Links 2/1/17

Dutch experiment with ‘Tinder for orangutans’ PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Ollie the jailbreaking bobcat on the lam from National Zoo TreeHugger (resilc)

Cocaine found in nose cone of American Airlines jet: police Reuters. Chuck L: “We’ve all heard the term ‘coke nose’ but this is taking it to a ridiculous extreme!”

H-1B visa reform bill introduced in US House of Representatives Times of India. Tony K: “Innocuous looking headline but the Times of India certainly thinks it is a big deal. BSE IT index dropped 4 points, couldn’t happen to more deserving folks.”

Two Infants Treated with Universal Immune Cells Have Their Cancer Vanish MIT Technology Review (Glenn F)


A big Chinese province admits faking its economic data Economist (David L)

It’s official, Australia’s car industry to close in October MacroBusiness

Peter Thiel’s secret citizenship sparks NZ backlash Financial Times


Brexit bill’s obstacle course through UK parliament Politico

How the SNP, Lib Dems and Labour will try and FAIL to block Brexit in Article 50 debate Daily Express

Trump Accuses Germany of “Currency Exploitation”: Merkel vs. Trump, Is Either Side Telling the Truth? Michael Shedlock

Marine Le Pen: Deadline passes for National Front leader to repay EU funds BBC

They keep lying while they argue about how to proceed with destroing Greeks: IMF, Germany and EU Defend Democracy


EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon believes attack on Saudi frigate meant for US warship Fox. Resilc: “Trump/Saudi forces on the march.”

New Cold War

Trump Quiets Some Russian Doubts Consortium News (Carolinian)

Trump Transition

Trump picks Colo. appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Washington Post (furzy)

Trump Chooses Neil Gorsuch, Ivy League Conservative, for Supreme Court National Law Journal (furzy)

US army to allow Dakota oil pipeline BBC

Column: The stock market hates Trump’s economic policies PBS. UserFriendly: “Scorching…. minus the not getting MMT.​”

Trump poised to overhaul H-1B visas relied on by Silicon Valley tech Mercury News (Glenn F)

Trump Continues Obama’s Inane, Immoral, Unconstitutional Drone Policy Michael Shedlock (EM)

White House: Military won’t target US citizens in anti-terror raids The Hill (UserFriendly). Even if they are terrorists?/sarc

Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source Foreign Policy (resilc)

State Dept. Dissent Cable on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures New York Times

Exclusive: Only a third of Americans think Trump’s travel ban will make them more safe Reuters (furzy). Isn’t 1/3 of Americans a higher percentage than voted for him? So his team might see this as progress!

Republican party torn by claims of White House chaos Financial Times. More elite/base split. This is the third to the last paragraph in a longish article:

While the fallout in elite circles has been intense, Mr Trump’s voters approve of his actions, according to Trent Lott, a former Senate majority leader. “People in the heartland, people who voted for Trump, are saying: Yes!” he said in a telephone interview.

Trump Delays Cyber Order to Focus on Immigration Lawsuit Bloomberg

Trump order would ‘shut down’ border, Peace Bridge GM says Buffalo News (blint). See related story on SecureID

Lyft downloads surpass Uber on anti-Trump backlash Financial Times

GOP senator ‘concerned’ about EPA pick’s history of suing the agency The Hill (UserFriendly). This is a big deal in that it means that real cracks are developing in the Republican side. And Maine is liberal but also rural and poor. It was early to start turfing out Dems for having done nothing for the state.

Senate Democrats Delay Confirmation of Mnuchin and Price New York

Trump, Democrats Dig In for Long Fight Wall Street Journal

200 demonstrators descended on Dianne Feinstein’s house to protest her support for Trump’s nominees SFGate (Alan C)

Mortgage-Interest Deduction — Eliminate It and Progressive, High-Tax States Will Suffer National Review. UserFriendly: “Eye roll at the dig at Sanders.” Moi: War against the blue cities! But in places like SF and NYC, a $1 million mortgage only gets you a one bedroom….

Warren Buffett: I bought $12 billion of stock after Trump won Reuters (furzy)

Trump and the Dissent Channel American Conservative (resilc)

The Shape of US Tax Reform by Martin Feldstein Project Syndicate (UserFriendly)

Do You Need a Ride or a Checkered Pattern? Defend Democracy (Tahir)

Trump Insists That Now, More Than Ever, Americans Must Stand Strong In Face Of Empathy Onion (David L)

2016 Post Mortem

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down Motherboard (reslic). So now Big Data is evil because it helped Trump win, as opposed it gets used for stuff that amounts to pre-crime, like sentencing guidelines that use Big Data and winds up giving harsher sentencing recommendations for people of color?

Trump administration urged to overhaul Fannie and Freddie Financial Times. This particular form of grifting didn’t get implemented under Obama despite Treasury pushing for it, but Fannie and Freddie are Republican bete noires….

Swing Left and the Post-Election Surge of Progressive Activism New Yorker (furzy)

Constituent power is real. Just ask Chuck Schumer. Slate (resilc). Not holding my breath…

Keep On The Sunny Side Bill Maher (Glenn F). On US energy employment.

Why Hollywood as We Know It Is Already Over Vanity Fair (furzy). Again revealing myself to be a hopeless old fart, I pretty much only watch movies in theaters (but since I am horrifically busy, my actual movie watching has plunged to close to nada). A smaller screen, even a big small screen, isn’t the same.

Goldman: Trump rally has another 5% to go before political uncertainty sinks it later this year CNBC (resilc)

Trump’s Trade War With Mexico Could Crash Natural Gas Prices OilPrice

Wells Fargo Scandal Blocks Severance Pay for Laid-Off Workers New York Times

Attorney General’s Opinion Says State Pension Fund Accounting Methods Illegal and Unconstitutional State Treasurer of South Carolina. An important victory for Curt Loftis. No wonder the rest of the trustees are trying to get rid of him. Can’t “embarrass the system” even when it is breaking the law!

Class Warfare

What happened to Occupy movement? failed evolution

What You Need to Know About #DeleteUber New York Times

Antidote du jour. Frosty Zoom

During the especially fierce winters of 2013 and 2014 I helped jasper and his (her?) compatriots survive with well-timed servings of nuts and fruit.

Jasper became a good friend, often bringing me the best nuts of the local black walnut trees during the summer as thank you gifts.

In august, 2015 I had to move from my humble abode. During the last few minutes of my move, Jasper reappeared to get a look at what was going on. I think he was going to miss me – I sure miss him.

In my new home I have made many squirrel friends, most likely because of the hickory nuts I keep stocked up. They, too, bring me gifts (nuts, pastries from the neighbour’s garbage!) during the good months.

And a bonus from Tracie H. This is Shakespeare:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Andrew Watts

    RE: Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source

    It appears that Trump/Bannon doesn’t really trust the leadership of the military/intelligence community. Without a paper trail they wouldn’t have to worry about any substantial leaks from NSC staffers that would interfere or cripple their foreign policy objectives.

    The lack of accountability isn’t very confidence inspiring considering the role NSC played during Iran-Contra but I don’t find FP’s concern trolling to be genuine. As if the foreign policy apparatus hasn’t plowed the country into multiple quagmires/disasters already.

      1. Vatch

        Yes, the demagogue Joseph McCarthy weakened himself when he clashed with the U.S. Army in 1954. McCarthy would have fallen eventually, but his dispute with the Army hastened his downfall.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The difference is that McCarthy was a drunk and Bannon is a self-described Leninist. Apparently Bannon got a little tipsy at a party and spilled his personal baggage.

          1. Vatch

            One of the doctrines of communism is that the state will wither away. Bannon wants to destroy government so that rich people and corporations can have free rein to do whatever they want. So in that restricted sense, he shares something with Marxists like Lenin. When he described himself as a “Leninist”, I think he was being a smart a$$ who enjoyed shocking the person he was talking to

            Maybe I’m wrong; perhaps he sleeps with a deluxe bound edition of The State and Revolution under his pillow.

            1. Lambert Strether

              I’m told that many on Wall Street read Lenin. At least, they think, he understands the uses of power, and he writes with admirable clarity.

              (I’m not sure communism is a thing or has any doctrines any more. For my money, it’s all been peeled back to Capital, because Marx fought his way through to the idea that capitalism means crisis, as opposed to this equilibrium bullshit. Harder leftists than I am may feel free to disagree… I should also say that I’m also digestign some of the wonderful new scholarship on capitalism and slavery, which was not available — experts correct me — at the time Marx wrote.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                What’s remarkable is how communist central planning crept into our money systems, Keynes and Harry Dexter White (who designed the global money system after WW II) were both fans of Stalin’s Soviet Union. “I’ve seen the future…and it works!” they gushed. In every other domain the concept of top-down centralized planning has collapsed into a heap of hilarity and ridicule, but for our money we still labor under a system where a prescient Politboro of plutocrat Ph.Ds (try to) predict the future for us. Their success rate is 0.00%… but nevertheless: “Forward Soviet!”

