2:00PM Water Cooler 2/3/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“President Donald Trump may have waded into complicated legal territory on Thursday when he announced that Wilbur Ross, his pick to lead the Commerce Department, would represent the United States in NAFTA renegotiation talks with Canada and Mexico” [Politico]. “In question is a provision of the Trade Act of 1974, which states that the U.S. trade representative — and not the Commerce secretary — ‘shall … have lead responsibility for the conduct of, and shall be the chief representative of the United States for, international trade negotiations.’ It also says USTR shall serve as the president’s principal adviser on international trade policy and have primary responsibility for developing and coordinating the implementation of it.” And all this has worked so very well in the past….

“Trump is planning to abide by fast-track procedures, or what he called ‘statutory limits,’ that require him to give Congress 90 days’ notice before formal negotiations begin, as mandated under the Trade Promotion Authority bill passed last year. (If you’re counting — and a number of people on Twitter are [as well as Public Citizen]— this means that Trump technically will not be able to fulfill his pledge to reopen the pact within his first 100 days in office.) Trump also said he’s indifferent as to whether the end result is a renovation of NAFTA or an entirely new NAFTA” [Politico]. “What the meeting didn’t bring was any clarity on what exactly the administration will seek when it sits down with Canadian and Mexican officials to update the deal.”

“Corporate lobbies have had an influential role in shaping both CETA and TTIP: in Europe the Commission has worked hand in hand with big business to co-author these deals. It is no surprise, then, that these trade deals give excessive power to corporations. Particularly controversial are the way the trade treaties offer the right for corporations to sue governments over public interest laws. Less well known, however, is the way ‘regulatory cooperation’ in these trade deals means standards and regulations can, to a large extent, be set behind closed doors by big business and trade experts. A new report by 5 civil society organisations shows how regulatory cooperation in CETA and TTIP is a gift that keeps on giving for big businesses” [Corporate Europe]. I wonder if ISDS and “regulatory cooperation” are differently affected by a move to bilateral agreements?


Trump Transition

“House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republican lawmakers will try to push through tax reform and infrastructure bills — two key policies for investors — in the spring after focusing on health care” [Mosler Economics]. Ryan: “It’s just the way the budget works.”

“The European parliament’s main political parties are making an unprecedented attempt to block [Ted Malloch,] Donald Trump’s likely choice as ambassador to the European Union from EU buildings, describing him as hostile and malevolent” [Guardian]. “When recently asked by the BBC why he was interested in moving to Brussels, Malloch replied: ‘I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming.'”

“The U.S. Senate could vote as early as Monday on confirming President Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, with the political parties potentially entering a standoff requiring Vice President Mike Pence to act as tie-breaker” [Reuters]. Great to see the former TFA members “leading” BlackLivesMatter at the forefront of this battle. Oh, wait…

“On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent a proposed rule on shoring up the individual insurance market under the ACA to the Office of Management and Budget for White House review. The details of what the proposed rule would do still aren’t public, but people involved in the drafting of the proposal say it aims to help bolster the ACA exchange markets at least in the short term” [Wall Street Journal, “Republicans Weigh Moves to Bolster Health Law”]. “That doesn’t suggest a full reversal of Republicans’ repeal-and-replace strategy, but GOP lawmakers say they are now considering moves to retain and prop up important parts of the law while they consider larger changes.” Unsurprising, because it’s a Republican plan (you morons).

“Donald Trump Thinks He Can Endure More Controversy And Pain Than You” [Sam Stein, HuffPo]. “For Trump’s aides, confidants, and biographers, this has a familiar feel. The Trump they know thrives on drama and chaos. When, during the campaign, he spoke about the importance of stamina and energy, it was meant both as code to mock Hillary Clinton’s health and Jeb Bush’s verve, but also in the strictly literal sense.”

Revolt of the Worker Bees

“The larger reality Nixon was describing—that presidential power can’t necessarily be captured in an org chart—is one that even presidents without his paranoid streak knew well” [Politico]. “While Trump’s particular circumstances are extraordinary, the larger dynamic—like an unruly Rottweiler, the permanent bureaucracy will either be at your heel or at your throat—is one all presidents must reckon with.”

2016 Post Mortem

“How Donald Trump redrew the political map” [WaPo]. “The point is that the 2016 election forced us to rejigger some of our preconceptions about what states and districts are blue, red and in-between. An unorthodox candidate at the top of either ticket can shift votes — both for and against their party — even though our country remains hugely partisan and swing voters are supposed to be an endangered species.” The WaPo says the data was compiled by “the good folks at Kos” (!).

Accepting the data, however, the moral I draw is Don’t underestimate Trump. That’s an amazing accomplishment. And if it’s luck, so what? Napoleon liked his generals lucky. Now, I think Trump is not in a strong position: He has the high ground at the White House, but he’s surrounded geographically and institutionally by hostile forces, and the constituencies that support him are far away and about as strong as they are going to get. In addition, his team is both small and doesn’t know the ropes, so Trump is forced to put people he trusts in authority, as opposed to people he trusts who know what they’re doing (Bannon). I mean, where’s Trump’s James Baker? His Peggy Noonan? In this way, Trump is much more like Carter than Reagan, who had a deep bench of conservative talent to draw on. That said, that Trump is in a weak position does not mean that he is, personally, weak (which isn’t the same as saying he has personal weaknesses; he clearly does). So the liberal yammering is, IMNSHO, 180° wrong: Strategically, Trump is weak, not strong (in other words, not a Hitler); his weakness is only masked by the weakness of the Party establishment that opposes him. Personally, Trump is strong, and not weak (in other words, the snark is at best useless). If the Democrats stopped sucking, they could win this thing going away.

Realignment and Legitimacy

ZOMG!!!!!!!! This Neanderthal can’t even use the Oxford comma properly:

And then there’s the bit about “professional anarchists.” What, there’s a degree in anarchism? Anyhow, you can see that conservatives and liberals are both very happy to suck away all the oxygen from their common enemy, the left. Why, it’s almost like the Sanders campaign never happened, isn’t it?

For those who came in late, this is my favorite joke about the Democrat Party (due, I think, to Ian Welsh):

The Democratic Party is like a horse that refuses take commands from its owner and stubbornly refuses to carry him.

The owner does not go out and get a new horse, but picks up the horse and carries it on his own back in the belief that, eventually, the horse will change its mind.

Years later, the horse is thinking, “I’m a genius!”

(Yes, I know that the voters don’t really own the Democrat Party. That needs to change.) I first read this joke years ago, but at the time I didn’t appreciate the last line: “I’m a genius!” But the truly awe-inspiring ability of the Democrat nomenklatura to shift blame for their losses to anybody but themselves (including Obama!) really drives that point home, as does the sycophancy shown in the Podesta emails of Clinton’s inner circle. Now, what happened in 2016 is that the voters somehow managed to shrug the Democrat horse off their shoulders, and the Party establishment fell to earth. One aspect of the Resistance is the Party establishment trying to climb back up to what it clearly regards as its proper station in life: The shoulders of voters who will carry it around again, who (should) own it. That’s the transformation from Resistance to Restoration (as opposed to Revolution).

“How to start a DSA Chapter” [Medium]. I think party dues are a smart idea. Because dues decrease the need to suck up to squillionaires. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It also means that, well, party members own the party. Or at least there’s a greater chance of that.

Ben Speight: “Trump is the corporate bully-in-chief. For us, in labor, in looking at him as a boss, he’s one that has shown his inclination to align with some of the most reactionary forces in the 1% and folks that are rabidly anti-union” [In These Times]. “His demagogic appeal to working people has been extremely successful. His form of economic nationalism has cut against our ability to build broad solidarity amongst white working people, black working people, brown working people, and to have a working-class perspective that is opposed to the right wing. His economic populism is very appealing to some in the labor leadership who are very risk-averse and want to try to maintain their positions and the institutions that we have as they exist over the short term. Trump’s promises of big infrastructure projects going to the construction trades, his symbolic withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his pronouncements of bringing manufacturing back to the United States appeal to traditionally conservative, mostly white-male-dominated smaller building trades and construction unions. Those were principally the ones that he met with earlier last week.” Speight’s a Teamster, so the supply chain…

“In my view, a borderless world is plainly unrealistic. If people were told that they could move, no questions asked, probably a billion would shift around the planet within five years, with many coming to Europe or the US. No society would tolerate even a fraction of that flow. Any politician who says, “Let’s be generous,” without saying, “We’re not going to throw the doors wide open,” will lose. So, I think that’s where the left is tongue-tied, because it sounds chauvinistic to say we need a limit on migration. It would be better to say, “We must help the refugees; they are fleeing for their lives. But, yes, we must also step up efforts to end the Syrian war, and thereby enable the refugees to return to their homeland once the fires are put out” [Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate]. And: “[A]lmost any major economic event like a large-scale migration has far-reaching distributional consequences. So, when people say that we’ll be better off, who’s ‘we’? [As I have been asking for years!] Many lower-skilled, working-class, less-educated people certainly would not be made better off by open immigration. That’s not an illusion, just basic economics. New York City’s low-wage, low-cost service sector benefits me, a professional with a good income and economic security. But why should anyone employed in that sector and just trying to hold on – worried about paying the rent, keeping the utilities turned on, finding affordable childcare – welcome direct competition from migrants. They won’t. And as migrants do arrive, the fiscal system must ensure that the working class doesn’t bear the brunt of the adjustment.” After forty years, the 10%-ers are finally figuring this out! And Sachs, who has repented of his role in the Russian debacle, is one of the better ones…. So this is an interesting interview.

Polling on Trump’s immigration plans [YouGov]. Sorry this is so small but you can click through to the original:

So, despite liberal hysteria, protests, and disinformation in the press, Trump’s numbers on immigration seem to be holding up (particularly in the Midwest, that used to be a Democrat bulwark).

“One left-wing [sic] group, Campaign for America’s Future, is pressuring Democrats in Congress to resist the notion of trying to work with Trump even where they see some daylight. Instead they are seeking even more pressure – through weekly Tuesday protests – to make it clear “the Trump agenda is not normal,” according to a recent statement on its website” [US News]. Well well. Neera Tanden. Unspoken in the bizarre “This is not normal” liberal messaging is that the “normal” has been working out very badly for a good half the population for a long, long time.

On Gorsuch: “This is purely about politics. Republicans hold the presidency, majorities in the House and Senate, 33 governorships and total control of the legislatures in 32 states. If the Democratic Party is going to become relevant again outside of its coastal redoubts, it has to start winning some elections” [Eugene Robinson, WaPo]. So, Medicare for All? Free college? Post Office Bank? Nah, crazy talk. The Democrats are gonna win back the country… with a Supreme Court fight. Dear Lord. “Democrats cannot stop Gorsuch from being confirmed. But they can hearten and animate the party’s base by fighting this nomination tooth and nail, even if it means giving up some of the backslapping comity of the Senate cloakroom.” Let me know how that works out.

UPDATE “Donald Trump must be impeached and removed from office. Not because his policy is bad, though that is very true, but because he is so erratic and unstable as to be a threat to all life on Earth. And it will be up to Congressional Republicans to do it” [The Week]. And let me know how that works out.

UPDATE “Sarah Silverman calls for coup to oust Donald Trump” [Telegraph]. Oh, Sarah. “You’re being ridiculous.”

UPDATE I guess if the liberals want a military coup — since apparently the CIA was unwilling to go von Stauffenberg, what a shock — they’ll have to split the military:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, January 2017: “[P]payroll growth in January did indeed exceed expectations, rising 227,000 for the best showing since September and well above the 2016 average of 187,000” [Econoday]. “Construction spending has been improving and it’s seen in payrolls where the sector added a very strong 36,000 jobs in the month. Finance employment follows at 32,000… . Construction spending has been improving and it’s seen in payrolls where the sector added a very strong 36,000 jobs in the month. Finance employment follows at 32,000.” But: “The headlines were at odds with the household survey (which showed employment declining) – and also at odds with the unadjusted data (which showed average employment decline for Januarys)” [Econintersect]. And but: “The headline jobs number was above expectations, however there were combined downward revisions to the previous two months. Overall this was a solid report” [Calculated Risk].

Factory Orders, December 2016: “Price effects for petroleum and coal gave a deceptive lift to factory orders in December which rose 1.3 percent. A 3.1 percent jump in nondurable orders, reflecting higher energy prices, masks a 0.5 percent decline in durable orders” [Econoday]. “Yet the drop in durables itself reflects an anomaly, that is a swing lower in defense aircraft. A clear plus in December is strength in capital goods data where the core reading (nondefense ex-aircraft) rose 0.7 percent following gains of 1.7 percent and 0.5 percent in the prior two months. These readings point to rising business investment for 2017.” But: “According to the seasonally adjusted data, it was defene aircraft that was the headwind, and civil aircraft which was the tailwind. The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which was unchanged but in expansion” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers’ Index Services Index, January 2017: “strong activity” [Econoday]. “The report describes new orders as “robust” and confidence in the outlook as the best since May last year. The rise in new orders is giving a lift to backlogs which are up for a 5th time in the last 6 months. Rising backlogs are positive for employment which is steady near December’s 15-month peak. Input costs are on the rise, due to energy prices and also higher wages, though selling prices are up only marginally. This report is an echo of this morning’s jobs report, one that points to strength and optimism.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, January 2017: “Steady” [Econoday]. “But backlog orders, despite the strength in new orders, remain flat which will contain future employment gains… The bulk of the data, however, is very strong.” But: “One survey slightly up and one slightly down – but both are in expansion. I am not a fan of surveys” [Econintersect]. Now more than ever……

Rail: “The rolling averages improved. It seems the improving trend continues” [Econintersect].

Supply Chain: “Although the US internet giant has given few details about its plans to create a new “long-term” centralised US air cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG), state officials said Amazon plans to invest $1.49 billion in the hub and has agreed to a 50-year lease with the airport with provisions to provide up to 900 acres (360 hectares) of land” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “Although Amazon has said that its moves into air freight and other areas of logistics are only meant to supplement, not replace, specialist cargo carriers, some analysts suspect that it has larger ambitions and have noted that a 360-hectare site would be of a similar scale to FedEx’s main air hub in Memphis and UPS’s main air hub in Louisville.”

Shipping: “Amazon’s shipping costs soared in fourth quarter, far exceeding revenue” [DC Velocity]. “Amazon.com Inc. said late today that its fourth-quarter global shipping costs soared to $5.6 billion, as the Seattle-based e-tailing giant grappled with increases in fulfillment demand brought on by another peak-season quarter of double-digit sales growth. At the same time, fourth-quarter global shipping revenue came in at slightly more than $3 billion, continuing Seattle-based Amazon’s multi-year pattern of shipping costs exceeding revenue. For the year, Amazon spent about $16 billion on shipping services and took in about $9 billion in revenue.”

