Links 2/14/17

Monkeys and dogs judge humans by how they treat others New Scientist (martha r)

What Mirrors Tell Us About Animal Minds Atlantic (martha r)

The test used to see if animals are self-aware might not actually work Popular Science (Robert M)

We now know why mosquitoes find malaria victims so tasty ars technica (Chuck L)

Industrialized societies are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces Common Dreams (martha r)

India polio-free for three years: meet the people fighting to keep it that way Independent (J-LS)

EU gears up for WTO challenge to US border tax Financial Times


Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns Guardian

Citizens’ initiative launched calling for UK citizens to be issued with EU passports after Brexit Independent

U.S. Puts Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on Sanctions List Wall Street Journal

From teacher to lover to France’s next first lady? Meet ‘Madame Macron’ The Local (EH)

Peru Asks Donald Trump to Deport Fugitive Ex-President Panama Post (Micael)

New Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire (ENG SUB) Vineyard of the Saker (Glenn F)

22 refugees entered Manitoba near Emerson border over the weekend CBC (mark a)


Weekend Protests Signal New Shi’ite Power Struggle in Iraq AntiWar (resilc)

The New Battle for Afghanistan American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

48 Questions the FBI Uses to Determine if Someone Is a Likely Terrorist Intercept (Bill B)

A sign of the times: Mazda’s new billboard is watching you Globe and Mail

PayPal Kills Canadian Paper’s Submission To Media Awards Because Article Had Word ‘Syrian’ In The Title Techdirt. Headline weirdly understates what happened.

Trump Transition

Flynn Resigns Associated Press. UserFriendly: “And there was much rejoicing amongst the neocons.​”

Embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigns Washington Post. See this from yesterday, The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins Observer and the Moon of Alabama story below. The Blob won. This is a big deal.

Breaking: text of Flynn’s resignation letter @ZekeJMiller

Michael Flynn out side door, establishment in back door? Asia Times (resilc)

The Kremlin Is Starting to Worry About Trump Foreign Policy. So if the Kremlin is worried, how exactly is Trump a Putin stooge?

Is Donald Trump’s Inner Circle Already Collapsing? Vanity Fair (resilc)

Steven Mnuchin Is Confirmed by Senate to Be Treasury Secretary Bloomberg

More Wall Street Bankers Set to Join Donald Trump’s Treasury Department Salon. Let us not forget that both the Democrats and Republicans are fine with this. The Obama Administration fought tooth and nail for an unqualified Lazard international mergers partner, Antonio Weiss, to have the number 3 job in Treasury, overseeing domestic banking regulations (note that due to the regulatory complexity guys who do bank M&A pretty much do only that, and Weiss was not one of them).

Federal judge says court proceedings will continue on Trump’s travel ban The Hill

Trump’s Watered-Down Ethics Rules Let a Lobbyist Help Run an Agency He Lobbied ProPublica (UserFriendly)

EPA scientists held back from conference: Cost-cutting or something more? Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

Members of Trump’s Club Can Just Pose With the President’s Nuclear Codes Guy Now Gizmodo

Donald Trump Is Selling Access to the ‘Winter White House’ for $200,000 The Nation (resilc)

Klein Takes New Role Exposing “Hidden Agenda” of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism Common Dreams (martha r)

Libertarians split with Trump over controversial police tactic Fox (furzy)

The National Park Service Goes Rogue Jacobin (furzy)

What Geology Has to Say About Building a 1,000-Mile Border Wall Smithsonian (guust)

Republicans to predatory companies: Grab as much as you can Washington Post (Doug Smith)

Beyond Resistance Jacobin (UserFriendly). Important. However, the criticism of Occupy is silly. The movement was exactly two months old when it was crushed by a coordinated 17 city paramilitary crackdown, as we chronicled at the time. It’s not clear whether Occupy would have grown up into being an effective focal point for bona fide leftist energies, but it needs to be well understood that it never had the chance.

Bernie Sanders cries foul over canceled town hall meeting in West Virginia Washington Post (furzy)

Oklahoma Lawmakers Want Men to Approve All Abortions Intercept

Democracy Without the People n+1 (martha r)


Florida Town Hall Erupts When GOP Official Spouts ACA ‘Death Panels’ Line TalkingPointsMemo. UserFriendy: “​Video is worth watching. ​I was surprised how many passionate people were there.”

Conservatives Take Hard Line On Obamacare Repeal, Putting GOP In A Bind Huffington Post (furzy)

The Definitive Analysis of ‘The Handshake’ Between Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau Vice (furzy, BL)

GOP chairman: Town hall protests won’t alter ObamaCare repeal plans The Hill

Oroville Dam

Expert: What You Need To Know About The Oroville Dam Crisis Chris Martenson, YouTube. A very informative interview with a dam expert. Consistent with reader bob’s observations in Water Cooler yesterday.

Congressman LaMalfa requests disaster funding from President KRCR (martha r)

20% of dams in populated areas lack emergency plan USA Today (martha r)

For the First Time, Wind on the Plains Supplied More Than Half Region’s Power Bloomberg (resilc)

Has this year’s record rain finally ended California’s epic drought? Not really. Washington Post

Chris Christie Says Asset Forfeiture Transparency Is Bad For Law Enforcement, Vetoes Unanimously-Supported Bill Techdirt (martha r)

Fake News

Organized Campaigns Hit At Trump’s Foreign Policy Plans Moon of Alabama

The True History of Fake News Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books (resilc)

Sanders needles drug company for $89,000 price tag on Multiple Sclerosis drug The Hill (martha r)

A rash of invisible, fileless malware is infecting banks around the globe ars technica (Andreis)

Inflation Expectations Rise, Spending Projections Decline Michael Shedlock

Snap AV: Your potential Trump-Fed candidates FT Alphaville

Class Warfare

Uber’s Indian drivers strike for fourth day on pay Financial Times

Senators plot bipartisan bill on self-driving cars The Hill. UserFriendly: “Wonderful.”

The Iowa Capitol rotunda is full of union workers and allies opposed to collective bargaining bill. @jasonnobleDMR (martha r)

Louisville reports 52 overdoses in 32-hour period Fox News

Antidote du jour. Craig C: My Great Pyreneese, Barrett, surveys his domain in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. (Yes, he climbed on the table all by himself.) Enough birds for awhile…

And a bonus video. This is a Valentine’s Day feature of sorts, since it shows examples of animal empathy:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. cwaltz

    They didn’t appear to do a very good job vetting Flynn. The reality is he lied about his conversations(pretty stupid considering that he should have known that any conversations with Russian diplomats would be taped by intelligence community.)

    Additionally Flynn’s change of heart on Turkey following money changing hands for his lobbying firm is a bit troubling and calls into question whether or not Flynn would do exactly what I suspect Clinton was doing- being paid well to support regimes and collude against others.

    1. cocomaan

      Worth noting that Flynn was also the head of the DIA under Obama and resigned ahead of his time. According to Seymour Hersh, he was trying to tell the truth on Syria and talked against overthrowing Assad.

      The intelligence agencies seem to be in some kind of struggle with one another. It’s less of a Blob than it is several blobs engaged in conflict.

      1. Marco

        Would we rather have factions within the IC fighting each other or unified in (nefarious) purpose? The more chaos WITHIN their ranks the better.

        1. cocomaan

          Some of the most paranoid, unstable lunatics on the planet are employed by the intelligence agencies. As Anne pointed out, Flynn should probably be counted among the unstable in the IC.

          We know from history that the worst of them view human beings as means to their ends. Intel agencies have been caught running drugs, assassinating people, pulling off Zersetzung, bribing, torturing, etc. Some of them, I’m sure, are patriots. But plenty more are scum working with no oversight and less scruples.

          What does the instability mean for most people who aren’t part of that system? I don’t know, it’s too soon to tell. But I’m not optimistic about the situation. All I know is that they are on my payroll as a taxpayer.

      2. cwaltz

        Yeah that appears to be some of what you have going on. I almost feel bad for the guy expected to herd the IC cats since there seems to be cat fighting among the ranks(with a variety of them “leaking” data to push their narrative- pretty concerning IMO)

        I’m not a fan of what appears to be our behavior regarding Syria or Ukraine so I really would like to see us become less confrontational with Russia and the areas surrounding it so my initial reaction to Flynn and his less combative position on Russia was positive. However, some of this stuff like his change of position on the Turkey coup following money changing hands with his lobbying firm though, for me, should have disqualified him from an administration desiring to be “swamp free.”

    2. Carolinian

      Flynn, with his intemperate hostility toward Iran, was clearly a mixed bag but no one should applaud a victory of the Blob (Obama’s term) against those who would moderate our exceptional nation hubris. While some of us have pooh poohed the notion of a Deep State there clearly seems to be a journalistic Deep State consisting of people running our major news outlets who think alike and get their information by reading each other. You can trace this groupthink pack journalism through OJ car chase to Clinton impeachment to Iraq invasion to now. Given low news media approval ratings the country at large seems to understand this, but the diff between the media and Trump is that he can eventually be voted out of office but the journos wield a great deal of power with very little accountability.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Definitely with you on Flynn being a mixed bag, but his dovish stance on Russia was important, even if he was nutty on Iran and strangely on Venezuela, too. It seems like he got canned because he lied to Pence about the nature of the Russia contacts (from the language in the letter). Perhaps that’s seen as unforgivable by Trump?

        There’s cause for concern now as his acting replacement looks like he’s been fully embedded in DC Blob life.

        1. cwaltz

          He got canned because he lied and he got caught. period.

          His conversations with the diplomat were on tape.

          The opposition can now use his lying as a reason to pursue a witch hunt in much the same way the GOP pursued Behghazi. Did anyone of the Trump team know and sanction him discussing sanctions undermining the previous administration? When he went to Russia previously did he receive compensation that might present a conflict of interest(ironic considering Clinton’s years in state were rife with conflicts of interest)?

          Since he hid his conversation with the ambassador the thought process will be what else is being hidden.

          1. uncle tungsten

            Payback: Trump prosecutes Clinton! Why should she get a free pass when Trump needs a BIG diversion.

      2. Andrew Watts

        I’m not sorry to see him go. Flynn possessed some truly disturbing views. His book was co-authored by a neocon by the way.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > While some of us have pooh poohed the notion of a Deep State

        Let’s not be passive aggressive. The pseudo-profound “Deep State” is a sloppy and disempowering concept that cannot give an account of either class power or factional infighting. Therefore, strategically and tactically, it is a nonsense. Further, it assumes that the important aspects of power relations in our society occur in secret (“deep”), when in fact the real horror occurs out in plain sight. This easily leads to CT, and immense diversion of energy that CT brings.

        We have a perfectly well-understood term that covers the so-called Deep State’s conceptual space: ruling class. We have concepts that sort the ruling class well: State, and Civil Society. We have sociological concepts like Janine Wedel’s to do network analysis for ruling class persons as they move between state and civil society in the course of their careers.

        Anybody who uses “Deep State” as anything more than, at best, a placeholder or a hasty shorthand, is an agnotologist.

        Perhaps this clarifies my views? “Pooh pooh,” forsooth.

        1. Carolinian

          By some of us I meant me as well,hence the “us.”

          But I do believe there is something sneaky and secretive about the press deep state assuming there is such a thing. After all they claim to be champions of truth and objectivity, not the “establishment.”

    3. Anne

      And it’s not like people didn’t know Mike Flynn was the worst kind of cowboy, either.

      The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn, Trump’s National-Security Adviser

      Flynn broke rules he thought were stupid. He once told me about a period he spent assigned to a C.I.A. station in Iraq, when he would sometimes sneak out of the compound without the “insane” required approval from C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. He had technicians secretly install an Internet connection in his Pentagon office, even though it was forbidden. There was also the time he gave classified information to NATO allies without approval, an incident which prompted an investigation, and a warning from superiors. During his stint as Mullen’s intelligence chief, Flynn would often write “This is bullshit!” in the margins of classified papers he was obliged to pass on to his boss, someone who saw these papers told me. [Me: and this guy felt entitled to call for Clinton to be locked up? That’s beyond hypocritical]


      In 2012, Flynn became director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in charge of all military attachés and defense-intelligence collection around the world. He ran into serious trouble almost immediately. I’ve spoken with some two dozen former colleagues who were close to Flynn then, members of the D.I.A. and the military, and some who worked with him in civilian roles. They all like Flynn personally. But they described how he lurched from one priority to another and had trouble building a loyal team. “He made a lot of changes,” one close observer of Flynn’s time at the D.I.A. told me. “Not in a strategic way—A to Z—but back and forth.”

      Flynn also began to seek the Washington spotlight. But, without loyal junior officers at his side to vet his facts, he found even more trouble. His subordinates started a list of what they called “Flynn facts,” things he would say that weren’t true, like when he asserted that three-quarters of all new cell phones were bought by Africans or, later, that Iran had killed more Americans than Al Qaeda. In private, his staff tried to dissuade him from repeating these lines.

