Links 2/15/17

Dear readers,

Thanks SO MUCH to you thoughtful “Loyal, Thankful Readers” who sent me the gorgeous red roses yesterday! It was a wonderful surprise and cheered me up. They are prominently displayed on a table near my desk, so I can see them while I am working. The cat seems to like them too, he took a nap next to them.

‘Extraordinary’ pollution found in deep Mariana trench Financial Times

An Enormous Exoplanet Is Having a Strange Influence on Its Star gizmodo (martha r)

Iron Age Potters Carefully Recorded Earth’s Magnetic Field — By Accident NPR (martha r)

Source: Apple Will Fight ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation Motherboard

Dubai plans to introduce flying drone taxis as early as this summer TechCrunch (martha r)

Merck Stops Alzheimer’s Study After `No Chance’ of Benefit Bloomberg


Why Morgan Stanley has turned bullish on China MacroBusiness

Goldman Warns of China Economy Risks During Year of the Rooster Bloomberg

Brother of North Korea’s Supreme Leader murdered in Malaysia, officials confirm Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

“We have at most a year to defend American democracy, perhaps less“ International Süddeutsche Zeitung. EM: “Yes, the author did in fact write ‘Hillary Clinton did have actual policies that would have helped,’ that does not appear to be a typo.”


13 things you didn’t know about Brexit Politico

Tax cut for Amazon as high street shops suffer The Times

Meanwhile, back in Ireland Angry Bear


Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Change CIA (guurst). A 1986 document. Remarkable how little has changed.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Edward Snowden’s New Job: Protecting Reporters From Spies Wired (MA)

Trump Transition

Trump Aides Spoke to Russian Intelligence New York Times. One of my politically savvy contacts was appalled at how thin the sourcing was. And this is with leaking intercepts. This appears to hang in large measure on Manafort, who worked on the campaign for only a couple of months. Plus further down, the article basically says “Russian intelligence officials” could be just about anyone in Russia. And let us not forget, as Mark Ames has pointed out, that there are CIA assets at some major US newspapers, so by extension these “contacts” could include hob-nobbing with members of the Russian media. The CNN version at least says more or less, “Members of Trump campaign spoke to Russian people.”

Former Trump campaign manager denies Kremlin contacts Financial Times

White House struggles to contain Flynn fallout The Hill

Trump Caves on Flynn’s Resignation Robert Parry, Consortium News (Sid S)

The Flynn Defenestration Will Hamper Trump’s Foreign Policy Moon of Alabama (Carolinian)

President Trump Has Done Almost Nothing Politico (martha r). Finally, some official confirmation of what NC has been saying: “Tune out the noise coming from the White House. So far, very little has actually happened…So far, Trump has behaved exactly like he has throughout his previous career: He has generated intense attention and sold himself as a man of action while doing little other than promote an image of himself as someone who gets things done.” The hysteria about Trump is way out in front of events. The MSM has fallen down either by accident or design by screeching about every executive order rather than parsing which have real legal impact, which are basically just press releases, and which are a mixed bag.

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Triggers Anxiety Across U.S. Farms Bloomberg

Trump Puts NATO Allies in the Crosshairs Over Military Spending Wall Street Journal

White House posts wrong versions of Trump’s orders on its website USA Today (furzy)

Welcome to Trumpland: Obama’s Legacy Counterpunch (martha r)


Rift in GOP threatens ObamaCare repeal The Hill

Amid Obamacare uncertainty, insurance giant Humana plans to leave marketplaces in 2018 Los Angeles Times (martha r)

The FBI’s Secret Rules Intercept (martha r)

Democrats bracing for town hall protests directed at them ask Bernie Sanders for help Washington Post (martha r). Hope he says “no”. They need to face the music for their actions all by themselves. But it is probably wiser to play the Japanese game of feigning cooperation and doing trivial things slowly.

Chuck Schumer Tries to Silence Bernie Sanders on Behalf of Big Pharma’s Corey Booker Medium (martha r). Notice how one unnamed Dem senator basically said Bernie had to toe the line because he was part of “the leadership”. Ahem, did they forget he returned to being an Independent? The Democratic party needs to own up to the fact that the dogs aren’t eating its dog food.

McDowell County Community Hopes to Bring Back Bernie Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News (martha r)

Young Democratic Socialists define socialism on the border The Prospector (martha r)

Chuck Schumer Brokers Senate Democratic Peace Deal With Bernie Sanders Over Drug Bill Forward. Martha r: “I’m enjoying the stories about the dems in Crongress trying to own Sanders. Reminiscent of the way U.S. goes to war in foreign countries–don’t bother to understand the people who live there. Doesn’t end well usually.”

BREAKING: Federal Judge Rules Against Presidential Debate Commission IVN (martha r). From Feb 1 Dunno how we missed this…


Neighboring communities band together to help Oroville evacuees care for their animals Los Angeles Times

The call for citizens to ‘go local’ Christian Science Monitor (furzy)


Standing Rock and the Struggle Ahead Jacobin (martha r)

Veterans at Standing Rock see police retribution after arrest and charges Guardian (martha r)

Why is the Joint Terrorism Task Force Questioning Water Protectors? BORDC (martha r)

$20 Trillion Tuesday – S&P 500′s Mind-Blowing Valuation Phil’s Stock World

Why Sub $50 Oil Is More Likely Than $70 Oil OilPrice

The market may be behind the curve in judging how hawkish the Fed intends to be John Authers, Financial Times

Report: Payless could shutter up to 1,000 stores Retail Dive (martha r)

Antitrust Rulings Put Chill on Health-Insurance Mergers Wall Street Journal

Aetna, Humana Abandon $37 Billion Merger Blocked by Judge Bloomberg (martha r)

Class Warfare

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire Guardian (martha r). Important.

Drugmakers play these games to keep prices high Joe Nocera, Bloomberg (furzy)

Haunted by Student Debt Past Age 50 New York Times (Lydia)

“I belong to a lost generation”: Letter from a 30-year-old, who did not want to live anymore Huffington Post (gurst).

Antidote du jour (Robert H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. RabidGandhi

    Yesterday, commenter gf flagged this Real News segment with Costas Lavapitsas where the former MP was asked to comment on Naked Capitalism’s Grexit coverage. In the interview, Lavapitsas says he has in fact read the NC Grexit coverage, but he proceeds to completely mischaracterise NC’s analysis:

    To put it bluntly, Naked Capitalism doesn’t get the Eurozone crisis, and certainly doesn’t get what needs doing in the case of Greece. It doesn’t get the Eurozone crisis, because it systematically underplays the importance of competitiveness, and the averages of competitiveness for the Eurozone crisis. It’s a very confused take on why Germany has emerged as the dominant trading partner, something to do apparently, with German productivity and efficiency. It’s got nothing to do with that.

    I’ve read this blog for over 8 years and I’ve never seen Yves roll out the German cultural superiority argument. Lavapitsas is strawmanning.

    He then digs deeper into his hole by displaying the usual economist ignorance of the technical complexity of a Grexit:

    The short-term costs [of Grexit] must be managed in the best possible way, to minimize the transition difficulties. They’re not as severe as people make out. I agree with the view that says that the payment systems in the banks, which rely on IT and so on, are a difficult problem… and they will take time to sort out. To disentangle the computer systems of the domestic banks from the European system…because they will be using a different … accounts, a new currency. It won’t be easy. I know that. But creating bank notes and so on, that’s straightforward.

    Let’s not exaggerate, however, the transition costs, because the many instances in which countries have changed money, even recently, and the transition costs were nonexistent or very, very small, certainly the political step. India is a good example here. If you allow me -– the Indian government, as you know, recently withdrew unilaterally, all large denomination bank notes from circulation. It was a mad thing to do…. What struck me, though, more than anything in this case, is that the Indian people took it in their stride.

    Yeah, the Indians who have killed themselves because of the cash shortage really “took it in stride”

    [T]he short-term costs of exiting the Eurozone -– if they are done by a government that has got political support –- can be handled without political losses, or at least without serious political losses. All that talk about Greece descending into anarchy, people fighting in the streets, war breaking out, and all this, is wildly exaggerated.

    Shorter Lavapitsas: sure there may be huge IT obstacles and it may require impossible coordination from adverse international players, but if we all sit in a circle in Omonia Square with our fingers in our ears, it will all come out roses and lollipops.

      1. RabidGandhi

        That’s the odd part. During the 2015 Syriza meltdown, it was Varoufakis the EU-phile vs. Lavapitsas the realist who (correctly) saw that Brussels would not back down from austerity. Now Lavapitsas seems to have taken his own holiday train to Fantasy Land with a sparkle pony Grexit that ain’t gonna happen.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Lapavitas was talking up a Grexit in 2015 too, but not as forcefully as now. That’s why he doesn’t like the NC coverage.

          Also his position on competitiveness is bizarre. He’s accepted the main neoliberal talking point (that’s what they use to argue for “structural reforms” as in crushing labor) but basically takes the position that the solution is a cheaper currency. That works only to a degree. How much can Greece expand its export industries? It can’t do much in agriculture. I’m not certain how much they could increase tourism.

          We’ve run post debunking the competitiveness issue, for instance, this one:

          From my introduction:

          This article shows, decisively, how wrong-headed this worker-crushing approach is. It shows that labor is a comparatively small percent of the cost of wholesale goods, and in the case of Germany, how the reductions in labor costs (the Haartz reforms) had almost nothing to do with Germany’s growth in exports. Instead, the bigger effect of the wage reduction in Germany was to constrain domestic demand, which led the European Central Bank to set interest rates unduly low, which then set off excessive borrowing and real estate speculation in the periphery countries. That in turn led to banking crises that the bailouts transfigured into sovereign debt crises.

          From the author, Servaas Strom:

          Firstly, exports and imports are—by definition (as explained in Storm and Naastepad 2015a, 2015c)—much less responsive to changes in (relative) unit labor costs than to changes in (relative) prices for several reasons. Unit labor costs make up less than 25% of the gross output price, while a second reason is that firms in general do not pass on all (but mostly only half of) unit labor cost increases onto market prices. What it means is that (when using realistic unit-labor cost elasticities) observed changes in Germany’s relative unit labor cost statistically “explain” only a minuscule fraction of its export growth and current account surplus (Wyplosz 2013; Gabrisch and Staehr 2014). For instance, IMF economists Danninger and Joutz (2007, p. 15) find that relative cost improvements accounted for less than 2% of German export growth during 1993-2005. Germany’s superior export performance can instead be completely explained by the “income effect” (Storm and Naastepad 2015a): German firms supply mostly complex, high-tech, and high-priced goods to fast-growing markets as well as to faster-growing countries such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia (Gabrisch and Staehr 2014; Diaz Sanchez and Varoudakis 2013; Storm and Naastepad 2015a; Schröder 2015). Germany excels in non-price (technology-based) competitiveness and does not engage (much) in price competition.

          Secondly, as shown in Figure 1, there is no clear sign of a nominal wage squeeze on German workers if we compare Germany to the Eurozone as a whole (but excluding Germany). German nominal wages increased relative to the Eurozone in the 1990s and the German relative nominal wage stayed more or less flat during the period 1999-2007 (there was a negligible decline of 0.7 percentage points over these eight years). It is nevertheless true that Germany’s unit labor cost declined relative to those of the rest of the Eurozone (as Figure 1 illustrates), but this was not a result of wage restraint: It was completely due to Germany’s outstanding productivity performance: during 1999-2007 average German labor productivity (per hour worked) increased by almost 8 percentage points compared to the rest of the Eurozone, which accounts fully for the decline in Germany’s relative unit labor costs by 7.8 percentage points over the same period. It was German engineering ingenuity, not nominal wage restraint or the Hartz “reforms”, which reduced its unit labor costs. Any talk of Germany deliberately undercutting its Eurozone neighbors is therefore beside the point.

          Thirdly, the increase in current account deficits in Southern Europe resulted from an increase in the trend growth of their imports, while the trend growth of their exports stayed unchanged (notwithstanding the sustained rise in their unit labor costs). There is convincing statistical evidence for the European Union (Diaz Sanchez and Varoudakis 2014; Storm and Naastepad 2015c) showing that initial increases in current account deficits were followed only later in time by increases in relative unit labor costs—which, if true, means that the current account deteriorations were not caused by higher (relative) unit labor costs. The only rational explanation for the observed time-sequence is that Southern Europe first experienced a debt-led growth boom, which then led to higher imports and higher capital inflows leading only after a lag of many quarters to lower unemployment and higher wage growth in excess of labor productivity growth (see Storm and Naastepad 2015c). This explanation is consistent with the first two statements of “consensus diagnosis” outlined above.


    1. JohnnyGL

      As Yves as explained, if there’s no access to the SWIFT payments system for international wire transactions, there’s no imports/exports. Truckloads of physical euros getting shuttled across the border is NOT a realistic option for a variety of reasons.

      If Lapavitsas can’t somehow guarantee SWIFT access for the new Drachma, then those “IT obstacles” become a crushing burden to overcome.

      If they DO get SWIFT access, then things look better, but still not as optimistic as Argentina after they broke the dollar peg. Argentina got a tailwind with buoyant grain/soy prices to help them balance payments. Greece only has the tourism industry, which is much flakier than food exports.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Well … there’s always hacking! ;-)

        Curious to see if the Greeks take Schäuble’s offer this time – debt relief for #GrExit.

        My inclination is that the Euromantic Greeks will not.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I agree that he has not adequately characterized Yves’ position but he admits to not being a regular reader. And Yves has strongly emphasized many times the practical difficulties of exiting the Euro, such that a non-regular reader could conclude that her central conclusion is that exiting is an impossibility. Not accurate perhaps but understandable. I read Lapavitsas’ main point as “There is no solution for Greece if we keep the Euro so we must get rid of it even though there may be adjustment costs.”

      What I found a bit strange was the separation of the argument about low German wages from the argument about high German productivity. German productivity doesn’t have to be growing rapidly if existing conditions and the Euro ensure a permanent productivity advantage. On the other hand, unless he is suggesting that higher wages in Germany will lead to a lot more German vacations in Greece, bringing a lot of new Euros into the latter (which I think is exactly what he is saying), then it is hard to see the connection between higher wages in Germany and better outcomes in Greece. Because he has already dismissed productivity as an issue.

      Despite my own reservations, I have come to the conclusion that both the EU and Euro are toast, though TPTB may succeed in dragging the process out for several more years. If the Greeks play their cards right, maybe they can jointly exit the Euro at the same time as the Finns or the French and they can share the IT burden.

    3. ChrisAtRU


      It was actually Schäuble under the hood!

      Good effing grief. Competitiveness is neoliberal euphemism for “wage depression”. Someone in the commentariat reminded us of the German “mini-jobs” morass recently. I guess he doesn’t mind the 40% cut to his pension to help increase Greek competitiveness (or perhaps MP’s were spared).

