2:00PM Water Cooler 2/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Fed Governor James Bullard: “I can appreciate that President Trump has a trade agenda and he wants to change things, but from a macroeconomic perspective, I see that as a slow-moving policy. There are armies of lawyers, and they meet for years and years and years and the final result is probably not all that different than what you have now. It’s possible that there are other ways that this could move faster, but rules are rules and agreements are agreements, so they take a long time to change” [Politico].


2016 Post Mortem

“In the DNC Race, the Democratic Establishment Seems to Have Successfully Preempted the Left” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Democrats today, left and center, are in a very different position from the Republicans of the recent past. Party divisions over policy are a lot less numerous, and Democrats are united in wanting to use government for positive purposes in a way Republicans haven’t exhibited in 40 years. But the age-old challenge remains for partisans of every variety: keeping eyes on the prize of general-election victories instead of the fool’s gold of dominating one’s own party. That’s as true for the Democratic Establishment types who keep frustrating left insurgents as it is for the insurgents themselves.” What on earth does “united in wanting to use government for positive purposes” mean? Did Clinton come out of the woods and sign on to #MedicareForAll?


“Six critical reactions to keep an eye on during President Trump’s first address to Congress” [WaPo]. We need a drinking game; mine would be to open a bottle and imbibe steadily and systematically. But then that’s my solution for most anything these days (kidding!).

“What the G.O.P. Wants Trump to Say Tonight” [New York Times]. Media critique: Notice the extremely classy black-and-white photo of Trump. The Flynn defenestration really changed the tone. The writer, a Republican Congressman: “However, President Trump will need to do more than merely wait upon a Republican Congress to produce the legislation he has championed. He must become an active participant in the legislative process.” Hoo boy.

“Trump is not focusing his first major address as president on repealing and replacing Affordable Care Act” [Politico]. Trump may be crazy, but he’s not dumb. Too bad for him he got rolled on Flynn; pour encourager les autres works both ways…

Trump Transition

“A day after House conservatives panned a leaked GOP draft ObamaCare replacement plan, a top Republican leader on Tuesday described the proposed legislation as ‘no longer even a viable draft that we’re working off of'” [The Hill]. The Freedom Caucus is going bughouse again. Maybe Mitch can have Elaine cross those guys off the infrastructure goodies list? If Trump ever gets round to that?

“The campaign to let 20 million Americans keep their health insurance is working” [David Leonhardt, New York Times]. I love liberals. Let me add the sentence Leonhardt left out: “But the fight to get health care to the 20 million who don’t have health insurance must ‘never, ever’ begin.” Fixed it for ya.

“President Donald Trump said he believes the extra $54 billion dollars he has proposed spending on the U.S. military will be offset by a stronger economy as well as cuts in other areas” [Reuters]. “‘I think the money is going to come from a revved up economy,’ Trump said in a Fox News interview broadcast on Tuesday, hours before he was to address a joint session of Congress.” Military Keynsianism is the best Keynsianism. Indeed, the only Keynsianism.

Trump, February 27, 2017: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” [New York Times]. “Trump and Obama say health care is complicated” (clip compilation) [Politico]. Thanks to Politico for ratcheting down the hysteria on this one.

Trump: “”I think in terms of effort, which means something, but I give myself an A-plus, OK, effort, but results are more important. In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C-plus. … In terms of achievement, I think I’d give myself an A because I think I’ve done great things, but I and my people I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American public” [Time]. So, just like Obama, Trump thinks any problem can be solved with public relations?

“President Donald Trump finally got the leading member of his trade team after Wilbur Ross won Senate approval Monday night to be Commerce secretary in a 72-27 vote. Twenty Democrats joined 51 Republicans and one independent, Sen. Angus King, to approve Ross, who is expected to be the architect of Trump’s tougher approach to trade” [Politico]. So can #TheResistance please abandon the Trump-as-fascist talking point or start actively pillorying the Democrats who vote for the guy? Or is America exceptional because even a modicum of consistency is no longer necessary in political discourse? More: “Other Democrats, like Sen. Sherrod Brown, looked ahead. “I look forward to working with him in his new role as Commerce secretary to address the urgent need to reduce China’s steel overcapacity, which has devastated the U.S. steel industry and its workers,” Brown said.”

“Of 549 key administration positions that require Senate confirmation, just 15 of Trump’s picks have been confirmed, while an additional 18 await confirmation. For 516 of the positions — or 94% of the total — the White House hasn’t yet nominated a candidate, according to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that works with the White House and campaigns to professionalize the transfer of power between administrations” [Wall Street Journal, “Trump Slow to Submit Nominations for Top Administration Posts”]. ”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Bernie Sanders tells Jake Tapper that he won’t share his email list with the full DNC, but rather use it to help candidates he chooses” [CNN]. Good. After the Democrat Establishment’s screw job on Ellison, no reason to give them anything but a poisoned chalice (which Bernie is probably too nice to do, sadly).

“READ IN FULL: Bernie Sanders’ Speech on Israel, Trump and anti-Semitism at J Street Conference” [Haaretz]. “As the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed on December 23, the settlements also constitute a flagrant violation of international law. I applaud the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Those of us who really support Israel have got to tell the truth about policies are hurting chances of reaching a peaceful resolution.” Haim, thoughts?

“Our Revolution, the successor to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, is endorsing and supporting candidates from the local level up, and the new group Justice Democrats is aiming to “replace every establishment politician in 2018.” Even inside the structure itself, The Wall Street Journal reported last week, progressives from the Sanders camp are taking over local Democratic committees and state parties from Hawaii to Nebraska. Call it reforming the party or entryism; whatever it is, it’s starting to work.” [The Week].

“Is There More to the Flynn Story?” [Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative]. On the sudden resignation of “Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain’s highly secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is the codebreaking equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA),” who decided to “spend more time with his family” (!!!). “[F]ormer colleagues and I have come to suspect something does not smell right with the Hannigan resignation and would seem to be quite plausibly related to Flynn… Aggrieved senior officials [the nine ringwraiths current and former officials anonymously sourced by WaPo] closely tied to the outgoing White House might have surreptitiously sought assistance from a ‘special relationship friend’ in a foreign government to make a case that would humiliate and ultimately bring down an unlovable and abrasive incoming national-security advisor. Of course, one still needs to learn who those senior officials were and consider whether they should be allowed to walk away from what they have done. As for Hannigan, did the Trump White House discover what had occurred and did it back channel to British Prime Minister Theresa May demanding that someone’s head roll?”

“It’s difficult to determine how many people decide not to pay federal taxes as a form of protest, and how many the IRS fines for that, Hedemann said. The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee estimates there are several thousand each year who refuse to pay some or all federal income taxes, or refuse to pay federal excise tax for local service or landlines because they oppose war. The number has varied over the years and was likely at its peak during the early 1970s when an estimated 20,000 refused at least some of their income tax and 500,000 refused their telephone taxes, he said. Hedemann predicts the number will grow this year, and in the next several years, but “it’s way too early to tell'” [MarketWatch].

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2016 (second estimate): “little change, actually no change at the headline level” [Econoday]. “Inventories show little change in the revision, rising what may prove an unwanted $46.2 billion and contributing 9 tenths of a percentage point or nearly half of the quarter’s total growth. Net exports are unchanged, subtracting 1.7 percentage points as exports fell sharply and imports rose even more sharply. Government purchases get a downgrade, contributing only a small fraction to the quarter’s GDP.” But and: “Relatively, the consumer went limp, and GDP is gamed with inventory hocus-pocus and export-import adjustments. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter method of measuring GDP (as it exaggerates error) – but my year-over-year preferred method showed improvement from last quarter” [Econintersect]. And: “Real GDP in Q4 was slightly weaker than expected, coming in unrevised at 1.9%. The shortfall relative to my expectations reflects the old saying “a few billion here and a few billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money.” There were not any big surprises, but a handful of categories came in a few billion dollars lower than I had anticipated. Business spending on equipment, intellectual property, state and local government outlays, and inventories were all a little lower than expected. Meanwhile, the main category that was revised higher was consumer spending, which was boosted from a 2.5% growth rate to a 3.0% annualized rise, in line with the robust average recorded since the beginning of 2014″ [Amherst Pierpong Securities, Across the Curve].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, February 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded for the fourth consecutive month in February, with the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rising a strong 5 points to 17. Strength was broad based” [Econoday]. “Employment components also contributed to strength, with the number of employees index rising 2 to 10, the average workweek index up 11 to 16, and wages up 4 to 15.” And: “For the fourth month, the regional Fed surveys seem to be saying uniformly that growth is expanding. The Richmond Fed subcategories were strong – especially new orders” [Econintersect].

