2:00PM Water Cooler 2/14/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, happy Valentine’s Day. –lambert


“And given Trump’s intense, almost singular focus on Mexico and its trade deficit with the United States as the reason a NAFTA rewrite is needed, Mexican officials are looking to use the long-promised meeting not as a time to talk solely trade but rather to rework the two neighbors’ entire bilateral relationship” [Politico]. “‘That was probably the government of Mexico’s first clear, smart strategy in terms of negotiating,’ Juan Carlos Hartasanchez, a former adviser to Mexico’s finance ministry, told Morning Trade. “What they said is, ‘Look, if you want to get into this, you need to be aware that we’re not only going to discuss trade, we’re not only going to discuss NAFTA. We’re going to review everything, so you better be prepared to review all of these items if you want to make significant changes to NAFTA.'”


“Lake Oroville: $100 million in damage, more than 100,000 ordered to evacuate and more rain on the way” [Los Angeles Times].

“Feds order independent review of Oroville Dam spillway problems” [Sacramento Bee]. “To ensure objectivity, ‘the forensic analysis must be performed by a fully independent third party with no previous involvement in assessing the spillway structure at this project,’ the [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] letter reads.”

“What Happened at the Oroville Dam” [New York Times]. “It is not yet known what caused the damage to the concrete [in the main spillway], but one culprit is cavitation, or tiny bubbles of water vapor that can form in high-velocity water, said Blake P. Tullis, a professor of civil engineering at Utah State University. When the bubbles collapse, they create tiny shock waves that are strong enough to damage concrete, he said.” Any concrete nerds in the readership?


Trump Transition

“Republican senators call for Russia investigation, Flynn testimony” [CNN]. As both party establishments begin a horrid process of mutual assimilation (“I come near wigging with that green stuff all over me” –Naked Lunch).

“I think Flynn’s ouster doesn’t end the Trump/Russia story, but rather gives it legs. Trump tweeted a complaint about leaks this morning. I don’t think he has seen anything yet. And I think the tweet reflects his fear of what might emerge” [Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy]. Performative speech, FP being the heart of The Blob. Hate Obama, hate Trump, love Clinton, want war.

“The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn” [Bloomberg]. “[T]here are many unanswered questions about Trump’s and his administration’s ties to Russia. But that’s all these allegations are at this point: unanswered questions. It’s possible that Flynn has more ties to Russia that he had kept from the public and his colleagues. It’s also possible that a group of national security bureaucrats and former Obama officials are selectively leaking highly sensitive law enforcement information to undermine the elected government… In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition. Nunes told me Monday night that this will not end well. ‘First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,’ he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.” Yep. I wonder if Trump is — assuming good faith, here — making the same mistake Obama did? Assuming some level of good faith from the opposing party?

As usual, Mark Ames is right:

“FOUR DETAILS ABOUT SURVEILLANCE AND THE FLYNN OUSTER” [emptywheel]. “[R]emember that for a great deal of SIGINT, FBI wouldn’t need a warrant. That’s because Obama changed the EO 12333 sharing rules just 4 days after the IC started getting really suspicious about Flynn’s contacts with Russia. That would make five years of intercepts available to FBI without a warrant in any counterintelligence cases, as this one is.”

“A number of White House and national security officials are involved in the search [for Flynn’s replacement], including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Department of Homeland Security John Kelly, chief of staff Reince Priebus, Bannon, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a senior official said” [Politico]. So if the intelligence community on strike and not sending national security information to Trump, where was Pompeo?

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton shares former aide’s colorful Michael Flynn taunt” [Yahoo News]. The talking point: “Fake news.” Of course. Clinton 2020! Cory’s gonna have a hard time getting past her!

“Michael Flynn is the latest member of Team Trump to learn that bad press actually does matter” [WaPo]. Yes, WaPo’s 16 Sanders smears in 16 hours mattered too. Well played, all. To be fair, it’s not clear that any of this affects voters out in flyover country at all.

“Although there is broad agreement the nation’s infrastructure needs an upgrade, laws aimed at preserving neighborhoods and the environment remain in place. As a result, long, costly reviews and legal battles will likely confront President Donald Trump’s efforts, just as they delayed much of President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic-stimulus efforts. Mr. Trump wants expedited reviews of “high priority” projects, but an executive order won’t dislodge an embedded regulatory process that can hold up projects for years. One example: Dredging began in 2015 at Georgia’s Port of Savannah under a project that was proposed 16 years before” [Wall Street Journal].

UPDATE “The challenge for conservatives is that President Trump is not really one of them. He seems predisposed to big spending packages for things like border walls, infrastructure (which, in fact, is badly needed), and an expanded military. He also wants to cut taxes. Since he’s unlikely to provide sufficient cuts to offset this drain on the Treasury, we are likely to see soaring deficits, something that turns the stomachs of true conservatives. It’s also not hard to imagine Trump wanting to ‘prime the pump,’ goosing the economy with additional spending. Every time he does this, it will cause a dilemma for every Republican member” [Cook Political Report]. Cue a fiscal responsibility moral panic by the Democrat establishment [head, desk].


“A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?” [The Atlantic]. “in the turmoil over the fate of Obamacare, the idea of universal health care has emerged as a third way among voters in both parties. The health system the mainstream GOP opposes most is now one some of its voters support—potentially making Price’s task of replacing Obamacare all the more complicated. The political appeal of a single-payer, universal health-care system is perhaps best outlined by Jessi Bohon, a high-school teacher who attended a raucous and often angry town hall with Republican Representative Diane Black in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, last week.” Readers will recall that we ran this video as soon as it appeared a few days ago:

Stats Watch

National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index, January 2017: Edged higher [Econoday]. “After the index surged 7.4 points in December, the largest increase in the survey’s history, and a sharp increase of 3.5 points in November, most analysts were expecting a moderate pullback of at least a point.” But: “The four “hard” measures of the index posted mixed results last month. The job creation component rose by two points month over month in January to 18%, the job openings component rose two points to 31, capital spending plans fell two points to 27%, and inventory investment plans fell two points to 2%” [247 Wall Street].

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), January 2017: “There are indications in the January producer price report that underlying inflation pressures may be building” [Econoday]. “The headline, at a much higher-than-expected 0.6 percent, is skewed higher by a 4.7 percent monthly surge in energy (gasoline plus 12.9 percent and home heating oil up 14.5 percent).” And: “Although there is little change in year-over-year final demand inflation, one should observe that it is goods driving inflation whilst services is moderating inflation” [Econintersect].

Commodities: “The U.S. fertilizer industry is booming, the Lucy Craymer and Rhiannon Hoyle report, with output of urea, a key nitrogen-based fertilizer, surging some 10% last year while China’s output slumped 7% and exports tumbled by more than a third. The U.S. business is growing largely due to trends in global energy markets, including the shale revolution that has brought down the cost of gas, a key ingredient in nitrogen-based fertilizers. That’s pushed U.S. producers to add and expand plants, which should fuel even more production” [Wall Street Journal].

Commodities: “Freeport-McMoRan Inc has halted production of concentrate at the world’s second-largest copper mine in Indonesia and has begun to send workers home, a spokesman for the company’s local unit said on Tuesday” [Reuters]. “The halt comes at the same time as a stoppage at the world’s biggest copper mine in Chile, fueling supply worries and helping support prices for the metal near 20-month highs touched on Monday.”

Commodities: “Germany’s central bank is bringing home gold reserves stored in places like New York and Paris faster than planned, it said on Thursday, as confidence in the euro ebbs even in the heart of the currency bloc after a decade of a sluggish economy” [Reuters]. “But with Europe stumbling from crisis to crisis, the German public has grown uneasy about keeping the gold abroad. Some even argue the world’s second biggest bullion reserve may be needed to back a new deutschmark, should the euro zone break up” [head, desk]. Let me know how that works out…

Retail: “Leave it to California growers to find a new way to eliminate the shipping from farm to warehouse. A startup operation near the San Francisco International Airport is trying to turn the warehouse itself into a farm, eliminating the timing, transportation and preservation strategies that are critical to modern agriculture distribution. Backed by a group of tech entrepreneurs and investors, Plenty United Inc. hopes to begin selling produce soon that they say is bred for local tables rather than for shipping durability” [Wall Street Journal]. Might work for argula… Parsley… $10.00 heirloom tomatoes…

Housing: “How Resilient Is the U.S. Housing Market Now?” [Federal Reserve Bank of New York]. “By our estimates, the housing finance system seems likely to be able to withstand a reversal of the last two years’ worth of price growth: such a scenario would cause no state to experience serious delinquency exceeding 10 percent. But a return to the price levels of four years ago would produce serious delinquency rates in the double digits in five states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada.”

The Fed: “[Yellen] went on to say that a rate increase will be likely be appropriate at one of the forthcoming meetings if the economy remains on track. At the upcoming meetings, the FOMC will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with their expectations” [Economic Calendar]. “According to Yellen, the incoming data suggests that the labour market continues to strengthen and that inflation is moving towards 2%, in line with FOMC expectations. In this context, the FOMC expects the economy to expand at a moderate pace with the job market set to strengthen somewhat further.”

The Fed: “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave her semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress on Tuesday. This was before the Senate Banking Committee, and some might interpret her words as a tad more hawkish or less dovish than in prior statements” [247 Wall Street]. Yellen: “The Committee anticipates that the depressing effect of these factors will diminish somewhat over time, raising the neutral funds rate, albeit to levels that are still low by historical standards.”

The Fed: “Chair Yellen’s prepared testimony is in my view easily the most hawkish message that she has ever delivered in her tenure as Fed Chair. She stopped short of promising a rate hike in March, but she did more than enough to put March on the table, and, perhaps more importantly, she sent a clear signal that the Fed is likely to raise rates multiple times this year” [Amherst Pierpont Securities, Across the Curve]. “Right off the bat, Chair Yellen was asked about the balance sheet, and she gave a lengthy prepared answer (clearly, the Fed knew this question would come). She explained that the Fed wants to get the balance sheet down to a sharply lower level but will only do so when the FOMC is comfortable that the economy is strong enough to handle it and that the funds rate is far enough away from zero that the Fed has room to ease if things were to go south. She explained that the FOMC does not intend to actively manage the balance sheet as a monetary policy tool. Instead, the Fed will attempt to shrink the balance sheet with as little disruption to the markets as possible. This means using passive roll-off to get the balance sheet down in size, and she repeated the Fed’s view that it will not ever sell MBS directly into the market. She did not convey a sense of urgency about starting this process, but noted that the Committee will be discussing how and when to begin paring the size of the balance sheet at future meetings. The most interesting aspect of her response in my view was the idea that the Fed does not intend to use management of the size of the balance sheet as a component of monetary policy.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 72, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 14 at 1:53pm.

Dear Old Blighty

The sun never sets on Blighty’s boldness!

The Unsettlement

“A sea of demonstrators on Monday marched from Milwaukee’s predominantly Hispanic south side to the downtown courthouse to protest a plan that would deputize local law enforcement officers as federal immigration agents. Busloads of demonstrators from about a dozen communities around Wisconsin arrived to join local protesters in the mile-long march. Parents with children in strollers, young men hoisting Mexican and American flags, and older supporters mingled as the crowd, estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 by police, moved through the streets chanting “Si, podemos!” or “Yes we can!” [Chicago Tribune]. “Jose Flores, board president at Voces de le Frontera, one of the groups organizing the march, said he is fearful of the plan by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to enroll his deputies in a federal program that allows them to perform immigration law enforcement functions. ‘Many peoples got to be afraid, you know. Like many families in this county, there’s a lot of hard workers. They are not criminals. We are not criminals,’ Flores said. Activists also marched against President Donald Trump’s stand on immigration and his executive order that targets just about any immigrant living in the country illegally for deportation.”

Lambert here: My views are conflicted. First, good numbers, i.e. the photograph is not a tight shot, as are so many photos of protests; I tend to think it’s good to see people in motion. Second, “Yes we can!” is particularly vacuous, given that Obama deported “undocumented” immigrants in record numbers. Third, is this just preaching to the choir? Will marches like this expand what has proved to be an inadequate Democrat base? Fourth, deputizing cops as immigration agents is a terrible idea. Fifth, if I’m visiting another country, and I overstay my visa I would expect, if caught, to pay a fine and be forced to leave, and that’s the best case scenario; anyone who has a passport knows this. It is utterly unclear to me why matters in this country are or should be any different. Finally, the reason illegal immigration is an intractable problem is that it lowers wages, which the 1% likes, as do the 10%-ers who need yard work, maid work, and other personal services performed. Therefore, illegal immigration is one aspect of the larger problem with globalization: That those forced to bear globalization’s burdens — for example, the communities in the Rust Belt destroyed by deindustrialization — aren’t compensated for it; even mainstream economists now recognize this. So, to me, “hard working” is just a synonym for “undercutting the local minimum wage” (and making working conditions even worse). I wish this weren’t so — “give me your tired, your poor,” and “workers of the world, unite!” — and I’d love to be argued out of it, but I think it is so.

“The greatest mistake we can make, in my view, is to not try to persuade. Persuasion is not about elegant logic or Oxford-style debates. It is about interacting, with good will and in good faith, with people who look at things differently, and working to understand how they see things so that you can help them understand how you see things. Persuasion involves a meeting of minds, and very frequently alterations of circumstance and behavior by all involved. An argument can be persuasive, but so can a touch, an ongoing friendship, membership in a club, or a new set of coworkers. Persuasion is not academic. It comes not from dispassionate observation of objects, but the interaction and interplay of subjects. Persuasion is personal. Laughter helps. If your response to all this is to scoff, to call forth images of thugs or buffoons from Trump rallies or Gas-Chamber Twitter and mock the possibility of a ‘meeting of minds’, perhaps I can appeal to our shared identity as reasonable people and remind you that it is an error to conflate vivid with representative” [Interfluidity]. “Ours is a political coalition that considers itself rational and open-minded, tolerant and cosmopolitan, and in many respects I think that is right. … We take pride in embracing and respecting people who look and act very differently than we do, who follow strange creeds the substance of which we might disagree with, who follow customs that may render us uncomfortable and require an unusual degree of diplomacy when we are called to interact in any intimacy. These habits and skills, of which I think we are justly proud, are precisely what are required of us now.” This is a very good piece and well worth a read. I am not, however, entirely persuaded. As usual, when I see the word “we,” I ask “What do you mean, ‘we””? And while I wish Waldman’s paean to liberal tolerance were true, I have only to think of the Democrat standard-bearer’s “irredeemable” “deplorables” remark, entirely simpatico with the previous standard-bearer’s “bitter”/”cling to” remark. In short, less Doctor Pangloss, more Thomas Frank. To be fair, I think Waldman is trying to “clean his side of the street,” but I’d really like to hear those bristles sweeping the pavement. Instead, his piece has a feather-light touch.

“The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State” [Rolling Stone]. Fighting on the side of the Kurds.

UPDATE “Your Guide to the Sprawling New Anti-Trump Resistance Movement” [The Nation]. Not that I have priors, but I knew that when I read this piece I’d find nothing Sanders-inspired at all, and I was right. Nothing on Our Revolution, and nothing on Brand New Congress. There’s also nothing on DSA; photographs of DSA’s well-attended meetings keep showing up in my Twitter feed. Of course, they’re not filling stadiums, like Sanders did, but these meetings aren’t five or six people sitting in a circle in a church basement, either. Odd. If I have time, I’d go through the About pages of the organizations listed to find leadership and funding. Or, readers?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“KKK imperial wizard Frank Ancona is found dead in Missouri” [McClatchy]. From this link, it seems like a family affair. I’m fascinated to learn Ancona made his living delivering auto parts.

Guillotine Watch

“Elon Musk: Humans must merge with machines or become irrelevant in AI age” [CNBC].

Class Warfare

“The Big Reason Whites Are Richer Than Blacks in America” [Bloomberg]. The subhead: “Inheritance matters a lot more than previously thought. Guess who’s getting the lion’s share.” The article is more qualified, but more interesting systemically: “So what does account for the racial gap in wealth? [Amy Traub, the associate director for policy research at Demos (ugh)] admits that ‘we haven’t fully penetrated the mystery.’ One powerful factor seems to be that whites are five times as likely as blacks to receive substantial gifts and inheritances, and the sums they get tend to be much larger. The money ‘can be used to jump-start further wealth accumulation, for example, by enabling white families to buy homes and begin acquiring equity earlier in their lives,’ the study says. The result is that whites’ wealth advantage—and blacks’ disadvantage—gets passed down from generation to generation. Which means that forms of racial discrimination ‘that happened in the past, like redlining, continue to show up in bank accounts today,” says Traub.'”

News of the Wired

“Nokia 3310, ‘the most reliable phone ever made’, to be re-launched at MWC 2017” [Yahoo News]. “Those other new phones wll be more like smartphones, but will retain much of the same low price.” No, no, no. Do not make the 3310 smart at all, as in do not turn my personal phone into a Big Brother-like data gathering device that sucks up all my data and passes it along to resellers and the “intelligence community”! Know your market!

* * *

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 (Jacob Bacharach):

Bacharach comments: “This cannot end well.” That is a very Maine thought.

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Altandmain

    Re: “The Big Reason Whites Are Richer Than Blacks in America”

    I’m in favor of a steeply progressive inheritance tax system. The US has a very low social mobility ranking compared to the other Western nations.

    Ironically, Canada, Australia, and the Nordic nations (dubbed “socialist” – not really; just a bit less Social Darwin-ist, and I’m sorry to say, heading in the wrong direction in many cases) by the far right do very well. The UK does poorly and I recall Italy not doing too well either.