Shipping: “Amazon added more than 110,000 employees during the past year, topping 341,000 people as of the end of 2016 thanks largely to a significant increase in the Seattle-based tech giant’s network of fulfillment centers around the world” [Geekwire].

Shipping: “More than two-thirds of all the vessels previously operated by the collapsed Korean container line [Hanjin] remain inactive” [Lloyd’s Loading].

Shipping: “A secret shipper survey of the twenty top forwarders found that it was ‘mostly talk, but also a little action’ when it comes to developing online freight sales” [Air Cargo News]. “According to the survey, most forwarder’s processes are still manual: ‘It took on average 101 hours (four days) to provide a simple manual spot quote, 11 hours longer than in 2015.'”

Publication Notice: “Maximizing price stability in a monetary economy” [Warren Moslera, Damiano B. Silipob, Journal of Policy Modeling]. Jobs guarantee goes mainstream, baby!

In this paper we propose that the ECB fund a transition-job for anyone willing and able to work, at a wage fixed by the ECB, for the further purpose of enhancing the achievement of its single mandate of price stability. In addition to superior price stability, the transition-job will define a form of full employment and work to balanced economic growth.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 51, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 3 at 11:36am. Back to greed…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A Full Transcript Of Donald Trump’s Black History Month Remarks” [The Concourse]. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.”

Our Famously Free Press

Swell. An arms race:

The “fake news” goes viral. The correction does not:

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“84% of Americans would consider trying another major web browser if it offered more features to help protect their privacy” [DuckDuckGo]. I love Opera’s VPN but I’m sure there’s more that could be done without raising my hand and shouting “Here I am!” to malevolent forces.

“#J20, Signal, spies and the cult of crypto” [Yasha Levine, Surveillance Valley]. “I’m hearing from concerned activists taking part in the #J20 anti-Trump protests next week that their comrades insist on doing their organizing “securely” through Signal, an encrypted chat app marketed to the activist crowd by Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, Wired magazine and the wider Internet Freedom community. To be honest, I’m a bit at a loss for words. So let me repeat what I’ve been saying for the past several years: Signal (like Tor and other related “grassroots” crypto Internet Freedom projects) are creations of America’s spooky military-corporate machine. They are regime change weapons, designed to project American imperial power in the age of the Internet. Signal might work if you’re chatting with your local neighborhood dealer to score a few grams of coke, but don’t expect it to protect you if you decide to do anything really transgressive — like organizing against concentrated corporate political power in the United States.” And:

I guess the bigger question is: Why is today’s activist culture so focused on crypto and operational security? As far as I can tell, encryption and leftwing mass politics are contradictory. How are you going to involve millions of people in your cause if you’re so paranoid about your chat messages getting read by the cops?

Good question. Maybe that’s not what #J20 is all about?

Class Warfare

“Emanuel should move to protect airport workers from exploitation” [Chicago Reporter]. “Currently, airport workers earn the minimum wage of $10.50 per hour, or not much higher, with no benefits. Wheelchair assistants get the tipped minimum wage, now $5.95 per hour, far below the city’s minimum…. On top of that, they are subject to widespread wage violations and are often fired if they speak up – largely because many of them are immigrants and refugees, advocates say.” Nothing at the airport protest about this?

News of the Wired

“The Poetry of Du Fu” [De Gruyter Online]. Said to be “Open Access” PDF, but I can’t get it to download. Said to be a big dead! Readers?

“In 2003, Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli, biologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposed that synapses grew so exuberantly during the day that our brain circuits got ‘noisy.’ When we sleep, the scientists argued, our brains pare back the connections to lift the signal over the noise” [New York Times]. “In the years since, Dr. Tononi and Dr. Cirelli, along with other researchers, have found a great deal of indirect evidence to support the so-called synaptic homeostasis hypothesis…. Dr. Tononi said that the new findings should prompt a look at what current sleeping drugs do in the brain. While they may be good at making people sleepy, it’s also possible that they may interfere with the pruning required for forming memories. ‘You may actually work against yourself,” Dr. Tononi said.”

* * *

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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

    Let’s face it, Open Borders and “Fiscal Conservatism” and “Small Government” are just another form of class warfare. It’s not any different than how the GOP uses “dog whistling” to appeal to White Supremacist types.

    The left must not be associated with class warfare and globalism. It’s the opposite of what people should want. This is very, very bad indeed.

    On the note of politics, here’s a good article on Medium – the Democrats have to admit they chose the wrong candidate:

    Jane Sanders on Twitter is claiming the DNC has already rigged the election:

    This one is ugly too – Trump has betrayed his base:

    I’d say that we need to take Jane Sanders’ quote very seriously indeed, considering who she is and how close her connections must be. The tragedy is that this is happening at the time when Trump is betraying his base for Wall Street. That could leave an opening for a left wing candidate.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From The Hill:

      “It is very concerning that Bernie Sanders is so intent on taking over a party that he’s not even a member of that he’d insult the beloved vice president — and really the president — about a failed status quo approach,” said Texas Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, a Perez supporter and one of 447 DNC members who will vote in late February to elect the next chairman.

      Ah, yes, that loveable goof, sincere Joe Biden, whose bill condemned millions of students to debt slavery [head, desk].

      1. Pat

        To me it is tre amusing to watch people pretend that a group of people who led a party to losing the Presidency, both Houses of Congress,the majority of Governorships and gave the Republicans the majority in the most state legislatures since the Civil War are 1.) not resting on their laurels version of the status quo and 2.) are not the epitome of failure.

        It makes it very clear that this group has NO interest in leading or in reaching voters.

      2. Waldenpond

        It isn’t true. Jeez, he’s the Outreach Chair of the Senate Democrats. Can’t get much more official than a position IN the party.

        1. cwaltz

          And yet from a Hill article.

          “It is very concerning that Bernie Sanders is so intent on taking over a party that he’s not even a member of that he’d insult the beloved vice president — and really the president — about a failed status quo approach,” said Texas Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, a Perez supporter and one of 447 DNC members who will vote in late February to elect the next chairman.

          “This is coming from a man who is not even a member of our party,” Hinojosa continued. “We lost an election and all of a sudden we’re all a part of a failed status quo? When he puts Joe Biden and Tom Perez in this category and paints with a broad brush he insults all of us. This is an election between loyal, qualified Democrats who love our party and the country. There’s no need for him to lower himself to that level.”

          That’s just one comment about “interlopers” deciding where the DNC goes


          Heh, it’s good to see the party takeover is going swimmingly. I’m sure Independent voters will totally go with whatever the DEMOCRATIC party elite decide just like they did in 2016- oh wait…….

          1. ChrisAtRU

            “We lost an election and all of a sudden we’re all a part of a failed status quo?”



      3. JohnnyGL

        “beloved vice president” — beloved by whom? Trump is the legacy they’ve brought us! All other legacies fade into the background.

        Also, I prefer the term ‘indentured servitude’ with regard to student debt. After all, I’ve been paying for 16 years since graduation and I can see light at the end of the tunnel! I’m a success story!

        In any case….Jane Sanders has it right….flashback…http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4c9c850385c84b12ad5b85fda49743f9/after-weekend-wins-clinton-cusp-democratic-nomination

        Look there, Lisa Lerer is named as co-author.

        1. robnume

          +1000! Biden was, for decades, the ‘representative’ from the State of Delaware and he made damned sure that the corporate tax haven that Delaware is stayed that way. Voters really don’t so their home work when it comes to researching the voting/legislative bill sponsor records of their ‘beloved’ reps, do they? Biden is a total shill for the technocracy.

          1. aab

            I believe the idea is that she’s the reporter who also did the “Hillary has the nomination!” story before the California primary. I guess she has the “DNC Handmaiden” beat.

            That piece calling the DNC race definitely stinks. The only reason I can think of to get AP to do it is if Perez’s support is waning, but the reporting out of the meetings sure made it sound like he had it in the bag. Which would not be surprising, since a sizeable number (majority?) of the voters for the chair position are lobbyists. Cute how the New Dems took the time lay in a trench, a drawbridge AND cut-outs for pouring down hot oil and excrement.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        447, eh, super-delegates?

        What happened to ‘popular vote?’

        “He’s not my chairman.”

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the links, epecially the one from Sanders.

      Gotta say that Common Dreams article with the tweetlist defending Dodd-Frank is some pretty thin gruel. The banks have only gotten bigger since ’08 and from where I’m sitting Dodd-Frank hasn’t done a damn thing to reel in their excesses. An example –

      Risky derivatives played a big role in the crisis. Dodd-Frank created rules to shine a SPOTLIGHT on this previously shadowy marketplace

      A spotlight. Well isn’t it nice they we’ll have better visibility as the banks continue to rip everyone’s faces off. Talk to me when Dodd-Frank starts producing some jail cells.

      The Republicans criticized Obama for all the wrong reasons beacause they were actually in favor of the really damaging things his administration did. Now the Dems seem determined to do the same with Trump.

      Don’t criticize Trump for wanting to roll back some largely useless Dem legislation that hasn’t even been fully implemented and won’t be until the lobbyists tasked with writing the details have watered it down so much that it’s completely useless.

      The Dems need to admit their own mistakes first and them lambaste him for not reinstating Glass Steagall which was one of his campaign promises.

      But they won’t, because they don’t want Glass Steagall either.

      Really tired of this stupid kabuki.

  2. Altandmain

    Oh and the civil war inside the Democratic Party is intensifying apparently.


    Here in Canada, our Prime Minister has just betrayed an election promise on electoral reform.

    This is a disgrace. I think that the honeymoon is over. I’m glad this MP had the honesty to admit this:

    For those who do not know, the Canadian election system is based on the UK Parliamentary system. It is a “first past the post” type of system. Trudeau had previously promised to look into election reform, but because his party won a solid majority in late 2015, he has since reneged on his promise.

    This will screw over third parties and lead to majorities at odds with what the Canadian people wanted. This could also work against the Liberals – most notably the Parliamentary majority of former Conservative PM Stephen Harper in 2011, for which less than 40% of Canadians voted for.

    Sad … so typical of politicians these days. We are in a society where politicians only serve themselves. A more likeable face for what Trudeau did is still the same old neoliberal class warfare, which is not what we Canadians desperately need. Quite the opposite.

      1. Altandmain

        That doesn’t mean he’s going to keep his promises.

        I’ll be honest, in 2015, Stephen Harper had to go and people went with the Liberals because of that. Trudeau is in power because of his last name, not because he accomplished anything.

        The tragedy is that Canada didn’t have anyone like Bernie Sanders or another Tommy Douglas. It’s really sad we don’t have someone like Jack Layton either.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Unlike the US presidential system in which the president gets turfed out after eight years, Canada’s parliamentary system has allowed the adorable Stephen Harper to carry on serving as an opposition backbencher.

          In a just world, Harper would be hangin’ out with George W Bush, shooting at prairie dogs and plinking at beer cans, whilst clad in his “heighth of fashion” Calgary Stampede baseball cap.


          1. WheresOurTeddy

            In a just world, Harper and everyone with the last name Bush hang out in orange jumpsuits for yard hour before another 23hr shift in the greybar hotel.

            1. polecat

              Nancy put the kabosh on at least half of that hypothetical ….

              well played , Demorats ….. for SIXTEEN YEARS !!!

              it’s no wonder they’re becoming ill-relevant !

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its the exact same mistake the British Labour party made. They have never supported electoral reform in the UK because of a belief that the current system gives them the best chance of complete power. Instead, its given the UK seemingly endless Conservative governments, with policies frequently far to the right of mainstream public opinion.

      1. Clive

        To be fair, the game-for-a-laugh Liberal Democrats as part of their rather ghastly last coalition government did give us a referendum on alternative voting systems. By and large, we responded with a large, noisy, raspberry being blown back in their general direction.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes I know, but Labour did their best to sabotage it, which I thought was crazy. When you look at the broad spectrum of public opinion, a more proportional system of voting would be more likely to produce small parties that could partner with Labour (Greens, farther left parties, PC and SNP, etc). I’ve never understood why the broad left in Britain has always clung to the notion that one person one vote would somehow produce a strong left wing government, when all the evidence is that it has benefited the Conservatives.

    2. Srafflecki

      One simple thing the Democratic Party can do, if it was serious about not repeating the same mistake, is to change the order of the states that vote in the primaries. The establishment candidate of choice (Booker or whoever else) gets a nice lead when you start in right wing parts of the country. Wouldn’t be a huge change, but it would make a small difference and it would help a more progressive candidate, which is why it won’t happen.

  3. L

    With respect to your comment on the YouGov poll, I don’t think that it is right to say Trump’s numbers are holding up. The popularity of this action is. His numbers are in the tank but being in the tank is not the same as doing unpopular things.

    I for one hope that this election signals the beginning of the end both for the professional Dems and for the core assumption of “personal brand” politics that personal popularity is the benchmark that can and should be used for politicians.

    In my own, admittedly biased sampling, I have yet to find one Trump voter who likes him and I am including people who did like W and Obama. They like some of what he is doing or what they think he will do and they know they have little choice but to take the rest as a lump sum. Indeed, even the ones who think he is telling it like it is still think he is personally pretty vile but some of the big actions are popular.

    How that popularity will survive a real policy test (e.g. the “repeal”) is an open question.

      1. Katharine

        I’m not overwhelmed by the numbers though. That 48% approval number is countered by 44% disapproval, with 8% not sure. That may be “holding up,” but it’s not hugely impressive. Also, even though strong disapproval is least in the lowest income category, “not sure” is highest, at 10%. Since the framing of the question did not give an inkling of what previous policies had done to ensure security and few people have the time to try to find out, I find the honest uncertainty admirable and encouraging.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think Trump’s ceiling is very close to his floor. It doesn’t matter whether it’s impressive or not (assuming the polls aren’t lying, of course) so long as it stays stable.

          Adding, I agree with your point on Undecideds, unusually high in the Black demographic (I boxed it in red). Not sure why that is, or if it’s a proxy for Trump generally.

          1. aab

            I think that’s true unless he actually does figure out a way to dramatically shrink supply chains and do other things to force jobs back here at lease before 2020.

            Based on what I have learned mostly reading here, it seems to me forcing a lot companies to bring back their IT departments (both physically and in the sense of getting rid of the H-1B visaholders at home) would be the easiest play there. How much would that impact the Midwest?

            I doubt he and Bannon have the capacity to consider siding with the prisoners, and forcing all that slave labor out of prisons and back to the wage economy. All those call center and agriculture jobs inside the walls could be transferred outside the walls pretty easily, I assume.