    4. Oregoncharles

      Once again: what isn’t sustainable will come to an end – as Yves herself said the last time we discussed this. Greece in the Euro isn’t sustainable. That is Lapavitsas’ motivation.

      The real question, then, is “how?” Unfortunately, the likeliest answer is “badly.” As someone else said, Greece’s best bet at this point is to hang on until one of the forthcoming elections (my bet is on France – but it might be more than one) goes against the Euro and EVERYBODY has to deal with it. Then the transition is more like the transition INTO the Euro. If they wind up going it alone, probably suddenly, then Lapavitsas will turn out to be guilty of wishful thinking, unless NC missed something. I certainly wouldn’t know.

      International payments go through SWIFT, do they not? How independent is it? Might matter a lot.

    5. Tom_Doak

      Is it not possible that someone has been working since the last Greek crisis to sort out the payments systems, etc., and that the Grexit will take place as soon as they can manage it technically? Because everyone knows what happens when the circles around the drain start to tighten …

      I suppose it’s also possible that they won’t allow it, that some will insist that Greece should bear all the burden of separation when it happens, and be severely punished. Because it seems there are plenty of evil people among the “minders.”

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        It isn’t even remotely just in Greece’s hands. There are tons of other parties outside Greece that have to do coding too. You can’t even start until everyone agrees on a three letter designation for the new currency. That’s a matter of international standards (ISO). That doesn’t have to take very long, but it is a necessary condition for getting started in any meaningful way. Since I have not heard of anyone asking for a new ISO code, it’s not likely anyone, even in Greece, has done any real work.

    6. Procopius

      I noticed he mischaracterized the Indian demonetization, too. They didn’t remove the high denomination bank notes. Those, they left in place. What they removed were the equivalent of American $10 and $20 bills, without increasing the number of $5 and $1 bills in circulation. What they’re proposing to bring in are the equivalent of American $50 bills and, eventually, an increase in the supply of smaller bills. Not completely unworkable, but less convenient than the system they’re throwing away. He’s either a maroon (unlikely) or your typical political weasel with his own used car to sell you.

    1. sporble

      Sorry I don’t have more time/energy – here are a few sentences which seem indicative of the whole.

      “I can’t spend the rest of my life fighting just to survive…

      I never deceived anyone, but I feel deceived – by an age which presumes to have the right to judge and reject me instead of fulfilling its obligation and receiving me.

      The general condition of things is unacceptable to me and I no longer intend to accept things as they are. I think it’s right when someone occasionally reminds the others that we’re free, that there’s an alternative to suffering: we can stop.”

      1. Praedor

        Sad. It’s far better to direct action OUTWARD against the state than inward against yourself. Germany needs a revolution to force out the neoliberals, same as all other countries of the West.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Agreed. Better to throw one’s self on the gears of history than into the dustbin of history.

          Then again, I have not experienced this person’s journey and cannot judge them. Sad article. How many more like him haven’t even bothered to leave notes?

        2. From Cold Mountain

          Really? His action was outward, in a sense, yes? We all read of this man’s struggle and it effected us in someway.

          Maybe he was tired, like me, of all the fighting, and saw there was no need for fighting. Or if we fought and own there would be more fighting against us. And on and on. Because as a culture, humans have not learned that doing nothing is the greatest common denominator. That doing, and being, nothing would bring peace. But the influence for us to be and do is just too much in the Facebook generation.

          What that man performed was the ultimate boycott. He will no longer need to buy food, clothes and shelter from these multinational companies that are raping the earth and exploiting everyone. But until we get the middle class to boycott these companies people like him, and I will suffer. And there is a limit to human pain and suffering.

          I empathize with him, for I am close to suicide myself. I am on disability and functionally homeless. I want to work but I get fired the moment I relapse because “Right to Work” is newspeak.

          1. kareninca

            I’m very sorry about how hard things are for you. I fervently hope you don’t kill yourself. It’s hard to know what else to write. Things may not get much better economically anytime soon. Some people find help by joining a church; I have a friend who is homeless who is allowed to park in the local Lutheran church’s parking lot (I know that doesn’t sound like much but in Silicon valley, having a place to park the car you live in can be a big deal). The people in the congregation have been very nice to her. If you don’t like religion (fair enough) there are other groups; you have to make sure you’re not alone.

            1. From Cold Mountain

              Thanks Kareninca. I am not in as bad of an economic state as most people, even being on disability, but it means I will have to move away from my community, which I am not looking forward to. I do not even own a car. But I am intelligent, so I will manage for now.

              Several people in my family have attempted or have died by suicide. So I know enough about it to check into a hospital before I get too out there. But thank you again. People do not seem to understand how just a simple kind word can help.

              1. kareninca

                It’s clear that you have a lot going for you. In your case, I think you will be able to help other people as well as helping yourself. Best wishes, and good luck, although I don’t think you’ll need luck.

      2. Bill

        Fairly typical statements of someone suffering from the psychological state of “depersonalization”.

        Real people with real lives don’t think or talk like this. It’s almost a setup for suicide……..all is hopeless because “the general condition of things is unacceptable too me”……..Actually, we could al say that, fairly truthfully, at any time, and then feel hopeless and cut our wrists.

        This is the writing of someone who has distanced themselves from their feelings of pleasure in everyday life and events.

        1. jrs

          “This is the writing of someone who has distanced themselves from their feelings of pleasure in everyday life and events.”

          There is more wrong here than is easily made economic (no of course it doesn’t help we live under capitalism, that is a system build entirely on slavery and exploitation and little else, but even so).

          However, I don’t think it’s really a CHOICE to be distanced from feelings of everyday pleasure etc.. Set points of sensitivity to pleasure and pain are probably partly genetic and also set very early in life. For some pain comes way too easy, enjoyment comes too hard (true if this person had a different life maybe they’d still get enough despite this). And enough stress over a life can exacerbate this, so pain is even more frequent, enjoyment even more elusive.

        2. From Cold Mountain

          Funny how it is always “their fault” for suffering. “Real people with real lives”? There is no true Scottsman. I want you to live my real life for a month and see how you do.

          The man was an artists, and there is no room for art in Neo-liberalism. It is non-local, and non-profitable. Art serves people, not profit. You know, he was probably told by all his teaches that he could be “anything he wanted to be”. So he listen to them and what he got was nothing close to what they told him.

          1. Mel

            Artists can be alarming. Check this:

            The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people do not acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.
            Both imaginary parties are bossed by Winners. When Republicans battle Democrats, this much is certain: Winners will win.

            This is very familiar. It is also from 1972. Kurt Vonnegut. Thirty-five years later we catch up.

            1. From Cold Mountain

              Thank you for that quotes. Something I knew but wonderfully expressed. Hence, he is a writer and I was a photographer.

        1. Procopius

          Ah, disappointing. Not Thai, yet. Their smaller page has a lot of faults, still, too. I guess no one is feeding translations into their algorithm. I would, but I don’t have a source of English translations of Thai. There’s lots of stuff (self-help and business books) on the shelves in the book stores, but I’m not sufficiently motivated.

  2. PlutoniumKun


    Meanwhile, back in Ireland Angry Bear

    Sample quote:

    Oh, and Iceland’s unemployment rate? A seasonally adjusted 2.9% in December 2016, and only 2.6% without seasonal adjustment.

    Maybe one day we’ll talk about the Celtic Tiger again. But Ireland, hamstrung by its inability to devalue and by harsh austerity measures, shows lingering weakness, masked by emigration, to this day. Iceland, by contrast, is the one looking like a Nordic Tiger.

    I’m not sure its helpful to compare Ireland to Iceland as the structures of the economies are so very different. But its certainly true that the failure to really address austerity and the banking system is a key reason for a slow Irish economy.

    A real problem for the Irish economy which is not addressed often is that it lost an enormous amount of output capacity. Emigration, quite simply, meant that the construction industry shrunk to a fraction of its size. Last week I listened to multiple complaints on radio about the lack of housing in Dublin and, most particularly, that the new National Childrens Hospital will cost 1 billion euro to build, up from an original estimate of 45 million. The reason for both problems is linked – the Irish construction industry has been stretched to absolute capacity trying to catch up with growth, but is unwilling to pay money to get all the engineers and architects back who have moved to London, Sydney and Vancouver. The result? Massive inflation in construction costs. In the case of the National Childrens Hospital, it will cost at least a quarter of a billion more to build because of the failure to build it during the recession (because austerity), and instead build it when the money is available – i.e. a classic case of pro-cyclical policy. Nobody mentioned this once in all the discussions I listened to.

    A particular issue in Ireland which is widely noticed now is that there is really a dual economy. Dublin and the immediate region is booming. Lots of jobs, restaurants full, cranes on every horizon. But the rest of the country is still mired in recession, with strong tourism growth the only bright spot. Again, this comes down to austerity and a failure to use positive fiscal policies to balance growth regionally and across natural cycles.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wealth inequality is always the story of depressions. There is a joke about the trust fund baby in the 50’s visiting home from school and finding his mother is worried about all the poor people and simply beside herself with grief. The son asks the father, and the father says he just told the mother about the Great Depression and stock market collapse.

    2. human

      Ireland, population: 6,373,000

      Iceland, population: 332,000

      It really ticks me off when I see pointers to Icelands’ economic revival. There really is no comparison. Iceland demonstrates what strong vocal dissidence can accomplish, and how much easier it was to get there with such a small population.

      1. Ed

        Kucinich gave an interview on Fox about this, where he actually used the term “Deep State”. Its on you tube and can be googled.

        Fox is sort of a major TV network, and Kucinich is sort of a major politician, so this is probably a first.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Kucinich minces no words in this interview. A must watch in my NSHO.

          At least the word seems to be seeping out that things may not be as the nyt and wapo wants them to seem.

          Link can be found at Carla’s Plain Dealer link above.

          1. mk

            Kucinichs’ last sentence in that interview:

            “This is a much more serious issue, the White House, whether you are for Trump or against Trump, the White House is under attack from elements inside the intelligence community which are trying to elevate tensions between Russia and the United States, and at the bottom of that is money and an agenda for somebody to cash in on conflict between the US and Russia at any level.”

          2. JohnnyGL

            Kucinich is pulling no punches….wow. Not often you hear a former Congressman talk like that.

            This is close to Bob Graham talking about Saudi Arabia.

            1. Procopius

              Good to hear. I haven’t watched the link yet but will soon. It would be wise to remember this is not just the intelligence community, and not just recently. This is something the neocons threw into high gear after Georgia (at the Deep State’s urging, maybe?) provoked Russia into sending troops in to protect their interests. They were probably chipping away at it even earlier but I just didn’t notice. The State Department has been pushing the New Cold War very hard, as was President Obama.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          Some thoughts on the Kucinich video clip: The Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Industrial Complex is not monolithic. A new Cold War with Russia might benefit some portions of each — but often with costs to other portions of both behemoths. Even the Pentagon and Intelligence budgets cannot grow without constraints which makes money going to “X” pull money from “Y”. When the Army built its Future Combat Systems — the Navy and Air Force had to wait their turn to build their ships and F-35s. I suspect similar considerations are at play in the Department of Homeland Security.

          The CIA/Pentagon undermining Obama’s peace initiative in Syria — assuming it was an undermining of Obama’s authority as Commander-in-Chief — should have resulted in a major shake-up at the highest levels of both organizations. Obama did nothing. Trump must clean house if he expects to act as Commander-in-Chief. As an aside — the Pentagon teaming with the CIA seems very strange.

          I have trouble believing Flynn resigned and went without Trump’s support solely on account of the leaked/reported reasons.

          Kucinich expressed concern that Trump needs to find a reliable source for his and the Nation’s information. Our Intelligence Industrial Complex has proven an extremely poor source for reliable information. I would expect Trump’s business associates could provide him with better information to support his operations than the Intelligence Industrial Complex. To maintain his authority Trump needs to ask for a lot of resignations from high levels throughout the Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Industrial Complex.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Yep, I think that was a reference to the Deir Ez Zor airstrike, though Kucinich didn’t mention by name. That was a big one.

          2. HotFlash

            I have trouble believing Flynn resigned and went without Trump’s support solely on account of the leaked/reported reasons.

            Yup, so this. Not enough smoke to explain the fire. What is the real story here? Smells like a limited hangout, indeed!

          3. mpalomar

            “The CIA/Pentagon undermining Obama’s peace initiative in Syria — assuming it was an undermining of Obama’s authority as Commander-in-Chief — should have resulted in a major shake-up at the highest levels of both organizations. Obama did nothing. ”

            “To maintain his authority Trump needs to ask for a lot of resignations from high levels throughout the Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Industrial Complex.”

            – Obama never had the inclination to put up resistance to steam rolling from the deep state or TPTB whether it was on health care, or the Syrian sabotage. Perhaps we should consider, as has been commented on NC, you don’t get to be president unless they have something on you.
            Certainly in the case of Trump that appears true, it seems Trump will be rolled. The question is whether he will resign or fall in line and play along.

        3. Anonymous

          Didn’t Glenn Greenwald use the term, ‘Deep State’, in a Fox interview w Tucker Carlson?

          Granted GG is not a former politician.

          1. hunkerdown

            Bill Kristol used the term as a preferable counterpoint to a “Trump state”, just yesterday:

            Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.

            Obviously?! Citation needed!

      2. fresno dan

        The Flynn Defenestration Will Hamper Trump’s Foreign Policy Moon of Alabama (Carolinian)

        So why was Flynn really under pressure and why didn’t Trump back him? It would have been easy for Trump to say: “I ordered Flynn to do that. Obama did similar. In both cases it was a GREAT success. USA! USA! USA!” Nobody would have been able to further attack Flynn over the issue after such a protective move.

        But Trump, completely against his style, held his mouth and did nothing. What else happened in the White House that let him refrain from backing Flynn?

        Sure, the real beef other people have with Flynn is not about Russia but other issues, like his plans to reform the intelligence services. But by throwing Flynn out like this Trump opened himself to further attacks.

        As it looks now a rather small gang of current and former intelligence officials – with the help of the anti-Trump media – leaked Flynn out of his office. They will not stop there.

        Now blood is in the street and the hyenas will lust for more. The Trump magic is broken. He has shown vulnerability. Now they will go after their next target within the Trump administration and then the next and the next until they have Trump isolated and by the balls.
        Flynn is no big loss for the world, the U.S. or the Trump administration. But Trump has now lost the initiative. He long managed to set the media agenda for the day by this or that “outrageous” tweet or remark. Now this advantage has been taken away from him over some nonsense allegations and his lack of backing for one of his top people.

        He will soon rue the day he let this happen.

          1. Benedict@Large

            Too bad Trump made such a poor appointment to Attorney General. The withholding of information on Flynn during his vetting should at least be referred there for possible criminal wrongdoing, but (and I noted this when sessions name came up) who the hell would take Sessions seriously were that to happen? It seemed to me then that the most important job Trump’s AG would have early of was protecting Trump from an internal coup.