                1. DarkMatters

                  I keep reading descriptions like “communist central planning” as above, as if central planning is the core feature of communist government that explains all its evils (in contrast to sunshiny laissez-faire, I suppose). This has been quite the learning experience, since before this, I had no idea that the civilizations that planned the pyramids, the ziggurats, from Sumer to Akkad to Babylonia, or the Roman roads and aqueducts, had so misguidedly anticipitated nineteenth century Leninist and Marxist collectivism by so many millenia! Nor that the power vacuum of the middle ages, where a few entrepreneurial good ol boys from Normandy were free to run amok in Europe, was such a social paradise.

                  Please, someone, is there an enunciable definition of communism (and socialism, for that matter) that lets me characterize a government or policy before I’m supposed to hate it, instead of after?

                  1. Brad

                    Yep, the magic marketplace conjured all those aqueducts into existence. Just like it did with…the Erie Canal.

                    Interestingly, the classical Latin word for “the market” – forum – also referred to a public space. Hence “turba forensis” – “public disturbance”. The ancient Romans recognized the marketplace as a public, social construction. Tributary familial relations were the space of the private world. The mass wage labor market is the basis for its present mystification. The privately owned railroads were its historical inflection point in the US.

                    “Central planning” is a typical liberal bugbear. As if there can’t be decentralized or distributed planning. The liberal market boils down to waiting for individual capitalist despots and clique hangers-on to impose *their plans* upon the rest of us in “the forum”. As each capitalist clique pushes a plan that must reinforce a despotism centered around themselves, the plans often clash. As we see at present with Trump and his class comrade opponents. That clash of despotisms is called “freedom and democracy”.

                2. Elasmobranch

                  Walmart is a central command economy. And nearly a state unto itself. Top-down planning works.

                3. vegasmike

                  Harry Dexter was a member of the communist party. Keynes was reformer. He wasn’t a fan of central planning.

                4. Procopius

                  Actually, “planning,” not necessarily “central planning,” was extremely popular among intellectuals during the late ’20s and the ’30s. It seems to me to have come from the perceived failure of “free market” capitalism, the dog-eat-dog competition, and the inability of the central government to halt deflation. Lots of people thought the Depression wa the result of overproduction. In the Midwest, farmers formed unions to try to halt shipment of milk to the cities, in an effort to raise the price. Everybody was impressed by the success of the German General Staff’s success with central planning during World War I.

                  1. Tigerlily

                    Great comment.

                    What few now remember is that in the 1930s, in the wake of both World War 1 and the Great Depression, capitalism’s credibility was in tatters and people were searching for alternatives, the two most promising of which were fascism and communism. It is only “obvious’ in retrospect that the center would hold and the radical alternatives fail…or at least fail first.

                    Small correction: central planning required the expertise and resources of the entire state bureaucracy, it was not exclusively or even primarily an achievement of the General Staff alone.

                    1. WheresOurTeddy

                      Capitalism’s reputation should be even more so in tatters now than the 30s.

                      Then again, the Oligarchy has had almost 100 years to refine our propaganda techniques.

                      “The Iron Heel” by Jack London – more prescient now than in 1909?

                5. bob

                  “What’s remarkable is how communist central planning crept into our money systems”

                  Yeah, get your government hands off of my US dollars!


            2. Grebo

              perhaps he sleeps with a deluxe bound edition of The State and Revolution under his pillow.

              It is an excellent cure for insomnia. Without doubt the most boring book I have ever finished.

      2. Andrew Watts

        Eh, I give him even odds. But only because I’ve known a few Leninists.

        In any case this is going to make the next four years interesting.

    1. UserFriendly

      Sorry to hijack the top comment but I have good news people will want to see!

      Sanders, Cruz to face off in debate over future of ObamaCare
      Tuesday, 2/7 at 9 pm Eastern, on CNN.

      Is it wrong that I am giddy with excitement about this? The chance to have the GOP base hear about single payer without scare quotes…. If he made an MMT argument I would just go through the roof!

      1. Waldenpond

        I feel like such a downer here, just a couple of items to keep in mind:

        1. The structure and questions may be prepared ahead of time (as many debates are) as conditions to participate. There may be no opportunity to discuss single payer. The intent is to debate ACA/Heritage/Romney care.

        2. Sanders is officially the Democrat Senate Outreach Chair. Recognize he is limited by his job which is to promote the DNCs caucus agenda. The DNCs caucus agenda is ACA/H/Rcare not single payer.

        1. Lambert Strether

          That’s super-ugly. If that happens, I’m gonna have to whack Sanders, because the DNC is composed of corrupt and clueless fuckups who would have been fired if performance meant anything to the Democrat leadership.

          1. Waldenpond

            Have to wait and see what the DNC is willing to do. Does Sanders have the go ahead to mention single payer? Does he have the go ahead to discuss single payer?

            It would be a very small gesture to allow the words to be used but after Pelosi’s “we are capitalists” yesterday, I don’t expect it. The D leadership is consistent in their positions.

          2. DarkMatters

            The Democrats are thrashing wildly to hold onto the little power they have left, and you might not to have to whack Sanders, as the flailing tail of the decapitated beast might do it for you. Is there no shame? Stay tuned to find out!

      2. Christopher Fay

        Trump voters don’t watch CNN, the Clinton News Network. It’s still important enough for some Washington insider Republicans, such as Cruzzer, for it to count.

        What’s the point of Sanders defending Obamacare?

  2. Andrew Watts

    RE: Trump’s Trade War With Mexico Could Crash Natural Gas Prices

    So, good news for some people and bad news for others in any theoretical trade war. But, but, I thought everybody was a winner from free trade and globalization. Shouldn’t we all be losers? Just kidding!

    International trade is a zero sum game in both international and domestic affairs. It’s why so many lobby groups want special provisions inserted into every trade agreement that gets signed. Only ideologues or suckers are blind to this process.

    1. Jim Haygood

      International trade is a zero sum game.

      And the sun revolves around the earth. Anybody can see this for themselves.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s all relative.

        If you were a dog, international trade is a negative sum game. Some people, somewhere, eat dog meat.

        1. carycat

          But for dog’s that live in a country that thinks of dog food as food with dog in it, they may consider the importation of dogs a plus (better them foreigners than us)

    2. Rabidgandhi

      With all respect Andrew I think you are confusing deals like Nafta and Cafta with trade agreements which they are most certainly not: they have far more to do with investor rights and internal deregulation than anything that could actually be called trade. Worse is TPP and TISA which with their ISDS and hefty intellectual property provisions have far more to do with restricting trade than with freeing it.

      Comrade Haygood has a point in that true free trade would not necessarily be zero sum, but it is such an abstract concept never implemented in the real world, that it barely makes sense to talk about free trade.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I don’t agree with that at all. The basis of NAFTA was a trade agreement forged between the US and Canada during the second Reagan Administration. The TPP/TPIP agreements are a different matter considering the circumstances.

        Comrade Haygood has a point in that true free trade would not necessarily be zero sum, but it is such an abstract concept never implemented in the real world, that it barely makes sense to talk about free trade.

        I wasn’t talking about free trade exactly. But hey, I’m not going to criticize anybody’s religion.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The basis of NAFTA was a trade agreement forged between the US and Canada during the second term of the Reagan Administration.


    3. Adam Eran

      JFYI, David Ricardo’s “comparative advantage” justification for free trade often cited by its apologists assumes both capital and labor are immobile…

      1. WJ

        Has Ricardo’s thesis not been adjusted to account for international capital movement?! Serious question.

        1. Synoia

          Comparative Advantage belongs in the library with many other 18th Century beliefs.

          An Historical Curiosity, replaced by better science.

          At that time it was believed malaria was caused by bad air, hygiene was necessary, and wives were the property of their husbands.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Only by pretending its “assumptions” – really requirements – don’t exist.

          Herman Daley pointed out the contradiction at least 10 years ago; one conclusion was that he advocated banning international capital movements. In any case, it means that economists who invoke Ricardo to justify “free trade” – usually including precisely the free movement of capital – are either incompetent or dishonest; or, of course, both.

  3. nobody

    In that fragment from HyperNormalisation (“What happened to Occupy movement?”), Adam Curtis sounds seriously confused. The movement was driven by “the original dream of the internet”? It “took over Wall Street and then the Senate in Washington”? Occupy happened first, and then the Arab Spring?

    I went looking for confirmation that this bit is really from HyperNormalisation, and stumbled onto a review:

    It’s been said that watching a Curtis documentary feels a bit like listening to a man in the middle of a Wikipedia binge, although I’d counter it’s more like someone getting their information from Uncyclopedia, the anarchic and irreverent spoof of Wikipedia. HyperNormalisation repeats some dubious claims, and frequently explains complicated ideas in staggering brevity.

    Yep. Post-truth documentary.

    1. oho

      I like Adam Curtis, particularly for his cinematic style.