            My basic point: if he makes a noticeable improvement in people’s lives — and it sounds like the only one he cares about is jobs, which is why I’m focusing on it — the ceiling may open up.

            I’m not sure if these kinds of polling numbers matter, though. The people who hate him are concentrated in Democratic cities. A county by county breakdown would be more relevant politically. His challenge is to do stuff for his base and whatever oligarchic crap he wants for himself and his pals while fending off impeachment and removal from the corporate Republicans for violating Koch/Rand orthodoxy. I doubt he even wants eight years. (Yes, I know he already signed the papers.) But the only polling that really matters is Republican households in Republican held Congressional districts, it seems to me.

          2. PhilM

            Doctors call this a “narrow therapeutic window”: when the dose needed to help is close to the dose needed to kill.

      2. Carolinian

        Some of us have previously expressed the notion that Trump becoming popular is what the Dems really fear, not his enacting policies that they often favored themselves. And whether or not one believes that is even possible, it is clearly what he himself is after when not ego tripping on being president.

        So in this sense Trump is different from Carter who styled himself a populist but didn’t make many concessions to ordinary people in his de-regulating economic policies. Perhaps all those Habitat houses were some kind of penance.

        Surely it is still way too early to know what is going to happen. But certainly things are livelier than if schoolmarm Hillary had won.

        1. PhilM

          I agree, I have never seen such commitment. It is as if the 1960s happened again without the flower industry. The nation elected a revolutionary, some voting from disgust, some from hope, some from pure oppositional personality disorder (those who like liberty). One way or another, it is a new game.

          Trump has been President for a few days and more is happening than anyone can keep track of. It takes everyone, no matter how smart, a while to learn the job. We will need a new press just to keep up.

          Personally, I am very excited to see where we are going, said the rider as he boarded the beast with nine heads.

    1. djrichard

      I like Trump. He makes no bones about being a gangster and he makes no bones about who his constituency is: the working class (or wanna be working class).

      “Oh if only we could have somebody with class and professionalism as president”. You know how the professionals signal their class? They dump on the working class. Even the working class recognizes that signal, “we may not deserve to be dumped on, but gee that guy must be a professional with class, as evidenced by their dumping on us”. To the point that the working class will mindlessly worship the professionals just like everybody else does.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t “like” Trump at all (though it’s worth noting that one of his main virtues, persistence, is also Hillary Clinton’s main strength). But as William Gibson said:

        “Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many false saviors in our life time, acclaimed to be infallible, with every policy position being exactly what we need. Trump’s not a false one, insomuch he is not viewed as a Messiah, period. I think your biased sampling, per your quoted statement below, have a good chance of holding up.

      In my own, admittedly biased sampling, I have yet to find one Trump voter who likes him and I am including people who did like W and Obama. They like some of what he is doing or what they think he will do and they know they have little choice but to take the rest as a lump sum. Indeed, even the ones who think he is telling it like it is still think he is personally pretty vile but some of the big actions are popular.

      1. aab

        He has passionate followers on Twitter. Passionate. Some of them were Bernie supporters first. It’s been very interesting following their transformations.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have yet to find one Trump voter who likes him and I am including people who did like W and Obama. They like some of what he is doing

      Which, when you think about it, is very nuanced and exactly what voters ought to be doing.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Ireland’s Village magazine published a cover with a gunsight on Trump and the caption “WHY NOT”:


    Free speech doesn’t extend to shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theatre … or soliciting someone’s murder.

    You’d think after the horrific Charlie Hebdo attack in France, European journos might have adopted some restraint toward advocating violence.

    1. Katharine

      Yes, that’s troubling. Even if fear and loathing prompted a momentary fantasy, it’s part of the job of a grownup to curb wild impulses and think about consequences, not to foster the idea or pass it on to more reckless souls.

      1. makedoanmend

        “…it’s part of the job of a grownup to curb wild impulses and think about consequences, not to foster the idea or pass it on to more reckless souls.”

        Who are you talking about?

        a) the magazine
        b) Trump and his entourgage
        c) both

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Village Magazine is the almost unread vanity publishing project of one eccentric if well known left winger (he has his own late night TV show). He loves winding people up (on all sides of the political spectrum). I haven’t seen the magazine on any local shop recently, I suspect its not actually being distributed anymore (or the major distributers are refusing it) and this is a publicity stunt. Its still pretty disgraceful.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s free speech.

      And it’s hate.

      I think that makes it a hate speech, which is illegal in many European countries, I believe.

  5. nowhere

    Re: #J20, Signal, spies and the cult of crypto

    The way the app is designed — your smartphone pinging back and forth with a very particular server — almost certainly guarantees that by using it you will flag yourself and your activists comrades for further surveillance.

    I guess in that the police could setup a stingray this is true. Otherwise, from my reading and understanding of Signal’s architecture, this doesn’t make much sense. I’d consider the EFF a pretty competent group regarding this technology, and they seem to see it as a valuable tool.

    My own hunch is that if you’re an activist who spends their time obsessing over op-sec and encryption, you’re probably just playacting at politics and won’t ever pose much of a threat to concentrated corporate power.

    Not trying to assign homework, but which supreme level tactics and overarching strategy should people use to battle the police state and corporate dominance? I think most of the peaceful protesters are happy to share their whereabouts on social media.

    I could see this being for groups (black bloc, anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc.) that desire quick tactical changes and don’t want their messages intercepted.

    1. Ranger Rick

      If they’re that worried about FBI COINTELPRO-type activities because their plans either directly or indirectly promote criminal activity for which their communications could be used as evidence, they’ve failed to consider the weakest link: each other.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The more people that use encryption, the higher the cost of blanket surveillance, both in the resources required to work around the encryption, and the size of the targeted haystack of users. So I think it’s very worthwhile, even if it doesn’t reliably protect its users.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Snowden has VC power behind him. There’s more to this than disclosure. I’m suddenly sceptical after a long time supporting the “cause”.

      1. nowhere

        At the risk of assigning you homework, I don’t know you mean by “VC power behind him”? I’ve searched the googles and I’m still unsure of your claim.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I could see this being for groups (black bloc, anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc.) that desire quick tactical changes and don’t want their messages intercepted.

      At least for the black bloc, they’re likely to be infested by cops already. It’s hard to see how a technical solution will help prevent any interception at all.

    1. Clive

      I’ve been learning, well, trying to, for years but I still have absolutely no idea at all how the Japanese use the comma — or their version of it (、) — and even my Japanese native speaker friends keep me at arm’s length from discovering the truth about it. I’m beginning to suspect it’s like some Japanese Harry Potter style secret treatise and that only the ordained and initiated can be given access to the special knowledge.

      1. Oregoncharles

        There’s a lot of that in language, I think specifically so the native speakers can spot the newbies.

        For a small local example: “Willamette,” the river, is pronounced in Oregon with a very un-French emphasis on the second syllable. Pretty hick, actually, but it does show up the newcomers.

        Similarly, we call hazelnuts (a major local crop – I have about 18 trees) “filberts.” It isn’t used in marketing any more, but most of us still call them that.

        1. polecat

          kinda like my relatives (The Ancient Ones, that is) in the Central Valley of California calling Almonds …’Ammons’.

      1. polecat

        Maybe he stuck in a ‘plantimote’….. thus being too small to see with the naked eyes … ‘O-O’

        1. robnume

          Me, too, no plantidote. Also today, for one hour this evening between 4:30 and 5:30 PM I kept receiving a 403 ‘verboten access’ to NC. I’m in San Diego. Anyone else from this neck of the woods had problems with access?

          1. Oregoncharles

            Yes, also on west coast; not sure of the time, sounds about right. Something went down between here and there?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Whoops, so you are.

      My posting reflexes are out of synch with the combination of Opera’s page building and the WP backend. I swear I put it in, but it seems to have been refreshed away…

  6. nowhere

    I’m not sure where the original link went to Our Lying Media.

    But I think another good point, and concern about covering so much drivel from people like Sarah Silverman, is this:

    This collapse of the journalistic profession couldn’t have come at a worse moment. We are heading into uncharted waters with the Trump administration, and the media’s constant barrage aimed at him actually undermines any real scrutiny: they’ve cried “Wolf!” so many times that when the real wolf is at the door they’ll have lost all credibility. This is particularly true in the international arena, where the threat of war is looming large: from the Persian Gulf (Yemen, Iran) to Ukraine (where Kiev is engaging in dangerous provocations), to the South China Sea, the arc of crisis is getting bigger and more volatile by the day.

    Yet the “news” media is so busy bickering with the new administration over such burning issues as the crowd size at the Inauguration that they have little time or use for such trivial matters as war and peace. And when they do concern themselves with such questions, their bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome prevents them from seeing – and telling us – what’s really going on.

  7. marym

    Re Polling

    Gallup 1/30 – 1/31 Approve: Disapprove: No Opinion

    Muslim Ban: 42% 55% 3%
    Mexican border wall: 38% 60% 2%
    Suspending Syrian refugee pgm: 36% 58% 6%

    +/- 4% Didn’t find any demographic breakdown

    1. Katharine

      It looks as if they didn’t do any.

      And if you wondered about your privacy:

      Landline and cell phones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Gallup obtained this sample from Survey Sampling International. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member has the next birthday.

      I find it a bit creepy to think of Survey Sampling International keeping track of birthdays in my household.

      1. marym


        After Gallup collects and processes survey data, each respondent is assigned a weight so that the demographic characteristics of the total weighted sample of respondents match the latest estimates of the demographic characteristics of the adult population available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Gallup weights data to census estimates for gender, race, age, educational attainment, and region.

          1. Katharine

            Thanks for that reassurance!

            It sounds sort of fishy to me, obscuring information rather than breaking out detail. I wouldn’t mind if they did both, but I like more access to raw (or less cooked?) numbers.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They still calling it Muslim ban?

      And, a more proper name is American Border Wall, I think.

  8. John Parks

    RE: Amazon et al

    I sell stuff(or try to).

    I have received various emails from Amazon suggesting that I list my items through them for selling through their portals.
    I also receive inquiries from Google wanting me to use my sites/pages as a potential source for me to gain advertising revenue. (I get over a million hits per month on my various pages)

    Perhaps misguidedly, I have not taken advantage of either.

    In the case of Amazon, I do not want to be their market research tool or test dummy. I would be giving them access to track the sales on all my items of inventory. Besides me giving them a commission, they would have the info to data mine my sales and, should they choose, and I do not know why they would not, compete directly against me by producing or procuring the best selling items. They would reap free product research and development, my success or non success in market testing my products through actual sales, duplicate my customer base, and eventually put me out of business.
    Why would I want to pay them a commission to do this to me!?

    As for Google Advertising revenue, the one question that I keep asking the sales rep’s that they have not successfully answered is “Why would I spend so much time on creating my web pages and trying to acquire customers and then install an enticement on those same pages for these customers to go somewhere else with a simple click!?

    1. thoughtful person

      I sell to Amazon, I’m in the grocery business a natural foods manufacturer. I only do it as advertising. They are the worst to deal with. All kinds of special labeling, we have to enter all the bookkeeping for them on their site, and they take deductions constantly. They underpay every invoice so we have to do even more paper work to show the order shipped on full etc. They are a total disaster. As soon as we get some larger distribution I will drop them and be thrilled never to deal with them again.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks for this. Do we have any other people who do business with Amazon?

        Sounds like they’ve adopted Google’s businesses of no support and screwing the little guy.

        Definitely “The Bezzle” material.

  9. EndOfTheWorld

    By “professional anarchists” I think Trump refers to the fact that they are widely believed to receive monetary compensation from a guy who, as a youth in Hungary, helped to round up fellow Jews for the Nazis. When will Trump and Soros get into a Twitter dual? Could get nasty.

    1. Portia

      I think Trump doesn’t care who his supporters think is doing the protesting, as long as they think it is an evil conspiracy. fill in the blank

    2. Waldenpond

      Boy, it’s been years. Read NC during the 2008 election. Seen topics change, appreciated the diversity of links, the economic and finance education and miss many of the skilled and experienced commenters that have drifted in and out over the years.

      Then there is the politics. Enjoyed being one of the, it looks like, lone commenters on the sort of left, and interacting with differing ideologies, mainly center-right to conservative…. another aspect here that shifts a bit.

      There was a shift with the 2016 election…. A critical look at the Ds and an attempt to evaluate has shifted the discussion, though not to the left….

      First: Blaming boomers is the norm though now it is expanding to others including the working class. A growing lack of empathy and today the elevation of capitalism over a left with regards to labor.

      Second: If the D base was willing to shift left (by shift left, it appears Ds mean back to the center-right) it could be beneficial to find out what policy the left wants and make a trade. A discussion of how the left is racist, failing to win an election after repeatedly calling the working class is racist, might not be as effective. Other than alienating the left and targeting moderate Rs, there is no purpose to the strategy.

      Third: the criticism of Clinton….. a. when the regulars slipped and outed themselves as 4channers when they couldn’t refrain from bringing their scheduled distribution action to NC. b. brought the addition of pepes and alt-righters attracted to the Clinton criticism aspect of the political discussion and unfortunately, yesterday I responded to one, my error. c. Others did not challenge and one person backed down, expecting they would violate site civility norms, as such, the range of debate has shifted and narrowed.

      As far as politics go, this is a mostly center-right site, sometimes hard to tell through the growing noise. A discussion on when there should be an advancement of the police state does not interest. A discussion on the acceptable level of religion in politics is not one that interests. Personally, more interested in debate/strategies on how to get policies that are to the left of what Dems have on offer. Having to sort through, bypass or respond to counter factuals of the alt-right is not an effective use of time.

      NC is a good resource for econ/finance but, as EOTW’s comment exemplifies, not one that currently has a range of politics that interests. Out with the old, in with the new. Take care all.

      1. Yves Smith

        I have to tell you, pretty much no one would agree with your characterization of NC as center-right. We are classified as left by everyone who puts us in that taxonomy. We strongly supported Sanders, for instance, and our and the commentariat’s criticism of him has been from the left, not the right.

        But we are strongly empirical, which means we regularly shoot at orthodox left positions, like favoring a Grexit, when they haven’t looked at the true costs to the citizenry. There are often lose-lose situations where the choices are very bad versus markedly worse, and people don’t want to hear that rejecting “very bad” is not a good choice.

        But if you want an straight up hard left position, we aren’t that, and if that is what you require, you should frequent other sites.

        1. Aumua

          Loose-loose situation yes, there’s plenty of that going around. Very unfortunate. In the short time I have (mostly lurked) at NC, I have noticed a definite lurch to the right, which I suppose is mostly an inevitable reflection of the shift in the national mood with the election of a president who, working class aside, was and is a hero of the extreme right.

