Links 2/10/17

Crow has ulterior motives Boing Boing

Inside the ‘world’s first’ five-star cat hotel Telegraph (J-LS)

Dummy mummy aids cubs’ recovery, South Asia News & Top Stories Straits Times (YJT)

Lions of Los Angeles New Yorker (furzy)

Battery can be recharged with carbon dioxide PhysOrg. Chuck L: “Some of the scads of money being thrown at utility-scale energy storage since renewable but unpredictable generation technologies started becoming competitive are beginning to pay off. Flow batteries as a class have perhaps the most promise for this application.”

New engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption TechXplore. Chuck L: “This sounds almost too good to be true.”

Lessons on Aging Well, From a 105-Year-Old Cyclist New York Times (David L)

Monarch butterfly numbers drop by 27 percent in Mexico Associated Press (David L)

Forget Autonomous Cars—Autonomous Ships Are Almost Here IEEE Spectrum. Chuck L: “Piracy futures?”


Trump reaffirms one-China policy in surprise phone call with Xi Jinping South China Morning Post (J-LS). This is a big walkback. Trump threatened earlier to use it as a bargaining chip.


The demonetisation gambit has backfired for the BJP (and the old communal ploy hasn’t worked) The Wire (J-LS)

National Debt Helpline buckles under “unprecedented” call load MacroBusiness

Trump’s next trade target: Europe’s scooters and cheese Politico

Greek bonds sell off sharply as EU-IMF rift deepens Financial Times. Mr. Market is worried that the IMF might be able to stick to its guns this time, as we suggested earlier this week. “Although Athens’ debt bill does not come due until July, authorities fear they must achieve a breakthrough by mid-February to avoid the issue becoming politicised in the upcoming Dutch and French national elections.”

Merkel to kick out migrants as Europe backs Trump ban The Times

Le Pen debt plan threatens massive default, say agencies Financial Times (John C)

Explosion Hits Nuclear Power Station In Northwest France NPR (David L)

Paris to put up glass wall to protect Eiffel Tower BBC

Greece: the low-noise collapse of an entire country failed evolution

New Cold War

Ukraine Revisited Nation (Sid S)

US-Russia Relations in “Most Dangerous Moment” Real News Network


U.S. General Seeks ‘a Few Thousand’ More Troops in Afghanistan New York Times (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Here’s how you can end up on the FBI’s watch list — and what it means Business Insider (David L)

Court backs Microsoft suit over surveillance gag orders Politico (furzy)

Republicans are reportedly using a self-destructing message app to avoid leaks The Verge. The NSA still has it, but they don’t respond to subpoenas. But has it not occurred to any one that this could facilitate leaks? No readily uncovered footprints.

India Gears Up to Defend its Internet Rights Regime as it Fully Operationalises Mass Surveillance Project The Wire (J-LS)

US Visitors May Have to Hand Over Social Media Passwords: DHS Slashdot (furzy)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty – sources Reuters (furzy)

Trump Transition

Federal appeals court maintains suspension of Trump’s immigration order Washington Post (UserFriendly). Looks like the Administration didn’t make a substantive argument for the ban in the appeal.

Trump Dealt Major Setback as Appeals Court Sides With Immigrants Bloomberg

READ FULL TEXT: U.S. Appeals Court’s Ruling Refusing to Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban Haaretz

GOP preparing plan to gut Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, roll back Wall Street regulations Washington Post UserFriendly

It’s not impossible that Trump orchestrated the whole Gorsuch leak episode Washington Post (furzy)

How the Democrats Can Stop Neil Gorsuch Vanity Fair (J-LS). Title is misleading but the content is important. Lambert: “Since Gorsuch was elevated to his current position by a voice vote, he is, by definition, acceptable. Stupid Democrats. And poor Merrick Garland. Boy, did Obama make him look like a fool. Used and discarded like tissue.”

Senate Confirms Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary Wall Street Journal

Exclusive – Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report Reuters

States most affected by trade war with Mexico Angry Bear

Kellyanne Conway Promotes Ivanka Trump Brand, Raising Ethics Concerns New York Times

Trump Pledges Airlines Help in Feud Over Foreign Rivals’ Aid Bloomberg (furzy)

White House says Conway has been ‘counseled’ after touting Ivanka Trump’s products Washington Post (furzy)

This Blog Is Republishing All the Animal Welfare Records the USDA Deleted Motherboard (Chuck L)

​Trump’s Foreign Policy at a Crossroads Robert Parry, Consortium News (Sid S)

The Uncomfortable Truth: Are We Hating Donald Trump for the Wrong Reasons? Counterpunch (Li)

No Pink Woolly Caps for Me Counterpunch (Li)

2016 Post Mortem

Obama’s Lost Armies New York Times

Should House Democrats write off rural congressional districts? Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Good bye Democrats, so much for caring about poor people, we have a shot in the suburbs!!!​”

New analysis suggests ways for landowners to limit fracking and mineral extraction without regulations PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Miner thrashes proposed city-county merger: Plan is ‘corporate looting’ Syracuse. Bob: “The city formerly known as Syracuse: Wow. Just wow. 33 million in savings. Not even a rounding error in the budgets of the combined entity.”

Former Governor Don Siegelman has been released from federal prison WSFA (furzy)

Fake News

Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail As ‘Unreliable’ Source Slashdot (furzy)

Readers mistake Facebook for a news outlet Financial Times. Why is it NOT a news outlet? It publishes what amount to syndicated news stories. Its algos are making what amount to editorial judgments. That is why it needs to act like a real news outlet and have in house fide fact checking.

U.S. To Sell 10 Million Barrels From Strategic Reserves This Month OilPrice

Larry Summers: Do companies care too much about the short term? The jury is still out. Washington Post. UserFriendly: “​Just when I thought Larry Summers couldn’t get any dumber.​ Links to a great report though.”

The End of Scarcity in Agricultural Commodities Means Failing Farms in the U.S. Big Picture Agriculture

Yellen Urged to Abolish Stress Tests in GOP Push for Banks’ Wish List Bloomberg

US banks sue government over dividend ‘highway robbery’ Financial Times

Urgent Memo to the Governor: Stop the Witch Hunts at CalPERS Los Angeles City Watch. This is a strong letter. And it is also a reminder to NC readers in CA: if you haven’t written to governor Jerry Brown, state treasurer John Chiang, and state controller Betty Yee about the latest travesty at CalPERS, this is a reminder to do so pronto. Background and contact information here.

Class Warfare

Exposing the Myths of Neoliberal Capitalism: An Interview With Ha-Joon Chang TruthOut (margarita)

The most important skill for middle class workers isn’t being taught in American schools Quartz. I find this offensive. It conflates social skills (which contrary to what the story claims, is most definitely taught at private schools, just not formally) with extroversion. As I am sure many readers can demonstrate from their own experience, there are plenty of extroverts who are jerks and plenty of introverts who are well mannered but nevertheless find being around people to take energy. The article falsely implies introverts can be turned into extroverts….and parents who believe that will not be doing introverted children any favors. (I’m not persuaded by studies like this, where the study designers had a bias and the participants clearly wanted to see what they defined as progress….and like the story above, it conflated having social skills with extroversion. Extroverts get energy from being with others and therefore feel a need to be around people most of the time. Making an effort to meet with people isn’t at all the same as being more extroverted). However, I have separately read that people with more weak social ties do better at finding work than people with fewer, deeper relationships. And given how short job tenures are, having an advantage in landing a job means more likelihood of being employed over time.

Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work New York Times

Antidote du jour. Katharine R: “From an unknown source. I can’t figure what it is–even more vivid than a painted bunting.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Myron

      Its a shame that someone as smart as Mark Blyth would appear on a show hosted by a child that spat tea at another man because he was upset.

        1. Myron

          If the left wants to keep losing elections by all means help them normalize grown men spitting their drinks at people.

          1. Pat

            Have you bothered to look at who is winning elections these days?

            Haven’t you noticed that the Democratic party and its media supporters are all about looks good does nothing they say they stand for and so has lost pretty much everything? Perhaps we should let the guys who are passionate enough to spit tea while calling out the bull shit at the pretty socially correct privately corrupt idiots of the Democratic Party have more influence and the posers less.

            1. Myron

              Yeah and the left should totally exalt all of the impotent raging nerds going around punching people in the back of the head.

              No, it doesnt matter if its Alex Jones or anyone else. This bash the fash shit is anathema to normal people. The left doesnt need anymore efete weirdos in designer glasses having roid rage outbursts, I think weve had enough of that this election cycle.

              1. WJ

                Jimmy Dore never hit anyone in the head. Nor is he anything like Alex Jones. The charge is that he spat tea.

                Who are you, Jennifer Palmieri?

          2. tejanojim

            I’m not sure why in two comments you couldn’t name the person he spit tea on – it was Alex Jones. I don’t know the details, and spitting tea on someone is indeed childish, but-
            1. Alex probably deserved it and
            2. this reduces my high regard for Jimmy by only a negligible amount.

            1. JoeK

              Myron, getting on “the left” for being “childish?” Let’s call you “the right” then: looked in a mirror lately? The hypocrisy will be blinding so buy a pair of Bollés first.

        1. UserFriendly

          I find Dore’s shtick a bit grading, but his politics are goood. So I don’t personally watch him but I don’t begrudge others.

      1. John Wright

        Blyth’s appearance on the on the show may have been a way to reach a different audience.

        This approach may be working as I didn’t know of Mark Blyth until fairly recently.

        For an economist to get ANY publicity, short of working for the political establishment or being a New York Times columnist, is rare.

        So it may have been a smart move by Blyth to associate with a known tea spitter from a blue collar background.

        And as Blyth was doing the interview remotely, he was under no risk of hot tea injury…

        Dore does seem to get “with the moment” and seems genuinely upset with the current order, which is something that is difficult to find on the MSM.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Just to point out the state of economics at US universities, Blyth’s appointment at Brown is NOT in the econ department but in IIRC political science.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Didn’t know about the tea-spitting previously, and honestly don’t really care to look it up. If America can get past p*ssy-grabbing, tea-spitting is barely a speed bump. Everyone does dumb stuff once in awhile (that’s not to excuse, by any means, merely to state that it’s not unforgivable).

        1. ProNewerDeal

          Context: in the tea-spitting episode, Alex Jones bumrushed The Young Turks live-streamed show (at the 2016 D or R party conventions IIRC) & was hostile & yelling insults at Cenk & the other panelists like Jimmy Dore.

          By right-winger gun extremist like A. Jones own “logic”, this entitles the recipient to claim an aggrieved “fear for my personal safety” & murder the offender in “self-defense” per “stand your ground” law. So Jimmy is actually quite moderate in merely projecting tea at a low speed at Alex Jones, not bullets at supersonic speed /sarc.

          Not saying the tea-spitting event is great behavior, but the A. Jones bumrushing was worse & initiated the exchange.

    2. UserFriendly

      This is a great new Blyth video too. Smacks down all those good thinking democrats who love Obama and think Trump is hitler.

      I think people are starting to get it about Obama; Top comment with 74 likes:

      punch dogg1 week ago
      Why because Obama was Not a progressive he was a Neo liberal puppet who just spoke the language of progressives at the same time selling out the public

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Mark Blythe being as he says a product of a society that gave a chance for advancement to a working class boy brought up by a single Mother, does not live in an ivory tower. It is probably the reason he talks about rust belts & the like, as he has some understanding of the people & their situation.