      However yes, some?/many? take Curtis too literally and too dogmatically.

      Even Adam Curtis doesn’t take himself that seriously. Adam Curtis will be the first one to say that he’s merely sharing his opinion, his take on a story.

      Not some metaphysical absolute truth

      1. JEHR

        Like Trump: sometimes you have to take him “literally” and sometimes you have to take him “figuratively.” The only problem is when you do which.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > some metaphysical absolute truth

        This is silly. You’ve got to get the basic sequencing right. If Curtis isn’t doing that, he’s not telling a story. He’d peddling agnotology.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To me, it’s a plus if you can explain complicated ideas in staggering brevity, in writing.

      It’s harder to digest, though, watching a documentary, in real time. With reading, one can take time to linger over and absorb the brevity, I guess. With a documentary, in a theater, time keeps on ticking, like a taxi meter does with space.

  4. Jim Haygood

    The audacity of chutzpah:

    Israel approved 3,000 more housing units in the occupied West Bank late Tuesday.

    Emboldened by the new Trump administration and internal battles at home, Israel announced plans for the new units in about a dozen settlements a week after approving 2,500 homes in the West Bank and 566 in East Jerusalem.

    “This is a government of settlers that has abandoned the two-state solution and fully embraced the settler agenda,” said Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

    A couple of mayors of illegal settlements were actually invited to the US presidential inauguration, according to the NYT.

    These gross provocations are not going to work out like Israel thinks. How are those bantustans workin’ out for South Africa?

    1. Carolinian

      I’m not sure a lot of thinking is going on. Uri Avnery, the venerable Israeli writer, is quite down on Trump who he says is encouraging the country’s worst impulses by dropping the “honest broker” facade.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think in many ways its a relief that there is a POTUS who no longer even pretends he cares about the Palestinians. BHO did huge damage to region by his supposed neutrality, which actually enabled Israeli extremists. I read somewhere an Israeli liberal writer who said that Israeli’s are the only people not shocked by Trump because they’ve been living with a Trump type in power for years. He and Netanayu will get on very well.

        In an odd sort of way I think its long term good news for the Palestinians. With Trump in power the Israeli hard liners are almost certain to overplay their hand. It will, in short, be a clarifying situation and so the world won’t be able to hide behind supposed US neutrality. Things will get worse in the short term but it will hopefully at last force the world to stand up to apartheid in Israel, just as it took decades for the world to finally stand up to it in South Africa.

        1. funemployed

          While we’re talking long-term Israeli politics, rarely mentioned is the power of the ultra-orthodox political faction and their birth rate. Because the ultra-orthodox basically only vote in parliament based on religious concerns, they wield disproportionate power which ensures that the state will continue to support them in their religious studies. What do they do with all that free time and state money – make babies. As such, their population is growing at a much faster exponential rate than the non-orthodox population (though immigration offsets this a bit, if I remember right). With regards to Palestine, the ultra-orthodox think it was deeded to them by God, so no winning that argument.

          The demographic and political trends are clear. Israel is moving away from even the pretense of democracy and toward an unapologetic and absolute theocratic apartheid state. Don’t really see any way this trend changes in the coming decades. Even without US support, Israel will continue to dominate that neck of the woods militarily for the foreseeable future.

          1. Jim Haygood

            ‘Don’t really see any way this trend changes in the coming decades. Even without US support, Israel will continue to dominate that neck of the woods militarily.’

            In 1982, bookshops in Johannesburg displayed titles touting South Africa’s military might. It dominated its neck of the woods, pounding SWAPO at will. But military strength ultimately did not win the mind game.

            In the waning days of apartheid, I met plenty of ‘europeans’ (a ZA euphemism for ‘whites’) who despite their racial entitlement did not feel the bantustan system was fair or sustainable.

            Israelis whose minds aren’t clouded by fundamentalist religion must realize the same thing. The Palestinian Mandela is out there … maybe in an Israeli military prison.

            1. alex morfesis

              Ah…the mandela myth…mandela did nothing…he was hanging out in jail…but it makes a nice and neat bed time story…

            2. Jagger

              If I remember correctly, it took 200-250 years for the middle east to kick out the Crusaders. Didn’t happen overnight.

              1. DarkMatters

                …and it took more than a thousand years for the Europeans to stop the middle eastern slave raids (and to stop trading themselves). The history isn’t quite so simple.

          2. a different chris

            >Don’t really see any way this trend changes in the coming decades.

            In a decade, no. After that – kids rebel against their parents. Nothing is easy to sustain across the proverbial three generations.

          3. John Wright

            I had a couple of business trips to Israel in 2013 and, to borrow a Tom Friedman completely unscientific polling method, listened to a Tel Aviv cab driver complain about the Ultra Orthodox.

            From what I was told, the Ultra Orthodox do not serve in the Israeli Defense Force and are paid by the state to study the Torah.

            The cab driver mentioned having “A black lady” in his cab (the orthodox dress in black, even the children) who defended the Ultra Orthodox by saying “we pray to God for you”.

            The cabbie said, “I told her, if I want to talk to God, I’ll do it myself”.

            Perhaps the internal resentment of the Orthodox will change some government subsidies and military service laws, muting their power.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The Orthodox have an arrangement with Likud similar to the GOP and the evangelicals, the Catholic Church and state authorities traditionally, and the Wahaabiists and the House of Saud.

              Like so many religious outfits they will slither to the next regime when their current clients look shaky. Many of these privileges were put in place during the Era of Kibbutzes, partially to keep the Jews who weren’t 19th and early 20th century immigrants happy as the local Orthodox were never big on Zionism.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              I know some Israelis (generally younger, fairly liberal) and they really loath both the ultra orthadox and the newer Russian immigrants. The former they see as small minded reactionaries, the latter they tend to see as barely Jewish and too extreme in their politics. One woman I know (proudly descended from the first generation of post war settlers) said once ‘I’m so glad I have Arabic neighbours, they are much nicer’, and I would not have considered her particularly liberal.

              1. Foppe

                wrt the latter: Naomi Klein dedicated a chapter of the Shock Doctrine to this issue, and how the fall of the USSR + the invitation of ~1M E-European jews made possible the creation of the new warsaw ghetto, because the palestinians were no longer needed as cheap labor.

          4. NotTimothyGeithner

            I don’t know if immigration is offsetting the ultra orthodox views. Why aren’t there more Jewish Republicans? There are or were, but they (to be more accurate, people who are predisposed right wing politics such as nationalist sentiment and ethnic identity hoopla) moved to Israel especially after various conflicts to fight for Israel against the invaders. They raised their kids to be little Likudniks too.

            The Soviet Jewish immigrants are awful too if I recall. They vote for anything against lefty politics and really embrace the whole Israel identity thing. Proto-likudniks.

          5. HopeLB

            Weren’t the orthodox against Zionism at its inception? Have the ultra-orthodox and orthodox parted ways?

          6. Synoia

            Israel is moving away from even the pretense of democracy and toward back to an unapologetic and absolute theocratic apartheid state.

            Please read the Bible, Old Testament (I suggest Joshua as a start) and also reflect on Christ’s views on Samaritans.

          7. carycat

            but you will not see any push back from the ID warriors who will police any verbal slight to women but not a word on how orthodox jewish women are treated if they want a divorce.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And in many cases by Palestinians desperate for an income and willing to work for coolie wages and put up with the border abuse.

        The Israelites have it in mind to give the Palestinians the same treatment they dished out way back, as reported in Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers, like this bit at Numbers 31:

        No repairing any of it. Short of another meltdown.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Just blow the trumpets and the walls of Jericho and other nearby cities will fall – that’s the Biblical image that comes to mind.

          1. alex morfesis

            Quiet now…hush now… No “blow the trumpettes”…dont want the evangelicals to imagine they are about to bring on the rapture as soon as his cabinet is confirmed….

    2. curlydan

      We get the real estate developer we voted for..

      Pave over Palestinians, put up “settlements”. It was in cruise control under Obama, now in overdrive with Trump.

  5. Eureka Springs

    200 demonstrators descended on Dianne Feinstein’s house to protest her support for Trump’s nominees

    Addressing Senator Feinstein—who did not appear to be home—a protester named Julie took the floor. “If you keep following this agenda, I will register as an Independent,”

    Bwaaahahaha. Bless her heart.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Yes, it hasn’t registered on poor Julie that the D party’s basket of deploracrats doesn’t care.

      They’ve got theirs, Jack.

      1. Tom_Doak

        It would be hard to miss the point of “they’ve got theirs” when you are standing in front of Dianne Feinstein’s mansion to protest.

    2. John Wright

      These protesters must be very young or have very short memories.

      DiFi is well known for voting for new wars, new business friendly laws (Medicare Part D) and TPP, and slavish devotion to the surveillance state, example: support for immunity for telecoms who cooperated with the government in spying on people (though she was ticked when the CIA spied on HER staffers).