          It’s still left, definitely though. The very name itself: Naked Capitalism, certainly implies a left leaning thinking to me.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When you’re surrounded by fake media, having to constant correct their alt-news, you can appear reactionary. That’s a person risk people have to consider.

            Also, it’s a journey and if you don’t doubt (e.g progressive positions), therefore you are not (a progressive).

            On that front, you also risk looking like a non-progressive.

            But doubt we must, so we are.

            1. nowhere

              I was reminded of this:

              “[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.” – Yoda

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I was surprised he didn’t say ‘why you fail, that is.’

                Maybe he and Trump are using the same strategy – keep them guessing.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I have noticed a definite lurch to the right

            In the expressions of concern on this topic, I’m noticing a distinct paucity of links to statements made by either Yves or myself.

            So, apparently, you noticed a “lurch” that was yet so subtle that you cannot provide an example of it. Oh, OK.

        2. thoughtful person

          I applaud the empirical fact based nature of this site. A wide range of links and comments are mostly held to a fairly high standard. Thanks!

        3. Sally

          As a longtime lurker and periodic hat tipper, agree about the recent lurch to the right. It was no surprise to me that NC was included in the “Russian propagandist site” lists… reading the comments over the last 6 months I’ve often had to double check the URL to make sure I wasn’t on a Breitbart site. Anti-Hillary sentiment aside, there’s definitely been a political shift here over the last 2 years. I’ve been around since 2006 but I don’t think that long of a readership is required to notice this degree of change.

          1. Yves Smith

            Huh? First, the PropOrNot list was overwhelmingly left wing sites. You are telling me Counterpunch, Black Agenda Report, TruthDig, Truthout, and the many small sites, like Jackpine Radicals, are right wing because they were on that list?

            Second, virtually every media write up of our inclusion calls us left wing, which in some ways annoys me, since I don’t see us as primarily political. I see us as having a strong social justice orientation because societies and commerce function better that way. Fairness is good for everyone in the long run.

            Third, your recollection of our 2007 and 2008 coverage is poor. We had hardly any social justice oriented articles then. We did cover the IPCC report and once in a great while would have posts on inequality. We were also deficit hawks back then. We’ve gotten better informed on macro in the intervening years.

            In fact, Richard Smith (who read us virtually from the beginning and has been deeply involved in the site) noticed what he saw as a pronounced shift from narrow financial coverage to what he saw as pretty standard progressive positions once I resurfaced after writing my book, in late 2009. He was concerned about what fund managers would call “style drift,” that he saw this as a big change in orientation. Similarly, our longest standing commentor, valde, has piped up from time to time to say he preferred NC when it was hard core finance and isn’t so happy about us spending more time on what used to be called “political economy”.

            Fourth, since when would a right wing site criticize Obama, Larry Summers, Bernie Sanders, the ACA, and the Fed, to list just a few, from the left? What right wing site followed Black Lives Matter from its inception and was deeply disturbed by the Democratic party infiltration, which neutered its effectiveness? I could go on.

            You seem to be mad that we criticized the Women’s March for lack of aims and focus, and that we have not renounced our view that Hillary would have been a God-awful president too, although it would not have been obvious anywhere near as quickly as with Trump (save for her promise to start a hot war in Russia, which is what declaring a no-fly zone in Syria amounted to). Clinton does have the veneer of governing down and the press would have minimized her dead bodies.

            As for the Women’s March, one proof for our view is that there was no follow on organizing. No one was there taking names to compile lists. That is the most basic action in effective mobilization and it wasn’t happening at all, anywhere, from what we can tell (and we’ve looked hard).

            1. skippy

              If I may YS….. wtf is left anymore when everything is so far right of Eisenhower and uet some gab on about non market based observations…. like the market [EMH} is some deity…..

              disheveled…. have to say it…. Sally seems to be a concern toll….

            1. pretzelattack

              i’m wondering if a willingness to view trump as the lote is being interpreted as a move to the right. imo he was to the left of clinton on some of the wars, and on the trade treaties, and possibly on protecting social security.

              but labels are fluctuating, if i were a liberal democrat i would be expected to support an impeachment that, if successful, would result in president pence; at least to entertain the possible merits of a military coup; favor ratcheting up military tensions with russia; and support trade treaties which further eviscerate the social safety net and make fighting climate change even harder. i’m trying to keep up with expectations,
              but it’s hard.

              1. Yves Smith

                That was the view of many of our readers, but the site did not take a position.

                And if you look at Links, they are overwhelmingly Trump-critical stories. We do point out when they overegg the pudding but we regularly taken issue with media slant, particularly when the headline (which is all that many people read) is not well supported by the actual story.

                1. pretzelattack

                  yes, i was interpreting “a shift to the right” as referring more to btl than atl. maybe i was wrong.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Confusing. You mean the consistent coverage of Sanders when most others weren’t? Ditto for Black Lives Matter?

            Maybe were you to make a specific complaint it would help. Expressions of vague concern aren’t really helpful. For example, you mention Breibart. I don’t link to Breitbart because they have a history of fabrication. Are you saying NC fabricates content? If so, you need to be clear about the content you have in mind.

          3. Clive

            Please read Naked Capitalism’s Brexit coverage and commentary. Brexit is a right-wing lightning rod, politically, but this site’s coverage has been on the economic aspects by-and-large and adding political angles when needed to explain the economic points. Not the other way round. The right-wing mantras about what Brexit is and is not, what it will do and what it won’t have been comprehensively debunked here. Any “lurch to the right” would be evident in unquestioning support for Brexit. This simply isn’t and hasn’t been the case.

            What you get instead — and what you almost always get here — is unflinching debunking of nonsense and gibberish arguments wherever they are presented and whomever they are presented by.

            I regularly show Naked Capitalism’s output to my right wing friends and they recoil in abject horror. Rampant right-wingers hate the MMT rebuttals to common “nation’s credit card” style deficit terrorism. Those on the left are aghast at the failure to automatically come out for Hillary, Obama, ridiculous “women’s’ marches” and similar. Left-leaning women are at their most strident at Yves’ “failure” to unflinchingly support the “sisterhood”. All of which to me suggest the balance is about right.

          1. Yves Smith


            We are not and have never been “supporting Trump”. It appears you are trying to force-fit us into a black/white frame: “if you didn’t support Hillary, you were supporting Trump,” which is bogus. We said clearly both candidates were terrible and unfit to be President, and they’d both deliver bad outcomes, but different ones.

            We are saying that some of the criticisms of what he is doing are off base and counterproductive because

            1. Some of it is bog standard transition stuff that previous Presidents did but has never been put under the microscope

            2. Many of his executive orders are more press releases and statement of intent than real actions. For instance, he can’t roll back statue based on an executive order.

            Yet the media and Dem organizations have been hyperventilating about every pronouncement Trump makes, irrespective of whether it is a serious action that is disturbing, Trump trolling the media, Trump doing something that is hot air but will fool his base, or typical transition stuff.

            Trump is in a weak position. The media and Dem groups have every incentive to make Trump seem more powerful than he is by getting people riled up about anything and everything. They get more money that way, pure and simple.

            The danger of indiscriminate hysterics is:

            – It gives Trump the appearance to his base that he is succeeding. “If the New York Times and liberulz are upset about X, Trump must be doing well.” Trump will be able to present himself as a victim of evil Beltway plots when he fails. By contrast, the media instead could be calling him out for making empty promises and conning his voters when he does.

            – Making people upset about everything encourages them to waste energy on non-issues and non-winnable fights, like emoluments, at the expense of focusing on where it is important to beat Trump and how to beat him

            – By making Trump into a bigger problem than he is, it allows the Dems to deliver way less when they do prevail. Since there has been no purge of the party and it is firmly still in the hands of financiers, tech titans, and other big corporate interests, if the Dems do manage to stymie Trump, they can present getting a worse version of status quo ante as some sort of remarkable success.

            1. jrs

              Almost want to give up even following national politics. It’s just TOO irrational at this point. 1) there is Trump himself 2) there is the hysteria in response to Trump when things need to be broken down precisely as detailed, what is new, what actually changes things etc.. And only then after that is hysteria allowed :D 3) there are the Trump apologists. Forever seeing good in what will likely turn out to be a pretty bad set of policies. Yes he may strong arm some jobs back, but there will be few environmental protections etc. This is not a humane society we’re going to get here.

              The emoluments thing I have been told by a lawyer is probably being used mostly for discovery though, they are really just using it as an excuse to get dirt IOW. Which since we got the dirt on Clinton could hardly be said to be unfair.

            2. b1daly

              I’m not counting, but it seeems to me that the Dems get far more critism on this site, especially when taking into account the views of commenters (which are part of the site). Much of that criticism is caustic, contemptuous.

              I’ve mostly attributed it to the phenomena where people are most critical of political opponents who are, ostensibly, closer to their views. In the lead up to the election, I had some bitter arguments with Sanders supporting friends who spent the rest of the election season ragging on Clinton. Then all of a sudden, after the election, they were like, fuck, Trump! He must be stopped, worst president ever.

              I figured I would a better chance of persuading people of my view, which was that Clinton was better than Trump, with Bernie supporters. This is also probably because I know way more Bernie supports, than Trump supporters. My personal perception was that Trump supporters were set on their dislike of Hilary, and arguments based on “mere facts” or “speculation of future disasters” held no water.

              I do find the continued critism of the Clinton establishment here tiring. In some cases it verges on hatred. The arguments presented by the editorial writers here about the failure of the Dems to deliver on reform that would provide relief to the lower classes are persuasive. But there’s a not so fine line between constructive critism, or healthy dissent within a social structure, and vitriolic contempt, reflecting a “burn it all down” attitude.

              What I do not find persuasive are arguments that there is any realistic alternative to the Democratic Party for advancing any of the (mildly) progressive goals that I support. I think Sanders recognized that after he jumped on to the Democratic bandwagon in the primary, he had a duty to support the parties nominee. To not do that would have been rightly percieved as an act demonstrating that he can’t be trusted in the coalition building process that is the core task of political parties.

              I’ve often thought it might be worth it for progressives to join the Republican Party. Support candidates you don’t agree with loyally, and try to use whatever good will you might acquire to influence whoever you can to be more progressively minded. I’ve never heard of anyone trying this, but at this point, who knows.

              It’s easy to sit at your keyboard and declare one’s righteous progressive beliefs. It’s another to actually figure out how to actualize those beliefs. Sometimes I feel like lefty progressives who are angry at Obama think the problem is we were “faked out.” That he was some kind of new-liberal wolf, dressed in progressive sheeps clothing. That never made sense to me, as I always saw him as a straight, establishment, centrist Democrat.

              If the problem is that we keep turning to corporate supported Democrats, who pay only lip service to progressive values to gain political support, and reveal their true colors after getting elected, it would follow that we just need to get politicians in office who “truly believe” in progressive values.

              What I don’t see is any significant organization who might field such candidates. Nor do I see any candidates who fit this bill. None. I know what left minded progressives, such as the proprietor here of Water Cooler, support and believe in. It’s trivial to understand that policies that help working people, limit the power of corporations to engage in rapacious actions, provide universal healthcare, access to education, clean drinking water, just policing, etc, etc are nice things.

              What I don’t see is who they support. There is occasional advocacy for someone like Senator Warren. But once she actually gets into power, and starts to make political compromises with her opponents, in an attempt to actually govern, she starts to get sniping from purists on the left who see her as yet another Democrat, caving in to the establishment. (I’m thinking about her vote for Carson for Housing Secretary.)

              In my view, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the need to make common cause with uncomfortable allies if you hold minority viewpoints, and want to make an impact in the “real world.” And people trying to do something as complex as winning polical office by assembling coalitions don’t take kindly to betrayals to their organization by people who took advantage of whatever access to power it might have.

              Even Trump, who is a uniquely persausive politician, to say the least, required the machinery and imprature of a major political party to pull off his upset. Which is why I thought his promises to look out for the “common man” were a joke. As soon as he got in to office, he would have to start paying off his political debt, and that’s exactly what he is doing.

              The Trump voters got played. Big time.

              Oh well, there’s always 2018:)

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It is not a shift to the right but a mindless support of Trump that is bothering old timers.

            Perhaps the stupidest and most insulting comment I’ve ever read on Naked Capitalism. Smears the blog, and insults old-timers by pretending to speak for them collectively. Congratulations.

            1. tegnost

              Thanks yves and lambert, I have seen no “lurch to the right”, but I have seen a bit of disgruntled hillary hurt, and as you point out it doesn’t have much content behind it, more like a litmus test what with all the around heres and back in the good ol days, while the content from the blog itself is astonishing in it’s depth and consistency.

              1. JTFaraday

                The cultural politics are starting to resemble those of the reactionary right, before the recent development of the even uglier alt-right. I don’t find this encouraging.

                In this regard, it’s not the criticism aimed at the D-Party, which is valid. It’s the hatred directed at ordinary people.

        4. ChrisAtRU

          Center-right sites don’t link to Jacobin … ;-)

          And I don’t agree with eeeehhhvvverything posted.

          #iWantedGrExit (sorry Yves!)

          But I leave room to disagree, because I believe that this site articulates an overarching view of the world and humanity that I share.

          1. Foppe

            If you have to want something, why not want TPTB to make an exit (whether from the EU or EZ) to be made possible without this involving suicide + later reanimation? We’ll see if things change when britain gets there, but I’m not at all hopeful.

            1. ChrisAtRU

              I’m on the #MMT side of things … #Hence

              I am not totally against Yves’/NC’s position. It’s more that I blame TPTB for making it impossible. So long as Greece in is the EZ, the beatings will continue … as will the asset grabs.

              … why not want TPTB to make an exit (whether from the EU or EZ) to be made possible without this involving suicide + later reanimation?

              Good question. My belief is that the greatest fear of the TPTB in the EU is not that of failing nations like Greece, Spain or the other GIIPS, but rather that of a nation successfully exiting the union. And that is why TPTB will continue to make it impossible to do so.

              1. witters

                I see NC as beyond the stupid virtue signalling of Left/Right labelling. I see it as concerned with a conception of social justice that actuallly connects with life conditions of decent people – and a justifiable faith that, all things being equal, pretty much all people ARE decent people.

              2. Foppe

                But the whole reason Greece is where it is, is because of unwillingness to print/forgive/inflate away, because of what that might mean for N/W Europe’s competitive advantage. And that goes much further than Greece — Germans having to accept and live off ‘mini-jobs’ are just as affected by German mercantilism as the Greeks are, other social infrastructure aside.
                So you could just as well go the way of arguing for different (MMT-cognizant) monetary/fiscal/JG policy; in which the case for grexit would also (mostly) disappear. (Of course, this is entirely unpalatable to the status quo, but that’s an issue in all cases.)