    Also, I’ve become convinced that the Democrats are willfully ignorant or at times downright deceitful about why they lost in November. They know what their base wants them to do and I think they know deep inside that they rigged it against Sanders. Perez’s slip-up tells us all we need to know. He lacked the moral integrity to even acknowledge that their decision to push Clinton when they knew that the left was angry may have angered people – not just left wing voters, but people on the fence.

    The thing is, whatever sense of public service they had is vastly overshadowed by their desire to retire rich. That’s what they secretly want – to join the Clintons in “earning” tens of millions in speaking fees and other donations. Most people don’t care about serving the public. They are careerists and the US suffers because of that.

    In regards to African Americans – basically unless we start seeing the top 10% feel the economic pain from the 0.1%, nothing is going to change. The US is little more than a plutocracy right now for the top 0.1% to loot for themselves, but most of the suffering has come from the bottom 90%. They’ve got their inheritance, but the rest of America doesn’t.

    1. Isolato

      I’m going to propose a simple solution. Make the SS benefit equal for everybody (more like UBI). It is kinda’ nuts that the people who worked hardest for the least amount of money get the smallest benefit and the richest amongst us get the most. We don’t have to means test it (I get it, welfarazation), just lift the tax lid and give everyone the same amount. Might help.

      1. Justine

        You are misinformed about how Social Security benefits are calculated for claimants with lower lifetime earnings. The benefits for this group are proportionately higher than those who have had higher lifetime earnings. However, the average monthly benefits for beneficiaries is certainly depressingly meager…under $1250 as of December 2016. How can the same pitiful benefit for everybody, particularly those with limited savings and investments, be a solution to wealth inequality?

        1. JTFaraday

          Okay, so, let’s say I know some people whose check is higher than that. Why is that?


          So raise it. You’re the one who lowered it.

          1. paul Tioxon

            Social Security can fund a massive increase in monthly benefits by issuing an annual bonus divided by the number of all recipients based on a dollar for dollar matching of stock buy backs. The trillions of dollars that are borrowed or siphoned off of reduced wages and benefits of workers can be re-issued by the US Treasury as SS payments. A form of public/private sector balancing due to the destruction of the money supply when cash goes out of corporations in exchange for shares, bought back then destroyed as a form of financial engineering to drive up share value for the remaining outstanding shares not owned or bought back by corporate America.

            1. Procopius

              … can be re-issued by the US Treasury as SS payments.

              For Dog’s sake, don’t do that. That’s certain death for the system. The only reason the fascists haven’t been able to destroy it yet is that everybody knows (even the ones who don’t know) that it’s not a giveaway. Put money into the system that doesn’t come from the eventual beneficiaries and you’re letting the billionaires say to the peons, “See, the system is bankrupt, just as we’ve been saying for forty years. They’re taking money from your taxes that you’re never going to get.”

        2. aab

          People relying on Social Security have had both the value of their labor and their assets systematically pilfered by those at the top of the system.

          If I understand MMT correctly, we can simply lift the Social Security tax cap so that the upper class starts paying in proportionally because they should, and beef up Social Security payments so that every American can retire on Social Security — since that is, in fact, all most Americans have. Think of all the good it would do. If we start full benefits at 55 or 60, all those worn-out laborers could rest. Job opportunities would open up for younger workers, while at the same time we’d be pumping money into the economy to fuel it. It’s so much less radical than universal social income, and would do so much good.

          Whether or not MMT is a factor, we can certainly beef up Social Security just by changing our budgeting. Cut the bloated military budget. End corporate welfare. Why is ExxonMobil getting welfare, but retirees cannot? Take all those massive offshore accounts, both personal and corporate. End the carried interest loophole. It’s not magical, accidental, or “natural” that the upper class has captured more and more of the nation’s wealth over the past few decades. They changed the system to achieve that goal. The reason we “can’t” change it back is that they have captured the government and the Fed.

          Get rid of mortgage deductions for second homes, cap the deduction. Tax all those benefits only CEOs get — like free apartments, servants, all that jazz. We could get more radical and nationalize the banks so they can’t keep both stealing from us AND controlling us.

          There are many things we can do. We need to get on it.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      “Also, I’ve become convinced that the Democrats are willfully ignorant or at times downright deceitful about why they lost in November”
      “The thing is, whatever sense of public service they had is vastly overshadowed by their desire to retire rich”
      begs for Upton Sinclair to remind us that
      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

      1. sgt_doom

        Here is one perfect example: the faux outrage against the appointment of Mnuchin (who is the last person I want to see at Treasury) by the faux crats!

        The majority of dems, together with the R-branch of the bankster party, in December of 2010, voted on a voice vote unanimously to grant immunity to bankers for fraudclosure (with voice votes the senators’ names aren’t listed). President Obama expressed faux outrage and vetoed that legislation and very quietly, six days later, issued a presidential order granting immunity from prosecution for fraudclosure to the banksters!

        And, nary a word when Citigroup directed President Obama to appoint Covington & Burling’s Eric Holder as A.G. — it was Covington & Burling who created that MERS (Mortgage Electronic Reporting System) and MERSCorp, the parent company, necessary for the subprime morgag debacle/global economic meltdown.

        And, when Joe Biden’s sleazy son, when alive and A.G. of Delaware, did prosecute MERSCorp, he levied ZERO fines on them!

        And wasn’t it Kamala Harris who refused to prosecute fraudclosure king, Mnuchin?

        1. freedomny

          Yes – K. Harris did drop her investigation of OneWest. Chase was the worst of all of them though. Jamie D., using revisionist history, paints himself as a saint – because he didn’t do subprime like the other banks did. When in reality, he just came to the dance party too late.

          He is a loathsome creature.

  2. Amos

    Re: Mark Ames’ tweet — it doesn’t say a lot. They got him with what they had.

    Let’s try: Says a lot that Capone wasn’t imprisoned for murder, but for secretly trying to reduce his taxes.

    1. Carolinian

      Was what Flynn did even illegal? As even the Post admitted the Logan Act is pretty obscure. Your analogy doesn’t hold up.

        1. Foppe

          Didn’t some DNI (Clapper?) cheerfully lie to congress, and get away with it? Or is that ancient history by now?

        2. cwaltz

          He also was not allowed to conduct diplomacy as a private citizen(what he was up to and until Trump was elected.)

          The Logan Act is something being cited to question the legality of his behavior as well.

          1. Bill Smith

            Think about how many US citizens have attempted to influence some government for something.

            Jimmy Carter and Dennis Rodman – North Korea
            Jane Fonda, et al. – North Vietnam

            1. cwaltz

              The difference is when Jimmy Carter did so he did it without undermining what the government’s position was. Heck, I’m pretty sure even Rodman would not have been stupid enough to promise something on behalf of the government(while not acting as a government official.)

              Flynn did the opposite of that. He essentially told the Russians not to worry about the sanctions and that Trump, if elected, would lift them. Heck, that’s almost an invitation for them to push for Trump to win in any way they could.

              1. aab

                Hillary Clinton, her minions like Victoria Nuland, and Barack Obama in actions such as moving tanks into Poland, all made it clear the Democrats were seeking a hot, nuclear war with Russia.

                Russia didn’t need Flynn’s information to know that it would be better off if Clinton lost.

                She did not lose because of anything Russia may have done.

              1. cwaltz

                Nixon was before my time and I don’t think they ever were able to prove Reagan was involved in negotiating behind the backs of Americans. It was generally believed it was the Iranians that actually acted to tank Carter in a snub towards him.

                Apparently names are starting to leak out on who spoke with Russia. Manafourt is pretty adorable. Here’s a guy whose job is lobbyist and political consultant and he apparently had no idea that Russian intelligence agents don’t announce they are Russian intelligence agents. Apparently Trump’s team is not exactly MENSA.


            2. Kilgore Trout

              There is ample evidence the Nixon campaign was talking to S. Vietnam in 1968 to quash any chance at a peace deal/ October surprise that might have resulted from LBJ’s negotiations with the North. Likewise Reagan’s team was in talks with Iran to prevent an October surprise–the early release of the hostages. They were released right after the inauguration.

              1. Procopius

                I’m quite certain “Reagan’s team” was talking to the mullahs before the election. I think there is evidence of it somewhere out there. I could be persuaded that they did not tell Reagan about it. I don’t think there can be any doubt about Reagan ordering the illegal sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and the use of the money to support the contras. I could probably easily be persuaded that he was aware of the CIA helping the Contras to smuggle cocaine to Los Angeles to further their finances.

            1. EndOfTheWorld

              Flynn dismissal is no big deal. It’s not like he needs money. His pension as a general is quite large. He’s probably happy to wear this as a badge of honor that he tried to do something constructive to avoid war. Trump can select somebody similar—makes no difference in policy.

              1. Procopius

                Pension roughly a quarter million a year(!!!). Plus even after his “disgrace” people like Sheldon Adelson will so appreciate his loyalty to Israel that he’s guaranteed of at least six directorships and appointment as a Senior Fellow at three or four “think” tanks. Then there’s grateful recipients of past favors like Dyncorp and Raytheon who desperately need his wisdom as a “consultant.”

            2. Laura

              Carolinian: You link to an article that said Obama “made a similar deal” in 2012 while he was still president. That is not at all the same as a private citizen reaching out to a foreign power to undermine the current president’s policies.

              1. Carolinian

                Here’s how Moon of Alabama puts it

                After the election and Trump’s unexpected win the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia and sent Russian embassy officials back to Moscow. This move was intended to blockade a Trump policy of better relations with Russia. Flynn talked with the Russian ambassador and, as a direct result, the Russian’s did not respond tit for tat for the sanctions and expulsions. This was an absolutely positive move and in full accordance with announced Trump policies. Henry Kissinger made a similar move and visited the Russian embassy weeks before he became Nixon’s NSC. During the 2012 election Obama made a similar “deal” with the Russians in a comparable situation:

                President Barack Obama was caught on camera on Monday assuring outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election.

                You’re right that it’s not exactly the same. But for the representative of an incoming president to talk to foreign governments is not like you or I doing it. And in fact Obama’s actions before he stepped down seem more designed to undermine Trump’s pro Russia stance than for any other motive. Who was undermining whom?

                The Logan Act has been on the books for decades but never gets invoked until a handy “scandal” is needed apparently. John McCain has been going around the world openly crusading against Obama’s policies and now Trump’s. Perhaps Trump had other reasons for letting Flynn go and perhaps it’s a good thing that he did. But the press behavior in this is not good.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Adding, I think this is also a key para:

                  But Trump, completely against his style, held his mouth and did nothing. What else happened in the White House that let him refrain from backing Flynn?

                  Sure, the real beef other people have with Flynn is not about Russia but other issues, like his plans to reform the intelligence services. But by throwing Flynn out like this Trump opened himself to further attacks.

                  As it looks now a rather small gang of current and former intelligence officials – with the help of the anti-Trump media – leaked Flynn out of his office. They will not stop there.

                  Now blood is in the street and the hyenas will lust for more. The Trump magic is broken. He has shown vulnerability. Now they will go after their next target within the Trump administration and then the next and the next until they have Trump isolated and by the balls. He just invited them to proceed. All major foreign policy moves he planned will be hampered. The detente with Russia has probably ended before it even started.

                  We’re already seeing the blood with today’s stories. And so the outcome of all this, if things go on as they are, is that the intelligence community gets to act as a Praetorian Guard and pick Presidents based on sources that voters are never shown. Apparently, liberals have no problem with this. Wonderfully clarifying!

                  Of course, Trump has been underestimated in the past. But if Trump is playing rope-a-dope, he’s taking some heavy body blows to do it. Dangerous!

                  Note that I don’t mind an outcome like gridlock at all. But Pence installed in what amounts to a CIA-backed soft coup? Yikes!

                  1. EndOfTheWorld

                    I will at this point give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he’s playing rope-a-dope or playing possum. He’s letting his opponents think they have a victory. But Mike Flynn had no magical powers. It was the assignment Trump had given him that was important. IIRC he was studying the whole intelligence “community” as a step toward reorganization of same. If Trump places a similar person in the same job, there will be no real change.

                    However, if he gives up on the whole idea of reorganizing “spook world”, we will know that Trump has been meditating on the spectacular life and abrupt death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and saying the Serenity Prayer.

          2. Pat

            I admit I don’t know the entire timeline, but if Flynn was telling them not to react the sanctions for the supposed election hacking would be lifted this was about sanctions imposed AFTER Trump was elected. As in almost six weeks after he shocked the arrogant Democrats by winning and less than a month before Obama had to welcome him to the White House before helicoptering off in a chopper without the Presidential designation.

            Now he was still a private citizen, as for undermining the government, who was really doing that Flynn or a really really lame duck Obama – especially since the latter was obviously implying that Trump couldn’t have won without Russians arranging the press to post actual emails that showed Clinton cheats and lies that most people didn’t even read…. I mean it isn’t as if that doesn’t undermine someone coming into an office for a four year term.

            1. cwaltz

              No the timeline says he spoke to them before Trump was elected but after Obama had committed to sanctions.

              It doesn’t matter if you call Obama a lame duck President, the key word here is he was the President. Flynn had no right as a private citizen to undermine his decision to commit to sanctions.

              1. integer

                No. I checked the dates and the sanctions were implemented on 12/29/2016. Trump was elected on 11/08/16 and inaugurated on 01/20/17. This means the sanctions were put in place over 7 weeks after Trump had been elected. If 0bama had commited to the sanctions before Trump had been elected, why were they not announced before the 12/29/16?

                1. integer


                  US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organizations, in an attempt to influence the election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

                  In a statement issued two weeks after the president said he would respond to cyber-attacks by Moscow “at a time and place of our choosing”, Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions” and pledged further action.

                  “I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Obama said in the statement, released while he was vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

                  This means that for the sanctions to have been planned before the election, one would have to believe that they were planned over 5 weeks before 0bama made the above statement. I don’t buy it.

                  Allowing outgoing presidents to issue executive orders during the lame duck period is to allow the outgoing president to wield the power to override the will of the majority of the voters. Perhaps this latency in the transfer of power after a US presidential election exists for precisely this reason, i.e., to allow election winners that are deemed undesiable by the establishment to be hobbled before taking office.

                  1. Procopius

                    The “latency” exists because you’re moving thousands of people into and out of Washington, D.C., and giving the incomers to get at least some background knowledge from the leavers.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                Yes, that’s the systemic issue.

                The policy issue is that The Blob (Clinton very much so, Obama less so) wants confrontation with Russia. Trump doesn’t. Personally, I think confrontation with Russia is crazy pants and we ought to take that off the boil.

                So it’s another Sophie’s Choice: The lame duck doesn’t get to quack ’til the last minute (bad) but an attempt is made to avoid war with Russia (good).

                Since the tail risk of confrontation with Russia is so enormous, doesn’t it make sense to make that the priority?

              3. Praedor

                And Flynn, being powerless at that point, did NOT undermine anything. All he did was ask the Russians not to overreact to the warmongering provocations of Obama because he was going to leave and IF Trump won, the sanctions would go away.

                Simple. And a fact.

                I stand by Flynn on this, regardless of his other problems. Trying to defuse tensions and NOT get into either a new Cold War OR a hot war with Russia is objectively and always a good thing. Period.

      1. sgt_doom

        You see, the Russkies are pure evil and must always be sanctioned, while the Chinese military hackers have a free pass to hack into the Pentagon (while Gatesy was on duty) and defense contractors to steal the plans for ALL the major weapons systems (which they did) and also to hack over 25 million records at OPM, and already some of those associated bank accounts have been drained — again poorly reported in Fake News!

        1. JTMcPhee

          Don’t forget the Israelites, who have direct lines into State and other organs, and have so thoroughly penetrated US “security” that former Chief Imperial Spooks call them the greatest intelligence threat to that “thing that doesn’t matter any more,” what we used to call the “American nation.”

        2. Pat

          Oh, and we are paying for credit watch and protection from Lifelock or some company like it for two years for those employees and retirees whose records may or may not have been compromised in the OPM hack, tens of thousands of them. I realize it is minor but if you realize that those ’17’ investigative services with actual access to the servers STILL haven’t been able to definitively trace the hackers and that cost is just another reason for those deficits that mean we cannot have nice things like SS and Medicare… Well let’s just say it adds insult to injury with a nice touch of absurdity about all of it.

          Especially when you realize that in both cases the supposedly Russky Hackers hacked PRIVATE companies.

  3. Salomon Gomez

    Lambert, I’m glad you finally spelled out your views on “the immigration question” as it stands in this country. One thing that’s bothered me the entire time I’ve read NC is that there seems to be no consideration from the editorial side of the fact that the UN has suggested that a number of immigrants, by some figures up to half of children, crossing our southern border ought to be considered refugees by the UN’s standards, standards we’ve often agreed to as treaty signatories. When the Syrian refugee crisis was hot news, this blog included several links to stories on that issue from a moral perspective; as far as I remember this was not the case during the child migrant “surge” in the summer of ’14.

    The points you made about immigrants undercutting low wages are obviously valid, and should be talked about, but it’s pretty clear to me that ignoring the political violence that many people are fleeing, often stoked by the United States in these countries, is itself a political act. Do you have a response to this? Will you consider expanding your discussion of the US immigration issue to include the fact that we’ve often sent back children who by all rights ought to be considered refugees – a class of people our own courts have at times admitted are refugees?

    Again, this is not to pretend all immigrants are refugees; and in fact most immigrant-rights groups love talking about the “hard-working non-criminals” who’ve overstayed their visas (or came without papers) and migrated for purely economic reasons more than anyone else. But one of the things I love most about NC is that it makes a concerted effort to talk about important political and moral questions that are too often ignored – except, it seems, whenever the question of Latino immigrants pops up.

