]. Like organization isn’t fundamental. And one of the few lessons I retained from organization behavior is that communication is never the problem.

Perez is the clear front-runner, but he still does not have the votes locked up. With backing from key figures in Barack Obama’s orbit (Joe Biden) and the Clinton machine (Terry McAuliffe), he is the establishment favorite. But his progressive bona fides are beyond question, from his tenure as a Montgomery County councilman to helming the Justice Department’s civil rights division. That makes it hard for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who won an early endorsement from Sanders and Chuck Schumer, to get too far to Perez’s left. That is part of the explanation for why the chairman’s race lacks much ideological tension.

Well, there is that little matter of the Podesta mail where Perez explains to the DNC how to smear Sanders as a racist. But other than that…

UPDATE “The DNC Contenders Are Not Interested In Your Populist Moment” [HuffPo]. “Many committed Democrats are following the DNC race as a fight for the future of the party. After a devastating presidential defeat and nearly a decade of steady losses in Congress and at the state level, there aren’t many other political battles for party activists to focus on. But the candidates themselves are not catering to grass-roots organizers or rank-and-file voters. They’re seeking the support of a majority of DNC members ― mostly state party leaders and political appointees ― and doing their damnedest to avoid ruffling any feathers.”

UPDATE “Three weeks into President Trump’s term, the Democratic Party and progressive establishment have almost entirely adopted the demands of a restive, active and aggressive base” [WaPo]. BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!!! I mean, really? The Democrats are now supporting Medicare for All? Did I not get the memo?

“You don’t know who does what in a bloc, you don’t look to find out. If bodies run out of formation to take a rock to a Starbucks window, they melt back to the bloc in as many seconds. Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty” [Natasha Leonard, The Nation]. I remember Graeber peddling the same nauseating stuff from his own comfortable perch. And so what if half the black bloc are cops? Ego, ego, ego.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics today, so I’ll catch up on The Bezzle.

Supply Chain: “Dutch payments company Adyen saw a big jump in the number of transactions it processed last year for clientele including Facebook, Airbnb, Spotify, Uber and Netflix. Transaction volume increased by 80 percent on-year to $90 billion in 2016, the company said on Wednesday” [CNBC]. “While Adyen’s 2016 revenue is yet to be released, in 2015 it earned about $350 million in revenue against a transaction volume of $50 billion — which means Adyen grossed about 0.7 percent of every dollar processed in 2015. The company says it’s been profitable since 2011.”

Supply Chain: “[Kellog’s,] the maker of Froot Loops, Pop-Tarts and Keebler cookies will ship its goods to the stores’ own warehouses and leave it up to grocery chains to manage the movement to their retail sites. Kellogg says it’s following its customers who are increasingly doing their shopping online, a shift that is chipping away at the traditional economics behind supplier-store relationships. At Kellogg, that will mean shuttering 39 U.S. distribution centers with more than 1,000 workers as it consolidates moves to grocery warehouses” [Wall Street Journa].

Shipping: “‘Aggressive’ cape scrap price could entice owners to head for the beach” [Splash 247]. “Global shipowning body BIMCO warned recently that far more scrapping is needed in dry bulk to try and right the still troubled supply/demand equilibrium. BIMCO said it is vital that 30m dwt of bulkers are scrapped this year as there is a serious influx of new tonnage coming in from Asian yards this year and next.” Why don’t we just set up the shipyards right on the beach, then? Wouldn’t that be more direct?

Shipping: “While US east coast ports reported increased volumes in 2016, there is little evidence of a boost in volumes from the expanded Panama Canal, according to new research from SeaIntel” [Lloyd’s List].

Concentration: “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” [Lina M. Khan, Yale Law Journal]. “Amazon is the titan of twenty-first century commerce. In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meager profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead. Through this strategy, the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it. Elements of the firm’s structure and conduct pose anticompetitive concerns—yet it has escaped antitrust scrutiny.”

The Bezzle: “Amazon does have a very complex system in place for weeding out counterfeits. These processes range from taking action based off of buyer and seller complaints to a sophisticated algorithm that spiders through all the pages on the site, flagging potential counterfeits and dumping them into a massive queue for fraud prevention teams to inspect manually. It is in this later stage where the system appears to break down” [Forbes]. “Michael Jakubek, who worked on Amazon’s fraud and abuse prevention teams between 2004 and 2012, stated bluntly that the quality of the Amazon marketplace comes down to the quality of these manual investigations. He posits that one of the main reasons why so many counterfeit listings continue falling through the gaps of Amazon’s quality control dragnet is that these investigation teams are not simply being trained or administered properly. ‘The big problem with this is that the investigators get rewarded based on how quickly they go,’ Jakubek said. ‘There’s no reason they can’t identify that these sellers are bad, but they’re compensated to go so quickly that they typically just do really cursory reviews.'”

The Bezzle: “Despite passing the big-scary-number and terrifying-narrative tests, the college debt burden just doesn’t quite analogize so well with the housing collapse. Though there are some factors that weigh on the side of eventual catastrophe – the debt can’t be extinguished in bankruptcy, the population of borrowers are particularly vulnerable to suasion and fraud – there are more differences than similarities” [Dealbreaker]. “For one thing, Goldman won’t build a credit-default swap for you based on some student loan metric. Without a universe of CDS’s and CDOs floating around, the industry doesn’t face the same threat of systemic rupture in the event that millions of students stop making payments. Moreover, the government backs up most student loans, making the bubble, in the worst scenario, ‘a fiscal headache rather than a financial risk,’ as one Wall Street economist told Business Insider.”

The Bezzle: “Uber hires veteran NASA engineer to work on flying cars” [Daily Dot]. Weigh the salary against the PR value…

The Bezzle: Full list of 22 companies with California permits to test self-driving cars [247 Wall Street]. Uber’s not on it.

The Bezzle: “I can report that [the Tesla Model S] autopilot works perfectly on motorways, and adequately on undivided A-roads, but you probably shouldn’t use it on B-roads unless you’re feeling brave. Basically, autopilot’s primary mode of operation is following road markings. If there aren’t any central or side lines, autopilot attempts to follow the car in front—and if there’s no car in front, autopilot disengages. I had one particularly close call when the road markings had disappeared due to resurfacing, and then the car in front turned a corner. The car didn’t really know what to do, and ended up veering sharply towards a hedge” [Ars Technica]. “It is a curious thing, though, that Tesla recommends you only use autopilot on divided highways—but that recommendation isn’t enforced in software. Perhaps Tesla should just disable autopilot completely when GPS detects that you’re on a B-road?”

The Bezzle: “Here’s How Time Warner Cable Was ‘Ripping You Off’ All Those Year” [Vice]. “In a blockbuster lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court, Schneiderman accused Time Warner Cable, which last year was absorbed by telecom titan Charter Communications, of conducting a years-long ‘systematic scheme’ to defraud and mislead consumers by promising internet service that the company knew it could not deliver. The complaint alleges that Time Warner Cable executives were well aware that the company could not fulfill advertised claims about a variety of offerings, including high-speed internet service, in-home wireless connectivity, and reliable access to services like Netflix and online gaming platforms.”

The Bezzle: “A Florida software engineer and a New Jersey pastor are expected on Monday to face trial in a case stemming from an investigation into a bitcoin exchange and a data breach at JPMorgan Chase & Co” [Reuters]. 2017 is already great!

Honey for the Bears: “The January US Federal Budget recorded a surplus of $51.3bn compared with a surplus of $55.2bn the previous year and compared with consensus forecasts of a surplus near $40.0bn” [Economic Calendar]. Just what the economy needs: Money sucked out of it.

Political Risk: “Given the importance of the forthcoming Presidential election, French opinion polls will continue to be monitored very closely in the short term. Only a relatively small move in polling support in either direction for National Front leader Le Pen would lead to sharp fluctuations in French asset prices and also trigger important Euro moves with major concerns surrounding the Euro’s future if National Front poll ratings improve further” [Economic Calendar].

Political Risk: “Congress could limit the Fed’s independence — and hurt the U.S. economy” [WaPo]. “My research shows that the Fed has had tremendous influence over international standards on bank capital since the 1980s, ensuring that domestic efforts to prevent another financial crisis are not undercut by lax regulations in other parts of the world.” Since the 1980s… Worked great, didn’t it?

Rapture Index: Closes down on volcanos: “A decrease in volcanic activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready] Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 68, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 13 at 11:39am. Any political risk that the Clintonite irredentists in the intelligence community might create is already in the price?

Dear Old Blighty

“Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals” [Telegraph]. “In theory a journalist leaked Brexit documents deemed harmful to the UK economy could be jailed as a consequence.”

“A council is facing ridicule after advising residents to put their rubbish in the freezer to stop it smelling after it cancelled collections over Christmas and New Year” [Telegraph].

Our Famously Free Press

“Ask people here about their news habits, as I did last week, and you’ll discover that their choices transcend easy categories and inside-the-Beltway perceptions (like, for example, that CNN is for liberals). And you’ll hear, over and over, that what matters most are the news sources that are closest to home” [WaPo]. “Trump may have effectively demonized the national media. But in a dozen interviews here last week, Luzerne residents indicated their satisfaction with their main news sources: WNEP Channel 16, the ABC affiliate in Wilkes-Barre; and the two competing Wilkes-Barre daily papers: the Citizens’ Voice (which endorsed Clinton) and the Times Leader (which made no endorsement).” Which explains why your letter to the editor is far more important than clicking on a petition, or even calling your Congression. (If your first doesn’t get published, keep at it; the editor likes a track record. Be calm, focused, and concise. Anger isn’t a plus, either, unless expressed as humor.)

“The term ‘fake news’ itself is a masterpiece of ideological speech. Calling reports ‘fake news’ is a desperate attempt to communicate that one’s own report is ‘real news.’ But making this claim is clearly a power play just as much as it is an attempt to refer to something in the world” [Hampton Institute (DB)]. Not sure about Althusser. I’m an E.P. Thompson person myself….

Class Warfare

Excellent tweetstorm:

“Creating Career Advice For The About-To-Be-Automated Worker” [Fast Company]. Darkly hilarious.

“How Women’s Studies Erased Black Women” [Daily JSTOR]. “Now that Women’s Studies itself is on the chopping block at many institutions, perhaps white women are better able to identify with the women they once overlooked.” Of course, economics has nothing to do with any of this…

“Update: ‘Scariest jobs chart ever'” [Calculated Risk]. Reality is just as scary even if the chart is not, because the jobs are crapified and precarious, wages are in the toilet, and ZOMG!!!! Robots!!!!

“I accept the Truman Capote Award in this spirit of justice. I would be remiss, therefore, if I did not address another injustice tarnishing the literary critical profession. I am, so far as I can tell, the first adjunct faculty member to receive this award. To be sure, I have one of the best non-ladder positions available. My paychecks cover my bills. I have health insurance. I can work full time. I know by the end of June if my appointment is renewed for the fall. And yet I am one of over one million non-tenure-track instructors working on a temporary or contingent basis and whose position offers no possibility of tenure. To be contingent means not to know if you’ll be teaching next semester or if your class will be canceled days before it starts. Most adjuncts receive less than three weeks’ notice of an appointment. They rarely receive benefits and have virtually no say in university governance” [Chronicle]. “Yet to talk about adjuncts is to talk about the centerpiece of higher education. Tenured faculty represent only 17 percent of college instructors. Part-time adjuncts are now the majority of the professoriate and its fastest-growing segment. From 1975 to 2011, the number of part-time adjuncts quadrupled. And the so-called part-time designation is misleading because most of them are piecing together teaching jobs at multiple institutions simultaneously. A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays.”

News of the Wired

“Anonymous social networks expose the dark underbelly in medicine” [KevinMD].

“University attacked by its own vending machines, smart light bulbs & 5,000 IoT devices” [Network World]. Exciting! (As I read it, though the case study is anonymized, the events are real.)

“Shoveling Snow Can Kill Men, Canadian Study Finds” [CNBC].

* * *

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 (via):

One for the East Coast….

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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. Tom Stone

    Three and a half million acre feet of water is a LOT of water. And there’s a lot more coming when the snow melts…it could get real messy downstream because many levee’s are in very poor condition.

    1. Glen

      Don’t worry, the Trump will fix it by partnering with Cheap A$$ Damn Builders, China, Inc. Financed by the vampire squid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We can’t rule out (axe) hacking Russians sabotaging the main spillway in order to help Trump intimidate those rebel CaExit politicians in Sacramento.

        Of course, one more fake charge or fake accusation could again make Trump stronger (or less weak).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Does that mean Trump will be worshiped as Krishna in India, or Shukongoshin (Vajrapani) in Japan?

