2:00PM Water Cooler 2/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“A record-high 72% of Americans believe foreign trade is good for the U.S. economy, and an equal proportion believe promoting favorable trade policies in foreign markets is a very important goal. Despite the often-negative characterization of U.S. trade deals throughout the 2016 campaign, there has been an increase among all party groups in perceptions that trade is good for the country. For Democrats, this may be a sort of rebellion against Trump’s anti-trade pronouncements. Among Republicans, this sentiment may be up due to a belief that U.S. trade will flourish under a Trump administration” [Gallup].


Trump Transition

“‘This is what it’s like to be with Trump,’ Christie said. ‘He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want.’ And then he says, ‘Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'” [WaPo]. That’s the headline (many jokes on the Twitter, the best being “Christie = Reek.” Six paragraphs down is the real story: “Trump and Christie discussed the nation’s opioid epidemic during the lunch.” You know, opioids, one of the main causes of deaths from despair? Tens of thousands of excess deaths in the flyover states? And all for a little crotte of snark because clicks. Here’s a deeply sourced and spirited defense of meatloaf.

“What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “When you declare war on the establishment, it declares war on you.” And what does Brook’s Irish Setter, Moral Hazard, think of all this? Not much. Goes to show that Sanders — or Sanders 2.0 — would face exactly the same sort of assault, from exactly the same players (very much including the Clintonites, the intelligence community, and their assets in the press). I guess we’ll have to see what happens when the rubble stops bouncing.

On today’s Trump presser:

John Robb: “Concur.” Not everybody is calling the Trump presser a trainwreck; Taleb and Robb are no dummies.


“Trump Weighs Mobilizing National Guard for Immigration Roundups” [Bloomberg]. “‘There is no effort to do what is potentially suggested,’ he said. Spicer called the AP report ‘100 percent not true, adding that there was ‘no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants.’ A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval.” Some intern’s gonna be in trouble…

Shorter: Signs that short term fixes for ObamaCare are destablizing the marketplace, and no visible replacement from the Republicans [Politico]. And it’s difficult to see how the Republicans make ObamaCare even worse, which all their conservative nostrums will do, without losing counties in 2020 swing states (although it occurs to me now that the party that mastered gerrymandering ought to be able to tailor the impact of changes at the county level; handy that ObamaCare isn’t a universal benefit, but has all that gatekeeping complexity in it….)

“Many congressional Republicans who had town meetings over the last week or two have gotten an earful from constituents upset over the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act or President Trump’s immigration enforcement or both. Some of these highly unpleasant scenes don’t look too different from what congressional Democrats encountered back in 2009 and 2013, rocky years that preceded calamitous midterm elections, when they lost their House majority in the former and their Senate majority in the latter” [Cook Political Report]. “Like Barack Obama, Trump has a very personal constituency. Obama’s voters turned out in droves to elect him in 2008, but many of them didn’t show up for Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. They came out again to reelect him in 2012, but again stayed home in the 2014 midterms. Obviously Hillary Clinton failed to energize them enough to come out this past November. It would not be hard to imagine Trump’s loyal supporters not being sufficiently inspired to come out for Republicans in next year’s midterms even if they again turn out for Trump in 2020…. In short, Republicans will be facing some political headwinds but are not overly exposed in terms of seats. That could mean some individual Republicans might have problems but that very large losses are unlikely.”

“Speaking with reporters on Friday, McConnell also said he’ll move to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “just as soon as we have the votes.” Repealing Obamacare is a common goal of congressional Republicans and Trump’s. Trump said Thursday he plans to roll out a health-care plan in March” [MarketWatch].

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Political Networking (how social networking is changing politics forever)” [John Robb, Global Guerillas]. An interesting taxonomy of social networks:

We have three political networks to choose from:

1. Insurgency
2. Orthodoxy
3. Participatory

Trump’s being insurgent:

An open source insurgency is a loose network (meshed) that is composed of many individuals and small groups working independently, but united by a single purpose (in this case: electing Trump).

And then there’s “the” #resistance:

The second form of political social networking I'm seeing is found in the opposition to Trump's presidency.  Right now, it's known as the #resistance   The orthodoxy wasn't planned, it:

  • arose out of the ashes of the political parties and it is growing without any formal leadership
  • is ALREADY firmly in control of nearly all public forums
  • enforces opposition to Trump

The orthodoxy is an open source insurgency in reverse.  It uses social networking to crack down on deviation and dissent. 

  • The orthodoxy is tightly interconnected network that uses social networking to exert pressure on people to accept the orthodox position (in this case: #resistance to Trump).
  • Online orthodoxies grow through peer pressure and disconnecting deviants from the network.  It doesn't innovate.  It rejects, cajoles, and pillories.
  • This online orthodoxy is growing at an accelerated pace because Trump feeds the outrage that fuels it.

How will an orthodox network govern?  It will eventually formalize compliance with the orthodoxy. Compliance, evidenced by a long social networking history, will qualify people for positions of authority and power. Any deviation will result in bans, loss of income, etc. until the target repents.  This orthodoxy will work in parallel to the rule of law and likely exceed its coercive power over time.

(See below under “Class Warfare” for Neera Tanden enforcing orthodoxy.) There is also a third form, “participatory.” I think that Robb’s taxonomy is interesting, but I also think he’s taking the national #resistance leadership as a proxy for all the activities taking place under the #resistance banner. If you read Toni Gilpin’s post today “Wearing White: What Resistance Looks Like in America’s Heartland,” you’ll see that heartland resistance would be more properly characterized as participatory (“combines the fluidity of the ‘insurgency’ with the solidarity of ‘orthodoxy’). So it will be interesting to see what happens when the Neera Tandens of this world try to whip the locals into line, as they surely will.

“John Podesta: Trump’s dangerous strategy to undermine reality” [WaPo]. I’ll just leave this here.

“Just a month into his presidency – and following a week spent mired in fallout from his national security adviser’s departure and reports of collusion between his campaign aides and Russian officials — the president will leave Washington for friendlier and more forgiving turf this weekend at a rally of supporters in Florida” [RealClearPolitics]. “[Trump] read from a script criticizing the media and listing accomplishments—including withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and rolling back federal regulations—he believes have been undercovered or overshadowed.” Well, withdrawing from the TPP is an accomplishment.

“Washington Lobbyist And Trump Advisor Paul Manafort Owns Brownstone In Carroll Gardens” [Pardon Me For Asking]. No visible wrongdoing, but interesting.

“Trump’s Russian connections” [Financial Times]. This is an, er, innovative format for the FT. It’s unlocked, to begin with, and the “Read more” links are not to original FT sources, but to (deeply tainted Beltway) venues like Politico and WaPo. Top line: “a mix of bling, business and bluster spanning 30 years” (this link to the FT, and so not unlocked).

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, January 2017: “Leading indicators are coming to life, rising a sharp 0.6 percent in January on top of a 0.5 percent gain in December. Strength has been broad based with factory data giving the index a special lift” [Econoday]. “The coincident index, however, is still very soft at only plus 0.1 percent.” And: “overall confidence surrounding the growth outlook should remain firm in the short term” [Economic Calendar]. Animal spirits, the Confidence Fairy, or Trumped Up Expectations? And but: “January 2017 Leading Economic Index Sharply Improves” [Econointersect]. “The rate of growth may be improving on this index. Because of the significant backward revisions, I do not trust this index.”

E-Commerce Retail Sales, Q4 2016: “Online shopping was solid but not robust during the holidays based on fourth-quarter e-commerce sales which did, however, rise to $102.7 billion or 1.9 percent higher compared to the prior quarter” [Econoday]. “But as a percentage of total retail sales, e-commerce slipped to 8.3 percent from the third-quarter’s 8.4 percent.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 11 February 2017: Long Rolling Averages Slow Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “The rolling averages improved – but that is mostly due to coal and grain.”

Shipping: “This month container movements were above or nearly above historical highs for Januarys, and the rolling averages improved. This data series is noisy and it is best to view the data using the 3 month rolling average. Imports and Exports remain on an improving trend line” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “Obituary: Hanjin Shipping” [247 Splash]. “Hanjin Shipping’s qualities included a wavering business strategy of entering and exiting conference alliances, leaving its friends and enemies in a constant state of guessing. This youthful devil-may-care attitude was combined with an unfettered belief that commoditisation would never affect its status with customers, who would continue to happily pay high shipping rates no matter how attractive competitors’ offers might be. Whenever the creditors were knocking on its doors, the company paid generously with IOUs and cosmetic changes to the network operations to the surprise of industry watchers and innocent bystanders.”

