Links 2/17/17

Galapagos giant tortoises make a comeback, thanks to innovative conservation strategies The Conversation (J-LS)

How We Discovered Vampire Bats That Have Learned to Drink Human Blood The Wire (J-LS)

A case where smoking helped: Scientists help understand mechanics of rare hemoglobin mutation PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Climate change and financial markets Bruegel

Vitamin D ‘proved to cut risk of colds and flu’ Guardian (martha r)


China closes live poultry markets amid deadly flu outbreak PhysOrg. China is big. Article at least identifies the area.


TimesNow’s Remonetise India campaign is as ill-conceived as demonetisation itself The Conversation

Four Famines Mean 20 Million May Starve in the Next Six Months The Wire (J-LS)

Europe must not bow to U.S. spending demands on NATO – EU’s Juncker Reuters. Huh? The story fails to make clear that it is the NATO agreement that stipulates that members spend 2% of GDP on the alliance. The only one that even bothers faking getting to that number is the UK, and they throw in lots of defense spending they would have made regardless.

CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election WikiLeaks

Health cuts most likely cause of major rise in mortality, study claims Guardian (J-LS)

Germany’s SPD backs Greece’s eurozone place in spat with Schäuble Politico

Greek default: To be or not to be? Defend Democracy

New Cold War

Game On East vs. West, again Andrew Cockburn, Harpers. Mark P:

If you want to have big platform military spending — big platforms being aircraft carriers, new missile systems, F35s, giant artillery and similar hugely expensive weapons systems — you need a big platform enemy. That leaves nobody but the Russkies.

Thus, what we’re seeing in the media. As I know you guys know, McMansions in Virginia and other DC suburbs have already been purchased and lavishly remodeled on the expectation of MIC contracts that are now jeopardized by Trump’s accession.

But some of your readers don’t seem to fully get it. ‘Game On East vs. West, again‘ by Andrew Cockburn is the definitive piece that I’ve seen on the forces pushing for Cold War 2.0 — who, what, why, when and where — even though it’s from HARPERS Jan 2015 issue.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

What You Need To Know About The Trump Administration’s Ties To Russia Onion (David L)

I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again—neither should you Medium

Facebook algorithms ‘will identify terrorists’ BBC News (furzy). Help me.

Could your Fitbit data be used to deny you health insurance? The Conversation (J-LS)

How algorithms (secretly) run the world PsyOrg

Trump Transition

Trump launches stinging attack on media BBC

Trump unleashes fury after four long weeks Politico

Donald Trump’s Alternative-Reality Press Conference New Yorker (furzy)

Donald Trump’s anti-press conference would be funny – if it weren’t so scary Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Defiant Trump confronts ‘lies’ and leaking spies The Times. Did the Brits see the same press conference?

Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources. Washington Post (martha r)

Robert Harward turns down Trump’s national security offer Politico

The swamp strikes back Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L). Pretty speculative, although Saker attributes this to a source.

THE CIA AND THE MEDIA Carl Bernstein. Martha r: “From 1977. timely.” Moi: Some readers doubted my comment from Mark Ames that the CIA had assets at some major newspapers (and he knew of particular individuals and didn’t tell me who). This should assuage those doubts. And be sure to see what “the most valuable of these associations” had been.

Pence heads to Europe on reassurance tour Reuters (furzy)

Trump Administration Backs Off Talk of Closer Russia Ties Washington Post

Kremlin Tells Media to Cut Back on Fawning Trump Coverage, Sources Say Bloomberg

Jared Kushner Delivers Critique of CNN to Time Warner Executive Wall Street Journal (furzy)

Trumponomics: Should We Just Say “No”? Gerald Epstein, Challenge Magazine

The Union of Concerned Scientists has launched a website to help scientists become whistleblowers Common Dreams (martha r)

EPA employees call on senators to reject Trump EPA pick: report The Hill (UserFriendly)

Trump Kicks Off His 2020 Reelection Campaign on Saturday Atlantic (furzy)

Federal Judge Reinforces Decision That FEC, Debate Commission Acted “Contrary to Law” IVN (martha r)