            1. ambrit

              In the “darkly” perverse metrics of modern politico-mythopoesy, Trump has already staked out a position reminiscent of “Robin Hood.” Mz Ivanka as Maid Marian adds luster to the story. The harder the “elites” try to tear Trump, the public person, down, the stronger the backlash from a substantial portion of the public. I think that the Never Trump cohort doesn’t get that Trump has identified himself with “aspiration” in much of the public’s unconscious. Attacking Trump on a personal level is subconsciously equated with an attack on the “average” citizen’s “self.” I’m not sure how he did this, but Trump appears to have pulled off a “master stroke.”

              1. b1daly

                Part of how he did was by setting up the cultural elite as the enemy, and then actually defying the social norms of that elite. Which is pretty unprecedented for a modern politician.

                He also set up immigrants as the “other,” and again gave people social permission to scapegoat that other. Scapegoating is a powerful instinct, as old as the hills, and in modern American politics it has become “politically incorrect.” ( I think this represents actual social progress, as modest as it is.)

                It just feels good to scapegoat others, as it provides an illusion of control, against the existential anxiety and risk that comes with being alive.

                Trump caught a demographic wave that fit with his political voodoo, allowing him to just squeak by. There were just enough voters, in the right places, to whom this psychological structure might appeal.

                In part, I think there is a strong a**hole component to his appeal. Incredibly, many of his voters think of him as being some kind of straight-shooting “truth teller.” They (hypothetical Trump voter) might say: “It’s like he gets me. I can understand what he’s saying, he’s not afraid to speak the truth, and tell all these upitity PC idiots to shove it.”

                Part of my theory is that we all have an inner a*hole, who we have to keep under control, and repressed. The angrier people get, the more they feel justified letting that side of themselves out. The demographic that went for Trump represented a cultural group that had lost position in the social hierarchy of the US, both economically, and culturally. Loss loss leads to anger.

                Trump is one of the biggest a*holes in modern memory, so just him getting out there and saying, you guys have a right to be angry, and it’s ok to be an a*hole, was like a revelation to some people. They bonded. They were validated.

                Admittedly, I might not have all of the details worked out, but these are my provisional theories.

                Dilbert author Scott Adams (who is unbearable to me) has a loosely articulated theory about Trump and persuasion. To his credit, he called the Trump win long before any other high profile pundit. His take was that Trump is a master persuader, and deliberately uses pro-active techniques to persuade. There’s more to it, but a big component is appeal to emotion, not facts.

                The thing that was fascinating to me, was that it’s clear does have some powerful persuasion skills, but only for a subsection of the population. I, and a majority of US citizens, find him repellant. That’s a paradox. So I was not persuaded that Trump is a master persuader.

                One thing that Trump clearly excels at, is picking out the weaknesses in his opponents, and powerfully summing them up in simple, bit indelible, insults. Part of this ability is the hallmark of a bully, which is, once again, transgression of social norms.

                Normal people, with a modicum of social instinct and empathy, learn not to attack opponents in social conflict with their sharpest weaknesses. Even though we can all pick up on others flaws, our empathy, and socialization, hold us back from humiliating others in public.

                However, many of us are not above standing in a circle watching with interest as the bully shoves his hapless victim’s face into the dirt of the schoolyard playground. Metaphorically speaking.

                Also, some people just like to see shit burn.

                1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                  A core rhetorical practice in your comment involves offering up a sort of empathy for other people, while letting ambiguity over who “us” is shift back and forth. The ultimate effect is to subvert the apparent empathy and rhetorically other those people.

                  When you say “it just feels good to scapegoat others,” “we all have an inner a*hole,” “many of us are not above standing in a circle watching with interest as the bully…,” you are, in words, including yourself with the people you are psychologically analyzing.

                  However, you then make it clear that you are not one of them. Thus you say, “was like a revelation to some people,” “some people just like to see shit burn,” where “some people” refers to others. Those people have not repressed their inner a*hole, though you have; those people give in to their instinct to scapegoat, though you recognize that they should not do so.

                  Upon removing this rhetorical undergirding, your argument becomes the following:

                  A significant subsection of the population is emotionally primitive – they seek for scapegoats, they are looking for an excuse to let out their repressed a*hole, they applaud bullies who shove their victim’s face into the dirt, they enjoy watching shit burn. Their primitiveness is connected to their (illegitimate) rage at lost cultural and economic status.

                  The rest of the population is emotionally mature, and is viscerally repelled by all of this.

                  Trump’s political voodoo consists in having given the emotionally primitive people permission to release their dark ids. They appreciate this service and repay him with loyalty.

                  I will critique this stylized picture in a subsequent comment.

                2. Outis Philalithopoulos


                  The reason I am writing a fairly detailed response is that your “provisional theories” are the standard go-to depiction of non-Democratic voters in mainstream liberal culture, and have been for at least five years.

                  That doesn’t automatically make them wrong, and it’s worthwhile to look at how accurate they are.

                  In brief, my position is that your analysis makes too sharp a distinction between the culturally mature and the culturally primitive, effectively attributing two very different psychologies to two fairly disjoint groups of people.

                  We know instead from polling that many people voted for Trump despite these behaviors and not because of them; on the other hand, to find plentiful examples of similar behavior in anti-Trump culture, all one has to do is look around.

                  I was taken aback by your statement:

                  Scapegoating is a powerful instinct, as old as the hills, and in modern American politics it has become “politically incorrect.”

                  What have we seen from the liberal establishment since November 8 but scapegoating? Done in a politically correct way, perhaps, but still…

                  Or “watching with interest as the bully shoves his hapless victim’s face into the dirt” – this is a ubiquitous feeling while reading comment threads, including liberal-leaning ones.

                  A sibling mentioned to me a recent movie (or TV program?) where the noble president, after learning the location of an evil terrorist leader, calls up the terrorist to mock him before blowing him up in a drone strike. This sort of thing is all over popular culture.

                  If these sorts of dynamics bother you, then critique them wherever and whenever they are found. If you use them as a proxy for political or cultural divisions, then you merely fan the fires of tribalism.

                  I will finally add that there is something very social Darwinist in the current vogue of disdain for cultural and economic “losers.” In the beginning, it may have had some sort of vaguely ironic intent, as if to mock the rhetoric of Reaganomics; but that is now long past, and what may have once been meant subversively has metamorphosized into uncritical acceptance of what is fundamentally a very right-wing perspective (in the right-libertarian sense).

                3. different clue

                  I too found Trump repellent and unpersuasive. But I find the Clintons to be darkly evil. So I voted for Trump to stop the Clintons before they kill again.

                  Your theory doesn’t account for people like me.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    “But his progressive bona fides are beyond question…”

    Why yes if he was endorsed by both Biden and Clinton they must be. Who could question that? /s

    1. Praedor

      Clinton and Biden get to define the meaning of the word “progressive”. They also get to (re)define what “working families” or “working people” means (it means hedge fund managers, tech company CEOs, doctors, lawyers, etc. All else are deplorables).

    2. Praedor

      Clinton and Biden get to define the meaning of the word “progressive”. They also get to (re)define what “working families” or “working people” means (it means hedge fund managers, tech company CEOs, doctors, lawyers, etc. All else are deplorables).

  3. jo6pac

    The snow levels are 150% to 175% of normal but water content at this time is around 50%. Sadly it’s running at 6500ft. Then there is more on the way starting late Wed.

    I don’t like BOLD;-(


    Tesla needs to stop re-inventing the wheel

    So having done these extraordinarily difficult things with near-unqualified success, why didn’t Tesla stop there?

    Instead, the Model X embodies reinventions of a parade of other features that were perfectly satisfactory before. And are deeply flawed in Tesla’s new format.

    1. JohnnyGL


      Thanks for that clip. Miller was pretty intense there, no doubt. But, I saw that guy before. He was much more nuanced on the Real News about a year ago. I didn’t agree with lots of what he had to say, but he was thoughtful and agreeable, then, and was looking for common ground with Paul Jay. Note how much more respectful he is towards Paul Jay.

      Now look at how he handles the Morning Joe crowd….all steel, no silk. I wonder if Trump encourages his guys to get out there and get tough with the media and get them all riled up. A couple of comments made after the clip seem to indicate as such. If so, Miller probably took it to heart and clearly overdid it (from our perspective). But, Trump seems happy. I really think the approach is to show no weakness and take no crap from the media under any circumstances.

      Morning Joe really needs the fainting couches. It was just an interview. Maybe they can work up some outrage for the starvation campaign underway in Yemen? After all, Miller hasn’t killed anyone….unlike our friends the Saudis.

      One more thing, I wonder if Miller might have been a bit nervous about getting on national TV for the Sunday talk shows and tried to cover it with more bluster and toughness. Trump’s approving tweets could then be seen as providing encouragement to a younger, somewhat inexperienced guy that he likes and has taken under his wing. Remember, Trump values LOYALTY above all. He knows he needs friends he can trust in Washington. He seems to trust Miller. With the intel agencies constantly trying to smear him, Trump’s focus on loyalty isn’t all that crazy.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Again, I’ve commented in this vein before, but I think a lot of the media outrage is because they feel disrespected by Trump’s inner-circle.

        And check out the Real News clip, it’s interesting by itself, but moreso in context.

        1. freedomny

          Hi JGL – yeah – took a look see at the Real clip. But what is your point? That the guy is NOT a ideological right wing authoritarian master wannabe?

          Because that is actually what he is.

      2. Katharine

        Miller’s record as an undergrad at Duke was apparently not very pretty:


        I note also that he appears to have no law degree, though he has made those extravagant statements about the courts and some members of Congress whose knowledge and understanding are surely greater than his. And he is not quite ten years out of college, at an age when quite a lot of people might still question his judgment even if he were not so recklessly belligerent. If he was more moderate in tone before reaching his present position, it may be that this position has gone to his head. His boss may not have a problem with that, but his boss is not as independent as he supposes.

        Somewhat relevant to that last thought is an article someone showed me, on leadership, written for people in information security training but with broader application:


        1. JohnnyGL

          ” If he was more moderate in tone before reaching his present position, it may be that this position has gone to his head. His boss may not have a problem with that, but his boss is not as independent as he supposes.” – Yep, you might be right there.

          He might have also been trying to play nice with Paul Jay to convince possible frustrated lefties that watch Real News that Trump was worth taking a chance on. I thought he came across as pretty sincere in making his case, though, and he was clear in his attempt to get to the left of Clinton on trade and foreign military interventions. That’s something that would interest the NC crowd, as he seems to have Trump’s ear.

      3. RenoDino

        He tool the baton from Kellyanne who underwent burnout under intense interrogation for several months. This guy is is dialed in right out the blocks to take her tone of attack and run with it. She’s older and more experienced and thus has more nuance. He’ll get there, but I like his energy and shock value.

      4. freedomny

        If this is a double post – apologies. I pressed backspace and couldn’t find what I had written.

        The clip I posted was definitely edited to the “intense” bits for shock value. That being said, I do agree with Joe S assessment just by reason of the words that Miller chose and his demeanor. And the fact that he was all over the talk shows this past weekend.

        This is an authoritarian bone being thrown to push/see what they can get away with. Miller does not hide at all that this is an ideological war – he pretty much says it. We have 3 separate (but supposedly) equal branches of the government – but Trump is trying to exert the superiority of the Executive branch. And Bannon is evilly smart and will try to get around the checks and balances.

        I personally think this is going to go down very quickly. And, in terms of the “resistance”…..I read this morning that the organizers of the Woman’s March are now having a Billion March Love Revolution tomorrow (in honor of Valentines Day). They want you to call your congress/senate person in resistance and “love”. I am all for marches but when I read that…..jeeze

      5. b1daly

        This is a classic authoritarian move. Send underlings out to see if they will tell boldface lies on national television. It’s a “your with me, or your against” tactic. Once he finds people willing to lie in this manner, he can use them to build his administrative machinery. The more complicit they become, the harder it is to get out. There is no kindness towards young Mr. Miller here. He’s testing people, Conway, Spicer, now Miller. Sad.

  5. JohnL

    My father had the first of his three heart attacks after shoveling snow.

    Lambert, here’s your missing . You’ll have to put it in the right place though.

        1. subgenius

          All the time, when using a Windows system from roughly 95-2005. Front and back end.

          Dreamweaver was terrible. Kind of like trying to write technical docs in word instead of latex – similarly I have coded relatively large actionscript interfaces and games in text editors, too.

          There was a time not that long ago where it was a sign of actually understanding the technology.

          It’s nice to see decent ides have appeared, but I still tend to use unix-derived/influenced text editors for such tasks even now.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Mine too, New York 1971. It’s been recognised as a dangerous thing for middle aged men to do for decades.

      I’ve long suspected that one reason is that in winter even quite active people get lazy, so they’ve maybe been inactive for a few days, then go out and start shovelling hard. Its led to the myth that older people shouldn’t do high intensity exercise – in fact, its the opposite – its doing high intensity exercise regularly that should protect against dropping dead shovelling snow or running for a train.