                1. Yves Smith


                  Greece cannot inflate away. Its debts are denominated in Euros. And as we’ve described at length, the IT issues means it would be three years minimum before Greece had a functioning drachma payments system, and probably more, since it can’t force the many parties outside its control to hurry up. Greece is not an autarky, is is not independent in food and also imports pharmaceuticals and petroleum. And no operating payment system would be a huge hit to its tourist industry, which is 18% of GDP.

                  Plus as we discussed at length, Greece has a lousy export mix. A weaker currency would not lead to an export boom. This BTW is true of the UK too. During the last currency slump, its exports didn’t pick up. Those textbook econ models don’t always operate as advertised.

                  1. Foppe

                    Greece can’t, EU could, if it so chose (leaving aside the current problems with engendering inflation, and the lack of employment within greece). Though simply choosing to print (for ‘the people’, rather than for the banks and now corporations, as they are currently doing) and/or forgive current debts would be a rather more logical first step. That was my point, even if it was perhaps unclearly expressed.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      Sorry for the misconstruction. We are in agreement. The site has said repeatedly that Germany’s refusal to allow fiscal spending and idiocy about thinking it can export without lending to or investing in its trade partners is destroying the Eurozone.

      2. EndOfTheWorld

        I don’t think I said anything controversial. Soros admitted on 60 minutes that he did that. A head-to-head Twitter dual between Soros and Trump would be interesting.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You offered no evidence that Soros funds the black bloc anarchists, so it’s a paranoid theory. Would be interesting to know.

          Incidentally, I’ve met and worked with black bloc people; they were very young but I thought sincere. Granted, that was a while ago.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            Going back to the Trump tweet, he called them “professional anarchists.” I think he’s saying these guys are getting paid by SOMEBODY. I will concede I have no hard evidence the money comes from George Soros.

            Maybe I’m wrong—maybe all the anti-Trump stuff is self-funded, grass roots people who feel strongly that the elected president should not be allowed to serve as president. If so, that is even stupider than doing this stuff for money.

            1. nowhere

              Is there any evidence they are paid at all? Is there evidence they are actual anarchists?

              “If so, that is even stupider than doing this stuff for money.”

              These groups have been present during many NATO summits and Occupy actions. If you are talking about people using black bloc tactics.

              1. jrs

                Whether Blac Block is really just a counterintel front is a very old debate, but the Soros speculation is new (and probably baseless, mostly it doesn’t seem to me like the kind of thing Soros would do)

                Anarchism has many strategies going back over 100 years, and a few have advocated violence (but not always by Black Bloc means, many different strategies even there), and others have been much more focused on things like workplace organizing.

            2. Darthbobber

              RIght wingers have been blaming all unrest on “professional” or “outside” (or both) agitators for considerably longer than I have been alive. Trump repeating this timeworn cliche of an accusation means absolutely nothing at all.

              1. pretzelattack

                yeah in the south, it was supposedly all outside agitators that were demonstrating for civil rights.
                who were often portrayed as communists.

        2. Darthbobber

          What Soros actually admitted to was that, at the age of 14 he walked around with a man who was letting him pose as his adopted Christian Godson while that man went about HIS confiscation business. And also this:
          “The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper…It said report to the rabbi seminary at 9 a.m….And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, “You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.””

          Plenty of Soros’s adult activities are anything but admirable. But in that he doesn’t differ from all the others in his line of “work”.

          And as to his supposed funding of the Black Bloc poseurs, there’s not only no evidence of it, but its very unlike most of what he funds.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            OK, but is it a good guess that these violent protesters are getting paid by SOMEBODY with deep pockets? Or do they just do violent protesting on the nights they call in sick from their jobs at the post office or GM?

            Grass Roots or Astroturf? Enquiring minds want to know.

            1. nowhere

              The Bay Area is very well known for having a large anarchist scene. And as I said, these groups have been very active at a number of other large scale demonstrations.

              Have you looked at #antifa?

              Or, it could not be anarchists, but a group that would like you to think it is.

              1. Yves Smith

                During Occupy Oakland, the Occupy people I know were upset at the violence instigated by the black bloc types, which got involved in many Occupy groups. Occupy’s open procedures made it pretty much impossible to exclude them. And the Oakland cops have a bad relationship with the city already, so it takes very little provocation for them to start breaking heads.

                1. skippy


                  As someone that was at the vanguard of teaching elite military tactics to police [forces], I have to inform that no provocation is needed.

                  It is purely a battle field psychological tactic to render your – opposition – submissive in reconciling a position taken for processing.

                  disheveled…. under these conditions provocation can be manufactured…

                2. nowhere

                  Yeah, prior to the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012, Chris Hedges was making a very urgent point about the negativity of using black bloc tactics. The images that garnered the most attention were on the final day when the black bloc members charged the police (many of which were brought from out of state) to little effect.

            2. Darthbobber

              Neither grassroots nor astroturf, I’d say. They’re sort of their own little ecosystem. And while I didn’t go for the anarchist propaganda by the deed stuff, I managed to participate in a LOT of actions in the 80s, early 90s. Some of which involved considerable travel. As have many other people. Its perfectly possible to support yourself while doing that for a considerable period, if that’s where your priorities are.

              Hell, even a lot of IRA men held down jobs, and their level of commitment was considerably higher than this sort of thing calls for.

              If I was going to go with wild assumptions about funding (evidence-free, naturlich), I’d go with high-level infiltration by people working for those they think of as their enemies. Because these heroic lads are almost ideal foils for Bannon and Company.

            3. jrs

              I don’t know, I think there are ways to choose a very non-materialist (in fact to be more blunt about it to choose a precarious), life to pursue activism, and to make it work. Now I’m not saying anything about violence as a tactic as most activists choose non-violence, I’m trying to answer the question: “how can there be full time activists?”

              There are ways to live for very little and do political and social/economic justice work (like yes protesting all the time etc.)). For instance Catholic Worker has advocates who do exactly this. There are Quakers who gravitate toward a social justice life as well and not in their free time either, but as a life (no violence there though). There are jobs with non-profits (not necessarily big, often small) organizations that make it possible also (there usually is some funding here and no funding is absolutely pure). There is also working occasionally and sometimes precariously for what income one needs and living on very little (sharing an apartment with 5 people etc.) in order to prioritize activism (taking temp jobs etc. – yes indeed precarity but people do it). So your too cynical.

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                I think it was Daniel Sheehan, or one of the other activists that died recently—–somebody went to pick him up in his small apartment and he owned only two or three changes of clothes. Dedication and frugality are admirable qualities, but if it was me I would make damn sure the cause was worth dedicating myself to. Maybe I’m cynical or maybe I’m not smart enough to decide exactly which position to take on all the issues.

            4. Lambert Strether Post author

              > is it a good guess

              Gee, I don’t know. Why don’t you actually add some value by going beyond “good” guessing? NC isn’t Facebook or Reddit. Dear Lord.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            I admit the fact that I am computer illiterate. I’m not proud of that but neither am I overly concerned or embarrassed. I don’t know how to post links. I consider myself somewhat of a Luddite. I only learn computer stuff if I absolutely have to.

            You can see what Soros said in his sixty minutes interview on youtube. I can see his point of view: he was only trying to survive, if he didn’t do it somebody else would have, etc.

            Actually I respect Soros a lot as an investor. I don’t see anything wrong with getting rich by being smarter than the British government, and I read his book, which basically just said it’s good to be a contrarian. See—- he could have said it with six words instead of 200 pages. I agree with what Lambert said recently that he should do something else in his old age besides political stuff. Fishing? Fiddle playing? Tennis?

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              There’s no reason why your Luddism is more important than adding value to the comments section.

              Copy the complete URL (“http://….”) from the browser address bar in whatever browser you’re using; generally the browser bar is at the top. Then paste it into the comment. That’s the simplest way.

              On Soros, no, I’m not going to go listen to an hour-long YouTube to verify your claims, nor are readers, which means this entire Soros thread is based on garbage. Supply a transcript.

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                I don’t know what the word “paste” means in this context. But look, if you’re that worried about me, I just won’t post anymore on this website. More stressful than it’s worth. I’ll just “lurk” a little. Bye everybody.

                1. barefoot charley

                  Here’s how to copy and paste: you left-click once on the URL where Lambert said. It will light up, that’s good. Then you press the CTRL (control) button on the lower left, and the letter C. You’ve just copied that URL. Now you come back to your NC post, click your cursor to make sure it’s in the Comment box, and press CTRL and the letter V. Presto! you’ve pasted the link you copied into the post. Take it from a semi-recovering Luddite, it gets easier . . .

      3. Christopher Rogers


        To be fair to this Blog, which indeed did start off concentrating on financial/economic issues when I started reading it in 2007, it has widened its net and actually is a Blog that covers political economy, which is actually mirroring the system we live in presently, that being a Capitalist system. To suggest this Blog is centre-right is somewhat unfair and inaccurate and I say this as a European Socialist who’s highly critical of the direction most political discourse has travelled these past 40 years, which I’m afraid has been very much to the right until quite recently. As such, this is very much a highly critical centre-left Blog that does not pull its punches, which this reader appreciates greatly, even though sometimes I may disagree with some analysis presented here. Indeed, I’d rather be challenged than led by the nose.

      4. Massinissa

        So does that translate as Criticism of Clinton = the site has shifted to the Right?

        Because if so, my answer is NOPE.

        Most of the people here were sort of for Bernie, at least a little bit. Is Bernie a rightist too?

        1. nowhere

          No, I’m pretty sure the majority of people reading this blog didn’t support Clinton. They may have voted for her as a LOTE candidate.

          It seems that some/many have forgotten the Trump was/is the other Evil. He is largely living up to that expectation.

        2. Aumua

          No, the main criticism of Clinton and the Democrats in general is that they aren’t left while pretending to be, which is a left wing position. The right shift I mean is more like actual support for Trump and his policies in general, and criticism of genuine leftist positions.

          1. pretzelattack

            some commenters take that position, but i would characterize it as a possibly significant minority (maybe 10-15%?, don’t really know). i haven’t noticed this percentage increasing.

            1. Aumua

              I have noticed an uptick in what I would call right wing perspectives, not necessarily from the proprietors of the site, but in the comments for sure. Also, if not overt support for Trump’s presidency, then at the very least what I have termed as “unwarranted optimism” about the prospects of this train wreck turning out ok.

              1. Yves Smith

                We have had a few pro-Trump people take up residence. It actually is very few but they are very chatty.

                We think debate is important and we also think that it is very valuable to see what pro-Trump people think, since this country is increasingly polarized and has virtually lost its ability to talk across political lines. Thus even if it seems uncomfortable for them to be here, they NEED to be here so you can understand what they think and how they are interpreting the considerable media noise. If you don’t understand them, you will never be able to figure out areas of common interest where you might be able to pull them away from Trump. Do not forget that something like 22% of Sanders voters, I would bet the young ones, polled as voting for Trump (mind you, I have not see a post-election survey, so the actual level may be lower). Trump has made so many inconsistent promises that it ought to be possible to win over some of his voters, particularly since his approval ratings keep falling.

                Also having representatives of viewpoints not consistent with yours helps you test and clarify your thinking and improve your argumentation skills. We don’t ever want this site to become an echo chamber. Kos is over there, as Lambert likes to say.

                Having said that, we have banned quite a few openly partisan Trump people who showed up, typically for abuse or agnotology, aka making shit up. And there are some that are in moderation and their not well argued or supported comments are not published.

                And encouraging readers not to get caught up in the media or Dem party hysterics is not the same as being optimistic.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > actual support for Trump and his policies in general, and criticism of genuine leftist positions.

            It’s not enough to express your concern. There’s nothing actionable here without examples. And it’s also not clear what you mean by “support.”

            For example, if I claim that “It was smart of Trump to try to steal the Democrat’s clothes by inviting the Building Trades to the White House” is that “support?”

            Or if I claim “We’re not at war with Russia, and TPP is dead, and both things are good” is that “support”?

            1. Aumua

              Points taken, from both of you, and thank you for your well reasoned responses. I know that mine are not so well reasoned sometimes, but you know I’m very busy.

      5. Carolinian

        I’ve probably been reading this blog at least as long as you and I’d say the political orientation of the articles is same as it always was. As for the commenters, if you don’t like what they have to say there is that reply button. This is really the only site where I bother to read the comments. There are a lot of smart people here.

      6. Jim


        In politics– patience is an extremely important virtue.

        In any future politics a careful re-evaluation of one’s most cherished assumptions, I believe, will be absolutely necessary for success.

        The left will continue to self-destruct(not being able to speak to real emotional and psychological needs) until it takes the time and effort for such a re-evaluation. To think that this is a necessity for only corporate democrats, or so-called progressives is a delusion.

        At this point, in my opinion the so-called left(on this site) has largely been capable of only listing supposed rational universal programs that will provide concrete material benefits (something which Bernie and Lambert are experts at) but which have little to do with successful power politics– contrary cases being the elections of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump who both won the Presidency by appealing first to people an a deep emotional level where pain and joy and solidarity can be tapped. Without this capacity the left will rightfully continue to self-destruct.

        You are foolish to think that in early 2017 the left has any answers to anything.

        It is time to use your intelligence to critically evaluate your own political beliefs and maybe help to forge some new questions and answers.

        1. pretzelattack

          well it has some rational answers. sanders appealed to a lot of people on a deeply emotional level. obama benefitted from a widespread and deep desire for change, which he played to, helped by his ethnicity. trump appealed to a lot of desperate people–if there lot doesn’t improve, or continues to accelerate downhill, that deep emotional connection will be quickly severed. obama clearly could have pushed through a number of left wing policies, had he been so inclined. he wasn’t.

        2. aab

          That’s a very weird frame to use. You left out the strong emotional response Bernie Sanders elicited. Then you wiped away the part about how Barack Obama was funded by Goldman Sachs and Citi, and Donald Trump is, you know, an oligarch.

          It seems to me we have all the evidence we need that concrete, material, UNIVERSAL benefits, offered by a political figure who also offers his or her own integrity and authenticity and respect for the voters themselves, can win just fine with voters. The problem is the control of the electoral system from top to bottom by globalized financial capital.

          The real left has the only answers worth having. The real left — let’s say Bernie or maybe Tulsi is the far right side of the real left — is the only direction we can go in that will safe lives, save the planet, and offer any pathway to a life of decency and dignity for the non-elite.

          For those claiming the commenters are right wing, this one is in favorite abolishing corporations completely, nationalizing all banks, energy and utilities (including Internet), and instituting both a universal citizen income that’s always pegged as a true “middle” income and a maximum income, with no distinction between passive and active. I’m sure I’m forgetting things. But capitalism debases human experience, human relationships and every living thing on the planet. I’m not a fan. Barack Obama’s disgusting administration re-radicalized me. Thanks, Obama.