Chicago PMI, February 2017: “Big swings are not uncommon at all for the Chicago PMI which surged to 57.4 in February vs a January reading that was barely in the plus-50 expansion column” [Econoday]. “New orders are the strength of the report as is production.” And: “The Chicago Business Barometer which recently has spent more time in contraction than expansion, improved and remained in expansion. This survey came in well above expectations” [Econintersect]. “The results of this survey continue to agree with district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, Februart 2017: “The decline in global sentiment was again driven by a strong decline in the European component” [Econoday]. “State street noted that global institutional investors continued to shy away from risk despite ongoing uptrends in risky asset prices, with a striking disparity in the risk tolerance of North American institutional investors and those in other regions.”

Consumer Confidence, February 2017: “The consumer sentiment index may have lost a little steam but not the consumer confidence index which continues to make new post-election highs and new cycle highs” [Econoday]. “Expectations for future jobs are also strengthening with more, 20.4 percent, seeing more opening up and fewer, at 13.6 percent, seeing less jobs ahead. Strength in jobs sentiment makes for strength in income expectations where the spread between optimists and pessimists (18.3 vs 8.2 percent) is a very healthy 10.1 percentage points.”

International Trade in Goods, Janurary 2017: “The nation’s goods gap widened sharply in January” [Econoday]. “Imports of consumer goods and also vehicles are once again the source of the trade mismatch, surging 4.8 percent and 2.9 percent respectively and helping to lift total imports by 2.3 percent. Exports fell 0.3 percent with weakness in capital goods.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Housing Price Index, December 2016: “Lack of resales on the market is driving up prices” [Econoday]. “The Case-Shiller 20-city index has settled into a steady and moderate climb.” And: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect].

Durable Goods (yesterday): “[C]ore capital goods orders were a touch softer than projected in January, falling by 0.4% (partially offset by a four-tenths upward revision to December). The modest decline in January breaks a string of three straight monthly advances (and 6 out of 7), but the setback is modest. Similarly, core capital goods shipments slid by 0.6% in January, but December’s level was revised higher by six tenths of a percentage point. My view on business investment remains that there is a good deal of pent-up energy that had been held back by an adverse and uncertain policy environment. The surge in business sentiment in recent months suggests that some of that energy is leaking out already, but my guess is that a full-on strengthening in investment will probably have to wait until there is greater resolution on some of the outstanding policy questions, particularly corporate tax reform” [Amhert Pierpont Securities, Across the Curve].

Pending Home Sales, Durable Goods Orders, Dallas Fed (yesterday): “Same story, expectations trumped up but actual numbers not so good” [Mosler Economics]. Also, Japan’s monetary policy debacle. Who could have known?

Commodities: “De Beers, the world’s No.1 diamond miner by value, reported Tuesday a drop in this year’s second sale of rough gems, as it fetched $545 million, down from the $617 million it sold in the same period last year” [Mining.com].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 83 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 28 at 12:01pm. Still sedate.

Health Care

“Does Trump really know how to fix Americans’ health care?” [Brent Arends, MarketWatch]. “‘Great meeting with CEOs of leading U.S. health insurance companies who provide great healthcare to the American people,’ Trump tweeted after his big summit with health insurance honchos. Wrong again, Mr. President. The CEOs of leading health insurance companies do not ‘provide great healthcare to the American people.’ The CEOs of the leading health insurance companies do just three things: They collect our money. They give some of it back to us, grudgingly, when we need it. And they slip $1 of every $8 — or more — into their own pockets. That’s about it. They don’t do any providing whatsoever. How ironic that Trump should invite these grossly overpaid paper shufflers, parasites, and middlemen to the White House to discuss soaring medical insurance premiums and declining choice…. Either we let people suffer and die from treatable illnesses because they can’t pay for treatment — or we don’t. If we don’t leave them to suffer and die, then we must have some form of universal coverage, a.k.a. socialized medicine. There is no third option. The main reason Obamacare and the entire U.S. health-care system is too expensive to run is because we keep lying to ourselves. We are trying to have a socialized medicine system that pretends it isn’t one.” I’m rather amazed to see prose taking this tone in MarketWatch, and from Romney’s biographer, of all people. It does seem that the tide is slowly turning. It would help if the Democrats would get out of the way.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The executive order, the development of which many advocates say has been among the most progressive partnerships between the White House and HBCUs in decades, could reveal new standards of funding and federal support for black colleges, including moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs under the purview of White House administration and mandatory funding benchmarks from federal agencies for grants and contracts” [HBCU Digest]. Oh, and: “First Black President Cuts Funds For Black Higher Education” [Black Agenda Report]. And: “Tensions spilled over after a recent Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Obama and Vice President Biden in which the president said that historically black schools, also known as HBCUs, needed to do a better job graduating students and not saddling them with debt, according to several people at the meeting. Some Black Caucus members bristled at those remarks since they say the president didn’t acknowledge that his own administration was also pursuing policies that advocates say are hurting the schools” [WaPo]. Plus the usual Obama finger-wagging.

There was a good deal of liberal harrumphing and pearl-clutching about this photo:


More importantly, DeVos really is a blinkered idiot [Forbes]. “What most rattled HBCU advocate was Secretary DeVos’ equation of the establishment of HBCUs with her longstanding philosophy of school choice, the ability of families to select what public or private schools they wish for their children. This philosophy includes state-funded vouchers that would pay for students to attend private schools that meet minimum educational standards. DeVos has been criticized for this stance because it would support religious schooling, some of which is anti-science. Instead, HBCUs were first established to provide higher education to emancipated African-Americans–often by Whites who were abolitionists and/or from the Quaker and Methodist churches–specifically because they were unwelcome at majority institutions as part of Jim Crow laws.” Wowsers.

Class Warfare

“Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an ‘oligarchy’ in which ‘unlimited political bribery; has created ‘a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.’ Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, ‘look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves'” [The Intercept]. Nice to see Tom Perez come out so strongly for the Sanders funding model. Oh, wait…

News of the Wired

Cell phone extravaganza:

“The combined revenues from mobile hardware, software and services sales in 2017 is forecast to total $1.57 trillion, a 2.6% year-over-year increase. Through 2020, products and services purchases are expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 2.1% and post revenues of $1.67 trillion in 2020” [247 Wall Street]. That’s real money!

“Nokia 3310 won’t work in many countries across the world, including the US and Canada” [Independent]. “[T]he new version of the handset still communicates with networks using the same old frequencies: 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, used for the kind of 2G communications that sent calls and texts before mobile internet caught on. But those frequencies have already been turned off in much of the world – including in the US and Canada – and they are gradually being switched off in many of the countries that still use them, too.”

The Amazon reviews for a phone designed for rectal smuggling are pretty interesting reading” [Boing Boing].

“Report: Next-gen iPhone could dump the Lightning port in favor of USB-C” [Ars Technica]. Sure. I’ll buy new equipment because Apple changed cables again.

“The Minneapolis Police Department likely disabled the cell phones of the two protesters rappelling from the ceiling of U.S. Bank Stadium on January 1” [Fox 9] “Unconfirmed scanner reports mentioned police disabling the protesters’ phones so they would only take calls from negotiators. While the Minneapolis Police Department would not confirm the disabling, the officials sent a statement to Fox 9 on Monday saying: “This technique was used twice in the past three years. This involved extreme circumstances where a person’s safety was in immediate danger.””

“The smartphone revolution is poised to go onto the next level — with “superphones” equipped with artificial intelligence now on the horizon” [Agence France Presse]. “By learning their owners’ habits, these new phones will be able to carry out tasks even when they’re offline.” What could go wrong?

“Research shows that smartphone addiction increases stress levels and, in students, negatively affects academic performance. That likely goes for work performance as well. And whatever I have gained by clicking on another link, I have lost in uninterrupted thinking or quality time with my family” [Bloomberg]. “I’m not alone in feeling that using a smartphone is making my life more fragmented and thus possibly poorer.”

* * *

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 (RH):

At last!