UAW to endorse Ellison for DNC chair Politico (martha r)

The Problem With Tom Perez leftgear (Steven C)


Dumbest Statement Coming Out of Congress Yet on Healthcare . . . Angry Bear

Tennessee Hints at Chaos If Republicans Leave Obamacare in Limbo Bloomberg (martha r)


Trump’s moves on the Dakota Access Pipeline portend more clashes with states The Conversation

Fake News

Before Trump, the Media Loved “Alternative Facts” Counterpunch

US banks ‘wasting billions’ trying to track crime Financial Times. Haha, banks want more enforcement….against third parties. Bigger government is just swell as long as it is taking up costs they’d otherwise incur. But this is ridiculous. Banks have “know your customer” rules. So now the Feds are supposed to get into the underwear of every bank customer.

UnitedHealthcare Improperly Took Money from Medicare, Suit Says New York Times

We just got a better idea of how much cash Theranos has left in the bank Business Insider. Here is the underlying story: Theranos Had $200 Million in Cash Left at Year-End.

Cheaper drugs from Canada? Pharma despises the idea, but top senators are pushing HHS chief to try it FiercePharma (martha r)

UnitedHealth Improperly Took Money From Medicare, Suit Says New York Times (martha r)

New delinquent U.S. car loans at 8-year peak: NY Fed survey Reuters (martha r)

SEC Weighs Curbing Investigators’ Powers to Probe Wall Street Bloomberg

Consumer Agency Can Demand Answers About Foreclosed Homes, Judge Rules New York Times

Class Warfare

Uber’s Former Chief Adviser Fined for Illegally Lobbying Chicago Mayor Bloomberg

How America Lost Faith in Expertise Foreign Affairs

With $15 Left in the Bank, a Baby Boomer Makes Peace With Less Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour (Tracie H). A fiddler crab:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Jim Haygood

      What’s their current disinfo program called?

      Operation Turkey Buzzard sounds good: dying superpower as carrion.

      Take a whiff on me, that ain’t no rose
      Roll up your window and hold your nose
      You don’t have to look and you don’t have to see
      ‘Cause you can feel it in your olfactory

      You got your dead skunk in the middle of the road
      Dead skunk in the middle of the road
      Dead skunk in the middle of the road
      And it’s stinkin’ to high heaven

      — Loudon Wainwright III

      1. crraazyman

        That’s poetry. ;-)

        Whoa. Shakespeare coudn’t even do that. LOL

        I wonder how many beers Loudon had before he knocked that one out. I bet the word “ofactory” must have cracked him up like a moron, just writing that line would be, like, the most hilarious thing. Just that one word. That word in a song!?? That’s hilarious. A rock song about a dead skunk stinking up a road with the word “olfactory” in it. That after about 5 beers must have been hilarious.

        Those were the days, when music meant soemthing. Not like now where it’s all booga booga oooga ooooga with butts thrusting at the camera. Like some fkkn jungle dance. [Although if it’s Rhianna’s butt that’s OK, whoa she’s hot!!!] Guys like Loudon, where did they go? Where’s that kind of poetry today outside of the Norton Anthology of English Literature? if they still publish that. It used to be a nearly square brick with thousands of tissue thin pages full of John Donne, Beowulf, Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Alexander Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley, (I think even wackos like Byron snuck in there somehow). Then there was guys you’d never ever heard of. I can’t remember any of them now, but you’d be like “Who the hell is that?” They also had uuuuge amoutns of foootnotes that explained the poem, sometimes the footnotes took 3/4 of the page and the poem itself ony 1/4! You’d be lik, “Who gives a shlt about any of this.” What a wacko you’d have to be to write footnoes for poems nobody cares about anymore. Really a wacko.

        Then you’d read it and you’d be like “Who’d write this shlt?” It’s boring as all hell. Even for class you wouldn’t read it. So what. Just make some shlt up on the essay assignments and go get a few beers.

        That’s what Loudon did and it worked for him! Haha

        1. clinical wasteman

          Well it’s what Beowulf would have done, and probably Grendel’s Mother too.