        He also predicted what he refers to as ” Global Trumpism “, unlike those who would not deign to actually consider the welfare of those they consider as beneath them, let alone make an effort to communicate with them.

        How did that superior attitude work out ?……….remind me.

        1. UserFriendly

          Assuming you meant American’s superior attitude, just swimmingly…. TPTB convinced the country that all the money they pay in taxes goes to brown people so they throw a shit fit and hate taxes. Then it is largely their kids that pay the price by being forced into debt bondage to g to school.

          I cant decide if I should just kick back and watch the inevitable decline and collapse of civilisation or actively foment it. It’s laughable to think we can avoid it at this point.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            I apologise for not making myself clear,
            I meant the ” Let them eat cake ” Liberals.

            As for the US,the descent into downfall,
            in comparison to it’s once promise,
            is a tragedy that I still find shocking.

            1. NYPaul

              The “descent” has been going on for a long time but accelerated rapidly with the election of, “Government is The Problem,” Ronald Reagan in 1980. It continued its downward slide through a succession of Dem/Rep, Neocon, Neolib Presidents culminating with the beginning of the “downfall” portion in the election of Donald Trump. Barack Obama, promising,”change,” to an electorate thirsting for change had delivered, instead, a betrayal of historic proportion. Thus, in 2016, facing an untenable 4-8 more years of the “Obama Presidency,” Democrats stayed home, and a charlatan was elected by a plurality of voters.

              If ever there was a time for a third party, the end of Trump’s reign (whenever that occurs) will be it. By then there could/should be enough disillusioned/unhappy voters from both existing parties to make it feasible. The first order of business, IMO, since optics and marketing are so important, would be coming up with a winning name. I don’t think, “The People’s Party,” is it. Maybe with the dramatic increase in Independent voters recently, “The Independent, or Independence Party,” would be good but, others might think of something better.

              Again, in my opinion only, somethings gotta give. So, trying to get ahead of the potential chaos, or worse, would seem to be our obligation, if not our duty.

          2. JTFaraday

            Truth. And people who were raised by those who resisted the siren call of bigotry are now somehow to blame for the conditions suffered by these people and their mistakes unceasing.

            I’d like to fix the problems, but a little co-responsibility for once would be nice.

        2. reslez

          Blyth wasn’t brought up by a single mother. He was an orphan raised by his grandmother. He’s credited the British welfare state for helping him get where he is today: a well-educated professor at an Ivy League institution. He could have ended up unemployed, in despair or “on drugs” (his quote).

      2. HBE

        Great video thanks for sharing.

        His remarks in the Last 5 minutes seemed particular prescient to me.

        Basically when democracy becomes a defender of an abysmal status quo for the majority it fails.

    3. reslez

      Jimmy Dore is great. One of the few commentators on the left calling out the Dem establishment for their consistent failures. Frequent readers of NC will probably enjoy his youtube channel, I know I check it daily.

  1. Clive

    Re: “US Visitors May Have to Hand Over Social Media Passwords” — ESTA already asks for your social media accounts. I’ve never understood the reason for this before, although having read the article in the link, I’m beginning to. It is of course of highly dubious worth to do this and I am more convinced that it is psychologically roughing you up and telling you who is in change than for any serious intelligence gathering or risk assessment purposes.

    And the unasked and unanswered question too is, what exactly constitutes social media? If the DHS thinks, for example, I would hand over my Naked Capitalism WordPress login, they can jolly well ‘eff off. They can ask the NSA or GCHQ to do a brute force attack if they want it that badly enough. But it would probably count as being social media. So if it becomes compulsory do I have to comply else not visit the US? Is that really what the desired result of this policy is, and is it worth the hassle and impact to US’ self-interests just to provide this security theatre?

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Click bait headlines…not visitors…visa and refugee applicants from “the magnificent 7” countries…

      now axmed, if you changed your name to “clive” when you lived in some chechnyan village where no computerized court records exist and one would have to physically ask yevyenna to go bring forth the docket book to review your “past”, then “we”(the famous we) might want to access your min(d)shaft

      1. Clive

        Even if you’re in a “nice” country you really do *not* want to start fibbing to ESTA. Uncle Sam makes it abundantly clear to us outsiders that he doesn’t take kindly to people trying to play a fast one when it comes to your ESTA declaration:

        Please note that if you unknowingly or purposely apply with false information, you may become permanently ineligible for travel to the US.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s not quite the same as this;

          Please note that if you are seen to be, unknowingly or purposely, with a supporter of false-news president Trump, you may become permanently ineligible to travel to our rave parties.

    2. cnchal

      From the NBC article where the story seems to originate.

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress on Tuesday the measure was one of several being considered to vet refugees and visa applicants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
      . . .
      As well as asking people for their passwords, Kelly said he was looking at trying to obtain people’s financial records.

      This isn’t new either. From NBC again.

      While the U.S. visa screening process does not include formal vetting of social media accounts, the memo proposed the Obama administration “authorize” customs officials to “access social networking sites” to vet applicants. Such vetting could help catch applicants bent on fraud, crime or “national security” risks, the memo stated.

      So, next time you visit the states, expect to be tortured in a back room at the airport by the government’s experts assigned to your case, if you don’t tell all when asked.

      1. Clive

        “tortured in a back room”…

        Nah, they can just me make a prisoner of the Newark airport Food Court again. After a couple hours of that, I’d even tell ’em it was me who took the Lindbergh baby.

        1. harry

          I take it the burritos weren’t to you taste? There is always the faux Asian “food”. Bear in mind that the franchisees are not there to extract monopoly rents from captive passengers but have all won prizes on various food tv shows like “Americas top airport food options” or “things to eat in Denver Airport before you’re dead” – (copyright pending).

          It could be worse. You might have to work in one of those businesses.

          1. fresno dan

            February 10, 2017 at 9:32 am

            “things to eat in Denver Airport before you’re dead” – (copyright pending)”
            That is just hilarious!!

            1. robnume

              Just to attempt to navigate the Denver Airport, let alone finding something non-repulsive to eat there, is enough to drive you nuts!

              1. oh

                Their food and coffee sucks. And they have the world famous Golden Arches. Welcome to Denver. Now eat this!

              2. Ohnoyoucantdothat

                I’ll see you and raise you Charles DeGaule Airport in Paris. International arrivals in one terminal, then the march of death up and down many stairs, followed by the train ride from hell (all in French), only to arrive at the new tunnel of death (the one that partially collapsed a few years ago). Despite already being inside the security cordone, you are subject to a full screening by specially trained gorillas who try their best to destroy your belongings. I threatened to come across the barrier when one of these idiots started slamming my very expensive cameras on his table. Scared the crap out of him. To say the least, I will never use their crappy airport again, even in transit to somewhere else. This year I’m flying directly from Moscow to LAX via Aeroflot. A very civilized airline by the way … not anything like Air France.

                1. Optimader

                  Aeroflot was semi-privatized (49%) and migrated substantially to western built passenger aircraft, and good for them! They are now relativly safe to fly by international standards.
                  Not sure re: in country regional operations, but they do fly to some pretty damn challenging places, which can certainly put a thumb on the safety scale.
                  Don’t follow the sukoi ssj100 , but that should mature into a solid regionsl jet from what ive read, albeit heavily subsidized, which to be fair was probably a practical neccesity to get it off the ground from industrial cold start by international commercial jet standards.


                  1. Ohnoyoucantdothat

                    Yes, they have. 12 hours Moscow to LAX on almost new 777. Flight from Crimea to Moscow is Airbus 320. We have to fly around Donbass so flight is a bit longer than it needs to be. I’m sure some of the Siberia flights are real teeth clincher but I can remember some equally hairy landings in upstate NY so it’s not the airline. When I first started flying into Crimea in ’99 they used ancient Antinov turboprops and that was really thrilling. Things have certainly improved since then.

        2. JohnL

          Many years ago while I was still on an L1 visa and before I had a green card, I visited Japan on business. On my return to JFK, I was taken to a back room & told I was not supposed to leave the country on an L1. I was told I could go if I paid a “fine”. $15. In cash. Payable directly to the agents. No receipt. Gotta love Queens, NY.

        3. cyclist

          Slightly off-topic, but one can no longer use cash at the Newark food courts. One needs to use some sort of iPad device (hazy on the details, as I always avoid airport food if possible).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Money is speech.

            According to president Trump, that’s basic high school stuff, and our judges got that one right that time.

            So, if you can’t spend cash, I’m afraid this becomes a freedom of speech issue.

          2. Knifecatcher

            I don’t recall whether or not they took cash but I was in Newark last week and food at the refreshed terminal is absolutely weird. You go order your food, they give you a ticket, then you take the ticket to a self-checkout station like in a grocery store, where you can also pick up a bunch of convenience / impulse items. There are no cashiers.

            Also: Lock me in O’Hare as long as you’d like. I’ll gladly gain 50 lbs at Tortas Fronteras.

    3. Andrew Watts

      It serves the same purpose as the mass collection of metadata. They are building a profile on you through your relationships to other people. In reality, this doesn’t work but that isn’t necessarily the point.

      It is the basic nature of bureaucracy to avoid any responsibility.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The thing is I don’t remember my one social media account password. Registered once to do something (don’t remember what). Haven’t logged in once (or not for a long, long time).

        Will not even be able to disclose it under scopolamine.

        And yesterday, I tried to comment on one website. They had one and only one option – you had to post it via your account at this peer-pressure-prone social media. Since I didn’t remember the password, I couldn’t. My question is this – is that a violation freedom of speech for those who no longer remember the password or don’t have an account.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Chances are good they’re only interested in your login name. They can retrieve any information they want from the social media company. Which in all probability already resides in some government database.

          If you’re a dumb terrorist trying poison the water supply of a city they’ll catch ya in the act when you broadcast your plan beforehand. Under normal circumstances SIGINT/COMINT is useless in that regard because it doesn’t automatically reveal intent.

          But everybody knows every successful villain reveals their evil plot beforehand. Duh!

    4. Lupemax

      I sort of figured out we’d end up here when the DHS made airline travelers take off their shoes at the airport and watch them go through an xray machine. I figured it was supposed to be humiliating and humbling and the beginning of the molding of people into sheeple who would do anything the government told them to do. I stopped flying at that point. Andthen I noticed they had those people xray machines (that are actually harmful) and people had to choose between being harmed and humiliated by an xray machine or being groped. What a choice, eh? I’m still glad I don’t fly. do the trains require all this? buses? Doubt it.

    1. johnnygl

      It looks like the bird is hanging out on a goumi bush, or maybe autumn olive? I’ve got one in my yard. Haven’t tasted the berries yet because the birds won’t share!

      1. JEHR

        How amazing nature is: notice that the bird’s feathers are reflective of all the colours in its surroundings. Good camouflage.

    2. David Mills

      Looks like a silver-eared mesia. Last time on Frasers Hill we saw a small group of them (6-8). The Smokehouse has flowering bushes in the garden and they are quite common there. Very nice.

    3. susan the other

      that is an amazing little bird, looks like a cubist triangular painting with a beak.. and questions like, how did the capture and expression of all those colors evolve??? since feedback had to come from a hundred adverse situations.. amazing.