Concentration: “Zuckerberg is rolling out a Business Pages section on the Facebook platform where users will be able to post job openings to the news feed. Also users will be able to host the openings on their page. One step even further is that users can hit the ‘Apply Now’ button, which will send information from the user’s Facebook to form a cursory introduction to speed up the application process” [247 Wall Street]. “Much like a temp agency or a staffing service, Facebook could look to generate revenues akin to a finder’s fee…. There are some key differences between the Facebook and LinkedIn platform. First, the jobs listed on each seem to have a wide difference; Facebook is offering more temp or part-time jobs, while LinkedIn is offering more skilled positions.” So in other words, the precariat, who have less leverage, are likely to be forced to have a Facebook account, as a condition of employment.

Debt: “Opinion: 3 reasons the U.S. could be headed for a fresh debt crisis” [MarketWatch]. “Look at what’s happening with subprime car loans, student loans and mortgage defaults for those with lower credit scores.” If any of these are collaterized, the author doesn’t say it.

The Bezzle: “Theranos, with no material revenue for 2 years, said to be down to its last $200 million” [MarketWatch]. Look at the photo of Holmes. She doesn’t look well.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 17 at 12:09pm.

Health Care

Great news:

Will the national Women’s March leadership support it? How about the national #Resistance leaders?

“California legislation would create single-payer health care system” [San Francisco Chronicle]. State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County) plans to introduce legislation Friday to create a single system that would provide health insurance to every California resident. ‘This is our opportunity to put ourselves on the record and be proactive against a Trump administration that is hellbent on eliminating the Affordable Care Act,’ Lara said.” Very good. Imagine, a Democrat who gets it. Strange days…


“Iowa farmers getting squeezed out by land preservation tax credits, Farm Bureau says” [Des Moines Register].

Class Warfare

“United Automobile Workers (UAW) union President Dennis Williams said at a press conference on Thursday that the UAW plans to launch a “Buy American” advertising campaign. Details such as the size of the ad buy and when the campaign would start were absent, but the UAW’s advertising is intended to encourage U.S. consumers to buy union-made vehicles manufactured in the United States” [247 Wall Street]. Hmm. Can’t car companies do their own advertising? Shouldn’t every penny go to organizing?

” The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think Tanks” [The Nation]. Context for Neera Tanden continuing to play her role as delusional yet thuggish Democrat enforcer:

Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

News of the Wired

“The Anatomy of Charisma” [Nautil.us]. Is the good orator necessarily a good person? Or, is ethos optional?

“Think you control what happens to your personal videos? Think again” [The Memo]. “One father who live-streamed his partner’s labour on Facebook last May, has found out the hard way: he saw the birth of his son replayed on Good Morning America and numerous other media outlets. This week, he lost a high-profile court battle against the broadcasters.”

“An official watchdog in Germany has told parents to destroy a talking doll called Cayla because its smart technology can reveal personal data” [BBC]. Again: Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. And never buy a product that’s called “smart.”

“Use your OS X terminal shell to do awesome things” [herrbischoff]. I’m amazed Apple hasn’t hidden the terminal. Who needs it? After all, iOS doesn’t have one.

* * *

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 (LR):

LR comments: “Another trip to the central cemetery in Montevideo Uruguay”

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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

    Has the subway system in NYC been crapified?


    One the comments in the article noted that the signalling system was an analog system dating from the 1930s and that technologically, it was decades behind other nations. I would not be surprised if this were true, as other nations generally do have better mass transit than the US, but given that this is the Internet, I gotta be skeptical.

    I take it the Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has done a terrible job if investing in infrastructure?

    This is what decades of underinvestment will do. It won’t hurt at first, but builds up over time.


    Oh and Sanders wants to extend the Social Security tax all the way up past the current cap:

    I’m not saying that Bernie Sanders is perfect, but there’s a whole world of difference between a guy like Sanders and a person like Hillary Clinton who got in through her marriage, networking, and failing upwards.

    1. Portia

      It’s The War of the Realities. There’s a Reality for everyone now, it’s no longer just simple disagreement. It’s an entire shift.

      Maybe it’s The War of the Orthodoxies already

    2. Jim Haygood

      the NYCTA signalling system was an analog system dating from the 1930s and that technologically, it was decades behind other nations.

      It’s called block signaling. An occupied block generates a red light behind it, and a yellow caution light in the block behind that one.

      In a sense it’s robust, because it’s all local. However the modern standard is centralized control of the whole system. Retrofitting centralized control to the NYC subway system would cost billions.

      1. Altandmain

        I think that judging by the comments, the NY Subway system must be behind.

        They don’t have anything like an electronic central control – I’m thinking something like the digital Automatic Train Control systems used in Japan or the European Train Control System.

        The problem is without better signalling, the capacity of trains is limited.

        There’s a reason why despite going at >300km/h, the Japanese can operate a Shinkansen every 10 minutes between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. Signalling plays a huge role.

        Of course, comparing a high speed rail system to a metro transport system is apples to oranges, but the point is that the US desperately needs to modernize its signalling systems.

        1. different clue

          Centralized digital systems are hackable. If the NYC subway system were to be digitized and central-controllified, all that the skilled digital terrorists would have to do would be to hack into that central control and then kill thousands of people by running trains into eachother on the same tracks.

          Don’t believe it? Spend the billions on upgrading NYC’s subway system controls to “Infinitely Hackable” . . . and see what happens.

          I had never thought about this before. But if the city digifies its subway controls, I won’t be taking any subways if I ever visit New York City. In fact, I probably won’t visit New York City at all if they permit their subway system to be digified.

          1. fajensen

            Safety systems just doesn’t work like that. Some terr’ist cannot just change the “basic safety barriers” these are provided by built-in, hardwired, redundant systems. This is a mandatory requirement.

            The rule of thumb is that one “barrier failure” must not be sufficient to cause an accident and that all “barrier failures” must be detected. On a failure, the system must fail to a safe state. Pretty simple and easy ;)

            There is IEC 61508, IEC 62279 and IEC/EN 62061 to explain how to do this, the IEC 62279 is specific for railways.

            In practice, we an electric- or gas- boiler, there is a thermostat which is probably digital.

            Then there is also an overtemperature switch which is mechanical and fixed. In case this is broken, there will be a pressure relief valve, mechanical and fixed. Sure, the L33T HaX0rs might manage to fool the thermostat to overheat the boiler so it trips out on one of the safeties, but, they have to physically come to your house with tools to make the boiler blow up also.

            Of course if you don’t ever check your boiler then the safeties might not work at all and L33T HaX0rs may blow up your house via your iPhone App.

            In safety-related systems one must test the “barriers” and write inspection records to prove the testing was done. In my house some guy comes round every second year and checks the boiler and the chimney.

            Hackers can trip the safety functions, this means that the subway system will fail to a safe state -> all trains stop and some manual procedure will really mess up your travel plans.

            The ancient relay block functions will still be present even in a digital system. Because it is easy to understand and verify according to the standards, software is *much harder* to verify, a good designer will layer the software on top of the basic safety functions, like the boiler.

            Usually, in my neck of the woods, it is the copper thieves who trip the trains to a safe state. Not so advanced, here. Even though the signals are digitalized.

        2. Yves Smith

          I’m not sure “behind” is at all bad.

          I was stunned after the Sandy that they had the trains back up and running in a week and the only line that needed repair afterwards was the L. I was convinced that all that salt water in New York harbor would corrode the switches for all of the portions of lines that had been flooded. Craazyman’s car died due to having its engine immersed.

          I can’t imagine that a system with electronics would have fared better.

          1. fajensen

            Maybe they would. At my previous job we had a submarine sink with our electronics in it. Because the coating was done properly and the connectors were gas-tight, gold plated mil-spec jobs, all that the circuit boards and enclosures needed was a proper rinse with water, basically a trip through the machine we use for removing solder residue.

            If it is specced to survive salt water – it probably will. Of course one has to pay for this.

            Those old relay boxes are pretty bombproof too. The safety relay contacts are gold-plated, coils are vacuum impregnated and they are really serious about cable glands, connectors and such to keep water out and prevent condensation. My guess would be that the stuff that did break was flimsy things like telecom cubicles and the odd relay box that some idiot didn’t close properly after servicing.

        3. PlutoniumKun

          Analogue block signalling is still used all over the world for the simple reason that it is an incredibly safe tried and tested system. The only benefit digitisation has is the potential for squeezing more trains through an existing physical infrastructure, and in practice has proven very difficult and expensive to implement. Railway engineers tend to be very conservative about new systems for a very good reason – why change something that is robust, simple and works?