    1. cocomaan

      Speaking for myself, if Central American needs anything, it’s an end to the drug war. They won’t be refugees if their governments/mafias aren’t in the cocaine, heroin, and murder business.

      The point missed in all these immigration debates is that the countries they hail from are absolute hellholes. Neither candidate ever said, “I’ll fix immigration at home while helping the other country get back on its feet.”

      1. lambert strether

        Yes, NAFTA destroyed Mexican agriculture. And marijuana legalization would be good.

        The real question is do you support open borders or not? I don’t see how that works, but that seems to be the principle involved.

        1. Hana M

          Just re-upping this one from EPI last year on the many nuances of immigration policy: http://www.epi.org/blog/bernie-sanders-is-correct-on-immigration/

          The reality is that what Sanders supports on immigration is careful and nuanced, and it’s the correct path forward for American immigration policy. In a nutshell, Sanders is strongly in favor of legalization and citizenship for the current unauthorized immigrant population, which will raise wages and lift labor standards for all workers, and he’s against expanding U.S. temporary foreign worker programs, which allow employers to exploit and underpay so-called guestworkers. Limiting guestworker programs will reduce wage suppression and improve labor standards for U.S. and migrant workers alike.

          Lots of great links on sub-issues.

          1. The Trumpening

            Legalizing people currently here will only raise wages and labor standards if they are not quickly replaced by new illegal workers. It is the flow of illegals that is the problem. It’s kind of like freeing the slaves but not stopping the slave trade. You can free the current slaves but they will soon be replaced by new ones.

            The slogan usually is that illegals are doing the work Americans will just not do. Turning the illegals into Americans just means that new illegals will have to come to do the work that the new Americans now will just not do!

            Reagan’s amnesty is a real life example of this phenomenon.

            So the only way to legalize current illegals is to first put in place all the policies that make illegal immigration close to impossible. At that point a shortage of workers means salaries will start to rise even for illegals so that regular Americans are enticed into applying for these jobs and at this point illegals can safely be made Americans.

            This process seems to be starting in California where to the shock of no one who understands the concept of a labor supply and demand curve, increasing salaries for farmworkers means more people are applying for these jobs!


            1. Yves Smith

              I wonder if this business about “no one wants the work” isn’t as much about pay as is widely reported. “Illegals” still have to pay US expenses while they work here: rent, transportation, sales taxes, food. And they are here presumably to send $ home, so they need to make enough to have a margin over their expenses. And some DO have taxes withheld: the Treasury reports that there are millions of Social Security numbers used more than once. Some of this is benefit fraud, but the US Treasury has occasionally ‘fessed up it knows most of this is employers using phony SSNs for undocumented workers. And on the converse side, a lot of smaller businesses pay workers in part or in a big way in cash.

              In other words, how much of the “Americans don’t want to do the work” is because “illegals” will accept illegal work conditions, as in violation of workplace safety rules? They may also be preferred when the employer is engaged in an underlying illegal business (say, pharmaceutical fraud, this turns out to be a big business, getting out of date or lower-dose drugs into the pharmacy distribution chain by remarking the packaging). Illegal workers will never rat out a criminal employer.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s good. I just want the basic principle established that the interests of the US working class come first. I don’t see that being even mentioned. A sub-principle that flows from that is that nation-states* get to control their borders.** On policy, anything’s negotiable for me, once the basic principle is accepted.

            * Yes, the nation-state is a highly imperfect instrument for working people to effect their class interests. It is also the only instrument we have, and I don’t see another one on the horizon. In a perfect world, we’d be able to eliminate globalizations wage arbitrage, and allow labor to flow across borders as easily as capital with no penalty (rather like a portable pension, but for labor power). This is not that world. It’s not anywhere near that world.

            ** The Open Borders position implies that retirees get to move to any country in the world and do currency arbitrage to supplement their meagre Social Security payments and maybe get medical care in a system not controlled by corrupt weasels, and stay as long as they like with no visa requirement. Personally, I’m for it. That is where the logic leads, and sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Anybody arguing for that? No? Is there a reason for that, maybe?

        2. cocomaan

          I prefer a Right to Have Rights (not the greatest link, but if I had more time I’d find more, it’s in Origins), from Hannah Arendt, to be recognized internationally.

          When she pointed to refugees as being one of the real catalysts of totalitarianism, she was making a point about natality and the nation state and the pointlessness of shopping for human rights. Refugees throw the nation state into chaos. Her solution was fairly elegant, I think it should be tried in some form.

            1. cocomaan

              It’s been awhile since I read that part of Arendt’s work, but not that I recall. She was more interested in avoiding another holocaust since it was fresh in her memory.

              I’m with you, there’s a major problem present in how nativism works on a practical level with all the promise of morally sound but unfettered immigration.

        3. thoughtful person

          Leaving aside politics for a moment, if capital can move freely across borders, why not labor?

          I guess this question really comes down to politics though. Most people won’t flee their countries if they have a better local choice. So if we don’t want floods of immigrants, we should help keep conditions better abroad. That’s basically the opposite of current policy.

          On the one hand, particularly when US policies are the root cause of people fleeing their homes (either economic or for the results of military policy covert or overt), they should be allowed sanctuary.

          On the other hand, by doing so a new problem should not be created domestically by the current practice of under the table, sub minimum wages. Perhaps if we did the right thing and offered free education for all and all immigrants, they could go to school, then come out and help create new jobs. Expand the pie as it were.

    2. Lost in OR

      Somehow, I suspect, economic violence needs to be factored in also. NAFTA, Goldman Sachs (et al), US multi-nationals, and US economic policy are all swords that cut both ways.

      1. lambert strether

        We have plenty of economic violence here at home; see. Case Deaton. That should be our first concern. And you will note that addressing that concern involves doing serious damage to both parties, the cause or at least the instrument of so much of our violence abroad.

        1. Lost in OR


          The first step may be to stop throwing stones (the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging). (Is that mixed metaphor? I love NC focus on language arts)

          In Central and South America, just as in the Middle East, US foreign policy with regard to the military, economic, and political has consequences. From which the US is not immune.

          And yes, the primary responsibility of the US gov’t is to US citizens. But being responsible also entails acknowledging and owning the shadow cast by those same citizens and their gov’t.

            1. Gerard Pierce

              So now we are back to the circular firing squat that is US politics today.

              The Democratic Party went where the money is. Until you get money out of politics, the military industrial complex will buy whoever is for sale.

              Currently that is most of our political class. Rinse – repeat.

      2. JTMcPhee

        As to swordsvthat cut both ways, remember who is swinging the swords. THEY are not getting cut. Famed Japaneses swordsman Masahiro Musashi invented a two-direction technique that let him slice back and forth. Killed a lot of people that way.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Took me a minute, but that’s a great metaphor. (Clinton’s trick of “supporting” immigrants while fomenting the wars that create refugees is pretty neat.)

    3. lambert strether

      There is an AIDS-level epidemic of tens of thousands of “deaths from despair” in working class communities in flyover states.

      To govern is to choose, and I think all US policy should be centered on saving those US lives. That’s what a functional nation-state should do. Sadly, other matters are secondary.

      Note that to get that done, a lot of institutions whose effects you rightly complain of will have to be changed.

      I don’t regard it as useful to conflate immigrants with refugees. Had I meant to discuss “refugees,” I would have used the word. Maybe if we made it the rule that we had to take in refugees from wars we started, we’d start fewer wars. That would be a good thing. If your counterargument is that the US, as imperial hegemon, should have open borders, then address the compensation issue.

      And again, when I travel abroad, I don’t expect to simple be able to overstay my visa, and I don’t see why others should have that expectation.

      And before you say, that’s because you’re privileged, I’d love to be able to immigrate illegally to Canada and get into their single payer system. Or do the same to any European country with civilized social policies. Or, when the time comes, make my miserably inadequate Social Security check mean something by simply moving to a country where the cost of living is half what is here. Of course, many in the rust belt are far worse off than I am, and what you’re saying is that if they decided to become illegal economic migrants to Canada, (a) Canada should take them in, and (b) you would support them. Right?

      1. Allegorio

        Whereas, Lambert Strether’s position on immigration is correct, there is also the question of priorities. Immigration is a red herring actually. First tackle the American overclass’s ruthless exploitation of the US and the world and the endless violence it inflicts all over Latin America. Instead support economic justice and immigration becomes a non issue. Illegal immigration is a symptom not a cause, to focus on it is a distraction, another divide and rule distraction. How cleverly Trump uses immigration to change the subject from the raw corruption that is looting this country as well as the rest of the world.

      2. Gerard Pierce

        “There is an AIDS-level epidemic of tens of thousands of “deaths from despair” in working class communities in flyover states.”

        I do not doubt the truth of this statement. It would be useful to know whether these deaths from despair match up geographically with the opioid epidemic that is getting lots of attention with no useful solutions.

        The current opioid solution (published within the last few weeks) is to try to convince people that if they put up with their pain it will eventually go away. (Eventually seems to mean 3 to 4 months of pain.) There also seems to be a major propaganda campaign to force medical providers to accept this as true even though there does not seem to be any scientific evidence to prove that it is true. Statements by politicized medical quasi-professionals are not scientific proof

        If they cut people off from pain kiillers that are actually necessary we will probably wind up with a lot more illegal drug use, or a lot more deaths from despair.

        1. Gerard Pierce

          This one actually goes a lot further. I suspect that both death from despair and excessive painkiller use might be correlated to unregulated jobs and mines where people are damaged and get little medical care. Unfortunately, suspicion is not proof.

    4. LT

      I”ve also thought many of what we collectively lump under “immigrants” are more “refugees.”
      I’d think of an immigrant as someone who carefully planned, made legal arrangements to get into a country. Refugees are people trying to “escape” something and, technically, refugees have (or should have) in their minds to return to a country they fled upon better circumstances. Or did that used to be the techmical way it was considered.
      Someone leaving their country because a f’d up trade deal made it impossible to stay make a living in their home – points to foreign policy that needs to be corrected.

      1. lambert strether

        I don’t think all legal immigration is good; H1B visas are a Silicon Valley screw job by the same crooks who set up the wage cartel. That said. I don’t think legal immigration poses the same issues that open borders do.

        1. Mike Mc

          Grew up in 1960s Southwest – dunno how US and Mexico managed it, since I was a kid, but illegal immigration/Mexican workers never seems like much of a deal until late 1970s or so when Reagan era began.

          Worked with lots of Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and other immigrants in mid 1970s in Phoenix with only fleeting concerns about La Migra.

          What I fail to understand is why The Law at every level is not hammering the EMPLOYERS of illegal aliens. This would seem faster and simpler plus much less logistically cumbersome – employers aren’t going to flee back to their home country (well most of ’em anyway). I know, I know – markets, capitalism, yadda yadda – but it just seems, well, manufactured as a social issue. (I work in IT so very familiar with H1B idiocy too.)

          1. Anon

            The US encouraged Mexican immigrants with the Bracero program in the 60’s. It supplied cheap migrant labor for the large California Central Valley growers. Since California has a crop of some kind growing yearound, they became permanent “citizens”. Providing profits to growers and cheap fruits and vegetables to the general US population.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > never seems like much of a deal until late 1970s

            That’s when real wages were flattened. The neoliberals took over. When the pie is always expanding, it’s easy to be generous with the slices. Now it isn’t (but I think it would again, with programs like Medicare for All and a Jobs Guarantee).

    5. sgt_doom

      You bring up a question which those “identity politics” people (minions for the global elites???) always love to pose, but the harsh, brutal fact of the matter is that refugee flows by design have been around since time immemorial, used in both regular warfare and today’s modern economic warfare (the potato famine in Ireland in fairly modern history is an excellent example of a planned refugee flow meant to depopulate and possibly generate economic problems for the targeted receiving country).

      Those who cause the refugee flows, are those who push for the refugee flows to be welcome throughout Europe and America, lowers wages, raises housing costs for obvious reasons.

      You hear a constant barrage about Muslim refugees, yet the group which legally and morally most fits the refugee definition (“the persecuted”) are Syrian Christians, and similar Iraqi Christian groups, etc., yet faux crats and pseudo-progressives are silent on this issue?!?!?

      An excellent explanatory book written some time back concerning identity politics and the redirection away from predatory capitalism dissent:

      Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, by Joan Roelofs

    6. aab

      I think you may have missed out on those discussions. I know they happened, because I participated in them.

      One of my objections to Hillary Clinton’s deceitful candidacy, which I know I referenced on numerous occasions here, is that she first supported the destabilization of Honduras, and then shipped orphaned children who reached the United States back there, “to teach them a lesson.” (My god, she’s an awful person.)

      The political discussions here often address the problem that the United States intentionally destabilizes countries through military violence, the economic violence of “free” trade agreements, or suborning and instigating coups both soft and hard, creating much of the global refugee problem.

      So I’m not sure what you want Yves and Lambert to do differently. Make a new category for links called “Refugee Creation”? (Actually, I kind of like that idea.) The problem is that the current refugee crisis is created by our elite and it benefits our elite. If you want child refugees to be treated more kindly or be fewer in number, you need to work with those of us trying to purge out the neoliberal New Democrats. Because they only say they care. The reality — proven by Obama’s massive deportations and military expansions as well as Clinton’s record — is that they do not actually care. They want those countries destabilized, and they want tons of cheap, desperate labor available at home and abroad. That is perhaps why there’s more of a detailed focus here on how to dislodge the New Dems from power. Because that’s necessary, and also very difficult.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        My view, FWIW, is that if you want to even ameliorate America’s role as imperial hegemon, then you’ve either got to replace or capture at least one of the two parties, because they control the institutions that make the decisions on issues of war and peace. And the only way to do that is with a program of universal benefits that provisions concrete material benefits for all Americans, especially the working class. Because that’s where the votes are. (The DNC, of course, has a different plan, for different voters.) Open borders are laudable in principal. They don’t get you the votes. So they are at best a secondary consideration, although very important in terms of concrete material benefits for the slice of the population that benefits from them.)

    7. Praedor

      Problem. Nearly all the refugees fleeing chaos in their own countries, be it Latin America or the Middle East, are refugees ONLY because the US has created and fostered the chaos they’re fleeing in the first place.

      THE answer is for the US to get out of all these countries. They do not belong to us. Their economic policies and natural resources are theirs and theirs alone and the US has nothing to say on them, The US only has a say on its own economic policies and its own resources. End the “War on Drugs”, the bogus “War on Terrah!”, and all the “humanitarian” wars we’ve created and keep pushing (to gain control of other country’s economic policies and resources). There. ALL refugee crises fixed.

    1. John Wright

      It might be interesting to some that the PE firm behind the Payless deal is Blum Capital.

      “Payless is yet another victim of a debt-pile on from private equity owners. The retailer was bought three years ago by private equity firms Blum Capital and Golden Gate after they and footwear company Wolverine took its parent company (Collective Brands) private. Wolverine now runs the Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Keds brands as a result of that deal.”

      This is Richard Blum’s firm.

      Blum just happens to be the husband of “moderate” neocon CA senator Dianne Feinstein.

      Private equity will collapse when the purchasers of the debt that PE sells decide the risk is not worth the higher reward.

      The link details $520 million in senior debt priced at 52 cents on the dollar and $145 million junior debt at 16 cents on the dollar.

      If the junior debt declined from par of 100 three years ago to 16 now, the debt holders had to get $84 dollars in interest over the three years just to be even. The issuance would have had to have a 22.54% interest rate to achieve this break even number.

      Note, there is nothing to prohibit the entry of more retailers in this space, so a Payless like retail store could buy the fixtures and continue on while the debt holders walk away damaged.

      It isn’t only the employees and community that are damaged by PE, it should include the supposedly sophisticated investors (which might include State pension funds) who buy the debt.

  4. Carolinian

    ‘First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,’ he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.”

    Having failed to pick the winner of the election the WaPo and cohorts are now going to try to shape the results. While some of us find Trump’s twitter obsession annoying it’s hard to deny that his ostensible reason–to get his own message past the national media–has some justification. Which is to say if Trump is Hitler then Goebbels may be playing for the other team. And which is also why assumptions that Sanders would have won easily are not necessarily true. The press may have hated him just as much.

    For lefties the MSM, like the current Dems, are not our friends. Since it’s hard to get a message out without the MSM this is of course by design.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I thought the political assassination article raised some good points about selective leaking of intelligence data. It’s looking more and more to me like the regime change playbook from places like Ukraine is now being deployed domestically against Trump. This strikes me as insane bordering on suicidal, given how it typically works out in other countries. The Clinton/Democrat resistance is managing the difficult feat of making Trump look sane and reasonable by comparison.

      1. Vatch

        There isn’t going to be a regime change in the U.S. We’ll either continue to have oligarch friendly President Trump, or we’ll have oligarch friendly President Pence. Same regime, different figureheads. It’s the job of good citizens to impair any oligarch friendly President’s ability to govern.

          1. Vatch

            Yes. I’m still waiting for Obama, Holder, and Lynch to prosecute some bankers.

            If a President stops being oligarch friendly, then we don’t need to impair his ability to govern.

            1. Carolinian

              Fair enough. However I don’t remember all those mass demonstrations seeking to obstruct Obama. There was Occupy, which he put down violently.

              Guess what I’m saying is that I suspect it’s not so much Trump’s policies but Trump himself that the demonstrators find abhorrent. And that’s understandable….I don’t like him either. But Madonna and Scarlett Johanssen seem like dubious class warriors. It could be they like oligarchs just fine. Madonna even directed a movie showing what a swell person Wallis Simpson was.