  2. Alex Morfesis

    Misogyny…kellyanne did not violate 2635.702…the statute gives examples of what violations are…what she did is not much different than some politician rambling on about the local sports team on network tv or some charity event they are attending which either they or some friend or relative works at or is a board member of…

    I am not a fan of hers but when McCain goes on fleece the press…that is a private enterprise and his appearance (they hope) increases the ratings…she did not send a correspondence on official letterhead, nor did she say, it is the official policy of this administration that everyone should buy ivankajunk…

    Because she’s a woman…male politicians show up at business openings and corporate announcements with shovels or cutting ribbons…

    These two shystuh politicians who sent the letter need to be on the retired list in 2019…

    1. Roger Smith

      This was similar to my take away. After decades and decades (centuries probably) of political gritting (Clintons anyone?) Kellyanne Conway is going to be the one we scold, for a comment on a clothing line? Need consistency and accountability please.

      She is simply the new dumb darling of the media. They think they can get viewership for exploiting her as a “big dummy, stupid head”, a Palin type character. They must have missed the part where she was an instrumental part in Donald Trump’s winning Presidential campaign. To me she is one of the more interesting characters in modern politics. She seemed to have great game and strategy.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s politics. It’s not complicated. The GOP has a national campaign strategy in every election and out of season. They just change faces.

        It’s part of the reason Trump could spend so little. The long term operation (their block captains are slick) is what they need for their turnout operations, and since the GOP knows it can’t win a mass turnout game, their local operators don’t advertise. They try to make sure you are the right sort. They do this in every district and make sure the kids of Republicans vote at college and on and on. The operation the GOP has in motion helps them win. The personalities at the top are irrelevant. This operation delivers votes in every district, even safe districts (the GOP doesn’t want to give local Dems ideas about potential weakness). Team Blue on the other hand complains about voters and fails to understand basic election rules.

        Conway could have been comatose and defeated Team Blue and Clinton Inc.

    2. Leigh

      She was an idiot, just because others have gotten a pass does not mean we should stop calling people out for stupid shit.

      1. RUKidding

        I agree. There’s tons of graft, greed, grifting and corruption in US politics on both sides of the aisle. I certainly don’t dispute that.

        That said, why should I ignore what this shameless hustler does just because others have gotten away with it? When did two wrongs make a right?

        I say: call out all of these ethical violations, whether they actually break laws or not. Let’s get real.

        1. witters

          It’s a bit more complex. A couple of years ago I wrote about cosmopolitanism and the ICC. At one place I said this:

          Kenneth Roth is quite clear: ‘That war criminals still run free where the court cannot act is hardly reason to refrain from prosecution where it can.’ (28) The trouble – and it is a trouble it takes a ‘sophisticated’ adult to deny, for it is obvious to any child – is that this is just untrue. Justice, as John Rawls reminded us, is crucially a matter of fairness, and it isn’t fair that some who offend are targeted and others who offend, are not. And it is especially unfair when the explanation for this runs not through ethical considerations, but those of (relative) power. What Roth refuses to acknowledge is that selective justice isn’t merely incomplete justice, it undermines the very idea of justice itself. It pollutes the wells.

  3. Jim Haygood

    PUNKED … again [Bloomberg link above]:

    A federal appeals court unanimously refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, issuing a sharp rebuke in a ruling likely destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The 29-page ruling from a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded roundly that the government failed to make its case that a temporary freeze on the ban should be lifted, and called into question presidential power to limit immigration in the way Trump did.

    You don’t need no Juris Doctor degree to understand that sliming the district judge as a “so-called judge” is not a winning litigation strategy.

    But it’s hard to explain this to an eight-year-old boy trapped in a 70-year-old man’s body. :-(

    1. JTMcPhee

      Did Trump write the brief, then? I didn’t see his name on it as an author.

      Back when I was playing government lawyer, the stuff that came out of DoJ and several US Attorneys’ offices occasionally contained a lot worse chaff…

      1. Jim Haygood

        Trump didn’t write the brief. His “so-called judge” outburst was in a tweet, which the appellate court judges doubtless read.

        A true “judicial temperament” would stick to the law and the briefs in rendering a decision. But you know and I know that pissing off a judge can wreck your case.

        Trashing comity has its costs.

        1. Carolinian

          You are assuming Trump even cares about winning this case and the whole thing isn’t just political posturing. The truth is he’s probably only doing the travel ban because he said he would in his campaign speeches and now has to go through the motions of following through.

          1. Jim Haygood

            True — from his impassioned tweets, I do assume he cares.

            The Orange Flake has a big mouf. But is he winning the fights he picked?

            Why, no … no, I don’t believe he is!

            So far he got one Mexican lady deported from Phoenix cuz she used a fake SSN nine years ago. Now her two US citizen kids have a mom stuck in Mexico. I feel safer now! /sarc-squared

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Justice is blind.

              Justice is deaf too.

              Or should be blind and deaf, though, judges are humans too and perhaps the lesson here is, we must flatter them.

              1. cwaltz

                I don’t think “flattering” someone is the same thing as affording them some respect.

                No one said Trump needs to kiss the judiciary’s backside but adding “so called” to someone vetted and appointed to the bench actually shows a lack of respect to them and the branch they represent.

            2. Corey

              In Mexico these repatriated citizens are known as deportados (or –as) and there are a lot of them. Many speak perfect colloquial English from an entire lifetime spent in the United States. They seem – to use an expression – just as American as you or I. You might think you’re talking to a barista from Seattle and then she’ll turn out to be a recent deportada stranded on the Mexico side of the border. They have no family or cultural ties to Mexico, often don’t even speak the language. They can’t go back to America, and the family they left behind cannot come visit them. Often they have a vague aura of shock and disorientation about them, probably similar to how I would be if someone grabbed me off the street and sent me to the country of my great-grandparents’ origin. The government and political parties provide some assistance, and there are church outreach programs specifically to help deportados, but it is a difficult life. Call center work is available for those who speak good English, but it pays maybe $125/week working a 12-hour day. Further south there are even fewer opportunities. Most manage to get along all right, but many of the girls turn to prostitution. Some men are reduced to street begging or crime. Life in the poorer neighborhoods is dangerous. There are few good options.

          2. DH

            I don’t think the winner wants to become the loser.

            It will be interesting to see if he goes scorched earth to try to win, or simply rework the EO to get rid of the components that are causing the ruckus. Steve Bannon demanding that legal residents of the US be put on planes and sent back is the key thing that lit the fuse. People showing up with valid visas and getting sent away was the second. Trump’s immigration folks can put off reviewing pending visa applications for years if they want and the courts would probably not say a word.

            1. RUKidding

              I completely disagree with the EO as it was written. It was a dumb move, imo, but that’s just me. It was ham-handed in how it approached the situation.

              Initially, it’s my understanding, it pretty much banned anyone from the 7 countries from entering the USA, no matter what, including long-time green card holders, students who had been here quite legitimately for a while and were coming back from an overseas visit, and people with iron-clad legit visas.

              Bannon/Trump initially backed down quickly from banning green card holders, but then all the blather about extreme vetting kicked in. The legit visa holders had already gone through extreme vetting to get the visa.

              The whole thing was ill thought out, racist and a mess.

              Bannon can go back to the drawing board and attempt something else, I suppose, but that now will be viewed with deep suspicion and reviewed with a fine tooth comb. The 7 countries banned haven’t even had a citizen who was involved in any kind of terrorist attack on US soil.

              It’s possible that Bannon just wanted to show the base that he’d “do something” for them. If so, I guess that happened. The rest is basically stupid and does the reverse of actually making citizens “safe” from alleged terrorisssss.

            2. Carolinian

              Anecdotally I’d say the immigration ban is a political success with his base. When it doesn’t happen he can blame so-called judges.

    2. cocomaan

      I have no idea what the strategy is here for Donald. If he dropped the issue and waited long enough, there would be a terrorist attack/foiled plot/entrapment/some other war on terror bullshit and he’d be proven right.

        1. carycat

          Or this is Trump’s innoculation against the MIC trying to wag the dog with yet another false flag event. Trump has nothing to gain at this point by killing more innocents but the MIC has lots to lose if peace ever breaks out.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          It doesn’t have to be false flag. We have mass shootings on a regular basis. Cops are great at planting evidence (I have this from a former DA in a large-ish city). Just pin the next one on someone who was from one of the seven countries in question.

  4. allan

    Gaping hole in Oroville Dam spillway is growing, officials warn [SF Gate]

    Erosion has created a 30-foot-deep hole in the concrete spillway of Oroville Dam and state officials say it will continue to grow as officials balance the need to release pressure from the filling reservoir.

    State engineers on Thursday cautiously released water from Lake Oroville’s damaged spillway as the reservoir level climbed amid a soaking of rain. …

    Social media posts Thursday afternoon showed damage that appeared to stretch the width of the spillway. …

    Situated in the western foothills of the Sierra, Lake Oroville is the second-largest man-made reservoir in California after Shasta. It’s a key flood-control and water-storage facility within the California State Water Project, and…

    Surely the repair calls for a tax-incentivized public-private partnership.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      I hope they’re right about “Officials say the giant hole does not pose a threat to the earthen dam or public safety.” Here’s a link to a TV news report that includes video of the spillway’s errant behavior (it may be the one referred to in the SF Gate piece) as well as some still shots of the damage visible after shut the water off. It’s hard to tell whether most of the water in the hole trickles down from a not quite tight gate at the top or seepage into the hole from below. If the latter is significant it’s worrisome. Small leakage paths in an earthen dam can get much bigger in a hurry. If I lived or worked downstream I’d be thinking about Plan B.

      1. jefemt

        The Oroville Dam was featured fairly extensively in

        Cadillac Desert

        , by Mark Reisner. If the Feather goes free this spring, Katie bar the door

        We are entering in to an era of dam issues— siltation and failures. Must-read/great read, btw.

        1. robnume

          Absolutely incomparable book, Cadillac Desert. Read it back in the ’80’s just as I was beginning legal studies. In case anyone wants to research California water politics and policies, the largest body of legal information is in house at the San Bernardino County Law Library. Fascinating – and incredibly foul – stuff, if you’re into it.

    2. fresno dan

      February 10, 2017 at 8:01 am

      The only megaflood to strike the American West in recent history occurred during the winter of 1861-62. California bore the brunt of the damage. This disaster turned enormous regions of the state into inland seas for months, and took thousands of human lives.

      I am definitely buying flood insurance….
      I can remember in my lifetime long lost lakes refilling in certain years (alas, not staying filled)

      1. Oregoncharles

        Flood insurance is prohibitively expensive. We should have it, but don’t. The floor is about 2 inches above the 100-yr-flood line, which around here is pretty arbitrary. The recent wetness has flooded the whole lower half of our property, which is pretty common, but not the driveway, which we’ve seen before (I didn’t even notice that dip in the driveway until it had 3 feet of water running across it). But we’ve gotten off lightly, especially compared to Cali.

        Of course, in a dam collapse you can throw out the flood maps. Good luck to you, if you’re in the Valley.

    3. DH

      All that needs to be done is to increase the cost of water to the users to cover the maintenance and repairs required. The biggest single issue with infrastructure in the US is everybody assumes that it exists for free (or very low cost). So people just assume that clean water will simply come out of the faucet on demand and no costs are involved.

      There needs to be much better definition of who is responsible to pay what for which service.

      1. pretzelattack

        that would be the government. increasing costs to the users sounds very much like what happened in flint and detroit. bad idea.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the FT article above:

    Large banks are required to hold fixed-value stock in the Federal Reserve, and under an agreement dating back to 1913 they received an annual dividend of 6 per cent.

    But the payouts were lowered sharply under a law signed by Barack Obama that took effect last year. The changes are estimated to slash the dividends to 72 banks by about $17bn over 10 years, according to the American Bankers Association, the lobby group taking the court action.