    3. PKMKII

      Dear Governor is straight up in 2020 nomination mode, which means big projects that he can have press conferences for and put his name on them. That’s why he pushed so hard on getting 2nd ave opened by the end of 2016, so he can sell himself as the governor that gets things done. Never mind the massive cost overruns the accelerated schedule caused, or how he’s slashed the operating budget; when that hits the fan, he’ll just blame it on the NYCTA management, use it as an excuse to install more of his cronies and privatize more of transit’s functions.

      Not that the upper management of transit is lacking for incompetence. It’s sick with a culture that falls too easily for people who talk a good game but have nothing to back it up. Just look at their removal of the trash cans from the stations. Just ended up meaning more people throwing trash on the tracks which causes fires which are the primary source for those delays.

      1. Altandmain

        Maintenance is not sexy, but it has to be done. That’s the thing about infrastructure. Years of underspending on maintenance lead to long term problems down the line.

        As for the Governor of NY and his Presidential ambitions, this is a good reason why we should disqualify the person immediately. Same with Mr. Cory Cooker and his pharmaceutical drugs voting … they’ve both been in office long enough to show what they really stand for.

        That was a reason to go for Sanders as well …. he had a long and mostly admirable record of using his office power for the public interest.

        1. PKMKII

          Agreed, the idea of Cuomo running makes me ill. Just look at that ill-conceived neoliberal mess of his Startup NY program. Lots of money thrown at larger companies (any truly small business startups did not have the minimum capital investment requirements for it), and few jobs to show for it. Clinton playbook all over again.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Cuomo running would be great fun. He’s Hillary without the nostalgia and celebrity appeal. Can you imagine him buffooning around NH, Iowa, SC, or Nevada. The locals would eat the creep alive. Same with Booker.

            Deluded crowds out to protect their heroes defended Obama and Hillary, but Biden has made a go of it before and played to a crowd of a dozen sometimes 15 whole people.

            Bill was successful back in 92 because he could interact with people. The sorry governor of New York who owes every job he’s ever had to begin the son of a previous governor of New York is going nowhere unless he was a champion of the people (cough FDR and Teddy). Look how Cuomo stacks up: hedge fund manager, daddy’s Albany thug, hated by the once well liked Spitzer (he could have been President without him troubles), and won statewide to a very safe seat. I guess you could add author of his own autobiography, but if no one reads it, isn’t it just a diary?

            1. Big River Bandido

              Andrew Cuomo may have been the son of a governor, but his first high-profile job was in Bill Clinton’s cabinet. He is very much “one of them”.

            2. Liberal Mole

              You only have to watch him refuse to respond in any way to his opponent Zephyr Teachout when she greeted him on the street at a parade. No handshake, hello, just ignored her! He isn’t capable of common good manners. You can’t get away with that level of unappealing and anti-social behavior in states that don’t give a damn about the Cuomo name. If he didn’t have nepotism working for him, he couldn’t have gotten elected as dog catcher.

        2. Big River Bandido

          As for the Governor of NY and his Presidential ambitions, this is a good reason why we should disqualify the person immediately.

          No need to worry. He won’t get past the starting gate.

          1) In his last race, Cuomo struggled to get 55% of registered Democrats against a no-name opponent. (That number sound familiar?) Even among Democrats in his own political base, he’s toxic.

          2) No one repels voters west of the Susquehanna better than politicians from Albany, except perhaps politicians from Boston and Trenton.

          3) He’s as closely identified with the Clintons as Rahm Emanuel, and every bit as likeable.

          He and his backers might make a lot of noise, but the bottom line is that NYS is a political backwater incapable (at least in this day and age) of electing a President.

        3. different clue

          In case the Clintonites have their people reading these threads . . . if you people nominate Cuomo, I’ll vote for Trump all over again.

          1. aab

            No worries. Nobody except him wants him to run.

            But apparently the people of New York will suffer until they can get rid of him.

    4. River

      Part of the problem is Bombardier. They haven’t delivered the cars on time. They’ve done the same in Toronto, and the city is pretty put off.

      Wouldn’t help with the signals, but more cars may alleviate the delays.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Bombardier is the transit equivalent of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

        Thanks, Canadian taxpayers! We appreciate your generous subsidy support.

  2. Pat

    I’m a long standing opponent of our so-called trade agreements because I rapidly came to the conclusion that with few exceptions it was not about promoting trade of American made goods, but about opening American markets for foreign made goods that compete with American made goods where the owners just happen to be or include select Americans. As someone smarter than I am explained they are not trade agreements they are globalization agreements.

    So I’m calling BS on that poll. Because I’m betting a lot of Americans when asked if they think foreign trade is good are not thinking about trade as outlined by NAFTA, KORUS, TPP, TTiP, etc. They are thinking about foreign markets for American made goods. If the follow up question didn’t ask them how they felt about globalization or foreign corporations having a right to sue in a corporate court regarding American laws because of free trade then they are not asking about our current “free trade” with foreign countries.

      1. Pat

        Okay they were two questions taken out of two surveys of 1035 people over 18 in all 50 states plus DC. There was a form A (550) and a Form B (485).

        Question 1:
        Next, I’m going to read a list of possible foreign policy goals that the United States might have. For each one
        please say whether you think it should be a very important foreign policy goal of the United States, a
        somewhat important goal, not too important a goal, or not an important goal at all. How about — [RANDOM
        G. Promoting favorable trade policies for the U.S. in foreign markets

        And Question 2:

        What do you think foreign trade means for America? Do you see foreign trade more as – an opportunity
        for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?

        And interestingly enough, this is an improvement on numbers from 2013 for the first question and a huge outlier in response compared to over ten surveys since 1992 were the highest number previously was 58% in the second question.

      1. Portia

        the question seems to reflect what people feel about their perception of foreign trade at the moment of the poll.

        1. fosforos

          All the discussion on trade seems to come down to searching for or lamenting the absence of a “favorable” “balance.” Have all our minds been caught in some time loop that has made us all 18th-century Mercantilists?

    1. jrs

      Yes foreign trade could be an economic opportunity, but we’d need some kind of fair trade with protections for workers, unions, the environment etc.. So in the actual world that is it’s hard to see it happening … but in theory yes.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Pollster: I’m sorry ma’am/sir… but you have to select between the two possible answers provided.

        Pollee: But…

        Pollster: click, hangs up. (you don’t count)

      2. different clue

        Trade should be viewed as a necessary evil. Countries should do as little trading between eachother as is feasible. Ideally trade would only be done for things from one country which can NOT be grown or mined or made in another country. And everything which CAN be done withIN a country, SHOULD be done withIN that country.

        If America bought half as much FROM the outside world, America would only have to sell half as much TO the outside world.

        Think of all the carbon that all those trading ships dump into the air. Free Trade is a very major cause of Global Warming. Less trade means less carbon skydumping.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Oh c’mon, the Krupps sold cannons to everyone and made a nice profit. IBM, StandardOil, these days the whole set of post-trans-Supra-national armaments and “security” corporations do sh!tloads of TRADE that gets counted toward GDP and largely unregulated and untaxed. Haygood makes the usual inaccurate claim that nations that trade with each other tend not to go towar with each other. Presumes ‘nation” is a category, and that the people who drive the “national” truck are on any kind of mission to “serve the national interest.”

          I do get a giggle out of all the Chinese-made silicon in the “game changing weapons (sic)” the World’s Biggest Military stuffs its procurement belly with. And as that former lady pol said, “What good are all these weapons if we don’t use them?” It’s a fractal — infinite repetition and recursion, at every scale, and not a particularly pretty pattern.

          “We”, the rest of us that is, are ready to have the fork stuck in us…

        2. Jim Haygood

          Countries should do as little trading between each other as is feasible.

          This statement puts way too much emphasis on nation-states, which are largely 19th century creations.

          People in different places have been trading with each other for millennia, based on natural endowments and technical skills in particular localities.

          Drawing a political line around a part of the earth and saying it shouldn’t trade is what North Korea does. Which is why Comrade Kim’s prosperity is the envy of the planet. /sarc

          1. different clue

            Drawing a political line around the “United States of America” and making that line into a Protectionist Wall of Protection is what allowed the “United States of America” to develop its advanced industrial economy to begin with.

          2. different clue

            By the way, I see what you did there . . . disquoting me and hoping I wouldn’t notice.
            Disquoting me as saying “it shouldn’t trade” when you knew at the time that what I wrote was “trade as little as is feasible”.

            I draw attention to your creative disquoting of my words and your clever disinterpretation of my meaning so that everyone else can see what you do.

    2. LT

      The polls are meant to create a narrative to fit an agenda more than anything else.
      As a result, the questions are never that nuanced.