            1. Ed

              The acting Attorney General at the time was an Obama holdover and in fact one of the principle movers in the plot against Flynn.

              Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Sessions, hadn’t been confirmed yet. His vote was needed in the Senate to confirm DeVos as Secretary of Education, so his confirmation vote was delayed.

              One worry I had about Trump is that his lack of government experience means he could easily get played by the DC crowd and this does seem to be happening.

        1. Anne

          Martin Longman at WaMo doesn’t think the “blackmail” threat adds up, at least as it’s being presented to us:

          It’s very hard to believe that the Trump administration remained ignorant about the transcript(s) prior to getting the DOJ notice in “late January.” But, assuming that is actually true, they knew at least at that point the threat of blackmail was over and that Flynn still had a real problem. In fact, no later than that point, they realized that Spicer and Pence had a problem because they were on the record defending Flynn.

          If we read between the lines here, it’s clear that something a little different happened. The DOJ notice wasn’t really about the Russians blackmailing Flynn. It was about the Intelligence Community blackmailing Trump. If they didn’t get rid of Flynn voluntarily, then they’d leak the transcripts and expose them all for lying.

          It wasn’t the only message that was fired across the administration’s bow. The CIA denied one of Flynn’s National Security Council appointee’s a security clearance. A senior Defense Intelligence analyst said, “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM [Situation Room],” and “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point.” There were “multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials” who told CNN that the British dossier was getting corroborated. “Two defense officials” were quoted saying that “the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015” in possible violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

          Bold is mine.

          The administration, meanwhile, has everyone on board with new talking points: that what Flynn did wasn’t a problem – the problem is the leakers that exposed it.

          And as Glenn Greenwald points out, here:

          It’s hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people — from both parties, across the ideological spectrum — who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.

          It’s even more surreal to watch Democrats act as though lying to the public is some grave firing offense when President Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, got caught red-handed not only lying to the public but also to Congress — about a domestic surveillance program that courts ruled was illegal. And despite the fact that lying to Congress is a felony, he kept his job until the very last day of the Obama presidency.


          But this is just the tawdry, craven game of Washington. People with no actual beliefs shamelessly take diametrically opposite views on fundamental political questions based exclusively on whether it helps or hurts their leaders. Thus, the very same Democrats who just three months ago viewed illegal leaking as a grave sin today view it as an act of heroic #Resistance.

          What matters far more than this lowly and empty game-playing is the principle that is so vividly apparent here. Given the extreme secrecy powers that have arisen under the war on terror, one of the very few ways that the public has left for learning about what its government officials do is illegal leaking. As Trevor Timm notes, numerous leaks have already achieved great good in the three short weeks that Trump has been president.

          Notwithstanding the reality that we live in very fked-up times, perhaps I am being craven as well when I suggest that the benefit of beginning a round of investigations and possibly hearings is that maybe it will slow-walk what the GOP thought was going to be a lightning round blitz of legislation to unravel and repeal any and everything that had even a scintilla of progressive elements.

          Or, maybe the GOP will realize that Dems will be so mesmerized and distracted by the shiny object of Trump’s Benghazi, that it will be easier to “get things done.”

          Sometimes the chaos works for you, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s clear that chaos is going to rule the day for the foreseeable future.

          1. jsn

            Either Trump is now a steer, or there’s another shoe to drop. Either way, though in very different ways, the gears in DC are totally gummed up. Pass the pop-corn and wait until power is lying in the streets…

            1. Oregoncharles

              Until “the scepter is rolling in the gutter” – from the French Revolution.

              We probably won’t think we’re lucky when it happens. And we’d have to be very lucky indeed to benefit from it.

              OTOH, this is shaping up as the “gridlock” that Lambert wished for. Let’s hope he isn’t sorry. It also looks ever more like an “intelligence community” (hate that term, and who says they’re all that bright?) coup.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Why is it that no one in the beltway seems particularly concerned that the Intelligence Community, whoever the hell those unelected largely anonymous individuals may be, is largely calling the shots these days?

            While all the rubes were worried about Trump the fascist taking charge, these clowns have grabbed the reins of power themselves.

            Anybody know where the teenagers who hacked Brennan are these days? if they aren’t in GITMO already, perhaps we can ask them to put their expertise to use again and spill the goods on the rest of these spooks.

            Unbelievable how crazy all this is.

            1. fresno dan

              lyman alpha blob
              February 15, 2017 at 11:59 am

              “Why is it that no one in the beltway seems particularly concerned that the Intelligence Community, whoever the hell those unelected largely anonymous individuals may be, is largely calling the shots these days?”

              I presume they have been calling the shots for ?16? ?30? ?50? years – that not only the way it is, it is the way it is suppose to be…..
              Trump was an accident where the “consensus” might somehow be perturbed….and as I endlessly yammer, the dems and repubs agree on more than they disagree

              1. lyman alpha blob

                Admittedly it isn’t new, J Edgar was doing this a long time ago. I think the major difference is the spooks have the info on practically everybody now – no longer necessary to target someone specifically and build a file on them. Just sweep it all up and store for when it might be needed.

                This aspect has not been discussed nearly enough. All the data that’s being collected isn’t to provide intelligence. There is so much being collected it’s nearly impossible to separate a signal from the noise. The real reason the spooks want all this is so it’s available in case someone won’t play ball and needs to be blackmailed which is exactly what going on right now.

              2. jsn

                Yes, democracy has come dangerously close to affecting policy, whatever necessary to prevent that!

                It’s not yet clear there isn’t another shoe to drop, though. Trump has real support in law enforcement and the Blob doesn’t appear to be on the right side of some laws those may be interested in enforcing.

                This maybe our Rubicon moment and our Caesar’s a spook. Much remains to be seen, either that or as I said above, Trump is now a steer rather than a bull in the china shop.

            2. Ed

              “Why is it that no one in the beltway seems particularly concerned that the Intelligence Community, whoever the hell those unelected largely anonymous individuals may be, is largely calling the shots these days?”


              One service Trump may well wind up performing would be to confirm that the President now really is a figurehead.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I’m not fan of Trump but I’d rather a few old soldiers were made to “fade away”. The President as figurehead is not a pleasant idea. Besides I believe not only is the President not a figurehead but the President has too much power. President Obama was less than a figurehead — he was too busy figuring how to get ahead after he left office.

            3. Anne

              Maybe we’re seeing one of the consequences of having such a massive security/intelligence apparatus upon which there are fewer constraints than ever.

              Add to that what had always been the case, that of politicians putting that apparatus to use for their own agenda, which often involved engineering the collapse of governments, or installing new leadership, or God knows what else.

              Okay, so how normal would it be for someone running for president and not the incumbent to have someone on his – or her – campaign, using connections gained via some sort of government service, to aid in that candidate’s win, or bring about an opponent’s loss?

              I mean, I have no idea what the answer to that is – I don’t think I’ve read or heard anyone saying that Flynn’s alleged involvement during the campaign and before the election falls into the category of “no problem, they all do that.”

              Maybe they do, but you’d think we might have heard about it if it was a normal kind of thing. Or maybe not – seems like the kind of thing they’d definitely want to keep the lid on.

              Okay, so then Trump is elected. Part of the transition is reaching out to your counterparts around the world – I get that – but is it normal for a president-elect, or someone on his staff, to appear to begin to be implementing new policy or changing the old before the end of the sitting president’s term?

              Once he took the oath of office, Trump certainly had the right to lift sanctions, but how normal or accepted is it to essentially come in during the transition period and eat the sitting president’s lunch? It’s not like Obama decided, in his last 2+ months in office, to defer to the president-elect, to hand him the keys and say, “Okay, let’s slap that Student Driver magnet on this thing and let you take the government out for a spin – I’ll sit in the back seat and catch some zzzz’s. Try not to crash the car, okay?”

              Finally, can we at least admit that between Trump and Flynn, Trump was the novice who knew nothing about how things worked? That Flynn had been known to go rogue in the past, had a habit of ignoring the rules when he didn’t agree with them (probably one of the things Trump actually liked about him), and that he could have led Trump to believe that what he, Flynn, was doing – or even what Trump wanted him to do – was just a case of “this is how it works?”

              Is that possible?

              As usual, I have more questions than answers, but the reason I’ve posed them is because I wonder if the intelligence community isn’t feeling its powers have been usurped by someone who doesn’t have the authority to do so, and is now making it clear that that is just not going to be happening.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                “…so how normal would it be for someone running for president and not the incumbent to have someone on his – or her – campaign, using connections gained via some sort of government service, to aid in that candidate’s win, or bring about an opponent’s loss?”

                Check out montanamaven’s link below. It’s pretty eye-opening. From what I can tell politicians do this type of thing all the time which is why we never hear about it – because it’s a big nothingburger.

                Trying to cite the Logan Act is just more BS – in the over 200 years of its history not one single person has been prosecuted under it ever.

                If the spooks are feeling that their power has been usurped, well then good for Trump (I can’t believe I just typed that) because they are not the ones in charge. Spineless twits like Schumer recently insinuated what happens if one crosses the spooks without bothering to mention how completely fked up it is that that is the case. Someone really needs to cut these clowns down to size.

        2. Linda

          Agree, dan.

          One thing, however, that I read somewhere (sorry, sure don’t recall, but probably a CNN pundit or the like on Twitter :) ), is that what finalized his firing was that he lied to Pence about his conversations w/Russia, and Pence went before the public and stood up for him and “unwittingly” repeated the lie in Flynn’s defense. Apparently, Pence was livid at being lied to and in turn, lying.

          Any thoughts on that? I’m not as well informed on this subject as I should be.

          1. Linda

            Further to this. Difficult for Trump to say he told Pence to do it when Pence was denying the conversations took place.

            1. UserFriendly

              My worst case scenario is that Pence is in on the coup plot. All the while he is saying whatever he needs to say to stay in Trump’s good graces. This was his first play. He could have demanded Flynn’s departure for making him lie to the public and if Trump refused Pence could threaten to resign and tell the country what a crazed proto-fascist Trump is and how his reckless disregard for the people and traditions of this country is unbearable and he just couldn’t stand Idly by…. yada yada yada.

          2. fresno dan

            February 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

            “Any thoughts on that?”
            I mentioned yesterday that if lying to Pence, and NOT Trump is why Flynn is fired, than Pence is a far better and more dangerous Rasputin than Cheney was….
            Again, Pence was at the convention, so I had the impression that Flynn was less picked out of a hat than other Trump appointees. But it sure makes Trump look like he has a spine of jello….the lime green kind….with no fruit in it….

            1. fosforos

              ” a more dangerous Rasputin than Cheney was….” you merely forget that, unlike the super-hawk Cheney, Rasputin was a super-dove. If he had been in St. Petersburg, rather than Siberia, in August 1914 the world might have been spared the greatest of calamities.

      3. fresno dan

        February 15, 2017 at 7:36 am

        The neocons and liberal hawks also hated Flynn because – as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency – he oversaw a prescient 2012 analysis that foresaw that their support for the Syrian insurgency would give rise to “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria.”

        The DIA report, which was partially declassified in a lawsuit over the 2012 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, embarrassed the advocates for an escalation of the war in Syria and the ouster of secular President Bashar al-Assad.

        Flynn even went further in a 2015 interview when he said the intelligence was “very clear” that the Obama administration made a “willful decision” to back these jihadists in league with Middle East allies, a choice that looked particularly stupid when Islamic State militants started beheading American hostages and capturing cities in Iraq.
        But “regime change” in Syria was dear to the neocons’ hearts. After all, Israeli leaders had declared Assad’s removal central to smashing the so-called “Shiite crescent” reaching from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut.

        U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]
        The neocons and liberal hawks had come very close to getting the direct U.S. military intervention that they so wanted to destroy Assad’s army after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. The Obama administration quickly pinned the atrocity on Assad even though a number of U.S. intelligence analysts suspected a “false flag” attack carried out by jihadists.
        Amid these heightened tensions, the mainstream media in the United States and Europe joined in the full-scale Russia/Putin-bashing. All rational perspective on the underlying reality was lost, except for a handful of independent Internet journalists and foreign-policy outsiders who rejected the over-the-top propaganda.

        A Few Dissenters Too Many

        But even a few dissenters were a few dissenters too many. So, to enforce the new groupthink – holding Russia at fault for pretty much everything – a new McCarthyism emerged, deeming anyone who dared disagree a “Moscow stooge” or a “Russian propagandist.”

        Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
        The ugliness penetrated into the U.S. presidential campaign because Democrat Hillary Clinton took a belligerent line toward Russia while Trump broke with the Republican establishment and called for improved ties between Washington and Moscow. Clinton called Trump Putin’s “puppet” and – after Clinton’s stunning loss – the Obama administration floated unproven allegations that Putin had intervened in the election to put Trump in the White House.
        This is a great article because it shows the tremendous inertia in the Federal government. Very shortly Trump will be completely neutered and he will find comfort in standing in solidarity before a bipartisan group of “serious” senators and continuing our wise and successful (sarc) mideast policies….(it won’t be phrased that way, but that is what it will be….)

        1. fresno dan

          fresno dan
          February 15, 2017 at 9:16 am

          Trump Caves on Flynn’s Resignation Robert Parry, Consortium News (Sid S)

      4. Benedict@Large

        I came away with the same impression as Kucinich. It seems that the FBI/CIA, by their own version of events, were well aware of Flynn’s supposed indiscretions before the vetting process began, and yet withheld this information weeks after that process had concluded and the appointment made. Who do these people work for? Apparently they don’t believe it’s the President.

        It seems to me that a lot of people should be joining him on the unemployment line. Either that, or we should start calling this what it is: a coup of silence.

        1. jsn

          I completely agree. If someone doesn’t enforce a chain of command, there isn’t one.

          That leaves the worlds largest and most dangerous military with a mystery in command. That doesn’t sound sustainable…

          Power is now entirely naked, a sitting president is facing an entrenched MIC that refuses to brook his command.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A mystery in command.

            Many believe that has been sustained for decades…the commander has not enforced any sort of chain of command…those guys have not worked for the titular boss.

      5. cwaltz

        Does Dennis(disclosure: I like Dennis and personally agreed with his position that there should be a Department of Peace since the State Department clearly has decided to become an arm of the DoD) call Flynn a moron?

        It takes a special kind of stupid to not consider that when you are speaking to someone from a nation that our country is antagonistic towards that you likely will have that call monitored and recorded for posterity.

        Apparently despite being a general he missed the part of phone conversation dialogue where people state “this is a non secure line” in the military for a reason.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Who among us, from those at the very top to everyone else, has not committed moronic acts before?

          What stands out in Kucinich’s interview is his claim that the government, the executive branch, that is the White House, is under attack currently.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From the article:

      The background here is important. Three people once affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign — Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — are being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community for their contacts with the Russian government. This is part of a wider inquiry into Russia’s role in hacking and distributing emails of leading Democrats before the election.