              1. tgs

                However I don’t remember all those mass demonstrations seeking to obstruct Obama.

                Right, neither do I. Where were these people, so horrified as they are about the ‘Muslim ban’ when Obama was murdering and destroying the lives of Muslims in large numbers. That was ok cause he seemed like such a nice sensible guy. If a guy like that is killing people and destroying countries, then they must have had it coming.

              2. freedomny

                Madonna & SJ wanted Hilary and the status quo. I ask my black friends why they think Obama was so great. Because most of my black friends are ok – and they are really a part of the “I’ve got mine”. But – you can’t have 20% of the US making more than/screwing over the other 80% before society starts to unravel. And, it is even more glaring because – I would say 10% of the 20% – is panicking about falling down more and more – into the 80%…

                So, with my minority friends get all crazy about that “should have voted Hilary” meme – I just have to keep hammering away at them..re track records.

                Seriously – instead of all the f# marches…why don’t they spend money on educating people on what has happened? Trump is Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s legacy…

              3. Vatch

                Guess what I’m saying is that I suspect it’s not so much Trump’s policies but Trump himself that the demonstrators find abhorrent.

                Yes, I agree, that’s an unfortunate feature of many of the demonstrations and demonstrators. Personally, I prefer to protest Trump’s many bad nominations and a few of his policies. Some of those policies are generic Republican policies, and some are even standard Democratic policies.

                We had a chance to get a decent President, but the Democrats squandered that chance during the primaries.

            2. sgt_doom

              I’m still waiting for any democrat to explain why Obama, who came into the White House with a super-majority, completely ignored the Employee Free Choice Act, and further eroded workers’ rights in America!

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Especially if Jeff Bezos’ blog The Washington Post and their ilk get to run the country.
          Can we vote on the WaPo editorial board? CNN’s choice of anchormen?

      2. JohnnyGL

        Not to seem like I’m splitting hairs, but I think Brazil is the template here, not Ukraine. The DC Blob wants restoration (great framing by Yves/Lambert), not revolution and civil war.

        In Brazil, the media was instrumental in presenting the narrative that the country was in chaos and awash in corruption. President Dilma Rousseff was portrayed as somehow being at the center of it, regardless of the fact that there was no evidence linking her to any kind of crime. The media constantly make attempts to tie every shred of corruption uncovered by the car-wash scandal back to the President, no matter how far-fetched.

        Eventually, the President’s popularity was driven down to single digits and the sharks in congress made their move. I can see that happening here.

        1. JohnnyGL

          All this assumes that Trump doesn’t start playing ball with the DC Blob and stop his exchange of pleasantries with Putin and Russia. If he plays ball, they’ll probably lay off him a bit.

        2. cwaltz

          I think Brazil would be the optimal way the elite would like to see a transfer of power. It minimizes the bloodshed and the disruption of their business models. However, as we see in places like Syria and Ukraine, the powers that be are not above exploiting, manipulating and ultimately sacrificing the majority of us(as long as they are not risk) if it suits their puposes.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Brazil is also closer to the United States in terms of institutional and geographic scale, income and racial divisions, North South polarities, etc. So it makes sense to use that part of the playbook, as opposed to the color revolutions playbook. For example, seizing Maidan isn’t on in the US. There isn’t an equivalent.

            1. Foppe

              Did Maidan matter to the east Ukrainians and Crimeans? Or were they simply not part of the moral majority / ‘too backwards’ / etc., and thus ignored?

    2. fresno dan

      February 14, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Trump = Bush III or Jeb! 1
      Pence = Cheney II

      I’m thinking Trump will have less impact on the blob than even Bush the younger.
      It is something to see…this relentless torrent of propaganda. What was the saying – never get in an argument with a man who buys ink by the barrel? Trump’s tweets are no match for the MSM pixels….
      I’m expecting Trump to fall in line, do what he is told, and upcoming articles on the new, serious, resolute Trump in a little while….

      1. jrs

        that’s why the didn’t cover him. Speaks for itself I think, the threat they chose to blackout versus the threat they gave lots of airtime even if it wasn’t positive. the blackout is more powerful.

        1. cwaltz

          Well the irony is that Clinton and her band of merry Democratic elites pushed Trump into the spotlight because they thought he would be an easy mark to eliminate. He was going to fracture the conservative base and Hillary was going to scoop up half them. Whoopsie.

            1. Marco

              Tell me why Podesta isn’t hanging from a tree right now because of this? The Pied Piper email came up briefly on the edges of #HillaryFail in November but then just disappeared.

      2. sgt_doom

        I’m still waiting for any democrat to explain why Obama, who came into the White House with a super-majority, completely ignored the Employee Free Choice Act, and further eroded workers’ rights in America!

  5. cocomaan

    On the Whites and Blacks and Inheritances, the big secret is that inheritance leads to more wealth accumulation? Wait, wasn’t there some bearded dude who talked about accumulated capital, where capital is defined as congealed labor power? Oh yeah! Now I remember.

    Capital does not consist in accumulated labor serving living labour as a means for new production. It consists in living labor serving accumulated labor as a means of maintaining and multiplying the exchange value of the latter.

    (Marx, Wage Labor and Capital)

    Or the other bearded commie:

    12:13–21 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Also Matthew 25:15

      “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one…and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common. Neither was there any among them that lacked; and great grace was upon them all.”

      1. Katharine

        You’re doing some serious cut and paste there. You started in Matthew, all right, but you ended with a fragment of Acts 4:34 followed by a fragment of Acts 4:33, and I’m not even going to try to sort out what came between start and finish.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Thank you! Somebody else did the cut-and-paste and I fell for it I guess. I still like the sentiment

          1. Katharine

            So do I, but I’m always leery of quotation out of context.

            It might be time to reread some of Acts. I’d forgotten that stuff was in there. So thanks for nudging me into looking it up!

          2. Susan C

            I like the use of biblical references but I think my head spun around when I read the sentiment as it seemed so off to me. For the record, the man who received the one talent (or bag of gold) stored it into the ground and when his master returned he was admonished for doing that, whereas the other men doubled the talents (gold) they were given. So I guess the idea is to make good use of what you are given. And don’t be bitter about the fact you only got one talent whereas others got more.

            1. johnnygl

              I always thought the guy who buried it in the ground got a raw deal. I mean, come on, it’s not like he blew it on hookers and booze?!!!??!

              1. reslez

                Stop thinking of the gold as money.

                Keep in mind parables were a way of teaching, a way to startle the listener awake, sometimes by saying things they’ll disagree with. Parables weren’t meant to be didactically accepted. You’re supposed to argue over it and tease out what it means.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  Yeah if you take it too literally, Jesus starts sounding a lot like Lloyd Blankfein. God’s work…? –

                  But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

                  Context is everything ;)

                2. Grebo

                  I think the listeners would be startled awake by the suggestion that anyone would hand out 8 talents to his servants, a talent being worth 20 years labour in New Testament times.

  6. optimader


    cavitation is a phenomena wherein low pressure bubbles form and collapse when flowing over a “rough” surface. Velocity related and probably a power function, (like getting worse tot eh square of velocity). Very destructive to a surface when a fluid flow achieves a threshold velocity. Water vapor bubbles occur and the collapse creating vibration in a structure or on a surface. .A big deal with pump or prop designers. As well with l guess with spillway designers. Seems like an insufficient “crossection” / surface roughness for the spillways (underestimated?) design capacity. Needs to be wider/deeper to slow down the fluid velocity below that where cavitation occurs. Having a bunch of boulders /rocks in the spillway probably doesn’t help


    1. jsn

      Cavitation burns the trailing surface off boat propellers made of bronze and aluminum. On those metals it looks like acid etching. I expect it would be significantly more damaging in a material with no appreciable tensile strength like concrete.

    2. Gaianne

      “cavitation is a phenomena wherein low pressure bubbles form and” yada yada . . .

      This is all bullshit. Not because it isn’t true–it is true–but because it is irrelevant. The phenomenon of cavitation has been known for a century. It was known at the time the dam was built. It factors into all designs. This talk of cavitation is to divert you from the point that the main spillway was not repaired back when it ought to have been repaired (negligent maintenance) and the emergency spillway was never properly surfaced (a design error based on the presumption that the emergency spillway would never be used, and therefore would never have to function).

      These two basic errors are the foundation of the current crisis. Whether the dam breaches or not depends mainly on how much rain falls this weekend, and how fast the main spillway will erode upstream to the dam crest to cause failure, and how long the emergency spillway can be used before it fails completely (probably a few hours).

      This is an optimization problem: How to release as much water as possible before failure. Because no one knows how long either spillway can last under various rates of flow (erosion increases rapidly with flow rate) no one knows how to solve this optimization precisely. It will be guesswork.

      What is needed is a dry spell long enough for the main spillway to be repaired. Also, the design flaw of the emergency spillway should be corrected. The one that can be done fastest should be done first.

      “Having a bunch of boulders /rocks in the spillway probably doesn’t help”

      I agree. Erosion will occur around the rocks. You can even see that in the videos. You want a smooth durable surface. My guess is they are simply throwing in more mass to be eroded–trying to outrace the erosion. This will not work for long.


      1. Optimader

        Apparently the flowrate for tbe design was underestimated. In the spillway design. (I’ll beta fee ppl are looking for that accordion file).
        QED Cavitation does matter

  7. lyman alpha bloba

    RE: The Flynn ouster

    Does this mean Conflategate is finally over or do we still in for more pointless palaver about the evil Russkies?

    1. Anne

      Whether it’s over or not probably depends on whether you believe that Flynn was just a rogue actor, with whom or for whom there was neither cooperation nor involvement by anyone else, and was just Flynn being Flynn. Flynn lying to Pence, Flynn lying to Trump. Sure, it’s possible – I’ve come to the point where just because something sounds like it came right out of The Onion doesn’t mean it isn’t true or didn’t happen.

      This is all just so fked up, and I have no idea how to un-fk it. I don’t know who to believe, about much of anything, most of the time. Maybe the problem is the fked-up-ed-ness is just so in our faces, instead of in the hushed back rooms, but it still doesn’t tell me how to fix it.

      When I consider the people who staff this administration – Bannon, Miller, Conway, the cabinet nominees – I think it is more likely than not that Flynn was not acting alone, that there is more here than we want to believe, but chances are we will never get to the bottom of it – because it’s all completely fked up.

      Not even four weeks and it feels like forever.

      1. DH

        Flynn has a history of going rogue, but within an overall framework. He believes that rules don’t apply to him but he is generally loyal. So he probably did things that were not scripted but there is probably a lot of culpability spread elsewhere.

        1. Katharine

          Why should we assume he was going rogue? Maybe he was doing what Trump wanted him to do, albeit before he could lawfully have done so.

          Something I have found perplexing in all this is the apparent assumption that because the foreign policy establishment and intelligence agencies do not want any rapprochement with Russia such contacts must be disloyal, if not actually treasonous. Constitutionally, it is the president’s prerogative to make treaties (with congressional ratification) and appoint ambassadors. Apart from the timing, which was inexcusable, what was supposed to have been wrong about Flynn’s contacts?

          1. cwaltz

            Timing IS everything though.

            Trump wasn’t President and Flynn’s actions might have provided motive for the Russians to involve themselves in our elections or undermined the actual people who had the authority to speak for our government at that time.
            Ultimately, IMO, you have to think about this from the viewpoint of not whether or not you agree with Trump or Flynn on Russia but whether or not you agree with the idea that someone should be able to actually undermine the people authorized to speak on behalf of the government. It also makes you wonder why someone like Flynn doesn’t point out that WE use “pro democracy” groups in places like Ukraine to influence elections which makes us hypocrites to wag our fingers at the Russians for having an opinion on our leadership. I wonder if the funding the Russians used for hackers came from their version of a State Department and if they have their own version of Nuland.

            1. Anne

              I struggle with the outrage being expressed over the possibility that a foreign power mucked around in our elections, given how much mucking around we’ve engaged in around the world. So that part of this doesn’t work for me.

              But I don’t believe we can have people, no matter how well-meaning, taking matters into their own hands outside of the diplomatic and foreign policy structure, either. It can’t be that Flynn was having these contacts under Trump’s authority, because I don’t think a president-elect has any authority. And he was fired from the Obama administration, so the authority didn’t come from there, either.

              And then there’s just Flynn himself – I mean, did anyone hear him at the GOP convention? Read his wildly anti-Muslim tweets? No, Russia isn’t a Muslim country, but this man shows every sign of being a loon.

              Are people really taking the attitude that it doesn’t matter who is talking to whom, what they are saying, and ignoring the reality that they may be setting something worse into motion than what they perhaps intended? This just makes no sense to me.

              I am not excusing anything Obama did or didn’t do, or anything Clinton as SoS did or didn’t do, I am just saying that I don’t think Russia’s given us any reason to have any trust in its government or its leaders, and I don’t think us not having much faith in our own government means we just chuck all that over the fence and throw our lot in with the Russians. That just seems like more madness to me, not less.

              1. Katniss Everdeen

                Are people really taking the attitude that it doesn’t matter who is talking to whom, what they are saying, and ignoring the reality that they may be setting something worse into motion than what they perhaps intended?

                This just makes no sense to me.

                See above.

                1. Anne

                  Just please answer the question no one seems to be asking: under whose authority was Flynn talking to the Russians about the sanctions at a time when Obama was still the president, and Trump was almost a month away from being sworn in?

                  I don’t think being part of someone’s transition team grants that authority.

                  As far as what I said making no sense to you, I was reacting/responding to those in this conversation who seem to be saying none of this is a big deal, who cares if Flynn talked to the Russians, and it’s just people getting hysterical for no reason.

                  One more question: why not bring Pence into the loop? Trump knew but kept Pence in the dark? Does that matter?

                  Oops, sorry – that was actually three questions.

                  1. Susan C

                    I will give this a little bit of a shot but the story is still unfolding. It is not known under whose authority Flynn spoke to the Russians. New news on this is that he was talking to their intelligence services – I believe I heard that once this evening and since I only heard this once I am not completely sure I heard that right. And other new news is that there was a lot of contact between the Trump team and the Russians during the campaign. For point two, not everyone thinks this is not a big deal – again it sounds like he committed a crime regarding lying to the FBI. And Pence is in the loop because Flynn lied to Pence. I just learned that Trump knew about Flynn and his conversations for three weeks and sat on it, perhaps as you are saying, didn’t tell Pence about it.

                    In all fairness, I don’t think anyone knows yet where this is all headed. I think it is important to stay informed and alert to what is going on.

              2. cwaltz

                The even funnier part of the outrage being expressed over a foreign power mucking around with our elections is that it’s, like most of our foreign policy, selective.

                Last I heard Israel isn’t part of the US and it lobbies our government and it’s leadership has even stood in the halls of Congress giving speeches. Last I heard speeches are meant to influence people.

                I think it is interesting that Flynn served under Obama and was fired. It seems to me he would have fit right in with the Clinton cabal and their money buys influence on policies and playing all loosey goosey with the rules even though those rules are there to protect lives types.

                As far as Russia goes I wish our government would stop with this ridiculous idea that any nation, including Russia, should necessarily be trusted. The Russian people have their own interests. Those interests may not always match ours. It doesn’t mean they are nefarious and evil. It means they have different interests than us. I suspect a lot of our foreign policy problems stem from us working under the assumption that just because we have a mutual interest in one thing that should put a country in our “friend” category, even though they may have different agendas in other areas. Don’t even get me started on our paying out the nose in pallets of money or arms(we aren’t the biggest arms dealers for nothing) to be friends with places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Ukraine either.

                I guess I’m just tired of our country being the world’s police when we have our own problems here in terms of water not being palatable or dams crumbling.

            2. Susan C

              I don’t think anybody cares if Russians have an opinion on our leadership and really bringing Ukraine into the mix would only muddy the picture – like tit for tat. What I see going on is that outside of the fact that he spoke at an inopportune time and lied to Pence about all this, is that he did undermine the authority of the gov’t in terms of the sanctions put into place by Obama for the Russian hacking episode. Although we do not have all the answers at this point, there is still some belief out there that the Russians may have been more involved with the election that we thought they were to make Trump win. Is everyone okay that Russia is now testing one of their own ballistic missiles? We are making an assumption that it is okay to be friendly with Russia – but what if it isn’t okay. What if Trump and the rest are being played? I used to think that HRC was using the Russians as an excuse for losing. Gosh – the weirdest thing was on local tv news the other night. They showed a clip of a bunch of friendly fireman playing this game in this snowy place – and they said it was in Russia. That creeped me out –

              1. cwaltz

                Am I happy that Russia is testing ballistic missiles? No. Am I surprised? No.

                The reality is our attempts at regime change in Syria and in Ukraine are seen by Russia as a threat. I’m sure that their intent at this point is to show us that they can and will defend themselves if we screw with them.

                I think the idea that countries are “friends” is a naïve one. The world and it’s interests change all the time. Today’s “friend” is tomorrow’s enemy and vice versa.

              2. Pat

                You did notice that we moved troops and tanks into Poland, right? This after trying to take out Syria and managing a coup in Ukraine. This would be like a foreign power either putting clear puppets or outright taking over Cuba, setting up and funding a civil war with Mexico and flat out putting their tanks and troops on the Canadian border despite all agreements never to do this in the past. (And this doesn’t even talk about NATO moves in the Scandinavian countries, etc, etc…), but Russia is the country who is acting ominously….

              3. Praedor

                What else should Russia do? Drop trou and accept the US dick up their butts? NATO is crushing up against their borders all over the place but that’s not NATO aggression. Russia reacting reasonably and naturally to that is “Russian aggression”. Huh. What crap.