          No need for that with American poetry though: even (especially?) a sea-demon should instantly love Dickinson, Whitman, Stevens, Zukofsky, Niedecker, Frank O’Hara, Anne Boyer, Princess Nokia, Mykki Blanco…

      2. craazyman

        A Day Late but not a Dollar Short!

        Loudon Wainright “Dead Skunk” Update

        This is from . . .

        “When this song was released in 1972, some tried to read deep meaning into the lyrics, and inter-pretations ranged from our destruction of nature to allegories of then President Richard Nixon.

        Wainwright was asked about those ideas in a London Times interview. He shrugged and said, “Well, okay, but for me, it was just about a dead skunk lying there in the highway.” He went on to say that he wrote the song in about 12 minutes.”

    1. Bugs Bunny

      If you value your personal data make sure to sign out of any Google accounts before clicking that link…

    1. fresno dan

      February 17, 2017 at 7:31 am

      FROM THE ARTICLE: “It’s not difficult to decipher the real reason behind Perez’s entry into the race—politically Obama is closer to Clinton, and is hesitant to give power to the Ellison-Sanders progressives. But team Obama is hardly in a position to be arguing over who should lead the party—under the Obama administration Democrats have suffered tremendous losses on the state and local level. Obama’s personal political skill and charisma have not translated into a cohesive party strategy. Even with significant effort, it may take years for the party to get back to where it was for much of the 20th century.”
      MORE Titanic captains!

  1. Katniss Everdeen

    To all who replied to my comment in WC the other day regarding my puppy, Max, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    He is home and very definitely on the mend.

    His appetite is back with a vengeance, especially since I took off the fentanyl patch, and he’s quickly getting back to his alert, tail-wagging self.

    The Everdeen family is getting back in business. Grateful to you all for your help.

    1. hreik

      Thanks so much for the update. I looked for your name in every thread yesterday…. to find out how your pup was. So happy to read this.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I’d like to share a tip, learned during this ordeal, of which some pet owners may be unaware as I was.

      Dogs and, I’m told, cats love pumpkin. It’s high in fiber and promotes healthy digestion. There is a brand called “Fruitables” that is primarily pumpkin but also contains other fruits and vegetables, vitamins (mostly B’s) and ginger which also promotes digestion at least in humans. There are other brands as well.

      I was unable to find the Fruitables, so I bought another. It is available online and at some pet stores. It comes in a can and is pretty expensive at $3 per can, but I understand you can just buy regular pumpkin at the grocery store–not the pie filling but just plain pumpkin–and doctor it yourself or feed it plain.

      Max and his brother Thumper love it and they’ll be getting it regularly from now on. :)

      1. Rory

        A dollop of plain old canned pumpkin, on top of our 12 year-old Collie’s regular dry food, makes him happy and seems to counteract both kinds of his potential irregularities. Cheap and effective.

      2. JeffC

        I once watched a neighborhood squirrel gorge for half an hour on our Jack-O-Lantern. They love pumpkin, too.

      3. aletheia33

        is pumpkin equally good for humans?
        can the canned variety really be as healthful–does it have as much fiber?
        in the case of applesauce, for example, isn’t much of the fiber benefit lost?

        1. Carla

          Pumpkin is very nutritious, and the canned kind is so convenient — I make a delicious soup with curry spices and ginger, using equal portions of canned pumpkin and canned crushed tomatoes, plus vegetable broth. Of course, the linings of the cans are what we have to worry about — bpa. But as my friend Susan says, we are walking stews of toxic chemicals as it is.

          1. Carla

            And before the food police jump in here: have you ever peeled and seeded a fresh pumpkin? Omigod. Tried using fresh pumpkin once; never again.

            1. kareninca

              The easiest way to deal with a whole pumpkin is to put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven. You don’t have to peel it or cut into it at all; you don’t have to take off the stem, just leave it whole. Just a pumpkin sitting on a baking sheet. Bake it until a knife goes into it easily. Let it cool. Then, you can dismember it without much effort; just some goopiness. The seeds are already perfectly baked, too. This works for big squashes too, of course.

              I used to have a community garden plot and people would drop off their pumpkins after Halloween, both cut and uncut. I’d process fifty or more of the uncut pumpkins per year this way (and freeze the innards for pies); it didn’t take a lot of time and no cutting was required.