      It’s important to remember that the current hysteria is based on the unsubstantiated, yet currently accepted as fact, Russian “hijacking” of our sacred presidential election on Trump’s behalf. What appears to have started out as a way to deflect attention from the damning substance of dnc emails, has morphed into the monster that ate american “democracy.”

      President Pence? In my more foily moments, it’s not hard to imagine that what they’re really angling for is a complete election do-over, and this time the right person will win.

      1. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        February 15, 2017 at 8:00 am

        “It’s important to remember that the current hysteria is based on the unsubstantiated, yet currently accepted as fact, Russian “hijacking” of our sacred presidential election on Trump’s behalf.”

        Remember the Maine?
        No…seriously. If only we had today (in comparison) the virtuous, objective, steady press of a bygone era….

        1. freedomny

          Why does this feel like it is one big charade? I haven’t been following too closely and I’m probably missing something. But wasn’t (maybe still is) John Podesta’s brother a lobbyist for one of Russia’s biggest banks? So both parties have ties with Russia…

          Is this just a smokescreen to distract the public? And if so – from what?

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Maybe in dec. 2018 we will be “told” the email leaks came from the baluschi brothers…not john and jim…imran, abid and jamal awan…awan being their tribal name…not that the bloby wont try to suggest the wife was somehow once in a department store when russians were buying perfume…therefore…

      2. tgs

        It’s important to remember that the current hysteria is based on the unsubstantiated, yet currently accepted as fact, Russian “hijacking” of our sacred presidential election on Trump’s behalf

        Exactly. I am utterly amazed with what is going on. And even Bernie has joined in.

            1. A

              She’s taking cheap shots at the guy who chanted “Lock her up” and has now been brought down by leaks that revealed *true* information – she must be human or something!

                1. jinbaltimore

                  Hmm. Trump, no stranger to cheap shots himself, is president though…so I guess that “presidential” measure is no more.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                …she must be human or something!

                Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – show some proof.

          1. curlydan

            The “thinly sourced” description sure was right. I’ve seen thicker European toilet paper. Just look at these quotes:

            “The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump.”

            “On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services”

            “The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation [on the election].”

            “Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.”

            “The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.”

            “The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself”

            1. fresno dan

              February 15, 2017 at 10:51 am

              must you smear European toilet tissue (hmmmm….maybe smear is not the best choice of words……anyway, I have gotten far more accurate and important information off toilet paper than any “news”paper)

              But (must resist urge to put second “t”) I agree with you – the sources are sh*t

      3. cocomaan

        I thought that the FBI was a bunch of Russian stooges out to Stump for Trump by bringing down Hilldawg? What happened?

        How can things be more complicated than I think!?

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            They seem to be insulating Pence with the “he was misled” theme, while simultaneously scaring the shit out of him with a “this could happen to you if you don’t play ball” real time demonstration of intel power.

      4. fosforos

        Remember that the 25th amendment gives Pence as VP together with the “principal executive officers” (Tillerson as Secy. of State, Mattis as Secy. of War) the right to remove Trump from the exercise of his Office and seize that right for Pence at any moment they decide that Trump is unable (for reason, say, of mental instability–a diagnosis that nobody could reasonably contest) to perform the duties of the Office. With just a nod from Roberts it would be a politically trivial stunt–even this afternoon!

        1. dcrane

          That’s fascinating…but according to Wikipedia Trump can reassert his powers any time he wishes, and if the VP-Cabinet coalition disagrees it goes to Congress and requires two-thirds of both houses (within 21 days following 48 hours to assemble Congress if necessary) to keep the Veep in charge. If the Prez again contests, the voting is repeated in apparently Groundhog Day fashion. Maybe this is where the “nod from Roberts” comes in?

          This section (4) of the Amendment has never been invoked.

    2. RenoDino

      Swearing in of Pence 18 months hence. Like the Democrats, he was sabotaged by the Russians. This is now the the only job qualification that matters. The only vote that counts in the end is the one cast by the Police State.

    3. fresno dan

      February 15, 2017 at 7:36 am

      It’s not even clear that Flynn lied. He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence………….Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That’s neither illegal nor improper.
      He was also a fat target for Democrats. Remember Flynn’s breakout national moment last summer was when he joined the crowd at the Republican National Convention from the dais calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed.

      In normal times, the idea that U.S. officials entrusted with our most sensitive secrets would selectively disclose them to undermine the White House would alarm those worried about creeping authoritarianism. Imagine if intercepts of a call between Obama’s incoming national security adviser and Iran’s foreign minister leaked to the press before the nuclear negotiations began? The howls of indignation would be deafening.
      Thanks Carla – good catch.
      I guess what I take out of it is what a pussycat Trump is – despite all the bluster not any fight at all for one of his (Trump’s) appointees. No need to impeach Trump – he will do exactly as he is told…
      Was Flynn someone who Trump personally decided on, or was Flynn just chosen from a hat? I would think that as Flynn spoke at the convention, Trump had some desire in bringing this guy into his administration.
      It will be a change of pace – instead of all the yammering about how a president is loyal to a fault, we will have with Trump “cause any deviation from my tweet storms, and your FIRED.”

      1. fresno dan

        February 15, 2017 at 8:55 am

        Thank you for that Montanamaven.
        I can’t help but comment. How is it that the MSM is so lock step in presenting one story, and the independent links, and now your link presents a much different, deeper, and in my view, much more plausible analysis of what is happening?
        I don’t mind getting Ignacis’s view at the WP….but it is the only view in all of MSM – its like they all meet up in the morning and agree on the fundamental premises (RUSSIA HACKED OUR ELECTION…cause we say so!!!) And considering how slanted and stilted it is (REALLY!??? Obama continuing what Bush did is our best foreign policy????) it is just tiresome to be given the bullsh*t that we have diversity and multi points of view in the MSM.

        1. Linda

          My comment to you above about Flynn lying to Pence is addressed in The duran article. Sounded plausible to me. The duran author thinks it’s a cover story.

      2. Carolinian

        This is a good article. Sample:

        In passing I should say that I find it impossible to believe that Sally Yates herself genuinely believes that the warnings she is supposed to have given the White House about Flynn are anything other than absurd. What they in fact show is not that there is a serious case against Flynn but – as was also shown by Yates’s refusal to defend the ‘travel ban’ Executive Order in the courts – that as Acting Attorney General Yates was actively working against the President and the administration she was supposed to be serving, in this case by making farfetched claims against one of the President’s advisers.

        One wonders whether the Yemen raid fiasco may have also caused Trump to not defend.

        1. Katharine

          “What they in fact show” is bs: it’s what they in the author’s opinion show. How he can go from talking about what he believes she believes to claiming to deal in facts is beyond me.

          1. Carolinian

            It’s a standard bit of rhetorical phraseology. The article is clearly labeled as opinion and therefore everything therein is by implication opinion. Your objection seems to be that he doesn’t paste an IMO in front of every sentence.

            And btw the notion that Yates–on the way out in any case–was conducting a bit of political grandstanding by her resignation is hardly confined to this article. The similar notion that she referred Flynn for political reasons strikes me as quite plausible.

            1. Katharine

              “Standard” is questionable. To the extent that it is an accurate description, writing standards have sunk dramatically in the past thirty years.

              Decent English writing does not require pasting IMO anywhere. It calls for use of expressions that accurately reflect what the author means to communicate, e.g.
              They appear rather….
              They might more plausibly be viewed as….

              Here of all places, I would hope to see the traditional concept of “fact” respected.

            2. Anne

              When one is expressing an opinion, one generally tries to stay away from phrases like “what they in fact show,” because as soon as one makes that kind of declarative statement, one has crossed over from engaging in a bit of rhetorical phraseology, to engaging in rhetorical deception.

              And, for what it’s worth, just because one can find multiple expressions of opinion about anything, including someone else’s motives, does not elevate those opinions to the level of fact.

        2. meme

          In this article, a lawyer argues that “Sally Yates Should Be Investigated For Her Possible Role in Watergate-Style Surveillance”:

          “This is the same Sally Yates that volunteered to stay on as a holdover to “help” the Trump transition, then refused to defend the President’s executive orders in court, ordered others to disobey his instruction to defend it, and then grandstanded in the country for personal fame for not doing her job. Now, she’s neck-deep in the Flynn scandal, and there needs to be a further investigation. She may be deserving of her own turn as a lead character in Orange is the New Black.”

          1. UserFriendly

            I remember some of the dems bitching about Trumps firing of Yates and mentioning that she was the only one at the dept of Justice that could sign FISA warrants, so that might be why she is still around.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Pence = Cheney? Approximately? He has the experience, a nice blueprint to work from, and levers and channels established and regularized during Dickless’s horrid tenure.

        And Reagan talking to the Ayatollah before R’s inauguration, during the campaign to trash Carter, by arrangements to hold the hostages until after January 22, to pave the way for what, again?

        Hey, people, “we” can natter our nabob heads about this negativism all we want. To what possible effect? Fleabites on the rump of the Behemoth, that cares not if it’s lumbering ever faster toward a cliff.

          1. jsn

            Schindler is charging the President of the United States with treason.

            Very interesting. I remember Bill Clintons first visit to an air craft carrier, one of the sailors called him a “draft dodger”. He should have turned to the Admiral escorting him and ripped the stars of his collar for tolerating such profound insubordination.

            Trump is in fact a steer now if he doesn’t call the Marines on these guys.

      4. b1daly

        What are you talking about, Trump fight for his appointees? On the contrary, this strikes me a quintessential “under the bus shall ye go.”

        Which is completely consonant with Trump’s life long pattern of letting others take fall for his own failures.

        The efforts around here to defend the pack of craven jackals who have taken up residence in the Whitehouse are surreal. For once I’m actually rooting for the Deep State to succeed in their machinations to keep control of the government.

        1. Toolate

          And in so doing perhaps further inflame tensions between the worlds major nuclear powers

          Makes sense…

  3. allan

    President Trump Has Done Almost Nothing

    Tell that to this guy: Federal agents take Mexican ‘dreamer’ immigrant into custody [NY Post]

    A man who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child but was protected from deportation by President Barack Obama’s administration has been taken into custody in the Seattle area in what could be the first case of its kind in the country.

    Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was arrested Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who went to the suburban Seattle home to arrest the man’s father. ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson said in a statement that agents were there targeting a “prior-deported felon.”

    Ramirez, however, was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 7 and has a work permit under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He also has a job, a young son and no criminal record, Northwest Immigrants Rights Project Legal Director Matt Adams said. Ramirez is being held in Tacoma. …

    And the House and Senate are cranking out Congressional Review Act rollbacks of regulations,
    which he has been happily signing.
    “Done almost nothing” = the frogs are getting warm.

    1. fresno dan

      February 15, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Paraphrasing what Stalin said, “the deportation of one is a tragedy, but the deportation by Obama of 2.5 million” could not possibly better illustrate the point of the post.

      So, did Obama accomplish a lot? Or did Goldman Sachs and the health insurance industry accomplish a lot?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Ultimately it was obama who did almost nothing for the “dreamers” except put them in this position.

      His “protection” was structured in such a way as to only exist as long as he was around. For whatever reason, he never saw fit to make it impervious to future challenges by chief executives who didn’t see things the way he did.

      Maybe he was sucked in by visions of “permanent democratic majorities.” Or maybe he “somehow” knew clinton would succeed him. Or maybe he just didn’t give enough of a shit to suffer the slings and arrows that would come from defending the indefensible, regardless of how sympathetic they were.

      But one thing’s for sure. Trump didn’t make the laws that obama spent eight years taking credit for ignoring.

      1. A

        What crime did he commit? He has been detained for 5 days so far. No wonder private prison stocks went up after the election.

        Obama was the “deporter-in-chief” but the fact that Trump is immeasurably worse is… Obama’s fault.

    3. armchair

      Good point, allan. Many NC heads are spinning because they don’t grasp the scenario. Their critique of Obama, especially on deportation, is correct, but they seem to make the leap that Obama’s sins absolve Trump. It is infuriating to the “but Obama crowd” that the establishment and the bleeding hearts both detest Trump. What is missing is that this moment is one of the very few moments in American history when the bleeding hearts will be listened to. It won’t last long. It never does. The establishment will dump the bleeding hearts at its earliest convenience, but for the time being we can make our pleas for human rights and decency and actually be heard.

      1. marym

        You skipped the next sentence:

        Ramirez’s attorneys, who say Ramirez has never been convicted of a crime, denied the gang claim “unequivocally” and said he was “repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation.”

          1. allan

            Thanks. And then there’s this:

            ICE detains domestic-violence victim in court
            [El Paso Times]

            Six federal immigration agents went to the El Paso County Courthouse last week and arrested an undocumented woman who had just received a protective order alleging that she was a victim of domestic violence.

            The detention has alarmed county officials who fear that that the arrest will scare undocumented victims of domestic abuse into staying with their abusers for fear of being deported and separated from their children or other family members. …

            Especially concerning is that ICE made the El Paso arrest apparently acting on a tip from [the woman’s] alleged abuser …

            Aiding and abetting domestic abuse. Stay classy, ICE.

    4. dcblogger

      “Done almost nothing” = the frogs are getting warm.
      so good, it had to be repeated. Trump is an ogre, and will be forced to resign in exchange for a pardon ala Nixon, as soon as his poll numbers are in single digit territory.

      1. marym

        What do you predict the establishment Democrats and their fans will do if Pence is president? Do they think this would be better? Why isn’t this discussed, so far as I’ve seen, as part of speculations about a Trump resignation?

        1. fresno dan

          February 15, 2017 at 1:17 pm

          Very good point marym.
          My speculation (let me chug another pint and down a whiskey chaser) which is all counter intuitive cause that is more entertaining mental masturbation is that the dems would want Trump to remain (FUND raising! PENCE!) and the repubs fear a revolt by their “grass roots.” Pence, smooth and silky, IMHO, would be far more effective at instituting a right wing agenda than Bush (Shrub) ever was.
          Where would FOX go – well with the money and money = eyeballs, so they would predominantly support Trump.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If Kucinich really nailed it, will people unite to defend the White House/presidency under attack?

          2. marym

            My speculation is they not so much prefer Pence, but would see Trump resigning as sufficient payback/revenge for Clinton losing, and move on (heh) to “more and better Dems” for 2018 (in other words, to losing the next election), while the neolibcon policies continue.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          They haven’t thought that far ahead. This is about distraction from the SS Hillary. She did worse than Kerry in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Let that sink in.

          The whole premise of the 50 State strategy was Kerry left votes on the table all over. The subsequent Democratic wins were driven by making sure not to leave those votes on the table. Hillary did worse despite 12 years of population growth.