  6. JohnL

    Rubbish in the freezer.

    Used to put toilet paper in the freezer but only before going out for a post-pub vindaloo and half of lager.

  7. Arizona Slim

    One of my friends was an adjunct professor. She was teaching communication courses in a university college of business. She had this to say about how adjuncts are treated:

    “You’re lower than whale shhhhh…”

    Use your imagination. The last word is one that can’t be published on a family blog.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        They do practice Mushroom Management, after all.
        Keep you in a dark place, shovel it on, nature takes its course.

        Perhaps Seagull Management, where they fly in, squawk, dump and fly out could be re-purposed to include some organic mushroom appetizer for a greener style ;p

    1. AnnieB

      I stupidly worked for peanuts, teaching English as an adjunct. I am shamed to reveal how little money I was paid; it seemed like a good thing while I was raising young children to have some flexibility in my working life. But I continued the adjunct life for too long. The solution is, as it was then and still is, for adjuncts to give up their teaching jobs and do something else. Universities would certainly be in a bind and deservedly so. Unfortunately, now it’s even more difficult to get hired with those credentials in any different career track position. (Ph.D.? “overqualified!”) So I can understand why some adjuncts feel they have to cobble together a bunch of teaching jobs to survive. Still, adjuncting is a worthless endeavor with no long term prospects. And, really, if you can’t earn enough save for an emergency fund, much less a retirement account, then what in God’s name are you doing to yourself by continuing along that path?

      1. nycTerrierist

        x1000! “adjuncting is a worthless endeavor with no long term prospects.”

        Unless they don’t mind being exploited, adjuncts need to unionize and/or strike.
        This systemic exploitation is far too convenient for universities.
        Adjuncts should not make it easy for universities to treat them like shi(take mushrooms).
        Nothing will change unless this excellent source of cheap labor is no longer available.

        1. Ulysses

          “Adjuncts should not make it easy for universities…”

          Yes!! These adjuncts also deserve the kind of support shown here by tenure-track professors in the Ithaca College Chemistry Dept., who await as we speak the results of a strike vote taken by contingent faculty at I.C.:

          “We, the undersigned continuing full-time faculty in the Department of Chemistry, support our part-time and contingent colleagues across campus in their collective union efforts to forge a mutually beneficial contract with Ithaca College. We feel it is in the interest of our students to have all their instructors compensated and treated fairly.
          We deeply appreciate our highly-qualified contingent faculty’s dedication to teaching and all their invaluable contributions to the student’s whole college. Ithaca College and our department depend on their work every semester and this need is not likely to diminish in the foreseeable future.
          We support the determination of part-time instructors to improve their wages and working conditions at the college and to achieve a reasonable level of parity with their colleagues.While we are hopeful that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached without disruptions to our students’ education – we do understand the factors that are causing the newly formed contingent faculty union to consider the legal strike as a last resort. In that case we will respect their decision and continue to support their cause.”



      2. Katharine

        “Overqualified” is a joke. You’re not overqualified to eat. Maybe try temping, avoiding indefinite term assignments. You get to see what’s out there while earning something, and you may stumble on a company with a job that could hold your interest.

        1. aab

          Yes, and then they will keep you for 18 months as a temp, and then replace you with another temp, while you are banned from that company for at least a year — you know, for the worker’s protection. At least, that’s how I understand it works out here in the glorious Democratic one-party state of California.

          But from what I read about adjuncting, that still might be an improvement financially.

        2. AnnieB

          Perhaps I didn’t express this idea clearly–employers often dismiss candidates with advanced degrees as “overqualified.” But adjuncts often end up working in jobs that don’t require advanced degrees because they, of course, have to earn an income. The Berkeley Ph.D. taxi driver or the fashion store clerk with a M.A. are cliched examples.
          The suggestion for career change through temping is still worthwhile despite aab’s accurate example of the revolving 18 mo temp assignment.

          1. ambrit

            That revolving obsolescence program can be as short as it takes for the worker to qualify for unemployment. Two women I know who worked for the General Dynamics Obamacare phone bank, situated in the decayed closer in to the city centre mall here, described exactly that sort of dynamic in play. I do know that that call centre prefers a degree and touch typing skills for $9.05 an hour to start. Conditions are so bad around here for “educated” workers that this “sweat shop” has more than enough middle class looking job applicants.

      3. different clue

        The only way all the adjuncts could quit is if there were something else paying as much for all the adjuncts to do. Is there?

        1. Foppe

          Afaik, most adjunct make a de facto min wage; I think it’s more an issue of them preferring the atmosphere of academia over other places of employment, plus ‘sunk costs’.

          1. aab

            I’ve read some brutal analyses that indicate a lot of them get paid less than minimum wage, once you factor in travel time from school to school, grading, course prep, etc.

            It must be painful to feel like the career you trained so long for is just out of reach for no good reason (watching the new buildings go up and the new administrators added on a practically daily basis). And instead of being a member of the academy, you have to go temp? I was under the impression there aren’t even a lot of temp jobs available. Have I just been reading unnecessarily dour reports on office employment?

            1. Foppe

              What puzzles me most is that they don’t organize very much; though I suppose the workload doesn’t help there, nor does the absence of shared interests across tiers (the few “deserving” folks who — through what is structurally no more than luck, though they probably confuse with “ability” — attain tenured status not daring to look their gift horse in the mouth), etc. But this situation has been ‘terrible’ for at least 2 decades now. So how?

              1. b1daly

                It does seem like the adjuncts would have some market power now that occupy so many teaching spots. They could shut down the whole school with a walkout. I wonder if there is some legal structure that makes it hard to organize?

                1. Foppe

                  Probably the existence of a large ‘reserve army’, plus indivisual contracts for every course, make it dangerous to walk out. Too easy to be replaced.

          2. different clue

            ” I can find 10 interns who will pay ME to LET them do your job! Now shut the eff up and get back to work!”

            Will mass quantities of University young people see how unpromising Academia is and just decide to step out of the hamster wheel? Thereby depriving the PhD machine of fresh meat?

  8. jsn

    With regards to Oroville, if you pause the video at the 8:45 mark and compare it to the Kurt H twitter diagram, you will notice what appears to be a level lot to the right of the damaged spillway: in the diagram its a third of the way up the spillway, in the video the spillway walls have deteriorated to no longer contain flow up to about a hundred yards above that point. In other words, the bottom third to half of the spillway is already washed out.

    It would be interesting to know the time it took for this to degrade to this state. In the video you can clearly see the earth, fill at the end of the intact spillway falling away on either side, brown areas with ochre streaks flanking the cataract where the water flow shifts to foam. To the extent the spillway is built on fill it will continue to erode so long as water is flowing under newly exposed fill and washing away its underpinning.

    The grouting going on at the 6:30 mark, as noted by Bob, appears to be an attempt to stabilize or strengthen the “emergency spillway” where absolute overflow would impact. This suggests there are doubts about the sub-surface conditions in that location. If I recall correctly concrete attains about half its design strength in the first day after it’s poured so there appears to be time for it to cure and the boulders are probably intended as breakwaters to disorganize the force of overflow before it hits whatever is vulnerable below the boulders and concrete.

    Without knowing the foundation conditions for the balance of the deteriorating main spillway, the time lapse of erosion to date or the conditions under the emergency one, its impossible to assess which is the greater risk.

    1. AnnieB

      Here’s an article with some updates. If you watch the video halfway down the article there is an interview with a resident who lives below the dam. She talks about the panic during the evacuation.

      “The department [of water resources] issued the evacuation advisory around 4:40 p.m. Sunday, just four hours after holding a press conference where they said they didn’t anticipate such problems.”


      More updates on the spillway this morning

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘There was an inspection of the spillway at first light (see here), but I can’t find information that gives the results.’

      Not to be foily, but that’s probably intentional. A 100,000 cfs flow over raw ground is going to erode the hell out of it, whether it’s visible behind clouds of mist or not.

      Since overtopping the lip of the emergency spillway again means near-certain failure, they will just have let the main spillway rip for as long as it takes … or until something breaks.

      In the Colorado floods of 2013, my brother’s family were displaced for almost two months. FEMA handed out some emergency funds, but the amount was nowhere near enough to compensate for no work and temporary housing expenses (on top of mortgage payments or rent for unlivable homes).

      The reported 188,000 evacuees are going to be hurting and unhappy by the end of this week. Mother Nature’s in charge now.

    3. jsn

      Looking at the KQED link with video apparently from today, it appears the failure on the main spillway is fairly static: main damage was documented back on the 7th and deterioration has not moved very far up the spillway from the initial point of failure. What’s down stream from the initial break is being systematically demolished but the failure is moving very slowly upstream.

      This does not look as dire as I thought. Still plenty scary, but if they manage the water level down to account for future flows without topping the emergency spillway it looks to me like there will be time to fix this.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Lake Oroville needs 750,000 acre-feet of spare capacity (about 20 percent of its total capacity) for flood control, according to Wikipedia.

        To reach there from 100% full, they would need to get back to the bottom of this chart (i.e., about 2.75 million acre-feet):


        With a week of rain forecast to start Thursday, it doesn’t appear they will have achieved nearly as much spare capacity as desired, when it starts filling up again.

        I would not want to be making the hydrological management decisions, much less the population management decisions.

        If residents return and then a catastrophic breach occurs, no public official wants to be on the hook for mass deaths. Their refusal to let residents return says that this deal could still go down.

  9. RabidGandhi

    I don’t have the paywall money or the Dramamine to read the WSJ article, but just a couple of points about Nafta:

    1. Before Nafta, Mexican farmers generally kept their own country fed with a grain surplus. Nafta flooded heavily-subsidised US grain onto the Mexican market, forcing millions of agricultural workers to flee north in the ensuing depression. Replacing US grain with South American grain is a band-aid but no solution to a problem that was created by Nafta. Mexicans need jobs, not more imports.

    2. The Mexican economy was already in freefall before Trump’s election, with the austerity imposed by ultra-neoliberal President Peña Nieto. The said austerity included privatising PeMex and hiking fuel prices by over 20%. So spare me the “ZOMG Trump Nafta!” hysterics when the problems pre-date Trump and were cheered all the way by the Monetarists at WSJ.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Exhibit #1: Carlos Slim

      How did that old saw go? “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

        1. Colonel Smithers

          I used to work for Barclays and often at their Paris office. Just down the road from Paris HQ and the Arc, there is a statue of Honore de Balzac. I always wondered if any of the staff were aware of that analysis.

        2. Colonel Smithers

          I forgot to add. On this evening’s Channel 4 news (in the UK), there was the usual and daily hysteria about Trump (and Fillon and Le Pen plus an obsequious interview with Macron). David Frum was pontificating about Trump in general and the Trudeau visit in particular. With a straight face, he accused Trump of using the presidency to enrich himself. I almost spilt my gin and tonic.

        3. integer

          Unfortunately, those with “great fortunes” seem to interpret the two uses of “great” in this phrase in a different way from the rest of us (i.e. in the qualitative rather than the quantitative sense).

          1. Loblolly

            If I were to be the beneficiary of some qualitative easing I would be most grateful and I would certainly find my current situation less deplorable.

        4. witters

          I like this: “There ain’t no clean way to make a hundred million bucks…. Somewhere along the line guys got pushed to the wall, nice little businesses got the ground cut out from under them… Decent people lost their jobs…. Big money is big power and big power gets used wrong. It’s the system.”
          – Raymond Chandler, ‘The Long Goodbye.’

    2. different clue

      Since Mexico’s agricultural problems were engineered into existence on purpose by NAFTA to begin with, the way to re-engineer them back out of existence on purpose would be to hard-abolish NAFTA and set Mexico free to hard-re-protectionise its agriculture again, to rebuild the SQA (Status Quo Ante) NAFTA and be ready to reabsorb those NAFTAstinian exiles who might wish to return to take back their land and re-take-up their former farming livelihood.

      Protectionism should not be treated as some kind of unilateral American effort to achieve a one-sided China-style mercantilism for America against the world the way China has established a China-style mercantilism for China against the world. America should treat Protectionism as something to be applied equally by all for the equal benefit of all. Every country and economy should be free to develop behind its own Equal Wall of Protection. And then accept the necessary evil of just enough minimal trade between the Protectionised National Economies to allow Countries A and B to trade just only those things that really truly can not be made or grown by Countries B and A.

      Free Trade is the New Slavery. Protectionism is the New Abolition. But only if it is equal and reciprocal Protectionism for All.