    Under the new law — Fast, or the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act — the dividend paid was lowered to a variable rate: the lesser of 6 per cent, or the 10-year government bond yield.

    The Fed made $590m worth of payouts to US banks that have more than $10bn in assets last year compared to $1.66bn the year before, according to the lawsuit.

    Hey, I get the sanctity of contract angle. But sanctity of contract went out the window with the egregious TARP bailouts — taxpayers were handed a trillion-dollar invoice that they never agreed to.

    Making banksters eat their own ZIRP pudding is sweet revenge. Would you like some crow with that?

    1. TedWa

      Yeah, but we’re paying them for the banks reserves held at the central bank. So all in all, the banks are doing just fine…. Obama’s a bankster lover even when it appears he isn’t.

      1. aab

        Obama’s a bankster lover even when it appears he isn’t

        That came off to me as lewd, in a politically appropriate yet unnerving way.

  6. Jim Haygood

    I find this offensive. It conflates social skills with extroversion.

    From the Technical Appendix of the Hamilton Project:

    For the 1979 cohort the social skills questions were, “Thinking about when you were six years old, would you describe yourself as extremely shy, somewhat shy, somewhat outgoing, or extremely outgoing?” and “Thinking about yourself as an adult, would you describe yourself as extremely shy, somewhat shy, somewhat outgoing, or extremely outgoing?”

    For the 1997 cohort, the social skills request for information was, “Using a scale from 1 to 7, where 1 means disagree strongly and 7 means agree strongly, please rate how well each pair of traits applies to you, even if one characteristic applies more strongly than the other: extroverted, enthusiastic; reserved, quiet.”

    Out-of-the-box thinkers will recognize that one need not be confined to four or seven gradated answers to silly questions about extroversion or lack thereof.

    An introvert who’s proud of it will respond “F*** you,” and then overturn the table onto the researcher’s lap. Social skills, bItCHeZ!

    1. carycat

      Seriously, how much of your life when you were six years old do you remember. And how many six year olds are introspective enough to even wonder where on that scale do they sit. Pure GIGO. If this wasn’t “sponsored research”, then it is “contractual obligation” of their grant proposal (and we will all be better off if we just stick to listening to Monty Python)

    2. Katharine

      I wasn’t going to comment on that, but you made me laugh so much I will.

      I agree with everything Yves said. It has driven me nuts for years that so many extroverts assume that there is something wrong with introverts. Most of them don’t even appear to understand what introverts are, which is certainly not gloomy isolationists with no manners. Many introverts derive great pleasure from time spent around other people, but unlike extroverts they also very much enjoy, and need, time on their own. Why some people have so much trouble understanding that other people’s ways of being can also be legitimate I shall never know.

      1. UserFriendly

        I have always been very much an introvert, I recharge my batteries by having time alone. When my life was going better I still really enjoyed handing out with friends regularly, going to bars and clubs, ect. The shattering of my self esteem by not being able to find a job for 3 years killed that. Now I am a total recluse and I hate even the most basic conversations with people.

        1. Katharine

          I hope you somehow recover your self-esteem soon. You have given so much to the rest of us here that I wish you could realize that your capacity to contribute is a valid basis, at least as much as, if not more than, your ability to find a job. In my book, a person doesn’t actually need a reason for self-esteem: you exist, therefore you matter. But sometimes people find so many reasons for thinking they don’t matter that they need the reasons they do to kickstart the rediscovery.

        2. Jim Haygood

          Self esteem can be regained. Being jobless did not reflect on your qualities as a person. Even introverts need a couple of confidantes. Here’s hoping that you move slowly and thoughtfully in that direction. Best wishes.

        3. robnume

          I, too, am an extreme introvert and have always been this way. More empathetic to your unemployment situation I could not be as I am in the same situation. I am also a virtual recluse like you and have a hard time conversing with folks these days. I am not a “small talker.” I’m starting to wonder if I am autistic or something. I don’t know. But I do know this: We commenters at NC like and appreciate you very much.

        4. knowbuddhau

          Introverts unite! Just don’t get too close. ;)

          You’re not alone, UserFriendly. I went through much the same experience. Went through a long period of un- and underemployment. It’s isolating and makes one wonder, wtf is wrong with me? Why can’t I even support myself?

          Then you look around and notice, there’s a whole lot of that going around.

          I see you (virtually). I honor your struggle (literally).

          I’ve had job after job, many of which could’ve been the last I’d ever need, pulled right out from under me. At 53, I’m back in the house I grew up in. Makes it tough to talk to people. Like living with family is a dread disease or something.

          I’ve had my restaurant cleaning job for almost a year now. Took it just after swearing off complaining/bitching and with the explicit intent to make the most of it. If I’m really all that and a bag of chips, I told myself, I should completely kick ass at this. And I have. It’s only now starting to sink in that I don’t suck, it’s the gd neoliberal dispensation that does.

          Like robnume, I’ve even wondered if I’m autistic. It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Hope you all feel likewise.

          Just remembered one of those funny things people put up near their desks. Saw it while working alone, cleaning the office of a local iron works: “I saw people out the window. That’s enough socializing for one day.”

          If I may offer a suggestion, give up the hate. It’s corrosive of the soul and only isolates you further. Find a way to ground yourself in love.

        5. Dead Dog

          To UserFriendly and fellow introverts.

          I have been in jobs where I had to act like I was an extrovert so that I could appear as confident as everyone else (job was senior finance in central government dept in Canberra). But I found the constant act exhausting and unsustainable.

          My manager asked me one day why I was there – that I wasn’t like everyone else (not that she was being critical here). I knew I wasn’t like everyone else. The day I started, I came home and said fac me. The behaviour of my colleagues and managers created a bullying environment that was worse than school, which I mostly enjoyed… The culture, of course, all came from the bully at the top.

          Much later and at 55, I am ‘too old’ for most jobs, particularly for businesses serving the public, so I work for self.

          For me, I can’t turn inwards and away from people. It would only shorten my life. I am regular at local pub and that regular interaction with people, drinking probs aside, has provided me with more genuine friends than I have had in my entire life.

          I hope things turn around for you. You’re not a recluse if you are contributing here.

        6. oh

          Personally, I think you’re doing fine if you like to spend time alone. As far as the self esteem thing is concerned, don’t let the lack of job do it to you. I suggest you start doing something on your own, starting in a small way. Working for someone doesn’t really help one’s self esteem either.

        7. integer

          Fellow introvert here, and I have also been dealing with some complications lately which have got the better of me at times. I can definitely relate to your observation about the amount of (dis)pleasure taken from social activity being strongly correlated with how one is feeling about one’s self at the time. I don’t have much to add (for the moment at least), except perhaps to mention that I’ve found photography to be a good creative outlet in both good times and bad. Anyway, thanks for starting this conversation on introversion. Btw when I see your username I always think of that Twitter fight you got in with Neera Tanden, and can’t help smiling.

      2. reslez

        Some extroverts seem to make the unthinking assumption that introverts are “shy” or afraid of social interaction. That applies to some introverts I’m sure, but as for myself I simply can’t be bothered. Extroverts have a weird tolerance for boring chitchat that I don’t share. I don’t care about interacting with a person simply because they’re present, and if they’re engaged with conversation with someone else I don’t feel any obligation to contribute. Silence is perfectly okay by me. I’m happy to listen, not frightened or proud. If I had something to say I would do so.

        For me personally my inner world is vivid enough that I find conversation with other people kind of boring. We rarely share interests or have common frames of reference. Just think about trying to talk about a news story with people who still view the world through a frame of Democrat or Republican as opposed to what we discuss here on NC. It’s boring to retread the same old ground, plus you run the risk of being misunderstood or offending someone.

        I agree with Yves’ definition — social interactions tend to drain energy from introverts. I think individuals simply have an innate threshold or tolerance for social noise. Some people are attracted to it, maybe because they’re dialed too low and need that noise as energy, they feed from it. Others are sensitive or observant enough to life already that adding more noise creates an excess.

    3. aab

      Do I want to find out why the Hamilton Project is tracking extroversion? Every possibility that springs quickly to mind gives me the willies.

      I assume “extroversion” is pushed because so many well-paid professional jobs now are about groups of people doing make-work together: lots of meetings, lots of open office set-ups, etc. Being extroverted, sociable and with everybody having the same type of socially conditioned behavior would make that much easier for the individuals and the company, although it wouldn’t actually lead to better product or results.

      I think of myself as a shy extrovert, although I definitely need alone time to recharge. So perhaps I miscategorize myself. I have poor group social skills. I’m impatient, impulsive and tend to focus on honing the content instead of the process. I actually prefer consensus style decision-making, but not about determining facts, which is often what happens in these kinds of office situations, in my experience. I can lead, I can persuade, but I’m literally incompetent at being a “go along, get along” type.

      We need a culture and an economy that facilitates a variety of personality types being able to thrive. Trying to retrain an introvert to fit into modern corporate culture so they can eat seems just as cruel to me as sexual orientation conversion therapy. Our species is strong because of its variety. Our current political economy seems intent on destroying that, along with a lot of other stuff.

      1. cwaltz

        It’s pretend make-work together though since capitalism’s core principle is competition not collaboration. Smiling at the person you need to stab in the back to move up the ladder= not something I would consider healthy or desired.

        It’s funny because as a younger person my natural inclination was to want to spend time and help people, however, as an adult my natural inclination is to believe that people are exhausting and it’s much easier to spend time in solitude. I wonder how many of the introverts they are looking to “cure” feel that a few years with humanity cures extroversion.

  7. cocomaan

    Quartz on teaching “social and emotional skills” seems to be just regurgitating the Hamilton report from Brookings. While the Brookings report correlates education in social and emotional skills with higher earnings and lower crime, they should also investigate how it trends with, say, debt to earnings ratio and mental health.

    Having our publicly funded schools pushing how to emotionally accept your required debt burden doesn’t seem like what we should be going after.

    The whole thing is a little creepy. They are asking for a No Child Left Behind that emphasizes emotional skills. It sounds like some perverted stuff.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I feel ornery today — so please forgive my raising questions skew of the point. Why should we frame questions about education in terms of the Market? I believe education — what it is and what it should be — should reflect distinctly human cultural values. Has our culture deteriorated so far that the only values we hold are Market values? I don’t question the practicality of concern about education as a tool for advancement in this given Market world view we so readily accept — I question why we so readily accept this aberrant and distinctly inhuman view of the world.

      In his lectures — available on youtube — Mirowski frequently makes the point that the framing of the question, the range of allowed discourse and debate is as important or more important than the outcome decided. We accept the Market the moment we frame a question in terms of its words and concepts.

      Given the many convincing portrayals of our Power Elite as dangerous sociopaths does our society truly wish to teach our young how to better fit in with them? Should we add schmoozing and social drinking 101 as a course in our curriculum? I believe classes on assuming privilege and building the unquestioning confidence taught to our Power Elite — might be a little out of place in our public schools … might lead to unrest.

      And these days concerns about education seem all too closely tied to the many ways Labor is made to blame itself for problems crafted by our Power Elite.

      1. WJ

        Why should we frame questions about education in terms of the Market? I believe education — what it is and what it should be — should reflect distinctly human cultural values.

        I think you’re confusing education with the military.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I’m not sure what you you mean. Are you suggesting that the military should reflect distinctly human values? What kind of human values? How have I confused education with the military?