    3. Art Eclectic

      Super cheap goods made elsewhere are more popular than more expensive goods made here. Simple fact.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, Art, I just picked up a soldering iron (gun) at Home Depot. Great brand, if you are old enough to remember — Weller. I lost my old Weller iron, which worked great for over 30 years, in a move. The one HD sells is “Hecho en Mexico.” The wire tip is 1/4 the thickness of the one on my old iron (I still have an old tip in the tool box from back then, did not fit the new tool.) The first time I tried to use it, the tip, which conducts some high amperage current, spit at the end. I tried one of the other tips supplied, but per my mechanic’s thermometer and trying to melt solder it did not heat above 250F. Let me note that HD does not even carry replacement tips, maybe there’s not enough churn in a $5 item. I returned the tool, no problems there, but it takes 3 or 4 days for the credit to appear in your bank account.

        So like I was told by a schmuck executive with West Marine, which I worked for in their retail stores, when I braced him about the sh!tty “rechargeable spotlights” from China that West (formerly a respected brand) was selling, where the tin switch parts and chintzy wiring and sealed lead-acid batteries that crapped out in a week if they worked at all resulted in 90%+ returns with loud complaints fielded by store personnel, “Not a problem! We have the use of their money from the time they buy the item until the return clears in the payments system.”

        Back to the “Weller” soldering tool: Then the thing smoked a bit (letting the electricity out of the wires, as the Brits explain it from their decades of experience with Lucas electrics in their cars), and quit altogether. So I looked for comments on line, as I should have done before buying, and that set of failures of a product no longer made in America and made to sh!tty crapified standards is vastly common. So HD sells a defective product, that is “cheaper”, and the defecation of the “brand” makes it “popular?” I know a lot of people that are sick of crapification and looking to buy stuff made here that works. Which of course the disease of crapificaion makes it very difficult to do, how many corporate scum will look long term and to long quality product lives?

        All part of the Great Bezzle, I guess… Maybe I will try a pawn shop to try for an antique…

          1. Inode_buddha

            FWIW, I work with tools for a living. And this discussion highlights why I only buy older US-made tools from ebay nowdays. Many co-workers feel similar. I’m not gonna pay some faceless suit to crapify things even more. Most of the good ol american names have been bought up and liquidated or crapified perfect example is apex trool group — look at who owns them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apex_Tool_Group

            1. fajensen

              Haha – not everything old is any good. People with classic motorbikes or cars pray that “Lucas, Lord of Darkness”, as “he” was known in England, will find it in his pleasure to let them drive home unmolested – just this time.

              But, good tools last almost forever. I often buy used myself.

  3. meme

    Have to wonder where the 100,000 number in the AP’s National Guard Immigration Roundup story even came from, since it is nowhere in the memo.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the Bloomberg version of AP, the lead:

      (AP) — The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

      Here’s the PDF of the full memo.

      I just searched the PDF on “100.” Two hits, neither relevant. Odd!

      1. L

        Both articles indicate that they spoke with anonymous “persons in the know” on this. The number may have come from them.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        For a completely parallel formation to IOIYAR — how well I remember that classic bit of snark; we were big on acronyms in those days — it should be IOIYNT. That should raise a little ire…

  4. Paid Minion

    So much for “de-regulation” and the “market will police itself”


    (For the great unwashed, Argus and Wyvern are the market based “ratings agencies” that rates Air Charter certificate holders, for those with no time or expertise to determine whether an Air Charter company is “safe”. )

    From reading the article, the Wall Street pukes have transferred into the aviation business. Another sign that when the vampire squids suck up all of the wretched refuse’s blood, they will turn on themselves.

    “ARGUS GOLD = “Moody’s AAA”

  5. JohnL

    Ryan struggles to sell tax reform plan to fellow Republicans

    Paul Ryan showed up to Senate Republicans’ weekly lunch on Tuesday hoping to salvage a controversial pillar of his tax reform plan that would change how imports and exports are taxed. “Keep your powder dry,” the House speaker pleaded.

    The next day, Sen. Tom Cotton took to the Senate floor to slam Ryan’s so-called border adjustment tax, saying “some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them.”

    “Keep your powder dry”. Where have I heard that before?

      1. JohnL

        Yes, I was playing to the gallery, thanks for stepping up.

        So glad the dems kept all that dry powder, because now… oh, wait…

        1. Jim Haygood

          On election night, Trump claimed that he offered to buy Hillary’s cancelled fireworks display for 5 cents on the dollar.

          Now it appears that the R party did indeed buy the Democrats’ dry powder in a sweetheart deal, and are proceeding to hoard it just as they did. :-(

          1. aab

            Reading this made me deliriously happy for a moment, purely as a matter of entertainment and joke-telling craftsmanship.

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          The D party is a party of conservationists.

          Conserved their powder through Barry’s full 8 year term, especially in those crucial days where it was important not to use it from 2009-2011 when they could have, you know, accomplished something…

          1. John k

            Being able to accomplish something was an embarrassment.
            Accomplishing anything that would annoy any of their multitude of corp owners was never intended… clearly explaining whe none such happened.

  6. heresy101

    It’s been some twenty years since the Nurses and the rest of us supporters lost a referendum in California on Medicare for All (single payer). With hard work and the failure of Obamacare, we can win this time!


    By 1947, some Saskatchewan residents started to pay for their own hospital-related costs, and BC and Alberta soon followed. The Canadian politician Tommy Douglas was influential in lobbying governments at the provincial and federal levels regarding universal health care coverage for all Canadians. Douglas is widely-regarded as the Father of Medicare or universal health care coverage, and is regularly voted Canada’s greatest historical figure.


    1. Arizona Slim

      To the point where Tommy Douglas beat Wayne Gretzky in a CBC competition to choose the greatest Canadian of all time.

    2. heresy101

      Missed this:

      Lara and Atkins introduced the bill, SB 562, the Healthy California Act, Friday. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), is the primary sponsor, working with the Healthy California Campaign.

      What: Rally for Guaranteed Healthcare to mark introduction of the Healthy California Act
      When: Wednesday, February 22, 11 a.m.
      Where: North Side, State Capitol, Sacramento

      “At a time of critical disarray of our health care system, with the threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act and increasing uncertainty over the future of healthcare coverage, services and costs, California can once again lead the nation,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of CNA and NNU. “This bill will set a standard in America and be a catalyst for the nation.”

      Others please go because I can’t because we will be negotiating with our new boss at that time.

    3. Daryl

      It is great news, but considering how thoroughly ColoradoCare was defeated, I’m not sure what will be necessary in order to install a single payer system at the state level. It’s also possible the Republicans will remove the ability for states to opt out of the ACA. Perhaps it will go over better in California, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > but I’m not going to hold my breath.

        A sensible precaution indeed, to avoid asphyxiation in the BarcaLounger of Despair™…. Not a good way to go, for sure.

  7. George Phillies

    “How will an orthodox network govern?”

    Curiously, or perhaps not curiously, the different-right Vox Day and supporters, having noticed this, are in the process of creating alternative core internet sites to resemble wikipedia, et al., but not supporting that orthodoxy. And now we have one, two, many orthodoxies. http://voxday.blogspot.com/

    Your mileage may vary. In particular, the idea that a single wiki structure can support several orthodoxies (“build you own echo chamber”) may require some clever programming.

      1. Katharine

        What about fried onions, litter box, dirty clothes, old sneakers, thick soup, the unidentifiable jar at the back of the frig…?

        1. Jim Haygood

          What about fried onions, litter box, dirty clothes, old sneakers, thick soup, the unidentifiable jar at the back of the frig…?

          Please, Katharine. It’s “fridge,” not “frig.”

          Though I do love it when you talk dirty. ;-)

  8. L

    Would Bernie face the same response?

    I am honestly not sure that Sanders would face the same level of organized institutional opposition. For one thing Sanders is comfortable with some aspects of our foreign policy and while he is not a neocon he doesn’t offer the same sort of ProRuskie target that Trump’s team does. In domestic areas he also wouldn’t gleefully declare war on the bureaucracy so some of the crats that would hate him would be less likely to lock arms against him in the way that they are now.

    No his enemy, as is Trump’s would be the members of his “own party” in Congress who would seek to redirect his approach to quieting the base and would hope to lead him along as Ryan and McConnell seem to expect to lead Trump, by the nose.

    1. Altandmain

      He would have to face a 2 front war, against the corporate Democrats and the GOP which would carry on with its Obama like insurgency, if not intensified a lot.