  10. Vatch

    Thanks for reminding us about the recommendation by Tom Perez on ways to smear Bernie Sanders. For those who haven’t seen it yet:


    3. I wish she would talk about the issues she cares about through the prism of more human stories. Logos, ethos, pathos. She has met so many people with so many gut wrenching stories of grit and determination, struggle followed by success. I wish there were more pathos, or more real stories behind her really sound policy proposals. Whenever I talk about ACA, I talk about through the prism of real people for whom the ACA saved their lives. The stories are incredible. In my HRC advocacy, I now say how these people dont have the time to wait for Senator Sanders to complete his quest for the perfect health care system, or the perfect immigration reform bill; it gets alot of good nods, especially when I talk about Kennedy McCain immigration and how Bernie opposed this, and immigrants are still suffering the consequences of inaction.

    6. Nevada is an opportunity to fight back on so many levels. First, the current storyline is that she does not connect well with young voters. Given that Nevada is far more demographically representative of America, I am confident that HRC can do well with all African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans (dont forget the sizeable population of Asian Americans in Nevada, including Filipinos.). Emmy and the team have a good plan to attract all minority voters. When we do well there, then the narrative changes from Bernie kicks ass among young voters to Bernie does well only among young white liberals– that is a different story and a perfect lead in to South Carolina, where once again, we can work to attract young voters of color. So I think Nevada is a real opportunity , and I would strongly urge HRC to get out there within a couple days of NH.

    He was very helpful. After helping Clinton to win the nomination, Tom Perez can also take some credit for her excellent performance in the general election

      1. Foppe

        Is Booker someone uneducated/poor black people can look up to in the way Obama was? I personally don’t really see this working, too slick/yuppie, eternal bachelor, lacks the gravitas Pres. Weather-vane oozed from his every pore. (This not to say he won’t sell elsewhere.)
        (Anyone know how popular he is with that part of his NJ electorate?)

        1. PKMKII

          During a blizzard a few years back when he was still mayor, he came out to shovel people’s sidewalks. Think he was personally checking in on people during, Sandy I believe. Pure optics, definitely, but sold him as being of the community to black voters.

          1. Foppe

            Ah — that brings to mind how Frank Underwood ended the Teachers’ Strike in the first season of (the Clintonian) House of Cards. Thanks.
            Still, I’m not sure that would be enough to sell him outside Newark.

          2. aab

            I don’t think black folks in Newark fell for that at all. I read an interview with a woman whose door he showed up at; I don’t remember all the details.

            I am under the impression his former constituents voted for him to move on to the Senate because it was the best way to get him out of their hair. I think there are interviews and data points to that effect.

            He’s a dreadful person, stupid enough to say and type horrible things even now. The grassroots will disembowel him. His Betsy Devos and Ivanka Trump connections should be enough to do him in.

            1. different clue

              That will only be true if the grass roots are prepared to vote for Trump all over again in order to further the long range project of purging, burning and exterminating every last trace of Clintonites and Obamazoids from every last corner of the Democratic Party.

              How much pain will the grassroots be willing to take in order to inflict so much more pain against the Clintobamacrat owners of the Democratic Party that the Clintonbamacrats will come to know ” the pain of death or significant organ failure” as John Yoo put it in another context?

      2. PKMKII

        That would mean that Perez had a suspicion that Hillary was going to lose the general election. The denial in DLC Democrat circles of Hillary’s weaknesses as a candidate was too strong for that to be a reasonable hypothesis. More likely, just trying to instill a general attitude of “progressivism/leftism = white people things” in the black primary voters’ minds.

    1. Anne

      Maybe Perez was still trying to score points in the VP race when he provided that advice, but I’m not seeing any signs now that Perez isn’t going to be the same old establishment toady who will complete the ensemble of ineffectiveness of the DSCC and the DCCC – and unless the republic has completely cratered under the weight of the Trump chaos by 2018, I’m sure the DNC will be as befuddled then as it is now about why Democrats don’t seem to know how to win elections.

      I seriously have no idea how it is even possible for a group of people to be so utterly clueless, to always learn the wrong lessons.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Clueless is not the key descriptor. I believe many DNCers fully understand what the base is clamoring for. It’s just that that particular solution (addressing the needs and interests of the working class) is off the table. Hence the continuing search for a new narrative that will do the trick (get their votes while continuing to serve the interests of capital).

      2. ChrisPacific

        But his progressive bona fides are beyond question!

        Except by voters, of course. But nobody cares about their opinion.

    2. aab

      I have read that email numerous times, and it still enrages me.

      Tom Perez has never won a state or national election. I believe he won exactly ONE election at the county level. He keeps making chair-throwing jokes. That’s such an easy own goal to avoid. I thought for a while that he must actively want to run off the Berniecrats, but then he bumblingly came out and admitted the primary was rigged, indicating that he was trying to curry favor with the Bernie faction.

      Then he got screamed at by Hillbots and walked the admission back. That’s just a fail on so many levels. It suggests a level of incompetence far beyond not being good at winning elections. Did he really not understand that the Hillbot base takes it as an article of faith akin to transubstantiation that she won fair and square and Bernie is a racist demon? If he doesn’t even understand his own base, what good is he?

      1. Darius

        This says to me that Perez may fatally weaken the whole DNC DCCC DSCC edifice. A result greatly to be wished. I won’t go near them with a ten mile pole. Ellison isn’t as compromised as Perez but he isn’t someone on whom to hang one’s hopes. Heighten the contradictions! Bring on Perez!

        1. Marco

          Hmmmm…I like that!! People’s Party here we come!! Anyone here think Team Bernie could raise another $100 million by 2018? Here’s the thing…even if Ellison takes it I STILL would never give $$ personally to the Party. Without a motivational factor for the small donor class nothing changes.

          1. aab

            Don’t give the Ds any money (not DNC or DCCC or DSCC), even if they pick Ellison. Make them demonstrate that they’re coming to us first. Ellison’s already demonstrating that he’s pretty compromised. (Won’t admit the primary was rigged, for example.)

            Ellison over Perez would be Step 1 of 20 before anyone should directly fund the party again.

            1. Vatch

              I concur — don’t give money to Democratic Party institutions. It is acceptable to give money to individual Democratic candidates, but I recommend that people carefully vet any potential recipient of donations.

              For example, if a candidate was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, that candidate probably does not deserve a donation. If a Democratic primary election candidate is opposing a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, then that primary candidate very likely is deserving of a political donation.

              It should not be necessary to say this, but I will anyhow: do not donate to the Republican party.

          1. aab

            This is the tweet I remember. I believe I saw it the night he did it. Then he deleted it.

            I don’t know how to prove the provenance of this. Search Twitter to references from that night of other people talking about it? If I pull up someone else’s tweet with this as a screenshot, would that be dispositive?

            The amazing thing is I think he did it AGAIN verbally at one of the DNC Chair beauty pageants in the last week or so.

              1. aab

                This is what I remembered. Thank you for finding it marym; I couldn’t when I gave it a quick search.

                So he did it again after the firestorm the tweet caused.

                Yeah, he’s going to do wonders for factional tensions within the party.

                This plus the screencap of the tweet is sufficient evidence, isn’t it, Lambert?

        1. aab

          I think he’s done it as a tweet and as a verbal statement that got press coverage. I’ve been popping over here today while doing very, very boring yet difficult paperwork. I need to get back to it. I’ll leap over to Way of the Bern in case someone there has it readily available, but if not, I’ll have to do this later.

          Perez is a remarkable combination of ineptitude, weakness, moral ugliness and, as far as I can tell, actual stupidity. At least, whatever he’s good at, it’s not this, and he presents as stupid.

          Is this the kind of guy that stood on the balcony for those late stage Soviet photo ops? He doesn’t even seem to rise to that level, but maybe that’s a function of me being older and better able to get a good look at him.

      2. Anne

        I think he’s letting his own ambition get a little ahead of himself, to the point where I’ve started to mentally append the phrase, “yeah, that’s the ticket” to pretty much everything he says.

        It’s not that he has no experience, it’s just that it’s local, county council-type experience (he’s somewhat local to me – a couple counties south of me and more closely aligned with DC than with Baltimore City). He wanted to run for MD AG, but hadn’t practiced law in MD for the required 10 years, so was deemed ineligible. Eventually, Obama made him Labor Secretary. Maybe working his way into the DC culture eventually killed what had, at one time, looked like a progressive voice and spirit.

        I suppose what bothers me most is that he doesn’t seem to be inclined to break any new ground, to really shake things up, but build, instead on the same broken foundation that serves the old guard just fine, but isn’t going to put any Dems in office, much less the kind that are needed.

        I think having supposedly been in the running as a possible VP to Clinton, he may want this job as a launching pad to higher office; it’s not that I begrudge anyone an opportunity to keep moving up, but this shouldn’t just be a box to be checked on a resume/CV.

        If ever there was a time to put distance between the DNC and the Clintonites, I think it’s now – and I don’t see Perez being able to do that.

      3. different clue

        Well . . . he is a place-blocker. He can keep Ellison out of that place by successfully squatting in that place himself. And that is all and everything the Clintobamacrat Leadership wants for now.

    3. b1daly

      I think many commenters here under-estimate how difficult it is to win an election, at any level, never mind the National level. This email was not written for public consumption, and in that context you can see them trying to work it out.

      It’s not a pretty picture seeing how the “sausage gets made,” but someone has to do it, if you want to have a winning team. It’s politics, and the DNC is a political party. You can’t pretend that the individuals in the party are not going to have alliances and personal agendas.

      I feel like some posters here (generally speaking) think the problem is that the Democrats have had bad ideas. Bernie was good, because he had “good ideas.” Good ideas are a fraction of a penny a dozen. I child can come up with them.

      I didn’t think Sanders, ideas were all that great, but I voted for him in the primary because I supported his message, and the values it represented. Which has become sorely under-represented in the modern political discourse.

      The reason Bernie got to say his ideas, and get an audience, is because the man has real political skills, demonstrated over a lifetime of being an elected official.

      But even he knew he needed the resources of a major party behind him to stand a chance. The Democratic party didn’t owe him the slot. They the primary system is a competitive process, and the affinities of party insiders count, just as much, or more, as the voters. There is a tradeoff to being in a party.

      As it stands now, the Democrats are getting a lot of grief from the left for losing, but were all these left wing voters over the last 30 years?

      I’m still a amazed that progressives can pour out such contempt for the Democratic mainstream, yet can’t point to a single major political figure they support, outside of Sanders. Who supported Clinton, having a modicum of political sense. Why are there no progressive parties of substance in the US?

      The US does not have a progressive-left electorate. No such person has even come close to winning the presidency since, I don’t know, FDR?

      I mean, if your happy with Trump, if you’re happy with Pence, then fine, be happy. The Republicans have run the table in the US, with centrist Democrats cleaning up.

      Maybe the Dems can pull together an alliance to capitalize on anti-Trunp sentiment, but I don’t see that they can do a hard pivot to the left and beat the Republicans. They need to keep enough people in their camp to get the numbers they need.

      I think it’s very telling that the first President with a populist base is a hard-core, reactionary, right winger.

      I’m very frustrated.

      ps, I’m not trying to call you out specifically, these are just general thoughts I’m mulling over, and your comment made me think of them.

  11. Jason Boxman

    I sincerely believe the best possible thing for the Democratic Party is for it to die. Ugh. These people are shameless hacks.

  12. foghorn longhorn

    For such a huge body of water this really appears to be a pretty crappy design.
    They have one broken spillway and an emergency spillway that couldnt handle 10,000 cfs.
    They are looking at 30 days at least of these outflows, this is really just getting started.
    Good luck gentlemen.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Looks like the designers expected water overtopping the 1,300 foot long lip to run downhill in a smooth sheet. Engineers call it laminar flow.

      But no. Most of the overflow ran sideways down a slight lateral grade to concentrate at a low point, where it started excavating a deep hole.

      Controlling water: it’s like herding cats or something. A guy named P.A. Yeomans in Australia figured out how to do it. But it takes a lot of manicuring of slopes with carefully sloped contour lines called “keylines” to make it work.


      1. bob

        They knew all about those contours.The design of the now broken spillway shows this. The “teeth” in the spillway are set there to reduce both velocity, and direction. The set at the bottom is still there, but most of the water is exiting the spillway before it reaches them.

        The slope of the spillway also changes as water moves down it, when it’s intact.

        The still do have control over the main spillway, for what little good it does them. The control gates are at the top. The splllway being intact, somewhat, is a huge help. What worries me about the main spillway is the way that the force of the flow is trying to move right, closer to the main dam.

        The designers seemed to want excess flows going left, at all costs. Maybe, because-

        The main dam is also NOT concrete. They can’t have ANY flow over that. It will completely dissolve if they have any sustained flow over the dam That’s why the emergency spillway lip was built 20 (40? differing numbers being tossed out) feet below the lip of the main damn.

        I get a kick out of them saying that the “dam is sound”

        Yup, and the dam could still be sound, after the water goes around it. It won’t be doing anything, but it will be sound.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Freelancer Jim Stone estimates using photos that the eroding edge of the main spillway has moved 300 feet toward the gates at the top:

          A 100,000 cfs flow over bare ground excavates a lot of dirt. Stone estimates a week before the main spillway becomes too damaged to use.