          The Democratic establishment is reacting as spoiled children are apt to do. They aren’t thinking through the consequences of their actions. Their behavior is about diverting attention from “are you ready or Hillary” madness, and their complicity in delivering Trump. Nominating the wife of a guy who received the lowest black turnout since the 50’s probably wasn’t a good idea when the party relies on high black turnout to win. It’s just that simple.

          1. fresno dan

            February 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm

            “She did worse than Kerry in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.”
            “Let that sink in.” GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT!!!!!!!

            Thanks for that cold slap of reality. Whats that political theory – the party decides? (apparently, with the dems, none too well…)

        3. different clue

          Yes, they think it will be better. Pence supports bad relations with Russia, just like the Clintonites do. Pence supports Free Trade Agreements, just like the Clintonites do. Pence supports regime-change against Assad, just like the Clintonites do.

          Clintonites prefer Pence.

      2. Old Jake

        Trump resignation is irrelevant, as the regime will not change. All this warming frog stuff ignores that fact, that Trump=Obama=Bush-II=Clinton and so forth. The more things change …

        1. PhilM

          Well, no. It cannot change. It is known.

          In the US, the ratio of governors to governed, and the corresponding accountability of what soon became “the rulers” to “the ruled,” started to approach a limit of zero as soon as the republic was founded. At first, the ratio was intended to be about 1 to 30,000. That had already gone by the board by 1840; thereafter, it spun out of control completely. The 17 million Americans in the 1840 census enjoyed 242 representatives; the 31 million Americans of 1860 enjoyed even fewer, 238, in 1858. And by now the numbers are laughable: 320 million people are “represented” by 435, about 700,000:1, while the proportion of the national wealth spent by those persons has risen from 2% to 20%.

          So the idea of representative or accountable government is a laughable relic for the US, of exactly the same utility as the fragment of the True Cross in a medieval church crypt. It is there to inspire the credulous to kneel. People might as well yell at the movie screen, while spitting at their neighbors, as talk national politics. It is just like talking about a football game on TV. Really, they have no say in the outcome: it is just a moment of vicarious pleasure, endowing them in their fantasies with something they will never have in life: power, or influence over power.

          But it does make money for the high priests of futile babble, just like sports; so I can’t say it is completely pointless. Government really is “The entertainment division of the military-industrial complex,” per Zappa—truer words were never spoken.

    5. Vatch

      In addition to regulatory rollbacks, he has sent some dreadful nominations to the Senate:

      Betsy “Grizzly” DeVos
      Tom “Privatize Medicare” Price
      Jeff “Property Forfeiture” Sessions
      Steven “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin
      Scott “Chief Poisoner” Pruitt
      Andrew “So Bad He Actually Withdrew” Puzder
      Rick “Genius Because He Wears Glasses” Perry
      Ben “Pyramid Grain Silo” Carson

    6. Yves Smith Post author


      The plural of anecdote is not data.

      As we pointed out at the top of the post today on the use of illegal immigrants as farmers in California (and that piece was sympathetic to them), that article stated that the ICE raids under Trump are proceededing at 1/3 of the rate under Obama.

      So yes, he has done almost nothing.

  4. voteforno6

    Re: Democrats bracing for town hall protests directed at them ask Bernie Sanders for help

    Seeing that made me smile a little bit. Do these corporate Democrats think that stories like this are going to make it easier on them? If anything, it will make people increase the pressure, once they realize that they’re starting to make the Democrats uncomfortable.

  5. Uahsenaa

    re: Sanders/Schumer/Booker

    According to The Hill, the gathering was meant as a gentle signal to Sanders that he might play nicer with his colleagues if he wants to be a player.

    It seems to me that Sanders remains a player (with an independent power base the Dems clearly covet for their own) precisely by NOT playing nice with the corporate shills like Booker. I also like Sanders’ “sorry not sorry” response.

      1. Roger Smith

        With Sanders playing to the Russian-Trump hysteria song and dance, I think I will keep my money this time around. He lacks the tenacity to take on the challenges of the deep seated establishment group-think. He seems to place far too much value on his “colleagues” and what they think. These people kicked him around and ignored him until he was a banner they could fly (when they needed to) and he did not make a peep except to offer his praise and support. He seems to be the best we have in regards to policy and prominence, but that is not enough.

        1. b1daly

          Plus progressives have such a deep bench of top notch political talent, no need to waste any goodwill on a capitulator like Sanders.

      2. voteforno6

        Perhaps I’m a bit more sanguine about this than others, but I think that it’s preferable to have Sanders working (sort of) within the Democratic Party. If he bolted, it would be very easy for them to dismiss him and marginalize him.

        I have enough faith in Sanders’ political acumen and commitment to his cause(s), that if he found it beneficial to break away from the Democrats, he would do so. Right now, he’s got an independent power base that the Democrats clearly crave access to; stringing them along to exert maximum influence is the right play for him, I think.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          You can of course criticise any number of decisions Sanders has taken on policy or ethical grounds, but I think that tactically and strategically he has played a superb game. Once he made the decision to run in the Primaries he had to play ball with the Dem establishment to some extent – they have been itching for an excuse to pin the ‘infiltrator’ or ‘traitor’ card on him, but he’s never let them do it. Despite the odds against him he has run rings around them and is still very much in the game, still fighting the good fight. He’s had to make compromises along the way, but he hasn’t compromised on the core issues and as such continues to be a huge embarrassment to the Dems.

        2. HotFlash

          Agree w P’kun. That old fox has been around for quite a while, I think he is Die Meister. I would trust him in the most confusing circumstances. It is, after all, not like he is a Democrat. That said, I will still watch what he does, just in case. As Lambert says, politics ain’t beanbag.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Sanders is already a “player” and there is nothing the Vichy Democrats can do about it. When Sanders decided to run as a Democrat (with all the sliminess that entailed) I was the first to criticise his strategy. I was wrong. If Sanders had not ran as a D, he never would have become a national phenomenon and his mantras of socialised healthcare and punish the bankers would still be well outside the Overton Window. Instead, he now tours around the country rallying support for policies that a mere two years ago would have been unthinkable to get people talking about.

      I would compare the Sanders 2016 phenomenon to Occupy. Sure many can say that Occupy did not achieve its goals (whatever they were), but it did make one huge step forward: it brought the idea of the 99% vs the 1% into the public discourse: it brought the discussion of inequality onto the table despite it having been banned for decades by the our Acela Bubble Overlords.

      To me, moving the public discourse is far more important than winning the presidency or permanently occupying Zuccotti Square, because material change is not going to come from presidential maneouvres or a small group of activists occupying public spaces; it’s only going to come from the mass of the population demanding substantial concrete changes. In that regard, Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist being unremovably on the public scene, is something that rightly frightens the bejeezus out of the imperial eunuchs plaguing Washington.

        1. aletheia33

          adding: we will not see significant change until sufficient numbers of people put their lives at risk to fight for it.

          1. PhilM

            Necessary but not sufficient, aletheia33. No real change happens until there is failure of governance at the center, either through bankruptcy, war, or widespread civil disorder, which creates a power vacuum, which may then be exploited by an organized group of intellectuals allied with a politically powerful and well financed cohort of already powerful people who roll forward a popular, well-articulated and program of reform that has been discussed for a generation and is therefore already widely familiar and culturally accepted, and indeed is already almost taken for granted as the cure for what ails ya.

            Until that time, violence will be swiftly met with more effective violence, and the people who “put their lives at risk to fight,” as you have it, will go to prison or the hospital, with only one result: to establish the existing authorities even more firmly than they had been before, now bolstered by the full support of the propertied classes, whose fears ripen them for polarization by the demagogues of reaction.

            RR Palmer’s work, including especially Twelve Who Ruled and Age of The Democratic Revolution, is a graduate seminar in the paradigms of such things. Learning them in advance saves lives, money, and grief. Also recommend Edmund Wilson’s To The Finland Station, a must read for anyone on this site. The playbooks of both sides were written from 1789-1820, and really nothing basic has been added since then, although subsequent examples have proliferated and historical interpretation continues to ramify and grow in sophistication.

            1. aletheia33

              just noting, by putting their lives at risk i do not mean physical fighting. i refer to MLK’s phrase “coffin ready” vis a vis nonviolent action and to willingness to risk one’s livelihood or other major supports of one’s life as one would ideally prefer to live it. obviously a tall order for people raising children, yet parents did this in the civil rights movement. and yes, further out the spectrum, people were scaring the establishment to death by rioting and advocating militant action, and maybe that is a necessity as well. do you include gene sharp in your reading recommendations?

              thank you for your recommendations and thoughts, i will continue to keep my mind open for further education!

      1. Rhondda

        Great comment, RG. When flyover people like me spurn the NeoLibCon Dems and start “Insane reading” (h/t Eno) of Althusser, Lacan, etc — it’s on!

        I’m not sure what It is, but I am thinking so much bigger about the needed changes than I used to. Both politically and personally (Soul Force!)

      1. Uahsenaa

        The same way they can pretend Manchin is.

        There are so many corporate shills and near Republicans in the party nowadays, I’m surprised they haven’t changed the name yet.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Do you mean rank and file Dems or the elites?

        Booker is the rule not the exception. Booker has just been out forth as a means of capturing black voters in a manner similar to Obama In 2012 which raised his profile outside of New Jersey, but he’s a fine example of a Democrat. Democrat Party elites still clearly don’t grasp how reviled they are or the damage done by Obama to the party and barely comprehend the Internet has a long memory. They didn’t expect Booker to take hear for the Pharma vote. It was simply a vote for them to hold up for local committee zombies.

      3. different clue

        They don’t have to pretend. Given what the Clintonites and Obamacrats are and stand for, he is one of them, and they are many of him. That will remain true unless the Sandernistas ( and Gabbardistas and etc.) can purge and burn all traces of DLC Third Way filth out of the Democratic Party.

    2. Jeff W

      …he might play nicer with his colleagues if he wants to be a player.

      Translation: C’mon, Bernie, what is it about being co-opted that you don’t understand?

  6. EndOfTheWorld

    Interesting that Kellyanne C. said that Flynn just tendered his resignation on his own. As in: “HELL WITH THIS NOISE. I’M OUTTA HERE.” Might well be the case.

      1. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        February 15, 2017 at 8:40 am

        should we start a betting pool?

        I’m thinking the Blob is patient and there is no good reason for them to show how in control they really are. Kellyanne is a mom and I’m sure she will want to spend more time with her family in about a ….month I would guess….

        1. fresno dan

          February 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

          I saw that. How long do you think that will last and how widespread?
          And if she says something outrageous enough – are they (MSM) NOT going to comment on it???
          The media with its gaping maw demanding someone yammering 24/7 almost?
          And Kellyanne is ENTERTAINING – – and that is what the cable shows most want and NEED…

      2. Anne

        They are running out of people to trot out to the media.

        Conway hasn’t been on the Sunday shows since her “Bowling Green Massacre” comment; she wasn’t able to get back in the saddle after she shilled for Ivanka. Her interviews with Lauer and Stephanopolous on the morning shows on Monday were terrible; she looked and sounded like someone who wanted to be anywhere but where she was. Yesterday’s gaffe was the re-tweet of “love” to a white nationalist. Apparently, she can’t open her mouth anymore without inserting her foot in it.

        Where’s Reince? The Worm hasn’t been out to dissemble for some time – word is he’s falling or fallen out of favor.

        Spicer? Treading water, won’t take much for him to slip below the surface.

        Steven Miller? Ol’ Dead Eyes got two thumbs up from Trump, but he got savaged everywhere else – even the folks at Fox News seemed pretty horrified by him.

        Does Trump even have a Communications Director? If not, who in their right mind wants that job?

        1. Linda

          Re communications director.

          Washington Post

          Jason Miller was slated to serve as White House communications director but resigned before Inauguration Day. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)
          [Photo caption]

          If public relations pros don’t want to be White House communications director maybe it’s because President Trump doesn’t really want any of them to be White House communications director, either. The truth is, Trump would rather just do the job himself.

          Politico reports that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is struggling to fill what is, in theory, an extremely prestigious post and that at least two people have turned down offers. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Thursday that the report is false.

          The real problem is that it is hard to imagine any communications director feeling empowered to do what the gig typically entails: creating a strategic messaging plan for the White House.

          This is not a theoretical concern. Recall that then-candidate Trump went through three surrogate communications directors in a seven-week span last summer.

          1. Rhondda

            “If public relations pros don’t want to be White House communications director maybe it’s because President Trump doesn’t really want any of them to be White House communications director, either. The truth is, Trump would rather just do the job himself.”

            Jeebus! That snarky, mean girl tripe is from the WaPo? The “news” section? “See ya wouldn’t wanna be ya.”
            Just a reminder of why I no longer click any WaPo links. None. NYT. None.

  7. The Trumpening

    The cover story for the Flynn firing makes no sense. No doubt after Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in December Flynn called the Russian ambassador to say this was no biggy. The goal was to stop Russia escalating with a tit-for-tat. But Flynn would not have done this on his own accord. And surely this is far from Flynn’s first rodeo and so he knows any calls to the Russian ambassador are recorded by counterintelligence officers. And true to form, after Putin declined to escalate the sanctions, Trump called him smart on Twitter.

    So there is no way Flynn was let go for “lying” because it is not conceivable that Trump and Pence were not aware of his actions since they probably ordered him to make the contact.

    Trump Twitter (aka #FrogTwitter or the lastest, #MilkTwitter) is either reacting with overblown anger at Trump’s cowardice or pointing out that Flynn was kind of a warmongering NeoCon so perhaps it is better he is gone.

    The one thing Trump excels at is hiring and firing. He also understands better than most the importance of not caving into the media or to establishment pressure.

    But Flynn was at the center of two of the Trump Administration’s most worrying policies. First escalating with Iran is just plain dumb since the US has no leverage (short of war, which Trump has promised to stop doing) and so it would have been better to ignore Iran. The raid in Yemen seemed problematic as well. Trump has promised more of a paleo-conservative foreign policy but the first three weeks had more of a neo-conservative feel.

    Perhaps Bannon and Trump decided Flynn was a liability on foreign policy and decided to take the opportunity these Russian leaks afforded to dump Flynn without humiliating him with the real reason why they were doing so?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Your explanation of events plays better for me than the version touted in the media. Messing with Russia is a very bad idea but messing with Iran is almost as bad. I hope you are right that Trump is not inclined to shift from conflict with Russia to conflict with Iran. As I recall Yves also made a point of the Trump hiring and firing “team” building model in a past Post or comment — describing the style as characteristic of Real Estate developers.

  8. Steve H.

    Any thoughts on the Oroville Valley Bundled Mortgage Prosperity Bonds? I’m hearing they are not being pumped, but some say the dump will be tremendous.

    1. DH

      I think there are disputes about the riparian rights and prior use of the water that may be available on the properties.

      1. fresno dan

        Steve H.
        February 15, 2017 at 8:59 am
        February 15, 2017 at 9:35 am

        if we didn’t have gallows humor, we’d have no humor at all….