      1. jrs

        But not the deep state. Sanders was never going to be a revolution in foreign policy and that’s what it’s all about probably.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      If “They” didn’t have the Russian talking point, they’d invent something else. Discrediting even the mildest form of democratic socialism is just as important to liberals and conservatives as fomenting a new war.

  9. justanotherprogressive

    I don’t think anyone is really against trade per se, or even free trade. But what we have right now isn’t anywhere near the concept of free trade that requires that both sides of the trade get something of equal value. I think arbitrage trade might be a better name for what we have. It doesn’t really matter where an object is made, it’s worth is pretty much priced in by its value to people who buy it. For instance, if I think those shoes are worth $100, then that is what I will pay for them, regardless if those shoes are made in the US or Viet Nam. It’s just now that the company who makes those shoes gets to collect profit from the abuse of very poor people who have no ability to bargain for the fair value of their labor. What is “free” about that?

    1. ProNewerDeal

      Economist Dr. Dean Baker makes the point that that the concept peddled by BigPol & BigMedia that the US has “free trade” is bogus. Some occupations & products/services have “free trade”, some have extreme protectionism. If there were extreme “free trade” for all occupations & product/services, protected occupations like physicians, lawyers, & tenured economic profs would be mass-imported at relatively low ~$50K salaries, as done for unprotected occupations abused by the H1-B program like engineers. Always-wrong hack editorialists like Thomas Friedman & David Brooks could be replaced by degreed writers in India at a $10K annual salary, surely almost anyone would be less wrong in predictions & statements than those 2 hacks. Microsoft operating system & pharma wouldn’t get the extreme anti-free market protectionism of “intellectual property”, & would have to vigorously compete in a competitive global “free market” like clothing manufacturers do.

      I feel as though this point is barely ever acknowledged, even by Progressive pundits.

  10. jake

    “….Taleb and Robb are no dummies….”

    Perhaps not, but you do know that, post-financial crisis, Taleb was (and still is) a proponent for austerity and budget cuts, predicting hyper-inflation, etc., if his views were ignored:

    “We believe that stimulus packages, in all their forms, make the same mistakes that got us here…. running a government deficit is dangerous, as it is vulnerable to errors in projections of economic growth. These errors will be larger in the future, so central bank money creation will lead not to inflation but to hyper-inflation, as the system is set for bigger deviations than ever before.”


    How he can find it in himself to laud Trump’s unhinged performance yesterday is another question, but the blindness would appear to be general, not selective.

    1. Steve H.

      Taleb and Robb both have brilliant insights and also have whiffs on the ball. Yves in particular has great discipline in restraining her false-positives and false-negatives.

      The techniques Trump uses have been well covered in previous comments. Dilbert wrote extensively, and Jeri-Lynn linked to another good source as well.

      1. jake

        I’m not sure “techniques” is the right word to describe Trump’s outbursts, but to suppose his evasions, lies, blandishments and self-loving interludes will be effective indefinitely is to take a remarkably contemptuous view of the public.

        You could argue that his “technique” is vindicated by his electoral win, but that ignores just how tenuous his support is, and the unique character of the election; and, of course, ignores Hillary Clinton’s lack of popularity within the Democratic base.

        As for Taleb — like a lot of “brilliant” people in the public square, he routinely ventures into realms where he has no unique knowledge. Fame is a terrible thing.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          You write:

          I’m not sure “techniques” is the right word to describe Trump’s outbursts, but to suppose his evasions, lies, blandishments and self-loving interludes will be effective indefinitely is to take a remarkably contemptuous view of the public.

          Your statement confuses rhetorical technique with the message conveyed by the rhetoric. That’s a pretty basic distinction, and to blur it… well, that’s rather “insulting” to the NC commentariat, is it not? Agnotology is always insulting.

          Incidentally, my views of Trump’s rhetoric are based on actually having gone to see him. Sorry that offends the orthodox, but I can’t do anything about that.

    2. Nakatomi Plaza

      Taleb is an arrogant ass. I enjoyed his earlier work, but he seems to have retreated into his own reality. I think he’s constructed such a complex and egocentric world for himself that he’s offended when anybody doesn’t see what he sees. He seems to be assigning motives to Trump that aren’t really there, namely some degree of deliberate control and purpose that exist only in Taleb’s imagination. Trump told some obvious lies and when he was immediately called out for them he had nothing to say. How is that defensible?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        What Taleb said:

        Trump played the press like a violin.

        How does the claim that Trump told “obvious lies” refute that point? It doesn’t.

        I do understand why liberal Democrats feel it necessary, after the devastating loss of power caused by their own arrogance and incompetence, to be ruthless in enforcing an orthodox party line, but frankly, there are plenty of more appropriate venues to do that than the NC comments section; Kos, for example. The door to Kos is that way.

        1. jake

          I may be arrogant and incompetent, but am not a liberal Democrat.

          If NC simply must carve out a safe space for maintaining the orthodoxy that Trump, as master communicator, is playing the press like a violin — recalling, for some of us, Obama’s imaginary three-dimensional chess — I will no longer comment here, if that’s what you wish. No loss to the community obviously, but a pity, nonetheless.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            You write:

            I may be arrogant and incompetent, but am not a liberal Democrat

            Except I wasn’t responding to you. I was responding to Nakatomi Plaza. Unless you are Nakatomi Plaza. Are you sock puppetting them? Or they, you?

            1. jake

              Forgive me, I took your post to mean *any* questioning of Trump’s rhetorical skills belonged at Kos, et al.

              And no, I’m not anyone’s sock puppet. Or a sock puppeteer.

              In any event, these ad hominem exchanges are no fun, and while the site will remain a daily destination, perhaps the comments section is best left to the chorus?

    3. Fred1

      John Robb is a retired air force special forces operator who was heavily influenced by John Boyd, now deceased, who was an air force colonel who developed the concept of the OODA loop as a dog fighting tactic. This tactic has been used, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not, in a variety of other settings, such as business, litigation, and politics. One of Robb’s interests is how dispersed network insurgencies use the OODA loop to successfully fight more powerful military adversaries, and how difficult it can be for bureaucractic opponents to defeat them. When considering his speculations about currrent political affairs, his background as a professional soldier should always provide the context.

      1. Fred1

        I was interrupted before I could finish. As to Robb’s take on current politics, what is important is that the cost of entry to any network is very cheap. You only need a phone with an internet connection. You don’t have to apply to join. Your fealty is demonstrated by your actions. You can be located anywhere in the world and don’t have to be a citizen to participate. Because of the interconnectness and near instantaneous speed of the internet any tactic can be immediately evaluated. Unsuccessful ones are discarded and successful ones are either copied or improved upon. This operational tempo makes it nearly impossible for a top-down opponent to win. All of the foregoing concerns Robb’s speculations about Trump’s methods. I disagree with him as to his description of the orthodox methods as being something new. Except for the glacial pace of enforcing conformity in the past, this is nothing new.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Far from unhinged, I find his speech a refreshing change from the usual bland corporate-speak whereby politicians attempt to sound intelligent while saying absolutely nothing. That’s what the ‘serious people’ consider responsible, not willing to call it for the bul**hit it really is.

      Trump may not be saying much of substance either, but he sure is a lot more entertaining while doing it. See his comments yesterday regarding Clinton’s cheap plastic button – pure gold!

      1. Aumua

        He is entertaining! Which is good, cause we’re going to need some good entertainment to keep us distracted from the ongoing collapse of our civilization, as well as the extinction of our species and life on Earth. Yep, Trump may be just what America needs right now.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Situation: I’m chained to a rock before a rapidly approaching forest fire.

          Do I want to spend my last moments listening to Obama, Clinton, or Trump? It’s not an easy choice…

          1. River

            The obvious choice is Clinton. Her grating tenor will cause you to gain superhuman strength to push the rock from the encroaching fire to escape the voice. Thus saving yourself, twice.

      2. wilroncanada

        So we’re graduating from infotainment, the integration of supposed news into the entertainment industry, to politico-tainment, the embedding of our political and economic futures into entertainment. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New world come to fruition.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      “These errors will be larger in the future, so central bank money creation will lead not to inflation but to hyper-inflation, as the system is set for bigger deviations than ever before.” Wow. full Zimbabwe!!!11!!™

      Not only that but certain foreknowledge (“these errors will be larger in the future”). Is the really the FT publishing this crap?

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      Had I meant to say that I supported Taleb and Robb’s political views, I would have said so. I think they’re both smart, perceptive, and informed people who don’t make shit up. Hence, their views on Trump’s presser are valuable. If they don’t think that Trump’s performance was unhinged, then there’s a good chance the people who are clutching their pearls and heading to the fainting couch are wrong. Why, it’s even possible that the Rice-Davies Law is the controlling authority. (Pro tip: Simply repeating the talking point du jour as a closer is a tell).