          Walden, please don’t go. I will miss you. I don’t have a good argument to persuade you not to. But I always appreciate your perspective.

          1. Jim

            “The problem is the control of the electoral system from top to bottom by globalized financial capital.”

            But what if the most pressing contemporary problem for the left has been your acceptance of the assumption behind your statement above–that the base (understood as the economic/material dimension) has a higher reality content (more power to bring about effects and side-effects than all other spheres– and these other spheres (the State, the legal system, the educational system and all other forms of culture are simply superstructure–determined by the base.

            Yes, lets simply continue to give our policy lists of greater material benefits for all and also continue to accept as the absolute truth that the base is more powerful the so-called superstructure–when it is that very assumption that is now contributing to the collapse of the left.

            Then we don’t ever have to think seriously about the actual role of the modern state, the actual role of emotions in politics or the growing empirical reality that the left has dramatically mis-diagnosed our contemporary problems..


            1. aab

              That’s just gobbledygook. I know we’re not supposed to attack fellow commenters, but strawmanning and burping up empty verbiage is also frowned upon.

              I just used evidence from the last couple of election cycles to disprove your assertion that the left’s problem is emotional or a mis-diagnosis of the problems. You then claim (as far as I can tell, since your argument here is either incoherent or intentionally in bad faith) that I have stated the OPPOSITE of what I stated, ignore that I disproved your initial assertion, and re-state it.

              I know a lot of people have received inadequate training in critical thinking and logical argument, so I will try again, in case you’re merely unaccustomed to doing this.

              You seem to be arguing that the left has failed, and Bernie’s campaign failed, because the left hasn’t forged an emotional response with voters, and is offering the wrong policy solutions (I assume that’s what your last sentence here refers to.) You also claim the left’s problem is underestimating the “superstructure.”

              Since I:

              – Demonstrated that Bernie forged a strong emotional bond with voters based primarily around the policy solutions on offer;

              – Pointed out that reams of evidence demonstrate that if not for the Democratic Party’s corrupt election rigging, manipulation of public discourse through corporate media partners, and outright illegal voter suppression and election theft, Bernie Sanders would now be President of the United States.

              – Stated that the electoral successes of Barack Obama and Donald Trump point to the core systemic problem of capital controlling the electoral system, as these were the only change agents the system (controlled by capital) let through; the former was a bank-funded Trojan Horse and the latter an open, inherited wealth oligarch who won because desperate people were willing to believe his promises because they KNEW his capital-approved opponent didn’t care about them.

              I don’t know what your point is here. What do you mean by “superstructure,” if not the control globalized financial capital now has over our government and other key institutions, like broadly distributed media?

              1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                aab, if you’re wondering about how to express forceful disagreement while avoiding crossing the “not attack fellow commenters” line, an illustration would be just to drop your paragraph beginning “I know a lot of people have received inadequate…” Doing so would not weaken your argument at all.

                1. aab

                  Thanks for the feedback, Outis. I will remember it for next time.

                  Jim, Yves seems to said everything that needs to be said with regard to your response.

              2. Jim

                I only have time to respond to a portion of what you wrote but perhaps at future time our debate can continue.

                The left has misdiagnosed our contemporary crisis because of its refusal to critically evaluate its favorite fundamental assumption: that there is a hierarchy of reality according to which the economic/material base has a higher reality content (more power to bring about effects and side effects–than all other spheres such as the State, the educational system or other important consequences of collective culture such as the individual human mind, identity and will.

                I believe that you would agree that Marx wanted to abolish the state altogether and that his type of utopianism (which is similar to that of the free market liberals) has helped to create our contemporary situation where the modern left does not have a theory of the state and tends to ignore the predominant role of the state in our modern structure of power.

                Although people like Polyani have brilliantly challenged the idea that the market and the state are separate and autonomous entities our modern left
                still clings to this notion.

                Other individuals such as Philip Mirowski have, in addition, argued that neo-liberalism is a set of proposals and programs to infuse, take over and transform the strong-state in order to impose their ideal form of a market society.

                Global financial capital does not rule by itself. You have misdiagnosed our modern structure of power The modern centralized/bureaucratic state is intimately involved with financial capital in our contemporary structure of power.

                My hypothesis is that the reason you and most of the left have come to the conclusion that it is only private financial/corporate power by itself which is responsible for our contemporary crisis is because of your refusal to re-evaluate the hierarchy of reality in your materialist assumption–in which private economic/financial power is the only villain and the state is forever weaker in power and certainly could never be a co-partner in crime and exploitation and rent extraction.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Your last paragraph is bullshit and untrue. And aab is right, most of the rest is babblespeak.

                  You either have never read this site or are willfully misrepresenting it. We have written virtually from the inception of this blog how government policies and specific government officials worked to advance the interest of the financial services industry. My God, look at our over two years of work on chain of title and foreclosure abuses, for one of numerous examples.

                  In addition, your claim that the left has never considered that the private sector and the state are in cahoots is barmy. There’s been tons of articles and op-eds on that very issue. Just go read a long-form treatment, Jamie Galbraith’s The Market State….written in 2004.

                  Straw manning and agnotology are violations of our written site Policies.

                2. Outis Philalithopoulos

                  Hi Jim – I just sent you an email with some additional thoughts on your argument here.

        3. Darthbobber

          I really quibble the whole “deep emotional level” thing, as it relates to Obama and Trump. Whoever became the democratic nominee in 2008 was going to be President, unless they drooled all over themselves or turned out to be closet serial killers. Obama’s “deep, emotional connection” barely sufficed to get him past the ’08 version of Clinton.

          And if Trump had to rely only on the support of those who actually felt much of a connection to him, he wouldn’t BE President. A good chunk of his voters found him, personally, highly problematic. Which gives you a good idea of how they felt about Column B.

          In any case, POLICY is the part that one can actually attempt to discuss, and the part of the package that you can do something about. Emotional connections are provided either by charismatic candidates themselves, or by adroit propagandists.

          As to patience, you’re doing all this on a moving train. Patience is relative, I suppose. Ponder long enough, and the situation you were pondering no longer exists by the time you’re ready to act.

          1. Jim

            Yes, by all means lets be satisfied with simply discussing policy because it is so real and tangible and supposedly is what makes the world go round–but what if you are wrong in that assumption. What if what also makes the world go round is ambition, hatred, anger, suffering, joy, solidarity, recognition and a sense of control and all the other human passions. What if in fact you are primarily driven by these same factors and not simply by rational material policy proposals?

            What if Bernie lost, finally because he could not equal the passion/anger and rage of Trump..

            What if it is now imperative to take a closer look at the emotional dimension of politics–to recognize that profound ressentment is again in the saddle and what is the so-called left going to do about that–try to replicate it? or maybe try to figure out how to transcend it. Again it would have to go to where its fundamental assumptions say it must never go.

            1. Fiver

              So the ‘left’, a word that has been completely stripped of meaning in the US, ought to take its cue from the master of the hot button? Towards what end, pray tell? Trump’s anger and passion and vitriol and edicts haven’t been directed against any of the powerful interests that together have all but destroyed US democracy in their pursuit of unrestrained domestic and global power, but just the opposite – he loves US power, he loves Wall Street, the military, the big security agencies, the private security industry, droning, the fossil fuel industry, bashing Europe, Mexico, China, Iran and before too long, Russia. On the other hand he and his chosen crew and Bannon et al have explicitly attacked variously each and every one of the minorities (women excepted as they are a majority themselves) who taken together happen to make up the majority of the country no matter which way you cut it.

              Any genuine ‘leftist’ has no use whatever for what Dems have peddled for generations. The simple fact is it is unbelievably difficult to make so much as a dent in a 2-party oligarchy with 2-party major media and mostly 2-party alternate media, and doubly so when so many people on both sides have been so thoroughly dumbed-down over time – and much, much worse since the rise of social media, which is useless at driving positive change, but terrific at amplifying unthinking emotional outbursts.

              Make no mistake, Trump et al know exactly what they are doing – they are engaged in a very deliberate effort to provoke something they can use to utterly crush dissent while they dismember what remains of the benevolent functions of the US State – it being of course ridiculous even to imagine 350 million people occupying the same real estate without government.

      7. cm

        I was a Washington State Sanders delegate, and your characterization of NC as center-right is absurd.

        Is this a case of willfully blind? Or are you being paid for this position?

        Clinton needs to be criticized/shamed until she is as toxic as Hitler/Stalin/Mao. If you disagree I look forward to your defense.

        As a bonus, as long as the DNC backs Clinton they need to be outed as equally toxic.

  10. Portia

    so the only sincere and independent people speaking out are the Trump Borg? the only ones who believe that are the Trump Borg.

  11. european

    Pat Buchanan: The Coming Clash With Iran

    How does that fit to being friendly with Russia? Is it simply a question of incompetence or is something else at play? That can’t turn out well, not for any of the actors, and certainly not for the people.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I strongly suspect that Trump and his team haven’t thought through the implications. There seems an assumption among some right wingers and establishment types that Iran and China are linked somehow. But in reality, and certainly since their co=operation over Syria, Russia is now at least as, if not closer to, Iran that China. The Iranians even allowed the Russians shoot cruise missiles over Iran on their way to Syria. If Trump and his team think they can isolate a conflict with Iran then they are deluded. Iran has a lot more friends and allies than Saddam Hussein ever had.

      1. Carolinian

        Also twice as many people as Iraq and potential control over the Straits of Hormuz.. Nevertheless was it only four or five years ago that many who are attacking Trump were saying we should bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities and save Bibi the trouble? The reality of potential world wide economic disaster intruded and the Pentagon didn’t want it as their own war games suggested they would come out the losers. It’s likely Trump is more interested in looking tough on Iran than starting a disastrous war but at least protests about the use of violence–by Trump or anyone else–means “the resistance” has finally found something worth protesting. Perhaps with Trump cozying up to Bibi the left will finally get serious about helping the Palestinians.

      2. Yves Smith

        I think Trump made too many contradictory promises to too many people and is in a bizarre haste to show he’s delivering on promises, so he hasn’t worked out any finesses. He seems to have made more promises to the religious right than was widely publicized, and he’s gone all orthodox (pun intended) on Israel, which means being tough with Iran. Recall how the hard-core Israel backers were all bent out of shape over Obama’s Iran deal.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think there is a couple of things going on here – first off, a lot of Trumps ‘allies’ see this as a once in a lifetime chance to push their personal agendas, so I suspect that there are a lot of people shouting at him ‘lets do X while we can’. So there is a cacophony going on trying to push him into one war or another. There may also be an element of the old Nixon/Kissenger strategy of saying ‘hey, this guy really is crazy, you’d better do what he says or who knows what he’ll do’. That may work in some more jittery quarters (such as the Middle East), but I’m sure it won’t work on the Chinese. The Iranians have a pretty strained political system, so it could well cause them to miscalculate too.

          I suspect the religious stuff was a promise to Pence. In the longer term, it could be a lot more dangerous.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does this have anything to do with Iran’s decision last week or earlier this week to start bypassing the dollar in their international deals?

      1. Liberal Mole

        Bypassing the petrodollar seems to be the “tell.” Borg then starts up the ol’ Death Star.

      1. nowhere

        I’m not for war with any country. Barring that, despite the wording in the article, how does multiple project failures (one of which is corruption related) and one tenant whose lease is expiring in 2 years constitute “significant business ties”?

        Trump has wanted to bring his brand to the Middle Kingdom for years. On his 2016 financial disclosure statement, he lists positions in multiple companies that could be connected to business in China. Trump Hotel Collection CEO Eric Danziger was quoted in Chinese media last fall as saying the company plans to build 20 to 30 hotels in the country. At least two planned ventures have failed in the past: a 2008 office-building project with Chinese developer Evergrande Group, nixed in the aftermath of the global recession, and a 2012 deal that was junked because one of the project’s partners, State Grid Corporation of China, became enmeshed in a corruption scandal. Meanwhile, Trump has significant Chinese business ties stateside: the biggest tenant in New York’s Trump Tower has been the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a state-owned bank whose lease is set to expire in 2019. According to ethics watchdogs, the renewal negotiations could place Trump—who pledged during his campaign to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and label the nation a currency manipulator—in violation of the so-called “emoluments” clause in the Constitution, which prohibits accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.

    3. VietnamVet

      Donald Trump was the anti-war candidate as much as one could be with an Empire at War. “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” was crazy before. A war with them now is insane. The oil shut off would crash the economy. NATO does not have the will, manpower or tanks for a drive to Teheran. Russia and China will happily resupply Iran. Iranians will fight to the last child as they did against Iraq.

      The real war is between Globalist and Nationalist Oligarchs in the West over who controls the looting. I assume Donald Trump will do what he says and will be a total asshole. He can tell a mean joke. I don’t know if he is insane but he is brave. I think the Globalists will try their damnedst to get back in power by bribing Congress to invoke the 25th amendment to elevate Mike Pence and get rid of Steve Bannon.

      Our number one goal should be on how to restore government by and for the people.

      1. Fiver

        Trump was never ‘anti-war’ – not in the least. He only indicated that not having a war with Russia would be ‘good’, and even there, as per his recent comments on Crimea, Ukraine, Iran and Syria that line of talk is fading fast.

        It’s possible Trump may believe he can tough-talk bluff all comers, but he’d be wrong – the leaderships of China, Iran and Russia view themselves as under existential threat from the US. But I don’t think it’s just bluff – his entire orientation is pugnacious, which makes him extremely dangerous given he has so much power and so little respect for most occupants of the planet.

        As for ‘globalist’ vs ‘nationalist’, it is the US that created the entire global system as informal Empire. All Trump is doing is making the Empire more explicitly that, with the ‘spoils’ and all.

  12. Praedor

    Sigh. Tor is NOT owned or operated in any way by the NSA or other spy apparatus. They may have had a helping hand in its development but it is OPEN SOURCE and being actively developed by the same sort of OPEN CODERS that do Linux. There is NO hidden code in Tor that is invisible to developers or, in fact, anyone here, if you are so inclined to go through it line by line. Linux doesn’t have hidden NSA spook code in it either. Tor gets audited all the time, tested all the time.

    You act as if just having some NSA doof standing next to some coder makes them radioactive from subatomic spy rays.

    1. nowhere

      Yeah, as much as I like Mark Ames and Yasha Levin, this particular line of reasoning from them has left me confused.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Is there material on this that has an expert coder’s name on it? The trouble with comments is that I don’t know who you are.

      Edit: come to think, I’ll ask my grandson. It’s his field.