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. fresno dan

    “Six critical reactions to keep an eye on during President Trump’s first address to Congress” [WaPo]. We need a drinking game; mine would be to open a bottle and imbibe steadily and systematically. But then that’s my solution for most anything these days (kidding!).
    I got dibs on “big league” AND “bigly” – I’m pretty sure Trump has been admonished NOT to say “bigly” (and/or big league). So you have to drink the whole bottle if he even says it once. And if he says it several times, better to die of alcohol poisoning than live in this world….

    1. polecat

      Perhaps, instead of a drinking game, to be participating in during the address, we engage in a ‘brownie’ game’ as an alternative ….. in honor of Donald’s esteemed AG of course ……

      to the board … What Say You ??

      1. Lee

        Or a toking game. I already started (not kidding).

        I vape a high cbd content varietal that helps with inflammatory pain and provides a pleasantly mild buzz. I don’t respond well to too much thc.

  2. fresno dan

    Trump, February 27, 2017: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. NOBODY knew that health care could be so complicated” [New York Times]. “Trump and Obama say health care is complicated” (clip compilation) [Politico]. Thanks to Politico for ratcheting down the hysteria on this one.


    Ronald Reagan: They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s an 11 dimensional plan.

      Of course, it’s complicated.

      “Gosh, Republicans are so low-information. Just deplorable.”

      Honestly, geniuses have wrecked the world more than all the idiots combined.

      Just look at GM foods, nuclear bombs, drones, financial derivatives…

      Thus the saying, when a true genius appears in the world, all the dunces in confederacy will suffer.

    2. Ed Miller

      irony of ironies….

      That Ronald Reagan quote is found after many quotes deploring the dangers/evils of socialized medicine. Yet the only cost effective way to provide good healthcare, as seen/proven everywhere except in the US, is socialized medicine. As a nation we seem to be terrified of being social animals. Hmmm…

  3. Max

    I am an Uber Survivor

    I complained to the HR department two times about this behavior. Interestingly, I got the same response from them that Susan mentioned in her story. They kept telling me that they really appreciate my guts to come forward but that this was the first complaint they received about him and that he is highly valuable to Travis. I was told to continue putting in my best efforts and keep him happy so that my performance reviews will be in good shape. In essence, the HR department blackmailed me that if I make noise, I’d be fired.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Quoting from the article:

        “The supervisors were often arrogant, impatient, and aggressive with their expectations.”

        I have witnessed the same behavior. Uber staffers do the same things to the drivers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Can’t really bad mouth public sector employees like the border agents, when private sector supervisors are acting like that

          It seems to be a neoliberal social thing that has made it a ruder world.

    1. cm

      Another Uber article, this one about them canning their SVP since he hadn’t disclosed he was canned from Google for sexual harassment.

      Preparation for canning the incompetent HR dept as a convenient scapegoat?

    2. Knot Galt

      Human Resources(HR) is a funny thing. HR is there to protect the bottom line and shield executives. It is also an oxymoron; it is neither a resource(for employees) or human(e).

      As bad as Uber is, I’d argue that any fast paced business(and which ones aren’t?) has an HR Dept. that is a direct reflection of the President or CEO of that company.

  4. Vatch

    More importantly, DeVos really is a blinkered idiot [Forbes].

    But she’s rich! Doesn’t that mean that she’s smart and well educated?

    1. JohnnyGL

      Actually, it means she doesn’t NEED to be either smart OR well educated. She’s got “F- You” money :)

      She’s wealthy enough that she’s free to be a complete idiot. That’s what real freedom is like! :)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We have been mislead not just by rich or mega-rich leaders though.

        Personally, I believe leaders like Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot weren’t particularly rich (as far as I know).

        1. Ed Miller

          “Personally, I believe leaders like Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot weren’t particularly rich (as far as I know).”

          I have a hard time believing anyone could believe that. Assets aren’t all out in the open.

          All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

        2. epynonymous

          Her husband founded the merc outfit Blackwater (now Xe, or Academe, or whatever.)

          Don’t underestimate your enemy.

          Trump is the perfect straw man. The left would be well advised not to brush him off or dismiss him. He should be respected, if he is indeed your enemy… more so if not.

          On the other hand, everytime Trump’s opponents in the media attack him, they only legitimize him. To blame him for problems is to admit he is in command.

        3. epynonymous

          Mao was the editor of the Yale Law review.

          Obama wasn’t rich either… but… Well, his dad. The one that was killed by his second car crash. Yeah. Class.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I didn’t know that about Mao. I knew he work as a library assistant at the University of Beijing (or something like that).

          2. Vatch

            Mao was never in the United States. You must be thinking of a different Chinese revolutionary, although I don’t know who that might be.

          3. Vatch

            Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto spent 1919-1921 studying at Harvard. Perhaps that is whom you are thinking of.

  5. crittermom

    RE: Class Warfare:
    Jimmy Carter really ‘told it like it is’ on the Thom Hartmann show. Good video.
    Too bad they ran out of time for a longer answer when Hartmann asked Carter what it will take to make a change. I would’ve liked to have heard more on that from Carter.

  6. Pat

    Did Conway take that picture of the leaders of Black Colleges and the President with her phone? Could she be sending it out to social media, as would obviously be intended in the case of a phone photo, rather than one by an official photographer or even the AP. And if it was, it was something that probably everyone in the room knew was happening. As for her position, sorry to say, but once again it probably had to do with the photo, as in she was standing on the sofa to get a better angle for the shot. And since the President is still centered and most people have not regathered in front of the desk, probably moments after photos were being taken.

    That snarky little swipe by AP is probably undeserved nastiness leveled towards those who have upset their fruit carts.

    Complain about something real guys. Preferably after taking that log from your own eyes.

    1. Jess

      Much of the criticism I saw was that her legs were not together, implying that she was giving the men a free view of her crotch. However, when I looked at the picture it sure looked to me like her skirt was plenty long enough to hide the personal real estate and that to look up her skirt would require getting down on the floor. More senseless whining about meaningless and trivial issues.

      1. Tigerlily

        A lot of the commentary was along the lines of her posture and deportment being “unladylike” and inappropriate for a public function in the Oval Office. I assume largely by people who will seize on any opportunity to talk down the administration.

        Speaking for myself I applaud her informality!

        1. optimader

          Yes, its all bullshit, and that is a perpetually uncomfortable looking set of couches…too low and dumpy

    2. Robert Hahl

      She and Trump appear to be the only ones in the room who are actually working. Liberals hate to see people working in suits.

    3. Katharine

      It looks as if they’re all holding a pose in case she says she needs another shot. This hardly seems worthy of major reporting.

    4. Jen

      And meanwhile,

      Donald Trump…Presidents of historically black colleges and universities…in the same room.

      “The executive order, the development of which many advocates say has been among the most progressive partnerships between the White House and HBCUs in decades, could reveal new standards of funding and federal support for black colleges, including moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs under the purview of White House administration and mandatory funding benchmarks from federal agencies for grants and contracts.” This from the HBUC digest, not Donald Trump.

      Seems out of character for a “white supremacist,” no?

      But then, who’s pushing that narrative?

      1. marym


        As the administration sought UNCF’s input before the final order was issued, UNCF is pleased to see that one of our recommendations was included in the final order: establishing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the office President, moving it from the current purview of the Department of Education.

        None of UNCF’s funding recommendations were included, which were:

        •Committing to an aspirational goal that HBCUs be awarded five percent of total federal grant, internship and cooperative agreement funding and 10 percent of total federal contract funding awarded to colleges and universities–which would nearly double federal support to HBCUs
        •Backing up the federal funding goals with concrete commitments for annual funding growth at each federal agency reflected in agency budgets


        Despite a recent and much-publicized overture to historically black colleges by the Trump administration, the new executive order on HBCUs issued Tuesday does not advocate for any increase in federal funding for the schools — falling short of one of the two key demands that black college leaders had made of the administration…

        But the executive order, which does little to depart from the language of a 2009 order by the Obama administration, made no references to increasing funding to black colleges. It also does not address increasing Pell Grants funding, earmarked for poor students, another item on the wish list of black college presidents.

        The order also departs slightly from Obama’s by calling for “increasing the private-sector role” in historically black schools.

      2. Procopius

        In other commentary, I have seen statements that he is actually planning to cut federal funding for all universities, including HBCUs. I think they were hoping to increase their share to 5% from the current 3%, but may end up with even less. Who knows what he’s going to do?