  11. nowhere

    If they got rid of Terminal on macOS, then the developer community would definitely move to other systems.

    1. C.Hingy

      I agree! I begrudgingly moved over to Mac from Windows about a decade ago just because of how easy the Terminal (and specifically ITerm 2) made my life. That is the number 1 reason I haven’t made the jump to a cheap Linux machine.

      1. John Wright

        For Windows users, installing the free Cygwin environment helps provide a Unix BASH shell on your Windows machine.

        Furthermore, this allows using the Linux/Unix tools on the windows files on your machine.

        Every time I am issued a new corporate Windows box, I re-install Cygwin.

        Cygwin is owned and maintained by Redhat (a major Linux distribution supplier (Fedora)), but it is free and open source.

        The name comes from a British company “Cygnus Solutions” that was acquired by Redhat.

        This is pitched on Redhat’s cygwin.com site as “Cygwin is: a large collection of GNU and Open Source tools which provide functionality similar to a Linux distribution on Windows.”

        There are some quirks, as Cygwin prefers text files terminated with line-feed, rather than carriage-return/line-feed (Windows DOS format), but I have found the environment very useful over many years.


      2. Pespi

        An appropriate article would be “use the terminal to do things you used to be able to do with two clicks in a menu”

      3. fajensen

        The new MacBook Pro is the reason wife and daughter now have “new” used Linux machines instead of Macs. Which I totally would have shelled for after Win 10 bricked my wife’s computer, just to not have to deal with Windows-fixing ever again.

        Apple went for “design over substance” *and* crapification – the magsafe connector is gone, not a single port is normal, hardware is the same as 3 years ago. For that they want 1500 EUR and up.

        So – given the choices, ….

        For about 300 EUR and an SSD upgrade one gets quite a fast used laptop with warranty and only 2 years old hardware, buying from the “corporate/professional” range of Lenovo or HP gives a robust machine that will take abuse. When buying used IT, never buy the “consumer” equipment, it is crap.

  12. Katharine

    Lambert, under the resistance, where you wrote, “The orthodoxy wasn’t planned,” was that supposed to be “resistance”?

  13. Jim Haygood


    Famous Russian phone pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus, have made hoax phone calls to US Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Mitch McConnell [conning them] into speaking about the sanctions against Russia, Kuznetsov told Sputnik.

    The news comes as the pranksters called US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the one who earlier claimed that “Putin is continuing to advance into Korea,” to say that Russia has invaded Limpopo, an African river that [Waters] believed to be a country in Africa.

    Having introduced themselves as Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Kuznetsov and Stolyarov also discussed the sanctions against Russia with Waters.


    Eleven-minute audio of the hoaxers punking McShame:


    Limpopo — isn’t that one of the 110 countries Hillary visited? It’s entirely possible that Maxine Waters was riding along with Madame Sec State on the trip.

    Lesotho, Limpopo … who can keep ’em all straight? If it’s Tuesday, this must be Malawi!

    1. Katharine

      I don’t believe this. It has apparently been virtually impossible to get through to any senate office for days: you bounce to voice mail and the box is full.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      LImpopo is a real province in South Africa. I was familiar with it from Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child, a “Just So” story:

      Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank, and knotted himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant’s Child’s hind legs, and said, ‘Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck’ (and by this, O Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), ‘will permanently vitiate your future career.’

      That is the way all Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

      So he pulled, and the Elephant’s Child pulled, and the Crocodile pulled; but the Elephant’s Child and the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake pulled hardest; and at last the Crocodile let go of the Elephant’s Child’s nose with a plop that you could hear all up and down the Limpopo.

      Then the Elephant’s Child sat down most hard and sudden; but first he was careful to say ‘Thank you’ to the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake; and next he was kind to his poor pulled nose, and wrapped it all up in cool banana leaves, and hung it in the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo to cool.

      ‘What are you doing that for?’ said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

      ”Scuse me,’ said the Elephant’s Child, ‘but my nose is badly out of shape, and I am waiting for it to shrink.’

      ‘Then you will have to wait a long time,’ said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. ‘Some people do not know what is good for them.’

      The Elephant’s Child sat there for three days waiting for his nose to shrink. But it never grew any shorter, and, besides, it made him squint. For, O Best Beloved, you will see and understand that the Crocodile had pulled it out into a really truly trunk same as all Elephants have to-day.

    3. UserFriendly

      Lesotho, Limpopo … who can keep ’em all straight? If it’s Tuesday, this must be Malawi!

      I can. Sporcle is my favorite time killer.

    1. Vatch

      Yes, you are (unfortunately) correct. The vote was 52 – 46. As expected, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia was a traitor, as was Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican voting against Pruitt. Republican McCain of Arizona and Democrat Donnelly of Indiana did not vote. Here’s the roll call:


      Manchin has voted for all nominations so far except DeVos, Price, and Mulvaney. Heitkamp has voted for all except for DeVos, Price, Mnuchin, and Mulvaney. Donnelly is a little better: he voted against Tillerson, DeVos, Price, Mnuchin, and Mulvaney (and he chickened out on Pruitt). Personally, I didn’t care much about the Tillerson vote, but I think all the others listed are bad choices by Trump — especially Pruitt.

      I don’t know why Manchin is still considered a Democrat.

  14. Toni Gilpin

    Okay, here I go writing something praising the UAW today (or the rank and file, at least) and then Dennis Williams goes and introduces that Buy American campaign, which as you note, Lambert, is not where the union’s money should be going. Yes, the UAW should be at the forefront calling for trade policies that protect workers (in the US and elsewhere) rather than the 1%, and the UAW in particular must be sensitive to the interests of what remains of its membership in manufacturing. But the best way to protect them would be by “spending every penny on organizing,” as well as on strike (or lockout) support and worker education, to promote the understanding that CEOs, not low-paid immigrants, are the enemy (in fact, CEOs are the reason we have low-paid immigrants in the first place). And by making it clear that effective union leadership stands up for workers and against corporate interests — it doesn’t do p.r. for them.

    On the plus side the UAW did endorse Keith Ellison today, so that’s something.

    1. Vatch

      CEOs, not low-paid immigrants, are the enemy (in fact, CEOs are the reason we have low-paid immigrants in the first place)

      Absolutely true!

      +++ 1789 !!!

  15. dcblogger

    #TheResistance may have started w/ the Clinton establishment, but now it has spread way beyond their control. It is now a serious movement. Trump is really unpopular and getting more so.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Join the Resistance against the First Order!

      Princess Leia must be Hillary.
      Chewie is Brock.
      R2D2 is Rahm.
      Obama is Decker.

      Help the Resistance help Disney print more money.

      Could you at least try to be subtle?

    2. aab


      The situation is messy, and it’s really important to discuss this issue with specifics, as Toni has, in part because we want to understand the dynamics on the ground in order to (if possible) help nudge productive developments and ignore if not block unproductive developments.

      Otherwise, it functions as cheerleading for Neera Tanden and her ilk.

      1. aab

        Also, yet another reminder that if “The Resistance” only returns the corporate Democrats to power, that is a catastrophe for this country, and not something to be happy about.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > now it has spread way beyond their control

      Interesting, if true (and if the Neera Tandens of this world capture and exploit the energy, as they surely will try to do, have already planned to do, it will all be for naught).

      Toni Gilpin’s article on resistance in the heartland gives me some hope, but I’d like to see a lot more data as opposed to assertion, which would be wishful thinking.

      1. Toni Gilpin

        And one of the points I was making in the UAW piece is that, among working people, there is always resistance going on (without quotation marks, as opposed to “the resistance”). Sometimes it is individualized, as when workers don’t work at the speed they’re asked to, for instance, or when they quit a job in the hope of finding something better. Sometimes, and more effectively, that resistance is collective, as in the UAW rally I described. Those UAW members have been resisting Honeywell’s demands for nearly 10 months. But they’ve been isolated, which is of course one of the ways that such resistance gets defeated. The hope now is that those isolated pockets of organized worker resistance can hook into and be sustained by the energy that is fueling “the resistance” — the on-the-ground “resistance,” not Neera Tanden’s version. It’s not yet clear whether (or even exactly how and in what form) that will happen: the rally I described, representing a collaboration between the Women’s March and rank-and-file industrial unionists, is thus far (to my knowledge) pretty unusual. These are pretty tumultuous times and so we can’t be sure how things will shake out. But should more of those collaborations start taking place at the grass-roots level, if more folks can understand that “the resistance” should help support the regular day-to-day resistance that working people are obliged to engage in, that would prove threatening to a whole bunch of people: the CEOs, the Democratic Party establishment, and labor’s top leadership too.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > But should more of those collaborations start taking place at the grass-roots level,

          Robb’s “participatory networks.” Maybe. Doing a little performative speech here myself.