      She always supports extending copyrights and other IP protection.

      In short, DiFi’s constituency is the wealthy elite.

      But she does support socially liberal actions that will burnish her “moderate” label while not costing her “real” supporters anything.

      She is slightly to the left of Hillary Clinton, in that Feinstein, while voting for the AUMF (Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq), did vote for the Levin amendment to pursue a diplomatic solution first.

      Hawk HRC supported the AUMF and did not support the Levin amendment.

      Perhaps the protesters had a good time in their attempt to influence Feinstein.

      But it appears Feinstein will behave as she always has until she leaves office, consistently voting in support of the elite, very much like the Presidential candidate she supported.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I joined others in protest in her front yard, Iraq war – Desert Storm. We are basically still there in large part thanks to her ilk. She’s another Kissinger in a pant suit. San Francisco liberal Demo to a tee.

        Her husbands money and the way she jumped in front of the grieving parade after Harvey Milk was assassinated… it’s given her way to much cover for way too long.

      2. Anonymous

        Her husband apparently has connections to the contractors who have gotten LAX runway repair contracts several times, despite questionable work and practices:

        and these same contractors got work on the insane CA bullet train

        and the LA Metro:

  6. funemployed

    I’ve wanted to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction for a long time. Tackling itemized deductions would make a lot of sense for Trump IMHO. There’s a lot of tax revenue out there for the taking. Anyone here have a rough sense of how much revenue would be generated by capping the charitable contribution deduction at 5k/yr (another one I’ve wanted since spending a few years in the non-profit/philanthropy hustle). That would raise revenue and stick it hard to the corporate democrat faux do-gooder billionaires (not that I think it’ll ever happen).

    1. m

      Especially those that take the write off to donate to their own foundation.

      Make religious institutions pay up too. Religion is a fraud, what god would intentionally create humans.

      1. funemployed

        “In 2015, the majority of charitable dollars went to religion (32%), education (15%), human services (12%), grantmaking foundations (11%), and health (8%).”

        Most goes to churches. And the bulk of that “education” is really alums donating to their universities (mostly private ones – and big donors get things of actual monetary value (e.g. name on a building) in recompense for their “charity”). As for #4 – donations to grantmaking foundations. Well, I’ll leave y’all to speculate about the average wealth of people who choose to donate to a foundation as opposed to, well, any of the other choices.

        On to health and human services – most of these donations go to fundraising, administrative stuff, and “raising awareness.” Typically, somewhere between 0 and 12 percent of those donations go to either a) providing material benefits to people in need or b) funding actual research.

        In short, it’s a big ol hustle. I was being generous with the 5K

        1. funemployed

          To be fair, there are a few exceptions to the general rule: Doctors Without Borders, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center (probably a couple more I can’t think of right now) all make great use of their donations. Funny though, can’t recall a Gates or Soros or Zuckerberg type making a high-profile donation to any of them. Wonder why….

          1. Isolato


            I’m quite conflicted on this! I give away a fair amount of money, some to the charities you have named, some you have not. Oddly, the biggest donation (at one time) I made followed the Occupy Movement when I discovered that Maj Gen Smedley (“War is a Racket”) Darlington Butler had gone to the little private school I did outside of Philadelphia. I went there for 13 years and had never heard of this two time CMOH winner who turned against the machine he had served. Hardly surprising, really, given the nature of the Main Line. It occurred to me that if I wanted to effect serious change that I should start w/the children. So a classroom was named, a bench was built w/plaques from SDB’s life, a course is taught using David Talbot’s “Devil Dog” as a text…Did I take a huge tax deduction, well, yes I did. Isn’t that money that would have gone to the “Racket”?

            I also served as a volunteer for the charity CARE for most of the 90s as a photographer. My labor was not tax deductible…While there is certainly room for adjustment in the nature of deductions…I would much rather give my own money away as I see fit than give it to the MIC. Anything that encourages generosity to the commons is a good thing.

          2. Lynne

            What great use does the SPLC put their money to? They’ve invested a great deal of effort into demonizing denizens of flyover country, but as far as I can tell, they do so indiscriminately. Years ago, there was some bombing of RR ROW in the Southwest and NPR promptly had on an “expert” from the SPLC to “explain” that the perp was most certainly a white rancher, because THEY were all unreasonably devoted to privacy and property rights. Funny, when it turned out to have been an ELF operation, neither the SPLC nor NPR could be bothered to mention it or the previous rant. Haven’t seen any indication since they have let up on spewing hate at ordinary people who don’t throw $$$ at them. Do they do much these days besides spend on propaganda attacking their idea of deplorables?

          3. funemployed

            Thanks for the cautionary tips re: SPLC. Honestly haven’t looked into their stuff in years. Suspect they do still spend their donations with regards to what they say they’re about though, unlike most nonprofits….

      2. Local to Oakland

        Religion is a complex phenomenon that does both good and bad IMHO.

        But, if you care to, see Terry Pratchett’s writing for a wide variety of possible divine motives, all of them funny.

        On topic, I think the religious tax exemption and the favorable treatment given religious practice in the constitution, are rooted in the early history of the US as safe space for religious refugees. It would take a lot to change that practically. It is part of our identity. Putting a cap on deductible donations seems far more possible and good policy.

    2. WJ

      I disagree. I think that the most important tax reforms needed are those that pertain specifically to Wall Street, I.e tax on trades (over a certain # is fine) and change in coding of investment returns as income in many cases.

      There are lots of people earning between 50-80k for whom mortgage tax credit is a huge help, even though it is also taken advantage of by the wealthy.

      Or am I wrong about this?

      1. Foppe

        you’re not, but over time it drives up the general price level, so by now it’s neutralized-but-necessary, rather than a ‘help’.

        1. WJ

          Ah, I see. Good point.

          The long-term stabilization of price that would follow its repeal, though, would still probably cause a great deal of short-term harm especially for those at the 50-80k income level, no?

          But I now get what you mean about the larger issue. Thanks.

          1. Foppe

            Yes, it would. Which is generally why these bank gimmes (-> higher price, bigger mortgage, more interest) are untouchable. Fix: give banks money to pay off X amount on every mortgage, coupled with a one-off windfall tax on banks. Never going to happen, of course, but one can dream.

          2. a different chris

            >a great deal of short-term harm

            We can easily (almost) do it over a longer term. Multiply by 0.95 next year, 0.9 the year after… if we had done this 10 years ago we would be 1/2 way there.

            The (almost) though, is how this all interacts with the Standard Deduction. Sigh.

        2. Eclair

          Perhaps disallowing the mortgage deduction on ‘second homes’, i.e., vacation homes, would be an appropriate change. Of course, we might have all the owners of the mostly vacant ski-in-ski-out mansions in Aspen and Crested Butte inviting their tame congress people over for drinks and hot tubbing and whispering in their ears about what a hardship that would be.

          1. todde

            Congress won’t have to be bought.

            Most of them own two or more homes.

            One in their district and one in the DC area

            1. Procopius

              I wonder how many are like McCain (married to an immensely wealthy heiress) who couldn’t even remember how many houses he owned (I think the number was found to be seven, wasn’t it?).

      2. jrs

        Those people earning 50-80k taking mortgage interest are not those in high tax progressive states though, noone making that can afford a house there. If you wanted to benefit them, I don’t know, deduct rent? It certainly is too damn high.

  7. Sandy

    Mortgage interest deduction elimination only makes sense if you ban housing as an investment asset class. I don’t see why a REIT should have the advantage of being able to deduct its interest expense while I, the occupier, cannot.

    1. funemployed

      I don’t think you or an REIT should be able to deduct real estate interest expense. Or really why any interest expense should be tax deductible. It’s all regressive taxation designed to benefit the bottom lines of those who earn money from asset appreciation and usury at the expense of those who labor for income. As a millennial who will likely never own a home, I find your argument a bit self-serving.

      1. alex morfesis

        There are plenty of affordable homes in america…it’s just that this generation has bought into the real estate worlds nonsense of location location location…

        real estates three magic words are marketing/ marketing /marketing

        ($ub$titute promotion if you like)

        I have to live “right there”…

        because traveling “there” by horseback is such a hassle…

        1. a different chris

          I am a little confused by your comment, “this generation” seems to be moving closer to work, and walking back on car ownership and commute times. Which is a good thing IMHO. An “affordable home” that chews up 2+ hours of my life 5 days a week is not really affordable in a real sense. And a car is a rapidly depreciating “asset” on top of that that no investment advisor would ever recommend buying (also a house always supposedly depreciated even in the good ole days, it’s the land/location that appreciated was the story I was told I have admittedly no idea but all bets are off today anyway).