      Flynn’s temper also flared. He berated people in front of colleagues. Soon, according to former associates, a parallel power structure developed within the D.I.A. to fence him in, and to keep the nearly seventeen-thousand-person agency working. “He created massive antibodies in the building,” the former colleague said.

      Flynn had been on the job just eighteen months when James Clapper told him he had to go. Clapper said that he could stay for another nine months, until his successor was vetted and confirmed, according to two people familiar with their conversation. Flynn was livid.


      Flynn began saying that he had been fired because President Obama disagreed with his views on terrorism and wanted to hide the growth of ISIS. I haven’t found anyone yet who heard him say this while he was still in the military. In the past, I’ve asked Flynn directly about this claim; he has told me that he doesn’t have any proof—it’s just something he feels was true. (Flynn did not respond to requests for comment for this article.)

      He sounds, quite frankly, like a perfect fit for Trump, someone who has a significant problem with the truth. And who appears to be a complete loon when it comes to anti-Muslim views. Add in anger issues, and I find it hard to understand why he would or could be trusted in such a sensitive position.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No one is perfect, I hope he never threw objects at anyone, or at least apologized later.

        “I am sorry. I will try not to in the future.”

        Though, I suspect the biggest sin was to be on the Trump team, for how many in DC would you trust, and now, he’s gone.

      2. reslez

        If your goal is paralysis — to prevent the Trump administration from wreaking too much destruction alongside its enablers in Congress — it seems to me that you’d want a guy who’d be constantly at war with his own agency. Pity.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Just read the link by xformbykr below. The author claims the neocons have neutered this presidency.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Good riddance. Saw him speak during the convention and he came across as a very loose cannon bent on getting his war on with somebody.

      I would have rather seen Trump fire him Apprentice-style just for the entertainment value but we’ll take what we can get.

      Hopefully he will be replaced by nobody. Pretty sure the world wouldn’t end without some neocon eminence grise whispering in the Donald’s ear.

      1. Jagger

        What strikes me is the power of the bipartisan power structure to subvert the results of a legitimate presidential election.

        1. Portia

          that is an astounding statement, standing alone as it does, and use of the word “bipartisan”. do you also think it odd that the Judiciary was able to review Trump’s immigration order and put a stay on it?

    5. shinola

      This Flynn fiasco makes me wonder – is this a one off or just the first?

      It’s beginning to look like 2 old military acronyms could be combined to describe the Trump administration:

    6. barrisj

      WaPo has been leading the charge against Flynn, and it’s significant that the US intelligence community’s chief leakee, David Ignatius, wrote up the initial media report on the Flynn-Kislyak conversations, and continues to beat the drum for NSC “turmoil”. Not answered is whether Flynn took one for the team, as he could have been carrying out an assignment from Trump to Russia, telling Putin to pay no attention to last-minute – and very provocative – “sanctions” ordered up by Obama. No Russian reaction subsequently, so what does that tell us?

      1. uncle tungsten

        No Russian reaction subsequently, so what does that tell us?

        It tells us SFA! Why would the Ruskies react? They are most likely gobsmacked that the country that ‘rescued’ their economy barely a decade ago and put them on the best capitalist path imaginable to man has suddenly elected a President that makes Poroshenko look almost moderate.

        Trump is a loony tune and probably more erratic than Erdogan. THIS is the sordid state of ruling class authority and it so resembles the late days of the Czar.

        1. fajensen

          Sort of a similar situation to the CIA & Co. reporting how great and mighty the Soviet Empire was right up till the wall fell and all was revealed to be lies?

          Donald Trump being the messenger of peak corruption, stupidity and imminent systemic failure?

    7. DH

      I have found the varieties of alternative facts to be quite dizzying regarding The Flynn Affair. My guess is even the Russian ambassador is confused at this point.

      Kellyann Conway isn’t even bothering with alternative facts regarding Michael Flynn at this point. She just says she doesn’t know, which is a vast improvement on her previous states of knowledge.

      However, this episode continues to prove the old adage that the President having “full confidence” in you means you are a goner as soon as you can find a sword to fall on. “Full confidence” means they know you are about to do the right thing and leave their life.

    8. TheCatSaid

      A credible case has been made by many journalists and whistleblowers that essentially all high elected officials and staff have been compromised well in advance, so that they can be controlled (Some good summaries: George Webb, Sibel Edmonds have reported and documented this.) HRC/DNC et al are the experts in this, and probably more easily able to access the intelligence dirt and the mechanics of getting surveillance info quickly.

      It won’t surprise me if Trump’s adversaries inside various agencies pull out more surveillance dirt / leaks to be used to undermine Trump’s picks.

  2. Peter

    Can Trump just sign an executive order to bring back Flynn and then drop sarin gas on these “liberals”?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We don’t rely on our opponents to do our job (to present our case in opposing them) for us.

      It would be easier to triumph if he were to do that.

    2. DH

      No. He is much more interested in bringing back Petraeus because he has proven to be a man after his own heart, having affairs while married, and sharing confidential information.

  3. Chief Bromden

    India is not “Polio Free” unless you count Polio hiding behind the names AFP and GBS as some kind of magical eradication. But changes in diagnoses have been a clever trick by the vaccine industry for decades. The article is pharma propaganda.

    India has seen a 12-fold increase in Acute Flaccid Paralysis (NPAFP) since the introduction of the OPV. It now has over 50,000 new cases of AFP per year. In a 2012 article published in a medical ethics journal, the doctors stated, “Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received.”

    I could go on about Mr. Gates’s ongoing live lab experiments on 3rd world children living in squalor and with poor sanitation and nutrition, for which no synthetic silver bullet can manufacture immunity, but I don’t want my comment to vaporize.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Chief.

      There’s an article from Gates in the (UK) Guardian online today. Gate appears to have an almost weekly slot in the UK media.

      The Guardian is supposed to have a well educated readership, not dissimilar to the NYT and WaPo. It’s odd to see most, but not all, of the commentators elevating Gates to a godlike status. Needless to say, the anti-Trump hysteria was online, too.

      1. Fried

        Have you read the Guardian lately? It’s all about what a horrible person Corbyn is and how we are all addicted to our smartphones and similar problems that ail us.

        1. uncle tungsten

          The guardian is so bad, bland and arid that I suspect Soros and Gates have secretly acquired it.

          It is not worth reading.

    2. MtnLife

      The best thing to do for polio prevention in India is to give everyone a decent waste management system and get rid of the open air toilets as polio is spread by fecal-oral transmission. I also find it depressing that most Americans don’t know that they redefined what polio was in 1954 – changing the definition from 24 hours of paralyzation to 60 days worth when most cases clear up on less than 2 weeks. It’s like if we changed the definition of unemployed to not having a job in the past 3 years we would see unemployment rates would plummet. It makes it difficult to believe we have any good intentions when we use the live oral vaccine in areas lacking proper sewage treatment. It takes a serious level of willful ignorance to not see that creates a bioweapon.

      1. Vatch

        I’m a strong supporter of vaccines, but they must be used properly. You are absolutely correct about the dangerous practice of using live vaccines in areas without proper sewage treatment systems. The oral polio vaccine should not be used in India — only the inactivated (killed) injectible vaccine should be used.

        1. Chief Bromden

          The switcharoo paralysis problem isn’t limited to the OPV or communities with poor sanitation. GBS is listed right on Merck’s MMR insert as a side effect and is the number 1 compensated adverse event due to Flu shots settled in National Vaccine Compensation Court- set up by in the 1980’s to protect vaccine manufacturers from all liability…. no-risk profiteering, not a bad ‘Capitalist’ gig if you can get it. As the Supreme Court ruled “vaccines are unavoidably unsafe”…. and iron lungs are now just called respirators.

          The numbers on these and other vaccine injuries are suppressed due to a highly passive reporting system and a compensation program that many are not aware of, or have the resources to drag through years of legal battling.

          As Dr. Suzanne Humphries notes:

          “Prior to 1954, the following undoubtedly hid behind the name “poliomyelitis”: Transverse Myelitis, viral or “aseptic” meningitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)- (what Franklin Delano Roosevelt had)[4], Chinese Paralytic syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, epidemic cholera, cholera morbus, spinal meningitis, spinal apoplexy, inhibitory palsy, intermittent fever, famine fever, worm fever, bilious remittent fever, ergotism, post-polio syndrome, acute flaccid paralysis(AFP).

          Included under the umbrella term “Acute Flaccid Paralysis” are Poliomyelitis, Transverse Myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, enteroviral encephalopathy, traumatic neuritis, Reye’s syndrome etc.

          Before you believe that polio has been eradicated, have a look at this graph of AFP and Polio. If you are wondering why there is no data prior to 1996, go to the WHO website for AFP and you will see that there is no data prior to 1996, and note that AFP conitnues to rise in 2011. Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) is just another name for what would have been called polio in 1955, and is used to describe a sudden onset of paralysis. It is the most common sign of acute polio, and used for surveillance during polio outbreaks. AFP is also associated with a number of other pathogenic agents including enteroviruses, echoviruses, and adenoviruses, among others. But in 1955, there was no attempt to detect anything other than polio in cases of AFP. Once the vaccine was mass marketed, the game changed.”

    3. Ernesto Lyon

      India is sick of the Gates Foundation using their people for medical experiments. Just kicked them out (or reduced ties in the polite version).

      In developed countries Polio is asymptomatic in 95% of cases and only causes permanent injuries and death in a tiny fraction of a percent .

      Polio is transmitted by fecal contact. You cannot get it by someone touching you or coughing on you.

    4. TheCatSaid

      I could go on about Mr. Gates’s ongoing live lab experiments on 3rd world children living in squalor and with poor sanitation and nutrition, for which no synthetic silver bullet can manufacture immunity, but I don’t want my comment to vaporize.

      I’ve noticed that recently, too. Certain names seem to trigger it. That’s a pity when one wants to point to fact-based sources of information.

  4. rich

    Blackstone’s Schwarzman’s 70th Birthday Extravaganza

    And it was a private equity filled event according to Bloomberg:

    Representing President Trump’s sphere were daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and incoming cabinet members Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross and Elaine Chao. Bank bosses included Jes Staley of Barclays and Michael Corbat of Citigroup. Investing titans Henry Kravis, David Rubenstein and Howard Marks paid respects.

    Thrive Capital, Dune Capital Management, Invesco, KKR, The Carlyle Group and Oaktree Capital were all represented at the Blackstone celebration.

    Flash back a decade:

    “We know Trump and Melania attended Schwarzman’s uber luxurious 60th birthday bash in New York ten years ago that was called “the beginning of the end of Wall Street’s gilded age.”

    That’s the longest beginning of the end as the 70th remained uber luxurious:

    There were camels in the sand, a gondolier in the pool and a giant birthday cake in the shape of a Chinese temple — with Gwen Stefani on hand to help sing Happy Birthday at midnight.

    One private equity underwriter (PEU) reveled in the event:

    “The world is an uncertain place, a lot of people are unhappy with a lot of other people, there are a lot of things that people are upset about,” said Oaktree Capital’s Marks. “So it’s nice to have an evening where everybody’s happy, harmonious and upbeat.”

    Life in PEU land.

    Mega party for megalomaniacs.

    1. wtf

      Oh, but Trump’s a man of the people. He’s going to defend the middle class from the Wall Street predators and the 0.01%. He’s the new 11-dimensional chess master.

    2. I Have Strange Dreams

      How sad to be 70 years of age and still be a slave to one’s reptile brain. I hope the gondolier at least had a gondola.

  5. allan

    New Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire

    FYI, out in theaters later this month will be a neocon-friendly piece of agitprop, Bitter Harvest,
    a narrative film set during the Soviet-created famine in Ukraine in the early 30’s.
    Based on the trailer which I saw last weekend, the film has ulterior motives, shall we say.

    1. Paid Minion

      The general public’s knowledge of the Stalin/Russian created famine in the Ukraine is about zero.

      If nothing else, it might serve to illustrate that there are some pretty good reasons for Ukrainians to dislike Russians, and work towards making sure it doesn’t happen again. Like joining NATO.

      Our dilemma is the Russians, for their own good reasons, don’t like it.

      1. fosforos

        Djugashvili (alias Stalin) was Georgian, not Russian. But Khmelnitsky and Bandera, who over the centuries were to Jews what Stalin was to “kulaks,” were Ukrainians and today are honored as heroes and exemplars by the Ukrainian regime.

        1. Vatch

          Yes, Stalin was Kartvelian (Georgian), but most Soviet government officials were Russian. The Ukrainians were oppressed by the Russian tsars before the Russian Revolution.

        2. Oregoncharles

          It is not a coincidence that the borders of the Soviet Union corresponded exactly with the previous borders – and power relationships – of the Russian Empire. It was said empire under another name and dynasty. Even contemporary Russia includes a sizeable number of conquered peoples – Chechnya being only the most obvious example.

          That doesn’t mean the coup in Ukraine was justified; it just means there’s a lot of history on both sides. By the same token, the various frontline states, like the Baltics, have every reason to be nervous. I just think their interests are better served by peace than by provocative military maneuvers.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not Georgians mostly?