          I believe the Market and its values are inhuman — values alien and opposed to humankind. When we discuss issues in terms of market values their humanity is lost.

      2. Oregoncharles

        ” Should we add schmoozing and social drinking 101 as a course in our curriculum?”
        That’s what college and, for many people, high school are all about.
        It doesn’t have to be in the curriculum to be something taught.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          If what you suggest is true — then all is well with our education system — and the Brookings study is little but worry without substance. To me, there is no subtle difference between the drinking and carousing evident in the parties of public high school and college students and the social drinking and schmoozing practiced by our Power Elite.

    2. cnchal

      The relationship between social skills and economic success is a relatively new phenomena, it’s impact varies from generation to generation. It’s rose up from a changing labor market, a US economy, like others around the world, that abandoned manufacturing and left a huge swath of baby boomers out of work with a set of skills that had become obsolete.

      It’s the bullshit jawbs effect. Ya have to bullshit to get the jawb, then bullshit on the jawb just to keep it. This is stressful.

      How about the best bullshit BJG of all? Your jawb is to do nothing.

    1. voteforno6

      What does it say, then, that every dog that my family has owned turned out to be a bit on the nutty side?

      1. fresno dan

        February 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

        “…every dog that my family has owned turned out to be a bit on the nutty side?”

        if your not nutty your not understanding the situation….

      2. Robert Hahl

        Maybe you have put too much emphasis on pure breeds? They seem to be getting worse, while the mutts seem to be more balanced.

    2. Timmy

      In 1992 I became a Portfolio Manager of an international bond fund and this entailed the active trading of currencies, usually in the overnight US hours during London market time. The stress and sleep deprivation quickly broke me down. My beloved cat began compulsively licking all the fur off his stomach. I took him to the vet who examined him and his first question was “are you under any stress?”. I described my circumstance. The cat received a 30 day supply of tiny doses of Valium, which I cut in half after observing the effects. I changed my trading activity and Bo replaced his fur.

      1. Kevin

        Timmy: Thanks for sharing this.
        We recently had to put down our dog.
        She was not a big cuddler at all, but out of the blue she developed a habit of laying right up next to me with her head resting on my stomach. No matter where I was she had to have her head on my stomach. Being a big dog, after a while, it would get uncomfortable, but she would not be deterred and I would have to move position. We just figured she was getting older and more laid back. About two months after this started, it was discovered I had a cancerous tumor in my stomach the size of a 7/11 Big Gulp. – which was removed

        1. robnume

          When my only brother was dying of cancer a couple of years ago I noticed that his dog, who went everywhere with my brother, would not go near him the last two months of his life. I told my husband, who is a biochemist, about the dog’s behavior and he told me that the dog could probably smell the organ decay which takes place just prior to physical death.
          I am not surprised that your dog could probably smell that tumor. I certainly hope that you are well and good now.

          1. Leigh

            Very sorry for your loss. It must have been brutal for your brother to not only go through what he went through, but to have his best friend ignore him – wow. Ignore is probably not the right word….

    3. Ivy

      I’d love to see the companion study about how dogs and their owners resemble one another increasingly as they age. Behavior as manifested in appearance change.

    4. susan the other

      speaks for those undocumented lines of nonverbal communication that dogs do so well… I believe this – as my downstairs tenants’ dogs bark and growl at me every time I go past the door… I have enhanced my understanding of how others see me as a result… ;-)

  8. justanotherprogressive

    Hmmmm…..does the Hamilton Project, Brookings Institute and Quartz realize that those “social skills” jobs that they are insisting we prepare students for are precisely the jobs that are becoming more and more automated? Are they proposing that again we prepare students for jobs that will no longer exist in 20 years?

    1. footnote4

      Servers need to project empathy with customers and that is difficult to fully automate.

      Better to use a human-machine hybrid with the commoditized, low-paid emotional labor of a human tied to a mechanical system that keeps the assembly line of tasks moving along.

      Talk about exhausting work.

  9. L

    Re: proposed city-county merger

    Having lived in a city where this was being proposed I wholly agree with the mayor’s argument. Such merger plans are generally billed as cost savings but have the, purely unintended, side-effect of stripping communities of much of their actual power.

    That said I read through the article to see if that was the case here. This little nugget convinced me:

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also proposed mandating consolidation in counties across the state. If his proposal clears the state legislature, it would empower the county executive to draft a referendum and present it to the county legislature. In that case, no approval would be needed from the city.

    If he is trying to force it to happen then it has to be bad.

    1. allan

      Also too: many of the upstate city-county pairs have a shrunken, heavily minority, poorer city surrounded by a larger, whiter, wealthier ring of suburbs. Not hard to see how that would work out.

      1. cyclist

        Plus, many tax-exempt properties (universities, museums, churches, etc.) are located in the city but are also used by suburbanites. I know this was a problem in Rochester when I lived there in the ’80s.

    2. Pat

      That is very much a red flag. Pretty much anything that Cuomo supports without having his back to the wall is probably going to be another way to screw the public good.

    3. heresy101

      Are there any Canadians that can comment on the results of combining many small cities to form the aggregated city of Toronto? From outward appearances ten years ago, it looked like the city was well run without any visible problems.

  10. allan

    Potential solicitor general pick withdraws name [The Hill, includes auto-launch video]

    A lawyer believed to be on the shortlist for President Trump’s solicitor general has removed himself from the running, Politico reported Thursday.

    “I am deeply honored by any consideration that I may have received by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump for appointment as the Solicitor General, but I have asked them to discontinue any further consideration of me for that critically important position,” Supreme Court litigator Chuck Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

    His withdrawal could open a window for George Conway, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband, who is also believed to be under consideration. …

    Is it against SCOTUS rules to hawk a clothing line during oral arguments?

    1. Vatch

      The Supreme Court has some wacky sartorial customs, so maybe they could use a new clothing line!

      Initially, all attorneys wore formal “morning clothes” when appearing before the Court. Senator George Wharton Pepper of Pennsylvania often told friends of the incident he provoked when, as a young lawyer in the 1890s, he arrived to argue a case in “street clothes.” Justice Horace Gray was overheard whispering to a colleague, “Who is that beast who dares to come in here with a grey coat?” The young attorney was refused admission until he borrowed a “morning coat.” Today, the tradition of formal dress is followed only by Department of Justice and other government lawyers, who serve as advocates for the United States Government.

      The United States Solicitor General and deputies wear morning coats during oral argument before the United States Supreme Court, as do the Marshal and Clerk of the court during all sessions of the court, unless they are female.

  11. Skip Intro

    Obama’s Lost Army

    The question of why—why the president and his team failed to activate the most powerful political weapon in their arsenal—has long been one of the great mysteries of the Obama era. Now, thanks to previously unpublished emails and memos obtained by the New Republic—some from the John Podesta archive released by WikiLeaks, and others made available by Obama insiders—it’s possible for the first time to see the full contours of why Movement 2.0 failed, and what could have been.

    A lot of interesting inside info, some sourced from the Podesta email dump, but it continually implies that sidelining the OFA activist base after the election was a mistake, rather than a necessary move to allow Obama to work for the 1% once in office. They get close to the nut at one point though:

    There was plenty in Movement 2.0 to inspire heartburn in that crowd. In Silicon Valley terms, Obama 2008 had “disrupted” presidential campaigns, demonstrating how an underdog candidate could defeat a more experienced opponent by changing the terms of the game and empowering millions of people in the process. Now, it seemed, the Obamaites and their tech wizards wanted to disrupt the Democratic Party, diverting money and control from the DNC into an untried platform, while inviting “input,” and possibly even organized dissent, from Obama’s base. Earlier that summer, activists unhappy with Obama’s flip-flop on warrantless surveillance had used MyBO to build a group of more than 20,000 vocal supporters, earning national press and compelling a response from the candidate. What if Obama’s base didn’t like the health care reform he came up with, and rallied independently around a single-payer plan? Besides, grassroots movements, no matter how successful, don’t reliably yield what political consultants want most: money and victories for their candidates, with plenty of spoils for themselves. For insiders like Tewes, Movement 2.0 was a step too far.

    Edley knew that Tewes’s blowback spelled trouble. On August 24, the day before Obama’s triumphal convention began in Denver, he emailed Podesta to express hope that it was just a “misunderstanding.” He asked Podesta to keep the issue off the agenda of the transition board’s next meeting until they figured out what to do. Podesta agreed. “I think we should [n]ot raise at all tomorrow,” he told Edley, “and come up with seperate [sic] plan on how to proceed.”

    Looking back, Edley says now, Podesta made a tactical error by sharing the plan with party regulars like Tewes and Hildebrand before it had garnered more high-level support in the campaign. “John should’ve realized that of course the DNC would have competitive objections,” he says. “Our proposal would’ve created, at least in our dreams, yet another set of political forces and policy energy. At the time, I just didn’t realize the powerful pull that the architects of the Obama ‘movement’ would feel away from movement building and toward paranoid possession of the conventional trappings of political power. If you’re not really that committed, as a matter of principle, to a bottom-up theory of change, then you will find it nonsensical to cede some control in order to gain more power.

    1. fresno dan

      Skip Intro
      February 10, 2017 at 9:44 am

      “….rather than a necessary move to allow Obama to work for the 1% once in office.”
      People will not accept that their idols are not worthy of idolatry….

    2. djrichard

      Reminds me of that expression that Micheal Hudson invokes, something along the lines that the job of the candidates/elected is to deliver their constituency (to sell them out).

      By the way, this is all instructive for the Trump administration as well. If they’re going to be successful, they need to harness the energy that got him elected.

      Trump and Obama were both great at emotional connection during their campaigns. But after that, not so much. They needed to keep their love fests going. Obama couldn’t even be bothered to communicate with his constituency. Trump does, but through twitter, and that’s a very poor substitute.

      Create a void there instead and is it any wonder that the end result is the constituency getting sold out? Trump is on path to that if he doesn’t reconnect.

      P.S. I jumped off the Obama band wagon once he voted for TARP. That to me was the tell that he wasn’t really interested in his constituency. So it wasn’t surprising how his administration played out. In contrast, the Trump administration still seems up in the air to me on how they’re going to land vis-a-vis their constituency.

      1. Antifa reports that after three weeks on the job, Trump hates it. Hates his staff. Wants to play golf all day and be adored because he just oughta be.

        Meanwhile he has ideologues running loose behind the curtains with big plans for remaking America in some other image than a melting pot of ethnic types and world cultures. Something whiter, more evangelical, and patriarchal, with room for good old boys who know best for everyone.

        The upshot of the Trump era will not be what he accomplishes, but the blowback from the American public to the messes that will come boweling out of his organization in diarrhetic fashion. Even Pence will not be able to put the Presidency back on a pedestal again, when his turn inevitably comes around.

        1. djrichard

          It reminds me of marketing campaigns, throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

          First the electorate threw Obama against the wall. Hope and change didn’t stick too well. And people got disillusioned.

          But then they re-illusioned themselves with Bernie and with Trump. Long story short, now the electorate is throwing Trump against the wall to see if his gangster/mafia shtick for the rank-and-file will stick. And if that doesn’t stick, the people will get even more disillusioned.

          After all that disillusionment, I can’t imagine anybody wanting to get themselves re-illusioned again. But who knows, maybe Bernie can lay hands on somebody to be the heir apparent. And we’ll see if that ends up being more than an illusion.

          Or maybe the game of illusion isn’t necessary anymore. Maybe people finally give up and basically suck it up that they’ll be sold out regardless.