  2. voteforno6

    Apparently there’s supposed to be what people are billing as a “general strike” today, with the expected participation of tens of thousands of people. These people apparently can afford to take the day off from work. This seems like the most insulting kind of cultural appropriation, of the struggles that workers endured to win their hard-earned victories.

    If these protestors really wanted to change something, why not protest the Democratic Party? After all, they’re just as responsible for this mess as the Republicans. Such a mass movement against them would surely make the Democrats howl.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Hmmm. Seems like it would be approved by corporate. Sometimes you have to fight for more H1B’s in order for you to have the innovative opportunity to train your replacement.

      On Friday, February 17, 2017, Strike4Democracy will coordinate over 100 strike actions across the United States, and beyond, to plan for a series of mass strikes to stand up for America’s democratic principles. As the nation suffers through ICE raids, travel bans, Trump’s mobilization on the border wall, as well as attacks on the rights of workers, women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and our environment, February 17th provides a beacon to those who are searching for a way to protect and defend our shared humanity. People across the country have begun to realize that we must diversify tactics, as protests and marches are only the first step. Strike4Democracy amplifies a new chapter of nonviolent resistance ushered in over the last six weeks.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “Strike 4 democracy”?
        Um you mean the “democracy” that almost none of them participated in?
        Or do they mean the brand of “democracy” practiced by their Lady-in-Waiting, rigging primaries and sucking up to the Saudis and Wall St.?
        We already have a way to “protect and defend our shared humanity”, it’s called the electoral process. We just need better parties and better candidates.

    2. Dave

      There was supposedly a strike yesterday.
      Ate at local restaurant. A few items were not available on the menu.
      Was waited on by a white waitress, who understood English language nuances, who could communicate in sentences and who got a custom order correct, instead of the usual Hispanic busboys in training that restaurants around here now try to foist off on the public as “waiters”.
      Traffic flowed smoothly and people were happy in the various businesses we saw.
      A couple of closed places had signs up “Closed today, we support our Hispanic neighbors and employees.”
      We can probably assume these places employ illegals and are trying to retain and reassure their cheap labor pool. I suggest white and black testers apply for jobs wherever help wanted signs are seen. If the tester is not hired and Hispanics are later hired, call the authorities and file a discrimination complaint.

      1. Portia

        I’m sure you gave your white waitress a big tip for being able to understand you. and offered to make sure she got at least $15/hr for being so efficient.

        1. Carla

          Atta girl, Portia! And don’t forget about indexing that living wage of $15 an hour to keep pace with inflation.

        1. ewmayer

          So is ‘deplorable’, if we’re going to be picky about such ‘nounified adjective’ usages. Other such exemplars in common usage welcome!

          1. Lambert Strether

            That’s a really, really interesting point, since nounified adjectives are by definition metonymy. And whatever mental process is leading to this, both conservatives and liberals share it.

        2. Dave

          Yes Portia, I always tip 20% and do so in cash even when using a credit card. Worked a long time as a waiter and know service.

          “Undocumented” is also an adjective.

          Prefaced with “assume” means I am guessing. I don’t know but I am inferring.
          It would make more sense for them to have an economic imperative to retain more easily abused and underpaid employees by demonstrating support for them than going on strike for their citizen employees wouldn’t it?

          1. perpetualWAR

            I tip appropriate to the service. 20% is only of the server was exemplary. Many servers make more money than I do an hour!

            1. aab

              All the data I have seen indicates that’s a myth promulgated so people can enjoy punishing their faux servants with small tips.

              Most servers in this country would benefit from moving away from tips and to a living, minimum wage. Are there “some” servers who make more than you do? Probably. Are they servers you ever interact with? Statistically, that’s unlikely.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                In Australia, the minimum wage was and I still believe is at a living wage level. When I was there in 2002-2004, it was over $12 an hour and in local purchasing power terms in Sydney, an Australian dollar was more or less equal to a US dollar. I’d tip cab drivers and some would turn it down, offended.