          If the emergency spillway overtops again with the main spillway closed, it probably would collapse within a day or two.

          1. bob

            There has to be substantial bedrock under the main spillway. You can see it in a few photos, where the soils have been removed. Although it seems today the press has moved on. It may also be that they stopped the circus and put some controls on flights in the area. Dunno.

            I’m still worried about the right. The way that “knob” is, to the right of the spilllway, if another few hundred feet of the main spillway disappears, the water could cut over the knob, and head toward the dam that they are doing everything in their power to keep dry.

            Is that bedrock at the same elevation as it heads left, toward the emergency spillway? Dunno. It looks like the bedrock was already “weathered” in the past, maybe an ice age ago. And, even bedrock can “give” if you put enough water to it.

            1. allan

              “It may also be that they stopped the circus and put some controls on flights in the area. ”

              Indeed, the FAA put a Temporary Flight Restriction in effect as of today:

              Altitude: From the surface up to and including 4500 feet MSL
              Effective Date(s):
              From February 13, 2017 at 2330 UTC
              To May 13, 2017 at 2300 UTC

              The disintegration will not be televised.

          2. VietnamVet

            The Oroville Dam crisis is frightfully engrossing. This is peak 21st century drama; Climate Change, Media Disinformation, Infrastructure Defects and Neo-Liberals placing profits before people. Plus, having vacationed in Feather River Valley makes it personal. The citation confirms that the main spillway collapse has move upstream to just below the power lines. The use, yesterday, of the emergency spillway for the first time indicates alarm about the integrity of the main spillway. Today helicopters were dumping rocks in holes in the ground next to the boat ramp parking lot indicating that the emergency spillway is undercut. They can’t use that again. California DWR must be running models of what happens if the cavitation continues uphill and undercuts the main spillway gates. It can’t be good.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          They want the water to go left, but the lay of the land is to the right.
          The scouring beneath the emergency spillway looks, for lack of a better word, fatal.
          The main spillway is literally broken in half and appears from earlier photos to be scouring uphill and to the right.
          Cant utilize the powerplant outflow.
          Those boys have them a bit of a situation.
          Good luck

          1. bob

            “The scouring beneath the emergency spillway looks, for lack of a better word, fatal.”

            They were working on the emergency spill way BEFORE they used it. Not just clearing the debris and tress, but reinforcing the areas indicated above with grout and boulders.

            They have never had to use it before. What the hell was wrong with it? Did it have to do with building the road across it? That road looked like an add on, after 20-30 years of never using the spillway. Why not build a road there? It’s so pretty here!

            That’s also the only “land” access they have to that side of the dam, where they need to be moving material into. Only one way to get to the left side- Over the dam, from the right.

            Also, USING the emergency spillway isn’t a CHOICE. Water reaches a certain level, and water flows out the emergency spillway.

            The hyrdo plant “flow” is no doubt, maxed out. But, they’re smaller pipes, they can’t move any more. They’d probably prefer to have more water moving thru the plant, as something to push the water from the spillway left, more.

            Downstream- The whole “canal” system in oroville looks to steer a flood out onto the flood plane. There’s a TON of floodplain out there, if it works, as I believe it was designed to. The smaller towns that are closer- underwater. Further downstream, the larger cites should be OK, but that assumes things go well, as designed, and this mess is proving you can’t really assume that.

  13. ChiGal in Carolina

    okay bummer, i have tried twice to post excerpts from the Nation article from Links and failed. let me just say although the commenters on the piece this morning seemed to be labor insiders, what i found extremely valuable as a “layperson” was the concept of structure tests, the focus on participation of the base, and the distinction between organizing, mobilizing, and protection – each of which have their place.

    i think the recent debates here about the women’s march reflect that some are talking about what per the article is organizing, where the base must drive and participate in the action, and mobilizing, which can be done top-down and though well-intentioned cannot bring about significant change.

    well worth a read imho

    1. Anne

      Agree it was an excellent article – and I also found it instructive in light of the recent Women’s March conversation – it’s definitely given me some food for thought, most especially wondering what comes next. What is it that people are willing to do that will affect and disrupt the current structure? Seems like that should already be on someone’s radar.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I haven’t been called a labor insider for a long time. :) Yes, the notion of structure tests seems very useful. In labor situations where one needs to know if people will truly be willing to challenge management, it is a bit easier to see the meaning. I’m not sure what it means in the context of middle class, weekend protest. (I’m not against it; I’m just not sure it’s quite enough.)

      1. Foppe

        Showing up at protests that don’t directly affect you, and actually listening to other people, what their life is like and/or why they are protesting? (Coming to meetings is probably not the best idea given how bad most people are at listening.)

  14. Ranger Rick

    I’ve got a great link for a reverse bezzle: “Google’s self-driving car plans disintegrate after it pays “fuck you” money to Waymo’s founders.”

    Google has some serious image problems if people won’t even stay at the company despite being paid a king’s ransom.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the story:

      Other new businesses, including health care unit Verily, use different compensation systems too, but they have yet to generate huge payouts like the car project.

      “Verily.” Every time I hear one of those made-up corporate names I want to scream and run. I’m sure that people who get letters with the Verily logo at the top will be totally happy with whatever it is that they read. Look at this horrible corporate dreck:

      Verily is developing tools to collect and organize health data, then creating interventions and platforms that put insights derived from that health data to use for more holistic care management. We have three guiding product design principles: start with the user, simplify care, and lead on security and privacy.

      “Holistic care management.” Sounds terrific. Also “simplify care.” Seems to me to current system has been a raging success in terms of simplifying care; as the old programmers saying goes: “‘The cheapest, fastest and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there.”

      And then:

      It is easy to see why [problem child CEO Andrew]Conrad, a scientist and entrepreneur, caught the attention of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. His off-the-charts ambition and elite connections in Washington and scientific circles match Google’s grand plans for Verily, which Brin last year called “a huge undertaking” that he hoped would “transform the way we detect, prevent, and manage disease.”

      No red flags there, no sirree.

      1. fajensen

        I’m sure that people who get letters with the Verily logo at the top will be totally happy with whatever it is that they read.
        There are a lot more ruminants than lizard-people at the top, that’s for sure!

        I sometimes have to present things for our “decision makers” in some of those high-up management forums, this is always terrible, even the air in there is dead, all energy is damped, sucked away, and always, just always, someone will stir at slide 23 to ask about a phrase or some wording on page 8.

        They would looove corporate dreck, of “there is something in Santas Sack for Everyone”-kind.

        They often write management decisions and even instructions festooned with meaningless plus-words with the (desired, the Swedes are no slouches when it comes to graft) effect that anyone can read almost whatever meaning they like to have from it. That way no-one needs to disagree on anything and everyone gets what they like. Harmony!

        Bit like some of the controversial parts of EU legislation. I have actually read good EU legislation. It exists.

        On the plus side – Some annoyingly ambitious young*, busy-body* colleague managed to worm his way in there promoting “standardisation”, now he is too busy doing dull, cautious, powerpoints to meddle in anything. And I am so glad that I am “controversial”, so I don’t have to go to these things much!

        *) Ass-kisser, it the word.

  15. cocomaan

    “what matters most are the news sources that are closest to home”

    YES! All of Central PA it seems is subscribed to Lancaster Farming. My friends in PSU Extension are all subscribers as well.

    It’s also one of the best newspapers around for anything local having to do with Ag, as well as national news, and Ag opinions. Their coverage of farmer’s land issues with the Water of the US rule was fascinating. At the very least it was good to see it from the other side.

    1. Lynne

      Remember that press conference Obama held a few years ago in IL, when a local farmer begged him to have the feds consider the impact of new regulations on small farmers? Obama was condescending and dismissive — telling him not to listen to right-wing propaganda, and the national press mocked the farmer ruthlessly. Turned out the regs the farmer was talking about all get put into place, with absolutely no coverage of the concerns the farmer raised, except in publications like Lancaster Farming.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Does anyone in the NC commentariat know when the damage to the Oroville dam’s main spillway started or, at least, was first noticed?

      It just seems that 5 years of drought conditions would have been the perfect time to do any maintenance required. Not just Oroville but all the other dams, levees in the state.

      1. aab

        I don’t know, but California doesn’t have the money to do all sorts of necessary things, like patch up roads and educate children.

        Instead, we have Proposition 13, a glorious legacy of the Reagan Revolution, which allows The Walt Disney Company to pay the same property tax on Disneyland and all its other California holdings (and there are a LOT) that it paid in 1979. Same with every other large company. Same with Nestle. Same with Anheiser-Busch. Same with all the big agricultural companies. The oil companies. The resorts for the wealthy that line the shorelines. Same with every mansion in Santa Barbara that’s held in trust. If the property has not changed ownership since 1979, the property tax has not changed, even if the value of the property has increased exponentially.

        The Democratic Party has a super-majority in Sacramento. Oddly, the prison guards union is still quite powerful, Nestle still gets to remove our water and sell it at a MASSIVE mark-up (its sweetheart deal is startling), and somehow, giving the Democrats total control of government has not led to things like fixing spillways and correcting tax inequities. I’m trying to think of why that might be. It must be Bernie Sanders’ fault.

        1. Dave

          We also have a growing portion of Mexico and Central America’s population relying on California taxpayers for Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh food stamp benefits. It gets kind of expensive.

          Proposition 13 passed in 1978. Reagan was elected in 1980. It is a crime that it is not limited to the owners primary residence only. It should never have been for commercial properties such as oil refineries or Disneyland.

          1. aab

            The Reagan Revolution started in California long before he was elected President.

            What’s outrageous to me is that our one party government has made no serious effort to even amend Prop 13. Because the Democrats are the party of the people, right? Although I keep forgetting that corporations are people, my friend.

            Do you have links to support your assertions about Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh? I don’t personally know how the programs are funded in toto, and what percentage of recipients are undocumented/illegal immigrants. If they’re living and working here, I strongly suspect they’re contributing to the system and California’s economy such that giving them basic health care and keeping their children from starving to death makes both economic and moral sense. You seem to be implying that people travel here for medical care and food and then return to Mexico. Is that what you mean? If so, I’d like to see hard data to back it up.

            Whole lotta illegal immigrants are probably working on Disney properties, and serving Disney executives in restaurants and in their homes. I kinda feel like getting Disney to pay up is more important that keeping little kids from getting apples and vaccinations.

            1. RabidGandhi

              The idea that Mexicans would risk life and limb to cross the border so they could ‘take advantage’ of the US’s screamingly expensive, Albania-quality-level healthcare system is in dire need of hard data.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > relying on California taxpayers

            Numbers would be nice, including how the numbers net out. Limiting the issue to undocumented immigrants, they pay sales taxes (for example) and payroll taxes (for example, assuming they haven’t been hired to work under the table).

      2. allan

        ” 5 years of drought conditions would have been the perfect time to do any maintenance required ”

        Just like 8 years of record low long term interest rates would have been the perfect time to do any infrastructure maintenance and construction nationwide. I wonder what happened.

  16. optimader

    Re Mexico: “Argentina and Brazil aimed at easing the country’s dependence on U.S. grain”

    Good, rewind the tape a bit on intensive monoculture food farming.. Make more distillates!

  17. Jim Haygood

    Not only did Dr Hussman escalate to Defcon 0.1 in his weekly column, but also semi-mainstream economist Laurence Kotlikoff predicted a stock market crash.

    So what happened today? You should know the drill by now. Stocks screamed higher to fresh records of Dow 20,412 and S&P 2,328 and Nasdaq 5,764.

    Not until the rally denialists are vaporized to cinders will Bubble III finally meet its doom. If J-Yel fails to administer another rate-hike banderilla [barbed dart used in bullfighting] on March 16th, the monster could go parabolic on us. :-0

  18. L

    RE: “President Donald Trump’s threats to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement are already rippling across the Mexican economy.

    However, it is worth noting that he has not yet notified congress of his intention to do so meaning that no formal talks can take place for at least 90 days. Even though he promised to do it in his first 100. This may be a sign of general disorganization or distraction with other matters, or it may mean that he does not plan to do so.

    He is having a big short term effect through a lot of talk but what follows the stock spikes?

  19. optimader

    Biggs; Gridley, Live Oak and other Butte County CA municipalizes downstream of Oroville will be announcing an emergency fish-fry

  20. LT

    Re: Dealbreaker on difference between student loan and mortgage debt….

    The financial sector is making exotic financial products out of student loans.
    One that comes to mind: SLABS “Student Loan Asset Backed Securities.”
    The excerpt chosen from that article is misleading.
    All kinds of loans and insurance are part of fianancial casino. That is also what something like Single Payer Healthcare or pension reform is up against.