      1. nowhere

        You’d have to look around for security audits on Tor if you want a security expert’s review. However, here is the source-code.

    3. ewmayer

      If you believe “Tor is safe”, I urge you to read the following articles:


      The third of those links describes how NSA backdoored a particular class of ECC (elliptic-curve cryptography) crypto implementations by compromising the random-number generator used to “seed” such crypto, and further allegedly paid RSA Labs a $10 million bribe to “[make said RNG] the default way for its BSAFE crypto toolkit to generated random numbers.” Crucially, this particular kind of exploit – similar to the spooks’ hijacking of various security-certificate-issuing authorities – is invisible to any perusal of “open source software” – all that will tell an expert is whether said software correctly implements a given crypto scheme, not whether said scheme has been comprmised via other, more subtle means. If literally every single one of the world’s non-NSA crypto experts was unaware – though some were suspicious – of said backdooring until the Snowden leaks, what makes you think your safeness judgment re. Tor will prove any better than theirs?

      Further, CPU manufacturers have over the past decade moved more and more to direct hardware implementation of core crypto functions such as RNG and AES (Adavnced Encryption Standard) – such in silico crypto, done in the name of speed, has the side effect of making it virtually impossible to detect any government-sponsored backdooring.

      Bottom line here: If you are doing it digitally, you are fundamentally playing on the spooks’ turf. Government outfits like NSA and GCHQ have virtually unlimited resources to throw at hiring the top minds in the field, and deploying absolutely massive compute power to cracking targeted “hard cases”. Why do you think NSA helps sponsor so many academic crypto and number-theory confabs, and makes sure it is represented on key industry and government-standards-setting bodies – out of the altruistic goodness of their hearts? There are even persistent rumors in crypto circles that the NSA crypto folks have developed (what would be) a revolutionary L(1/4)-runtime algorithm for solving the discrete logarithm problem, the basis for elliptic-curve cryptography. The current best-known (in the public sense) DLP-cracking algos are asymptotically slower at L(1/3) and only apply to restricted types of elliptic curves. IF NSA had (say) an L(1/3) algo for the most widely-used ECC schemes their compute resources would likely allow them to crack selected targets using such crypto. L(1/4) would mean in effect “you are wide open”.

      1. cm


        I spent some time today looking for ECC articles but gave up. Thanks for putting in the effort.

        Truly secure internet action is hard. At the minimum one needs a CD-only boot O/S. Customizable MAC address + browsing only from anonymous wireless networks is also required.

    4. bob

      The DNI founded tor.

      The USG is the largest financial contributor to tor.

      ” Tor gets audited all the time, tested all the time.”

      And according to the same USG, all they need to “break” tor is to watch a few of the nodes. In reality, they probably have most of the nodes under constant surveillance.

      There is no way they would be funding it, if they couldn’t control it.

      The idea that they tell people, who are in very real threat of death, to use it, to defend against other spooks, is dangerous.

    5. Maturin

      I believe the point was not that the algorithm or code is compromised. It’s the using a any app in mass during protest in a known location that has an identifiable signature reduces the search space enough that they can mostly infer the intent and content. I personally agree with the sentiment secrecy is self defeating in this context. Tell them when and where you are coming. Let them expend as much resources as possible preparing. Come in such numbers preperations are moot and they physically can’t process all the arrests/trials and/or find a jury to convict any of them. Otherwise its either a circlejerk or just smashing windows :/

      1. Oregoncharles

        Or, alternatively, people who intend to break the law and get away with it (as opposed to civil disobedience – which is roughly what you’re describing) don’t use electronic communications.

        The ones I knew were very fussy about having their names in email – at all, ever. And incidentally: they are not the only kind of anarchists. Another man in the same group, much older, was a pacifist peacenik.

  13. duck1

    Fly on wall:
    T: The lying media really ate the dog food about the protest in Berkeley.
    B: Milo hits all the buttons for being SJW except for his politics.
    T: Now Steverino, be sure to write a nice thank you note to Eric for loaning us all those black shirts and balaclava on short notice. Use the Tower stationary with the little gold White House stamp on the bottom. The autopen is in the safe, which is open.
    B: You wouldn’t believe what the fibbers have dug out of the files from the Nixon years.
    T: Tell me tomorrow, I’ll be all ears.

  14. Waldenpond

    Jury duty system now demanding potential jurors go online and complete questionnaires 10 days before duty.

    1. Katharine

      What state? Last time I had a summons (in Maryland), the questionnaire came with it in the mail.

      1. Greg L

        The last time I received a summons for jury duty I wrote back that I had bladder problems and would be an inconvenience to the proceedings and never heard back.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I’m going to have to do that next time; in any case, my age now gives me an automatic excuse.

    2. Oregoncharles

      And if you don’t do it, they won’t put you on a jury.

      At least in my Oregon county, they know it’s easy to get out of if you want to, so they try to take good care of the jury pool.

  15. grizziz

    If Betsy DeVos gets the nod for Education Secretary would it be a good idea for the American Federation of Teachers to call for a national strike?

    1. Katharine

      Surely it would be better to wait till she said or did something clearly harmful. People would get behind them I think, as Chicagoans did with theirs, but only if they can say clearly what it’s about. Otherwise the disruption (to say nothing of childcare headaches) would not play so well.

    2. makedoanmend

      Strikes, by coordinated workers, is the last tatic in their strategy toolkit. It should be used judiciously and with a very limited and a very set list of concrete demands.

      The outcome of the strike should be ike a lawyer’s question to a witness (espcially a defense lawyer’s question), the answer should already be known, or at least a spectrum of probable and favourable reprecussions should be likely to ensue.

      Rarely is one strike, by itself, going to move the opposition from their position.

      Strikes require thought, coordination, coordination and then more coordination. A successful strike requires a series of good leaders throughout the organisation – especially quite a few leaders at grass roots. These grass roots leaders hold their central organiser’s feet to the flames if negotiations should somehow occur.

      Some strikes were undertaken with the idea that the strike would fail but that the reprecussions would still be felt.

      Resistence does not come ready packaged and purchased off the shelf. It is built a wee bit at a time. Lessons have to learnt and relearnt. Tactics have to change as circumstances change. There has to be tangible reprecussions for the opposing side.

      The days of rallies are over. Too easily discredited and discarded by the MSM and its adjuncts and hence ineffective.

      1. makedoanmend

        ike should be like, not as in the former US President (ahh…dreamy nostalgia…)

        And just because one would have a teachers strike, does not mean all teachers have the same goals or temperaments – that’s why coordination becomes so important – especially at grass roots level.

        A strike is never an end in itself – only a tactic.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Uh oh…the end of the line.

          Perhaps adoption is the only route left…adopt a Republican heir.

  16. allan

    Trump issues orders to review banking law and retirement advice rule [Reuters]

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered a review of banking regulations introduced after the 2008 financial crisis, including a review of a rule on retirement advice. …

    A presidential order also imposed a 180-day delay on the implementation of a “fiduciary rule” for brokers offering retirement advice, according to a draft memo seen by Reuters.

    During that time the U.S. Labor Department is to conduct an economic and legal analysis of the regulation and rescind the rule if it is inconsistent with Trump administration priorities, according to the memo, which is not final.

    Originally slated to take effect in April, the rule requires brokers to act as “fiduciaries,” or in their clients’ best interests, when advising them about retirement plans. …

    Definitely making good on the promise to battle against a rigged system. /s

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot Law and Economics™ stamping on a human face – forever.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Clients’ best interests?

      What kind of communist law is that. /sarc

      Where are the suckers’ customers’ yachts?

    2. lyle

      On the fiduciary rule just acknowledge that any advice given is not necessarily in your best interest. In one sense the best advice is effectively to invest in Target Date retirement funds, (which are based on index funds and adjust the equity percentage down as one nears retirement. These are the default funds now used in auto enrollment programs for 401ks. And a simple rule, the higher the cost of a fund the less you have in the end. In matters financial near paranoia about advice is best, don’t assume the market will work to make you get rich quick, just like most folks who went to California in 1849 lost big time on the deal. (As did the discoverer of the Comstock lode. )
      After all buyer beware is a hall mark of the capitalist system, and one must definitely apply in in buying securities

      1. lyle

        Put another way financial advisors are used car salespersons in disguise (prototype the father in Breaking Away)

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      … “The executive order came after Trump met with a team of all-star CEOs on his advisory council, that includes Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan. “There’s nobody better to tell me about Dodd-Frank than Jamie,” Trump said on Friday.

      Another big name on Wall Street, former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, served as the face of the administration’s Dodd-Frank efforts on Friday. Cohn, tapped to be Trump’s top economic adviser, gave interviews on television and in newspapers to explain how burdensome regulations are holding back growth. “We’re going to attack all aspects of Dodd-Frank,” Cohn told Bloomberg.”…


      Nice!… Wonder if he and Jamie discussed the current whereabouts of the London Whale and the two banks’ total TARP and Fed subsidies after the financial collapse before he gave him and the Vampire Squid the keys to the kingdom.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think we have to relocate the capital further away from New York.

        Let Trump live among or close to his Deplorables.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 51, Neutral)

    Today the Nasdaq Composite index reached a new record high of 5,667. The S&P 500 closed one point short of its Jan 25th record high.

    As long as enthusiasm remains so muted, the climate is favorable for more record highs. Hard to believe that Bubble III, approaching its 8-year anniversary in early March, ends with a whimper instead of a fireworks display.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When they reported that Buffet had put in billions since the election, I thought it was about time to get out, fearing pump and dump.

      “Why else would they say that at this time?”

      Perhaps I was wrong, correct that, maybe I was early.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Can’t imagine why “enthusiasm remains so muted, ‘the climate’ is favorable for more record highs.”

      Hypothetical acceptance speech at tonight’s “Grifters Awards” ceremony: “We did it!… Dow 20k!… again today!… after today’s Dodd-Frank rollback announcement! No fiduciary rule!!… Yee-Haw!! So put your little blue “Dow 20k” baseball caps on and wear them proudly, so in contrast to those knitted pink pussy hats at that Womens’ March. Anyway, we’re back over 20k on the Dow and I want to personally thank the BOJ and Kuroda-san, the Markets Group at 33 Liberty, Janet Yellen and her predecessors Ben and Alan, everybody on the FOMC really, Mario Draghi and the ECB, the algos at the Fed’s favorite High Frequency Trading firm, the guys at the Swiss National Bank, Robert Rubin and his protoges, Goldman Sachs et al, and so many others. Most importantly, I want to thank my parents for enabling me to become what I’ve become. Mom… Dad… you must be so proud. Oh, and I almost forgot. Thank you, too, rubes. Your money made all this possible. Golly, I hope I haven’t overlooked anybody. Oh, Film at 11.” (concept h/t ‪RampCapitalLLC‬)

      1. Persona au gratin

        Rubes? Sorry, our money was tied up in such things as bill payments and foolishly aspiring to become one of you all. No, this one’s on **y’all**, as not even stupid rubes like us could be enticed to participate in anything **THIS** foolish!

    1. nowhere

      Yes, now he too is using the the best killers the empire can field.

      All in a country with which we haven’t declared war, and in which the civilian population is being decimated with arms we sold to Saudi Arabia. The gears of empire grind on…

  18. TomDority

    Nothing has occurred recently to render it desirable for our party to abandon the grand old jack
    ass as our sacred party emblem.

  19. stefan

    The Du Fu will open, works fine. First you click on the pdf fetch. After that refreshes, then you click on the Table of Contents (to the left), and this will open a menu that allows you to click open the sections you want. I’m not necessarily crazy about the translations here that I have skimmed so far, but still it’s very nice to have a crib facing the characters. A wonderful poet. Thanks for pointing this out. Wish I knew of an electronic version of Li Po like this.

    One thing that’s interesting: even with only a modest command of Chinese literacy, it’s entirely possible to have a very rewarding experience reading classical Chinese poets like Du Fu in the original. Simply because the works are so allusive. Also, this is a very good way to come to understand the Chinese heart and soul.

    Presumably, if you are interested in old Chinese texts, you know already about ctext.org (an extraordinary resource).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope they will do the same for 300 Poems of the Tang Dynasty.

      And Chan poetry…maybe even koans (or gong an)

      1. kgw

        Here is a wonderful thing titled “Grass and Tree Cairn,” by Santoka, early-mid 20th century…Translated by Hiroaki Sato.

    1. jrs

      Yea pretty good advice, especially about analyzing not panicking, even if it occasionally reads as a parody of progressives (“You must watch Democracy Now! every day!”).

      Not so sure about this one though:
      “Join a grassroot organization that has local chapters across the entire nation. The Left needs to consolidate into larger organizations, rather than create smaller ones. Larger organizations already have at least some organizational framework in place. Precious effort and time is wasted by continuously building new organizations from scratch. Join a local organization that has national reach.”

      Large organizations ok, but the problem is so many of those that are large organizations seem co-opted (such as big environmental organizations etc.). So at best one could join with them strategically … strategically for a common demand, but be wary.

  20. Buttinsky

    The Democrats are gonna win back the country… with a Supreme Court fight. Dear Lord.

    Personally, I would be thrilled to see the Dems fight “tooth and nail” to stop the Gorsuch nomination, not least of all because I don’t realistically expect the current D-crop in the Senate to take up anything more worthwhile (least of all Medicare for All). Unfortunately, even that “tooth and nail” business is probably just bait for the rubes, though as bait it does make some sense. I mean, after all, every four years for decades the “Supreme Court!!” fear card has been the play of last resort for every turd that floats to the top of the party’s “democratic” nominating process. If that really is the do-or-die issue on which citizens are expected to cast their vote, why shouldn’t the party follow through with some kind of dramatic last stand over an appointee.

    Still, quite aside from that problem of Demos being more adept at “dramatic” rather than actual “last stands” — all drama and no standing — you make perfect sense, Lambert, that such a thing is unlikely to win back the country for the party. That’s why, in fact, the Supreme Court argument doesn’t really get much traction every four years. It’s simply something people say when they’re going to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate anyway, with or without a Supreme Court Justice on the line.

  21. Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes

    Yasha Levine, whose heart is in the right place, is all wet on this topic. Tor is a regime change weapon, true. Tor was developed by people who need confidentiality: spooks (NRL, to be precise). Why shouldn’t you use what they use? “Don’t expect it to protect you” is the weak tacit form of the backdoor canard. People are always telling you it’s backdoored. Show us the back door or GTFO. The code is open source.

    The notion of ‘don’t exercise your CALEA right to encryption or you’ll get in trouble’ is popular on this site. It’s not clear why people feel this line of reasoning applies to your privacy rights but not to rights of free expression or association. You’re not afraid to publish or hold meetups. Exercising your rights can get you in trouble. So what? It would be profoundly stupid to forgo lawful conduct and open yourself up for unnecessary and disproportionate surveillance in the hope of appeasing authorities.