  12. BeliTsari

    Wait… somebody finally told the Donald that diacetylmorphine comes from a flower that grows in our friggin’ Afghanistan… and hillbilly heroin, from Papaver bracteatum? Just wait till Melanoma sees The Wizard of OZ!

    1. WJ

      “Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

      Not that I actually care one way or the other, but the sentence above gives me reason to doubt the accuracy of the WP’s reporting on this issue……

        1. A

          Or maybe Flynn actually discussed sanctions with Kislyak. He is no longer even denying it, saying he doesn’t remember. Not sure how many legs this thing has, because shoes just continue to drop.

            1. A

              He lied, Pence lied, it’s against the law? If no one cares, then why go to all the trouble of denying it? It’s funny how the response to the Russia thing keeps shifting between “it’s all dodgy/fake” to “who cares, it was a good thing anyway.”

                1. cwaltz

                  That’s kind of the point though.

                  Liar and politician aren’t supposed to be synonyms.

                  Or are people only supposed to be outraged when Democrats do it?

              1. integer

                Meh. The election-related sanctions were premised on spurious claims and it should be obvious by now that the neocons will try anything to prevent détente with Russia.

              2. WJ

                You are assuming the conclusion you rather need to argue for.

                The “Russia thing” as you put it has never been argued for on the basis of evidence, only asserted again and again and again.

                Sanctions put in place on the basis of a “thing” that we have no reason to believe actually exists are not worth taking seriously one way or the other.

                And if we’re really so interested in law-breaking, there’s a lot of substantiated criminal activity we might begin with that is longer standing and more harmful that anything that may or may not have been said between Flynn and some Russian dude on Christmas.

                I’m sure the NSA has a record of the call, by the way. Interesting that they have not confirmed what the nine cowardly
                officials are claiming.


                1. pretzelattack

                  maybe its the same 9 officials that claimed snowden and manning got people killed, or claimed saddam had wmd’s. i just wonder which of them speaks for the coast guard, part time.

        2. oh

          I always suspected that the Clinton Cabal had infiltrated the highest reaches of bureaucracy and perhaps they were the handlers for O’liar throughout.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          It is to the point now where whenever I see a link from the Washington Post, I just mentally substitute “CIA”

        4. Jeremy Grimm

          I tend to think of a Clintonite cabal as following after the Clinton lead. Is that the case — or is there a cabal within the Intelligence community that used the Clinton machine and now operates on its own. I like to think the Clintons — have been deprecated — but the intelligence cabal seems to remain alarmingly alive.

          1. pretzelattack

            clintons were using them, but they were using the clintons, too. god knows how the foreign policy sausage is actually made.

  13. David

    Kudos for the link to the interview with Chang. He is always very good value and presents his ideas simply and coherently, which is more than you can say for a lot of economists. I frequently recommend his books, which have the same virtues. His point about the economy being a political construct can’t be over-stressed.

    1. UserFriendly

      Except the complete misunderstanding of national debt. Please Mr Cheng show me one time, any time, where too much debt that was payable in a soverng currency has ever been a problem anywhere?

      1. Mel

        He does argue that if the debt is held domestically, then it can be — negotiated. That’s a weak-tea version of the MMT description. Foreign-held debt is always a wildcard. If they have the power to loan you money, they possibly also have the power to do whatever they think they have to to get it back in the form they choose.

        1. UserFriendly

          No, they don’t. When we issue bonds they are payable in USD only and we can print those any time we like.

          1. pretzelattack

            what are the arguments against just issuing enough dollars to every person in america to live with some minimal support–enough to eat, a place to live, access to a doctor when needed?
            or for that matter, the government creating a new hypercharged wpa that gives a job to everyone that needs one to repair/rebuild america’s infrastructure, including massive solar and wind projects. if i understand it, deficits don’t matter. it would have a large effect on existing trade, i would think, and that would have to be negotiated, but the usual argument revolves around the putative economic damage from increasing the deficit.

            1. UserFriendly

              Running a deficit isn’t a problem unless the economy isn’t producing enough real resources. As soon as you have a shortage of any one thing you start to get inflation. The more necessary the item and the more severe the shortage the higher the inflation. So if you buy into the robots are coming for our jobs theory (which I don’t) at the very least you would need some people working to get the basics produced. Employing everyone is a far more realistic option, and one that many MMT economists and most of the people on this site are pushing for.

  14. PKMKII

    On the autonomous shipping: wouldn’t that just move piracy out of the violent, storming the ship method, and into the digital? Pirates hack into the ship’s controls, direct it to their pirate port of choice. Meanwhile, feed false GPS information to the command center, make them think it’s still on course. Once it arrives in the pirate port, cut all connection and communication off to the command center. Company would go looking for it hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from where the ship actually is, and the goods would be disbursed long before the company realizes it’s been duped.

    1. Synoia

      It would abridge the law of the sea. Power gives way to Sail, because fiberglass boats are very nearly invisible to radar.

      Writes one who has dodged tankers and ferries while having a solo watch in such a yacht in the English Channel at night.

  15. Darius

    Scalia was the most political of jurists. He conducted himself at SCOTUS sessions like a senator at a committee hearing. He made no effort to conceal that he wanted the court to be the third house of Congress.

    His opinions read like National Review blog posts that he wrote feverishly at 2 am in his bathrobe in the basement. If it was important to the right, he was for it. He would half heartedly throw out lame phoned in pretexts. Throw in some Latin, some case cites and hey, justices are appointed for life and there you are. A Scalia opinion.

    Roberts is often the same but smoother about it. A judicial Obama, if you will. And you will.

        1. UserFriendly

          No, I was just refuting this line.

          If it was important to the right, he was for it

          But I’ll take a Scalia over a Thomas any day of the week. At least he was intelligent, I almost never agreed with him, but he was true to himself.

    1. pictboy3

      I still can’t get over how someone with such antipathy for the effects doctrine could write the majority opinion in Raich. The level of cognitive dissonance is way over 9000.

  16. L

    On an entirely different note it appears that the Clinton Foundation Ltd.(c)(c)(tm) is not the only casualty of the Clinton loss. Mr. Chelsea Clinton is closing his hedge fund. According to the article they declined to explain why but the money is being quietly returned.

    Either the “success” dried up once the connections were gone or someone is doing some heavy scrubbing before a congressional run.

        1. Pat

          I wouldn’t doubt that was true, or even that without a Clinton presidency there is no reason for ‘investors’ to curry favor by indulging her son-in-law. Still I don’t know that you can entirely discount that he was just bad at his job even with the information edge of a Mother-in-Law in government. Perhaps a combination of both.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The grift is over.

      Chelsea isn’t going anywhere. Her parents are stars. Chelsea is an entity who appears whenever her parents’ campaign for something, but third way politics only flies with candidates with star quality.

      Can you tell me anything positive about Chelsea without referencing her mom’s campaign? The answer is no. Oh, Chelsea is a mommy…okay, that’s nice. The Podesta emails reveal Clinton Inc thought she could be a brat which explains her place. The Clinton lackeys didn’t realize Chelsea was the heir despite her name.

      I forget which Shrub girl is which, but we are more likely to see the good one than Chelsea go anywhere. Chelsea like so many political kids before them has no real political skills because everyone was nice to them because of their parents, not skills they developed. Hillary only won New York in 2000 by 10 points in a seat where she could bully her way into a safe seat.

      1. Pat

        I would like to think the grift is over, but what I do know is that the Clintons will not go without kicking and screaming. The parents may be too old to go to Congress, but Chelsea is not. Despite her clear problems as a candidate, if it is deemed necessary to the family business for her to run, she will run. And sadly in NY she will likely be on the ballot. But if Teachout can lose, I have great hopes that if this does happen a Chelsea Clinton campaign loss will be the final nail in the coffin.

        Oh, and the Shrub girls are Jenna the more girl next door accessible one who now has a comfortable gig on the Today Show, and Barbara is the more patrician one who started off in design and museums and ended up working with AIDS patients in Africa. She is now, to quote Wikipedia, “the co-founder and president of a public health-focused nonprofit, Global Health Corps. Global Health Corps provides opportunities for young professionals from diverse backgrounds to work on the front lines of the fight for global health equity. In 2009, Global Health Corps won a Draper Richards Foundation Fellowship. Bush was also chosen as one of the 14 speakers selected from an applicant pool of 1,500 to speak at the TEDx Brooklyn event in December 2010, where she spoke about Global Health Corps.” So I’m not sure which one is the good one.

      2. River

        So Chelsea is basically Cesare Borgia and we’re just waiting for the ending when ma and pa kick the bucket. To see the predictable end of the of the story.

  17. jefemt

    re: 10 million barrels from strategic reserve, and lower commodity prices.

    I keep waiting for food prices to drop. Have seen NO relief, nly increases, over the past two years. Markets.

    1. oho

      >I keep waiting for food prices to drop. Have seen NO relief, nly increases, over the past two years. Markets.

      Might be a function of the retailers/grocers in your area. I’ve seen prices drop, but my area (according to the business papers) is abnormally competitive.

      In addition to the standard Mega-Lo Marts and national chains, there are independent grocers, ethnic grocers and a robust local wholesale food distribution system that supplies the indie grocers.

      presumably all the actors keep prices competitive. gee, sounds like real capitalism.

      Bought 10-lbs of frozen chicken leg quarters on sale for $0.29 per pound last night. Dog’s going to think it’s Thanksgiving this weekend.

  18. Paid Minion

    The fact that a single drop of Ogallala Aquifer water is being used for growing corn illustrates how stupid our “policy” for managing our resources is.

    The article goes on to fantasize about a future on the Great Plains where the kids will move to BFE, and create internet connected, work at home, “green” communities. ROTFLMAO

    For starters, Generation Z types who dont like two hour commutes are much more likely to live downtown in a major metro area, where they can get by without a car. And its a lot easier to do “gig” work in an area where there are plenty of “gigs”

    I used to think the “Buffalo Commons” idea was nuts. But now, I think its time to give it some serious consideration.

    The trouble is that it will take money, some changes in state property tax rules, and some intelligent leadership to make it happen. All of which is in short supply in Brownbackistan.

    1. cocomaan

      I had some problems with that article too.

      I have faith in the ability to innovate and solve problems as our climate changes even if it means more indoor growing, and more crickets in our 3-D printed food and Soylent-like mixes. Laboratory meat production and other replication technologies will also play a role.

      Indoor growing is some of the silliest, most wasteful “farming” in existence: it’s really gardening and it’s incredibly resource intensive. Additionally, I haven’t eaten a single calorie of 3D printed food, soylent-mixes (?) or laboratory-raised meat. These are dreams. There are innovations in farming. None of the above, some promised for decades, some only discovered because of clandestine marijuana growers, have panned out. Folding your hands on your lap and waiting is not a strategy.

      Instead of just talking about local food, maybe we should consider talking about food nationality. The real revolution in food production will come when we stop trying to play globalization. Whole Foods, Produce Junction, Trader Joes, etc stock produce sections with things brought in on reefers stacked high on container ships. Much of our grain goes elsewhere. It’s a shell game to chase Russians around the globe, competing on wheat prices.

      Edited to Add: People should give to the American Prairie Reserve, a totally private project to bring back the American savannah:

      1. Cat's paw

        People should give to the American Prairie Reserve, a totally private project to bring back the American savannah:

        Well…maybe or maybe not. I did some research in the area where the APR is located–interviewing local ranchers. They are none too pleased with APR’s activities. Why? B/c APR can and does easily outbid area ranchers for land that comes up for sale and as a consequence (though the data on this is a little less certain) the price of land has risen beyond what many area ranchers can afford. Moreover, b/c APR is out there bidding at a premium heirs and inheritors are increasingly tempted to sell off family ranches for the money.