          1. alex morfesis

            Not advocating find a cheaper home in exurbia…meant planning to build a life…somewhere that might pay half, but will give you more home and more life…

            a local couple with a pair of kids had purchased a home to rebuild at just before the crash…it never got finished…his family had a small manufacturing biz tied to water recreation that fizzled but he did not let die, and she built up a small funky coffee shop that has somewhat flourished…helped them strategize to get out of that loan and find something different…

            the stress of keeping up appearances was crushing them…

            told the misses to get a big piece of butcher block paper and slap it on the wall…she was a fairly good fashion photographer and he was artistic…they had made compromises that were eating at their souls…he would rather be surfing then figuring out payroll…he took over the business because it was the thing to do…not because he really wanted to…so they have planned for life five years from now…the son is about to head off to college soon and the daughter will be in her teens soon enough…they will probably travel more and have planned for that shack in some drippy quiet tired little town somewhere where he can finally go surfing…where they can be the hippies they had inagined they would be when they first met…

            The bricks will still be here long after we have turned to dust…

            1. DarkMatters

              Dang! You could write a modern day Grapes of Wrath based on this story. It eloquently illustrates the shattered dream of neoliberalism that affects everyone, but doesn’t show up on the balance sheets of economic prosperity. Thank you, I think.

        2. Tom

          Better yet, telecommute if you can. How many Americans drive 10-20+ miles to get to an office where they sit down to go to work with a computer and a phone.

          1. ocop

            if you can

            American work culture–and human nature–being what they are very few people have this as a realistic option. My wife is able work remotely from much cheaper BFE where we moved for my job. But (a) this is because she schlepped into her office in “the swamp” every day for three years and (b) is still the only such person in her office… although I wouldn’t trust her coworkers to structure their own time either.

          2. Romancing The Loan

            You’d think as soon as employers realize how much $$ they can save on real estate and even supplies (use your own computer to connect to our remote servers!) they’d be in a rush to make as many white collar jobs telecommuting as possible. So far the problem seems to be the older generation, who isn’t comfortable with the concept and also can’t appreciate that you have to spend part of what you save on competent IT and then actually follow those procedures.

            But I wish they would hurry up and retire because it would be really nice to be able to buy a damn house.

            1. pictboy3

              As someone who has to move heaven and earth to force myself to do work at home, I think there’s something to be said for going into an actual workplace and mentally preparing yourself to do work.

              1. jrs

                Well there is the coworking idea, get to a coworking workspace instead of an actual workplace.

                Getting to the workplace itself may be ideal in an ideal world, but considering people are spending 2-3 hours commuting a day it gets REALLY counterproductive at a certain point even for work productivity to do those types of commutes day after day.

                But it’s often a moot point as few employers allow telecommuting anyway.

          3. hunkerdown

            Labor discipline. It is the norm that people should believe they need masters, or more precisely, that other people need masters. The Forms must be observed.

        3. Synoia

          it’s just that this generation has bought into the real estate worlds nonsense of location location location.

          Is the equivalent of:

          it’s just that this generation has bought into the real issue of safe neighborhoods, access to jobs and good schools.

          I cannot imagine why people want safe neighborhoods, access to jobs and good schools /sarc – aka: let them eat cake.

          1. alex morfesis

            The marketing piece is that new york, los angelse, san francisco are worth the extra income…they are not…making three times as much but paying ten times as much was what my thought process is on the issue…

            For the amount of time a new yorker gets to actually “enjoy” the museums and other tourist traps…the billion and one different restaurants…vs accepting a small cooliebox as a home…

            One could live in some small town and eek out a living vs being in the big city lights and life…

            Again, my notion is that the bernays sauce is strong in this generation…the spell should probably be broken…

            It is not the “location” that makes the neighborhood, it’s the people living there that make it so…

            Lived nyc and chitown noise factory…now when I visit it almost feels like a movie set to me…walking around and watching the “new” new yorkers running around like roaches when the lights come on…looking at the filth and grime and laughing at all the high fashion clothes getting ruined by city life after just a few uses…

            Been rich and retired, been broke and have had my time under the fig tree…

            The country is full of safe neighborhoods…safe schools are only an issue in certain urban environments where the police seem to allow the crime to flourish around certain schools instead of patrolling to create a safe zone…as to jobs…the myth of the great urban jobs factory is just a myth..the jobs are there to service the people flooding the area looking for jobs…

            Like I said…marketing / marketing / marketing

            Not looking to create an intergenerational spat…life is not easy…but…sometimes a new place can make it easier

        4. juliania

          “… because traveling “there” by horseback is such a hassle…”

          On the other hand, a cute little pony cart. . .

  8. ProudNYCMan

    I was part of a VERY vigorous “what the fuck, chuck” protest outside the senator’s house last night. amazing turnout, diverse, with union members, hipsters, old hippies, militant war protesters, bicyclists, moms and all the others that make new york city great. a large, but muted, pig presence – but what do you expect, that’s “liberal” de Blasio’s NYC. still, we chanted outside his yuppie apartment on yuppie prospect park west, and the energy was *palpable*. there is serious blowback to this man building if he doesn’t start changing his ways moving forward.

    And yes, we all knew he sucked the whole election season, the last X years he’s been a senator. the speakers – unlike the Sunday rally – said it loud and clear over the megaphone. but he’s what we have now and rather than churlishly tear everything down, the strong and fierce realization is that the only real way to move forward is organizing and institution building and thats what everyone’s trying to do.

    1. WJ

      “rather than churlishly tear everything down, the strong and fierce realization is that the only real way to move forward is organizing and institution building”

      If you don’t tear Schumer’s Democratic Party down, you will never be able to build anything in its place.

      So while I admire and encourage those who are protesting outside Schumer’s residence, I am worried that they still think Schumer and many others like him are actually moved by so-called electoral pressure. They are not. Schumer would rather lose his senate position and take up his lucrative lobbying position sooner than expected than do anything to betray the overlords who will later hire him directly.

      Don’t protest Schumer, primary him.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      there is serious blowback to this man building if he doesn’t start changing his ways moving forward.

      IDK. Wasn’t the dude just re-elected overwhelmingly? And I seem to recall seeing one of the county maps that shows he’s the rare Dem who does well upstate. I’m glad you all are trying to make his life difficult but my guess is that he could give a sh1t.

    3. Absolute Negativity

      the strong and fierce realization is that the only real way to move forward is organizing and institution building

      This has been the position of most activists for decades, and for decades Democrats have drifted steadily to the right. People never learn.

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            No, not really. I notice a lot of opinions expressed with a subtext like, “what I mean here ought to be obvious and if you claim that it isn’t, then you are probably trolling” (not that I am suggesting that this is necessarily what the commenter here had in mind).

            I find this negative. Even if one person can sometimes guess what the person is driving at, it doesn’t mean another reader can. So the result is either an ingroup/outgroup dynamic, or it actually isn’t clear what the person means. Sometimes even they can’t clarify what they mean, when pressed.

        1. Oregoncharles

          That the Democratic Party is irredeemable and trying to “recapture” or “reform” it only makes it worse.
          Admittedly, that’s me with my Green Party hat on. But the history supports me.

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            I figured that was part of the message. I wasn’t sure if the message also included skepticism toward activism in general, or attempts at institution-building in general. If so, that would also suggest skepticism toward you and your Green Party hat.

            1. WJ

              I am not merely skeptical of “he’s [Schumer’s]what we have now” institution-building, I am certain it is counter-productive. Other kinds of institution-building, such as Justice Democrats and/or Green Party, I am more open to, because they evince a greater realism about the status quo.

    4. alex morfesis

      He doesn’t and wont care…but…figuring out who his top ten donors are and rotate “thank you” parades (a$ in thank$ 4 nothing) to those folks might be more effective…he could care less about the voters…his real constituents are his donors…they will make him change…

  9. Carolinian

    Re movie theaters–the surprising thing is that they still exist at all given that they are large special purpose buildings filled with expensive equipment and sporting high utility bills. All of this is supposed to be paid for by sales of popcorn and soda as 90 percent of the ticket receipts go to the movie studios in the first few weeks when most films make their money. Also since all movies are now digitally projected you are seeing a 2k or 4k picture that is no sharper than a home blu ray (2k) or the coming 4k televisions. That other nato (National Association of Theater Owners) has been worrying about the demise of movie theaters for decades. But it may finally be about to happen.

    They do still have those giant screens where Pauline Kael “lost it at the movies.”

    1. voteforno6

      I don’t know…the downturn in filmgoing may be content-related more than anything. There are some films, such as Arrival, Hidden Figures, and La La Land that have been doing pretty well. The studios seem to have geared themselves more toward franchises, which tend to be expensive productions. The above films, not so much. I think a few years ago Universal had its most profitable year ever, and what was unique about it was that they didn’t have any franchise films that year.

      I still enjoy the experience of going to films. I’ve been lucky, though, in that there’s an Alamo within easy driving distance of where I live. That chain is quite obviously run by people who enjoy going to films.

      1. Roger Smith

        A huge problem has been the substitution of art and creativity with data analytics. So many box office films these days are crap churned out on a spreadsheet (so it hits every possible demographic) and okayed by producers who signed a director they can blame when it gets bad reviews.