        They should also dislike communists, though I can’t say capitalists are much or any better.

          1. cwaltz

            What? You mean that the 60 hour work weeks don’t always result in sparkle ponies for everyone! Say it ain’t so.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              My guess is that circuses are better over here.

              Groovy music helps to rejuvenate to get back out there Monday.

      3. uncle tungsten

        One of the Russians own good reasons for disliking the Ukrainian affinity to NATO is that the Russians remember Nazism. Many European Jews remember the Ukrainian Nazis and their enthusiasm for the final solution too. This recent history motivates an elevated caution over the outcome of the color revolution and Maidan.

        The Germans had to gargle for years on their Nazi past, not so the Ukrainians.

      1. Paid Minion

        Clicked on the link…….. “Address isn’t valid”

        LOL In yo’ face!

        I suppose the wholesale extermination of Soviet POWs who were returned to the soviet Union after WWI was a myth as well?.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          RabidGandhi’s link is bad when I click on it, too, but if you search for the title, the first link that comes up is a pdf of the whole book.

        2. Matt

          “I suppose the wholesale extermination of Soviet POWs who were returned to the soviet Union after WWI was a myth as well?.”

          Um, yes it is? I’ve never heard “extermination,” the standard story is that every Soviet POW that returned to the USSR at the end of the war was sent to the Gulag, which is false.

      2. Vatch

        The book’s publisher was Progress Publishers, a Moscow based organization. It belongs in the general category of holocaust denial, although in this case, it’s holodomor denial.

        You’re better off reading Harvest of Sorrow, by Robert Conquest, published by the Oxford University Press at about the same time as the Tottle book.

        1. RabidGandhi

          Conquest’s book “Harvest of Sorrow” has emerged as the best attempt of the famine-genocidists at legitimacy. Conquest’s right wing affiliations and his holocaust denials are now well known. At one time he was employed by the British Secret Service’s disinformation project, the Information Research Department, key targets being ‘the third world’ and the ‘Russians’. Conquest’s earlier work “The Great Terror” had alleged that only 5-6 million perished in the 1932/3 period and only half of them in the Ukraine. By 1983 Conquest, however, had upped his estimates to 14 million and extended famine conditions to 1937! Such revisions coincided handily with the 50th anniversary commemorations of the famine.

          Harvest of Sorrow’s opening chapters and general outline of events tend to duplicate the traditional approach of American Sovietology to Soviet history and Leninist theory, as well as right-wing Ukrainian nationalist interpretations of Ukrainian history. Thus, the various Nationalist cliques who held parts of the Ukraine during the Russian civil war and foreign intervention as bona fide governments. The mass slaughter of Ukrainian Jews carried out under nationalist ‘independence’ in 1918-19 is dismissed in 3 words. The Nazi occupation of the Ukraine is presented implicitly as a breakdown between periods of Soviet ‘terror’ and the liberation from the Nazis as Soviet ‘reoccupation’… It is worth repeating the observations of American historian J Arch Getty on the quality of this kind of historical research:

          “Grand analytical generalisations have come from second hand bits of overheard corridor gossip. Prison camp stories (“my friend met Bukharin’s wife in a camp and she said…”) have become primary sources on Soviet central political decision making …. the need to generalise from isolated and unverified particulars has transformed rumours into sources and has equated repetition of stories with confirmation”.

          Whereas serious historians do not accept hearsay and rumour as historical fact, contrast this with Conquest’s stated position that “Truth can only percolate in the form of hearsay” and “on political matters basically the best, though not infallible source is rumour”.

          Tottle, op. cit., pp. 86-88

          And really Vatch, red-baiting with the “Moscow!” argument? So Team Blue.

          1. Vatch

            The point is, the book was published by an organization devoted to propaganda protecting the image of the Soviet Union. Then they withdrew the book from publication when a senior Communist official acknowledged the Holodomor.


            His book, published by the pro-Communist Progress Publishers in Toronto, appeared practically at the same time Ukrainian Communist party leader Volodymyr Shcherbytsky publicly acknowledged the Famine, in December 1987. As a result, the book was subsequently withdrawn from circulation.[9] Nevertheless, the book is available on the internet, and continues to be cited as an “invaluable” and “important” book by groups such as the Stalin Society in Great Britain, author Jeff Coplon, and the Communist Party of Sweden.

            Tottles is deliberately misleading when he accuses Conquest of exaggerating the death toll of the famine. On page 306, Conquest explicitly says that 7 million people died in the 1932-1933 famine. The death toll of 14 million peasants includes deaths during the 1930-1937 period, which included the campaign against kulaks and people who were arrested and died in labor camps.

            Stalin, like Hitler and Mao, was one of the worst mass murderers in history. Don’t sugar coat his legacy.

            1. RabidGandhi

              Agreed Stalin was one of the worst mass-murderers in history and neither I nor Tottle are sugar-coating his horrible legacy; rather we are both trying to unpack the propaganda surrounding the 1932-33 famine. The fact that the two books we are citing both come from sides with a clear interest in minimising or exaggerating blame for the tragedy does not help matters, but I do think Tottle does a thorough job discrediting ex-MI6 propagandist Conquest’s work as the Cold War bunk that it is.

              Furthermore, if you read the book, Tottle does not deny the famine or that Moscow may have been largely responsible for it, perhaps even intentionally. But what he does do is look at how the news came to the West and how any real information was immediately distorted by Kremlinologists and Ukrainian nationalists– that is why it is worth a read: as a study in the propaganda around holocausts, not whether holocausts should be acknowledged or denied.

              Secondly, Tottle does not misleadingly omit Conquest’s extension of the famine dates as you accuse him of doing

              By 1983 Conquest, however, had upped his estimates to 14 million and extended famine conditions to 1937

              (bold mine)
              You are either not reading carefully or are dissimulating.

              Lastly, read the Wikipedia article you cited:

              Tottle admits that he “does not attempt to study the famine in any detailed way” (p. 1) and that he is more interested in the “Nazi and fascist connections” and the “coverups of wartime collaboration” (p. 3). Critics argued that both of these topics, even if objectively treated, are not relevant to the study of the famine and can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the famine or define the nature of the tragedy

              So essentially you are arguing (based on the sole evidence that his publisher was pro-commie) that Tottle is denying the Holodomor to sugarcoat Stalin’s legacy, when the questions of whether the Famine existed, its extent and its perpetrators are barely covered in his book.

              1. Vatch

                Did you look at page 306 of Conquest’s book? It’s available in Google Books. I don’t think that Conquest said what Tottle is claiming that he said. Conquest explicitly refers to the “1932-1933” famine.

                It’s also possible that I have misunderstood what Tottle’s point is. He seems to quote something that Conquest said in 1983, although the book was published in 1986. Maybe Conquest made a mistake in a 1983 publication, and corrected his mistake in the publication of his book.

                1. RabidGandhi

                  Tottle cites the 1986 version, but yes, I think you are misunderstanding his point (given the limited context here)– he is saying that Conquest extended the scope of the famine to 1937 so that he could print a bigger number of deaths, because getting increasingly larger death counts into the public’s mind is a huge part of holocaust propaganda.

                  1. Vatch

                    But that’s not what Conquest says on page 306:

                    Dead as a result of dekulakization 6.5 million
                    Dead in the Kazakh catastrophe 1 million
                    Dead in the 1932-3 famine:
                    in the Ukraine 5 million
                    in the N. Caucasus 1 million
                    elsewhere 1 million

                    Sorry about the formatting. In this table, he adds the 3 bottom lines for a total of 7 million dead in the 1932-1933 famine. He does not extend the scope of the famine to 1937. He does extend to 1937 some of the consequences of the policies that contributed to the famine, but he clearly puts the death toll of the famine at 7 million people in 1932-1933.

                    If you can direct me to specific page numbers in Conquest’s book where he says the things that Tottle thinks that he said, I will be glad to take a look at this pages. I’m assuming that Tottle provides page numbers for his citations.

        2. Matt

          “Holodomor denial” is a slippery term. Does it mean denial of the famine? Or does it mean “denying” Conquest’s thesis that the famine was a genocide perpetrated against Ukraine? No serious scholar of the famine denies that it happened, but I would say most don’t share the genocide interpretation.

    2. Anon

      For those watching the Oliver Stone documentary video: you will need to turn on the captions button (CC) at the bottom of the screen to see them.

    3. Kemal Erdogan

      The story about soviet-created famine is likely as fake as russian meddling in the US elections. Most historians at least agree that affected areas are not limited to ukraine, and many dispute the number of dead as quoted by western historians. In any case, there is no particular reason for hating russians. In fact, russians have a lot of reason for hating significant portions of ukrainians who collaborated with Nazis, which resulted in mass exile of significant number of people to caucasus.

      The west was even more hostile to USSR at the time; Why would you think otherwise? In fact, some historians believe that the reason for tolerating Hitler that long was the expected German attack to USSR; Hitler slightly disappointed them.

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Off topic, for which I apologise to Yves.

    As the sun has come out in London, I bunked off for an early and long lunch and catch up with friends on hipster Shoreditch High Street. The place is a dump, but there are one bedroom apartments being sold to foreign, mainly Chinese, investors for over £1m. Deposits of £400k are required.

    Apparently, the ECB is not keen on the more complex markets activities of banks to move to the EU27 / Eurozone. The ECB does not want to supervise such activities as it does not have enough expertise, would prefer to rely on UK regulators for a few years and wants to avoid the fall out from any incidents.

    We thought that Charlotte Hogg, just appointed one of the deputy governors at the Bank of England, could become the first governor. She is talented, but, more importantly, well connected. Therefore, a long-term investment is in order at the bookies.

  7. Sputnik Sweetheart’s article of Macron and his wife, Brigitte, is consistent with the starry-eyed way that the Macrons are often presented in French-language magazines and tabloids. In the last two years, he has been mentioned in LeMonde, L’Obs, and L’Express slightly more than the combined references to leftist candidates Hamon, Melenchon, and Montbourg. This constant hanging-on from the press extends to even the most trivial details, like when Macron decided to grow a beard and then shave it off, as documented in this article (French, but the images and screencaps say it all: ). Meanwhile, Macron was the one to draft the El-Khomri laws, refuses to reveal where his campaign donations come from and is the only French presidential candidate to openly support CETA: (article from LeMonde, also in French: ) His pro-business leanings and calls for deregulation make it clear that he is a neo-liberal.

    However the French election plays out in the end, we always have be skeptical to remember that the media is playing an enormous role in shaping the opinions of the French public, and foreigners who don’t speak French and have to rely only on articles written in English are even more vulnerable to this barrage. I see this when NC commenters consider Macron as a leftist and neglect to consider Hamon and Melenchon, who are still both running in this election. After seeing how the US election played out, the establishment media is wary of alternative news and is working with LeMonde and Facebook to further promote the establishment narrative. According to this article, LeMonde has already flagged 600 French websites as unreliable:

    1. David

      Agreed. Macron is a standard-issue neoliberal, who just happens to be younger and less uncharismatic than his rivals. Thus, I suppose, the media interest. There’s nothing of the Left about him at all, so far as I can see. Bewilderingly, he has managed to position himself as a candidate of “change” against “the system”, although, as noted above, he’s very much part of the system and his dirty finger-marks are all over the Loi El-Khomri, which reduced employment protection. It may simply be that the yearning for someone outside “the system” who is not Le Pen is so strong that Macron has been drafted. But he’s no more a certainty to win in May than Fillon was a month ago. Ironically, the Left (if you take Mélenchon and Hamon’s votes together) would almost certainly win the first round and might well win the second, but the two men seem irreconcilable. Good old Left: never yet missed a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        I can’t believe it but my younger (25-35 yo) friends actually think he’s a -great- candidate.

        If Melanchon would only rally to Hamon we could actually win this and Make France Socialist Again!

        But then eventually concede to Capital and do the same thing as the other PS administrations (woe is me!).

        I guess the FN is our only hope?

        Help me.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Agree that Macron is just a neo-lib but I still think “anyone but Marine” will win in the second round, there’s just too much leftover baggage from her father. Plus the bloom is off the “Trumpism” rose. The bottom 50% share of national income has held up well in France as Piketty shows so they may be less interested in just throwing a wrench in the works than voters in Youngstown were. Interesting to see Fillon attempt to dig his heels in, usually at this stage they just go gently into that good night.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s the standard operation procedure – give them a young and pretty candidate and some love. It’s as if it’s a movie or something.

  8. RenoDino

    So far Trump has stepped on every landmine Obama set for him: the raid in Yemen, the terrorist threat posed by the seven countries on the ban, and the Russians sanctions resulting in Flynn’s dismissal. Sad.

    1. DH

      I think this is more like Wile E. Coyote getting hit with his own traps for the roadrunner. Obama didn’t have to leave anything behind deliberately and I don’t think he did. The entire world is a continuous minefield. If you just charge through without probing first, then it is just going to be continuous explosions which is what we are observing.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probably why most leaders stay in their bunkers.