  7. Roger Smith

    Booker teaming with Sanders [Twitter]

    Off the cuff prediction. Bill fails to win enough GOP support this time around. Booker et al. blames GOP.

  8. RenoDino

    Ok, here goes, I predict that in 100 days Trump will have not signed one piece of significant legislation. He can’t because he can’t reform the ACA, yet another Obama land mine. All the spitballing he’s doing on defense, infrastructure and taxes will have to wait and wait and may never see the light of day when suddenly the realization hits everything he’s suggested is impossible because the ACA comes first. If he was smart, he would have taken those $54 billion in cuts to State and the EPA and put them into the ACA and called it Trump Care and broken the log jam on his agenda. Instead, he squandered the cuts on more bullets because that’s what the generals who control him wanted. Now he’s screwed. Once his 100 days are up, with total control of both branches of government, it will be the big reveal of Trump triumph of pettiness over the actual ability to get anything done.

    1. cocomaan

      I wouldn’t take you up on that bet. The Obamacare repeal is clearly not going to happen. I at least thought there might be tax reform, but I’m doubting that more and more.

      1. Jim Haygood

        So the irresistible force of tax cut promises collides with the immovable object of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

        Haven’t heard a word about it, but presumably Paygo would have to be repealed as part of tax cuts. Otherwise, there just isn’t enough room for big cuts, unless some really creative dynamic scoring can be conjured up.

        Obamacare is sucking up $110 billion a year. Simply repeal it, and 10 to 20 million people would lose health coverage. Without root-and-branch reform of the world’s costliest health system, the Obamacare meter just keeps running, or else you get a lot of angry folks.

        When something has to give to reconcile the irreconcilable in DC, it nearly always boils down to “just fund everything and borrow the difference.” Borrowing at 2 percent interest is the closest thing to free money. Trillion dollar deficits show that we care. ;-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The denouement might involve MMT as Trump’s Deus ex Machina.

          He implied it once before the election, beating Sanders who never made use of his MMT adviser

          1. Jen

            Ah, but Bernie at least has an MMT adviser, and is, perhaps, smart enough not to spook the herd.

            In a similar vein to only Nixon can go to China, only Trump (or at least most definitely not a professed socialist) can say deficits don’t matter.

        2. reslez

          Rules are for little people and liberals. Real conservatives know that Paygo doesn’t affect military spending or Wall Street bailouts, and if Bush Jr was able to pass a multibillion dollar Medicare prescription drug benefit with a Republican Congress then Trump can do whatever the heck he wants with Obamacare. Republicans may not want to openly repeal Paygo — it would offend some of the Tea Party types and Americans for Tax Reform (the anti-tax pledge people) — but that doesn’t mean they have to do what it says.

          If Republicans can’t find a loophole wide enough to drive a semi-truck through Paygo it means they’re trying to obstruct Trump’s agenda.

        3. Code Name D

          Obamacare is sucking up $110 billion a year. Simply repeal it, and 10 to 20 million people would lose health coverage. Without root-and-branch reform of the world’s costliest health system, the Obamacare meter just keeps running, or else you get a lot of angry folks.

          This is the one thing many people fail to take into account regarding repeal. Obamacare is already in its death spiral. Soon, people will start dropping out of Obamacare because they are simply priced out of the market and be forced to go with the penalty. The longer Obamacare goes without repair – the more money it hoovers up until it simply implodes under its own cost and complexity. And then you really do have a mess on your hands.

          The fact is that doing nothing about Obamacare isn’t really an option. At the vary least it needs more money allocated to its budget to pay for the ongoing subsides and Medicare expansions, just to keep it from going completely turtle on you.

    2. ewmayer

      Gien that most major pieces of legislation – especially the odious ‘bipartisan consensus’-tageed ones – passed in recent decades have been unmitigated disasters for the 90%, the rule of law, and the world at large, I’m not sure why you think ‘no major new legislation passed’ is a bad thing. The ‘less effective evil’ rationale for preferring DJT to HRC in fact explicitly invokes gridlock in DC as a good thing. TPP sure ain’t gonna get passed – I consider that a clear win already.

  9. Tigerlily

    But the age-old challenge remains for partisans of every variety: keeping eyes on the prize of general-election victories instead of the fool’s gold of dominating one’s own party

    In other words: keep the dirty hippies away from the levers of power in the party while reminding them of their providentially ordained duty to show up at the polls and vote Democrat.

  10. Altandmain

    So I visited a few computer stores on the weekend. I’m convinced: laptops have indeed been crapified.

    It looks like a lot of laptops these days with Intel CPUs often carry “U” CPUs. These are low power CPUs, but they lack much in the way of processing power. I’ve always felt that you could use a full laptop CPU and then leave in on power saving and offer a low power mode in the BIOS for these benefits.

    Anyways, keep an eye out.i7 used to mean 4 core + Hyper Threading on your laptop CPU. Not always these days. You have to look up the model number t then match in onto Intel’s Arc (their online database) to make sure that you are getting a decent CPU.

    I’m hoping that AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs may make CPUs and APUs cheaper, but I bet that the laptop manufacturers will crapify them. They did for AMD’s Carrizo architecture.

    Batteries are often not removable. That’s a serious problem because the batteries are usually the first parts in any laptop to die out.

    CPUs these days (I got to see opened laptops) are apparently all soldered on laptops now, save the Clevo ones that have desktop CPUs (and those suffer from bad battery life, along with a difficult to use keyboard).

    GPUs these days are also often soldered, the ones that don’t use integrated GPUs anyways. That really sucks because GPUs need to be upgraded more often than CPUs and they are often more likely to die.

    There is often little room to upgrade RAM. Many laptops only have 2 DIMMs, which while good for only overclocking on desktop, leaves less room on laptops.

    Finally many laptops don’t have upgradeable storage. Soldered SSDs are a pet peeve of mine.

    All in all, they’ve been crapified. This obsession with thin doesn’t help either. Thin = smaller battery and hotter components that are more likely to throttle.

      1. auskalo

        I’ve seen several Macbook Airs dying before 3 years of use among my friends, after chaotic trackpad behaviour, not getting on at all… Solution in the Apple Store: change the logic board: lots of money.
        I luckily have a “vintage” MacbookPro 15 from 2009 with an SSD working like a charm with El Capitan, but I’ve seen lots of Macbooks dying around before 6 years of use.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Excuse the repetition repetition repetition (for Mark E. Smith fans), but desktop ‘Mini-macs’ made around the same time do keep working for years after relatively cheap secondhand purchase a while into their lifetime. Closer to the size of two 1980s Motorola cellphones side by side than that of a 2000s desktop ‘tower’; full set of audio, USB and Firewire inputs/outputs, and proprietary Apple software is easily avoided unless you bought it new or want to hook it up to a phone. No, I’m not trying to sell mine; the point is just: does everyone — even those with phones/tablets — really find the laptop format essential? Is a lot of NC commentary written on the run but on computers, not phones or tablets? No snideness intended: genuinely curious.

          1. reslez

            Phones/tablets don’t come with a real OS. They’re usually locked up and down with all sorts of proprietary garbage and crapified mobile versions of software. Yes, a laptop is necessary for a lot of people.

          2. auskalo

            I think you are referring to Mac-minis, those headless small computers used in pubs to play music and some special purpose servers in hands of very talented persons, after changing their disks with SSDs and so.
            They are not bad, bat they are no cheap at all, and they are not portable!
            So, whats the repetition?
            I’m lost! You mean that those little boxes are durable?

    1. oho

      For the price of one top-of-the-line MacBook, one can stockpile an small IT department’s worth of 4-year old Windows 7 laptops and throw in a new SSD.

      Definitely not for everyone. But if one is particular about your computers and haven’t tried it, think about taking the plunge.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…difficult to use keyboard.”

      Does anyone have problems with ‘too sensitive touchpads?

      Or maybe it’s because my right thumb and right index finger are often on it simultaneously.

        1. bob

          Touchpad and keyboard are the two key components of a laptop, more so that the tech. I’d put the screen in that category too.

          When shopping- GO TOUCH IT. Go to a store. Play around with it. If the screen, keyboard and touchpad seem acceptable, write down the model number. It’s very hard to judge a screen in the environment of a store, so beware of first impressions. Glossy displays look great in stores. They look terrible everywhere else.