  21. Vatch

    This could be classified under either Class Warfare or Guillotine Watch: Steve Schwarzman’s 70th birthday party:


    While the president and first lady were reportedly planning to attend, they remained at Mar-a-Lago, where they’re hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akke Abe this weekend. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were photographed leaving Mar-a-Lago in black tie, reportedly en route to Schwarzman’s party. Presumptive incoming Trump cabinet members Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, and Elaine Chao also attended, along with luminaries like Donatella Versace, Jean Pigozzi, and former Viacom chair Philippe Dauman.

    It’s not know whether Mr. Schwarzman reiterated his identification of the possible elimination of the carried interest tax loophole to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

      1. Katharine

        Luminary as compared with the candlelight:
        Missile crisis by candlelight
        Remarkable story including this:

        At the other end of the scale, the club was hiring foreign workers this winter as cooks, waiters, waitresses and housekeepers, at between $10.17 and $12.74 an hour, according to the Palm Beach Post. There is no mention of vetting. According to the CNN account, the staff “cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and Abe continued consulting with aides”.

        1. aab

          Katherine, I gotta say, I am deeply wounded that a fellow member of the regular commentariat would think I don’t know what the word “luminary” means.

          Man, I do a worse job of communicating here than I thought.

          What I was getting at, not entirely in jest, is the idea of calling rando rich people “luminaries.” I think Pigozzi would be unknown to most people even in the upper-middle class. It’s that slippery slope to revering an entrenched aristocracy. What makes a trust fund dilettante luminous?

          1. Vatch

            revering an entrenched aristocracy

            There’s a recent book, John Adams and the Fear of American Oligarchy, by Luke Mayville, which discusses the second U.S. President’s deep concerns about oligarchy. He was especially worried about the tendency of many people to admire the rich and powerful. The objections of John Adams to oligarchy are interesting because he has a mostly deserved reputation as one of the more conservative of the founding fathers.

  22. LT

    Re: Dealbreaker and student loans.

    Student loans are subject to repackaging as financial products and that is why they keep churning them out like mortgages. Look up SLABS: Student Loan Asset Backed Securities.
    Loans and insurance of all kinds are wrapped up in the financial sector casino.

    1. LT

      To continue: wherever you see sub-prime lending, this is going on.
      Much of the student lending would fall under sub-prime, as the pre-crash housing market and as the auto industry continues to do as well.

    2. LT

      To continue: much of the student loan and auto lending continues to be full of sub-prime loans.
      So much for the “trickle down interest rates” argument for reform.

    3. Dave

      Yes, but thanks to 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, the recipient of the loan cannot declare bankruptcy. Oh, and as a polite reminder, you cannot repossess a degree nor sell it on the open market, no matter how much you discount it.

      1. aab

        It’s starting to sound like the Clintons are going to push Gillibrand for 2020, so she can gift her Senate seat to Chelsea, which would be the best way to push such a bland dull-wit into power.

        But in the alternate universe that probably both Hillary and Joe inhabit after a couple of shots of Scotch, I would laugh and laugh at the two of them hobbling around the country trying to out-“country” one another.

        Is that too mean for this forum? I guess I’m feeling mean tonight. Just finished my taxes.

        1. different clue

          Surely there must be a way to defeat Chelsea in this scenario, and destroy her political ambitions and destroy the Clintons’ ability to keep grifting money by selling influence through their so-called foundation.

          If I lived in New York and Chelsea was advanced to run for Senate, I would definitely work/donate and vote Republican as the most effective way I could think of to prevent the Greater Evil of Yet Another Clinton.

      2. LT

        And the bankruptcy laws make it worse.
        I’ve heard of family members being stuck with the student loan debt after a person dies.
        So it makes a bigger scam of the college loan system, because they still pump them out to barely-got-through-high-school-students going to the school you and I could pull out of our butts and put online tomorrow.

  23. Katharine

    What’s so weird about freezing garbage? I started doing it years ago in a small apartment and still do, since I have so little it goes out only rarely. I can see that a large family might have less room in the freezer, but it’s not an intrinsically dumb idea.

    1. katiebird

      We put some garbage in the freezer too. We save bread bags for it. That way stinky stuff doesn’t go out till the last minute.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Yes… I usually drive over to the dump once a month (30 miles RT). A little freezer space for this purpose also saves a lot of fuel.

    2. aab

      My MIL always did it, because it stopped local wildlife from tearing into the bags and making a mess. She hated mess.

      She was an awesome MIL.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the issue is freezing garbage versus the proper provision of public services.

      It’s one thing to freeze your garbage because you want to or need to. It’s quite another to freeze it because TINA.

      1. ambrit

        This is seriously funny. Energy is expended to freeze something that could be sorted, meaning menial level jobs, and partially burned for fuel to generate energy. Think of all of the fats and fibres available in garbage for energy production. Add some efficient smoke stack scrubbers to the system, and stinkless fuel. Also, let us not wander off into the weeds of composting. That way lies sanity.

  24. diptherio

    Mexico’s leaders are speeding up negotiations for expanded trade deals with the European Union and opened talks with Argentina and Brazil aimed at easing the country’s dependence on U.S. grain”

    …thanks to NAFTA. Way to go Bill and Bob!

  25. SKG

    So if one of Trump’s house mouth pieces (NY Observer) publishes an article claiming the intelligence agencies are conspiring against Trump…

    Is he going to clear house a long way down into the organization?

    Declare war on them?

    Cut funding and rearrange everyone?

    Use this as a pretext for discrediting real (or “real”) intelligence they are threatening to release?

    Getting ready to push back against blackmail?

    1. aab

      I don’t think that’s what this indicates. I’m not saying he won’t, or he’s not thinking about it. He’s human. This must be driving him crazy.

      His bookstore speech sounds like it was amazing. I think West Virginia’s leadership is less afraid of him running for president, and more afraid of what he explicitly advocated for in that appearance: stand up, fight back, take to the streets, run for office yourself. “So what if you don’t win the first time. You’ll win the next time.”

      He won the WV primary, soundly.

      I think he’s just going about doing his thing, at this point. This is just Brunch with Bernie: The Roadshow. I dig it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think he’s just going about doing his thing, at this point.

        And I think his thing is exactly the right thing to do. As opposed to what the Dems did 2003-2006 to Bush, for which the best that can be said is that it reinforced Pelosi (impeachment “off the table”) and brought us Obama (modulo the intelligence community angle).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Brezinki’s a nut. Samuel P. Huntington is a nut, as bad as Bannon, worse because he writes like a scholar. The whole thing is a can of mixed nuts, and some people prefer walnuts, while others prefer cashews.

        Clinton and Obama together blew Syria and Libya to smithereens, which created the refugee crisis now destabilizing the EU (even if you leave the human toll aside). Why is that not nutty?

        Where is the non-nut to be found? (All of which is not to say that Ledeen is not a nut. He is!)

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Germany was a monarchy in 1919…america was not a (direct) monarchy in 2006…Germany had zero history of the demos operating without the nobility floating around…america has 200+ years of faking democracy…adolfo was under “house arrest” at Landsburg where while on sabbatical, rudolph hess sat there taking notes for “my struggle”…

      There is no comparison…mein dummkopff was a convenient loon who the german nobility and power structure used to climb back on the horse after the Spartacus moments of a failed revolt-lution…

      Trumps family was a Tammany hall cut out operation for diverting federal govt funds…he was the ultimate insider politically…despite his noisemaking of being with the little people…

      his mentor was crazy roy cohn who hated america because his uncle had been caught doing control fraud in an institution grandly called
      “bank of united states”…

      Germany was (& is) a parliamentary system, which allows political disruption on a regular basis due to “coalitions” falling apart and the capacity to “dismiss” parliament as in the old “tradition” of the rex being able to disband any group that did not do its bidding…

      for all the noise being made about erdogan and his monarchical ambitions surrounding his attempts to create an american type presidency for turkey, one of the reasons the us of a has outgrown other economies is the relative stability of our political process…

      he (or she) who tells the best lies on the monday before the election gets to loot until the next round of fooling all of the people all of the time…

      And in case anyone failed to notice…despite the best efforts of the history channel to suggest otherwise, the nazis were crushed…and are mostly gone…yes there is the A-O & that prayer breakfast thingee…and the faked July 20th photoshoot (look at the ceiling and magically unbroken glass in the windows) to coincide with the final days of Bretton Woods…and we do have this revisionist nonsense that the abwehr was against mein dummkopff even before he was born…but for the most part the left over mein dummkopff krewe has to stay in the shadows…

      It can’t happen here because the problems that existed there to allow the klown with the chaplin moustache to get to stand on some books so he can be seen above the rostrum…those problems don’t exist here…we are not brazil or bangladesh struggling to be taken seriously…we are the hegemon…

    2. Jess

      Pretty good article until this point:

      “many voters have good reasons to be worried about globalization. Hillary Clinton did have actual policies that would have helped – that’s the tragedy. But she wasn’t able to communicate that she understood the problem.”

      There he goes, off into elitist Dem party line “communication was the problem” crop. Hellary didn’t have actual policies that would have helped, and she couldn’t have communicated them because nobody would believe the life-long liar.

      1. aab

        Also, she wouldn’t have been able to implement them even if she had wanted to. She wouldn’t have returned the party to governing power, the Republicans wouldn’t have worked with her, and a lot of the elected Ds — the kind she, her husband and Rahm worked hard to put into seats instead of progressives — would have sided with the Republicans.

        But that’s a fantasy version of Hillary anyway. No, she didn’t have good policies that would have helped in a meaningful way, because no, she didn’t and doesn’t care about the lives of the exploited.

        And if communication is the problem, why again are they trying to force an inept communicator like Perez into the DNC Chair position?

        The tragedy is that Bernie would have won, should have won, could have won. But the Clintons preferred Bill’s golfing buddy get the job.

        1. different clue

          I think if Sanders had received the nomination, that tens of millions of Klinton Koolaid Kultists would have voted for Trump to get revenge on Sanders for “cheating” Clinton out of her historic right to be America’s First Woman President.

          Am I wrong to think that’s what tens of millions of Klinton Koolaid Kultists would have done?
          Am I wrong to think that the entire Democratic Leadership would have given Sanders the McGovern treatment in order to make him lose the election?

          The Democratic Party really needs to be hit over and over for the next few years with every sort of political radiation, antibiotics and chemotherapy which can be applied to it.
          The only way to deClintonize and de Obamafy the party is the functional equivalent of extermination against every Clinton cancer cell and Obama plague germ inside the Democratic Party leadership and followership. Klinton Koolaid Kult voters and Race Card Obamazoids really need to be driven into another political party which better suits them . . .whatever that party may be.

          Or else the Sanderbackers need to leave the Democratic Party. If we can’t disinfect and decontaminate and bio-remediate the Democratic Party, then we need to flee from it before we all die of political cancer and political bubonic plague carried and spread by people like Biden and Booker and Pelosi and so forth.

          1. aab

            Real, hardcore Hillbots are a very, very small demographic, generally voting in districts and counties where their vote would probably not be salient. PUMAs did the same in 08, IIRC. Bernie was set to beat Trump by at least 20 points. What states would Hillbots flip?

            He would have won. Would the Dems have tried to undermine him once in office? Assuredly so. Would they have succeeded? I don’t think so, legislatively. Would he have been better able to evade the intelligence community soft coup currently being executed against Trump? I honestly don’t know. He actually is a leftist (at least in the colloquial sense), doesn’t have his own security team sweeping for bugs and such, etc. OTOH, he’s a skilled politician, legislator, and governing executive.

            1. different clue

              I hope you are correct about the relative fewness of the KKKs and the OKKs. We should see over the next few cycles.

              A real test of both our theories would be if Tulsi Gabbard could get herself nominated as Dem Candidate for President in the teeth of vicious KKK and OKK obstruction.

              ( KKK meaning Klinton Koolaid Kultists and OKK meaning Obama Koolaid Kultists in this case).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “communication was the problem”

        I learned in Organizational Behavior that when you hear “communication was the problem” you should immediately think that communication is not the problem, and that there are deeper structural issues.

        1. freedomny

          That is so true! At my last job, the head big wig kept on harping about communication and embracing change. She was also into folks who she thought had “advanced” social skills – the guy who eventually became my boss was promoted because he was “jovial” – I kid you not.

          End game….in trying to push our department to grow more a year after a really big company bought us….she was forced to retire. The guy who got her job was the consultant who was hired to figure out how we could…grow our department. He figured out very quickly that there were many structural issues that needed to be addressed – namely the head of the department. He suggested that she be retired and then suggested that he be her replacement…

  26. LT

    “Creating Career Advice For The About-To-Be-Automated Worker” [Fast Company]. Darkly hilarious.