        “Full of mines outside. Keep the status quo. Say hi to our friends in the desert.”

    2. Praedor

      I don’t know. I think Flynn, asshat that he was, should have stood firm (and Trump with him). WHO CARES if he talked about sanctions with Russia?! WHO CARES?! Telling the Ambassador that a Trump Admin would look favorably to lifting many or all of the sanctions is not a problem. It’s a simple statement of fact. Why NOT tell them that if Trump wins they could look forwards to lifted sanctions? It would likely get them to sit back and hang tough until the election results came in. They KNEW what a Hillary win would mean, Trump simply let them know what a Trump win would mean.

      Big kerfluffle over a bag of nothing at all. Would all the whingers be so pissy about it if Trump had stated while running that he would explicitly lift sanctions against Russia? Of course not. That would have been his absolute right. What diff does it make that Flynn did it in a conversation with an Ambassador. Same thing.

      1. cwaltz

        Actually it IS a problem since there is a law that says you can not conduct diplomacy as a private citizen.

        1. integer

          Fair enough, however Trump had already been elected on a platform of detente with Russia, and it was clear that the 0bama administration were attempting to sabotage this, in the lame duck period no less. The US system of a president retaining all of their power for a month after a new president is elected is dysfunctional imo, and bound to lead to situations like this if policy significantly differs between incoming and outgoing presidents.

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks! Pretty funny. A friend told me about this “deal” with Trump’s handshakes. Now I see it.

      I like the closer on that article:

      Unfortunately, this probably means Ottawa is getting nuked. But it was worth it to see the first small crack in the armor of the Ivan Drago of handshakes.

      hee hee

  9. Fred1

    Although long and somewhat dense, Democracy Without the People n+1 in the links above is very good and worth the time to read

    1. djrichard

      I still have to finish it, but reading the beginning was a nice compare and contrast to this headline from the WaPo, “Onstage with a fellow world leader, Trump acts the part”. See there’s some democratic institutions he does abide: the theatricals.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, excellent read. Reinforces the point that political scientists are as bad as economists in terms of silencing the left. There are basically no left-wing political scientists. As a result, as the article points out, democracy has come to mean something different and specific to economists than it does to everyone else. Kind of like “full employment” to an economist.

      Pluralism was invented in the 1950s to explain why it is OK to leave democracy to the experts and why CW Mills was wrong about the Power Elite (the .01% that run US society). (Hint: he wasn’t.) Pluralism basically argues that we are not elite dominated because 1) different elites dominate different spheres (political elite is not economic elite) and 2) EVERYONE can be part of some elite. Sure, you might not run a large corporation or rule a city, but you maybe manage the bowling league or take notes for the PTO. Jaime Dimon is not going to do that! So you might not be economic elite but you can be bowling league elite. Something for everyone, and we are all good.

      Basically all political scientists are pluralists.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I know one, Alan Zundel of the Oregon Green Party (he ran for SOS, so his name is public), but he doesn’t teach anymore – works as a psychotherapist.

        In my experience, political philosophers are much more likely to be lefties or even anarchists.

    3. djrichard

      Hadn’t come across the term polyarchy before. Is polyarchy just a nice way of saying the same thing as oligarchy?

      Anyways, found a video of where Chomsky talks polyarchy. Trump definitely seems to be following the recipe for upsetting the polyarchy apple cart. But then Chomsky was more than willing to vote for Hillary than Trump. I guess we have to wait for that perfect populist candidate. In the mean time, I guess the thinking is stick with the polyarchy we know instead of the populist we don’t know?

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE:Trump’s Watered-Down Ethics Rules Let a Lobbyist Help Run an Agency He Lobbied ProPublica

    From the article:

    The Obama administration was criticized for issuing a handful of waivers to allow former lobbyists to join the administration, thus skirting its own lobbyist ban. Out of thousands of appointees, there were five such waivers over the course of the Obama administration. None were at the Department of Labor.

    Presumably that “handful” included former monsanto vp and lobbyist michael taylor to the FDA.

    But, embedded in the words “handful of waivers” is a link to a 12/31/2015 Politico article which puts obama’s “ethical superiority” thusly:

    The Obama administration has hired more than 70 previously registered lobbyists, according to a 2014 POLITICO review, and watched many officials circle through that revolving door, as Obama’s lobbying policy was weakened by major loopholes and a loss of focus over time. What’s more, the current laws around lobbying, which the administration measures were built on, simply ignore many instances observers would regard as lobbying — and the White House never pressed for changes to those laws.

    Obama’s promises on lobbying received considerable media attention in his first months in office but interest waned. (So it would seem.)
    The executive order he [obama] signed in 2009 declared: “‘Lobby’ and ‘lobbied’ shall mean to act or have acted as a registered lobbyist.” Because the registration requirement kicks in only when a person spends 20 percent or more of his or her time directly lobbying, many people whose jobs involve trying to influence public policy — but who don’t technically “lobby” for most of that time — manage not to register.

    A distinction without a difference, I’d say. Because Trump.

    Meanwhile, in the whocouldanode department, a new life form has been discovered in washington, d.c. called the “ethics expert.” Its life cycle apparently includes periodic eight-year-long hibernations.

    1. Pat

      Funny how that worked out for the Obama administration, or should I say “typical”.

      I was at something last night where someone said Trump fatigue is starting to set in. Obama and his administration took the ‘high’ road and pretended until people paid little or no attention. Trump seems to be into just wearing the media and the outraged Clinton Liberals out by being in your face about it. The end result will be the same.

      Meanwhile, over behind the curtain is the Intelligence Community and their coup, and only a few like Lambert have their hair on fire about that. It is always something once one gets cynical about the ways our political system has been twisted and corrupted.

    2. Anne

      So, basically, Obama made a lot of noise about locking the revolving door, which sounded all high-minded and superior, but that was just words that were supposed to distract from our noticing that the lobbyists were just slipping in through the back door. He was good at that kind of thing, sadly.

      I guess the difference is that Trump visibly doesn’t give a flying fk what he said during the campaign – hell, he probably doesn’t even remember what he said, and his tactic will be to just make everyone else look like fools for trying to pin him down about it.

      And just like with Obama, I don’t imagine his supporters are going to be outraged by it – they haven’t seemed to care that Trump-the-candidate wanted Clinton’s head on a pike for all her Wall Street/investment banking connections, but President Trump has welcomed a whole slew of that ilk into his administration. Excuses and justifications will be found for Trump, just as they were found for Obama. And the media doesn’t care, it just needs to keep feeding at the drama trough, which right now is filled to overflowing.

      Ethics, schmethics; what we really need are hypocrisy experts.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Nice catch. And a quick search also finds this. Maybe take with a little salt as it’s Politifact who IIRC wasn’t so great with the ‘facts’ during the last election –

      Obama’s ethics proposals specifically spelled out that former lobbyists would not be allowed to “work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years.” On his first full day in office, Obama signed an executive order to that effect.

      But the order has a loophole — a “waiver” clause that allows former lobbyists to serve. That waiver clause has been used at least three times, and in some cases, the administration allows former lobbyists to serve without a waiver.

      More detail would be nice but perhaps this is why ProPublica could only cite 5 waivers.

    4. Praedor

      Ah. So Trump was just doing it honestly (being unethical). Obama pretended to be ethical while violating actual ethics on the sly.

  11. BeliTsari

    I wonder how many of the Russian-owned US pipe (& rail) mills (TMK, Evraz, OMK) survived the glut, and how? Elsewhere, in unreported news:

  12. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Please excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is ” The Blob ” ?

    I know it very probably has nothing to do with the Steve McQueen banished monster, which automatically appears in my head each time I read the those two words.

    1. allan

      It’s a term coined by former Biden aide Jeff Connaughton in his book, The Payoff,
      for the permanent Washington class against which resistance is futile.

      1. barrisj

        I find that Pat Lang’s “Borg” is actually more apposite – reflects the mechanical, pre-programmed mindset in action.

    2. Brian

      You are correct St. Pierre. The Blob was one of the “fear films” of the 50’s. It is a undefineable, creeping, liquifying, dissolving influence much like a banker. If it comes for you, you run away or you die. Perhaps we should remember that aspect of what the original “fear films” are supposed to do and compare it with our existence?

      1. Auntienene

        I watched the movie recently. When they discovered it was immobilized by cold, the Air Force dropped it on the arctic ice, where they expected it would remain frozen forever. Uh-oh.

      2. Isolato

        You missed the “The Communist Menace” subtext. First…it comes from the sky (Like ICBM), then it dissolves your identity in its own “collective”, then it destroys the American Way of Life by taking over a movie theater. Keep your fire extinguishers handy!

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Thank you for all the replies & the Rhodes article was fascinating – now I think I prefer my original blob.

  13. fresno dan
    Feb 13, 2017

    These moves were designed to impede the incoming Trump administration in its announced plans towards more friendly relations with Russia. The incoming Trump administration countered Obama’s sanction move. Its designated National Security Advisor Flynn phoned up the Russian ambassador in Washington. He did not promise to immediately lift the sanctions but indirectly asked him to refrain from any harsh response:

    The transcripts*** of the conversations don’t show Mr. Flynn made any sort of promise to lift the sanctions once Mr. Trump took office, the officials said. Rather, they show Mr.Flynn making more general comments about relations between the two countries improving under Mr. Trump, people familiar with them said.
    This was arguably a sensible move in line with a smooth transition of government.

    In the end the Russian government refrained from any in kind reaction to the Obama sanctions.

    This was blow to the promoters of hostilities with Russia. It did not stop their meddling. The effort moved towards kicking Flynn out of his new position as NSC. A concerted media campaign was launched to insinuate an early Flynn failure and to press for his dismissal.

    Bradd Jaffy @BraddJaffy
    Within the last 30 mins — NYT, WashPost, WSJ and Politico each dropped pieces that have to be alarming for your future if you’re Mike Flynn
    5:51 PM – 12 Feb 2017
    Keep in mind that some 95% of the U.S. media was hostile to Trump during the election campaign. They all peddled the nonsense of “Russian hacks” when an insider leaked emails from the Democratic National Council. They are all willing to support any move that might hinder the Trump administration.

    Thus this morning news was filled with these headlines:

    NYT – Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down
    WaPo – As Flynn falls under growing pressure over Russia contacts, Trump remains silent
    WSJ – Mike Flynn’s Position as National Security Adviser Grows Tenuous in White House
    Politico – Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start
    All these stories are based on “inside views” from multiple “former and current officials”. All are build around the baseless allegations against Flynn of somehow colluding with the Russian government. All are likely more wishful thinking than fact.

    It would be astonishing if Trump falls for this obviously well organized campaign against his administration. Should he fire Flynn or give in to such pressure his enemies will smell blood, find a new target within his administration and intensify their fire.
    *** are these transcripts public? Does anybody have a link?

    I think about Reagan and Iran and it strikes me that the Flynn affair is pretty minor…..but Flynn is GONE now.
    To the extent that Trump was gonna be different, I think its pretty obvious now that we are going to have a pretty standard repub governing philosophy, both foreign and domestic, albeit a lot more entertaining with more drama….Trump, all sound and fury signifying nothing.
    People for some reason believe that one person can significantly influence the federal government.

    1. Pat

      I know that Trump not doing some strategic firing in the Intelligence Community and Flynn getting the boot does certainly lessen or possibly even kill my hope for one of the silver linings of his election: That we would avoid an obviously stupid and self destructive war with Russia.

      1. begob

        Surely it depends on who replaces Flynn. There are various views on what sort of vacancy the resignation has caused.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I am quickly coming around to Lambert’s intel coup point of view.

        To the extent that morning joe is seen as a way to “communicate” with President Trump, as has been mentioned here recently, scarborough was in rare form this morning saying quite matter-of-factly:

        “We have been warning, this president and General Flynn, on the air for months, that you go after the intel community, the intel community will go after you. They are the last people you want to go after and General Flynn declared war on the intel community, the white house actually accused sally yates, of the justice department, of betrayal, and suddenly we read in the newspapers a cascade of stories that actually lead up to this point…..”

        Apparently uncomfortable with such a blatantly threatening characterization, david ignatius, intel agency spokesmodel, attempted to walk it back saying:

        “Joe, i think while that narrative is obviously compelling, I think it’s wrong to think of this as payback. This really was about loss of trust on the part of General Flynn in particular with Vice President Pence……”

        1. Praedor

          Start firing the bastards one-by-one. Give a direct order to the “intelligence agencies” and its people that they are to take NO actions, PERIOD. NO COVERT OR OVERT actions against ANY country or government without the express OK from the President. As soon as one violates that order (and they would) you arrest them for violating a direct, legal order from the President, their commander in chief. THAT’S how you get around the whole fantasy that those government jobs are in some sort of protected status.