          Then try to figure out the model numbering scheme. It’s normally not too hard. The first 2 or 4 digits or numbers are a “series”. Generally, there’s not much, if any difference within a series on the keyboard and touchpad. The screen can change. But the “box” it’s in doesn’t. The “box” is the laptop, in old time parlance. They put different tech inside the same box, and then change the end of the model number slightly.

          Then start shopping. Unless you’re doing high end computer work with 4k video, you’re not going to see much difference in the hardware these days. The old “specs first” outlook is more or less dead. They’re all equal, or close to it.

          Search for the series, see who has it cheapest. Watch out for return policies.

    3. bob

      The soldering seems to be at the request, or at least to the benefit of Hollywood.

      They’ve always wanted to bind the CPU to the storage. They more or less have succeeded.

    4. reslez

      I stopped buying laptops from stores too. If you want quality components look for a gaming laptop. They’re rugged and built to be somewhat moddable. You can configure one from a place like Sager or CyberPower and order exactly the CPU, RAM and graphics chipset you want.

      It will cost more. Quality usually does.

    5. thoughtful person

      I use the passmark site to pick cpu’s. They run tests on them and come up with a score.

      I totally agree on avoiding soldered parts!

      I got an old hp elitebook a year ago coming of contract. Added some memory and added an SSD. Got a backup battery, but have not used it much. Anyway, works pretty well fir less than one of those new machines you can’t upgrade.

      Of course, can only upgrade the cpu on a stationary desktop machine. ..

  11. Jim Haygood

    Unintended consequences:

    On Tuesday the city’s tourism marketing agency, NYC & Company, plans to announce that its forecast for international visitors has turned from positive to negative since Mr. Trump was elected in November.

    The city now expects to draw 300,000 fewer foreigners this year than in 2016, when 12.7 million international visitors came, a decline that will cost businesses in the city that cater to tourists at least $600 million in sales, the agency estimates.


    Doh. Even if you’re not Syrian, seeing people who boarded planes for the US with valid visas arrested on arrival by presidential order, leads tourists to be cautious about rolling the dice on visiting the US.

    Germans, for instance, know that VW executive Oliver Schmidt remains in US custody after being arrested in Miami on Jan 7th. The NYT says that Schmidt had met twice with the FBI, and thought that his cooperation would be rewarded. But suddenly the trap sprang shut, and Schmidt could end up facing decades in prison, in a US penal regime that makes European criminal sanctions look like a kindergarten recess.

    Mexican visitors, meanwhile, know that they can expect unwelcome attention from la migra. Saw a car with Sonora plates the other day and thought, “brave souls.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not unlike the voice of reason we heard from the French and Germans more than a few times in the past few years: It’s still OK to visit our country. What are the odds of that happening to you? Be rational.

      There, be rational.

      Don’t be like your chicken little neighbor and over-react

      Time to moral-lecture those who are not coming…/Sarc.

    2. Katharine

      So I started wondering about possible impacts. This was the first source I found; if you (anyone) know something more useful or can analyze the numbers, please do.


      The U.S. travel and tourism industry generated nearly $1.6 trillion in economic output in 2015, supporting 7.6 million U.S. jobs. Travel and tourism exports accounted for 11 percent of all U.S. exports and nearly a third (33 percent) of all U.S. services exports, positioning travel and tourism as the nation’s largest services export. One out of every 18 Americans is employed, either directly or indirectly, in a travel or tourism-related industry. In 2015, U.S. travel and tourism output represented 2.6 percent of gross domestic product.

      While the majority of activity in the industry is domestic, expenditures by international visitors in the United States totaled $246.2 billion in 2015, yielding a $97.9 billion trade surplus for the year. According to U.S. Department of Commerce projections, international travel to the United States should grow by 3 percent annually through 2021. The United States leads the world in international travel and tourism exports and ranks second in terms of total visitation.

  12. WheresOurTeddy

    re: Fed Governor James Bullard “but rules are rules and agreements are agreements, so they take a long time to change”

    Why don’t *we the people* do what bankers do: just break the rules in a way that profits us, and then smile, shrug our shoulders, and say “mistakes were made”…

    1. Tigerlily

      I think it’s pretty obvious that James Bullard is giving voice to the establishment position that even if the president wants to change trade agreements he can’t, because a deal’s a deal, TINA, etc. etc.

      1. a different chris

        So I looked at Wikipedia for Bullard. Freaking economics degree, joined the Feds as soon as he got it.

        Dude hasn’t gotten a blister in his life.

    1. Reader

      Thank goodness, the speaker of the Arizona House killed the bill.


      However, his saying he acted in response to nationwide perception that AZ was trying to suppress First Amendment rights surprised me. Normally the AZ legislature loves to give the finger to opponents of their extreme right wing policies. And outside of leftist blogs, I hadn’t heard of any nationwide backlash.

      Now they can focus on gutting the citizen initiative laws.


  13. EndOfTheWorld

    I guess Trump is saving money by cutting the State Dept. budget by 37%. Why not? Just put a computer everywhere there used to be an embassy.

      1. Procopius

        Same as I’m not shedding tears for the person (people?) who promoted Nuland. Although I did hold my nose and vote for her. Still haven’t decided if I really regret that.

  14. allan

    “By learning their owners’ habits, these new phones will be able to carry out tasks even when they’re offline.”

    I look forward to the NC Commenting App.
    Tagline: Don’t let being offline stop you from being off topic.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There is one major problem because this is true for both Gore and Kerry (in the states that were in play, Hillary did worse than Kerry). If they had simply turned out non voters, they would both be President. To get non voters to vote, you have to run candidates they want to vote for. This was the basic gist of the 50 state strategy.

      Campaigns built around appealing to “moderate suburban republicans” or more accurately fascists don’t appeal to non voters. Why would some poor person (wealth inequality means there will be poor people) vote for a candidate who tells them the economy is great, calls them deplorables, and votes to send their kids to George W Bush’s wars?

      This strategy was obvious all along. How do you turn out non voters? You need to ask them to vote for you which means going to where they live and asking them to vote for your team. The simple reality Hillary’s bourgeois supporters won’t do that, and it’s why black turnout crashed.

        1. oho

          Not that your point isn’t true.

          But having your candidate saying on TV that black males should be “brought to heel” cuz they’re “superpredators” didn’t help

        2. Sammy Maudlin

          Black turnout crashed because the Supreme Court gutted the voting rights act and a rash of voter suppression laws were passed

          There is no statistical basis for your claim, at least in the state of Wisconsin. Yes, there was a reduction in turnout in Milwaukee County in 2016. However, any suggestion that it was a result of voter suppression ignores the fact that Clinton garnered approximately as many votes in Milwaukee County as did John Kerry.

          In the last four presidential election results in Milwaukee County the results have been: 2004 (Kerry – 297,653 Bush – 180,287) D + 117,366; 2008 Obama – (316,916 McCain – 147,573) D +169,343; 2012 (Obama – 328,090, Romney – 158,430) D +169,660; 2016 (Clinton – 288,986, Trump – 126,091) D +162,895.

          While she was down in total votes in Milwaukee County compared to Obama by about 30-40,000 votes, she only received about 8,500 less votes than John Kerry did in 2004–prior to the enactment of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. This indicates that the lack of turnout in Milwaukee County had far more to do with the candidate and/or messaging than any attempts to curb urban voting.

          Furthermore, Clinton did markedly worse in Wayne County, Michigan (home of Detroit), where she was down approximately 78,000 votes as compared to Obama, and where no voter ID law had been enacted.

          At the end of the day, the margin of victory in Wisconsin, and likely the nation as a whole, was not caused by low urban voter turnout. And there’s even less evidence it was a result of voter suppression. It was caused by working class voters abandoning their Democrat roots. Or, by the DNC abandoning its traditional base, depending on how you look at it.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          Democrats can fight, but it still means going to poor neighborhoods and registering, registering, registering, and registering.

          The only people who do that are motivated people. Until the Democrats reject Clinton/Obama cronyism, nothing is happening. No one is falling for “more and better Democrats.”

          As far as the gutting of the VRA, did the Democrats not know that happened? Did they expect magic to work over the Summer for them? How did the miss this despite constant warnings about potentially low black turnout?

          Then of course, 1996 is estimated to be the lowest black turnout since the 1950’s, and another Clinton also saw low black turnout. Do you think there might be a connection?