        The problem here is these films are still making a boatload of money. Data analytics and content crapification only tell a part of the story. But I don’t necessarily think this commercial degradation is isolated to film or even media either (check out our politics!). I think there is a general wave of crapification going on that is based on the uneven concentration of wealth and influence.

      2. Praedor

        Yup. We rarely go to the theater anymore but it isn’t because we only want to watch things on the small screen at home, it is because we don’t often see something worthy of the effort, small as it is, to go to the theater and enjoy it. Some movies are good enough and some are best on a big screen.

        There are simply some movies that do not work well small screen. Some movies completely DIE when not in the theater (Rocky Horror Picture Show REALLY sucks if you try and view it at home…it REALLY needs the entire experience that can only be had in a theater).

        1. voteforno6

          That probably explains why I didn’t care much for Rocky Horror when I watched it at home. I supposed I could go see it in the theater, but I’m not sure if I’d enjoy being pelted by toast thrown by men dressed in drag.

          1. Praedor

            You’d probably like it MUCH less if you were being pelted by toast, rice, and water from spray bottles at home…

            By men in drag.

          2. Old Jake

            Yes, the fun of it is in doing the pelting, dressed in any costume you like. And not having to clean up.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        I think you may be on to something. Arrival was excellent and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to see it in the theater. I expected it to last a week or two and be gone before I could get to it but it’s still running in my area after a few months now.

        Not one for superhero movies myself which seem to be about all Hollywood puts out these days. I’m guessing one can only watch men prancing around in colored tights blowing shit up so many times before it starts to get a little boring.

        There are lots of new stories to tell – Hollywood should try it more often.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Hey, I have a survey question. In my yuppie-town, it used to be that one of the theaters had an Ultra-Screen TM, which was a big ass screen where you got to watch the movie in reclining barca-loungers. Well, in the last year or two, that theater has gone full baca-lounger in all of its (16?) theaters, even the ones with the tiny screens. And the other big theater on my side of town is doing the same thing. One the one hand, I think they have raised ticket prices overall. (In the old days, it cost more to see Godzilla on the US than in one of the regular theaters.) On the other, it has dramatically reduced the number of seats in each theater. Which, to my observation, has led to another fee-extraction service, which is increased inducement to buy tickets ahead of time on line because of the heightened risk of the theater being sold out if you wait to buy in person.

      Is this happening everywhere?

      1. Carolinian

        They are trying to make the theater more like that living room you aren’t in. There is also now a chain (chains?) that has waiters and waitresses who bring popcorn in bowls and serves alcoholic drinks. Obviously the thinking is to retain theaters as a boutique experience for those who don’t mind paying higher prices for the privilege. They are reading the handwriting on the wall as it were.

        Really the only thing keeping movie theaters alive is the “release window” which ensures that the theaters have exclusive access to new product for a period of time. They thereby reap the social media advantage of having the new thing that everybody wants. The movie companies still make a lot of money from exhibition so they like it too.

        1. broadsteve

          Went to that sort of cinema in Perth, Western Australia. It’s attached to a Chinese restaurant. You place a drink and food order (finger food) and say how many minutes into the film you would like to be served and waiters bring it to you. Kinda weird eating spring rolls in the dark while Matt Damon was planting potatoes in dollops of human waste.

          Meanwhile my local is a wonderful independent housed in an art deco cinema with (some) original features. I go a couple of times a month as much for the architecture and to support a good thing as I do for the films.

  10. Jeff

    “White House: Military won’t target US citizens in anti-terror raids The Hill (UserFriendly). Even if they are terrorists?/sarc”
    They just killed a 9-year old girl with a bullet in the neck.

    1. Jim Haygood

      She was a militant, says Minitru:

      U.S. commandos killed an unspecified number of women who allegedly shot at the Americans during a weekend raid targeting al-Qaida fighters in Yemen, the Pentagon said Monday.

      “There were a lot of female combatants who were part of this,” said Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a spokesman. In all, 14 alleged militants were killed and a trove of intelligence was gleaned during the raid, officials said.

      “We saw during this operation, as it was taking place, that female fighters ran to pre-established positions — as though they had trained to be ready, and trained to be combatants — and engaged with us. Some of these enemy killed in action are, in fact, female.”

      As they say on Da Streets of Brooklyn … “YEAH, RIGHT!

      1. funemployed

        Not quite sure learning how to not get shot in a place where that’s a significant risk makes one a terrorist. Seems like it makes one a sensible woman.

      2. alex morfesis

        I am sure the troops called them on their cellphones first before thet started shooting…




        yes hi this is…ummm…could you put your parents on the phone please…


        ok…pappa…it’s for you




        Yes sir…that sound you are about to hear in about 30 seconds…dont worry, it’s just americans shooting at you…no need to be alarmed…

      3. Eureka Springs

        engaged with us

        And who in this engagement traveled half way round the world to force a bloody massacre? Who sells the invading Saudis bombs to force more engagement… and who gives Saudis targeting support? Who starves the entire nation with sanctions when they aren’t bombing?

        But we desperately need to allow our translators, who are treasonous traitors to their own people into this country. Run to your local airport and protest today!

      4. Roger Smith

        Here is my train of thought. You are sitting around doing whatever, when suddenly! A team of military personal descend on you from a chopper and start firing at you. Wouldn’t one of the natural defense responses of anyone be to pick up a nearby fire arm and fire back? Let’s say this 8 year old did do that, who the hell can blame her? If this were even true, she’s got spirit in my book.

        1. carycat

          But they don’t have a “stand your ground” law on the books. So those uncivilized savages deserve what they get! /sarc

      5. Praedor

        While it IS true that ANYONE who takes up a weapon to fight is a valid target, be they child or elderly grandma, it is also “true” that ALL people killed in US operations, be it via bombs or bullet, magically are ALWAYS “combatants”.

        Unless forced to accept reality with contrary evidence, the Pentagon/US government ONLY kills “legtimate targets”. NEVER makes mistakes or commits outright crimes.

      6. PlutoniumKun

        Well, according to Identity Politics its real progress in a society if women can join the military and go into combat, so I guess this proves all these interventions are making real headway in modernising Middle Eastern Society. Hilary would be proud.

      7. uncle tungsten

        Today the Pentagon liars are saying that the Houthis attack on the Saudi frigate was intended to be on an American vessel.

        The war machine could be manufacturing another Gulf of Tonkin incident.
        Just testing the Pres I guess

    2. a different chris

      Donald Trump has done a lot of sh*tty things in his life, but I am sure he’s never had anybody killed, let alone a young girl.

      We need to push this right down his throat.

        1. a different chris

          ??? That was exactly what I was replying to, I think you misunderstood the tense of the sentence.

    3. Skip Intro

      But did they target that girl, or was she just collateral damage… wrong place, wrong time, ‘palling about with terrorists’, you know, deplorable in the extreme. The important word in the WH proclamation is ‘Target’, as in:
      ‘The hellfire missile that killed him was targeted on his cell phone, we did not target him’

      1. jrs

        Well I do want to know if it was a subject of terror Tuesday discussions, to target her or not? Or just a continuation of U.S. foreign policy (which surprise hasn’t really changed). Are terror Tuesdays still ongoing with the Trumpster? Been two Tuesdays so far …

      2. carycat

        Collateral damage is such a load of crap. The Saudis nationals who drove that plane into the WTC is only targeting the glass window. All the folks who died or maimed is just collateral damage. Wonder why there was such outrage around the world.

        1. Aumua

          That’s, to be fair, a very narrow definition of ‘targeting’. The 911 terrorists were targeting the U.S. in one sense, and the WTC towers in another sense, and all of the people in and around the buildings, and in the planes, including themselves you could even say.

          This attack was probably not targeting the little girl in any of those senses. But who knows?

    4. marym

      I submitted a longer comment that may have been eaten. Most of the content about this action is in the intercept article cited by LarryB at 11:05. A additional info, such as it is, here

      Shorter: This was a botched “raid” based on little information.

      – Little al Qaeda presence in Yemen till US started bombing it.
      – This is the first [we know of] US troops on the ground in Yemen
      – Trump has openly espoused killing alleged “militants’ ” families (“clarifying” compared to, say, US targeting their funerals and weddings), a war crime.

      She was 8 and an American citizen, as were her 16 year-old brother Abdulrahman (who was eating with his cousins at the time) and her father Anwar (2011 targeted killings, though the US has never acknowledged targeting the brother). She was shot in the neck. Nawar al-Awlaki #SayHerName.


      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes, all of a sudden lots of attention to the Bush policies which Obama expanded. (And not a peep when Obama killed 22 patients lying in hospital beds and turned 30 people at a beach wedding party into hamburger). It will take me years before the stench of utter hypocrisy is off of today’s protesters…who were (complicit) deaf mutes for the last 8 years.

    5. curlydan

      Yesterday, I saw in one of the links that the target of this raid was…computer files.