        2. aab

          if more folks can understand that “the resistance” should help support the regular day-to-day resistance that working people are obliged to engage in, that would prove threatening to a whole bunch of people: the CEOs, the Democratic Party establishment, and labor’s top leadership too.

          I’m pulling out the other half of that quote, because I think it’s incredibly important. This is exactly what is needed, and what would utterly decapitate “#TheResistance” and create a real resistance of effective solidarity.

  16. barrisj

    NYT going all-in on “the Deep State”, even citing parallels with Egypt and Turkey…hmm.

    As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America

    WASHINGTON — A wave of leaks from government officials has hobbled the Trump administration, leading some to draw comparisons to countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, where shadowy networks within government bureaucracies, often referred to as “deep states,” undermine and coerce elected governments.

    So is the United States seeing the rise of its own deep state?

    Not quite, experts say, but the echoes are real — and disturbing.

    Though leaks can be a normal and healthy check on a president’s power, what’s happening now extends much further. The United States, those experts warn, risks developing an entrenched culture of conflict between the president and his own bureaucracy.

    Issandr El Amrani, an analyst who has written on Egypt’s deep state, said he was concerned by the parallels, though the United States has not reached authoritarian extremes.
    The growing discord between a president and his bureaucratic rank-and-file, he warned, “is dangerous, it encourages deep divisions within society, it creates these constant tensions.”

    “As an American citizen I find it really quite disheartening to see all these similarities to Egypt,” Mr. El Amrani said.

    What Makes a Deep State?

    Though the deep state is sometimes discussed as a shadowy conspiracy, it helps to think of it instead as a political conflict between a nation’s leader and its governing institutions.

    That can be deeply destabilizing, leading both sides to wield state powers like the security services or courts against one another, corrupting those institutions in the process.


    And there you have it.

    1. Foppe

      Well, at least they’ve caught on to the fact that these events are unusual, con- and institutionally. That’s someting, I guess.

    2. LT

      What Makes a Deep State?

      It starts with something like the National Security Act of 1947 and grows beyond control from there.
      President Ike left office at the end of his term in the 1950s with a big warning about it…he referred to it as the “military-industrial complex,” but it is a reference to the growing menace that encompassed the national security state.

      1. LT

        So many people are still unaware of Ike’s farewell address. They believe the phrase “military-industrial complex” was coined by Alex Jones.

        1. robnume

          You mean like the part of the speech where Military Industrial Congressional Complex was purposely changed to simply Military Industrial Complex? That omission/change certainly was convenient for CONgress.

            1. Alex Morfesis

              A-O…A-O…to take America we go…tralla-la-la-lah…tralla-la-la-lah…A-O…A-O…

              A-O…A-O…to take…

    1. JustAnObserver

      Just to remind us where the EPA came from lets all play this classic from the 60s (*)


      Sample stanza:

      See the halibuts and the sturgeons
      Being wiped out by detergeons.
      Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly,
      But they don’t last long if they try.

      I was introduced to Tom Leher by a couple of Jesuits from my local school via the immortal “Vatican Rag”.

      (*) Probably why Steve Bannon hates the 60’s

  17. Katharine

    They are after your children:
    The ruling comes after Stefan Hessel, a student at Saarbrücken University, raised concerns about the device, which was voted one of the top 10 toys of the year in 2014 by the German toy trade association.

    “Access to the doll is completely unsecured,” Hessel told Saarbrücker Zeitung. “There is no password to protect the connection.”

    The student said hackers could access the doll via its bluetooth connection from a distance of up to 15 meters, listening in on conversations as well as speaking directly to the child playing with it.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      We (own) the world…
      we (own) your children…

      we are the once who could
      make a brighter day,

      but we don’t want to…

      It’s a choice we’re making…
      We’re screwing up your lives…

      So that we can make a brighter day…
      For him and me….

      All together now…

      We own the world…
      We own your children…

      Sing it michael…

  18. fresno dan


    But there is another story. When technology firms hire foreign-born workers, they often pay them less than what they theoretically would have paid an American in that job. This leads to both lower pay for workers across the company and higher profits for the owners and investors. In other words, the H-1B program is a scheme to reduce wages and increase profits, which has been cleverly remarketed as a paean to multiculturalism and a win-win for American consumers and American inclusivity.
    The technology community has been outspoken in its defense of the H-1B program, framing it in language that pays homage to American values like diversity, inclusion, and innovation. But it also serves the less honorable goal of restraining wage growth. In 2015, several tech companies including Apple and Google agreed to pay $415 million after accusations that they had a so-called “no-poaching” agreement that prevented workers from bidding up their wages with competing offers.*** The H-1B visa program similarly restrains the growth of labor costs, except it’s disguised as a policy of openness.
    Hmmmmm – I sure would like to see the number of H-1B workers paid MORE than American workers, and how many there were that were paid more…..

    And… being educated and intelligent….actually get you less…..almost makes one think Marx and his reserve army of the unemployed is correct….

    ***indisputable fact that tech squillionaires are trying to make Americans poorer while making theyselves richer…..yet they are constantly and incessantly portrayed as heroes….
    And the constant propaganda that the US is great because it so believes in the rich getting richer….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did the Hessians come to Colonial America on the H1B visa program?

      I wonder if the Nation Guard troops would have any problem arresting those Hessians? “It’s too distasteful. I won’t do it. They can come here to take my job. Maybe I will arrest them if they are here to take other people’s jobs.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One of the griefs was the British soldiers in Boston were part time workers for the ships operated by non local firms. The famed mob of the Boston massacre was protesting the soldiers taking their jobs.

        The Red Coats of the era was a fairly selective bunch that recruited farm boys who weren’t in line for the farm, bored handy men to see the world and so forth (men with decent upbringings by the standards of the day). The average Red Coat would have had a good deal in common with the average colonial, and when the war came, the British brought in mercenaries because they couldn’t count on their own army to follow certain orders. The British fleet eventually grabbed these guys forcing the British army to scour jails and Ireland.

  19. oho

    The Beltway Establishment echo chamber, especially the corporate media, loves the smell of its own farts so much right now that it doesn’t realize that it’s in a death spiral of credibility with real America.

    just sayin.

  20. LT

    “This is some GRADE A Bullshit right here,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, wrote in a private Democratic-listserv email obtained by The Daily Beast.”
    “Too many Democrats started seeing OFA as just another boogeyman. For instance, when reached by The Daily Beast for this story, two Democratic operatives independently referred to OFA as “The Devil.”
    The DNC, OFA are all still fixated on Presidential races. That is why they’ve lost the majority of state legislatures and the House and Senate. This is the way they serve their big donors and keep themselves pre-occupied with Executive Branch management of the military-national security complex and globalization (I wish they could choke to death on it!) and keep one hand tied behind their backs so they can keep saying “The Republicans won’t let us ___________, but you all still keep voting for us….”

    It really seems like OFA is made up of a bunch of private health insurance and big pharma lobbyists. Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare….did they mention OBAMACARE?????

    Don’t walk away from the Democratic Party, RUN!!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Obama’s new organizing army is Grade A bullshit. I mean, Obama’s organizing it, right?

      Here, brave resistors! The veal pen is here! You trust Obama, right? Right?

    2. aab

      Wow. I am so glad I read that — and I only saw your post because I followed Lambert’s comment, so thanks to both of you.

      Wow. Just wow.

      I can’t believe he’s doing this. I get factional in-fighting, but he didn’t seem that interested in this kind of power when he was, you know, PRESIDENT. Is he literally being paid to keep the Democratic Party out of power?

      Offered without additional comment:

      President Obama, himself a proud community organizer, had long been credited with leading a savvy, vigorous grassroots campaign to win the White House in 2008.

  21. LT

    “A record-high 72% of Americans believe foreign trade is good for the U.S. economy, and an equal proportion believe promoting favorable trade policies in foreign markets is a very important goal. ..”

    100% of Americans believe foreign trade is good for the economy. They just don’t think they way it’s been done is all that up to par.
    But that’s the TINA mindset for you, if you’re against the neo-liberal idea of trade, you must be against trade because their way is the only way. TINA – “there is no alternative.”
    And they wonder why they are watching Trump press conferences….

  22. craazyman

    We haven’t heard much from political scientists about President Trump’s press conference or the first few weeks.