        I don’t worry about Friant dam breaking at all….what with all our CA experts saying its perfuctly suferly…..

      2. polecat

        I’d be up to betting on some sh!tty water futures, combined with rather large cholera derivative …

  9. anne

    I think it would behoove people – and I include myself in this – to spend less time being sucked in by the hourly/daily Trump Drama, and more time tracking what’s going on in the Congress. Trump’s executive orders may not be accomplishing much, but I think they serve as a blueprint for the Congress, and it’s there where some real damage can be done – and little the Dems will be able to do about it.

    Once the Cabinet gets up and running, and working in a nice rhythm with the GOP in Congress, that’s when the real trouble starts. I don’t anticipate the GOP doing much to check whatever Trump’s up to, as long as his bill-signing pen is in good working order. Unless and until there’s some kind of event in which Trump just completely shits the bed and the GOP’s constituents are coming at them with torches and pitchforks, I think we can expect the GOP to just go along and pretend that all is well.

    1. Tom

      Agreed and here is a very useful project that keeps tabs on every Trump-related vote by every member of Congress. It is called Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump. It even keeps a running “Trump Score” on each Congressperson, expressed as a percentage of how often a member votes in line with Trump’s position. Very illuminating, as the expression goes.

    2. Benedict@Large


      This has been the case from the start. The real damage that could come out of Washington these next four years is going to come out of Congress. Whatever damage Trump does without them can pretty much be reversed if we can replace him with someone to the left of Cory Booker.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …in the meantime, the various elements of the “17 agencies” continue their steady implementation of a bunch of “initiatives” that will one day surprise the rest of us. Yes, watch “Congress,” that wholly owned subsidiary of what “we” so glibly call the “Right,” as they enact into law the Great Undoing. But DARPA and all the very Smart and Credentialed people that work there, and for the many ‘contractors” that share in the Great Creation and Countering of Threats, are so very busy converting, shoveling, all that MMT “wealth” into “deployables,” (What a difference one little letter can make, “y” for “r”), stuff like itty bitty nuclear devices and Drone Swarms and autonomous killing machines and nanotech weapons and yes, bio and chem weapons (only to be ready to counterattack, of course) and the many in-fights and “bid protests,” over which company gets to build the next personal sidearm and what caliber it should be, and is it time to go through another couple of billion coming up with the next “universal camo pattern” and a whole new Battle Dress Uniform to replace the latest of what is it now, 6 “generations” of field uniforms?

        Meantime, heroin production is up again, “another couple of thousand troops” on the way to protect poppy production and the paths of corruption for secret money flows and weapons disappearing into that horrific war of all against all that’s stewing away Over There, new weapons in the procurement pipeline need to be sent out into the field to be “proven” by “deployment,” like the V-22, so they are no longer “under development” but “just another program in full service…”

        And for the detail-oriented:

        The Foley & Lardner LLP Guide to Federal Procurement Protests

        History tells us, with a high degree of certainty, that each September — the last month of the federal government’s fiscal year (FY) — federal contracting officers will rush to award contracts totaling tens of billions of dollars, thereby obligating current fiscal year funds, the availability of which would otherwise expire on October 1. Just as certainly, this flurry of federal contract awards will be followed by numerous bid protests during the ensuing months. This white paper explains the various administrative and judicial protest fora available to disappointed bidders seeking to challenge awards they contend were flawed, provides an outline of each forum’s respective procedures, and examines the benefits and disadvantages of each forum. This white paper is designed to assist offerors and contractors contemplating whether and where to file a protest challenging a contract award to a competitor, or whether to intervene in a protest to protect a contract award, with an understanding of how the federal bid protest process operates.

        Even before the current financial crisis, the U.S. government was considered the largest single procurer of goods and services in the world, and the inexorable growth of federal procurement in recent years has been nothing short of breathtaking. Since 2000, the rate of growth in federal contract procurement spending has exceeded the rate of U.S. inflation in every year, and cumulatively during the period of 2000 through 2006 grew at a rate five times the rate of U.S. inflation (Federal Procurement Data System, 2007). While this rate of growth is certainly not sustainable, annual federal procurement budgets in excess of $400 billion, outside of financial-recovery-related spending, are now the reality, providing an attractive market opportunity for vendors in virtually every field of goods and services.1

        Notwithstanding a 20-year movement toward more commercialized approaches to federal procurement, selling to the government is always governed by federal statutes and regulations, and offerors invariably will invest considerable time and resources in responding to an agency solicitation. Consequently, vendors expect fair and even-handed consideration of their submissions, consistent with the terms of the solicitation and governing statutes and regulations. Additionally, Congress utilizes the federal acquisition marketplace to advance a variety of socio-economic goals, and those benefited by such policies, notably the small business community, insist on agency adherence to these policies in the acquisition process. Above all, the public expects an honest, competitive, and transparent procurement system that yields good value for taxpayer dollars. To those ends, the Obama administration has signaled its intent to foster firm, fixed-price contracts in lieu of cost-based contracts, and to increase contracting oversight as well as its opposition to noncompetitive contract awards and outsourcing.

        Ain’t that a stitch? They write this stuff with such a straight face…

  10. roadrider

    Re: Haunted by student debt past age 50

    I wish every Hill/Obama-bot who thinks (bankruptcy-bill, bank/credit card company whore) Biden is a good guy would read this.

  11. Larry

    The Merck dissapointment on Alzheimers disease is not a huge surprise to me. I taught an advanced biochemistry course years ago that focused on the underlying causes of disease. While it’s a minority hypothesis in the scientific community, the correlation of amyloid plaques and onset of Alzheimers disease is not an open and shut case. But because academic science is skewed towards molecular mechanisms of disease with tractable biomarkers, the overwhelming focus is on reducing plaques. And what Merck and other studies keep confirming is that treating the plaques does absolutely no good.

    To me the emphasis needs to be on holistic approaches to health. I suspect that diet, diabetes, and immune system inflammation damages mental capacity in the majority of elderly dementia and Alzheimers disease cases. Yet there is no way to make a blockbuster drug or achieve career advancement by advocating for things preventative medicine.

        1. KurtisMayfield

          No way is that ever happening. Do you think any paper linking sugar to Alzheimer’s disease is going to see the light of day?

    1. fresno dan

      February 15, 2017 at 9:09 am

      For all we know, taking 81mg of aspirin daily might do wonders…..but there is no money in proving that,
      And telling people to stop eating the crappy fast food that is such a large part of the American diet will get you branded a commie and “Flynned”

    2. Praedor


      Cheap as hell, VERY beneficial beyond helping treat/prevent diabetes in older patients. I suspect things like this, cheap old drugs that cannot be wrung for major profits (like trying to charge $1000/pill for aspirin) may turn out to be useful in various combinations.

    3. integer

      My Grandmother on my Mother’s side has bad Alzheimer’s. To me, it seems like she is awake yet stuck in a dream. If I were researching the disease with the aim of finding a cure, I would look into what the brain is doing during REM sleep and see if there is any correlation with the functioning of Alzheimer’s affected brains.

      Hmm. Just did a quick search and there does seem to be a relationship between the two phenomena:

      1. Roger Bigod

        There’s a collection of brain structures called the “Default Mode Network” which are active in waking and REM. It’s concerned with social relations, sense of self and memory. It’s the first and most severely affected part of the brain in Alzheimer’s.

    4. freedomny

      Agreed – have been fascinated by the disease – diet link ever since reading The China Study by Campbell. But, that won’t make money for Big Pharma….

  12. winstonsmith

    Re: Red Roses

    Well deserved, Yves, but be careful. There’s a 99.999% chance it is what it seems and a 0 .001% chance it’s an ill-wisher who tricked you into verifying your identity and location by your acknowledgement here.

    1. DH

      I wonder if she read the Privacy Policy that came with the roses and implicitly accepted the terms and conditions therein so that all activities done in the vicinity of the roses could be tracked by third-parties.

  13. RenoDino

    Trump’s latest desperate tweet to stop the inevitable:

    “Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?”

    We are sorry to inform you that your application to join the Deep State has already been DENIED.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Whoa, lawdy mama … yesterday I forecasted this morning’s CPI release to be up 2.2%, maybe 2.3%, from 12 months ago.

    Instead, it boiled over to a torrid 2.5%. Part of this is a comparison effect, since energy (up 10.8% according to CPI data) reached its low point last February.

    Nevertheless, core inflation (to which policy makers pay more attention, since it’s less volatile) was up 2.3% in 12 months. This is also well over the central planners’ 2 percent target.

    We all know just what the doctor ordered to treat these inflationary symptoms — rate hikes for all! Privately, though, some of the FOMCers worry about a sorcerer’s apprentice effect. As do I, comrades: what if they can’t turn off the magic broom?

  15. DH

    Re: Welcome to the dark ages where only the wealthy can retire

    For people coming out of high school now it is the best of times and the worst of times.

    If you tune out most of the societal pressure and propaganda from the government and corporations, you can go to community college and then finish a four year degree at a state school with little student debt. You can live at home for a handful of years while you get established. When you work, you save 15% of your income and put it into well-diversified low cost tax-deferred funds (e.g. Vanguard Target Date funds). You only buy a house or condo when prices are reasonable and you can afford them. If renting is cheaper, do that. A car is for transport, so buy as small as possible and only if you actually need one.

    There is huge societal pressure to do the opposite of what I just listed above. You will generally be branded as a “loser” by many people. But you will be the one building up a large savings balance and not a lot of debt. Retirement in your 50s and 60s would actually be feasible.

    If you do what the TV says you should do, go to prestigious schools at high cost using student debt, overbuy a house immediately, buy expensive new cars every three years, put your money into the non-fiduciary accounts of financial advisors that are “helping” you, then retirement will probably just be a chimera, but you will be viewed as a “winner”.

    1. Jim Haygood

      There really is a strong cultural presumption that middle class respectability requires a generous-sized, well-furnished house, with a driveway full of late-model cars.

      As a gearhead I love cars and motorcycles. But they are a huge money suck. My vehicle’s about to turn 12 years old, and it’s still a youngster. One day on an outing some friends commented that the seats weren’t sufficiently padded. I’m like … so what? It is what it is. Better than riding in the bed of a turnip truck.

      A guy on the next block is building a metal-framed, metal-roofed kit house with about 500 square feet. Said he had to negotiate for a year to get a building permit for it. But it’s exactly what he wants. And I’ll bet with the lot and all his cost is less than six figures. He’s in his forties, checking out of the rat race.

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        February 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

        “One day on an outing some friends commented that the seats weren’t sufficiently padded.”

        Did you tell them that their big fat ass*s provide plenty of ample padding?*
        * oh yeah – that’s why I don’t have any friends :(
        on the other hand, not hauling around fat people does improve my gas mileage…..

          1. fresno dan

            February 15, 2017 at 1:04 pm

            “The engine is not currently installed, but it’s included along with a spare engine, transmission and gasket set.”

            that’s nice, but it doesn’t have an engine installed and I don’t know how to install enginees – I suppose I could cut some holes in the floor and drive it alla Flintstones…..

            OH, here is the engine

            I imagine I could install that, but I don’t know how to connect it to the transmission….and I don’t know if I could afford feeding a second engine….

            But I want this

            1. polecat

              fresno dan .. if you attach some ‘pterodactyl’ wangs on each side of that stone cold ride, and run real fast, you’d have the world’s first paleozoic flying car !

              Eat your heart out Musk … ox !

              1. fresno dan

                February 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm

                “Wings” or “wangs”??? I imagine if I went to the drive-in A&W, I could give a “tip” to a roller skating waitress on both sides….

                1. polecat

                  you never heard of ‘chicken wangs’ ? …… southern dialect for WINGS !

                  where have you been dude … ??

                  ……. I mean … besides trying to scoring points with the roller chicks # the drive-in …. ‘;]

                  Ok .. how ’bout slappin a couple of those fair tacos you pine for .. on the sides of your ride, and call it the ‘Flying Chalupa’ ..?

                  1. polecat

                    Put a bouncing nun on the dash …. with a slice of heyzeus taost hangin from the mirror, and you’d be the talk of the street !

    2. jsn

      This is sort of absurd.

      An individual may be able to do what you propose, but if there aren’t as many jobs that support this “responsible” plan as there are people trying to implement it, no matter how responsible those left over people are, it won’t work for them. Hence the German letter link about a young person truly opting out.

      You need to offer better choices, only the nicest people will kill themselves when they see through this line of reasoning, less nice ones may want to kill you…

      1. Eureka Springs

        Yup. Much better if SS paid a living retirement income. Working stiffs already contribute nearly 15 percent there! Now add another 15 percent? rent or mortgage for most is another 30 plus percent. Wasn’t it a few short days ago someone posted a link saying Vanguard invested in for profit prisons? Then there is all we’ve learned here about Calpers.

        Investing in ones own/societies own demise. And always expecting those profiteers will you know, not act in fraudulent manners – with fiduciary responsibility.

      2. DH

        1. Private universities in the US are astronomically priced. Many of the student loan debacles are coming out of the private college and university system. There are a lot of seats in relatively inexpensive state universities and most community colleges are high quality and one of the best deals of anything in these country. A major problem is that there is little good career counseling in high school and the first couple of years of university. Taking out $25k of loans per year is a very expensive way of finding yourself. Most Fortune 100 CEOs didn’t graduate from Ivy League colleges. I don’t believe in free college, but anybody should be able to work summer and part-time jobs and graduate with less than 1x typical starting annual gross pay in debt. That is not possible at many universities.

        2. People are getting married later and household sizes are smaller. Yet the average new home size has doubled over the past few decades while inflation-adjusted square foot cost has stayed the same. So house costs are going up. Rent restrictions etc. in cities is also putting pressure on rentals and condos in those cities.

        We have multiple millennial children. We focused on controlling education costs and loan amounts, so none of them carried more than $25k of loan at graduation. Only half of the kids own cars. A couple still live at home but cover their costs at home. The older one of those has paid off a small amount of student debt, been stashing money away, and could buy a house in our area without even blinking at this point, but is continuing to save money instead. The youngest is still figuring things out but went to community college and has no debt, so a lot of freedom to figure things out. The older kids have been saving aggressively for retirement and already had 1X gross income in retirement savings before aqe 30.

        It is doable, but we have worked hard on providing guidance and advice. Because they didn’t get buried in debt or unaffordable home purchases, they have been able to try different things. We know other kids with $100k+ of student loans without good jobs. Nobody was talking to them about finances and careers until the debt was incurred. In some of those cases, their parents, despite good jobs, are inadequately prepared for retirement so the lack of financial education has been a problem for a long time.

        Our society is focused on marketing you to buy into the “Dream” which is expensive and puts a lot of money into other people’s pockets. Slowly people are wising up which is why Vanguard is sucking money in like a Hoover and regular mutual funds and brokerages are laying people off. We are hearing the wails from much of the real estate industry about lack of household formation hampering housing sales as millenials aren’t buying in.