                The US foments and drives a coup in Ukraine against an ELECTED leader, with the country a mere couple months from a new election and somehow that isn’t US aggression or a problem (the US interfering in the worst possible way in another country’s politics) but Russia reacting to that direct attack is “aggression”. Huh.

                Let’s say Russia couped the Mexican government and installed a puppet government in its stead. How would the US react? SHOULD the US react? If yes, then why shouldn’t Russia react to the SAME THING done by the US in Ukraine? It’s OK if the US does it but if anyone else does, it’s evil and aggression? NONSENSE.

                It is now OK for ANY country to fly killer drones over ANY other country and simply pick off people they don’t like. Why? Because that’s what the US does. It’s now OK for ANY other country to kidnap people out of ANY other country and send the captives to black sites for “interrogation” and indefinite imprisonment. Why? Because the US does it. ANYTHING the US does is now legal and OK for ANY other country to do as well. THAT’S how it works.

                The US is actively engaged in “modernizing” its nuclear forces. Not cutting them down, but “modernizing” them. In other words, they are rebuilding nukes so why shouldn’t the Russians test and rebuild their own? We STILL test ballistic missiles! That’s what happens at Vandenburg Air Force Base, California. It’s purpose in life is to launch/test ballistic missiles and sometimes launch secret military satellites into orbit. But the Russians, oh no, they MUST not do anything even remotely similar because USA! USA! USA!

                Piss off.

          2. jawbone

            There were many MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) discussions of illegality concerning Flynn. OK. I kept waiting, however, for someone to mention St Ronnie (yet to be elected or inaugurated) and the activities of Papa Bush to help Reagan get the Iranian Ayatollah to hold off on releasing the Iran hostages.

            Much was written on the left about what they did, but never any consequences for their actions. Except that St Ronnie did become deified and Papa made it into the White House as prez.

            Or am I forgetting some things after lo these many years?

            1. cwaltz

              I think the perception was viewed as the other way around that Iran timed the release of the hostages to undermine Carter and as a result ensure the election of Reagan.

              Although you bring up an interesting thought. Guess who worked for Reagan and said Carter’s bungle of the hostage rescue shaped his politics?


              I wonder if he was a fan of Reagan’s Iran Contra deal done behind the backs of the American people and our support of “moderates” within Iran at the time? He apparently served as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations under Reagan. I wonder if he knew ol’ Ollie North?

              Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL, someone with the temerity, the utter gall, to be actually *talking* with a nuclear adversary (as opposed to piling up tanks on their border) is now a “rogue actor”.
        You know what “felt like forever” to me? The eight years when anyone desiring peace or financial justice or just an end to rampant pre-crime state murder was shouted down simply because a smooth-talking brother with cute kids was in charge.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Plus. Plus. Plus.

          Utter gall.

          Damn. Everyone needs to get a grip. The guy was AGAINST war with Russia. Who the hell cares how he gets it done?

          1. Tigerlily

            Because war with Russia is such an imminent danger that literally any measure is justified to apprehend it, no matter the propriety, legality, or strategic advisability?

            What price won’t you pay for peace?

            You’re right, everyone does need to get a grip.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        The thing is, as much as I dislike Flynn, I’m not sure he did anything particularly wrong in this case. The sanctions he supposedly discussed with the Russian ambassador are the BS ones Obama cooked up for the completely unproven allegations of Russian interference in the most recent election. Putin responded to these ever so serious sanctions by doing absolutely nothing except invite some diplomats’ kids to a party.

        And again, since when is it illegal to talk diplomacy with a diplomat?

        From what I can tell some spooks used some trumped up charges to get rid of a guy they didn’t like. But as you said it’s all pretty fked up with no un-fking in sight so hard to know what’s really going on.

          1. stefan

            Customarily, diplomatic contacts are not conducted by security intelligence chiefs. It remains to be seen whether Flynn’s conduct constituted a security breach. I am not sure whether he had received the White House briefings prior to his Russian contacts.

            Erratic and reckless, Flynn broke the “one president at a time” rule. Administration support for him has collapsed so abruptly, my guess is that he lied to the FBI and may be facing criminal proceedings.

            Trump administration officials are used to lying. In order to do so, they must also lie to themselves. Inevitably, this leads to problems because truth has a highly pragmatic value.

            1. jsn

              That one “president at a time rule” has been more honored in the breech: when you have Bill Casey as your campaign chief, as Reagan did, and he’s not doing a secret deal with the Ayatollah, your not getting your money’s worth.

              Flynn’s problem is his patron doesn’t have G H W Bush as #2 on the ticket.

          1. a different chris

            Ok totally off topic but the Logan Act was named for the guy whose activities it was outlawing. So you get a sentence saying Logan himself “was unsuccessful in getting the Logan Act repealed.”

            Is that weird to modern eyes or what?

  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the plantidote

    If those are daylilies poking through early during a winter warm spell, I wouldn’t worry too much. Mine have done that a few times and they’ve always blossomed when they are supposed to.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Thirded, i’m not sure those are Hemerocallis (daylily), but that’s nothing unusual to seem them poking up late winter like that through the previous year’s foliage. I suspect they’ll be just fine.

  9. j84ustin

    “…if I’m visiting another country, and I overstay my visa I would expect, if caught, to pay a fine and be forced to leave, and that’s the best case scenario; anyone who has a passport knows this. It is utterly unclear to me why matters in this country are or should be any different.”

    I’d argue that, as the most unequal international border in the world in terms of standards of living, it IS different here.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Open borders are lovely in principle. However, when working people’s wages get beaten down by open borders, working people should be compensated. Otherwise — follow me closely here — all the gains go to the top 1% (with a dollop for the 10%) as has been happening basically my entire adult life.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I never got the logic: Country A has a very high standard of living; Country B has no indoor plumbing, no environmental standards, no social safety net, and no worker protections. So let’s “level the playing field” with them?
        I get how the owners of the means of production would love that, they can then take their gains and squirrel them away in Panama tax-free. But for the 95%+ of the rest of us it’s a really f*cked up idea.

        A reminder from 1994. This stuff is not complicated:

      2. jrs

        if none of the gains went to the immigrants I don’t think they would be immigrating here. Now granted immigration is pretty low now. But no I’m not buying they all do it because they are deluded. They see concrete benefits.

        1. aab

          That’s not what he is saying. Did you skip HAL’s reply, as well?

          People escaping terrible economic conditions who come here and work under brutally exploitative conditions but can at least eat gain material benefits. Immigration is pretty low now because I assume more of those people have gotten the word that that is ALL they’ll get from America — no shot at the “American Dream” — and so they looking elsewhere for subsistence level work.

          The problem is that they — and all the visa holders being brought in to do jobs for less pay, fewer benefits and fewer protections than an American citizen would have — also undercut employment opportunities and wages, benefits and worker protections for citizens AND for themselves. Again, while the top 10% may benefit from this, the bottom 80% is actively being hurt by it, and that percentage continues to go up.

          At this point, I think the only deluded left are the goodthinking, virtue-signaling 10%ers who believe they’re protecting the weak when they’re really advocating for themselves to continue to benefit from exploitation of all immigrants and all citizens beneath them.

          1. Gaianne

            Well said, aab!

            And on your last point: Virtue signaling is a new word to my vocabulary–just showed up in the last year–and now I see it everywhere!

            Good news: This is a signpost: Liberalism (in its modern form as a cover for neo-liberalism) is moving into collapse.

            Bad news: It will go out kicking and screaming! No matter how fast it goes, it will seem like eternity.


    2. optimader

      The Canadian border ? No your talking about Mexico I suppose. And is that is whos problem?

      Mexico has the only state owned petroleum company that went bankrupt. What does that suggest to you?

      1. Goyo Marquez

        Well… to me it suggests the shock doctrine, particularly in view of how the solution was to sell at least part of the government owned entity to private enterprise.

    3. KurtisMayfield

      You are right, it is very unequal. I as a US STEM worker have been competing against people who have had their education and health care subsidized all their lives. And then I have to take lower pay because they do not have the same economic conditions (debt) to deal with and can take lower salaries.

      1. a different chris

        Plus you have the asymmetry of US residency — they can “offer” it to a non-US applicant at minimal cost to them but it is of great value to the immigrant. It is of no value to you at all as you already have it.

      2. Praedor

        The H1B visa thing is a total scam and bullcrap. The foreign experts in tech they bring in to work on H1Bs got their educations, for the most part, right here in the USA at the very same universities that natives are graduating from with the very same degrees. Sorry, I don’t buy that a US kid who graduates from Penn State with a BS in software engineering or electrical engineering is simply unable to fill the job openings at companies in the US but a kid who sat right next to them in the very same classes to get the very same degree magically CAN. Oh…the kid from afar is willing to do that job for shit pay and no benefits. THAT’S the difference!

        Answer: require a standard pay and benefit package that any union worker would get in the US. Totally eliminate the excuse to bring in H1Bs unless they truly do have skills that cannot be had natively in-country. You would quickly see how many are hired simply because they can be heavily exploited by the 1%.

  10. Jim Haygood

    From Mark Hulbert, who monitors stock market timers:

    Market timers typically become more bullish as stocks power higher. Not this time, however.

    The average recommended stock-market exposure among the market timers I monitor … currently stands at 37.5%. That’s below the long-term average of 44%.

    These sentiment developments are bullish, according to contrarian analysis, because major market tops are usually characterized by stubbornly held bullishness. And by no means is that what we’re seeing now.


    Yup. Just what I been sayin’ for a few whiles now. Bubble III can’t be laid to rest until these scared puppies turn into evangelizing true believers.

    Meanwhile Apple — the greatest of all stocks in market cap — soars on into the empyrean, after busting out to a record high yesterday. Tim Cook’s pimping phones, and all’s well with the world.

    1. Pat

      My moment of “OMG, could we be stupider” was a report on a news program this morning that Apple stock had risen.

      What convinced all these savvy investors to pay even more for Apple stock? They announced they would soon be releasing the tenth anniversary iPhone.

      Now if this release came with a requirement that every iPhone owner had to flock to their Apple store/Wireless carrier and demand that their perfectly good iPhone be replaced with that tenth anniversary version I might have understood that choice. But I’m not sure there are enough Apple fanboys/girls who MUST have this phone to overcome every other stupid move they have been making.
      Certainly not since I spend a part of every other day listening to people complain about how their phone/tablet/computer doesn’t just work anymore, and heard a bunch of millenials talking about how it was stupid to upgrade their phones every year. Just count me as one who says peak Apple has passed barring some really good engineering advancement any time soon.

      1. aab

        We were, at one point, almost a completely Apple household: all cell phones, and all computers, except for one old Lenovo laptop and a Kindle. That includes both the household and business devices.

        Now we’re down to one old Apple laptop, the kid’s. She has never worked in any other operating system, but when this one (the power cord of which is held together with a lot of duct tape) dies, we’re going to insist on buying a non-Apple machine. If I’m up and running in Linux by then, hopefully, she’ll join me.

        Can the trendy lemming segment of the 10% buy enough anniversary iPhones to make up for people like us? I don’t look at the data closely enough to have any more than a hunch about that. And my hunch is no.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Practically, have the phone companies offered anything new that is useful or fun (ex. cameras are nice even If they aren’t great; oh I wish list had a camera, oh wait I do) in five years?

    2. David Carl Grimes

      I believe that the rally is due to the market sensing that Trump’s immigration policies, more than his infrastructure policies, are inflationary because they can substantially reduce the supply of labor (illegal immigrants and h1-b visa holders), leading to higher salaries for citizen workers.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Could be. No one really knows. But one doubts that the baying pack of punters is capable of such multi-step inductive logic.

        One of the more broad-brush explanations of equity prices that I’ve ever come across is in a Dec 2013 blog post. The key concept:

        The supply of cash and bonds grows normally as the economy grows. If the preferred allocation to stocks stays the same, [their] price has to rise. That is the only way for the supply of stocks to keep up with the rising supply of cash and bonds –- recall that the corporate sector is not issuing sufficient new shares of equity to help out.


        With both governments and corporations floating bonds at record volumes — while corporations also buy back shares — it follows that investors who stick to fixed allocations such as 60% stocks & 40% bonds are going to drive up equity prices, simply by making the necessary purchases to maintain their desired allocations.

      2. John k

        Yeah, but
        Corps were boosting profits as wages were pushed down. Higher wages mean reduced profits. Higher rates mean reduced sales.
        Meanwhile p./e near record.
        Either profits rise or stocks fall.

  11. Loblolly

    …They are not criminals. We are not criminals,’ Flores said. Activists also marched against President Donald Trump’s stand on immigration and his executive order that targets just about any immigrant living in the country illegally for deportation….

    Well it may cause anxiety in many to say this, but they literally are criminals. The law is pretty clear and all the dancing around it does not change that fact. The causes and the blame can be shared around but unless we communally agree to change the laws they must be deported.

    Unenforced laws breed disrespect for the law and in a nation ostensibly defined by the rule of law we are remarkably scattershot about it. I’d suggest some bankers being procecuted, a healthy dose of anti-trust action to go along with some deportations as a solid step in the right direction, no pun intended.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will that have to go to the Supreme Court or do we need pass a law?

        What if Russia takes advantage of that?

        “Not illegal for my 20 divisions to be in California.”

    1. Paid Minion

      “Open borders”. Exactly.

      There is NO “shortage” of US born-labor.

      There IS a shortage of US born labor that can afford to work for what US employers want to pay. Which would be a couple of bucks an hour, if it weren’t for minimum wage laws.

      “Pay people enough to survive on? Not our problem.” Call me a Socialist, but I wouldn’t be bragging about a 4% unemployment rate, when 40% of the full time jobs don’t pay enough to keep people out of poverty/government assistance. Never mind keep them in what used to be known as the “Middle Class”.

      It’s much like the Big 3 automakers, and the situation they found themselves in. German/Japanese/Korean manufacturers could justify any investment to get access to the biggest market in the world. To promote “free markets” the Big 3 got little/no protection from import competition.

      Because of the size of the markets, and the under the radar trade barriers of various types, costs for US manufacturers to sell cars in overseas markets didn’t “scale” the other way. Too much “overhead”, for too few cars.

      (Funny……one of the criticisms of the US auto industry was “too many nameplates”. So Pontiac, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury, and AMC/Eagle disappear. Along with all of the white collar jobs in marketing, engineering, advertising, design, etc.they created here.

      But somehow it wasn’t a problem when Toyota/Honda/Nissan created Lexus/Acura/Infiniti, and most of their white collar jobs were done overseas.)

      Add the fact that the US Government (in their short-sighted little minds) had bigger geopolitical fish to fry. Getting a fair deal for US workers was about #898 on their priority list.

      I’m not saying that these issues were the primary cause of their failure. But they sure didn’t help.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        If they’re here illegally and working without proper ID’s that tax evasion. If they’re here and working under fake papers, that’s ID theft or forgery.

        Basically if you’re here illegally and working, you’re a criminal.

        1. Praedor

          By definition. If you are here “illegally” then, naturally, you have committed an illegal act: you’ve broken the law and that means you are a criminal. Criminals are those who break/have broken the law, by definition.

  12. steelhead23

    I don’t think Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak were the cause of his ouster. Rather, I think he was ousted by the neocons within the Trump admin. and Deep State. Obama canned him because he disliked arming terrorists to attack Assad and I think the Deep State honey-trapped him by leaking his talks with Kislyak, so Trump had to can him. This does not bode well for Iran or Syria.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The neoconservatives started as Democrats. Brzezinski springs to mind as at least a fellow traveler, but the neoconservatives believe in U.S. empire and magically thinking about the U.S. being a force for good that possesses a tech edge that will ultimately be countered. The idea is to grab everything not nailed down and to have troops at every trade route before that happens. Views on single payer or whether they watch FoxNews or MSNBC are irrelevant. They have just enough planning to differentiate themselves from thugs.

          The neoliberals tend to fancy themselves as protectors of our glorious market gods and despise the non cosmopolitan clones while using tokenism and false sentiment to divide people.

          Trump is closer to the “business of America is business” and would prefer to abuse workers here than abroad.

          1. Grebo

            The neoconservatives started as Democrats.

            Word on the street is they started as Trotskyists. Some of them dispute that of course. They first infiltrated the Democrats, that is uncontested.

  13. frijoles junior

    ““The Big Reason Whites Are Richer Than Blacks in America”” Going back a bit farther, what about all that unpaid labor, 1619-1845? Ten generations of labor could congeal quite a bit of capital.

    1. yamahog

      Perhaps, but slavery persisted in the middle east until the 1960s (nominally) and the last country to ban slavery was a West African nation (in the 1970s) and when we think of wealth from those countries, it belongs to the heads of state and those who own natural resources. Slavery in South America and the West Indies was way more prolific and intensive than slavery in America – and it wasn’t uncommon for free Blacks and Native Americans (go figure out why some tribes were called ‘civilized’ in the South) to own slaves as well.

      If you think that slavery was the primary driver of white wealth in America, how would you explain the comparative lack of wealth in other countries that congealed more slave labor?

      1. duck1

        white wealth was a consequence of the steel/train/metropolis matrix that occured late 19th century
        diversified portfolios going forward had consequential value for white elites, (I guess we could admit that there was intermarriage)

      2. Anon

        Simple. The market for cotton and textiles.

        The US had the resources (land and climate) and business organization (large farms) to send large quantities of goods (produced by slave labor) into a burgeoning market (worldwide commerce).