    Levine is on firmer ground with his question about emphasis on crypto, but he’s straw-manning. A little secrecy goes a long way. You don’t always need it, but when you need it you need it. Protest politics is not the only use case. Internationalism from below is more important.

    J20 is certainly idiotic. It’s another pointless Dem Party bonding ritual. But even the harmless party dupes of J20 boost the safety-in-numbers of privacy services. That may be the only good thing that comes out of their middle-class easter parades.

    1. hunkerdown

      > Show us the back door or GTFO. The code is open source.

      How about you prove that a) intelligence agencies do not own or control a significant quantity of Tor relay nodes b) intelligence agencies do not have the ability to monitor uncompromised relay and exit nodes in the wild, and to perform traffic analysis on the captured data c) TLS isn’t more broken than weakdh.org suggests.

      Instead, you build a carefully delineated straw man, demand red-handed proof of the unknowable, discount systemic potential for abuse, and to do so in a firm, faux-authoritative tone, while ignoring factors of practical deployments beyond your own delineation. I’m seeing quite a bit of this sort of argument lately on behalf of the Establishment around the Internet, enough that I wonder whether it’s my tax dollars at work (The Intercept).

  22. allan

    Interesting tweetstorm by @BenSpielberg on the attitudes of Trump voters towards the government programs and regulations he is now slashing. Hint: major disconnect. For example,

    6) Nearly four times as many Trump voters want the Obama Administration’s commonsense fiduciary rule kept in place as want it repealed.

    1. marym

      Thank you for this link. Very important for the left (if there is to be one) to understand these attitudes.

      Also: Bernie would have won.

  23. Oregoncharles

    ” If the Democrats stopped sucking, they could win this thing going away.”
    For that, they would have to stop sucking up the moolah. So they aren’t going to.

    The real question: what are we going to do about it? As long as we go 4 different directions, as we did in the election, we aren’t going to do much. (5, if you count the Libertarian vote.) Especially since the biggest faction didn’t vote at all.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “An unorthodox candidate at the top of either ticket can shift votes — both for and against their party — even though our country remains hugely partisan and swing voters are supposed to be an endangered species.” ”

    An outright lie, or delusional; avowed loyalty to BOTH “major” parties, combined, is at or below 50 percent. Most o f the remaining “independents” TEND to vote with one or the other, as we see in every election, but their loyalty is obviously very low.

    The numbers say we don’t have major parties any more, but the remaining rump parties are still allowed to control our politics. No wonder there are bizarre surprises. (Trump winning was nothing if not bizarre.)

  25. Oregoncharles

    “without raising my hand and shouting “Here I am!” to malevolent forces.”
    Face it, Lambert: you and Yves did that a long time ago, as did a lot of us here.
    Incidentally, it’s a reason NOT to sign internet petitions. I’d like to see some indication whether they’re worthwhile.

  26. ewmayer

    o “When recently asked by the BBC why he was interested in moving to Brussels, [Trump’s likely EU ambassador pick] Malloch replied: ‘I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming.’”

    Ha, ha – as Lambert likes to say, is 2017 already great, or what? And hey, blunt but still much more diplomatic than HRC’s likely SoS pick, neocon whore-for-more-war-in-the-McCain-mold Vicky “F*ck the EU” Nuland, would have been.

    o [Teamster] Ben Speight: “Trump is the corporate bully-in-chief. For us, in labor, in looking at him as a boss, he’s one that has shown his inclination to align with some of the most reactionary forces in the 1% and folks that are rabidly anti-union” [In These Times]. “His demagogic appeal to working people has been extremely successful. His form of economic nationalism has cut against our ability to build broad solidarity amongst white working people, black working people, brown working people, and to have a working-class perspective that is opposed to the right wing.”

    Oh, please, Ben – you are saying that ‘economic nationalism’ does not apply to non-white working-class people? How inane. As if your “ability to build broad solidarity amongst…” was on such glorious display the past 8 years, or better, the past 50? And while I have no delusions about Trump becoming some historic class-traitor working-class hero, one of his first actions in Week 1 was to full 90-minute(!) meeting with labor leaders. That’s what, roughly a full hour-ad-a-half than Obama gave them in his 8 years? Speight doing a nice job embodying the Iron Law of Institutions, though.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think Speight is fine. He’s breaking some new ground, so it’s not unusual he’s not very focused.

      Yes, I’m pleased that Trump met with the Building Trades; it’s nice to be pandered to!

      And yes, Obama sucked (card check). That does not mean Trump does not suck.

  27. ewmayer

    Gah — “was a full 90-minute(!) meeting with labor leaders. That’s what, roughly a full hour-and-a-half more than…”

  28. RudyM

    Not important but the link marked as going to the Independent goes to the Telegraph:

    UPDATE “Sarah Silverman calls for coup to oust Donald Trump” [Independent].

  29. Darthbobber

    Somebody didn’t write Trevor Hill off as a “lost cause”. Little video up on the DSA Facebook page from about 6pm with him doing a little blurb about how happy he is to be a new member.

    From the comments: “We’re socialist, thats just the way it is.”

  30. Brad

    “So the liberal yammering is, IMNSHO, 180° wrong: Strategically, Trump is weak, not strong (in other words, not a Hitler)”

    Yes, by 1932 Hitler had a lot more support from the regime players, indeed they made him Chancellor. Trump’s position is precarious indeed.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Splits in the ruling class go all the way up. Some oligarchs are for conservatives. Others are for liberals. Oddly, or not, none are for the left.

      Gives me an opportunity to say —

      If you have a binary worldview of liberals vs. conservatives, then criticizing liberals will be seen as supporting conservatives, criticizing conservatives will be seen as supporting liberals, and “knowing your enemy” — and worse, pointing out any strengths they have — will be seen as supporting conservatives if you are a liberal, and supporting liberals if you are a conservative.

      My worldview, at least — here I am speaking for myself only — is not binary. At a very high level, I think there are three significant* players: Conservatives, liberals, and the left (where conservative and liberals are two flavors of “because markets, go die” neoliberalism, and the left is not).

      Hence, it’s unremarkable that liberals and conservatives would unite against their common enemy. It’s also unremarkable that a leftist would critique liberals and conservatives without being “on their side.”

      If all this is seen as a “lurch to the right,” well, there’s not much I can do about that, other than address reading comprehension problems on a case-by-case basis, and clean out the concern trolls and pom-pom wavers of whatever persuasion.

      Adding… If Trump is in fact Hitler, by extension you’re with Silverman and support a coup, presumably by the military, as passive-aggressively suggested in Foreign Policy yesterday. Yes? No?

      * Yes, others; anarchists, deep ecology types, Druids… But in terms of the political class, I think three players will do fine.

      1. nowhere

        Thank you for providing additional insight in to your reasoning.

        I am genuinely curious, what leads you to think the left is large enough (I guess in terms of population, if not power) and not the right (and by this I mean hard-line nationalists, true racists, etc.) to be included in the Three Prongs of Power? Is this demographic?

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          I’ll take a crack. The three-way world-view is more about fundamental interests, not size of following. The fundamental difference between left and liberal is that left is anti-capitalist (more or less) and liberals are pro-capitalist (but with concern for the poor and “fairness”). Conservatives (US-style) are pro-capitalist but generally of the view that government should not fetter capital/corporations (which in reality translates to ally the government with them against those who would choose to “fetter” them with social costs and obligations).

          So the Tea Party or hard right activist is not distinct from the Paul Ryan conservative except is terms of perceived purity of cause. Whereas the left critic of the DNC does have a fundamental difference with liberal Democrats. This is often glossed over because US unions, which one might naturally think are more left than liberal, tend to be very strong supporters of the D Party and the “liberal consensus.” But this is a practical position that results from historical weakness.

          One potential complaint with this three-way division is that all three viewpoints have historically been productivist or growth-oriented. (Another complaint is that all three are patriarchal, though that tends to be a more intellectual conversation that doesn’t directly translate to US politics.) There is clearly a growing anti-growth, climate-change inspired worldview that is opposed to productivist growth regardless of how it is structured. But, at risk of provoking major backlash, I think it is too soon to ascribed a fourth pole to them or to lump them in with the left.

      2. Fiver

        As neoliberalism in practice is fundamentally anti-liberal, not just anti-democratic, and given neither neoliberal Party exists to serve a democratic political function by pursuing the great public interests of its citizens, they don’t fit anywhere in the traditional framework. They represent the 1%-10%, they always deploy the Aggressives when threatened, and that is not going to change unless Dems sever their ties with interested power and money – not holding my breath on that one.

        To the point: why continue using the framework and language and constructs carrying the meanings that the ruling class and their media have so thoroughly debased in usage nobody knows who means what by the various labels? Why allow the violence that has popped up here and there to be attributed to ‘leftists’, when the sort of person using that tag is using it as if to label a rival street gang? Do you know any ‘leftists’ out smashing windows or beating people up? Has nobody in the US seen a soccer or hockey riot, when disgruntled fans pour out of the Stadium and bars into the streets, smash windows, destroy cars, etc.? There was a huge one a couple of years ago. If ‘leftists’ had done that, they’d have locked down the country for a year.

        Surely something the ‘left’ can do is to consider a form of founding convention bringing together principals from the gamut of groups who are serious about an alternative organization, if not yet a party, through which to create and adopt the sort of strategy required for a popular breakthrough that can have major influence as the voice of sanity even if not in power immediately – a huge piece of which needs to be on the ground in a language understood by those engaged. I would include in that a major effort to tap back into and begin the reclamation/rehabilitation of a huge number of American Christians currently poisoned by evangelicals, money scam artists etc. after a long deliberate campaign aimed at taking the authentic Christ out of Christianity and the authentic, revolutionary nature of Christ out of history, to reduce and normalize and minimize that revolutionary nature by completely burying it in something called the “Judeo-Christian tradition” which I encountered in a first-year philosophy course a life-time ago – a hugely successful project to re-cast the entire historical account and its meaning into the standard version taught in schools, churches and msm ever since. Gone is the revolutionary. Gone are the central conflicts. Gone are the reasons twenty centuries of human beings held the words to be the Divine inspiration of their own best selves. What more revolutionary than the principle of inclusion of the ‘other’, that God loves all ‘His’ children, is all-inclusive, not exclusive, or of the profound impact of his supreme act of non-violent civil disobedience? Any ‘left’ worth anything has to have important things to say to the scores of millions of Americans long abandoned to a combination of mercenaries and political predators by ‘liberal’ intellectual elites.

        Not that I’m a Christian, mind you, though I have boundless respect for the genuine article.


  31. Lambert Strether Post author

    And hopefully the last of this horseshit…

    On a day when I link to a DSA handbook for organizing and Chris Arnade, we get an outbreak of concern trolling accusing NC of lurching to the right. People are losing their minds.

    1. makedoanmend

      LOL re: “People are losing their minds.”

      Some people like echo chambers. They like to hear what they say come bouncing back – intact. Nothing else. They turn the echos into Moses’s commdanments coming from the fire on the mountain-top as reality carved into stone by the universe. No deviations. All audible and clear and concise. (Its a trait shared anyone along the binary, 3D or quantum political spectra.)

      it ain’t easy accommodating other’s opinions – we’re not very hard wired for it or thick skinned enough. (Is it a learned method rather than innate?)

      Thankfully, I’ve been amused by the somewhat Trumpian informed opinion that tints a minority of commentary since the election. But I want to hear it, and I want to sense how some long term posters are shifting in their own insights.

      This is one facit of NC that what makes it a valuable site.

      I can sense the frustration of the site purveyors (bit like herding cats) but your efforts are appreciated by many – very many (a vast majority, I dare say) who do not post comments – and by the rest of us crazy cats.


      1. Oregoncharles

        People are, indeed, losing their minds – probably a healthy development.

        Otherwise: yes, of course.

  32. Fiver

    On the employment numbers – I don’t buy them for a second and believe a combination of annual revisions done in January each year, and specific changes to the weighting of seasonality brought into effect last year have badly skewed the real picture yet again – pumping up 3rd Q GDP in 2016 for instance to offset the earlier effects of ‘excess seasonality’ earlier on. The winter has been a lot milder than forecast and far better than the last 2 years (which caused them to start fiddling with the numbers as the economy violently braked in those two winters).

  33. landline

    Jeffrey Sachs employs that age old ruling class tactic of pitting working class/poor groups against each other; in this case, migrants (he implies economic, although he conflates them with those fleeing war) and service workers in his Manhattan gated community. His assumption about the number of people who would move in a borderless world way overstates that number because so many current refugees are fleeing for their lives from wars funded by the same people that allow Sachs to live such a comfortable life removed from the concerns of the groups he pits against each other.

    Whatever recanting he may have done about the policies he pushed in the former Soviet bloc is meaningless by definition to the vast numbers of people who died prematurely because of those policies.

    Now I’ll make an assumption about Sachs. He is useless without help from the servant class. If he had to fend for himself, he would likely starve to death because he doesn’t know how to use a shovel or twist a tool.

    Crocodile tears from the ivory tower. Spare me.

    The guy fears cross-border working class solidarity because it threatens his cushy lifestyle as a member of the royal court.

  34. Ulysses

    Here’s Ben Speight from the piece linked above:

    “What I expect from the politics and the corporate clique that has set Trump up, is that it is really only a matter of time, that they are going to come after labor in a big, deliberate, concerted way.”

    The National Right to Work Bill in Congress is just the beginning, I fear.

  35. Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes

    Hunkerdown re 9:29, all the things you mention, a, b, c, and more, are observed in the field all the time – and adapted to, as and when they pose a material threat. To this observer that is more reassuring than not. Attacks by an overreaching state are to be expected.

    Factors of practical deployment are certainly crucial. This observer had a tormail account when the FBI attacked it and they never laid a glove on me, due wholly to factors of practical deployment. Individual applications like signal or Tor are only the beginning. Everyone who knows what they’re doing acknowledges that.

    Don’t know where you get the firm faux-authoritarian tone business. If I were actually the paid government provocateur of your febrile imagination I should not be so apt to cite the carefully-suppressed legislative intent of CALEA, or even the existence of privacy rights. Instead of maligning J20 as feckless party-cohesion antics, I should be hyping it with macho black-bloc histrionics.

    I don’t really give a rat’s if you use Tor or not. But I get impatient with people who try to scare you away from it, with Levine’s vague forebodings, or with a perfectionist security model that implies that resistance is futile. Why would you open the kimono for FBI assholes? Let someone else be the soft target. That’s only common sense.

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