          They aren’t protected when they do anything that can get them arrested by the secret service, US marshalls, or the FBI (violating a direct lawful order of the President would count).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Coincidentally, the director of the secret service announced his retirement earlier today.

          2. Gaianne

            To make this work, Trump would have to have his own (armed) security team. (Maybe he does.)

            The security team escorts the firee back to his desk, watch while he removes his personals effects (photos of the wife and kids), and then escorts him out the door as Trump’s own locksmith changes the locks.

            This is how it is done in the private sector, and that is how it must be done at the CIA.

            Remember, although the CIA makes out that it is indispensable, the only valuable functions of the CIA are analysis. Ops could be fired in its entirety with only modest effects on the real security of the nation.

            Of course, the firees would have to be watched in private life as they would immediately try to form (reform) an illegal cabal.


        2. fresno dan

          Katniss Everdeen
          February 14, 2017 at 11:21 am

          Philosophically, one can say that it is a good thing that one man can’t become president and completely overturn decades of ….consensus.

          Philosophically, one can also say that it is NOT a good thing that the “consensus” can never be overturned – especially when it doesn’t seem to work all that well for most….
          Wasn’t Obama the “change” candidate? yeah, yeah…that’s right….22 cents worth….maybe Trump can get to a nickel…..

          “This really was about loss of trust on the part of General Flynn in particular with Vice President Pence……”
          Uh….shouldn’t that be about whether Trump trusts Flynn? So……Pence….much, much smoother than Cheney……

    2. Carolinian

      Seems “clear” as mud to me. But as ‘b’ says the press borg or blob are doing everything in their power to keep US neocon policies in place.

      1. Paid Minion

        Shoudn’t be surprising. There are a lot of six figure plus jobs and government money at stake. Not to mention all of those sweet DOD contractor/lobbyist jobs after retirement.

        Like everyone else inside the Beltway, they are oblivious to what’s happening away from the Acela Corridor. They are all tied up in this “World Policeman/Freedom” fantasy. People are waking up to the fact that the main purpose of this is to make the world safe for MNCs, so they can use outsourcing/off shoring to screw the Wretched Refuse.

        “…….it’s threatening their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government, or a way of doing business, or whatever it is, the people holding the reins, have their hands on the switch….They go bat-shit crazy”

  14. Pat

    Craig C:

    Would you please pass along my admiration and fealty to the fabulous Barrett. I realize we are a coast away, but he is currently top dog in my studio on the East Coast. Beautiful.


  15. fresno dan

    A January assessment from Sally Yates, the acting US attorney general at the time, first reported by The Washington Post on Monday night suggested that Flynn, who had contact with Russia’s ambassador to the US, may be subject to blackmail*** from Russia.

    Both the director of national intelligence and the CIA director at the time, James Clapper and John Brennan, concurred, according to The Post, which cited an anonymous official as saying they feared “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” with Russia.

    blood in the water.
    I do not think this is a dem/Trump battle as much as a blob Trump battle.

    *** I shudder to think what they got on Flynn, when you consider what they got on Trump….

  16. toshiro_mifune


    That matches about what I expected they were doing.
    Given the size of the NSA** data-center in Bluffdale and the other one in Virginia I saw it as evidence they were trying to grab everything even prior to the Snowden leaks.
    As someone who has worked in tech for the past 17 years I recognized what I thought was going on as I’ve seen similar in IT.
    I’ve been at a few clients who have had problems with, say data latency, and there was no clear idea where the latency was sneaking into the system, and by this I mean large, networked systems with dozens to hundreds of hosts, so it can be very complicated. But, in order to ferret out what parts of the system were introducing latency the natural inclination is to collect more and more information about what is happening on the various components in those systems. This keeps going until you reach absurd levels of data being collected at absurd levels of granularity and you end up with so much raw data that you’re completely overwhelmed by it.
    If you look at terrorism as a information problem, well you can quickly end up with the same situation resulting in 1 million sq ft data centers housing everything you’re collection. All in the hopes that something will stand out….
    Looking at the FBI questions and you see the same thing; so broad and overreaching they’ll end up with so many people being watched that it’s completely ineffective. I played tournament paintball for 10 years as well as various video games, use https everywhere on all my browsers, have certainly read enough about previous terrorism events (who hasn’t at this point), etc. etc. So, if read broadly, I would be the sort of person they would want to watch. I happen to be a WTC survivor as well, but I doubt that plays into it.
    All in all, lots of evidence that those with the task of finding potential terrorists aren’t really sure how to go about doing that.

    ** Different agency, I know.

    1. wilroncanada

      Like a multiple choice exam: agents merely have to tick the box “All of the above”, if they know what’s good for them. Let my dossiers grow.

  17. DH

    Re: Border Wall

    Keep in mind that building a wall requires lots of permits, negotiations etc. and unexpected design details. Sometimes that is just hard and it just doesn’t happen. In the middle of the multitudinous failures of the New Orleans levee system during Katrina, the one that really stood out for me was the gap in the wall above the levee that was deliberately designed to allow water to flow around a pump station wall. It also made permitting easier because the location coincided with an overhead highway and the gap meant they didn’t need to deal with the FHWA. see p.72 of the pdf, p. 64 of the report.

    Expect to see many such exceptions in the border wall. Of course it would be too expensive to man those locations with 24-hr staff in guard towers and with machine guns (think East Germany)

    1. Paid Minion

      This whole “Border Wall” deal is so idiotic, I’m convinced that it’s some kind of scheme for Republicans to steal money from the government, and call it “infrastructure”.

      There is already a “border wall”. A sensor array of motion detectors, that alerts the Border Patrol when someone tries to cross

      Start throwing some people in jail for hiring them, especially a few members of the top 10 percent. No wall required. Just enforce existing laws.

      Or better yet, let victims of illegal drunk drivers sue the people that hire them for damages.

      1. BeliTsari

        Exact wrong place too. We should be building a YOOJ, classy dyke everywhere else, aside from the borders, pass buckets to our Mexican & Canadian neighbors & tell them, “bail FASTER amigos, eh!”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As Paid Minion said, there’s already a wall.

          Substantively, this is not picking on our neighbors any more than we have in the past. Optically, it’s more visibility and more PR.

          It is, then, not necessarily the wrong place, if, combined with more PR, it draws visitors like the Great Wall of China.

          “Fly to San Antonio for a 10 day tour of the Border Wall.”

      2. craazyman

        It could be a beautiful wall, like a Christo art installation or Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, that was such a poweful piece of sculpture it freaked out the employees of the building in New Yawk where it was installed and they had to remove it.

        The Wall could be a majestic expression of the idea of border fused with the great Southwest landscape in a harmonious aesthetic redolant of evocative metaphor.

        It could elevate and ennoble. Maybe it coould be a mirrored wall of some kind, so visitors who walk up to it see relfections of themselves in some kind of diffused and texturally blurred surface.

        This will take some creativity. Maybe it would be so beautfiul it could become it’s own destination, an artists colony that could attract both artists and the moneyed class as well as artisinal manufacturing like breweries, scotch distilleries, wineries, restaurants, various crafts and arts. It could atttract enough to form towns and communitiies. It couuldd be yuuuugely successful. It coud produce a music scene, an art scene, desert-relateed outdoor recreationial activities and hotels.

        It could eliminate the entire problem of illegal immigration. The wall could become its own multi-national US/Mexico zone where everyone is employed making either beautiful things OR wacko types wriiting songs and playing music living a lethargic and freaky esistence — but staying oout of trouble. The police force would exist but probably would be rarely needed.

        1. Paid Minion

          Naw,……….if/when the Wall goes up, the taggers will have a field day. There will be so much aerosol released, it will take out a big piece of the ozone layer. Hope they include that in the Environmental Impact Statement.

          Of course, they could do what the bus lines in SoCal have done………..put “tagger” paint schemes on the sides of their busses, Tagging just blends in with the existing paint scheme.

      3. Randy

        Trump will propose digging a ditch next. A yuuge , beautiful, fantastic ditch which will end up being a plowed furrow.

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        I always thought it was a bad idea that only people who researched the idea would let go once they were under the spell of the wall as a panacea to all problems, like high speed rail in the U.S. outside of a few Western routes because a tourist took a train from Paris to Brussels. Until one looks at the obstacles, it seems sensible. After all, the Chinese built a wall. It didn’t keep out the Mongol horde. Then of course the Southern border is so distant, most people don’t care, so it’s a great red meat issue because it will never be challenged, I’m sure the relevant border Congress critters know it’s been a bs issue all along and simply never expected to be in a position where the wall might be built. Did you really believe even Hillary could lose in November?

        When an important Republican type voter who has an inkling of what a terrible idea a wall is talks to the Congressman, the Congressman assures them it will never pass and it’s just red meat for the dumb deplorables who wouldn’t understand.

        Then of course, the border area isn’t exactly human friendly. Most illegal immigrants arrived legally and never left.

        1. Paid Minion

          They didn’t build the wall to keep out Mongol hordes. They built it to keep thousands of ravenous, man-eating dinosaurs out. And nobody can prove any different. Watch the movie when it comes out, if you don’t believe me.

          You guys gotta keep up with the new research. ROTFLMAO

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The First Emperor merely added more sections to existing walls built by various dukes and kings of the Warring States period, to make it one long wall.

          He aimed to keep out the Xiongnu (likely the Huns).

          The Mongols conquered the Jurchens (of the Jin Dynasty) – a non-Han Chinese tribe.

          What stopped the Mongols (for a few decades) was the fortress city of Xiangyang, which after almost 10 years of siege, they took with the help of either a Persian of German engineer and his trebuchets. Technically, it’s correct to say the Great Wall did nothing for the Han Chineese South Song dynasty to stop the Mongols. The fact is, the Great Wall did not mark the boundary between them.

          When they drove the Mongols back to Mongollia, the Ming emperors rebuilt it and the wall remained largely intact to now. When Beijing fell to the rebel, Li, and the emperor hung himself in a hill behind the palace, the commander of the key defensive gate against the Manchus let them through the wall, on the condition they would help with putting down/driving out the rebels.

          That is, the Wall did its job. But the human commader did not.

        3. wilroncanada

          Soon you’re going to have to build a wall, both north and south, to keep people in. The trickle across the border into Canada is becoming a creek. Soon a flood. On the Mexico side, the previous administration has been deporting “undesirables” in ever increasing numbers for years. In addition, recently (the last two or three years at least) the number of Latino immigrant–both kinds–have been returning south at almost the same level as those arriving.

          In addition, thousands of US-ites have been emigrating every year to happier places, like Central America, juntas and death squads notwithstanding, parts of Europe, the far east, and even supposedly impoverished African countries. Why? Jobs, lower costs, quality of life. What does that say about the US?

  18. MtnLife

    The bonus antidote video was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Loved the inter species compassion! It was hard to watch the ones mourning their friends as I’ve lost 3 of my very close pets in the past year and a half.

    1. oh

      It was touching to see how animals care so much for other animals, unlike people who kill people for no reason at all.

  19. optimader

    Skimming over the list of 48 questions, they read uncomfortably like what I would perceive as a script for recruiting young people seeking “adventure/action” in military and anyone interested in a career in private mercenary entities like Blackwater aka XE aka Academi ( Academi , now there’s some word smithing !?!). :o/

  20. cocomaan

    Can someone in law explain why the IMV survey (48 questions from the Intercept) is not discoverable?

    The IMV survey is considered a secondary document derived from evidence that already exists within a case.

    Isn’t it material to a case, though, if an agent doing casework uses this to make decisions on how to proceed? I don’t know enough to say either way.

  21. DH

    Re: Oroville Dam spillway

    The dam main spillway has probably been used frequently with no issues over the years. There were a series of major storms in the 70s and 80s a few years after the dam was completed. I believe the reservoir was also pretty full in 1997 which likely required heavy usage of the spillway.However, it is now 50 years after the spillway was built. Similar to most US infrastructure, it was well-built in its time and served its purpose in its time.

    In order to keep things going 50+ years, inspections and maintenance are required. This is where the US has failed miserably over the past 30 years – the infrastructure was built and then nobody wanted to pay the fees, taxes etc. to inspect and maintain it. Water will cease coming out of taps because water pipes are not being inspected, relined, or replaced. Bridges get closed or have weight limits because the steel and reinforced concrete deteriorates and is not repaired or replaced. Power grids have failures because they are not upgraded to accommodate changes in demand and aging components. Transit systems suddenly have massive shutdowns because track components haven’t been maintained for decades. And the list goes on.

    John Oliver looked at this brilliantly two years ago.

    1. Katharine

      My local paper carried the AP article today, which includes this:

      Ramirez said it was “extremely frustrating” when he heard reports that emerged Monday of complaints about the potential danger that came from environmentalists and government officials a dozen years ago.

      Those warnings described the very scenario that was threatening to unfold, though they were dismissed state and federal regulators who expressed confidence that the dam and its spillways could withstand serious storms.

      The acting head of the state’s Department of Water Resources said he was unaware of the 2005 report that recommended reinforcing with concrete an earthen spillway that is now eroding.