    They’ve been quiet. No studies. No equations. No models. No multiple regressions. No math at all. Maybe they’ve decided he’s pure randomness and they can’t fit a model to him. That’s pretty funny. I think that’s probably what it is.

    One day its this. One day it’s that. Some of it doesn’t seem to be based in facts or reality. But that should make them feel right at home! Why do they think what THEY do is based in fact or reality? Because they count it? All it is are time series. But they don’t say WHY it is what it is. They, frankly and I don’t mean to be too candid — they resort to the implicit credibility supplied by, wait for this folks! . . . Drum Roll Please . . . AN IMPLIED POLITICAL STANCE! C’mon you know I’m right and you have to admit it, if only to yourselfs.

    The numbers are just the surface of an inner, let us say “geometrical cultural psychological mythical object” that remains un-remarked upon and un-disclosed and even, I hesitate to even say this for fear of being seen as a “excessively judgmental” — unrecognized! Whoa. Sorry guys (and it’s mostly guys but not allways). There’s women boneheads too. I think alot of them were marching the other day (but not all of them). The undisclosed, unrecognized, undefined (or ill defined) political stance that lies (no pun intended) under the undulating surface of the time series mathematical objects.

    So now the political scientists see Mr. Trump and they say to themselves “What the heck is that dude doing?” Well. The same thing YOU are doing. But he’s not pretending to be scientific and you are. Hahahahahah. Actually I misspoke, it’s not the same thing, it’s almost something “orthogonal” to what they’re doing. You dot thhem and you get zero. He’s all imagination and instinct and they are logic. So it’s not the same.

    What’s up with that? You’d think they be working round the clock to figure something out here. But maybe since they can’t see the geomettrical objects and can’t form that vision, they don’t see it when it’s changing on them. Even though it’s right in front of us all like a reflection in a mirror.

  23. robnume

    On Facebook employment agency: I recently applied to a couple of dispensaries be a medical marijuana delivery person; they never hire females, only males for this position, so I’m shit out of luck just because I’m the wrong sex. One of the dispensaries did make having a faceborg account mandatory for their new hires. Pretty weird out there.

  24. dontknowitall

    The important difference between the open source insurgency and the orthodox #resistance is the fragility and rigidity of the latter. The #resistance is consultant-organized, directed topdown with opinion enforcers, very dependent on opinion leaders and servant media, while the insurgency is local, independent, multiplex, distrustful of major media, flat and organically recognizes damage and routes around it. Guess which one will be around longer.

      1. dontknowitall

        Indeed. The #resistance is a veal pen (like LT and Lambert say) but maybe the most gynormous devised in the US since the McCarthy red scare…30,000 opinion enforcers, millions of useful fools. This is industrial strength tomfoolery that will without a doubt further disappoint Obama’s already sad and disappointed supporters. It will fail eventually because it does not model reality just like neoliberal economics does not model the real economy so it will not end well and may damage trust in the democratic system among a large fraction of the lots-of-free-time-in-their-hands upper middle class.

        On the other hand it could stampede Trump into a fight to expand Medicare access to deal an instant checkmate move to both Obamacare, the #resistance and wrestle the populist mantle away from Sanders…one can dream…

  25. Plenue

    History is not going to be kind to Clintonistas like Tanden. 50 years from now (if anyone is able to do luxurious things like writing history books, rather than spending all their time searching the Fallout/Mad Max wasteland for food), what you’re not going to find among academics is any widespread belief that Trump won because “people were dumb bigots” or “nefarious Russian agent Stein stole crucial votes from Clinton”. And the internet and computer age are providing future historians with vast troves of audio, visual, and text documentation. I at least hope the apparatchiks are being paid well, because history is not going to be kind to their legacies. As for all the people who aren’t paid agents, and yet take to Twitter and Facebook to berate and insult others who didn’t vote as they ‘should have’, copious records of their foolishness will be preserved.

    1. NDP

      Tanden herself doesn’t believe the b.s. she spews. We’ve read her emails. She knew the SS Clinton was heading for an iceberg, and it was captain Clinton and first mate Podesta at the helm.

  26. different clue

    People who feel that they have ever been, or might ever be . . . targeted by those people who will make up the Orthodox dissent-prevention group called #theResistance . . .
    might get started Right Now on creating their own #NotMyResistance. Or #NotMyClintonResistance. Or whatever #WhateverPhrase would be most eyecatching and eyegrabbing. Maybe call it #NotTheClintons. Or #NotTheirResistance. But something. Something to get a bunch of people counter-organizing against the Clinton Restoration.

    And given all the people who gave money to Bernie’s Rolling Fundathon . . . there are enough people to fund up an #The CounterResistance to make it immune to any effort by Clinton’s #theResistance to starve it for money.

      1. different clue

        The best thing that rebellious minded people with a Twitter account is to think up and launch as many hashtag whatevers as possible and just see which ones take off and go viral. If it works, if thousands and then tens of thousands of people adopt it for their own, then it is good; even if we may not like the way it scans or sounds. So we ( and everybody) should keep trying and launching.

  27. allan

    Those GOP/Trump public lands policies will be a yuuge job creator … oh, wait:

    Outdoor Retailer is leaving Utah over public lands issues, a move Herbert calls ‘offensive’ [Salt Lake Tribune]

    The Outdoor Retailer show is leaving Salt Lake City.

    After an unproductive meeting between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor recreation business representatives, industry leaders say they hope to find a new location for the Outdoor Retailer shows “as soon as possible.” …

    “It is clear that the governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members and the majority of Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats — that’s bad for our American heritage, and it’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.” …

    The show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, said in a news release that it would not include Utah in its request for proposals from cities hoping to host the trade shows, which bring about 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City each year. …

    Quickly followed by:

    When Outdoor Retailers left, Salt Lake City also lost chance to host cycling convention [SLC Tribune]

    Before the Outdoor Retailer convention announced it is leaving Utah over the state’s public lands policies, Salt Lake City was a top contender to host a third outdoor industry trade show. Now the organizers behind the Interbike cycling exhibition have removed Salt Lake City from consideration, as they shop for a new host city after spending 17 years in Las Vegas.

    Emerald Exhibitions, which owns both Outdoor Retailer and Interbike, said they are in “lockstep” with outdoor industry leaders who have argued Utah politicians are hostile to public lands that the industry depends on. Following a tense phone call between Gov. Gary Herbert and industry representatives Thursday, Emerald Expositions announced it would not renew its contract for the massive Outdoor Retailer shows in Salt Lake City, where it has held here for two decades. On top of that, it would not move Interbike to Utah. …

  28. duck1

    not being an intelligence type
    can they climb down from claims?
    absorbing all communication, everyone is suspect?

  29. allan

    McCain goes Godwin. On foreign soil.

    I was wondering why Principled Conservative™ and (one time) global warming believer John McCain didn’t show up to not not vote for Scott Pruitt. It turns out he was in Munich, preening before the cameras, rather than doing his job:

    Sen. John McCain methodically blasts President Trump’s policies in scathing security conference speech

    John McCain does not appear too happy with President Trump’s “America first” policies.

    Without ever mentioning him by name, the Republican senator from Arizona systematically ripped Trump’s views on immigration, NATO and foreign policy in a blistering point-by-point speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

    McCain suggested that the German founders of the international conference would be disturbed by the direction in which the new U.S. administration appears to be heading.

    “I fear that much about it would be all-too-familiar to them, and they would be alarmed by it,” the longtime senator said. …

    Trump need not worry. McCain has no constituency other than the press.

    1. dontknowitall

      I guess when the Vietcong had him in their clutches they went about torturing him the wrong way, instead of the regular beatings and demands for confession they should just had given him a TV crew and a greenroom to preen himself and he would have turned rabid communist right there

  30. Abe Lincoln - American Protectionist

    The source of all our problems traces back to that gigantic trade deficit and the collapse of manufacturing. Poor countries have no manufacturing (cf Somalia, Chad, Haiti etc.) or virtually none.
    Rich countries (Japan, Israel, Germany) are packed with factories. This is not complicated. Inequality is a distraction from the destruction of the US as a first world country. It is a symptom, not a cause of collapse. The US COULD become a rich country again with a middle class, but only if we raise tariffs of 200-400% plus follow an undervalued currency strategy, buying up foreign assets with our dollars. Devaluation by 90% over a five year period would probably be enough. We have to pay taxes one way or the other – lower income and property taxes as well as regressive sales taxes on foods and basics such as soap and shampoo, toilet paper. Once upon a time the US was protectionist and rich — it can be again – all you need is faith.

    A left-right alliance could be put it into place:

    James McMurtry

    Toby Keith

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