        Household debt is at very high levels compared to historical amounts. Much of the financial and university system is focused on maintaining that. However, corporate America hasn’t been doing its part to work with its work force to help it grow. Instead, they want all their workers to come in pre-trained and ready to go. Their short-term cost-cutting focus means that their customer base is struggling and so their revenues aren’t growing. Not sure how this is going to end yet, but not getting sucked into the “Dream” is some decent protection.

        1. jsn

          It sounds like you and yours have done well with this plan, well done. None the less, the plan isn’t generalizable: for education to provide enough jobs for all the educated would imply a social distribution of priorities radically different from what we have.

          To say “society is focused on marketing”, however, I believe reverses causality. Marketing is focused on society. To lead a sane life in the US is to be constantly on guard against what the dominant agents in your culture are constantly telling you. Those not lucky enough to have strong guidance at home become extractive resources for a system structured to scam money or wealth in any form.

          With the monetary system under its current management, the more people succeed according to your model, the more people elsewhere necessarily become unemployed: to the extent you and yours become educated and accrue wealth without incurring debt, you are drawing money from circulation (your wealth) which, because all income is someone else’s prior expense and you are not spending and therefore curtailing someone else’s income, necessarily becomes a demand dampening force creating a disemploying force in the macro economy. This is what IIRC Keynes called “the paradox of thrift”: what works individually is counterproductive systemically unless the central monetary authorities support your savings with an offsetting budget surplus. Ours does not.

          I do believe in free college, like health care, primary education, a clean environment including water and air these are all public goods and can best be provided by the public. They all create more real wealth than they cost in monetary wealth by making healthy productive societies and if done would provide that grounding to everyone to resist that “marketing that focuses on society.”

    3. a different chris

      This is BS, and not in the Bachelor of Science way. You need at least two years at that state school to get a possibly not even usable (everybody else has a MS) degree. Please look up what it costs to go to even a hopefully local branch of, say, Penn State.

      >You will generally be branded as a “loser” by many people.

      Must be nice to live in that world carefully constructed inside your head. Not many 20somethings are branding other 20somethings as “losers”, they are possibly the tightest knit generation, and certainly when you factor in race and sex, ever.

      Their problems are real.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will it be that one day, even a Ph.D. is not sufficient

        Corporation: “Everyone has it. Show me something else that will truly excite me.”

        Applicant: “I can be as subservient as anyone here illegal or on an H1B visa wishing for a Green Card. You don’t typically get that from an American.”

        —- From a future play, “You Need More Education.”

    4. Isolato

      What is particularly horrendous is that we have flipped everything upside down.MY parents paid for my education and health care. As they SHOULD have. Isn’t that the nurturing part? Mortgaging any future success or healthcare expense. That is generational theft. Us from them.

    5. jrs

      doesn’t this plan require the cooperation of other people? Like parents that allow one to live live at home after they hit the age of majority for instance, or at least after they get a degree? (which would be the limit of a lot of parent’s tolerance) What if they don’t? So yes if you get a lot of help you can be more successful than if you don’t I guess. That cost alone has to dissuade some who otherwise would.

      How does retirement in your 50s or 60s even work? Unless you have really rich bennies (read government worker in most cases) aren’t you paying at least like a $1000 a month for health insurance at that age, at least until Medicare kicks in at 65?

  16. Vatch

    Senate Dems Request Delay In Pruitt Vote:

    It’s about those emails, and the Democrats want more time to study them. But Sen. McConnell doesn’t want to delay the vote, despite the similarities between Scott Pruitt and Hillary Clinton. Doggone it, where’s Trey Gowdy when we need him?

    Then there’s this:

    4. He took money from regulated industries. As Oklahoma’s attorney general and head of the Republican Attorneys General Association, Pruitt helped collect millions of dollars in political donations from industries he is now supposed to regulate. What’s more, he won’t commit to recusing himself from matters related to these lawsuits.

    8. He let poultry polluters off the hook. After receiving political donations from poultry polluters, Pruitt stopped pursuing litigation against them. As a state senator, he helped weaken a state law regulating poultry operators, allowing dozens of new chicken houses near rivers. After he took office as attorney general, a poultry waste lagoon subject to his oversight overflowed after a storm, fouling nearby creeks and lakes with chicken manure.

    10. Even former Republican EPA administrators say he’s unqualified. Christie Todd Whitman, President George W. Bush’s EPA administrator, said Pruitt is a “denier of climate change” who “doesn’t believe in regulation.” William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, said someone who is so “determinedly contemptuous” of science “cannot effectively lead” the EPA.

    1. Vatch

      Huh. It appears that Pruitt only released 411 of 3000 email messages. What’s he hiding?

      Pruitt’s office has said it identified more than 3,000 emails responsive to CMD’s request. But when CMD [Center for Media and Democracy] finally got a response last week—after two years of waiting and a hearing before a state judge—Pruitt’s office only provided 411.

  17. cocomaan

    Trump is apparently advocating a One State Solution in Israel. Palestinians are worried about the outcome.

    Interestingly, Gaddafi wrote an op ed for the NYT years back about a One State Solution. It’s a good article. Read the comments from 2009, some hopeful bits about the peace obama would bring. Anyway, here’s Gaddafi:

    In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual war or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is one state for all, an “Isratine” that would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.

    A key prerequisite for peace is the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes their families left behind in 1948. It is an injustice that Jews who were not originally inhabitants of Palestine, nor were their ancestors, can move in from abroad while Palestinians who were displaced only a relatively short time ago should not be so permitted.

    Trump never fails to surprise me. Just when I think he’s out of his mind, he goes and does something intriguing again.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Don’t get your hopes up. Trump’s (I mean Bibi’s) one-state solution will more like one-state solution South Africa had before universal suffrage and the Truth Commissions.

    2. Praedor

      I DO support a One State Solution. FORCED upon the Israelis: a 100% SECULAR government that favors no religion or ethnicity. ALL citizens are equal in all ways. 1 man 1 vote, full representation in government, no special rules for Jews of any kind, all equal under the law. Pluralistic.

      The result would be the government would be peopled mostly by the original native inhabitants (Palestinians) because their numbers are higher AND they have a higher birthrate. No more settlements stealing other citizen’s land (in this context).

      A true democracy, not a faux theocratic “democracy”.

      1. DJG

        Praedor: But, but, but, what will the Israelis do with the 36 billion dollar parting gift from the Obama administration?

        1. JTMcPhee

          How to dissipate $36 billion? Gee, I wonder?

          It’s an old story, “Israel faces corruption ‘epidemic’,” , And an ongoing one, “Israel among most corrupt of OECD countries,” ., And of course there’s the current Head of State busily taking care of himself,

          And as the last link above shows, it’s a big shrug of the shoulders for “businesses” wanting to “do business” in Israel, to get a slice of that #$6 billion and the other billions that flow from here to there…

  18. Jim Haygood

    YESSSS …

    The IRS was set to require filers to indicate whether they had maintained health coverage in 2016 or paid the penalty by filling out line 61 on their form 1040s. Alternately, they could claim exemption from the mandate by filing a form 8965.

    For most filers, filling out line 61 would be mandatory. The IRS would not accept 1040s unless the coverage box was checked, or the shared responsibility payment noted, or the exemption form included. Otherwise they would be labeled “silent returns” and rejected.

    Instead, however, filling out that line will be optional.

    Shine the light, won’t you shine the light
    Philadelphia freedom, I luv-uv-uv you, yes I do

    — Elton John

  19. Vatch

    Tax cut for Amazon as high street shops suffer The Times

    Well of course! On the latest Forbes list, Jeff Bezos has slipped past Carlos Slim Helu and Amancio Ortega, but he’s slightly behind Warren Buffett, and he’s far behind Bill Gates. Amazon needs all the help that governments can give it so that the Beeze can become the richest man in the world. We all should understand the need for governments to help the rich become richer. Amazon warehouse employees should take voluntary wage cuts so that their boss can rise to the top. Am I being sarcastic? How could I be insincere about Beezus?

    1. cnchal

      > Am I being sarcastic?

      You are not sarcastic enough.

      Municipalities should pay for all of Amazon’s warehouses and then give them a 50 year relief from property taxes and USPS should increase prices even more on everybody else so that Amazon’s shipping subsidy can put everyone else out of business.

      Amazon isn’t a super predator for no reason.

      Lately we have heard that they are going to operate their own ships and trucks, cutting out more middle men and taking the resultant savings and shoving them in Bezos’ pocket, but he isn’t thinking big enough. If he owned all from the mine shovel to the rolling mills to the truck factories and shipyards, just imagine the profits Amazon could generate by pushing down wages everywhere to what is paid in Bezos’ satanic mill warehouses

      1. DH

        The trucks won’t matter. They will probably be driven by robots within 20 years anyway.

        Truck driver is one of the most common job descriptions now (if not the most common in many states). Many of those jobs will probably be gone within 20 years.

    1. HotFlash

      Dang. Found a dead squirrel when I was snow shoveling the other day (very sad, poor squirrel), but you know, I could have packed it in my backpack for the DHS guys. File under, ‘another missed opportunity’.

  20. fred

    From International Süddeutsche Zeitung we learn that to protest is patriotic, to stay home is to side with fascists. The rule of law is important, except for immigration law. “We need people who can help translate ideological utterances into political warnings” We a professor at Yale with a degree from Oxford sure fits the bill. That fact that the Republic just elected a guy with a degree from Wharton who did the same is just not acceptable at all – to people who teach at Yale.

    It’s really nice to know about “historical responsibility”. I sure hope people outside of Germany are listening since you’re going to get the guilt trip from the folks who know how to lay it on. Just ask a Southerner. “The idea is to marginalize the people who actually represent the core values of the Republic” Yes that is exactly what the left is up to.

  21. fresno dan

    US border patrol agents at the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry southwest of Tucson encountered one of Mexican smugglers’ more low-tech methods for moving drugs over the border on Friday.
    “When agents arrived at the fence they found a catapult system attached to the south side of the border fence,” Customs and Border Protection said in a release. “They searched the area and located two bundles of marijuana.”
    Catapults aren’t the only implement used to get over the fencing and walls along the US-Mexico border.

    Late last year, Mexican federal police in Sonora found a van rigged with a “cannon” they believed was used to hurl drug bundles over the frontier. Inside the van, they found “an air compressor, a gasoline motor, a tank for storing air and a metallic tube of approximately 3 meters in length (homemade bazooka).”
    What with gene engineering, I fully expect pterodactyls to be reanimated. Combine with falconry and soon you will have air delivery…..

    Of course, we can’t let low cost Mexican weed decimate our US weed industry…..
    considering that marijuana is one of the easiest plants to grow, nobody should pay anything for it….

    1. divadab

      @dan – you say “considering that marijuana is one of the easiest plants to grow” – I have to take you to task for that – it may be easy to grow hemp – but it’s hard to grow GOOD marijuana. You can smoke all the easily-grown shwag you like – I prefer organic weed grown by people who know what they are doing and who take great care to produce a quality product.

      1. Isolato


        Let’s just say it isn’t THAT hard if you start out w/feminized seeds…no harder than growing a nice tomato.

    2. carycat

      They should go recruit from the Punkin Chunkin competition folks, the record there is 4,694 feet. Plenty of good videos on YouTube. Love those trebuchets, the other kind of machines are pretty awesome too.

    1. spk

      Just a note on how little/no coverage this story has gotten. A google search for “Level the Playing Field et al v. Federal Election Commission” (in quotes) returned 17. In the whole of the internet, the case is mentioned by name 17 times.

      1. juliania

        Indeed! I’ve just left a link to the updated news item down below – even more encouraging that is. I suspect from here it will travel. Extremely important, given that the election between the two candidates proffered was a complete travesty, though I am still hoping Trump can overcome, even given his deficiencies. At least he is trying.

        Thank you, Yves; better late than never!

      2. dcrane

        Thanks for that….here’s a snippet for others just learning about it like me:

        In a victory for more open presidential debates, a US District Court ruled yesterday against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in Level the Playing Field et al v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Libertarian Party is a co-plaintiff.

        The judge ruled that the FEC clearly ignored the very substantial evidence submitted by the plaintiffs that indicate that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is rigged in favor of the Republicans and Democrats.

        The court ordered the FEC to reconsider the plaintiffs’ allegations against the CPD within 30 days and reconsider its refusal to reconsider the request for a rulemaking within 60 days.

    1. cwaltz

      The rich elite of the US hobnobbing with the rich elite of Moscow-

      Apparently our rich thought the information they were sharing was privileged and would not be shared with mother Russia.

      Have I mentioned recently that the ruling elite appear to be idiots?

    1. Dave

      Another cost to countries that use nuclear power.
      Japan is losing its overseas markets for food. Radioactive food is not allowed to be sold in Japan. But, the U.S.D.A. allows it in.
      Save your life, boycott any food grown in Japan.
      When the Japanese lose their food exporting industry, maybe they will change their mind about nuclear power.

    2. YY

      The huge losses are due to the Toshiba US nuclear operations (Westinghouse). They really should have known they could not manage US acquisitions, given their poor ability to manage even their domestic operations. The have good engineering and bad management. The brand will have to sell off the good parts and go to their death with Westinghouse. The government will not bail them out since all the well functioning parts will survive and continue.

  22. Katharine

    Get your laughs from the news, Dems and Bernie edition:

    “They basically explained to Bernie, it looks like you could be the person that could calm down and make sure their energy and all this enthusiasm is directed in all the right proper channels,” Manchin said. “Bernie has a voice, and if [protesters] want to be active, then direct them to where the problem may be or where they anticipate a problem.”

    Looks to me like they already know the way.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Manchin is from WV, and I can imagine he feels like he’s in hot water, what with Bernie appearance in McDowell county that mysteriously got canceled. As someone who’s managed over the years to betray even the corporate Democrats, he’s precisely the kind of politician whose feet out to be held to the fire. I patiently await the viral videos of him getting yelled at by his constituents.

    1. different clue

      By “assets” . . . does Ames mean actual employees of IC organizations under deep cover as journalists and appearing to be journalists and accepted by the journalists they work among . . . as being journalists?
      All the while secretly being very secret-agent employees of the IC organizations they actually work for? Is that what Ames means?

      Or does Ames mean that the IC has suborned and bought actual journalists at these papers who also secretly take money from various IC organizations in order to perform specific tasks for the IC groups who pay them for those tasks?

      What does “assets” mean here . . . in the very narrowest and most technically literal sense?

  23. fresno dan

    A local cosmetology student is being investigating for giving free haircuts to homeless in the community.

    Juan Carlos Montesdeoca has given dozens of free haircuts to the homeless at the Santa Rita Park over the past few months.

    “Out of the kindness of my heart. Out of the memory of my mom, because she lost her hair,” Juan Carlos Montesdeoca said.