    2. Dead Dog

      Definitely, mate. Stolen labour. Up where I live in Cairns the early immigrants amassed huge sugar cane plantation fortunes by clearing the swamp and coastal rainforest and employing slaves, particularly from local indigenous and from the Solomon Islands.

      In Western Australia, the government was complicit and, when forced to do something by way of reparations, $2,000 in ‘finger money’ was offered:


      Stolen labor, whether its paying the illegal maid $20 a day, or getting your cropped picked by only offering food and board, it’s a great way to congeal the fruits of labor into capital that can continue to extract rent from the poorest.

      1. Katharine

        Seems so obvious. And the differential inheritance just compounds it (and is not news, except apparently to Bloomberg). You can’t inherit what your parents didn’t have.

  14. ex-PFC Chuck

    “Any concrete nerds in the readership?

    Not a concrete nerd, but there’s an excellent, accessible-to-the-layperson description concrete cavitation in a wonderful book entitled, The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon, by Kevin Fedarko. The “fastest ride” of the subtitle took place in the 1980s when and over-topping event at the Glen Canyon dam was narrowly avoided. The emergency spillway was a concrete-lined tunnel through the rock that at the peak it was passing a flow of nearly 100K CFS, which was considerably above what the designers had anticipated. Huge chunks of concrete began flying out of the tunnel’s mouth and there was serious concern that the adjacent rock, which anchored the dam, might be damaged so much that the dam itself might become dislodged and fail. The cause was later traced to violent standing waves that were initiated by cavitation caused by a barely discernible bump some distance back upstream from the damage.

    The book is a very fun read. The author, Kevin Fedarko, draws heavily on his own experience as a whitewater guide in the canyon. He’s a great story-teller and does a great job of capturing the unique characters of many of the people in that line of work, as well as the NPS and the USBR, which manages the dam.

    1. rfdawn

      Also not a concrete nerd, but this Spillways for Dummies document is admirably clear on the importance of “properly maintained vegetation” for emergency spillway areas. Emergency clearance is no substitute.

  15. Ernesto Lyon

    Interesting that the left’s greatest ire is reserved for poor racist white men like Ancona. They leave the rich white corporatist free reign because they have mastered the art of positive presentation.

    1. shinola

      This sentence from the article really gobsmacked me:

      “In an age when AI threatens to become widespread, humans would be useless, so there’s a need to merge with machines, according to Musk.”

      Humans would become useless???

      That’s some seriously twisted thinking.

      1. robnume

        I am, frankly, rarely able to follow Elon Musk’s train of thought, if one can call it that. He seems to be incapable of understanding that humans are, in fact, evolving and that evolution is such a slow process that it is not readily apparent to the human eye. And, please, someone take away this man’s .gov credit card. I am tired of paying for this guy’s ‘ideas.’
        Statements Musk makes such as those that Shinola pointed out above are the reason why Musk himself is “irrelevant” in my opinion. Rein in these technocrats.

      2. Praedor

        Only if human value is entirely based on their utility to work/labor. A dog or coyote or horse is not useless because it serves no purpose required by human society. They are intrinsically valuable because they are living creatures. Same with humans. If an AI wants to do all the work, fine! I’ll relax and play. I’ll do hobbies. I’ll learn the piano, to paint, learn a foreign language, garden.

        Elon thinks human worth is only measured economically. He’s clearly a sociopath.

    2. IHateBanks

      Elon Musk can eat a bag of…boogers.

      I enjoy it so much every time I tell my Tesla driving family member that she would be most welcome to come visit at the cabin, if she didn’t have to find somewhere to plug in her $80,000 car halfway there.

  16. marym

    Re : “Yes we can”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Many who marched shouted chants including “Si, se puede,” which is commonly translated as “yes, we can” or “yes, it is possible,” a slogan made famous by the United Farm Workers. Others carried American and Mexican flags. Signs read “No Gestapo Sheriffs!” and “Stop Being I.C.E. Cold Keep Families Together.”

    Si, se puede

    Sí, se puede (Spanish for “Yes, it is possible” or, roughly, “Yes, one can”;[1] pronounced: [ˈsi se ˈpwe.ðe]) is the motto of the United Farm Workers. In 1972, during Cesar Chavez’s 24-day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, he and UFW’s co-founder, Dolores Huerta, came up with the slogan.[1]

    The phrase has been widely adopted by other labor unions and civil rights organizations and drew widespread political and media attention as a rallying cry during the 2006 U.S. immigration reform protests, and was also used in the 2002 Disney film Gotta Kick It Up![2][3]

    The saying Sí Se Puede has long been a UFW guiding principle that has served to inspire accomplishment of goals even in what at times may seem insurmountable situations. Sí Se Puede is a federally Registered Trademark of the UFW so the UFW can maintain the original meaning of this saying.

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      “If Trump is Hitler, then Goebbels is playing for the other team.” Ha, ha—quite humorous, and true.

    2. optimader

      Yes, it is possible

      What? Eating 12 hotdogs in five minutes? Leaves a lot to interpretation for me.

      “…No matter what status you have, we’re here to work hard…”

      What other country can a person illegally enter a country or illegally overstay a visa and not be deported, let alone engage in work? This is it’s own special subset of entitlement.

      It puzzles me why people think it is ok, let alone are belligerent about being here illegally when others patiently immigrate in observance of the present laws?

      I can assure you, if you decided to enter Mexico illegally, or any other country I’ve traveled, and start applying for jobs ,you would be run out on a rail. That’s why there are dour man in the booth at international terminals of airport asking “what is your purpose for entering the country”? Some even ask, “are you carrying any tools”

      1. marym

        In this instance I was just responding to the comment that I took to mean that the phrase was “vacuous” due to its association with Obama, though it has more of a history in the movement.

        As far as immigration issues, I’m generally with PKMKII below, adding that, as we fearfully watch for news from the failing California dam, if we were to do all that needs to be done in this country, from infrastructure, to social services, housing, caregiving, environment…etc. there would be plenty of jobs and maybe a willingness to find resolutions for undocumented people that didn’t involve armed raids and hauling people away to detention camps.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Raids are most likely armed. I doubt agents would participate without anything. I know when a cop stops me for not stopping completely at a stop sign, he or she is armed.

          And they can detain you for loitering and many other things…in a city jail or when there are too many to keep there, some camp-like places, I suppose.

          1. marym

            The phrase “camp-like places” probably conjures up different images for different people.

            Regardless of whether or not one thinks sending people to detention camps is the right solution, one ought to have a reasonably accurate picture in mind.



            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Instead of conjuring up images, catch them in the act.

              Some solid evidence of their first solution, second solution or last solution.

        2. optimader

          armed raids

          goes with the territory, I would certainly be armed.

          Failing dams and “other work” is a topical defelction
          and undocumented people word play. Undocumented people = people in the Country illegally.. change the law

          1. marym

            topical deflection….

            OK, though I pretty much have a similar reaction to many topics discussed here – what practical, humane solutions to this problem would be possible if we as a society were committed to doing the work that needs to be done, with living wages and decent workplaces. But yes, if round them up and send them to camps is all we can think of to do, armed forces would be needed.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Perhaps homeless Americans are less than human, because the government doesn’t even round them up, but just leave them homeless out in the open.

              Camps would be an improvement for them.

              1. freedomny

                Actually in LA – they have been rounding them up and putting them in tent camps. I can’t provide a link – this is just from what I saw on business trips there….

                Huge homeless problem in LA because of the climate…

                1. aab

                  The climate doesn’t cause the homelessness problem. Neoliberal governance causes the homelessness problem. California’s had lovely weather for centuries. It hasn’t always had such obvious tent cities that people in cabs driving by on business trips observe them.

        3. aab

          I haven’t read PKMKII’s comment yet, but I very much appreciated your explanation of the slogan, which I read when I stopped by a couple of hours ago.

          Has anyone else pointed out that this means Obama was probably consciously appropriating a trademarked piece of intellectual property belonging to the UFW? Which was pretty clever of him, given that he was actively working to trick people who hadn’t followed him closely into thinking he was a real labor rights advocate.

          So he committed a neoliberal crime — not paying for protected intellectual property — and an identity politics crime — cultural appropriation. Did anyone mention this at the time?

          And I want fewer armed agents of the state, full stop. The fact that someone can wave a gun at a citizen over a traffic stop does not make armed raids on undocumented and illegal immigrants okay. None of it is okay. Of course the people being rounded up, if anyone is, should be the employers. But for that to happen, we need a government in power that represents workers, not their exploiters.

          (I also appreciated the explanation of why “undocumented” and “illegal” are both being applied somewhat sloppily, along ideological lines.)

            1. aab

              I had a feeling it was something like that.

              Given that they said they felt it was fine as long as the person saying it actually worked to achieve their goals, are they still okay with it?

      2. PKMKII

        What other country can a person illegally enter a country or illegally overstay a visa and not be deported, let alone engage in work? This is it’s own special subset of entitlement.

        Well, if you’ve been working here undocumented for years, generating wealth for your employer, and then ICE shows up and deports you, okay, that’s the law. But if at the same time, nothing happens to your employer, or at most they get a slap on the wrist, then that’s not right.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Go ahead, fine those employers.

          I hope they don’t fine the undocumented workers.

          That’s only fair.

          Fine the bosses. Leave the workers alone.

        2. Annotherone

          For those working here undocumented, for a given number of years, and liable for deportation, rather than a fine for the employer, it’d be a decent and fair plan for the employer to be made legally responsible and liable for all expenses and paperwork involved in obtaining a work visa or green card for the undocumented worker(s) – with a supporting govt. program for fast-tracking such applications. It’d also provide more clerical and monitoring jobs – for someone. Unlikely though!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is that like for credit rating agencies to pay for Goldman and others to square their accounts with the US Treasury?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I understand.

                Those native workers who did not get hired because of various issues, among H1B visa, do they also get some benefits from those employers?

                That would be sensible.

      3. UserFriendly

        What other country can a person illegally enter a country or illegally overstay a visa and not be deported, let alone engage in work?

        Did you read the Rolling Stone article? Rojava is looking for leftists to help. To be honest I’m actually tempted. Getting murdered by Isis or Turkey sounds much more appealing than any future I have as a debt slave in this country.

    3. robnume

      I’m with Lambert on this issue. I was actually an illegal alien in Canada in the late ’70’s when I had a Canadian boyfriend. Carter had not yet pardoned the so-called draft dodgers so it would have been impossible to stay. Believe it or not, at that time there was a bit of a Canadian backlash against all of the U.S. citizens who had fled the conscription of soldiers to Vietnam.
      I lived in Scarborough, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. It was great and I wish I could have stayed.

  17. PKMKII

    Regarding the undocumented: Your analysis makes it sound like the undocumented are in cahoots with the neoliberal globalization cabal, when they’re just as much victims of the game as the rust belt whites. Their economies were just as undermined by free trade, so like any group within a species they migrated to where the resources are (this is, fundamentally, biology, which does not care of the laws of man). The owners of capital in the states exploit the cheap labor by paying them illegally low wages. Want to end that? Make their native economies stronger, go after the owners for breaking wage laws, and amend the citizenship laws to better fit with our communities, than based on political posturing. Someone who came over illegally as a child on the back of their parents, and has lived and grown up here, been a part of American society, is more a part of their community and the larger nation than a member of the global 1% who get citizenship here for tax or business purposes (Murdoch).

    1. LT

      I like to phrase what you’re saying this way: The USA has a foreign policy problem, not an immigration problem.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And therefore the way to solve the immigration problem is to fight with all your heart for the Democrat establishment that is (a) fomenting the wars and (b) has already done everything on immigration that Trump is accused of doing, but worse? (I’m not saying you, personally, are, but that seems to the logic, if logic is the word I want.

        You can’t solve the foreign policy problem with an open borders policy or ethic. See my comment elsewhere on this thread.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the meantime, the Deplorables can only blame themselves for not migrating to, inside or over the walls of the 0.01% mansions illegally.

      Both have seen their economies undermined

      “Over several decades, no one -or very few – spoke up for the domestic deplorables, their families separated, as the healthier moved out to find work elsewhere

      No slogans for them.

      No protests for them.

      No marches for them.

      1. Katharine

        That’s not entirely true. The Moral Mondays in North Carolina and their spinoffs elsewhere are for economic and social justice. That means for everybody.

        William Barber is one of my admired people at this stage, and I was interested to see that he was involved in organizing this:

        Seizing upon the energy of Valentine’s Day, people around the world are demonstrating for justice on Tuesday, whether by participating in protests, participating in democracy, or both.

        Organizers and supporters of the Day of Revolutionary Love, Day of Rising—who include leaders from last month’s Women’s March, Rev. William Barber of the Moral Mondays movement, and One Billion Rising, a campaign to end violence against women—say their aim is “to reclaim love as a public ethic and a way to fight for justice.”


        I know Anne and Lambert and a few others would probably call this vacuous, but I grew up on the Christian left (without, thank God, knowing it was called that) and think the more people get serious about identifying their values and trying to live by them the better the chances there will be enough people to accomplish the specific things that need to be done.

        1. aab

          I think you meant me, and not Anne, in this reference.

          I also grew up in the Christian left. My mother actually risked her life, in North Carolina, in the 50s, protesting segregation. I respect Rev. Barber. If he allows himself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party for its nefarious ends, I will be sad, but not entirely surprised. One reason the Democratic leadership is assuming it can continue its strategy of deceit, exploitation and corruption is because it still has an identity in many people’s eyes of being on the side of justice, although it no longer is. Barber’s a pretty savvy guy, so I hope he evades capture.

          Bear in mind that when I (also probably Lambert, but I’m leery of speaking for him) offer these toughminded critiques of liberal protest, my primary concern is that the current corrupt Democratic leadership not be empowered by such protest, as it is working so diligently to achieve. Generalized chaos probably helps them. Not making concrete, policy-focused demands helps them. Not changing the paradigm of how we talk about these problems or what solutions to seek helps them. (I.e., focusing on “saving” Roe v. Wade).

          And if you inadvertently help the Democratic leadership stay in power, you are hurting all the causes you profess to care about. Because the Clinton/Obama/Pelosi/Warren/Schumer/Booker/Perez version of the Democratic Party is the enemy of workers and citizens. It is the enemy of the undocumented. It is the enemy of women. It is the enemy of people vulnerable due to their identity. It does not help any of those people, unless they also have a whole lotta cash.

          1. Susan C

            Excuse me for jumping in here, but from my point of view, I am not seeing the Democrats gloating over all the demonstrations that are going on right now. I don’t believe they view themselves as responsible for the demonstrations, and they are not becoming empowered because of all this sudden on the street activity. They are too busy with all the commotion going on with Trump and the cabinet and fighting the bills. I think they are surprised to see all this grassroots political activity, as is everyone else. Also I like Elizabeth Warren for her work on consumers and financial issues during the financial crisis and find it disheartening to see her listed with the others. She is who she is and I for one happen to respect her.

            1. aab

              I’m not going to refight this, since you have already heard my “longwinded” argument, including all the evidence from numerous parties here, and rejected it out of hand.

              Elizabeth Warren is who she is, indeed That person is a polite Republican, a warhawk neoliberal who decided to help put Trump in office by supporting a criminal who had not and did not back any of the modest reforms Warren was pushing to tame the market’s ferocity. And now, her real achievements are likely to be lost. She does however, plan ahead of time when she’s going to verbally grandstand, because she has fundraising emails and hashtags ready to launch the instant she starts. I think she’s been caught sending them before she speaks. She has made a series of failed political calculations, but she’s gleefully engaging in the absolute worst, emptiest Democratic Party performative marketing, clearly designed not to accomplish anything except get her money.

              I no longer respect her.

              The “commotion” with Trump is a commotion they created. Yes, I’m sure engineering a soft coup with the intelligence community and corporate media is quite a bit of work.

              Look, I’m not saying all protests are being managed, engineered and enjoyed by the Party. I have never said that. You keep creating that straw man to evade my point. There are things going on that the insiders don’t like and didn’t want. They clearly have not enjoyed voters demanding they vote against Trump’s nominees. I WANT protests. Please, do a sit-in in front of Pelosi’s office in favor of universal health care and expanded Social Security. I’ll join you, and bring baked goods. (I make a very tasty brownie.)

              Are you Team Tom? That would clarify our discussions quite a bit.

              1. Susan C

                I have no idea what you mean by Team Tom. That completely eludes me as I cannot think of any person named Tom at the moment. Still drinking coffee to wake up – and I make a mean chocolate chip cookie myself.

                For the record I too support universal health care and expanded SS. And I have been crazy about Sanders for years already. I am currently on Medicare and I love it and completely support his efforts for Medicare for all or at least for those 55+. For once I got off my duff and made a call to my senator (McCain) and told him not to vote for DeVos. It was the first thing I have done politically since my Vietnam days when I was out on the streets demonstrating, over and over again. The day I knew that war would end is when many middle class adults began to show up and join our effort.

                I too see the soullessness of the Democratic party and do not support them. At all. When I think of the protests and marches right now, I am delighted that so many people are standing up for themselves and demanding they be heard or at least seen. I think what could happen from all that is that a new party can emerge and that is what I think I may be witnessing. People saying enough!

                For Warren, she is coming off as a light weight so there is probably no hope for her to capture a key spot into the future. But at least she is fighting, she is speaking up.

                1. aab

                  This gets back to our fundamental disagreement. You reject all the evidence that Democratic leadership has been working to shape and steer protest in ways that are safe for its funders, and will result in voters returning their oppressors to power, believing inaccurately that they are on our side. There is evidence they’re doing it now, and evidence that they have successfully done it before. I’m not imagining it.