    Yeah, because that would be the type of job that shouldn’t be automated (falling under empathy and critical thinking) – counseling and recruitment of job seekers.
    Yet, they think AI is going to be able to do that well.
    You have to CARE first and foremost.
    Also important: too many algorithms looking at resumes via online submission already have too many pre-programmed prejudices.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Artificial Intelligence can mimic intelligence, or perhaps is in fact intelligent.

      To CARE, a robot must, in addition, possess artificial love. It, then, can mimic love, or in fact love.

      And the best place to study and develop Artificial Love, to complement Artificial Intelligence, is among gold-diggers.

    2. fajensen

      too many algorithms looking at resumes via online submission already have too many pre-programmed prejudices.

      That is one of the Feature Set, not a Bug at all.

      If the algorithm is “broken” or just slightly misconfigured no one is responsible for, say, all Mexican candidates being de-selected.

      I have no idea if it will really pass in court because courts might take a practical approach and decide that discrimination exists due to outcome and that someone should have tracked the algorithm performance using f.ex. statistics.

      Auditing machine learning algorithms is an ongoing research subject.

      1. LT

        They make alot of other lazy assumptions, such as regarding employment gaps.
        A candidate pretty much needs a face to face with a human to explain gaps and they won’t get it with Hal throwing it out based on the program.
        Age discrimination. The algorithms cover butts engaged in this practice as well.

        1. fajensen

          Yep. Here in Sweden it is as easy as using Swedish Keywords* – In Denmark official statistics shows that an Ethnic name is a great disqualifier**. Which is both really sad for the people it hurts and an ongoing, growing, problem for society. Because, whatever one thinks about immigration – because if nobody wants “these people” “here”, then the gangs and the Salafists certainly will take them.

          One hack to game the gaps algorithm is to fill in interesting personal activities that are socially acceptable and messages Surplus – “sailing a boat home from the Mediterranean”, “walking one of the pilgrimage routes”, “spending time in Japan”, “Appalachian trail …”. Something many people think they would like to do, but nerver actually manage.

          The human recruiter will want to talk a good deal about those so it is best if it is actually true – at least to the degree where one can talk realistically and honestly about practical details.

          Like “which tent did you use”, “did it hold up in the hard weather on XXX”. Practical details is what I always ask about details when interviewing – if I get generic answers, then it is not so good for the candidate. A good answer to “did it hold up … ” is either “well, some water … bla bla … did this to fix is ” or “I don’t know, It looked bad so I cheated and stayed in the inn that day”.

          All of this “search and selection stuff” is blatantly biased in favor of people with ressources.

          I happen to need honest and smart people. A person would certainly curry some favor with me by honestly saying: “I am sorry, I just filled these in with something because I heard that your robot filters away people with gaps”. So, now they have to talk about the gaps – which is easy because many people work “gigs” in my profession, unfortunately.

          *)Discussion of algorithms:

          **)Danish, but Google can translate.

  27. manymusings

    The USA Today column seems characteristic of what appears to be a gleeful, insider-y narrative that Trump is bumping up against the institutional/Constitutional realities of Washington. Versions of this meme, including this one, seem to repeat the same mistakes the smart people made during the campaign — misreading and underestimating Trump. They see him get batted down or opposed on a few things and immediately assume that Trump alone, unlike every other American, thought that he’d show up, wave a wand, and make things happen immediately according to his design; and therefore he now must be surprised or frustrated by clashes with other governing branches or institutions, or by unfawning press, or by “resistance” from the same 52 percent that didn’t vote for him to begin with, only now with knitted caps.

    Why should we think it upsets him if his first shots out of the gate get stymied? As far as I can tell, Trump so far is winning. Fighting what he can brand “the Establishment” is a win in itself (whether the judiciary, a bureaucracy, a recalcitrant liberal state, or the media). That’s what he was sent to do. So he’s not trying to learn the ropes? Plus column. And it’s reported as a impatience or impulsiveness, a blunder or miscalculation? Plus column. Makes the ones saying it and those reporting it seem like smug elitists, determined to enforce the Status Quo through Washington red tape.

    Really, everything the column insinuates as a problem for Trump seems quite the opposite. He’s ginned up a national hissy over his ill-conceived, godawful executive orders and, meanwhile, he’s managing to get confirmed a cabinet more radical and unqualified than any traditional Republican would dare to put up; he’s rolling roughshod over a supposed opposition so feckless he has to find a real adversary elsewhere (ie, the press corps). Dems obsess over every latest offense and announce “resistance” but find any moves or tactics worthy of the name really quite unseemly; they openly debate the relative merits of an “obstruction” strategy, which is the surest sign that even if they ever settle upon it, they won’t execute (republic obstruction of Obama is now taken as a given; but it was precisely because the Rs were serious and committed to the strategy that they never owned it or discussed it as a “thing” in real time … the play is to assume a posture of cooperation and then to be “disappointed” by the “extreme” positions of the President … announcing that one is obstructing is to do what Ds do all the time — prefigure their own failure in the framing of things from the get-go).

    What’s really irritating is that there may yet be something to this storyline, but it’s not that Trump is failing (or will fail) by his own standards or measuring stick if he can’t figure out and get along with Washington. It’s that Trump has no interest in figuring out or getting along with Washington — in fact, that’s the opposite of what he wants. He already has staked his political fortunes on a “win the crowd” strategy — which just worked, recently enough you’d think folks might remember. He doesn’t need a majority (already proved that) or any traditionally credible source on his side. I think we can expect 4 or more years of trench warfare between Trump and any other claim to democratic authority. He doesn’t need to deliver. He needs to keep enough Rs quiet/happy by letting them push through the horrors they’ve salivated over for decades (hiding or deferring the consequences for enough election cycles to deflect blame), and/or keep them scared enough of the base not to make waves, and he needs a face of the Establishment to blame for every stymied effort, which means the more cartoonish his initiatives the better, as the Establishment will be all too happy to oblige (and as a bonus, the Dems will peck about giddily and bask in I-told-you-sos, relieved over that time they almost questioned themselves, but then didn’t).

    Trump won’t suffer if he never masters the learning curve. The rest of us, the country, the world, very well might. We actually need things to work.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Well summarized. I was discussing this with someone the other day. Trump is trying to paint a picture of obstructionist liberal/elite courts blocking him from doing his job of looking after the interests of the people. All the gloating memes and tweets about his Ninth Circuit defeat are just playing into his hands. The more the Democrats do it, the more out of touch they look, and the angrier Trump supporters get.

      In order to get past that dynamic they need to connect with real people and understand how to address their concerns. Sanders gave them a textbook illustration of how to do that. They didn’t just reject it, they seemed viscerally repulsed by the very idea.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The gloating tweets, the fake charges…are they not false-flag attacks on Trump that generate genuine sympathy for the president?

        Though let’s not be too critical – perhaps some people are only Trump’s agents without knowing so themselves.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Possibly in some cases, but some are coming from Hillary, and they are pretty consistent with her approach in the past. I think most Democrats are perfectly happy to play the game. Trump really riles up their base, which is probably good for fundraising purposes. The fact that it antagonizes Trump voters and further entrenches his support is only relevant if Democrats care about winning them back. So far they’ve shown no sign of that as they prefer to demonize them as racist bigots.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I picked the USA Today link because it was the mildest version of this theme.

      There’s also some reality to it; it takes X number of people to run the government, and they have to have a basic skillset. I’ve been worried all along that Trump’s team is too small. (Of course, I said the same thing in the campaign, because I didn’t know about Kushner’s brilliant data operation in San Antonio.)

      I’m not all that worried about “actionable intelligence” not getting to Trump, because look at how massively the intelligence community has fucked up in the past, but there’s basic blocking and tackling that needs to be done. You need to get Executive Orders vetted by a competent lawyer, for example. Can the Trump team do it? And the larger question is, can any insurgent President run the government? Is that another way of saying that the ancien regime is too complex and broken to fix? If so, we’re Gordian knot territory….

      1. ambrit

        “Gordian knot territory…” Yeah, but Alexander was ‘just passing through.’ Trump et. al. are here to stay, so, I’d suggest that the rise of Feudalism after the slow decay of Imperial Roman rule is more appropriate an analogy. Trumpismo, of which I have serious reservations, gains credibility under such a scenario. What, after all, is the institution of Executive Orders but a creeping “Rule By Decree?”

          1. ambrit

            To which I’d add that the late Imperial Praetorian Guard was comprised mainly of mercenaries. Grave’s description of the “election” of Claudius as Emperor after the assassination of Caligula has fun with the Germanic nature the guardsmen involved. Can we imagine a “soft coup” by Betsy DeVoss’s brother?
            Applying the lessons of history to the present American story arc is proving depressing reading.

      2. manymusings

        It didn’t quite come out in my rant — but I do think it matters if Trump and his small band of anarchists can’t or don’t want to run the government. Intelligence is one front, with a big scare factor (and an area where I don’t really know the intricacies to make sense of what we’re currently witnessing …. doesn’t seem good though!). But abdicating on the whole governing thing (treating it like the camel on your back), I think it will matter in a way that breathless day-to-day “reporting” isn’t going to capture, and not this soon, and especially not by the hack Beltway press who report only the visible dust-ups, and only as a political problem (or not) for Trump. A non-functional govt is a boring story on any given day but probably a big problem for us — for functional society. I wonder if we’ll ever get a real picture of the hollowing-out of government agencies (which seems unavoidable), and the toll it takes to lose experienced civil servants and/or the functions they carry out, any which one might seem trivial but it all adds up. I don’t think those EOs necessarily need to be vetted, they seem to be for show, really … but you do need folks who know how to write and vet a reg and run an inter-agency process and keep records and plan ahead. Sure that’s just bureaucracy, but it’s also what was once the quaint notion of good government.

        An insurgent Pres can run the government if s/he wants to … sure things don’t turn on a dime, they’re not supposed to, but there are processes in place for a new administration to implement its agenda, and the people running those processes in federal agencies serve the elected administration. They don’t stand there waiting for the magic word. I don’t doubt the existence of a Deep State, but just what are we talking about? “Running the government” covers a lot of things, and a lot of it is just regular people who are used to getting new marching orders. An insurgent who isn’t serious about implementing an agenda, but prefers to announce things as if that means they might happen immediately …. that’s a different story.

  28. Plenue

    “You don’t know who does what in a bloc, you don’t look to find out. If bodies run out of formation to take a rock to a Starbucks window, they melt back to the bloc in as many seconds. Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty.”

    Oh man, this poetic gibberish. Enlighten me, what has black bloc *ever* accomplished other than allow the media to run wild portraying vastly larger numbers of peaceful protesters as an angry mob?

    1. fajensen

      Black Bloc are nihilists. They do not care what they achieve, achieving is not their thing.

      They Know that they can never, ever, beat The System, that the special interests are too entrenched to ever be moved, that The Man and The House always wind. They go for being “in the flow” – like skaters or surfers do.

      1. different clue

        Eventually demonstrators will have to figure out how to “deal with” the Black Bloc scum in their midst. Perhaps an organized ability to administer a very swift and savage beat-down to the first piece of Black Bloc fece that shows itself to be in possession of a rock or a stick.

  29. duck1

    Ivy goes amok!
    An Ivy League University, which is anonymous for obvious reasons, has had an unusual PR problem during last springs recruitment visit period. The gardeners, who had a vast inventory of ivy plants to water, feed, clip and maintain had recently completed hooking the entire garden up to the cloud, fired 50% of the staff put their feet up on the desk because accomplishing great things! It turned out a rogue strain of hedera helix was infected with malware of unknown provenance that attacked the incoming recruits, slapped and even attempted strangulation. Victims were treated with cortisone, but the rehired gardeners are still trying to get at the root of this.

  30. different clue

    With regard to Mexico seeking to “help its grain-dependency situation” through “buying Argentinian grain” . . . how does this help Mexico?

    Wouldn’t Mexico help itself better by withdrawing from the agricultural trade provisions of NAFTA and restoring Hard Protectionism for its own agriculture? Wouldn’t this allow Mexico to revive several million few-acre peasant-family corn farms which used to supply Mexico with its corn before NAFTA authorized dumping on the Mexican market millions of bushels of Corporate GMO Petrochemical corn from the Midwest? Simply go back to the SQA and allow a restoration of Mexican-for-Mexicans agriculture within Mexico and several million NAFTA-destroyed farm-livelihoods will be able to emerge back into existence and allow several million NAFTAstinian Refugees currently in exile in America to return to Mexico and resume their former and restored-to-them livelihoods.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry to gloat a bit, (well, not really,) but the alt-real info-sphere was leery of Mr Deray and company from way back. Too many stories about his living arrangements and funding sources. (CTrs kept up a barrage of claims linking Deray to George Soros and the “Secret High Muckety Muck Cabal of Reptilian Elders” etc. etc.) Even I get a headache contemplating the depraved depths to which Cynicism is sinking.
        [Sorry about no alt-real links, but, I really do have a headache, and cruising around my fave alt sources would make that situation worse. Besides, I have to get up tomorrow morning to go to work, headache or no.]