      “I’m not sure anything went wrong,” Bill Croyle said. “This was a new, never-having-happened-before event.”

      Roberts-Lynch didn’t buy the explanations.

      “I know that somebody did not pay attention to the warning signs,” she said. “Someone in charge was not paying attention. It was their job to pay attention to what was going on with the dam.”

      Even if we are lucky enough not to see a disaster, the growing awareness that somebody dropped the ball a dozen years ago is going to have repercussions. I hesitate to say consequences, since it’s amazing how many of them get ducked.

      1. notabanker

        I think this was in the WC yesterday. Written in 2005.

        “Our facilities, including the spillway, are safe during any conceivable flood event, ” said Raphael Torres, acting deputy director of the State Water Project.

        Still, Torres said investing money to upgrade the spillway may not be worth it.

        “The emergency spillway has never been used. … It’s possible that it will be used in the future, but it would take an extremely large event, ” he said. “You have to do an analysis of the economics of being able to build some projects vs. the frequency of risk.”

        Read more here:

      2. DH

        The environmental groups were looking at the wrong problem.

        The only reason that the emergency spillway is being used is because the main spillway failed at well below its design capacity. Everybody had assumed that the main spillway was in good shape. It appears now that it had deteriorated 50 years after it had been constructed. This is an inspection, maintenance, and refurbishment/replacement problem regarding essential working components, not a problem with an emergency spillway that would probably never be used. The environmental groups should have been focused on making sure that the basic working elements of the dam were in good shape and could go for another 50 years, not simply adding an expense for something that is hopefully never used.

        The flow was diverted to the emergency spillway when the main spillway started to fall apart. The main spillway had worked successfully over the years until this event, so there is not necessarily a fundamental design mistake. In my opinion, there was a flaw in the inspection and maintenance protocols. This is like driving with worn brakes and then complaining about how the air bag deploys after you slam into the car in front of you. You shouldn’t have been driving with worn brakes in the first place.

        Emergency spillways are designed to be used to allow for large “controlled” releases during the Maximum Probable Flood which defined as the largest possible flood event (think multi-thousand year scenario, not FEMA 100-year flood).

        The emergency spillway gets used when the main spillway has been operating at maximum capacity and the water keeps rising so it is about to overtop the dam proper which would erode it and cause the entire reservoir to empty catastrophically. The emergency spillway is essentially the , crumpling car frame and air bag designed to survive a crash (massive flood). After the event, major repairs or even abandoning the site are expected. This current event is not close to what the emergency spillway was designed to be used for.

        As a society we are not electing officials who will set up the necessary taxes and fees to cover the requirements of our crumbling infrastructure. To cite Pogo “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

        1. Anon

          Excellent assessment. The issue here is not the “emergency spillway” but the deterioration of the primary spillway that has now failed catastrophically. It’s clear from the photos that the concrete spillway began crumbling (leaking) and then failed due to erosion of its soil base.

          Attentive maintenance would likely have noticed the spillway deterioration.

    1. MtnLife

      “Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out. The Sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault,”

      Well, in that case, I reserve the reasonable right to pre-empt a pre-emptive assault in self-defense.

    2. Eureka Springs mad as hell 2.

      Kudos to the fellow for speaking up. We’ve learned nothing since our school yard encounters with bullies. This Sheriff should be fired, prosecuted, no longer eligible for any position of authority in any quarter… not even little league baseball coach or management of fellow trash collectors.

      I expect that the victim will continue to suffer most.

  22. allan

    This Cunning, Months-in-the-Making Phishing Campaign Targeted Dozens of Journalists, Activists [Vice]

    Safeena Malik is not a real person. Despite having a Twitter feed created in December 2014, a fully fleshed-out LinkedIn with over five hundred connections, and a Facebook account where she reposts innocent viral videos, this supposed UK university graduate is an elaborate ploy in a large scale hacking operation, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

    Throughout 2016, those behind the Malik identity have tried, and in some cases succeeded, to break into the Gmail accounts of journalists, labor rights activists and human rights defenders, particularly those with a focus on Qatar. …

    Brought to you by our friends and allies in the area.

    1. allan

      Cyber spies target American-Egyptian writer [AP]

      American-Egyptian author Mona Eltahawy is one of many activists and human rights advocates targeted in a sweeping cyberespionage campaign blamed on Egypt’s government, The Associated Press has found.

      A booby-trapped email sent to Eltahawy and examined by the AP shows that she was targeted by the same password-stealing technique used to try to compromise staff at more than half a dozen Egyptian human rights organizations. Digital clues such as matching email addresses employed to send the malicious messages and the use of the same credential-harvesting website proved the same actor was involved.

      Eltahawy, a fierce critic of Egypt’s government who has frequently complained about state surveillance, said she felt violated but not surprised. …

      The message itself was closely tailored to Eltahawy’s concerns. … On Dec. 7, women’s rights attorney Azza Soliman was arrested. In the following week, Eltahawy fielded social media messages about the lawyer’s upcoming court date. So when she received an email labeled “an important document about Azza Soliman,” she opened it right away.

      “I usually never go and click on documents that are sent to me by people I don’t know,” she said. “But because this was Azza and I was very upset about what had happened to her, I immediately went and clicked.” …

      Brought to you by some more of our friends and allies in the area.

  23. Vikas Saini

    RE Obamacare Town Hall protests. Pace Lambert, from news reports, it seems that Indivisible deserve some credit for getting people there, and my friends tell me that OurRevolution was also calling for a turnout.

    more of that, please!

  24. jo6pac

    Well with Flynn out maybe retired general criminal betrayus will get the job after all. neo-conns 1 vs citizens 0

    1. RUKidding

      That’s pretty much how I see it. Quite a few of my friends were crowing last night about the ouster of Flynn and how wonderful that was. I said: not so fast, plus be careful what you wish for.

      Ugh Gen Betrayus.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Who out there is openly confronting the neocons?

        If Flynn is a neo-con whom the really scary neo-cons dislike, we’re worse off now.

        In any case, no one is going to take on the neocons.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Who out there is openly confronting the neocons?

        If Flynn is a neo-con whom the really scary neo-cons dislike, we’re worse off now.

        In any case, no one is going to take on the neocons.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          “Taking on the neo-cons” entails shaking the very foundations of the American economy to its core, with troops in 70% of the world’s countries and America’s biggest companies from Microsoft to KFC feeding at the trough (nevermind Lockheed and Raytheon who make armaments directly) the economy would grind to a halt unless new/more war goes forward. My suggestion is to repatriate them all immediately, the staff sergeants making $100K per year shuffling papers in Guam, the spooks infesting the Donbass hills, the drone intel guys in Eritrea, and the tank specialists crawling all over Estonia. Hand them all a shovel and try to get America’s infrastructure from Fourth World all the way up to Third World standards.

      3. reslez

        Why do you think the establishment went after him to the point of leaking contents of his phone calls? Because they’re not his friends! Whoever replaces him will be worse, and worse than that, more effective.

  25. allan

    Boeing vote in North Charleston early test for unions under Trump [Post and Courier]

    Boeing Co. came to South Carolina more than seven years ago to establish a second assembly line for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. At least part of the attraction, analysts said, was the area’s lightly unionized labor force — giving the company more leverage over the union at its main operations outside Seattle.

    Now that equation is being put to the test. Workers will vote Wednesday on whether to unionize, an early test of organized labor’s strength in the Trump era. …

    The machinists made a similar union push in North Charleston nearly two years ago, but called off a vote a several days before the scheduled election, complaining of a deluge of misinformation from Boeing management and pressure from local politicians….

    Nikki Haley, then South Carolina’s governor and now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, portrayed the machinists’ union as a group of meddling outsiders who had resisted Boeing’s move to South Carolina. …

    1. Paid Minion

      Since the move to South Carolina was mainly intended to eff over the union workforce in Seattle, who are the “meddlers”?

      (Aerospace has a long history of owners/management relocating to the Bible Belt (Bell, Convair, Vought/LTV), because they “don’t want unions telling them how to run their business” Mostly paid for by the government.

      Lousy , dictatorial management created unions.

    2. Carolinian

      From your link (and thanks)

      Even if the union prevailed, it would not necessarily restore the leverage it enjoyed before the Dreamliner plant opened in North Charleston. South Carolina is a “right to work” state, meaning workers do not have to join the union or pay union fees as a condition of employment.

      According to Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia, this was an important consideration in Boeing’s decision to locate in North Charleston.

      We here in SC are well rid of Haley but she was very representative of the political establishment of SC so little is likely to change.

    3. I Have Strange Dreams

      Lol. Americans love freedom – except in the workplace, where they spend most of their lives. There, they become emasculated putzes, hating on everyone except their masters whom they both love and despise in a psychodrama leading to self-annihilation and/or going postal.

      A Brief History of Rage, Murder and Rebellion

      An interview with Mark Ames, whose book about rage murders in American schools and workplaces claims these violent acts are, in effect, failed revolts.

      1. LT

        And take any significant time away from work, get looked at like you just dropped in from an alien planet (which could be called “Freedom”).

  26. leftover

    RE: Federal Town Hall Erupts
    I live in a Red State. A traditionally Blue Dog State, actually, but right wing radicalization has spread exponentially over the last eight years. I have noticed among conservative/libertarian friends and family a definite increase in willingness to accept single payer funding (pdf) as a viable alternative to ObamaCare® and employer sponsored PPO plans . Especially among those who use the FFM to acquire health insurance. They’ve learned The Affordable Care Act isn’t. And they are well acquainted with the inequities of a for-profit dominated health insurance system.

    Fear of federal government control is still acute, but is being tempered by the popularity of the State run healthcare plan for State employees and retirees.

    It’s the economic argument that is persuading them. That argument is trumping the opportunistic and ambiguous moral arguments that have plagued universal healthcare debates for decades. “If it can save that kind of money it can’t be all that bad.”

    1. RUKidding

      in the end, what most citizens actually want is some kind of single payer or Medicare for all plan. They’ve just been duped/gulled into believing that the so-called “free market” system is infinitely better than anything that the govt could run, despite evidence to the contrary.

      1. cocomaan

        Maybe it’s giving too much credit, but I kind of wonder if that was Obama’s intention all along: knowing he couldn’t pass single payer, he instead pushed for a giant pile of free market shit that nobody liked, making single payer look fabulous.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Americans want single payer or major Healthcare changes even if they confuse branding. American elites don’t, and Obama is simply an elite. Obama was so hands off he didn’t make sure ACA made enough improvements to be tolerated such as Medicare changes made by 43. Yes, there was grift and omissions, but the practical interaction with Medicare Part December was positive. Obama’s charm and token status carried him all along, and so he probably didn’t understand the program needed to be positive all the time. Rebranding a deeply flawed Healthcare system as Obamacare despite improvements didn’t help. Rahm Emmanuel was right doing small changes at least from the perspective of elites, but Obama wanted a big victory without upsetting anyone important.

          His political opponents in life were Jack Ryan, Hillary, McCain, and Mittens. His opponent for state senate was likely his most formidable opponent. Being a cool guy worked all along, so he approached the Presidency the same way. If Hillary was remotely competent, he would not have been President for the last eight years.

          1. Anne

            What never made any sense to me was the 4 years between signing of the legislation and its full implementation; building that much lag time in a situation that’s supposed to have reached a crisis point could only have been to give the insurance companies time to drive premiums up and figure out ways to game the law.

            “Yes, Mrs. Jones, it appears your appendix could burst any time now; we are going to operate, for sure by sometime next week.”

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              If the Healthcare industry wrote the law, the don’t need time to figure out how to game it. Since its basically the Heritage Bill for 1993, the didn’t need much time.

              The best parts of ACA were immediate. One of the delays was the Cadillac tax which Democrats in Congress pushed back to protect themselves in 2010 for all the good it did them.

  27. Altandmain

    This one is well written:

    Trump didn’t come out of nowhere. Whatever awful policy he has implemented, you can find its antecedents in the Obama administration. After all, it was President Obama who refined the drone program into an exquisite killing system and normalized its use. Thanks to Obama, President Trump can now pause from tweeting about TV ratings to murder people on the other side of the world by remote control. And when it comes to surveillance, state secrecy and cracking down on whistleblowers, President Trump simply needs to copy the Obama playbook.

    Nor should anyone, in looking for the good in American politics, succumb to the ridiculous fantasy of the moderate Republican. Paul Ryan is not a moderate. Reince Priebus is not a moderate. Mitt Romney went from anti-Trump leader to groveling supplicant at the drop of a MAGA hat. And you only need to look at what local GOP leaders are doing at the state level to understand how foul the whole party’s plans are. Trump is not an aberration—he’s your ordinary GOP politician without the mask of civility.

    In post-Brexit Britain (and indeed well before), the sort of restrictive immigration bans Trump has ordered are daily fodder for newspaper front pages and policy discussions. In France, the leading conservative candidates in the upcoming presidential election are a Trump-style ultra-nationalist and a “centrist” who is known as the French Margaret Thatcher. In countries like Hungary and Poland, terrifying hard-right forces are tightening their grip on the institutions of government. We’ve been here before: as capitalism begins to devour itself, liberal democracies succumb to their worst impulses, never far from the surface. Terrible things follow.