          Acting as if nothing has happened under the Obama years won’t help Team Blue. The Voting Rights Act wasn’t gutted in 2010, and that didn’t work out too well for Democrats.

        4. Lynne

          No, the Supreme Court did not gut the VRA. Congress dropped the ball and refused to do the work they needed to do to keep it in place. Just like they dropped the ball on gun control with US v Lopez. In each case, Congress could not be bothered to do their job. It does no good to blame the court for pointing that out. Go to the source of your problem rather than blaming the justices.

    2. Tigerlily

      But the mathematical reality is that Dems don’t need Trump supporters. The need to hold Hillary supporters and turn out a significant portion of nonvoters and they can control the country.

      In view of the last general election result I’m filing this under “learning nothing / forgetting nothing”.

      It could be the Democrats’ unofficial motto…

      1. RMO

        “They knowingly voted for a violent criminal” Well, so did Hillary voters so that can hardly be used as something that distinguishes the groups, can it?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        They don’t need Trump supporters. Trump likely had all the McCain voters plus some population growth.

        In practical terms, Hillary did worse than Kerry in states in play except Virginia which is heavily influenced by defense spending. She actually had less votes in 2016 than Kerry had in 2004, and the Kerry campaign left votes on the table all over the map. Hillary ran up her popular vote total in districts that didn’t matter to the Presidential race or even help move Senate and House seats. We can’t ignore the possibility of novelty voting a day social capital for Republican in Blue parts of say California and Massachusetts.

        Kerry’s poor effort in 2004 was sort of responsible for the 50 state strategy. The basic idea of the 50 state strategy is to not accept 50% turnout in blue precincts but drive it up to 70% by making sure everyone votes because will simply not vote because everyone they know is voting for Candidate X so they don’t need to vote. It might not turn a state legislative race, but over the course of a state or a congressional district, you can flip a race. Obama won Ohio not across the state but by turning out votes in Democratic friendly areas including blue collar whites, the deplorables. Obama on top of the organizers which had inroads created by the DNC had motivated volunteers to do this. Obama promised to renegotiate trade deals, end the wars, raise the taxes on the wealthy, universal healthcare, etc. People wanted to go outside their comfort zone and talk to strangers about why they needed to vote.

        The obvious problem is the Democrats were handed power and proceeded to become Team Blue. I believe “dcblogger” is trying to go back to bring the glory days of the post 2004 Democratic activity without noting the Democrats have lost a great deal of credibility in intervening years. In 2010 before the evils of gerrymandering and the gutting of the voting rights act, Democrats lost because of low turnout in blue precincts dominated by minorities and young people. They lost in 2014 because of low turnout in the same precincts. They lost in 2016 because of low turnout in these precincts.

        The elite Democrats wanted “moderate suburban Republicans” because they reflect their bourgeois sensibilities and values. They probably won’t encounter any felons or unsafe neighborhoods with that strategy if you catch my meaning.

        Are you going to organize for the modern Obama/Clinton Democrat? “dcblogger” hopes the answer is yes, but it’s not 2005 anymore. Unlike 2005 when the Clintons were stopped at the DNC, we now have Tom Pérez, a man who pushed a strategy of labeling Sanders supporters as racist.

    3. a different chris

      All we really got is just the usual lies, damn lies and statistics about the “non-voter”… you say that if “a significant portion of nonvoters” turn out Dems will control the country?

      I have no reason at all to believe that. None. Just because the Rethugs also apparently believe it doesn’t make it so.

    4. Ed Miller

      “Pardon me if I am unsympathetic to Trump voters”

      That won’t win elections, and today I saw a clip in which it seems that Bernie Sanders knows that Trump voters (at least a significant number of them) need to be part of the voting solution. His remarks about going to rural areas addresses this point.

      The big problem about which I don’t see enough recognition is that the US as we know it is at grave risk, and not due to Trump. The alt-right Republicans are very close to controlling enough States so that a Constitutional Convention can be called by the States. The States have the power to rewrite the Constitution so that the Koch brothers and their ilk are in total control of the nation, and that will be the end of this nation as we know it.

      All they need is control of 34 states, and they have 32 right now. Don’t just flame me, think about this.

      Progressives need to recognize that they need to connect with more conservative common people, and this is largely the rural poor and rapidly shrinking middle class. There is no other way to gain enough voter support to overthrow the current oligarchy system. This will be a very difficult task. Success will require compromises that many people will find offensive to their beliefs. Maybe you can figure out that I am a voter who can’t find a party which I believe in, and that is fine. I see a grave danger, and I want people to start focusing on this.

      How can a rational discussion begin? Can people here even get their heads around a need to connect with conservative common people? Talking to the highly educated with good jobs won’t go anywhere. They are clueless and will always be as long as they have a rice bowl, even if it is less than satisfying. Believe me, I have tried with my work associates (ex associates as I am now retired).

      I would love to see more discussion of the risks from a Constitutional Convention called by the States.

      1. Sandler

        What’s on their agenda in terms of Constitutional amendments?

        Calling a convention seems like a big risk of political capital. I don’t think there’s much public support behind one.

      2. UserFriendly

        I just shot off an email about that the other day and I’m waiting to hear back. my email was to a lawyer:

        ALEC is 6 states shy of being able to call for a constitutional convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. The GOP has trifectas in 6 states that haven’t called for it yet, so I could easily see this happening if Trump manages to get his tax cuts and spending through. The only problem is that it would immediately crater the economy because neither party knows anything about accounting or how money gets created since Nixon took us off the gold standard. The national debt is irrelevant, but they would rather use it as a political weapon against each other than to actually help anybody.

        So anyways, my question is about ratification. Governors have no say in ratification and the GOP has control of both chambers in 32 states. I don’t see them getting more 3 or 4 more in all but the worst case scenarios any time soon, still 2 shy from ratification. But things change, so what about rescinding of ratifications? From wikipedia:

        In Idaho v. Freeman, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that the rescissions—all of which occurred before the original 1979 ratification deadline—were valid and that the ERA’s deadline extension was unconstitutional.[56] The National Organization for Women appealed both rulings. On October 4, 1982, in NOW v. Idaho, 459 U.S. 809 (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling in Idaho v. Freeman and declared the entire matter moot on the grounds that the ERA was dead for the reason given by the Administrator of General Services that the ERA had not received the required number of ratifications (38), so that “the Amendment has failed of adoption no matter what the resolution of the legal issues presented here.”

        That leaves the door open, doesn’t it? Do you have any guess as to where the justices would land on that now?

        The 6 with trifecta’s they could use to call the convention are AZ, WY, ID, SC, WI, and KY.

        Here are the 32 states that they have control of both chambers (38 to ratify). WA, ME, and CT are a handful of seats away. And these are options but would take a bit more: NV, CO, DE, NM, and OR.

    5. lambert strether

      > unsympathetic tonTrump voters

      You don’t believe in universal benefits, then? Because that’s the end-point of logic like this.

      As for me, I am totally not sympathetic to the smug liberal 10%ers who do their killing at arm’s length, as with opiods, and who control the Democrat Party. To each their own, I guess.

      Also, Clinton’s a war criminal. Ditto Obama.

  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: “Is There More to the Flynn Story?”

    It’s funny that Giraldi scolded people in one of his articles for conspiratorial thinking with regards to the Trump dossier and now he’s propagating wild theories about the head of GCHQ resigning.

    The obvious question is why would they do something like that that? Which is fairly easy to answer. The United Kingdom is the country which has the most to lose from the election of Trump. The British have always had one foot on each side of the Atlantic and in the aftermath of Brexit the “special relationship” between the US and UK has become of uttermost significance. This is something that Trump as President might change and it isn’t likely British intelligence would sit by and let a little thing like an election stop them from acting upon their perceived national interest. The history of the British Security Coordination provided all the evidence I needed.


    The most outrageous part was the degree in which American media/intelligence agencies willingly made themselves subservient to a foreign intelligence agency. -comment on Links 1/12/17

    Well, maybe it isn’t such a crazy theory after all. Giraldi seems to place most of the blame on Obama-era officials but I’m not sure I can agree with that assessment. The outgoing members of the Obama administration would likely look for ways to kneecap the incoming administration, but that’s not the same as fabricating that Trump dossier which contained an unbelievable amount of misinformation and disinformation. It didn’t take much effort to debunk the meeting in Prague as it was the same bulls— story they (British) successfully deployed in all the “Saddam has WMDs!” propaganda in the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The only confirmed and truthful part of the dossier about Manafort was already open source information.