                  Having said that:

                  Anyone who says “Enough” meanings “enough” with the faux free markets, enough pretending we can’t increase Social Security, enough pretending universal health care isn’t the ONLY way to deliver cost-effective and health-effective health care, enough with allowing banks and corporations to feed off and consume 90% of the human population of the planet, most of the other species and every physical resource available at the end of gun — anyone who says enough of this, is my ally.

                  I hope you are my ally. If we want the same outcomes, even if we disagree about tactics and strategies, we have the potential to be allies.

                  There is a lot of potential to turn intended fauxtests into real protests. Call your Democratic Senators and demand they filibuster until the Medicare for All bill reaches the floor. That probably won’t happen, but making demands like this signals that they won’t get away with the identity politics distractions. Go to Democratic representative town halls and ask only about economic policy in specific ways. Doesn’t matter which piece you focus on; they don’t want any of it. They want to redirect you into fear of Trump and Russia.

                  I’m honestly confused here. You go out of your way to reply to me, when you have already indicated you don’t respect me, to tell me you respect Warren. But when I reiterate how completely she has failed in her political calculations and that this has resulted in her legislative accomplishments being undermined, you acknowledge that she’s a lightweight — yet still you assert “at least she’s fighting, she is speaking up.”

                  She isn’t fighting. She is only speaking. And she speaking exactly the way the Democratic elite prefers to speak, not to work towards delivering policy that will help their constituents, but to keep their funders happy and keep suckers donating and clicking — which is also money to her and the party. Gathering data from these preplanned “she’s fighting but oddly never winning” fundraising emails is money in the bank, money that never seems to get used to help people. But it will keep Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and in the spotlight, “fighting” but never winning, speaking but never outside the proscribed boundaries of the oligarchs.

                  So I’m confused, because you tell me you respect her, and then basically agree with me that she’s useless. You keep digging in your heels about your belief that performative liberalism focused around identity is useful and good. But that’s what liberalism has been for a while now, and you tell me you don’t like what it has wrought.

                  So you seem to be about a half an inch away from me. I don’t know whether or how to close that gap. I hope you join me in fighting for profound change in how this country operates, in order to put people first. I care about immigrants of every type of legal status, not just American citizens. But I believe that the only way to help ALL of us — citizens and non-citizens, both here and outside our borders — is to overthrow neoliberal hegemony, dial back globalized financial capitalism and the American military imperialism that undergirds and enforces it, and focus on universal material benefits that go to PEOPLE, both to rescue all our suffering brethren AND to create a party that can and will do more than pay lip service to issues like reproductive rights, worker rights and human rights to all people regardless of identity.

                  “Team Tom” is Tom Perez’s clumsy way to fake an emotional connection to the grassroots. I think one of the biggest differences between our stances re: what’s going on is that I deal with a LOT of Hillbots and other affluent Democrats who really don’t want economic justice. Like Jennifer Palmieri, they really don’t want their barrista to get $15 an hour. They don’t want to share their good fortune with the poors in the interior. They like things just as they are. They are my enemy.

                  I don’t think you are my enemy. When I write a comment you find longwinded, I’m trying to achieve an ultimate goal that it sounds like we share. Do we?

                  Dammit. This is also longwinded by your standards. Sorry about that.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, I became an atheist under the Bush administration (having been an agnostic Episcopalian) because it seemed to me that a God who didn’t smite the Bush Pharisees for taking “his” name in vain probably didn’t exist.

          So I used to care about religion a lot, when the Christian right was in power, as part of the general assault on the Bush administration c. 2003 – 2006 so well described by Ian Welsh.

          Now I’ve mellowed. If that Tennessee teacher wants to advocate for Medicaid for All because that’s what (her version of) Christianity tells her to do, then I’m not going to quibble over motives. That’s the nice thing about making all your litmus tests about policy; it makes all the identity politics issues go away (I hope), including the religious controversies. Or at least mellows them.

  18. River

    Merging with machines. Yay! Now I can have pop-up ads beam directly into my brain. Too much like Futurama.

    Why do people listen to Musk and what is hisappeal? I really don’t get it. With the exception of the wealthy celebrity status, but he seems more like a babbling drunk in his declarations about humanity.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Post assimilation, I mean merging, there will be no advertisements. Just pop-up commands and monitoring/punishment for failure to comply. “Code is law” ….

      A liberals dream come true.

    1. cwaltz

      I think it’s funny that you have people hyperventilating over Russia influencing our election when you have AIPAC making speeches and lobbying Congress.

      1. timbers

        I’m sad the blob scored a win by getting rid of someone soley based on the high crime of practicing dilplomacy with Russia.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Remember when Russia got the House to whoop through a pro-Russia resolution on a 434-to-1 vote?

        Me neither …

  19. Katharine

    I think you read too fast. The McClatchy article says Ancona was not related to the car dealer of the same name and made his living as a self-employed contractor, type unspecified.

    1. katiebird

      Thanks for pointing out where to find the info about his lack of relationship to the car dealership. I keep hearing the phrase “Please be kind to Frank Ancona” in my head but haven’t stumbled across the facts.

      And my own speed reading had me skipping over that bit.

  20. Mark Waterman

    The Interfluidity post is awesome.

    Persuasion … is about interacting, with good will and in good faith, with people who look at things differently, and working to understand how they see things so that you can help them understand how you see things.

    Yes!! Sitting on couch and engaging in Facebook/Twitter slacktivism (with DailyShow/JonOliver ridiculing Trump in the background) is not a winning strategy.

    It’s worth reviewing some of the hard-learned lessons that came out of Venezua when they failed to interact and persuade …they used the Dems’ current tactics when Chávez burst onto the scene, and it did not work out well for them.

    1. PKMKII

      Sitting on couch and engaging in Facebook/Twitter slacktivism (with DailyShow/JonOliver ridiculing Trump in the background) is not a winning strategy.

      It’s also less satisfying than real actions. Signing online petitions or blasting off some e-mails are political empty calories. You briefly feel like you’ve made a difference, and then the rush quickly wears off, the reality of its futility sets in, and you go back to feeling powerless and irrelevant.

    2. aab

      I haven’t read that piece yet. But while I intend to read it and I’m sure it’s got good stuff in it, I’d like to make a couple of preliminary points as someone who made her living as a persuader for over a decade. (Seriously, my job was basically to persuade people to hire me to persuade people to give them access to captive audiences, and then help my clients develop targeted messaging to persuade those audiences.)

      First, persuasion does not have to be with good will and in good faith to be effective. I always sought in my work to at least never do harm. I never facilitated misrepresentations, or helped organizations hurt or trick people. That grew increasingly difficult, but it was always a conscious goal, and it negatively impacted my bottom line. But that was a choice. I certainly could have used all the same skills and abilities on behalf of bad actors, and would probably have been just as successful, barring me telegraphing my own discomfort with doing it.

      The key is understanding the true needs and desires of the party you wish to persuade, including both their self-interest, and desires that are often cloaked not just from you, but from them. Lots of people and organizations aren’t honest with themselves about what they want and why they want it. When you can target that unconscious aspect of it, it can be especially powerful, because you’re sliding in around their psychological defenses, and they’re not even aware of what aspect of themselves you’re targeting, so it’s much harder for them to defend against it.

      That sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be. Persuasion is a morally neutral tactic. Empathy and emotional intimacy can help, but that also does not need to be done in good will and good faith.

      It’s important to understand this about persuasion tactics, because only by really understanding how it works can you both protect yourself against toxic persuasion and become a more effective persuader on behalf of good causes.

      In case anyone is wondering, no, I don’t do persuasion tactics here. That isn’t why I came to Naked Capitalism. Head-on factually based argument is a different beast.

        1. aab

          I agree with them. But one can be successful without that. Persuasion is a weapon that can be used for good or ill. If people think it doesn’t work unless the persuader means well, they’ll be less likely to recognize the bad faith propaganda level persuasion being used on them.

  21. John k

    Give us your tired… workers, unite!….
    We are where we are because Clinton bush did little to prevent the inward flow corps want… maybe the one issue Obama confronted them on, of course excluding H1b.

    Nafta part of problem, low cost ag disrupted mex farm communities.
    Massive infra, if it ever comes, provides jobs reelects trump and reps but also great attractor to those south of border.

    Imagine trump builds wall plus useful infra and expands Medicare, maybe for all… trump president for life, reps anyway get veto proof majorities…
    and dem war party plus MSM blame Bernie, as expected…

  22. dcblogger

    I am THRILLED with the pro-immigrant demonstrations. I am thrilled with all the demonstrations and am going to as many of them as I can. I love all the push back against Trump’s horribleness. Also I think all these protests are taking on a life of their own. One the thrills of all this is watching the Versailles Democrats being afraid of their base. This is the first time in my lifetime that this has been the case.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      That’s great. So, next time strikebreakers and scabs are bused past a picket line of striking workers, you will be just as thrilled to show your support to the strikebreakers and scabs (in actuality, to the fat cats who use them to grind the strikers into the dirt). Impeccable logic, and I’m sure the affected Deplorables will accede you the Feel-Good point; ’cause the actual American citizens trying to hold on to a fast-vanishing, living wage deserve to be ground into the dirt, and especially so all of their children and their communities immiserated through their being pushed aside or forced to scrabble with the illegals (or is that undocumented aliens? hard to keep up with the currently received PC jargon) for the resulting ever-lower wages and more dehumanized working conditions.

      Awesome. I’d agree with you, but I’m just not a useful idiot for the Neo-Liberals. Oh, and the point about the Democrats being afraid of their base? Hoi polloi are not their base, finance capitalists and ilk who benefit from this in-country labor arbitrage are their base. Wrap your mind around that thought. As the Democrat officials’ true base, the finance capitalists and ilk are happy to foment illegal immigration to accomplish their desired goal of in-country labor arbitrage, and the Democrats are happy to assist in order to please their masters (rather like the Republicans, but the Democrats are stealthier, and if anything, more hypocritical about their actions).

      Was that a buzz kill, and disruptive to your virtue signaling?

      1. jrs

        You will lose the demographic war you know … just saying, your only hope is to convert more people of Mexican ancestry to your side.

    2. Pat

      If I thought the Versailles Democrats were afraid of their base, I might enjoy all the anti-Trump demonstrations. You are apparently seeing far more fear than I am. I am seeing a lot of make nice talk and not much movement grudging or no toward the things their base has wanted from them for years, no decades.

      1. aab

        They’re so afraid of their base that Tom Perez has been making jokes about how the party mistreated the Berniecrats, while the establishment rallies around him.

        dcBlogger, will you still insist they’re afraid of their base if Perez is selected as Chair?

        1. GERMO

          Hey, I’m kind of with dcblogger — sure maybe they’re not afraid but making the Dems fear the Left should be the whole point. They’re not nearly as afraid as they should be!

          1. Pat

            Yes, making the Democrats fear the people SHOULD be part of the agenda of any of these demonstrations, instead they let them come speak at them and undermine any real left leaning goals by making it more about the neoliberal accepted limits as in protect ACA not Medicare for All, 12 maybe in a couple of years NOT 15 or more now, protect Social Security rather than both eliminate the cap AND expand benefits, protect women’s rights rather than protect AND expand access, not to mention any of the numerous other items on the DFH of the left’s agenda.

          2. aab

            To back up Pat, dcblogger is asserting the Democratic Party is afraid. I’d like more evidence that this is true.

            A lot of the electeds and insiders that run the party are saying openly that they won’t back Bernie, won’t back Ellison, won’t back Medicare For All, won’t back either the people or the policies the base has been and continues to agitate for. They’re talking about how they need to “move to the center” which means apparently, gutting deer and promising unemployed workers in the Midwest they’ll be more racist — not quite as racist as the Republicans, of course; they’ll try to find just the right about of racism to get just enough votes to put another neoliberal in the White House.

            Again, the problem with the types of protests dcblogger is enjoying is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Cory Booker are also enjoying them. They are not afraid of them at all. If you storm a Democratic electeds town hall with the Medicare For All bill in hand and demand they filibuster on its behalf, then you might see a shiver of fear.

    3. Sally

      And what do the Dems have to offer instead? 8 more years of Obamas broken promises?

      Prosecuting bankers? Broken promise.
      Public option on health? Broken promise.
      Ending the wars? Broken promise.
      Re negotiating NAFTA? Broken promise
      Using anti trust? Broken promise.
      Protecting whistle blowers? Broken promise.
      Becoming the most open govt? Broken promise.
      Breaking up Occup using the NSA?
      Bombing the 7 Middle estern countries with 26 thousand bombs?
      Deporting 3 million illegals?

      Funny I didn’t see you March against any of these!

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I am THRILLED with the pro-immigrant demonstrations.

      Well, this is how I say “thrilled”: “I tend to think it’s good to see people in motion.” :-)

      > watching the Versailles Democrats being afraid of their base

      I’d like to see some evidence of that.

      That said, any reports from the field will be of interest. For example, I hear there were plenty of pink pussy hats at a union demonstration in Indiana. So that’s a good thing — and wouldn’t be the first time the local and the national weren’t on the same page.

  23. DH

    Re: Cavitation and concrete

    Cavitation is normal in turbulent flows. The dam spillway has a 700 foot drop, so water is falling 70 stories and hits high velocities. Much of that flow will be turbulent which includes cavitation. So you end up with localized momentary vacuums, collapsing vacuums with sudden pressure increases, and constant high pressure flow going on. This causes a lot of wear on concrete and pretty much any other material ( it is a source of pitting on ship propellers).

    As a result, a dam spillway is a lot of like a concrete pavement section on a highway with trucks slamming over it. Once a problem starts, then the flow will become more turbulent with more cavitation, and more stress applied locally. That is why the problem accelerated rapidly, because the hole created more stress on the concrete, which caused more of it to fail. As the hole got bigger, the water would slam directly into the downstream end of it applying full force so that its kinetic energy was transferred directly to the soil and concrete in compression instead of just a percentage of the energy applied through shear on the surface. This high degree of resistance would have caused a hydraulic jump where the water would go up in the air and then come crashing down, as well as being diverted outside the spillway where it would have caused erosion on unprotected surfaces.

    It is critical that these types of elements have appropriate inspections and maintenance since it is not possible to design for these types of forces to survive for 50+ years without upkeep.

    1. RUKidding

      Yes, the US infrastructure is failing, and the Oroville Dam is just the tip of the iceberg. This is why Trump’s insistence about going forward with the Wall drives me, uh, up the wall. We need so much critical work done on our infrastructure. It’s galling that billion$ might be wasted on this exercise in futility, which will serve to only enrich Trump and his family.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Good analysis. As you alluded to, under normal conditions, 70 stories worth of potential energy gets dissipated in friction, shear and turbulence on the sloping paved surface, and the rest is harmlessly dissipated as the runoff crashes turbulently into the river.

      When that energy is instead dissipated in direct impact on uncovered soil, and induced eddy currents and standing waves undermining the pavement in the uphill direction, then material is going to be excavated at a rapid rate for as long as the flow continues.

      No repairs are possible without shutting off the main spillway for months. But since the emergency spillway will certainly fail if overtopped again, apparently the main spillway will be kept running to the point of destruction.

      1. duck1

        how does the irrigation water get distributed without the spillway? through the generation unit?
        just wondering, if we get through this problem

    3. Dave

      I have not seen any reinforcing steel in the shattered spillway in any videos I have seen. Maybe they are taken from too far away.

      Gavin Noisome was out there yesterday doing his best to act Governorley and he actually said.
      “This is no time for finger pointing”. He said it, not me.

      Whatever Democratic voters are left in the 200,000 evacuees are probably going to stay home in the next election.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      More on Oroville:

      Oroville Dam operators say they’re ready for next key hurdle: Wednesday night’s storm
      Sacramento Bee

      Why Didn’t Anyone Fix the Oroville Spillway? Slate

      Oroville spillway situation: update International Water Power and Dam Construction

      Spillway repairs not only project underway at Oroville Dam
      Oroville Mercury Register. These are the locals:

      DWR is actively removing a debris bar that built up at the base of the main spillway in an effort to get the Hyatt Powerhouse under the dam back in operation. That will allow release of another 13,000 cubic-feet of water per second from the lake.

      The debris forms something of a dam that has raised the water in the Diversion Pool to a level where the powerhouse can’t be operated. The deposit consists of chunks of concrete, rocks, dirt and vegetation that eroded from around the main spillway after its concrete floor breached on Feb. 7.

      I’m drawing a blank on how important 13K cfs is, though…

  24. Steve H.

    Oroville: I just went looking for msm updates. Foxnews & MSNBC showed nothing on frontpage or U.S. page. CNN had it buried in the sidebar.

    The first two were all politics and fakenews. Oroville is most def real news.

    1. PKMKII

      Maddow was the first place I heard about Oroville. Agreed though, not getting nearly the prominence it should in the real(ly fake) news.

    2. RUKidding

      We hear about it here in Caleeeefornia all the time. In fact, I get special bulletins, but then again, I live in Sacramento, which is only 70 miles away.

      It really should get more coverage, as there’s tons of other infrastructure in this country – and not just dams – that are failing and falling apart similarly. Let’s focus on that, rather than the building a useless wall. I know: I’m a broken record. But I live in a wetland area riddled with old dams and old levees. Scary.

      1. Steve H.

        I was wondering when the 180+ thousand people get to go back home. Who signs off on that? Bad career move if it doesn’t work out.

        I know a little about soil void spaces and pressure infiltration, and this is not just a surface hydrology event. With that large of an unknown situation, record drought followed by record rainfall, interpolation isn’t reliable. So do they just send them back today? Wait until after these new storms? After the spring thaw?