      Yes, 30 men, women, and children were killed for computer files. What does this tell me? That whatever terrorist we were targeting probably wasn’t there (oops), but we did get a couple of hard drives!

  11. B1whois

    From the article Tinder for orangutangs

    But the study had to be suspended for the orangutans, after Samboja, a young female, destroyed a tablet showing potential suitors.

    Lol! Regarding the question in another post about why women are not living longer, maybe it’s because modern men suck more!!?? (Just kidding)

    1. Portia

      I saw that too. Maybe Samboja was trying to let him out of the tablet–thought he was trapped in there, wanted to meet him...honestly. how can scientists (i.e. human beings) really know how another species is going to interpret a technological meeting with another of its species. dating apps for apes to save the zoo time and trouble. LOLOL

  12. oho

    >the Data That Turned the World Upside Down

    Team Clinton had access to pretty much the same data and “Ada”.

    How about the headline reads: How the Democratic Party and identity politics snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Another lame article that throws out more excuses for the DNC and today’s “Left”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      No kidding.

      Big data gets it massively wrong, the result is completely unexpected, and big data takes credit. “We knew it all along. Just look at how all those colored dots appear and disappear when I talk to the machine in my British accent.”

      1. JustAnObserver

        Hobby horse time: no matter how huuuge it is *Data* is not the same as *Information*.

        You can have all the petabytes of data you want with not a single byte of useful information contained in it. Further just re-arranging it into pretty, shiny, piles ala Ada will not turn it into information.

        Channeling my inner Shannon here I’ll say that information is the “surprise” content contained in a pile of bits. i.e. all those articles we’ve read in the last couple of months where on the ground Dem organizers were seeing evidence of a Trump wave and were desperately trying to get the DNC and Hill campaign to pay attention were the information content that the Hillbots couldn’t/wouldn’t see or hear through the cacaphony of “big data”.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Big Chinese province…economic data.

    You want fake news, that is, fake economic data, you will get plenty there.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was going to write ‘you will ONLY get plenty there,’ then I remembered the USG.

        So, you have a good point.

  14. JohnnyGL

    Dems already preparing to fold up like a cardboard box. I think I know a guy on Durbin’s staff. I don’t talk to him much, but I just pinged him and told him to tell his boss to send that nominee down in flames.

    I also love McCaskill….big Clintonista….leader of ‘resistance’. So eager to collaborate. Someone PLEASE primary her!!!! She’s really earning it.

  15. dbk

    from the Senate (thehill at 10:00 ET):
    Democrats absented themselves for a second day from the Finance Committee’s vote on Mnuchin and Price. So the committee changed the rule stating that at least one member of the minority party had to be present when the vote was held and voted them forward for confirmation. Wow.

    Let’s see what will transpire in the Judiciary Committee.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Rules are set by the simple majority. The filibuster was never an obstacle in 2009. Team Blue was warned repeatedly the Republicans wouldn’t abide by rules or “norms” for years and would lose if they didn’t behave. Their is nothing surprising in their behavior.

    2. dbk

      And it’s official:
      Sessions advances to the full Senate (11:20 am). Nobody broke ranks, the last two Democrats who spoke (Franken, Whitehouse) were frank about their objections.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Re: DiFi gets a visit from protestors.

    Lovely to see! More of this please. A Co-workers says they’re bugging Schumer at his NYC apt. again.

    Our ruling class should have to deal with us normal people more often. Life should be made uncomfortable for them. No hiding from the consequences of your actions!

    You know what’d go great with it? A primary challenge!

    1. armchair

      Yes! Feinstein really deserves this. Schumer does too, but he seems too smooth and smart for the rise of righteous leftists to harm him. Feinstein is a dino-saur that needs to go, and from what’s been happening in California, she is going to get primaried hard. My understanding is that Bernie supporters are doing a great job of taking over the basement jobs in the California Democratic Party, and Justice Democrats HQ is in Los Angeles, so let’s hope this is her swan song.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Schumer seems like more of a chameleon. He’ll see the changing wind direction and he’ll play ball.

        DiFi is the type of corrupt oligarch that needs to go down in flames, as publicly as possible, to send a message to the rest that we’re not putting up with the usual BS anymore.

        When Tea Party claimed Eric Cantor as a scalp, it was clear that the dog had gotten off the leash and turned on its owner. Us lefties need to claim a big name scalp to send a message that the game has changed. Wasserman-Schultz would have been a nice one, but that district of hers was gerrymandered to perfection. This, of course, is why the Eric Cantor primary was such a shocker. The political class thought they had carved out defensible fiefdoms for themselves in the House after 2010.

        Senators are juicier targets and they’re easier targets, too, since they’re state-wide and not hand-crafted to avoid accountability.

        I hope you’re right, armchair! It seems she’s up for election in 2018. :)

    2. Waldenpond

      Start counting coup. Anyone the democrat base forces out is +1 point. Anyone that leaves with accumulating more than $2 million or is allowed to retire is -1 point.

      Or how about making a bingo card of successes…. taken out in a primary, so disgusted someone refuses to run for reelection, someone kept so ineffective while in term they are unable to earn a payoff on existing, an elected who’s foundation collapses, etc.

  17. TiPs

    Re: the attack on Saudi Frigate. I’m worried now. There was an article yesterday linked to Moon of Alabama, and while it was about “librul” hypocrisy, buried in the comments there was a link to a recent congressional act that gives Trump the ability to use military force to prevent Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb. The link:

    Should I (we) be worried about a false flag that will be blamed on Iran? Certainly, the “attack” on the Saudi frigate that the Pentagon believes was meant for US is not related to Iran’s nuclear quest, but I doubt that would stop Trump’s itchy twitter finger from pushing for some retaliation when/if something happens….ugh!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That article repeats the long debunked lie that the Iranians are behind the Houthi’s. Any connection between the two is very tenuous at best. If Trump is building up for action against Iran, expect to hear a lot more about the supposed Iranian connection in Yemen.

      1. uncle tungsten

        I posted earlier on this so apologies for reiterating: There is a report in press of the pentagon saying the successful Houthi attack “was intended for a US warship”. Gulf of Tonkin again!

  18. LT

    Wow. If the tech companies in the Bay leave in a hissy fit over H1…what will be the chances of the area becoming affordable over time? Any one in the Bay have any thoughts? Maybe apartment rentals go down first then maybe housing?

    1. Eclair

      Yeah, but the quality of the trendy ethnic restaurants will decline markedly!

      Disclaimer: When visiting family in Seattle, I head off to the Chinese, Pakistani, Indian eateries in the Bellevue (?) area. Best places to go to on Christmas Day!

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Oh, trust me… tech companies ain’t going anywhere. Too many absolute sweetheart deals with the political ass kissers as cover.

      Now if Trump does away with the mortgage interest deduction….then you’ll see a Sf Bay Area housing crash like nobodies business.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think they will find it more costly to fund fringe deals…money tighter and now, more expensive (and not as subservient) American serfs.

        On top of that, more bland and never cheap Standard American Diet eateries.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        One of my SF buddies assured me only on the low end….that’s how overpriced the SF market is. If you are depending on the tax deduction, you are limited to a one bedroom. Most of the stuff over $1 million is all cash purchases.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve heard a few whispers from people who work for big tech companies in Ireland that many are thinking of shifting more high level work from the US precisely because they think they can hire more staff more freely – Ireland has a very liberal work visa system for the tech industry. Apple have recently announced they are moving the iPlay team to Ireland.

  19. JEHR

    Re: Tinder for Orangutans

    But the study had to be suspended for the orangutans, after Samboja, a young female, destroyed a tablet showing potential suitors.

    A laugh to make my day!!

  20. JEHR

    Re: Warren Buffett: I bought $12 billion of stock after Trump won

    In a nutshell, this headline describes everything that is wrong with an economy.

  21. Vatch

    The environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”, according to an adviser to the US president Donald Trump’s administration.

    Myron Ebell, who has denied the dangers of climate change for many years and led Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the president’s recent inauguration, also said he fully expected Trump to keep his promise to withdraw the US from the global agreement to fight global warming.

    I did not know that having clean air and water is the greatest threat to my freedom and prosperity. This must be one of those alternative facts that I’ve been reading about.

    1. jrs

      And here I thought environmentalists were just spoiled brats living in their mom’s basement and being funded by the Russians who really just need to get a life. Now they are the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity as well!

    2. Carolinian

      Sounds like he’s talking more about climate change than clean air or water. Not that being an AGW denier is a good thing, but the blame for that is a bit more universal–like when I start my car. And the reality is a true movement against carbon might very well threaten “prosperity” as it is defined in consumption crazy America.

    3. broadsteve

      Caught a bit of this guy being interviewed on TV last night (next to the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square no less, the one some demonstrators augmented with a green mohican).