    Tell me again, who exactly is the US intelligence community working for?

  16. Rick Zhang

    Tactically the smartest thing for Republican to do is to enact single payer. Then they can claim to have a cheaper system that covers more people and is simpler to implement. It would be in keeping of the spirit of Nixon to China, and be such an end-around of what Dems have tried to do. This would be triangulation at its finest, and would be hilarious if only to see Dems’ minds blown.

    1. oho

      Lowering Medicare eligibility to 50 + drug importation should be no brainers and would guarantee a Trump reelection.

      Trump i can see thinking outside the dogmatic box. Congressional GOP, probably not.

      but 4 years of possibly strange bedfellows.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Does anyone see Sanders do better than Trump with this Republican congress, or the intelligence community?

        1. John k

          IMO he woulda had a bigger mandate.
          More important is simple enforcement of existing laws regarding prosecution of fraud, environmental laws, allowing CA to continue more restrictive end rules, ante trust, letting consumers import prescription drugs, etc.
          Course it’s a wash between what was on offer.

    2. JTFaraday

      Think it’s interesting that Trump is holding tax cuts, including Jamie dimon’s precious tax cuts,
      hostage to HC reform.

      That’s exactly what I would do. Don’t know Trump is going with that.

  17. allan

    Trump suggests anti-Semitic acts are ‘false-flag’ attacks [NYT]

    President Trump suggested on Tuesday that the recent spate of anti-Semitic bomb threats and cemetery vandalism could be politically coordinated attacks to “make people look bad” — an apparent suggestion that his opponents could be behind them.

    Speaking at the White House to attorneys general from around the country, Mr. Trump was asked by Josh Shapiro, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, about the wave of attacks and how the federal government could work with state governments to confront the violence.

    “First, he said the acts were reprehensible,” Mr. Shapiro, a Democrat who was elected to the post in November, said while recounting Mr. Trump’s response. “Second he said: ‘And you’ve got to be careful, it could be the reverse. This could be the reverse, trying to make people look bad.’ ” …

    Wowsers, as Lambert would say. But surely Jared and Ivanka can talk some sense into him.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Where does it stop?

      First reverse psychology.

      Then double reverse.

      Then triple reverse, etc.

      The same with spies and agents….double agents, double-double agents, etc.

    2. The Trumpening

      Almost each and every “Trump supporter rips hijab off Muslim woman’s head” story of the last few months has turned out to be a hate hoax. Same with KKK sightings on uber-liberal campuses.such as what occured at Oberlin in 2013.

      Recently a black man was arrested in Philadelphia for leaving hate hoax graffiti, including swastikas.

      And here is a case of a Jewish woman leaving getting caught red-handed leaving hate hoax swatikas on her dorm room door.


      So hate hoaxes often happen but obviously each case needs to be looked at individually. But surely there is nothing wrong with raising the possibility of a hate hoax, especially after the recent rash of them following Trump’s election.

  18. fresno dan

    The Amazon reviews for a phone designed for rectal smuggling are pretty interesting reading” [Boing Boing].

    Yes….my flatulence does sound like like – insert…heh…favorite ring tone:
    Ride of the Valkyries
    Abba: Ring Ring
    Blondie: Call me
    Katy Perry: Roar

    Undoubtedly, the outbursts will diminish once I stop my burrito diet…..
    AND…you can just put in on vibrate….uh, if you want to remain silent or….friends have told me there are other reasons.

    1. MtnLife

      It may have been designed for jails but, considering the recent articles regarding phone inspections at the border, this may sell well with international travelers.

  19. flora

    News of the Wired cell phone addendum:
    Cell phones come in 2 tech ‘flavors’: GSM and CDMA. These 2 flavors are not interchangeable. A GSM network can’t process CDMA signals, and vice versa. ATT network uses GSM. ATT turned off the 2G part of its GSM network January 17th, 2017 (4 weeks ago), opting to concentrate on 3G and 4G LTE. The Nokia 3310 is a 2G GSM tech phone and requires a 2G GSM network which no longer exists in the US. (The original iPhone won’t work either.)


    Verizon, on the other hand, uses CDMA tech and plans to keep both the 2G and 3G network operational until December, 2019. So, if you have an old 2G CDMA tech phone, say an old Motorola, your phone’s network should work for a couple more years. Use an on-line Verizon 2G/3G coverage map to check availability.


    For a good overview of GSM v CDMA see:

    1. flora

      adding: I expect the Nokia 3310 will sell well in African countries and in India and the rest of the subcontinent. imo.

      1. Just called to say...

        I would have bought the 3310 if it wasnt for its elements of smartphone: android os, camera, horrible new display etc.
        Instead of making genius dumbphone they have chosen to make a dumb smartphone.
        The crappification of technology marches onwards upward and now even backwards into nostalgia territory.

        1. RMO

          I’m glad the mobile phone system braintrust isn’t in charge of aircraft radio communication too… Some of the younger tech guys I fly with complain about how old the VHF comm technology is (and it does have some practical drawbacks – mostly that only one person can speak at a time) but in my experience it’s extremely reliable and the pace of change seems about right in that it brings improvements but doesn’t constantly make older units incompatible or obsolete.

          My Mum just got her first smartphone. Did she want one? No. Her old phone was worn out and there was a long wait for any of the new flip phones that will work in her network. I did my best to simplify the interface and shut off all the useless and intrusive features. Not that she isn’t smart enough to use a complex system if she needs to (she used to maintain the UNIX based server/dumb terminal sale system in the family business and could make the thing dance with terminal commands) but she certainly is smart enough not to want to waste time learning and dealing with a complex interface that is of no real use to her.

  20. Chromex

    ” I love liberals. Let me add the sentence Leonhardt left out: “But the fight to get health care to the 20 million who don’t have health insurance must ‘never, ever’ begin.” Fixed it for ya.”
    You left out “and we must never forget to keep deductibles , “coinsurance” and Copays” so high as to make that insurance useless”. There! NOW its fixed.
    The word insurance should really be banned from all discussions involving providing health care. We now have enough data to know what people do when they cannot afford copays and deductibles. They don’t get the necessary care and they die. I , for one, can care less who has “insurance” as any kind of metric for determining the effectiveness of health care reform.
    Who gets care is the real metric.

    1. fresno dan

      February 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      “You left out “and we must never forget to keep deductibles , “coinsurance” and Copays” so high as to make that insurance useless”. There! NOW its fixed.”

      AND you forgot “addendums” & “adjustments” I would say NOW, NOW it is fixed, but since its been 2 months since I have seen my doctor, I am sure the medical industrial complex has figured out new and innovative methods to amputate my money from me in the interim….

  21. flora

    “Amazon Web Services (AWS) is apparently having issues with portions of its S3 storage system and is currently affecting multiple sites across the United States, particularly the ones located on the East Coast.

    “According to an AWS tweet earlier today, the company was experiencing “high error rates” on the S3 system.

    S3 is experiencing high error rates. We are working hard on recovering.

    — Amazon Web Services (@awscloud) February 28, 2017

    “The outage is reported to have begun at 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time (9:45 AM Pacific Time) and has brought down or at least partially affected multiple websites.”


    1. Daryl

      Between this and Cloudbleed, hopefully there will be a wider re-evaluation of moving everything to the cloud.

  22. Left in Wisconsin


    So Rachel was all over this on MSDNC last night and I’m wondering if anyone with expertise knows if there is anything juicy here. The key point, which is a bit buried in the Guardian, is that Trump apparently flipped a Palm Beach house and netted $55 million because this Russian with ties to Putin (Rybolovlev) agreed to pay $95 million for a house Trump had just bought for $40 million even though he (the Russian) had no plans to use it and apparently has never lived in it. This apparently at a time when Trump may have had liquidity issues. And this Russian, who Trump claims not to know, is the biggest investor in Bank of Cyprus, of which Wilbur Ross is Vice Chair and the CEO of Deutche Bank is now Chairman. Lots of great connections!

    I don’t see how golden showers would be a problem for Trump. IMO that would be totally in character and something, even if true, that T might just as well be proud of. OTOH a big financial payoff would be more of an issue. NOT THAT I WANT WAR WITH RUSSIA.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton’s resources, do you honestly think Maddow will scoop them on the scandal that will bring down Trump from anything pre-November? The sitting President more or less accused Trump of being a KGB mole in October. That didn’t stick. Anything Russian related in regards to Trump is purely red meat for believers. Nothing will actually change.