    Kind of sad that the alternative media has a better grasp of the situation than the Pravda like mainstream media.

  28. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Bernie Sanders Cries Foul

    Go get ’em Bernie!

    “If anyone in West Virginia government thinks that I will be intimidated from going to McDowell County, West Virginia, to hold a town meeting, they are dead wrong,” Sanders said in a statement. “If they don’t allow us to use the local armory, we’ll find another building. If we can’t find another building, we’ll hold the meeting out in the streets. That town meeting will be held. Poverty in America will be discussed. Solutions will be found.”

    And this article mentions he’s still been filling the venues and then some on his latest tour –

    An upcoming speech in Topeka, Kansas on Feb. 25th had to be moved to a larger venue after more than 1,500 tickets were sold in one week.

    In the West Virginia state capital of Charleston, where U.S. President Donald Trump won 57 percent of the vote, Sanders addressed a crowd of over 2,000 people on Sunday evening.

  29. LT

    What happens with the Mazda billboard camera if someone or a group of people stand in front of it and keep spinning like Micheal Jackson onstage?

  30. LT

    Re: Jacobin article on “resistance..”

    A couple of ladies at work mentioned there would be some kind of women’s strike in March. However, neither could tell me what is the specific policy demand(s) to made from striking.
    So will it just be “strike a pose” and more “intersectional” cultural criticism (which is not exactly activitism)?
    To participate, I’d have to know the material benefit that would directly be expected to happen as a result of a mass strike.

      1. Katharine

        The covers say Thesmophoriazusae, but don’t be fooled, worry.

        About 45 years ago, the University of Chicago theater group wanted to collaborate with a member of the Classics department to put on Lysistrata, but the administration nixed it, so they (apparently) said, okay, can we do this other one instead, guessing correctly that the administration officials included no classicists. They got their approval, rehearsed, printed programs and publicity, and put on a wonderful show, and it was only years later looking up the text that I discovered they had performed Lysistrata.

        Gauge your opponent’s ignorance accurately and you can use it against him.

          1. Katharine

            Don’t get paranoid. I was still thinking in terms of that administration, which was assuredly male.

      1. Portia

        yes, anything goes. Sick of feeling obligated to have sex, make babies, work 60 hours a week at 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet (and so your employers aren’t on the hook for health insurance), being required to wear makeup that costs more than you earn per hour, wear clothing that represents an income level 2 levels above your own at work so the clients won’t realize you are a poor? Hide the fact that you are homeless so you don’t get fired? Lose your job because the boss is distracted by your attractiveness [this happened to me, twice. and I am not Miss America material]. Yeah, I vote for a women’s strike too.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          OK but if you insist on “divide and be conquered” and making this about *gender* and not *class* then perhaps women can form their own political party? So many of the “gender” issues are also “class” issues: health care, wages, retirement. They would win handily, the only counter-reaction would be for men to form their own party, gender issues do not unite them (it’s a piece of cake to own and operate a penis) and class issues divide them quite neatly already. An “NFL Party” might do OK though.

          1. Portia

            what makes you think that if women stand up for themselves, it won’t benefit “class” issues also?

            and what does *this* even mean:

            OK but if you insist on “divide and be conquered” and making this about *gender*

            I am not making this about anything. you are. I list a very few of the myriad reasons women got together en masse to raise awareness. You certainly seem to have a problem with women advocating for themselves.

        2. kareninca

          Feeling obligated to make babies? Good grief, I am in my early fifties. Of my six high school friends (plus me makes seven), four of us did not have kids; two did have kids, one I don’t know about. Small town New England, middle middle class, we were pretty representative of our generation in a lot of ways. The women I know who have had kids, actually wanted to have kids and are glad they did (despite the economic challenges they caused). Do you really know a lot of women who felt obligated to have kids, had kids, and now regret it? I am curious.

          The economic issues you list are all real, but I just don’t think there are a lot of women who had kids who didn’t want to in recent generations. My grandmother’s generation, sure, even my mom’s generation, but not since. But, I could be wrong.

          1. cwaltz

            If you don’t have access to affordable reproductive planning then yes, obligated to make babies is an accurate descriptor of the road we will be heading down.

            As far as birth control not being covered by insurance companies(because males or post menopausal women don’t need coverage and therefore should be exempt for paying for that part of the pool) I want to know where I can opt out of paying for prostate exams or anything related to testicles and erectile dysfunction since those are conditions I’ll never have to worry about.

        3. craazyman

          You sound like you’re probably hot. Twice? Wow. He should have concentrated on his job & chatted you up politely during appropriate circumstances — and only then asked if a glass of wine after work followed by a beach weekend with lots of sex would be of interest.

          back to narrative sobriety: I saw the strangest sight Sunday. There was a young woman begging on a highway with a hand-lettered cardboard sign saying there was a new baby and they needed money. It was near Washington DC, the outer suburbs. What was bizarre was: she was a very attractive young blond, right out of the cheerleader squad and well dressed to. You don’t see that very often. I would have given her money but I wasn’t driving the car. I gave a guy on the subway money the other day. He told a ver articulate story aboot coming to New York for a chef job then the restaurant closed down and he was embarrased to be beggingg but he had to and his family would be ashamed. I told him “I have no idea if all that is true, but it sounds bad. Here . . . ” I gave him $1 and it felt a bit patronizing of me. You never know who is who or what. But if somebody is begging either they are 1) an actor practicing the Method Acting school 2) being honest or 3) a street hustling con man or woman. Hard to know, but your odds are at least 33% and probably higher. If it’s $1 it can hardly matter.

          1. Portia

            moderately hot, comparatively perhaps. I actually heard of a lawsuit

            but these guys hit on other women, not just me. Wives were involved. those marriages are toast now, but so was my job. it’s insane.

            I lived in the D.C. area for 25 years and there are people all over like that young woman. and that chef guy sounds just like a guy that hit me up for coffee money here in Vermont, same story. I wonder if it’s the same guy–I haven’t seen him around here for a month or so…

    1. Anne

      On February 6, the Women’s March organizers provided a next step, proposing a general strike called “A Day Without a Woman,” with the exact date to be determined. That same day, eight feminist intellectuals and activists including Angela Davis, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, and Nancy Fraser also issued a call for a global women’s strike, for March 8, a.k.a. International Women’s Day. “The idea is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them, in an international day of struggle—a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions,” reads their op-ed in The Guardian. Over 30 countries around the world have already agreed to participate.


      From The Guardian op-ed:

      Women’s conditions of life, especially those of women of color and of working, unemployed and migrant women, have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years, thanks to financialization and corporate globalization.

      Lean-in feminism and other variants of corporate feminism have failed the overwhelming majority of us, who do not have access to individual self-promotion and advancement and whose conditions of life can be improved only through policies that defend social reproduction, secure reproductive justice and guarantee labor rights. As we see it, the new wave of women’s mobilization must address all these concerns in a frontal way. It must be a feminism for the 99%.


      In embracing a feminism for the 99%, we take inspiration from the Argentinian coalition Ni Una Menos. Violence against women, as they define it, has many facets: it is domestic violence, but also the violence of the market, of debt, of capitalist property relations, and of the state; the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women; the violence of state criminalization of migratory movements; the violence of mass incarceration; and the institutional violence against women’s bodies through abortion bans and lack of access to free healthcare and free abortion.

      Their perspective informs our determination to oppose the institutional, political, cultural and economic attacks on Muslim and migrant women, on women of color and working and unemployed women, on lesbian, gender nonconforming and trans women.

      It “sounds” like they may have heard the criticism that the March was not enough about the 99%. And while I’m seeing a more focused message, what I’m not seeing is any ask – it’s all well and good to be for and against things, but where are the demands?

      I think it would be more powerful for women to be able to say, “I’m going on strike on this day in support of our demands for legislation that _________________ and to demand the President rescind EO __________ that _________________, and demand the Congress repeal ________________.” If they are going to strike, wouldn’t it be more powerful to descend on statehouses and county councils and the House and Senate and deliver a list of specific actions, rather than continue to just say, “We believe in the right of all women to make their own reproductive health decisions?”

      I’m disappointed that while there’s been an effort to hone the message, there doesn’t seem to have been an effort to pair it with specific demands.

      Apparently, the author of the Vogue article agrees (my bold):

      A general strike of this magnitude hasn’t taken place in the United States for decades. (This can likely be attributed in some part to the strength and wide participation of European unions.) In the United States, a national strike gets more complicated: It inherently favors women in corporate and high-paying jobs who have more flexibility and less fear of retribution, while non-unionized employees will have a more difficult time, as would a single mother, who can’t exactly take the day off from parenting duties.

      The women’s strike also needs to zero in on a cohesive message. This will not be news to the organizers of the Women’s March, which drew criticism for what seemed to some parties like an overly broad agenda. The International Women’s Day strike proposed for March 8 has already announced a focused platform, which will be protesting against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights. But it has also positioned itself as the strike aimed at “making visible the needs and aspirations of those whom lean-in feminism ignored,” without providing any clear-cut solutions to the participation challenges that precise demographic of women will inevitably face. If these movements truly want to embrace “feminism for the 99%,” they need to join forces and address these pressing questions sooner rather than later.

      1. Foppe

        I think it’s more of a case of this call to action being formulated by a group of which Angela Davis and others are a part, as opposed to Davis being invited to partake in the DC march in order to give it street cred, but without giving her any significant role in its organization, which was done by Dem Party hacks, who prefer platforming Madonna and S. Johanssen over Davis et al.

        1. Anne

          Just because Davis is being given a significant role does not rule out the possibility that she (and others whom the original march founders more or less ignored) is being co-opted.

          I am not an organizer or mobilizer or even well-versed in the mechanics and logistics of putting something like this together for the maximum benefit, but it seems to me that it would be more powerful for women to, say, march on the Oklahoma statehouse, where efforts are underway to pass legislation that would require women seeking abortions to get permission from the biological father. Or gather outside the office of the nitwit who regards pregnant women as “hosts.”

          Put women in cities and places that are actively seeking to undermine and revoke rights and policies that support women. Yes, there are more people in cities like NY and LA and Chicago, but marching in blue cities isn’t much going to help women who live in red cities and states.

          I don’t have the time to research and list the places where women’s rights are most vulnerable, but I think that’s where people need to be.

          And if you’re going to ask women to take a day off work in the middle of the week, and your message is one of inclusiveness of the 99% who don’t have the means to make that sacrifice, then start a strike fund to help with the financial costs.

          Please, just don’t let this become more about symbolism than substance, or it’s soon going to be the case that fewer and fewer will turn out.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I saw somewhere that the median net worth of a single woman of color is $5.00…even a cotton-pickin’ slave probably owned more than that in baubles.

          2. reslez

            > march on the Oklahoma statehouse, where efforts are underway to pass legislation that would require women seeking abortions to get permission from the biological father

            According to the Linked article, it’s not even the “bio father” the woman needs permission from but her sex partners.

            I’m eagerly awaiting technology that will enable transfer of embyros and fetuses to men. I’m sure all kinds of scientists are working on that right now. As soon as it’s available all this nonsense will disappear — for one reason or another. But they’ll have to come up with some other excuse to control us. They should put all those male-dominated philosophy departments on that before it’s too late.

      2. fosforos

        March 8 is the inception-anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which began with a mass women’s demonstration. If celebration of that anniversary is not *central* on that day any “feminist” natterings will be nothing but warmed-over Clintonism.

    2. Portia

      what is the purpose of this comment? have you ever gone to a job interview and had the fact that you are a woman be a point on which you were judged for being worthy of hiring? I have–I have been asked if I plan to have children (hint: if the answer was yes, they were not interested, and the fact that I could have an “accident” that made me pregnant a major drawback, so woman:bad). so yeah, being a woman is a policy matter. employers are not listening when you tell them they can’t discriminate due to gender. you can be specific until you are blue in the face. what we all as women have in common is our gender, from which all gender discrimination springs. so, let’s all get together as women first, and scare the living shit out of the assholes by their sheer outnumberment.

      1. ginnie nyc

        Portia: I don’t know when you went on job interviews where they asked if you planned to have children, but that’s illegal. It’s been illegal for over 25 years, at least. When I used to get asked if I was married (also illegal), I would just raise my eyebrow, make a pleasantry, and then they would get the hint, and move on with the interview.

        1. Anon

          Don’t be fooled! Employers of all types regularly ignore the rules. Let me know where you believe one files that employment complaint. Better to tell the questioner what they want to hear, and,hopefully, get the job.

          1. ginnie nyc

            I can’t work now, I’m disabled. But I did work for 25 years, and I repeat, you cannot lay down for employers on these issues in interviews. At times I would mention that ‘the EOE advises applicants that they don’t need to answer such a question’. Not accusatory, no agency, just stating a fact. I worked both in offices (from secretary to later management) and in commercial kitchens (75 men and one girl, me). Yes, women get a lot of shit in the workplace. But you don’t need to cooperate with it.