        APR is private and that is potentially a problem as well. Their goal appears to be to create a private Yellowstone, one which nonetheless “piggybacks” on public lands adjacent to their holdings–they also buy up public land grazing leases (which many ranchers rely on) thus taking them out of future public “inventory.” Besides the above, there is also a socio-cultural issue that bugs area ranchers and others. If APR is ultimately successful it will change the local economies and communities to a service-driven, amenity-providing model that is common around popular national parks and mountain tourist towns. Most area people do not want their highly rural and particular ways of life transformed in this way.

        I also know people who have worked with/for APR and they are decent people. They are liberal, educated, environmentally motivated, conservation promoting, and generally transplants from elsewhere. In other words, there are real class issues, a clash of urban/rural values and economics.

  19. L

    You can add this from the Guardian to the post-mortem posts: Fighting for all? House Democrats divided over party agenda under Trump . The article as a whole is worth reading but two points really stand out for me.

    The first is Nancy Pelosi showing her charm and her finely tuned ear for the public mood:

    At the Baltimore retreat, assurances that Democrats were unified were sometimes betrayed. Progressives, for example, reportedly walked out of a presentation hosted by the centrist thinktank Third Way on Wednesday evening.

    “I didn’t notice that,” Pelosi said on Thursday morning. “Members walk out for a variety of reasons – some of them relate to personal hygiene.”

    The second is something that will launch a thousand tweets:

    “The next Democratic candidate has to be someone who has gutted a deer,” Brad Sherman, a representative whose district includes Los Angeles, told the Guardian.

    Stay classy Democrats, the Third Way(tm) is counting on you.

  20. allan

    Useful website,, keeps track of the confirmation votes in the Senate.
    (Only shows the final up or down votes, not the earlier procedural votes which are even more important.)

    You can filter by party.
    There have been a grand total of 3 GOP votes against nominees:
    Rand Paul voted against Pompeo for the CIA, and Collins and Murkowski cast kabuki votes against DeVos
    after having earlier voted for her in the procedural vote.
    On the other hand, there have been many Dem votes for the nominees.
    Oddly, or not, bipartisanship seems to be a one-way street.

    1. Pat

      Some interesting things in there, apparently Dems seem to have gotten the message that people are watching. Except for a couple of them voting for Tillerson, the last four votes have been a united block of no votes. Sign that it might not be is that King voted against DeVos, Sessions and Price as well.

      Schumer was consistently yes for a long time. Gillibrand has more no votes than anyone, including Sanders. She voted for Haley for UN Ambassador, he voted for Kelly at Homeland Defense and Mattis at Defense.

    2. Vatch

      Oddly, or not, bipartisanship seems to be a one-way street.

      I suppose bipartisanship is more likely when it benefits ultra-rich individuals and giant corporations. Despite the shame of Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, Feinstein, and their ilk, the Republicans are somewhat more oligarch friendly than the Democrats.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Schumer may want to spend less time memorizing the phone number of every single senate Democrat (being reported by Marketwatch), and more time to befriend oligarchs.

        That’s one way to catch up.

        By the way, email addresses are as important as, if not more than, phone numbers.

  21. Katharine

    Regarding that materials science breakthrough (if it is):

    When applied to a surface, the metamaterial film cools the object underneath by efficiently reflecting incoming solar energy back into space while simultaneously allowing the surface to shed its own heat in the form of infrared thermal radiation.

    That sounds great in hot weather, but how do you turn it off in winter?

    1. Jim Haygood

      It sounds like an extension of the low-e [low emissivity] glass coatings used in double pane windows now.

      These come in different configurations: to reflect incoming solar heat back outside (for hot climates), reflect internal heat back inside (for cold climates), or BOTH (a compromise for mild climates).

      Extending this tech to roofs is great. But unlike the sealed internal surfaces of a double-paned window, roofs are attacked by rain, snow, dust and UV radiation. It’s harsh service.

      One could see the new glass polymer metamaterial being coil-coated onto metal roofing (the best, but $$$). Question in hot climates is whether it could be coated onto tiles.

      1. susan the other

        So does this coating dry directionally so that it also reflects that way? That sounds like the most simple technology, like crystals… and what if the manufacturer gets the direction wrong and all those products reflect in the opposite direction… who would know and who would tell? My problem with double pane windows and treated windows is that they filter out the real light and it literally drives me nutty – really, I can feel it – I hate the “sunshine” that is modified, like I can never get the real thing. It’s like a form of starving. I just want small,clean, single pane windows, period.

    2. Paul

      Interestingly, snow has this property: It is highly reflective (and thus has low emissivity) at solar wavelengths (bright and white to us), but at the long IR wavelengths emitted by near-surface objects, it’s almost perfectly black, and thus high emissivity. Same for clouds. The Earth as a whole has 30% reflectivity for solar, but near perfect emisssivity for thermal emissions.

      For a thermal wavelength band: Emissivity = 1 – Reflectivity

  22. Herky

    Yves / Lambert / Commentariat:
    Has anyone else noticed that Trump is such a ‘renegade’ in some situations, and in others a complete lapdog of those around him ‘authority’? Any insights on the underlying character trait or power dynamic that coherently explains why this is? “commercial interests”, “mental disorder”, etc are the most common explanations perhaps, but all seem far too simplistic.
    Superficially, this would be useful to understand in placing day-to-day events for the next 4 years in context. More strategically, understanding this might reveal more effective means to block and/or work with his administration, and the degree to which he actually has power over its actions.

    1. oho

      there’s the ‘genius clown’ filter—if you accept the idea that Trump, consciously or subconsciously, uses his randomness as a means of destabilizing his opponents.

      using that filter—Trump doesn’t communicate which of his policies are core/must-have policies, and which are policies that he’s willing to trade away for concessions.

      so hypothetically, Trump uses the 7-country migration ban as a tactic to mobilize Team Dem on migration while Trump pushes an economic agenda that’s “buried below the fold”


      1. DH

        That might work. He will be able to get tax cuts, deregulation, and possible tariffs through the Republican Congress. Those moves will probably cost jobs in the Trump voters. However, he will need Democrat votes to pass things that will actually help his voters as the Republican House and Senate have no interest in those policies.

        So there is lots more water that has to go under the bridge.

    2. rowlf

      Perhaps we lack the tools to properly observe Trump. Consider how the recent reality for many was that he could not win the election. How can all of the people who were oblivious before now be perceptive?

      1. BeliTsari

        Specious delusion, didactic rationalization & relentless, uncompromising obliviousness are the most highly prized commodities on Manhattan Island; we tend to stride right into our worst nightmares?

        The revolution wasn’t live-streamed on iPhone?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Politics is simply team sports. How different was the march from the Pats Super Bowl Parade? Except for maybe retired players, did any spectator really accomplish anything? It was virtue signaling, and people from New England lose their minds over professional sports. I streamed the parade and sound like my dad during Pats, Sawx, Celtics, and Bruins games and when I’m driving.

        I expect plenty of people planned a trip to Washington around the inevitable Hillary inaugural. The original parade was ruined.

        1. fresno dan

          February 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

          What a very good point NTG – I have posted this comic strip many times about the “team sports” aspect, but your comment made me think to substitute “football team” with “political party” – and of COURSE, it comes out exactly the same…..maybe even truer…, definitely truer.

    3. Annotherone

      Trump’s leadership talent and native cunning are hampered by his hyper-sensitivity to criticism. At his age that hyper-sensitivity is unlikely to change. It’s an unfortunate combination for him, but perhaps fortunate for us, in that he’s not the total monster he might otherwise have been. I’ve studied astrology (don’t laugh!) and Trump’s natal chart does illustrate the above.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The next Trevor Noah takedown will hurt Trump so bad because he can’t take criticism. I bet Hillary wins 49 states in November ’16. All those Republicans will sure look so stupid…oh, right…

        1. Annotherone

          @ NotTimothyGeithner ~ Yes, I get what you’re saying, but I was responding to Herky’s original comment, about Trump’s apparent two-sided nature. He has a useful vent in Twitter, and uses it a lot. That could be why criticism, so far, seems to have rolled off his back – or rather off the backs of his supporters.

  23. Paid Minion

    The idiocy was illustrated during my drive to Colorado on I-70, near Goodland, KS.

    I passed one of those big, center-pivot irrigators, watering a field of corn. The end of the pivot was uncapped, from which a solid, 8-12 inch stream of water was blasting out, straight into the ditch.


    -no regulation of water resources meant that nobody was forced to fix it.

    – someone was too lazy to fix it, or:

    – someone was too cheap to fix it


    – water is cheap enough to just dump in the ditch.

    Mark my word…… some point, these boot strappers, get government off my back types will be wanting a bailout eventually, in the form of a water pipeline.

    1. fresno dan

      Paid Minion
      February 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Living in 3 cities in CA since my retirement, and being of the kind that actually writes and contacts government about problems, every communication about dripping, leaking, running water has been met with either thinly disguised contempt or I get yessed but nothing happens.

      But its obvious – there is plenty of water in CA….for 1% of the population…..

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      1 leaking irrigation systems on corn fields


      2 golf courses in deserts, like Las Vegas, even with non-leaking irrigation

      ,The former is easier to rally support for fixing than the latter.

  24. Paid Minion

    Airline subsidies

    Forgotten/not mentioned is that Dubai &Co have only one airport of any consequence, meaning all of their market is subject to international competition.

    The internal US market, by contrast, does not allow foreign owned carriers to fly between US destinations. A regulatory “subsidy”.

    Also not mentioned is the fact that you would be stupid as a country/nation in not having airline alternatives to US/European flag carriers. So many countries subsidize their airlines. Emirates just does it better than most.

    Also not mentioned is the fact that many of the Middle East carriers have US/European pilots, who typically get paid much better than US carriers do.

    1. oho

      Dubai was built with, in practical terms, indentured servant labor from the Indian subcontinent.

      And the Gulf states still relies on literally millions of meagerly paid ex-pats to run the kitchens, clean the toilets, etc.

      the pot and kettle both calling each other black.

  25. Synoia

    Republicans are reportedly using a self-destructing message app to avoid leaks

    How does this avoid CALEA?

    Seems a clear breach of that act.

  26. Synoia

    New engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption

    Reflect any incoming solar rays back into the atmosphere while still providing a means of escape for infrared radiation. To solve this, the researchers embedded visibly-scattering but infrared-radiant glass microspheres into a polymer film. They then added a thin silver coating underneath in order to achieve maximum spectral reflectance.

    Think of it as having windows heat passes through, while light is reflected.

    It like programs and money. Money for good programs, public housing, is reflected, while money for the MIC just passes through.

  27. Dave

    “No pink wooly hats for me”

    Pink ribbons one year–Pussyhats the next.

    Meaningless marches sponsored by carcinogen containing cosmetic companies
    easily morph into distressed demonstrators demanding Democratic Party distractions.

    Why not National Health Care instead of ‘reproductive rights’? Why not “livable wages” instead of glass ceilings? Why not stop bombing Muslims instead of supporting refugees?

    The energy of the marches could have forced President Trump to seriously consider these things, instead he was handed a ego-prop on a pink platter.