    1. different clue

      Yusra Khogali is not an African-American or African-Canadian type of name. It appears South Asian. And so does she. I suspect she is a jihado-Pakistani descendant of Pakistani immigrants to Canada . . . second or possibly third generation.

      Do African-Canadians really accept such alien possibly-stealth-Islamist leadership? If they do, they are learning the wisdom of the old saying . . .

      If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. If you lie down with pigs, you get up with fece.

        1. different clue

          Thank you. Certainly not basic Afro-American/Canadian, then.

          But she is Canada’s problem, not ours. And the Canadians are too nice to start calling her a BLM Racist Pig. So I guess it will just fester along.

  31. ewmayer

    Re. Oroville damn spillway woes – CA Lt. Gov. Gavin “don’t hate me ’cause I’m pretty” Newsom on the local n00z right now, blathering about “we’re beyond finger-pointing here.” Dude, we are just getting started with the finger-pointing. We *need* a thorough round of finger-pointing, perhaps ending in a few gross-negligence convictions.

    Also, I dislike acre-based computations (e.g. acre-feet of water in the reservoir) because very few people, now that farmers are a small % of the population, use acres in their mental math anymore. So a handy conversion to memorize: 640 acres = 1 square mile. Thus, 350,000 acre-feet of water in the Oroville reservoir means roughly 500 square-mile-feet, i.e. picture a cubic volume 1 mile on each side, filled to 500 feet (roughly 10% full) with water, thus around 0.1 cubic miles of water.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know much about him. Is he pretty?

      How can he represent people who are not pretty, that is, most of us?

        1. Dave

          He lives in Ross, which is all “white”.

          Meanwhile he continues to preach multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity and is expected to be the Democrats choice for governor in a couple.

          A drunkard, a Lothario and a Gigolo walk into a bar;

          “What’ll you have Mr. Newsom?”

      1. aab

        To me, he’s an absolute ladyboner killer. But oily frat-bros were never my jam.

        Is he the worst next stage neoliberal on the West Coast? He gets my vote. Harris will be useless, but if we can keep her in the Senate (instead of the White House, as she is already being floated for) and get somebody good into Feinstein’s seat (not at all a given), she won’t do too much harm.

        He’s already running for Governor. I unwillingly received one of his early mailings. It was almost a parody of empty New Democrat rhetoric. I unsubscribed fast enough to turn back time. We have to stop him. Are you with me, ew?

    2. John Wright

      A bit of water history in the CA region should include a mention of the St Francis Dam failure (AKA San Francisquito Canyon Dam) on March 12, 1928.

      This was a LA country water supply dam, and was inspected on the very day of the failure by William Mulholland (Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles is named for him) and pronounced safe.

      A book covering this disaster is described at


      Per Wikipedia, the official death toll was 385 but other bodies were found until 1994. The estimated death toll is a maximum of 431 people.

    3. Optimader

      I would go with cubic feet/unit of time –a standard dimensions for liquid flow measurement ( like with pumps ). Barrels would be a fun one to use… anyhoo the numbers are big enough to be an abstraction for most ppl in anycase

  32. ewmayer

    Was off by a factor of 10 in my volume computation above – news just now said Oroville reservoir is actually 3.5 million acre-feet of water, thus roughly a full cubic mile of water.

    1. Optimader

      Out of curiosity anyonetaking a crack ata guesstimate to refill it after its repaired?
      Years i’d suppose?

  33. mk

    From the Sacramento Bee on the Oroville Dam:
    This story was originally published on November 27, 2005. It is being republished in light of damage at the Oroville dam.

    Apparently they’ve been aware of the problem with the dam since 2005, but the state and fed agencies decided there wasn’t enough population for it to be a political problem, so they wouldn’t spend the tens of millions of dollars needed to fix it.

  34. alex morfesis

    Flynn is gone…big mistake…the blob will smell blood and start circling…big mistake…oh well…spring training has begun…will give the orange haired dude until Halloween…then onto 2018

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sketching some first thoughts, because the situation is overly dynamic and has a lot of moving parts–

      Yep, the sharks smell blood in the water. (The tank is the Beltway, however.) Some links on Flynn:


      Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser NYT

      This to me is the important story, from (Kushner’s) Observer:

      In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

      Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

      What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

      None of this has happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow wasn’t something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even considered a possibility until a few months ago. Until Team Trump clarifies its strange relationship with the Kremlin, and starts working on its professional honesty, the IC will approach the administration with caution and concern.

      I previously warned the Trump administration not to go to war with the nation’s spies, and here’s why. This is a risky situation, particularly since President Trump is prone to creating crises foreign and domestic with his incautious tweets. In the event of a serious international crisis of the sort which eventually befalls almost every administration, the White House will need the best intelligence possible to prevent war, possibly even nuclear war. It may not get the information it needs in that hour of crisis, and for that it has nobody to blame but itself.

      So factions within the intelligence community have gone on strike (so much for “democratic norms”) A few things.

      1) Chuck Schumer issued the same threat (“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this”). So we’re looking at, as it were, full spectrum dominance within the political class by the “intelligence community.”

      2) So far as I can tell from the Schindler article linked above, Flynn fucked up, maybe on about the level of Petraeus or Democrat Sandy Berger, who hid classified documents in his pants and smuggled them out of the National Archive. (Of course, a lot of people in the Beltway were very happy to see Flynn fuck up, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. And while we’re at it, can somebody please point me to a fully paid-up member of The Blob who isn’t crazy pants? Or corrupt? And isn’t the Logan Act a dead letter?)

      3) To me, looks like a well-executed play in a game-plan that intelligence community slash Democrat factions have been running since at least mid-summer. (At this point we remember that “American statesman” Leon Panetta was Obama’s chief of state, head of DoD, and head of the CIA. So I would be very interested to know who appointed WaPo’s nine anonymous sources.) Clinton calling Trump a Russian stooge in the debates was one play, the 25-page “dodgy” dossier was another play (now, apparently, SIGNINT is “confirming” parts of it, so that’s still on the boil), the call for “faithless electors” to be briefed in the (farcically bad) JARA memo was another play, this is another play. No doubt impeaching Trump or getting him to resign by peeling off “moderate Republicans” would be a touchdown).

      4) Note that Clinton made her charges of Trump treason in the debate in as direct a fashion as possible, so voters have aleady had the chance to take all this into consideration, at least at a high level (and since we can never see any of the intel, the high level is all we ever will see.) So, if the winning play in the gameplan is removing Trump from office, we’re seeing the intelligence community reversing an election result.

      5) If the intelligence community can (a) vet a Presidential candidate after he is elected but before he takes office, and (b) can reverse an election result based on evidence the public cannot see, then the intelligence community is, in essence, a new fourth branch of government not accountable to the people in any way. Anybody who thinks the military will go back to the barracks after staging a coup is delusional. In the same way, anybody who thinks the intelligence community will go back to its SIGINT and HUMINT is delusional. Once they have achieved this change in the Constitutional order, it will never be undone.

      6) It’s been amazing to see what liberals have been willing to throw away for Clinton’s sake. Apparently, having a vehemently pro-life Pence as President isn’t a problem for them. Nor is turning the intelligence community in a Praetorian Guard and giving them veto power over voters’ choice of a President a stumbling block. And it can’t be that they really believe Trump is a fascist, else for example Trump’s nominee to the VA wouldn’t be approved 100-0. So it’s all about their power and their rice bowls, plain and simple (and, I would argue, the war with Russia that The Blob wants, which amounts to the same thing). It would be wonderful to spot a good faith actor in this mess, but frankly, I’m stumped.

      7) So this is what a legitimacy crisis looks like when liberal Democrats foment it. It would be entertaining if it weren’t so horrific and sad.

      8) Of course, all the Democrat establishment really had to do was:

      a) Get 10 Democrats on the road doing Town Halls, just like Sanders is doing, talking about universal programs that deliver concrete material benefits, especially to the working class

      b) Make voter registration a core party function.

      That would do it. Boom, Senate 2018, Presidency 2020. Rather than do something simple that connects with voters, they’re fomenting a slow-moving soft coup and a change to the Constitutional order from inside the Beltway. Swell. Just swell.

      1. Foppe

        With Flynn gone, how many remain who are/were critical of the size/scope of the IC (as a place of well-paying employment for credentialed people)? How many who wish to deescalate the relationship with Russia?

            1. ambrit

              Agreed. There is no going back if “they” get away with it. Of course, since the Journalism Profession abdicated it’s responsibilities, there was a power vacuum in the category of “Fourth Estate.” What could be more “natural” than that when the chroniclers of history self destructed, that the “makers” of history stepped in to fill the void?
              This is all beginning to look like Gangsterism.

            2. Foppe

              Well, that guy who ran the FBI like his personal fiefdom did get ousted. So 5 is probably not truly permanent. And I’m not quite sure that this mostly procedural mistake by Flynn is comparable to Petraeus’s (or Berger’s) actions. But then, why resign? It’s odd, to be sure.

              Wrt 6, I don’t really understand what the Ds stand to gain from a Pence presidency. I mean, war is good for business and all that, and the IC is a great employer, but what D-supporting sectors really benefit from war with Iran/Russia? Can it really just be the principle of it all?

              That said, with Flynn gone, is there much of a need to kick Trump out? I mean, he writes lots of EOs, but all that does is provide fodder / distractions; congress could just do its own thing in the meantime. I’d say it’s mostly a question of him being willing to indulge the idea of a war somewhere, to keep the need for the IC alive. Though perhaps ‘flare-ups’ will do, on the ‘terror prevention’ front — assuming they happen at the right moment(s).

      2. VietnamVet

        Yes, I agree. The Intelligence Community showed that it has vetting power over President’s staff. Anyone who crosses them is gone. This is very scary stuff; if for no other reason than now there is no way to negotiate a stand down from the Cold War 2.0. The President will only know what the spooks want him to know. Bankers hoard. Oligarchs loot. Government withers. From this day forward; the Praetorian Guard will know all, hold the nuclear weapons and profit from the endless wars.

      3. fajensen

        Maybe Trump needs to do his very best “Nikita Khrusjtjov debriefing Lavrentij Berija” impression?

  35. Rosario

    I can attest to Arnade’s stuff on Youngstown. I got my whole family just down the road in Alliance. It is a mess there too.

    WRT the Oroville dam, for once can we have just the engineers talk to the public rather than PR people? I don’t care if it’s too technical or they don’t have “people skills” (I hate that stereotype of engineers btw). There is a massive difference in civil engineering between “a hole in the dam” (as has been reported by some outlets) and a damaged primary spillway and heavy erosion or concerns of heavy erosion on the emergency spillway. Whether the situation is better or worse than reported I would rather hear the engineers explain the situation than the PR people.

  36. relstprof

    Re: black bloc and violence.

    I was struck by this recent New Yorker piece on Albert Woodfox, a committed Black Panther, who as a member of the Angola 3, had to rethink tactics in a suffocating and increasingly narrow sphere of action. Woodfox and King ultimately decided that their recommendation to other inmates not to violently resist strip-search and bodily invasion was the right choice. Why? I’m not sure, but maybe it’s the idea that non-violence allows a story, a narrative historicity, to develop. One’s continuing survival allows a community of memory to develop. This community is the legacy in a way — the gift.


    Woodfox’s self-condemnation for the “no contest” he agreed to, even as innocent, seems unwarranted given all the suffering he endured. But I’m not going to judge. Principles are principles.

    “Resistance is the secret of joy.”
    Alice Walker

  37. manymusings

    Lumping “current and former staff” together for sourcing purposes isn’t shorthand, it’s cover for effectively having no credible source (and what authority are we supposed to ascribe to “others throughout the government”? might as well be the reporter’s neighbors and friends). There’s a big difference between current and former staff, and among former, there’s a big difference between those who might still have a clue what’s going on, and those who once briefly had a title and now like to try to use it to peddle influence. Anyone who is current (or former, but still plugged in well enough to have actual insight) is very, very unlikely to say anything, even on background, and if they do, it’s probably too caveated or hedged or boring to be usable, and if it’s not caveated/hedged/boring, it’s a calculated or even an authorized leak and therefore might be newsworthy, but shouldn’t be merely repeated with anonymous attribution. Beltway press seems to be falling over itself to report on the anatomy of a meltdown, but it seems more like ego-driven hacks getting other hacks to confirm their own imagined drama. It hasn’t been that long, and career civil servants don’t gossip like this, at least not so early. Lambert’s right to follow and parse the sourcing. And I’d add as a filter the truism that folks who might have credible perspectives are usually the least likely to talk (unless calculated or authorized), and least likely to spout what political reporters think is the good stuff.

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