            1. Portia

              I am disabled now also. I am weary of people telling me employers are doing something illegal and I should not comply. this always got me “eased out” of the workplace. and a lawyer asked me if I was going to have children, so I have no doubt he knew he was out of line–try suing a lawyer. I got a reputation for saying no to cooking the books and people’s tax returns, and this translated to me being “difficult” and “insubordinate” when applying for the next job. The EOE can say what it needs to say, but they have no teeth, and nobody had my back, so I am beyond pissed that keeping my end clean almost resulted, in the end, in my being homeless, and I am sure other women are not so fortunate. My whole issue, and the reason I persist in this thread, is that women must not be mocked or trivialized for gathering en masse for the totality of discrimination, because it is all about attitude of employers and misogynists, not just about particulars of what they do.

      2. LT

        My point is that the demand on how that can be fixed needs to be articulated.
        The discrimination is obvious and the point of arguing whether it exists or not or just calling attention to the obvious needs to be formulated into an action/demand that stops it.
        See Anne’s comment above.

        1. Portia

          respectfully, these needs have been articulated over and over and over during my 45 years in the work force, and since the industrial revolution began. they are ignored by employers who think they can get away with it and that is most employers, so I don’t think it is helpful to make snarky comments about women getting together who have been repeatedly and determinedly penalized for their gender, to speak and show support and show that they are there, en masse. so don’t say women need a spokesperson to articulate, because those people are always pre-empted by TPTB at some point and the “movement” neutered. I recall Martin Luther King’s lament about being told always to wait, these things take time. yes, you would like to give the establishment another chance to water down and delay needed equitable changes? Because if you tell women who are getting together en masse for change to sit down and let someone “articulate” and “formulate” yet again, you are POTP.

  31. LT

    Re: Presidential transitions and national security teams.

    Six of one, half a dozen of the other…never does any of it challenge the all envelovoping war and surveillance culture. It always is a choice of: do you want to get to war sooner or later?

  32. Jim Haygood

    J-Yel, live at the Senate Banking Committee:

    Yellen said Fed policy makers will be discussing in coming months their strategy for the balance sheet, which swelled to about $4.5 trillion after the crisis from less than $900 billion in 2006 as the central bank sought to hold down long-term market rates.

    She said she expects the balance sheet to end up being “substantially smaller” than it is now, with policy makers wanting to shrink in an “orderly and predictable way.” The Fed doesn’t want to use the balance sheet as an active policy tool and it should eventually be comprised primarily of U.S. Treasuries, she said.

    Ben Bernanke said the same thing back in QE1 days. Then he launched QE2 and QE3.

    A sad fact is that a bubble economy has to be constantly fed with fresh rocket fuel. Central banksters can’t stop pumping, any more than a bicycle high-wire act can stop pedaling.

    For now, J-Yel’s sounding pretty lovey-dovish. Market-derived expectations of a March rate hike are only about 34%.

    Eventually, though — perhaps in connection with rising inflation — the Fed will do what it always does: apply the pin prick that pops Bubble III. And then we are all going to miss the good old days. :-(

    1. craazyman

      They should load up all those bonds into a NASA rocket like the old Saturn V and shoot them into the sun.

      That would get rid of them forever and leave their balance sheet as clean and empty as a newly built swimming pool. Ready to be loaded up with fresh debt! Brand new!

      BUT . . . They couldn’t miss. That would be a disaster. If the earth got half way around the sun 6 months later and somehow here comes that rocket full of bonds like an Asteroid.

      This is a risky operation . . . But we have lots of physicists in the financial sector and hopefully they can make it work.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Kurgman loves that it would cost billions of dollars — better than breaking every window in the country!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the sun can just move a little faster, in 6 months, that rocket will miss us and simply exit the solar system.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      So they plan to sell that $4.5 T-T-T-Trillion in debt that was so far from being repayable that even Wall St hoicked it up, to…whom, exactly?
      Maybe they can create a “Bad Fed” (like the “bad bank” fictions) and everyone can just observe while it rots. Kinda like Yoko Ono’s apple rotting under the glass bell jar

  33. allan

    Rolls-Royce pays high price for past sins, weak pound [Reuters]

    … The drop in the pound against the dollar led to a 4.4 billion pound non-cash hedging charge. Most aircraft deals are priced in dollars, forcing Rolls to hedge future income. …

    Non-cash? Mind the GAAP.

    And it wasn’t long ago that the post-Brexit vote fall in sterling
    was advertised by some as being beneficial to British exporters.

  34. Pat

    You will be happy to know that if only Donald Trump had released his tax returns he would not have been elected. At least as predicted by that person with their finger on the pulse of public opinion Joy Behar.
    Mind you Whoppi Goldberg still thinks that things have improved in the last eight years for most of America, and an implied you shouldn’t have dissed Obama by voting for the guy saying they hadn’t because your feeling that things aren’t are wrong.

    The media have not learned anything.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To the media, it’s us who haven’t learned a thing.

      “These Little People must learn!!!”

  35. JEHR

    Re: The Definitive Analysis of ‘The Handshake’ Between Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau

    Well, I really liked that analysis and chuckled at the last line. Most politicians need a good deflating now and again and, bravo, it occurred!

  36. Portia

    re: dogs judge humans by how humans treat others. This is my experience with something like this:
    Pet dogs treat me the way their humans really feel about me. If certain people dislike me, no matter how warmly they act towards me, the dog growls and barks at me. If they feel warmly toward me, the dog is all over me with love. If they are afraid of me, the dog trembles or takes a protective posture toward its human. When I meet dogs on their own, however, we look each other in the eyes and assess the current situation. Cats, however, make their own judgments, and mostly take a wait and see attitude or cautious approach.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When can a dog guard a house when it’s owner is not around then? How does that dog know the owner will like or dislike the thief?

      1. Portia

        dog is on home ground, so likely to be conditioned to defend. I meant when I meet a dog alone on the road. and not all dogs have this desire to defend the home. and some dogs have been known to be susceptible to bribes ;-) better teach your dog never to accept food from anyone but a family member.

      2. Katharine

        That might be territoriality, this is my space, not this is my human’s space. Don’t know, just guessing a reason.

  37. Jim Haygood

    News from FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) — they’ve added High Quality Corporate Bond yields to their database:

    FRED has added 204 monthly series on corporate bond yield curves based on methodology developed by the U.S. Treasury. These high-quality market (HQM) yields are used to discount future pension liabilities as required by the Pension Protection Act.

    HQM corporate yields were previously available in tables from the Treasury. On FRED, now you can plot them graphically.

    Note that the most recent values are 3.84% for 10-year maturity, 4.75% for 30-year maturity, and 4.90% for an extrapolated 50-year maturity. Depending on the age composition of their workforce, private pension sponsors use yields in this range to discount their future liabilities.

    Then consider that public pensions (such as Calpers, extensively covered here) are still using discount rates north of 7.00%. This seriously understates their pension liabilities.

    Public pensions are barely keeping their heads above water, even as stocks have more than tripled during Bubble III. As an example, the town where I shop is considering to hike its sales tax by one percent, because contributions to the underfunded police and firefighters pension fund went up drastically. This is during an economic expansion. :-0

    When the next recession/bear market hits, public pensions are gonna shatter like the Oroville Dam spillway, as years of phony-baloney accounting come home to roost.

  38. Portia

    re animal empathy
    My goat kept turning over her water bucket at night. after the second time, I scolded her, because she was getting her bedding all wet. the next morning, I found the bucket upright, with a couple of drowned mice floating in it. I had to apologize to her, (not for the first or last time) since I realized she was letting the mice free. I started dangling a rope in the water for them to climb out. my other goat never showed this concern for mice.

  39. Vatch

    Linda McMahon’s nomination to lead the Small Business Administration was confirmed by the Senate 81-19:

    Later this week there will probably be a vote on the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be the EPA Administrator. Since Betsy DeVos and Steven Mnuchin were both confirmed, despite their numerous flaws, I fear that Pruitt also will probably be confirmed. I hope enough voters will call the offices of their Republican Senators in opposition to him; we all need clean air and water so we can preserve our health. Concerning Pruitt and drinking water, see this:

    Here’s part of the article:

    In 2012, Pruitt joined other state attorneys general to fight EPA oversight of large factory farms unless they “actually discharge” animal waste into rivers.

    In Pruitt’s view, the EPA should have no power to stop farmers from applying unlimited amounts of animal waste to their fields, even if heavy rains can wash the manure into nearby rivers. Pruitt contends the EPA should not even have the power to collect basic information about farm pollution caused by animal waste.

    Instead, Pruitt says, states should be leading efforts to address water pollution, including pollution caused by factory farms. But he opposed a historic plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay that was largely developed by Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania and would be implemented by the states. Any EPA involvement in the development of the plan was too much for Pruitt, who worried that such collaborative cleanup efforts might spread to the Midwest.

    Pruitt is a tool.

  40. Andrew Watts

    RE: 48 Questions the FBI Uses to Determine if Someone Is a Likely Terrorist

    Our society is so obsessed with technology that it is incapable of self-reflection on human nature.

    “They are so individualized. How much will algorithms really tell us about the threat?”

    Nothing. Those algorithms are unable to measure ardor which is the primal force behind violence. It’ll be solely based upon confirmation bias rendering it ineffectual under the best of circumstances.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am curious, though I haven’t read the article, if one of the questions is, Are you a bad guy? Are you about to behave badly?

      (It’s the get-it-on-the-record thing).

      1. Andrew Watts

        Probably. They used a similar methodology to filter out jihadists from the moderate rebel train and equip program. Not a success story according to the American special forces assigned to train them.

        A satirical example:

        When you think of America…

        A) Death to the Great Satan!
        B) May Allah burn these enemies with the fire of a thousand suns!
        C) Freedom and Democracy.
        D) None of the Above

        The hilarious (or horrifying) thing about it is that those rebels had to be schooled by the Turks into giving the correct answer. Some of them couldn’t even manage that. It’s funny because it’s true.

  41. Oregoncharles

    “Libertarians split with Trump over controversial police tactic Fox ” Asset forfeiture.
    Again: Oregon solved this problem (barring federal seizures) with an initiative that requires a conviction for asset forfeiture. It was extremely popular, because conservatives also supported it – property rights, you know. So in any state with the initiative power, that’s the way to go.

    That doesn’t address federal law or asset forfeitures. I don’t know how common abuse is on the federal level. Don’t hear about it much here, maybe because Oregon law is hostile.

    Asset forfeiture, which is blatantly unconstitutional, is a perfect example of how the drug laws are a massive exception to the Bill of Rights, which requires conviction for any penalty.

  42. gepay

    The anthropocene math climate doom article makes me laugh. yes 3 out of 4 of the human caused alterations of the environment mentioned are valid, To say the man made alterations of the environment are 170 times more than the changes of the coming and goings of the glacial episodes is absurd. To equate the doings of man to the raising of the Himalayas is equally absurd. To say that one can prove that man’s changing of the composition of the atmosphere by .01% is equivalent to even a climate event like the Younger Dryas is drivel. What really scares me about climate alarmism is not the doom prophesied but the possibility that man will try geoengineering on a large scale to alter the climate when climate science has so many unknowns. The uncertainty factor which honest scientists acknowledge is much larger than any proven effects that man made CO2 has caused. One has to wonder at the hubris of the anthropocene paradigm strivers that diminiishes the power of natural forces that can easily be documented in the past. Just look at the craters on the moon or think about the climate changes associated with the Chicxilcub Crater or …This has to rate with “Scientists such as Prof Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, and Prof Wieslaw Maslowski, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, have regularly forecast the loss of (Arctic) ice by 2016, which has been widely reported by the BBC and other media outlets. Sarah Knapton, Science Editor Telegraph 8 October 2016 It is hard to believe that the same critical intelligence that Yves uses for examining mainstream economics leaves the room when reading man made CO2 caused climate change articles.

  43. JoeK

    The most telling thing about the odious FL GOP guy is his calling the assembled crowd “children” and telling them to “settle down.” IMO the authoritarian personality factor is perhaps the most important in determining where on the semi-valid “right wing/left wing” spectrum one falls. I wonder if anyone addressed that in their response to him.

  44. Procopius

    So if the Kremlin is worried, how exactly is Trump a Putin stooge?

    Just so. The idea that Trump is a Putin stooge is just more bullshit from the Democratic careerists who are terrified of losing their jobs. There has never been more than a grain of truth in it. The accusations that Putin “interfered” in our election are childishly false. It’s also a prime goal of the neocons to restart the Cold War and, it seems to me, actually start a hot war with Russia. They have appeared to be insane since 9/11, and the condition has worsened as they have failed everywhere. The underlying assumptions of their “strategy” are false, so of course they are failing, but they have no choice but to double down on it.

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