  28. Synoia

    Explosion Hits Nuclear Power Station In Northwest France

    In a comment from senior members of the EU, the gravity of the situation was emphasized, the senior unelected, unrepresentative and mendacious senior leaders of the EU placed the blame firmly on the British, and possibly the resurgence of Marie Le Pen, in France.

    “The cause was a tsunami of emotional discontent which swept to France as a result of the Brexit decision. It cause immense damage when it hit France, after traveling at light speed over the Channel (La Manche to be precise), and was logically responsible for the complete collapse of the support for Francoise Holland, and led to the resurgence of anti-EU behavior demonstrated by Marie Le Pian.”

    ” Ze EU will not tolerate such an invasion of discontent, and will accept Brexit as a way of erecting barriers to the migration of such bad behavior.”

    “However, it is plus logical to stab Britain in the back for such behavior, especially when L’Anglais have caused the destruction of one of Frances’ most successful public works project, now damaged and exposing the French people to the threat of a Nuclear meltdown, and not a threat from Germany, this time.

    The EU has decided to Marshall all forces, supplied by the polish migrant labor, at its disposal to combination the incident, and has summon all copies of all EU directive to be used to build a paper wall 100 meters high to surround the possible nuclear disaster.”

    When asked if the EU bureaucrats would help in erecting the wall , the response was, “Nein, they are too busy developing new directives, and when finished, these directive can add another 50 meters to the height of the paper wall containing the radioactive waste, unit they can find a way to transport the waste instantaneously to Greece,and Italy to solve their economic crises by making the countries radio-active wastelands. and creasing millions more itinerant migrate workers for the EU.

    When ask how these people would survive, the response from the EU spokesperson, M. Atoinette, was “Let Them Eat Cake, again.”

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Okay, I tried to skip it. Your synopsis is clarifying.

      Should we coin the phrase Proto News to fight F@cke N3ws?

  29. larry

    Back to Chang. It is clear early on that Chang knows nothing about how some of the currency system works. For instance, he knows nothing about the functions of taxation. There is no such thing as taxpayers’ money.

  30. Steve Roberts

    On the Quartz article: introverts vs extroverts has little to do with social skills. It’s about learning tools to not sabotage your life. Whether it’s reading non-verbal communications, communicating your own ideas, social rules in friendship building or how those interrelate isn’t about extrovert / introvert. As an introvert I’m horrific at large networking events but I’ve studied how and I’m not a plant in the corner. I do excel at one-on-one meetings where being an introvert is actually beneficial.

  31. allan

    UK Court Backs Plumber in New Challenge to ‘Gig’ Economy [NYT]

    The Court of Appeal in Britain has ruled in favour of a plumber claiming workers’ rights from a firm that took him on as a contractor, in a decision hailed by unions as a victory for the self-employed in the so-called “gig” economy.

    The decision comes three months after another tribunal ruled taxi app Uber should pay its drivers the minimum wage and holiday pay deals.

    Gary Smith had worked as an “independent contractor” for London-based Pimlico Plumbers from 2005 until he suffered a heart attack in 2011.

    Smith, who was paying tax on a self-employed basis, asked to reduce his number of working days per week, but the company refused and took back the liveried van he had hired for work. [Innovative!] …

    The latest decision rejects the firm’s appeal, upholding the tribunal’s ruling which found Smith be a “worker” and therefore entitled to basic employment rights such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage. …

    “Worker”? Really?? What kind of archaic dead weight concept is that???

  32. DH

    Re: More troops for Afghanistan.

    It is very difficult to do nation-building in a country that is not a nation and has little interest in building one.

    Afghanistan has always struck me as Britain before Alfred the Great where it was just a bunch of local fiefdoms with the occasional person who wanted to be king to extract revenues, but was generally unable to succeed in uniting the tribes. Meanwhile, Viking tribes with “safe havens” elsewhere were invading, raiding, and taking land.

    Ultimately, it took an Alfred the Great to stitch the various lords together to defeat the Vikings and create a complete country. That resulted in a country with a unified leader (including after the Norman Conquest), but periodic kleptocratic rulers resulted in the barons revolting and forcing the Magna Carta which began the parliamentary system that Britain has had since then.

    Karzai never struck me as an Alfred the Great figure. We probably need to wait for a Genghis Khan type of figure to arise out of the tribes. Right now the only groups that seem to have that level of organization appear to be the Taliban.

  33. JerryDenim

    “Pink Wooley Hats” I was a bit annoyed by the identity-politic, sore loser Clinton supporters who marched post inauguration, but I’m beginning to think maybe I was a little too hard on them. Protest is better than silent acquiescence right? Doubling down on skin deep, divisive identity politic issues may be wrong-headed in my opinion, but at least it’s a start??? Anyway it was nice to hear someone else (Barbara McLean) is frustrated with the lack of Socialist groups that are actually proposing Socialist solutions to our current capitalist dilemma. I’ve heard a few plugs for the Democratic Socialists of America lately and I thought I would check out a meeting at my local chapter. (Los Angeles) I went over to their website checked the upcoming calendar and the only event I could find was an upcoming, sold out lecture on “Socialist Feminism”. Not the most encouraging sign. Then I poked around on the website a little more and I found a bunch of merchandise promoting LGBT rights, Feminism, and unregulated immigration. I was left feeling a little confused and wondering if their was anything “Socialist” about this group of supposed Socialists. I’m still going to try and attend a meeting before I pass judgement on this group, but I’m not sure how promoting even larger surplus labor supply is going to do anything to help the bargaining or earning power of the down-trodden American working class? Am I a hopelessly out-of-touch, old, heterosexual white guy who just doesn’t get it, or is there something I am missing? I would love to find some old-school Socialists who are interested in promoting old-school socialism that helps EVERYBODY, well everybody except the top 1% of our Capitalist overlords. Is there a club for people like me or am I out of luck?

  34. robnume

    My uncle used to be the treasurer of a little group called “Young Socialists of America.” I don’t know that the organization still exists, but their call was for a far more ‘socialistic’ democracy than that which we have had here in the U.S. They recruited primarily from American labor union membership so, since union membership is in serious decline, if not outright death, I am unsure as to their status these days.

    1. JerryDenim

      Could work for me. As luck would have it I’m a dues paying union member!

      Focusing membership on just union members sounds like a bad plan for building a coalition large enough to be nationally influential though. Just to clarify, I’m not by any means against gay rights, minority rights, feminism or even a moderate level of legal, non-exploitive immigration. I just want to advocate for socialist programs that will help ALL poor, working class and middle class Americans, even if they just so happen to native-born, white heterosexuals. In the last 50 years America has made amazing leftward strides on social issues but it has regressed 100 years regarding economic issues and class inequality. I want to work with people interested in promoting Socialist solutions from a classical Marxist perspective. I don’t begrudge any narrow identity group who wants to advocate for their own pet concerns, that’s just not something I personally have any interest in promoting at the moment, especially under the false guise of “Socialism”.

  35. Kemal Erdogan

    FN economic program makes a lot of sense, It would have been a lot of fun to watch. But, the french elite seems to think Macron is their guy, not fillon not Le Pen. And, it appears they will get their way, at least according to the current polls.

    But, again Macron is just another despicable banker and french still remember his fingers in the anti-worker employment law. So, we’ll see if the french people will also beat the elite like in the US or the UK

  36. Dead Dog

    Re Wikipedia moving against the Daily Mail.

    My how we’ve turned. When I did my MBA in early oughts, we weren’t allowed to cite information in Wiki as it was deemed unreliable.

    Whenever I’ve read the DM, I confess I only look at the pictures

  37. Anon

    RE: Lions of LA

    What’s amazing about puma P-22 (video) is that he is not living in the Santa Monica Mountains, but in the relatively postage stamp area of Griffith Park (8 sq. miles). The LA Times has done a recent article about his movements about the Park (eat, sleep, prowl) and ability to go unseen (by the general public). P-22 (seen in the video) is now seven years old and without a mate (10 years is avg. lifespan) and if he attempts to find one will likely have to cross the eight-lane 405 freeway to make it to the larger opportunity in Santa Monica Mtns. Death by vehicle is likely.

  38. DH

    Re: Syracuse city-county merger

    A few key things here about the situation of Syracuse and Onondaga County

    1. Syracuse and Onondaga County were one of the first Rust Belt cities to have major plant closings. By the time the 2008 financial crisis hit, there wasn’t that much impact because the plants had been closed so long they were already three-quarters full of small businesses that had moved in over the previous 20 years.

    2. The City of Syracuse is filled with federal, state, and non-profit facilities such as hospitals and universities. A lot of land is interstate highways used to travel through the city. These lands don’t pay property taxes and so much of the prime land in the city doesn’t generate revenue for the city.

    3. Commute times are short so you can drive from the furthest point in the county to the opposite corner in 40 minutes at rush hour. So the only impediment to moving from the city core to the outer suburbs (even to adjacent counties) is money. So the higher incomes are in a belt outside the city. That keeps median house prices in the city very low, so no property tax base there.

    4. Many of the suburban school districts are excellent and filled with the children of professionals, many of whom work in the city of Syracuse, including at the various government and NGOs. The Syracuse City School District is largely low income children with a very high percentage of English as a non-native language speakers. Only a small percentage can read at or even close to grade level. However, the children of the immigrants tend to close the gap through high school and many go on to college.

    5. House prices everywhere in the urban area are low – many weeks there is not a single house sale above $500k in the newspaper real estate section that covers Onondaga County and portions of several other counties around it. A 2,500 sf house in a good school district would cost $200k – $300k. So there are very few areas where people making median household income can’t afford to live, so there is no disincentive for people who want to live in the better school districts which means that generally people with families making median household income or better are in the suburbs, including the professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.. Onondaga County can collect property taxes from those outlying areas but the City of Syracuse cannot.

    5. So the City of Syracuse has been in a downward spiral where there are a lot of incentives to live outside the city if you can afford to. It is improving as the downtown core is reviving, but it has a long way to go.

  39. nothing but the truth

    “Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work ”

    this is basically generational treason.

  40. Alex

    Could someone explain in simple words why can’t Greece declare bankruptcy? What are the consequences of this step, are they really so dire as to be worse than the current situation? Do they fear being excluded from payment systems, seizing of property abroad?..

    1. ChrisAtRU

      In Simple Terms:

      Greece is not a currency issuer – like every other nation in the EZ. They are a user of the Euro as a currency. So effectively, they need to earn Euro’s either through exports or raising money by selling bonds. Unlike a country that is monetarily sovereign, like the US or Japan, they can create their own money. So when we say Greece is ‘in debt’, it very, very different from talking about US debt or Japanese debt. Greece cannot, as the US would do, merely mark up interest bearing accounts at their central bank in order to ‘mature the debt’. Greece has already had to turn over control of state assets (like their airports) to foreign companies in an effort to reduce debt burden. Main point:
      If Greece does not pay debts, it won’t get access to capital markets.
      This is where the absolute high-fuckery of the Troika becomes apparent. The IMF pretends to care – accepting some blame for the situation, and saying shit like it won’t work with Greece unless some debt is relieved. Then Schäuble pipes up again some EU/ECB financial law version of BeetltJuice to claim that Greece should exit the EZ to get debt relieved. Well f*** … as someone said, they should have taken the first offer. They wouldn’t have German firms running their airports! Ive opined elsewhere that the Southern (net importer) countries of the EZ should form a block and exit together – Portugal, Greece, Spain and perhaps now Italy should wash their hands of this Banskter cess-poole and start their own currency-political union. I’d pay to see that!

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