      Slippery customer. Very affable (read as: ‘smug bastard’), smiling benignly, and, surprisingly, absolutely agreeing that attention may need to be given to climate change – but just not yet, and not by the people who are concerned about it now, and not in the ways they would do it.

    4. Old Jake

      I doubt that your freedom and prosperity is in the reality zone of Mr. Ebell. You and I are more along the line of pollutants to be eliminated.

  22. Anne


    It turns out Hillary Clinton has been doing more than just hiking in her free time. The former secretary of State has also been busy writing, and she’ll release two new books this fall.

    Simon & Schuster will publish a collection of personal essays by the former Democratic presidential candidate, as well as a children’s picture book version of her 1996 bestseller “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.”

    The essay collection, as yet untitled, is inspired by Clinton’s favorite inspirational quotations, the publisher said in a news release.

    “These are the words I live by,” Clinton said. “These quotes have helped me celebrate the good times, laugh at the absurd times, persevere during the hard times and deepen my appreciation of all life has to offer. I hope by sharing these words and my thoughts about them, the essays will be meaningful for readers.”

    I just can’t even. A feeling that will no doubt get worse when I find out what ridiculous amount of money she will be paid to do it.

    The only thing that would make me feel better is if the subtitle is “Musings about my Alternative Reality.”

    I wonder if her author byline will be “Popular Vote President Hillary Clinton.”

    1. Portia

      that’s been her narrative and she’s sticking to it. people like her are helpless pawns in the nasty doings of Empire. It’s the world, whadya gonna do? you ally yourself with power to do good, and it’s not your fault if it doesn’t work out for the deplorables. yeah, she sleeps well at night, I am sure.

  23. Andrew Watts

    Kurdish YPG denies receiving equipment from US

    Some media outlets have recently claimed that the International Coalition Against Daesh, led by the United States, has provided the People’s Defense Units (YPG) with armored vehicles and personnel carriers. As the YPG, we reject such reports which are inaccurate; our forces, in the context of the fight against Daesh, have not received any sort of advanced weaponry from the International Coalition.

    Spokesperson for the People’s Defense Units, Rêdûr Xelîl
    February 1, 2017

    So we’re to consider this an official denial eh?

    No comment…

    1. uncle tungsten

      Farsnews is reporting US chopper delivering supplies right in the center of ISIS territory and the supplies being ferried across a waterway to their base..
      Warm welcome all round by the looks of it.

  24. Waldenpond

    Trump’s travel ban and safety…. isn’t it even better than that? Trump got 25% of ELIGIBLE voters. 1/3 of ALL Americans is an even bigger bump in the numbers isn’t it?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wasn’t there a poll (or a couple) that showed that close to half supported the temporary 7-country ban?

      One third (regardless effectiveness) is much smaller than 48% for the ban (vs. 42% against).

      It’s easy to get confused into thinking 1/3 of American voters support the ban.

      Typically, the top survey question is ‘Do you support Hillary’ and not ‘Is Hillary more productive.’

      You don’t expect to see that latter the last few days before an election.

  25. UserFriendly

    Re Swing left.
    I have been getting links for that colossal waste of time for days now. So I finally took the time to write out a response to them abut what they could do that would actually be productive:

    This is pointless. Even if there was some tsunami that gave dems the house in 2018 it wouldn’t madder nearly as much as taking back state house, state senate, and governorships. The reason Dems haven’t had a shot in the house [1] since 2010 is because democrats didn’t vote in 2010 and let the GOP take over key states just in time to have control of redistricting. Winning a bunch of house races in 2018 won’t do much if the GOP keeps getting to draw the maps.

    Not to mention that the democratic party is so pathetically weak right now that the GOP is crazy close to being able to pass constitutional amendments by straight party line votes. They don’t need the federal government to do that. It only takes 34 states calling for a constitutional convention. They are just 6 states shy of calling for one to enact a balanced budget amendment. Which would crash the economy immediately but they think it’s a good idea because both parties scaremonger about the national debt, something that is totally irrelevant, and should be increased, if anything.

    You should come up with a list of state house and state senate races that were close, that would be useful (Daily kos has one they are working on; some states have 2016 so far some don’t, ballotpedia should have the rest).

    These states use commissions, not their legislatures, so don’t worry about them: HI, CA, AZ, WA, ID, NJ

    Gerrymandering isn’t really effective till states have 6 or so districts so I wouldn’t worry about: DE, VT, HI, NH, RI, CT, OR, NV, NM, ME, MS, IA, AK, MT, ID, SD, ND, WY, NE, WV, AK, KS, UT, OK

    Every other state legislative seat is worth fighting for.

    Governors races that will be important in redistricting too (not all states let governors have any say, NC, FL, MD, CT, MS don’t).

    Here is the layout of our chances for all of the governor’s races coming up.

    Key winnable Governors races to work on that effect redistricting 2017 & 2021 VA

    2018: WI, MI, PA, OH, CO, MN Longshots: TX, TN, GA, SC, AL

    2020: Stretch: IN, MO

    Sorry if that is confusing, this site does a better job of explaining how states do their redistricting, Just make sure to focus on states with 6+ districts that don’t have a commision. The rest is just whether to try and get governors or legislatures.

    But if you insist on sticking with short term wins in congressional districts then here is a list of targets for you: Trump’s Fast Start Likely Puts the House in Play in 2018

    And some data on congressional districts. Daily Kos Elections presents the 2016 presidential election results by congressional district

    It is embedded with about 11 links and I don’t feel like copying them and skynet would probably eat it anyways. So here is the original, if you have a Quora ac0count I would love the upvote to make sure they see it.

  26. Ahimsa

    I truly respect your site but I find it interesting that while you are vehemently against Indian IT firms (and engineers) undermining pay of American engineers, you still disparage American physicians income and criticize the protections afforded to them in the licensing and credentialing process and not unlike many from Wall Street have also argued that these trade barriers created by doctors’ lobbies need to go. Any comments?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are misrepresenting our position in a big way. We don’t have a problem with physician’s incomes. We do have a big problem with the incentives (payment for procedure, which is basically piecework) which has been documented to lead them to overtest and overtreat.

      Separately, it has been widely discussed b public health experts that the US is not producing enough primary care physicians, because it costs a lot to get educated here and doctors make a ton more money in a speciality. Even MDs who might prefer being a primary care doctor often can’t afford it. We have never advocated bringing in foreign MDs. Once in a while we link to posts by Dean Baker, who points out that professions like doctors and lawyers have what amount to unions and no one in the economics biz has much of a problem with that, but they are perfectly happy to not support unions for other workers.

      Moreover, there is tons of evidence (I’ve seen it on Slashdot for over a decade) that computer sciences grads can’t get entry level jobs as a direct result of H1-B visas. This isn’t just bad from a US economy perspective; it’s also strategically foolhardy. We are not creating the net generation of computer professionals. We perceive IT to be an area of US leadership, yet we are setting out to lose that in a generation by not giving grads job opportunities.

      1. Ahimsa

        I appreciate your argument and regret my misunderstanding of your position in this regard. However I would like to bring a few facts to your attention that would perhaps make you reconsider the incentive issue and physician incomes. This tendency to oversimplify the situation is not something I expect from people I hold in such high esteem.

        By 2016 only 1/3 of all US physicians will remain in private practice (source: Accenture). And this decline is going to continue as hospitals, venture funds and insurance companies continue to absorb the remaining practices. Newly graduating physicians are no longer taught how to set up independent practices. They are only taught how to negotiate contracts. So unless one accepts the premise that physicians are being pressurized by their employers to order more tests and overtreat, should we should not see a huge drop-off in health expenditures going forward?

        Second, the median income of Canadian Internal Medicine specialists and subspecialists is $396,105 (source: Canadian Institute for Health Information 2013/2014 Canada). In a single payer system overtesting and overtreatment should not be an issue. This income is comparable to what US physicians make. So can we really attribute pay-per-procedure as the dominant corrupting influence in physician behaviour.

        The crapification of medicine taking place through MACRA, so elegantly described by Lambert on your site, is strongly geared towards enhancing income of primary care physicians in a budgetary neutral exercise that will almost certainly result in slashing of specialist incomes. Promotion of Federally Qualified Rural Health Clinics is another example of public health policy that is rapidly going astray as cost-based per-patient reimbursement per-visit at these clinics ranges from $80-$200 or more!

        However when one talks to physicians, one realizes that in an effort to measure outcomes, the policymakers have missed the forest for the trees. Physicians are being increasingly stressed to spend more time looking at screens to meet reporting targets to meet bonus/penalty goals, than spend time with patients. I cannot see any good coming of this

        Finally, in rural Kentucky which is where I live, the job of rendering primary care has increasingly been outsourced from physicians to physician extenders. This is unlikely to save costs in the long run as the quality of graduates, many of whom qualify using online courses, is very variable. Malpractice has not been a concern till now but as physician assistants and nurse practitioners increasingly seek independent practice and prescriptive authority, the expenditures associated with defensive medicine will only rise exponentially.

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