        I’m also remembering workers in New Orleans trying to fill in a levee and failing. This is orders of magnitude larger. The outcome of Katrina was a couple hundred thousand people relocating to Houston in particular, and that’s on the order of what somebody has to think about now.

        1. RUKidding

          Yes, I’m not exactly sure who will make that final call. I believe (but don’t quote me) that it will be a combination of various local, state and possibly fed officials. At first they didn’t think anyone would have to evacuate, but when they had issues with the emergency spillway failing (or whatever you call it; unsure about that event but it didn’t go well), they called for the evacuation late on Sat afternoon rather quickly.

          I think things are “holding” for now, but clearly there’s deep concern about the coming storms later this week. In the meantime, my understanding is that they are trying their best to: a) drain down the lake, itself, to give more space for more water, and b) patch the hole in the spillway. I understand they’re using boulders dropped from helicopters.

          It’s unclear right now (unless some announcement was made more recently) when they’re going to let people come back. I think the preference is to wait at least until next week after the next round of storms. I know people who are staying here in Sacramento, and I don’t think they’ve gotten word that they can go back.

          In the meantime, we had a levee breach south of Sacramento that caused evacauation on one of the Sacramento Delta Islands. That is also scary.


          We could potentially be one or levee breaches away from a NOLA Katrina situation. The levees, I believe, also need some serious attention. The rivers are running super high right now, and most are overflowing their traditional banks but haven’t reached levee breach stage… yet.

          Everyone’s keeping their ears glued to the radio and hoping the next emergency broadcast isn’t something worse. In general, though, the officials are handling everything very conservatively – iow, erring on the side of caution so far.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            All clear was given an hour or so ago.

            I know I wouldn’t be staying through the weekend, what with the rain coming…but of course, I’ll be up in Sac Friday for a funeral.

      2. jrs

        +1 yes not a useless wall, even if the goal is to stop immigration, don’t waste infrastructure on that, crack down on employers of illegal immigrants. The wall is pure waste.

        1. RUKidding

          Agree. I keep waiting for someone in power to go after employers, but alas, I doubt that’s going to happen.

          The wall is stupid and useless. Those wanting to come here will just tunnel under it, as they already do NOW. There are very elaborate tunnels in various places. Why the White Supremacists think the wall will stop people from coming here is beyond stupid. The White supremacists would do themselves a favor if they started demanding that employers stop hiring undocumented workers and call for stronger consequences for those that do. I’d totally be in favor of that.

          1. Mike Mc

            Employers have better PR and lawyers than White Supremacists (well, before Inauguration Day anyway) which is why that doesn’t happen. Shudder to think what might happen if the alt-right/White Supremacists/Trump gang actually called the companies and businesses who employ illegals on their BS. Heads exploding all over.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In this case, the dam is not quite falling apart. The problem seems to be the failure to address the emergency spillway, not for a lack of money, but if I recall correctly, because experts said it was not needed.

  25. LT

    “Since he’s unlikely to provide sufficient cuts to offset this drain on the Treasury, we are likely to see soaring deficits, something that turns the stomachs of true conservatives. It’s also not hard to imagine Trump wanting to ‘prime the pump,’ goosing the economy with additional spending. Every time he does this, it will cause a dilemma for every Republican member” [Cook Political Report]. Cue a fiscal responsibility moral panic by the Democrat establishment [head, desk].”

    The same game since the New Deal. Except both parties now want the most desperate, financially insecure population imaginable so they are more easily exploited.

  26. Vatch

    EPA nominee Scott Pruitt is withholding email messages from the Senate and from public scrutiny. I seem to remember another scandal involving a government official’s email messages. . . .


    Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is withholding thousands of emails related to his ties to major energy interests who may have donated to his political causes.

    Such stonewalling makes it difficult for senators to vote on his nomination since they can’t know if these contacts were appropriate. It is particularly disturbing because Pruitt – who as EPA administrator would be charged with overseeing vital clean air and clean water protections for our nation – has a long history of opposing bedrock safeguards in concert with industry players.

    Earlier today, the Center for Media and Democracy filed a report about the absent emails with an Oklahoma court, the latest chapter in the watchdog group’s two-year saga to get a response to its request for records from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. An emergency hearing before the court has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16.

    1. RUKidding

      ha ha… will Trump’s voters start demanding to see Pruitt’s emails?? Will Republican politicians cause a stink over this??

      Don’t hold your breath.

      Note: not a Clinton fan. Just saying…

      1. Vatch

        Wouldn’t it be nice if Rep. Trey Gowdy were to hold hearings about this? What’s that? You’re wondering what I’m smoking?

  27. Paid Minion

    “…difficult for Senators to vote on his nomination……”

    Au, contraire. It makes it easier to say “whocoodanode” or “nobody could see it coming”.

  28. DJG

    Lambert: Observations on Milwaukee. Milwaukee is so segregated and such an economic mess that any demonstration or any sign of discontent is an improvement. (And I write this as a Chicagoan, understanding the irony of my observation.)

    The U.S. upper-middle class lives a life without consequences. What you are pointing to is the slow realization among a lot of us that many of the immigrants are here as servants, as under-paid restaurant workers (don’t even get me going on the caterwauling and puking and mewling of restaurant owners when it comes to labor issues and differential wages and tipping), or as expendable farmworkers and landscapers. In downtown Chicago and most of the North Side, you seldom see a black waiter. But you see plenty of personnel who speak Spanish. And who is the clientele?

    You are also pointing to the degradation of the language that “undocumented” represents: If I am in Europe, I expect to show my passport. Those are the rules. I don’t expect anyone to believe that I just happen to lack a document. Yet the “servant problem” in the U S of A, which goes all the way back to slavery, means not dealing with labor issues, means considering all workers expendable, and means actively avoiding trying to extend the benefits of the bourgeoisie to the rest of society.

    File this all under class warfare.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And that means getting rid of the damn border.

        Why doesn’t that trigger a race to the bottom even worse than the one we have?

        I grant that if your first priority is not the US working class, than a system of open borders that averages wages across NAFTA (say) is the way to go. US and Canadian workers might not be happy about that, but it’s for the greater good, right? Or have I mischaracterized your priorities?

  29. DJG

    Death of a KKK leader: What I find most striking is that Ancona is a traditional Italian Jewish surname.

    The perils of whiteness in America.

    1. MK

      Mandatory evacuation has been changed to evacuation warning, people can go home, but must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

  30. dbk

    Re: the Atlantic piece on whether there might be an opening for universal health care presented by the Republicans’ delay in repeal-replace (does anybody on the Rep side have like, an actual plan?).

    I saw the video when it was first posted (I’m following town hall meetings where there’s push-back), and it was pretty clear that what the teacher was proposing was Medicare for All, although this isn’t how it was presented in the MSM the next day.

    I’ve recently been thinking that folks could attend these meetings armed with a print-out of HR 676, Medicare for All, reintroduced by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) on 24 January 2017. At some point in the proceedings, they could point out that this is what they really want to their Republican rep and see what they have to say. Should be educational.

  31. thump

    Re: cavitation causing damage in oroville dam spillway.

    So, I have not studied fluid dynamics in a while, but here are my thoughts. Cavitation occurs when there is a sudden, large pressure drop in the water, such as on the edge of a propeller. When the propeller is working very hard to push water, and the water flowing around it goes rapidly from the high-pressure side to the low-pressure side, and the pressure locally drops below the vapor pressure of water, causing gas bubbles to form, causing damage as others here have described.

    I can see how cavitation could occur with water exiting the bottom of a dam, where the pressure is very large, into a region with ambient atmospheric pressure. However, I don’t understand how cavitation bubbles would form just because the water is moving quickly, especially water that is just flowing off the top (lower pressure) layers of the lake into the spillways. Certainly, the water going down a spillway would be accelerated by gravity, but in the open-air spillway, it should remain reasonably close to atmospheric pressure.

    1. Dave

      Look at the two aerial pictures of the dam in the NYT article.
      Notice the wall at the top of and at a right angle to the spillway in April 2015? Then look at the same wall this week. The wall is noticeably wider now, meaning a lot of work has been done since April 2015.
      Also meaning that the report of five years ago was ignored while a major piece of work has been performed on the dam since the release of the warning letter about the spillways.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “Any concrete nerds in the readership?” – Oroville spillway.
    I’m not, but the dam was built in 1968; nothing last forever, including concrete. All it would take is a tiny leak to undermine the spillway. I would assume that the effects of cavitation would be accumulative.

  33. Oregoncharles

    The plantidote: daylilies are immortal, short of digging them out.

    Things are up here, too, and even a few flowers, but that’s normal here. Once in a while, they get whacked by a freeze.

  34. stefan

    Does a President-elect and his or her staff enjoy executive privilege for actions taken before inauguration?

    1. Katharine

      Interesting question. I would have thought not, but if the President-elect had the power to tell diplomats and others in advance that they must be out of their positions on the dot when he took office there may be more ambiguity than I had considered. Constitutional lawyers, are you here?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump took a call from the president of Taiwan. There seems to be no problem with that…maybe not the position he took, but not with talking to foreign leaders…as the head of the incoming administration…the head or members..

        1. John k

          so if it’s ok for pres elect to talk, wouldn’t it be ok for his agent? Course he did lie to Pence… as usual, it’s the lies that cause problems.

  35. amousie

    I thought the Oroville dam podcast on youtube from Yves’ links this morning was excellent. 48 minutes long, covered all kinds of information from design to maintenance and failure points. Here’s the link to the originator’s website. It says that eventually they will have a transcript for those who prefer to read. They also have a few commenters updating information.


    Last comment update from Adam Taggart (co-founder of the site)

    From our source (an anonymous command team member) on site at Oroville:

    The debris from the erosion in the primary spillway, combined with the debris from the use of the emergency spillway, has collected where those spillways run off into the Feather River.

    This is causing the waters to back up towards the dam itself, and have flooded the power station there. In addition, a wall associated with the power station is about to fail, which will add to the damage/destruction to the facility.

    So now things have become a lot worse:

    The power station is not going to be operational again for a long time. And will likely be very costly to repair/rebuild.

    The 17,000 cfps outlet for the dam located near the power station is now no longer an option. Given that, and given that the emergency spillway is in such dire shape, the compromised primary spillway is now the only option for reducing the water level behind the dam.

    The turbulence of the waters swirling around the spillway debris may likely increase the erosion factor of the dam’s earthen berm, increasing the odds for a catastrophic failure.

    We’ll report more as we learn of it.

    Also looks like the evacuation has been lifted but warning remains so make what you will of the anon source comment above.


    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘the compromised primary spillway is now the only option for reducing the water level behind the dam’

      Yes. Three options have been narrowed to only one: run the primary spillway to the point of failure, or until the rain/snowmelt season ends in the spring … whichever comes first.

      This is a high-stakes binomial event. Surely Wall Street is prepared to underwrite some catastrophe bonds to let DWR make a gentlemanly wager on the outcome … yes? We are your friends from New York. Trust us! :-)

  36. Brad

    Guillotine Watch

    “Elon Musk: Humans must merge with machines or become irrelevant in AI age”

    Hey, the guillotine was one such machine, whose direct product was “irrelevance”.

    Of course what Musk means is that we must all become one-dimensional, uncultured, asocial techies – the people he likes to hire – or else face starvation.

  37. nobody

    Whites are richer than blacks, but which whites?

    The bottom 32.1% of white families have an average net worth of $0… The top 10% of white families own 72.3% of all white wealth. The bottom half of white families own 2.2% of all white wealth. The remaining white families (those in the 50th to 90th percentiles) own the remaining 25.5% of white wealth.

    This means that the top 10% of white families own 65.1% of all the wealth in the nation. The bottom half of white families own just 2% of the national wealth. And the white families in the 50th-90th percentile of white families own 22.9% of the national wealth.

    All white families have more wealth than their non-white counterparts, but it is really the upper half of whites—and especially the top 10% of whites—who own nearly everything.

    (Matt Bruenig, “The Top 10% of White Families Own Almost Everything“)

  38. EndOfTheWorld

    RE: the US fertilizer output is booming—-production of urea going up….Who was the old-time farmer who wrote “This Ain’t Norml, Folks”? He noted that urine IS urea. It’s the same word. Regular people urine, he maintained, is the best fertilizer. Can’t we devise a way to “harness urine”?

  39. Synoia

    Oroville Dam

    “The emergency spillway remained basically a dirt, soil rock facility, and it worked fine until it had to be used, in which case it didn’t work so well,”

    If it is not tested, it does not work.

  40. Synoia

    Let us discuss dams.

    Dams are temporary structures, because the weigh of the water deforms the land under and around the dam.

    So said my Civil Engineering Prof. Pro Dougherty, Junior design engineer on the Baily Bridge.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Some camber could be built into the dam’s elevation to compensate for weight-induced settling. But is it done? Probably not.

      No camber is built into houses. As a result, almost every old house sags toward the center. Just release a marble at an outside wall, and watch it roll toward the center of the house.

      Time for a civil engineers revolt. We fed up, ain’t gon’ TAKE it no mo.

    2. John k

      Everything we do has negative consequences, including breathing out co2.
      The more people, the more water and everything else they need, and the more they need to harness nature to support their population.
      7 billion is too many, as will be 9. Green revolution was is huge fossil consumer, increases warming. We literally eat nat gas and diesel. When farmers first ploughed the Great Plains they had 6-ft of prime top soil, now 3-ft. Trawlers takes everything out of the oceans down to a mile or so deep. Nothing 7-9 billion do is sustainable.

      As population grows too high for one area, accelerated by warming, and particularly when that group cannot import needed food etc, they fight over what is available, with losers migrating to the first world. A drought immediately preceded the Syria revolution.

      Migration into first world accelerates degradation and increases competition for resources in first world.

      Walls are necessary if first world wishes to delay the coming crash in avg standard of living.
      Wonder what number is sustainable on a planet 3-4*C warmer than ours?

      Meanwhile most religions exhort their women to have more children.

      This problem is helped by wars, diseases and birth control. Abortions and gun violence are only marginally useful.

      Years ago I read the oil drum as I do now NC. One poster’s handle was ‘are humans smarter than yeast?’ Apparently not.

    1. John k

      This site has a lot of anti musk sentiment that I find puzzling.

      Do we think electric cars are a good thing?
      Do we think our gov would ever bring them into existence, regardless of whether they previously financed necessary research? Or Gm or ford without the goad of competition?
      Do we accept a massive cap investment is necessary?
      Could a bad salesman raise the cap?
      Do we appreciate the product must be pretty good or else the tech will get a bad name?
      And that no charging stations existed until he built them?
      Do we appreciate to get off fossil we need solar plus new tech batteries plus new tech cars?
      Do we appreciate that subsidies are critical for e cars in the beginning, just as they have been for solar, until costs decline, which they are at 5%/yr?

      And… what do you see that he is doing wrong? If you were him, what would you do that would make the product better, or cost less, or bring it to market sooner?

      And notice his cars are built assembled here, along with batteries, unlike apple stuff.

      I would give him a medal even if the company doesn’t make it.

      1. Kevin

        Do we think electric cars are a good thing?

        No, we don’t.

        Because we think cars are a bad thing.

        Electric or fossil fuel is irrelevant: a car is a huge investment in resources to move one person around.

        Electric buses* (as part of a comprehensive public transport system) are good. Provided the electric supply is from sustainable (in both environmental and economic terms) sources, of course.

        *And when we have to give up on tarred roads as unaffordable, these will run on steel rails.

        1. UserFriendly

          Will you be signing up for the gestapo who’s job it is to confiscate cars from people? Things evolve, there is no way to go from everyone relying on gas cars to purely electric busses.

          1. subgenius

            There is also no way for the biosphere to remain viable for humans if we don’t lose the auto…So yes, I for one WOULD…

    1. RabidGandhi

      Showing my age, but I seem to recall that grand rhetorician Buckley threatening to punch Chomsky in the face. As for myself, when I’m losing an argument I skip the violence and head straight to the yo’ mama jokes.

  41. paul Tioxon

    I think Netflix has the whole series and I watched a classic confrontation with the actor Robert Vaughn, who played secret agent Napoleon Solo in THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. on TV. It was a very serious debate about Viet Nam, over the escalation and origins of US interference and military force building up to that point in time. The restrained contempt masquerading as dignified high minded civility by Buckley towards Vaughn was seething though the TV camera right onto you living room couch. Vaughn made Buckley look like a pretentious phony with only an accent for substance, burying him with names and dates and places of politicians in S Viet Nam and from the US Government. I remember Vaughn was characterized as a communist by my father during that time period, for reason I did not comprehend, being a typical TV fan of all 1960s programs that I grew up on. Apparently, Vaughn wrote and publicly spoke and appeared as a widely known critic of US foreign policy at that time, due in no small part to his PhD from USC.

    Buckley typically had tough to swallow, even for this day and age, speakers, such as Chomsky and was well regarded as no place to go slumming from an intellectual point. While Buckley’s politics was repulsive to me as I got to know more about him, he was still fearless in letting the public see the fiercest opposition, the best argued dissent and unfiltered non-conformist anti-establishment politics not widely distributed on the Big 3 Networks which was the total universe of public discourse at that time and for many years. It was not until well in the 1980s that a glimmer of talk radio, conservative TV evangelist espousing right wing politics that other news outlets were broadcasting alternatives to the Networks.

  42. uncle tungsten

    German gold on its way home would seem to be more to do with securing its hoard on German soil. I think the story about the EU jitters is simply a ruse. I would not trust any yankee bank or storeroom with my gold. They can’t even regulate their financial sector and they consistently allow the worst bankster performers to take up government regulatory roles.
    To hell with that BS. No country in their right mind needs to have their gold stored in the USA.

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