      NBC news has trotted out Shrub to trash Trump as if Shrub has any kind of credibility outside of the press Corp. These people have simply lost their minds.

      1. bob

        “Anything Russian related in regards to Trump is purely red meat for believers. Nothing will actually change.”

        Anything *anything* related is fluff.

        Honestly, at this point, after all the headlines and non-newz stories, what COULD take the trump admin down? Asking because it seems that he’s had some very sensationalized scandal tossed at him already, and nothing stuck, or nothing stuck well enough.

        What scandal could touch him? I’m out of ideas. Is there anything that he could be accused of, with irrefutable proof, that could touch him?

        I’m doubting it. This conclusion leads more to the aristocracy label than the fascist label.

  23. Lee

    “The smartphone revolution is poised to go onto the next level — with “superphones” equipped with artificial intelligence now on the horizon” [Agence France Presse]. “By learning their owners’ habits, these new phones will be able to carry out tasks even when they’re offline.” What could go wrong?

    When it can brew coffee or pound a nail, call me.

      1. fresno dan

        February 28, 2017 at 6:18 pm

        “Let my robot marry my smartphone.”
        Wouldn’t their children violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
        Yes, it is a primitive and barbaric miscegenation law, but what do you expect under the Trump administration, heartlessly keeping technologies that love each other apart.

        Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998.

  24. epynonymous

    Proposed Trump Drinking Game: :)

    No amounts proposed. Know thyself.

    Trump Says Something That Will Be Misquoted.
    Trump suddenly relaxes and says the exact opposite of what he just said.
    (Note: I think the man has nuance.)
    Trump Says the Exact Opposite of What he Means, because he is mocking his opponents. *see rule one… no double dipping*
    Trump Makes a Joke, and nobody gets it.
    Trump attacks the media.
    Trump introduces himself, and gives thanks to other people while aggrandizing self.
    Trump makes no sense.
    Trump makes sense. (that’s gotta be a double-shot.)
    Trump makes something up, seemingly out of the blue.
    Trump teaches you something.
    *edit* Trump says something you privately belive but would never say.
    Trump references a hero you think would hate him.
    Trump seems Presidential. Drink more, or stop immediately.

    As always, I appreciate your half of things here at NC.

    1. epynonymous

      Ok, spoiler, I pre-gamed. I’ll wait a while, but I knew I was in trouble in my first 30 seconds, when he delivered his first applause line (after thanking the wife) and made a Mussolini face.

      Will watch Pence’s face too.

      1. epynonymous

        Ryan doesn’t have a glass of water… see his thirtsy response to Obama a few years back, if you’re not in on it.

    1. ChrisAtRU

      “Tom Perez is the first ever Latino to lead the Democratic party, and I don’t care. I’m a millennial Afro-Latino who came of age under Obama. Brown skin is not a substitute for progressive politics and solid commitment to justice. As Obama’s labor secretary, Perez vigorously supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a neoliberal trade agreement which would hurt workers globally and disproportionately hurt women of color.”

      Nice! #TYVM

  25. allan

    Rubio is asked to leave Tampa office over disruption from weekly protests [Tampa Bay Times]

    Vocal crowds of demonstrators making weekly visits to the Tampa office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have gotten the Miami Republican booted from the building.

    The owner of Bridgeport Center, a gleaming, nine-story office center at 5201 Kennedy Blvd., notified Rubio’s office on Feb. 1 that it will not renew its lease. The reason: The rallies have become too disruptive to the other tenants and a costly expense for the company, said Jude Williams, president of America’s Capital Partners. …

    Too bad. Stuff like this has been done to medical offices providing abortions for years.
    On the bright side, it will allow Liddle Marco more time to spend with his donors.

    1. Massinissa

      I just want to say, that Trumps ‘little Marco’ framing was absolutely genius.

      What was the best Hillary’s camp could come up with? ‘Dangerous Donald’?

  26. Jim Haygood


    Former president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have signed with Penguin Random House, according to a press release. The news followed a bidding war that reportedly exceeded $60 million for publishing rights to both their books, according to the FT. The exact numbers of the deal was not disclosed.

    The priciest presidential book deal before the Obamas was Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoir, which was bought for $15 million.


    Don’t you just love the sweet rustling sound of D party politicians stuffing their pockets with fresh 25% rag content cash, as a payoff for “public service”?

    Yeah, me too. Purely as a spectator: I have never read a politician’s memoir, and never will. Life is too short. Plus engaging a co-writer to inject a semblance of literacy suggests a person with insuperable cognitive issues.

    1. Quentin

      Right, then the movies will be made and Hollywood will conflicted about which one deserves the best picture award, the husband or the wife. The Obamas come down to glitz and celebrity. Can you imagine that either has something interesting to tell? And if they do, does anyone think they’ll tell it. I guess Obama’s part will be overflowing with self criticism and regret for his cowardly administration.

    2. Foppe

      $60m? And yet the publishing industry claims to be on the rocks? Who’s financing this insanity? Did some MidEastern SWF give Penguin money for this?

      1. Procopius

        I’m so old I can remember when a paperback book cost 25¢. A “premium” one cost 35¢. There was a thing called Modern Library, I think the publisher was Bennet Cerf, printed classic books for 99¢. Books over about 400 pages were $1.99. I don’t buy books any more unless I can find them on Amazon, usually “used”, for less than $5.00.

  27. John k


    Dnc election is over… noses have been rubbed in to what is obvious…
    How about a thread with the following questions:
    1. Should progressives continue trying to take over the dem party, and if so, what might be the time frame?
    2. If it is better to mount a third party, what is the more likely the route to success?
    A). Start from scratch, e.g. Progressive Party
    B). Take over greens, reorganize as necessary with new blood to convert dysfunctional to functional.

    People think that third parties are doomed before they start, but Somebody pointed out that reps split from whigs in 1850 and won presidency in 1860. IMO the critical mass is present… the sum of independents now equals the total of dems plus reps… a game changer if we have a standard bearer that can articulate what resonates. Bernie’s message does this, how to get him on board? And he could bring along Gabard and other progressives.

    Convention, platform, funding… times a’wasting.

    An early bonus… dem elites heads explode.

  28. Benedict@Large

    “The CEOs of the leading health insurance companies do just three things …”

    They do a fourth thing. The provide cost control.

    Now no one likes it when I say this because saying anything about insurers that is not negative is as popular these days as doing the same regarding Trump. But here’s the thing. If they don’t, who else does? The hospital corporations? Big Pharma? No, they set the prices, and do you think they would restrain themselves voluntarily? Not a chance. Their price increases have routinely exceeded inflation almost every year of the last forty-plus years. Which is why insurers can’t simply be eliminated. Something has to replace their cost restraining function.

    1. Massinissa

      So…. Wait…. Youre saying that if they were not ripping people off, someone else would be?

      Not convincing.

  29. lambert strether

    Query: Best $500 pc laptop to slam ubuntu on?

    I want rugged and good keyboard. Requirement is to surf the web and post at NC. I don’t care about thin. I guess CD to load Ubuntu. No second-hand. No mail order; Best Buy-ish. Not building it! No ChromeBooks please.

    I’ve been happy with HP laptops in the past.

    Thank you!

    1. Andrew

      Not quite $500 but system76 does a pretty good affordable laptop:

      All their machines are designed to run Ubuntu and come with it preloaded.

      They also supply their own set of driver updates to keep things working with each version of Ubuntu. So, good ongoing support.

    2. Grebo

      Not going to get everything you want there. New, rugged, good keyboard and cheap are mutually exclusive.

      If you are prepared to take small risk consider this Dell Latitude E6500. It’s cheap, rugged and has a good keyboard.

      I run Kubuntu and Sparky on a machine like this. Ubuntu will install from USB these days.

      1. Foppe


        If you want a good keyboard, getting an external one is really the only way, esp. because getting access to models to test the keyboards is hard, and because laptop models tend to last little more than 6mo to a year nowadays.

        If you want something decent for office work, just go for anything with a 15.6″ screen, preferably 1920×1080 resolution, and 4gb ram. Refurbs or bankrupty-sale laptops are probably the best value for money.

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