    Montesdeoca thought he was doing a good deed for Tucson by offering the haircuts, a service many homeless hadn’t received in a long time.

    Tucson News Now spoke over the phone to Donna Aune, the board’s executive director, who declined to comment because it is an active investigation.

    But she said they stand by the words written in the state statute that says in part “A person shall not perform or attempt to perform cosmetology without a license or practice in any place other than in a licensed salon.”
    Funny how it is the exact opposite of the bond market….where only the poor (or nor excessively rich) CAN get clipped….
    Clipping – the underlying philosophy – as long as the poor are getting screwed, its all good!

      1. DH

        Cosmetology is a licensed profession regulated the same way as doctors and professional engineers (actually engineers as a group have more licensing exemptions than cosmetologists).

        Many professions have gotten themselves licensed to restrict competition instead of the imperative of public safety.

      2. polecat

        And if one cuts their own hair, what then ?? ….

        “I’m sorry Mr. Regulation … but the Devil made me do it … I swear with mine own two eyes !”

  24. joe defiant

    About the “why Americans don’t do farm jobs” I did a lot of backpacking, squatting, typical gutter punk stuff and while out west I tried to get a few jobs on farms. They simply will not hire you if you are not “mexican” even friends who were from south american countries but looked like punk (american?) young adults who speak fluent spanish they wouldn’t touch. We tried to get work at some almond and one cherry farm. I think for one the job is actually very difficult to do (at least fast enough for them anyway). Most of these people are very skilled at what they do and experienced. And second, I think they worry that americans might call OSHA or something because the work is very rough and injuries and stuff happen…

    1. joe defiant

      I ended up getting some work on marijuana farms in humboldt, thats the only people who would hire someone like me.

  25. flora

    re: Anti-trust rulings block giant ins co mergers.

    The old say is: “The courts follow the elections.” I think that’s true in a less direct way than the simple ‘who gets appointed to the Supreme Court’ question. A wild speculation here on my part: Judges see the broad public sentiment as well as the letter of the law in their rulings. I’m trying to imagine similar rulings if the status quo had won the election.

    1. flora

      adding: I’m also glad to see the courts standing up to executive orders that are unconstitutional. I don’t remember the courts standing up to the status quo’s assertion the president has the right to have US citizens indefinitely detained or even executed with no meaningful due process, and the theory of the ‘unitary executive’. But perhaps no one had standing to bring a case there.

  26. mk

    Lake Oroville Dam – looks hopeless, lots of photos with diagrams

    UPDATE “ROCK SHOT” at Oroville Dam: Repair Before Rain Overtops Spillway Again
    Published on Feb 15, 2017

    UPDATE Assessment of ROCK SHOT Success as 3-6 Inches of Rain Blanket California. With less than a day left before new storms roll over California dumping 3-6 inches of new rainfall, which will over top the Oroville Emergency Spillway again. They are now dropping bags of rocks in the areas where the dam will collapse, I call it the “ROCK SHOT” which reminds me of the “Junk Shot” in the BP Oil Spill.

    Once you leave your homes you will not be allowed to return for weeks if at all until spring. Good Luck.

    1. cwaltz

      So speaking of the DNC, how is that whole taking the party over thing going?

      Are the party reformers done yet?

      1. different clue

        Purge and Burn will take many years to achieve. And it will require a very totalistic devotion to the mission of Purge and Burn.

      2. ambrit

        If you went by the flyers sent out (flyer equals begging letter,) from the DNC, there is no “reform” whatsoever going on inside the Party apparatus. The thinly disguised money raising mailing had some “Voter Concern Rankings Lists” that were pure dog whistles and virtue signalling exercises. No mention of Single Payer, (which I wrote in under ‘Personal Concerns’ on my form.) No mention of voter registration drives. No mention of Sanders or the Our Revolution movement. In fact, nothing positive at all. The document came off as intending to raise fears and thus encourage funds donations to calm those fears. This would be the ultimate Faux Virtue Signal; putting one’s money where the mouth of someone else is. If ‘they’ tried this anywhere else, ‘they’ would be arrested for solicitation for fellatio.

        1. aab

          Not that long ago, this would have upset me.

          But if only 25% are even affiliated with the Democrats, which includes a whole lot of people like you and me, I really don’t think this is going to work. The percentage of people buying the Russia nonsense worries me, but it seems unlikely that war lust will drive people that have abandoned the party back to it. It violates their brand identity.

          I was worried about all the left/protest organizational energy splintering too much electorally, with Our Revolution and Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats and People’s Party and on and on. But there will be a simple message for 2018 that I think can work: vote against corporate Democrats in the primary, and vote against corporate Democrats in the general election. They can’t return to power in 2018 anyway, so on the national level, nothing bad happens to us beyond will already be happening. Then we see which organization is worth backing in 2020, and whether we’re taking the Ds over or taking them down.

          It’s not like I’m Netflixing and chilling about all this. I know it’s still really hard. (I’m hearing you in my head as I type, cwaltz.) But I can see a path forward despite all the obstacles.

          Depending on what happens with the coup, of course.

          1. ambrit

            As I commented on the “Trump Isn’t Imploding” thread a minute ago, absent some real radical politicos emerging within the Democratic Party apparatus, it looks like ‘Whig City here we come’ for the Party. (I noticed as I was typing this that I have begun to refer to the Democratic Party as simply The Party. Shades of a totalitarian mind set!)
            Will the American electorate accept a Path Sideways as a viable alternative to the Path Backwards being propounded by both wings of, to steal from Gore Vidal, the Property Party? Desperation makes people do strange things. Electing Trump is plain centrist compared to what’s lurking out there. The Anti Trump crowd had better watch out for what they wish for.
            I agree about the 2018 political races. I’m both fearing and hoping for more disruption candidates getting into office.
            Got to go back to sleep. Work in the morning.

    1. Knifecatcher

      My favorite line:

      “America’s Democrats have dutifully voted for you for decades now even though you always dove to the right like a soccer goalie as soon as the primaries were over.”

      1. John k

        Actually wouldn’t have had to dive so far to the right this time, she didn’t deign to even wiggle a little left in the primaries, explaining why it took early votes by blacks in southern states to stop an unknown old socialist from winning the primary… fawning Msm plus unlimited funds from banks plus sitting and prev pres support and corrupt Dnc not enough on their own.

    2. voteforno6

      My favorite line:

      If we assume that most of the current DNC chair candidates will be ***Inshallah*** less overtly biased and despised than their predecessor and will operate with a general level of competence, the DNC race is mostly important as a symbolic statement on which direction the Democratic Party is choosing to go in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory.

      There’s also a pretty funny thread in the comments, with someone repeatedly posting variants of, “Bernie would’ve won.”

      1. Vatch

        Warner’s doing better than his state’s neighboring Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. So far, Manchin has voted for every nominee except DeVos and Price. At least Warner has also voted against Sessions and Mnuchin, in addition to voting against DeVos and Price.

    1. DH

      Wegmans’ heartland is Upstate New York and Pennsylvania. That is largely Republican turf with Trump doing quite well. Also, at least in NYS, grocery stores can’t sell wine – only liquor stores can, So this boycott will be limited to a few people in a few Virginia grocery stores. The vast majority of Wegmans’ shoppers won’t even know there is a boycott.

  27. craazyman

    Evidently there aren’t many science-minded people here or the “enormous exoplanet” would be yuuuuuge news. Not sure how or why Martha r and Yves glommed on to this science story, but it’s more interesting than economics, that’s for sure. If you like reading about economics all day, then try this one! You might realize something about yourself that would entrance and delight you.

    As far as I can tell, that planet might be Nibiru. This could explain why astronomers don’t see Nibiru in our solar system, which should be a great relief to mankind. It may have gotten lost on its elliptical orbit and ended up trapped by another star. Oh man, that would be ironic wouldn’t it? No more Nibiru! It’s toast!

    Strange the article didn’t mention this though. You’d think it would be the first thing they’d talk about.

    1. ambrit

      Yeah, well, the “official” science guys and gals are still trying to figure out the Younger Dryas phenomenon. Captured by another star? That would be Proxima Centauri, right? Fear not Space Cadets! There seems to be a potential Earth out there!
      If Mars proves to be a bust, the Musk Trekkers can build a Slowboat to there.
      Nibiru??!! The Apollo objects aren’t scary enough for you? They are for me, but, what with short term thinking now being the dominant operating system in our culture, why worry about something that should take hundreds of years to “go critical?”
      That passport to Magonia is looking better and better as time goes by.

  28. Ignacio

    The OilPrice article is excellent and provides optimism for oil importers (like Spain, where I live) during 2017. I was convinced that oil was going to be a big drag this year relying on EIA forecasts but it seems quite improbable. Besides, a new indicator to follow: Comparative Inventories. But where?

  29. ChrisAtRU

    “Bernie and The Dumbocrats” (adapted from this) … ;-)

    The Corporate/Establishment Democrat

    17 As Bernie was starting out on his way to 2020, an Establishment Democrat came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Bernie, what must we do to win the White House?”

    18 “Why do you call me good?” Bernie asked. “Only democratic socialism is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the voter commandments: ‘You must not murder by way of senseless wars and interventions. You must not commit adulterous crimes of betraying the electorate. You must not steal from the public purse for your own benefit. You must not testify falsely to satisfy those who donate to your campaigns. You must not cheat the electorate by peddling economic fallacies. Honor the voters.’[a]”

    20 “Bernie,” the Establishment Dem replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

    21 Looking at the man, Bernie felt genuine suspicion toward him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go, and stop taking money from corporate interests. Instead, work to give living wages, healthcare and basic income to the all workers and the poor, and you will have wins in elections. Come, follow me.”

    22 At this the Establishment Democrat’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many corporate donors.

    23 Bernie looked around and said to his followers, “How hard it is for these corporate Dems to enter the White House!” 24 This amazed them. But Bernie said again, “Dear followers, it is very hard[b] to win elections as an Establishment Democrat. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a corporate Dem to win a national election!”

    26 The followers were astounded. “Then which Establishment Democrat in the world can ever win?” they asked.

    27 Bernie looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with true integrity and a democratic socialist vision for the working masses. Everything is possible with that.”

    1. ambrit

      The early Christian churches and communities were run along communitarian lines, so, this is not far from the “truth” of the matter.
      It reminds me of the story of Bernie intervening in the case of the Woman Caught in Corrupt Fundraising. That ended with Bernie telling the woman to; “Go now and pander to special interests no more.”
      If only…..

  30. cwaltz

    I think it’s funny that Manafourt, a political consultant and lobbyist, isn’t aware that intelligence agents don’t announce they are intelligence agents all the time.

    The stupid is astounding.

  31. Sam

    “Finally, some official confirmation of what NC has been saying: “Tune out the noise coming from the White House.”

    Wait, I thought Trump was delivering on his promises betterer and fasterer than any POTUS in history.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Zen monk 1 on a bridge: Watch the river flow.

      Zen monk 2: Not river, it’s the bridge that’s flowing.

      Zen monk 3: It’s your mind that’s flowing.

      “Your mind is receiving and perceiving too fast.”

    2. jrs

      Maybe the ONLY result of Trump and his endless chaos will be the discrediting of ALL his policies. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief it just means TINA. Instead of Trump’s policies many of which would harm people and planet, back instead to the usual set of policies that are harming people and planet – the usual imperialism, globalism, capitalist exploitation, and deep state dominance.

  32. Dave

    “Right to repair legislation”

    Since Silicon Valley, with the exception of Thiel, has gone against Trump and contributed to Hillary, perhaps it would be sweet revenge for President Trump to promote National Right to Repair legislation.
    “Want to do business in the U.S.? You have to sell the parts and make the manuals available free of charge.”

  33. Vatch

    Source: Apple Will Fight ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation Motherboard

    The article lists several states in which Right to Repair legislation has been introduced. For those who wish to contact their legislators, here’s contact information for these states:


    Kansas (click “Find Your Legislator”)



    More Minnesota


    New York


    Wyoming House

    Wyoming Senate

    I hope I did this correctly. I don’t live in all of those states. :-)

    1. flora

      Thanks for the links. As far as Apple professing ‘concern’ about safety re lithium batteries, and using that concern as a reason to block right to repair – well jeez, Apple, get with the 21st century. Material scientists at Tufts Univ have developed a lithium battery that does not use liquid or flamable electrolites, cannot short out by damage in a way that causes a thermal overload event, and then outgassing, and then fire. (So, wait, you want an electric car with lithium batteries that fireball on severe compression? aka, a crash? aka ‘venting with flame’?) Come on ,Apple! You’re supposed to be the ‘wave of the future’ but you’re hiding behind soon-to-be obsolete battery technology to protect your rents? Look, Apple, you’ve provided replacement Lith-ion batteries for your products for years. So far as I know, you have not been subject to massive torts litigation or tech shop snarking because your replaceable batteries were dangerous or defective or hard to install. Get with the program and stop acting like the entity you styled yourself as the opposite of.
      You remember:
      Here’s the thing, Apple. I’ve been recommending your products for years, decades. I’m rethinking this.
      And for the battery geeks out there:

      Hmm. Guess this turned into a rant. Apologies.

      1. flora

        And…. here’s another thing, Apple, et al. If you lock yourself into current technology in order to protect your rents, even so you will find that the world and technology move on without you. New technologies are no more amenable to the old rental extraction schemes than they ever were. You can move with the times AND keep your brand’s panche, or you can demand ‘all stop in the name of our rents’ and be slowly but surely replaced entirely. Think “buggy whips.”

  34. duck1

    as we roll the newsreel twenty years forward, a new crisis is raising it’s head:
    (Headline) People that couldn’t afford to retire, now can’t afford to be buried
    Conversation in store:
    Customer: Hello, I need help, hello!
    Clerk: Oh sorry mate, he’s dead, but can’t afford to quit his job. I’ll help.
    Customer: Quite shiny and lifelike he is.
    Clerk: The government gives us some lacquer spray. It is hoped that eventually dust to dust will allow us to sweep ’em up in the dust bin.
    Customer: Glad to hear that dead people aren’t allowed succor at the government teat!

  35. Stephen Haust

    After today’s spate of hysterical and evidence-free articles in The Guardian,
    I’m really satisfied that after 30 years of subscribing I’ve ended my subscription
    a few days ago.

    The Guardian used to be very worthwhile but not anymore. They have mostly
    joined the NYT-WaPo axis of essentially newsless papers with a lot of innuendo
    and feature articles. We need better media than that.

    I hope NC keeps including links so that we can see what they are up to. I’ll
    look occasionally but no longer respect much of what they have to say

  36. Plenue

    This seems like it might be antidote worthy:

    “Unsinkable Sam (also known as Oskar or Oscar) was the nickname of an alleged German ship’s cat who reportedly saw service in both the Kriegsmarine and Royal Navy during the Second World War, serving on board three vessels and surviving the sinking of all three.”

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