          2. Portia

            you seemed to be happy they took the day off! so you could have a white waitress you can relate to. how about talking to the restaurant owner about why they only have “good” service when the “assumed undocumented” don’t show up for work???

  3. Benedict@Large

    So I watched the press conference, and was surprised to find it somewhat entertaining. Trump seemed relaxed, as did most of the press. No big blow-ups, as I had been told to expect, and Trump almost seemed sorry to have it end. Some exaggerations as is his style, but otherwise no big deal. Then I went for the after coverage, and the news was that all hell had broken lose there, while the Facebook Left was screaming itself into a frenzy over the horrors of it all. When I tried to offer my take (above), it was like the guillotines were coming out for me.

    To put it mildly, what the hell has happened to the Left. We used to complain (quite rightly) of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, but this Trump Derangement Syndrome has that beaten hands down. There are things happening (and about to happen) in this country, and with all this yammering nonsense over Trump as the end of the World, frankly, we’re not ready, and worse, we’re in no shape to be ready soon.

    1. Roger Smith

      I could not believe the coverage. I watched it as well, calm, somewhat light, Trump maintained control over the room/himself. After making a point about the horrible media what do they do? Why immediately prove him right by claiming that this was the most wild and unhinged press conference EVER! (TM). The mass hallucination and purposeful lying was incredible.

    2. voxhumana

      Agreed. I have huge issues and concerns with Trump, did not vote for him (never even considered it) and am under no illusions that much if any good could come from his presidency, but I will be eagerly tuning in to his press battles for the entertainment value of watching someone who does not care about the tired protocols –politesse oblige– burst the media’s undeserved self-importance and hypocrisy (a Russel Brand like performance, almost). The brown-nosing we saw with Obama – and the resultant stenography it insured – was beyond depressing and unwatchable. Trump more than held his own and even made me laugh a few times. The punditry’s post press conference exploding head display underscores his success and I suspect they won’t know what to do with this guy but to double down and attack more. Most politicians fear that but Trump seems energized by it.

      There was one hopeful sign… as the ridiculous press relentlessly pursued its Russians-are-coming fantasy he stated and restated again his pledge to work toward detente rather than war, not just with Russia but with the whole world. I’m not saying I believe him, but I can not recall any president having the gumption to state plainly and seemingly without guile that “wouldn’t it be great if we can get along with everybody” while reminding that a nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

      The other thing was Trump seemed indefatigable, that he could have answered questions all day. And it was telling that he did not choose reporters from a list he had written down, he was winging the whole thing once the questions started.

      I’d encourage everyone to watch the whole thing.

      1. Roger Smith

        Which is funny, because I saw a few twitter reports before hand that the screening was delayed because questions were being pre-screened and they did not have any good ones to use. Also that he might not even take questions, gasp! On of the accounts was something like “RogueWHStaff”.

      2. Jim Haygood

        “The brown-nosing we saw with Obama”

        Actually it goes back as far as I can remember … presidents cosily addressing MSM correspondents by name as if they were colleagues, implicitly acknowledging the Fourth Estate’s self-proclaimed role in government.

        After the obscenely partisan performance of the MSM throughout the campaign — fake polls; slanted coverage; unanimous pro-Hillary opinion columnists — Trump recognized the obvious: the MSM is the Enemy. Not only of him personally, but also (with its pro-war, pro-MIC tilt) the people and the nation.

        No fan of Trump either. But I love it when he pounds the presstitutes. Hopefully he’ll expel them from the White House like Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers at the temple.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          The idea of anyone actually representing the will of the people is anathema to them (in this instance our desire to not die in a nuclear holocaust).

          Those with no honor cannot imagine the trait existing in another.

          Glad the first comment referenced Operation Mockingbird. Perhaps we should change the title of “Our Famously Free Press” to “Today’s Operation Mockingbird Songs About Trump”.

          Don’t worry, soon freethinking will be extinct, we’re raising the young ones to understand the order of things:

      3. Anne

        And no one thinks that maybe Trump’s interest in peace has something to do with his desire to leverage his position to grow his business? He’s been trying to have a Russian presence for years, so playing nice may be more of a business decision than a foreign policy one.

        1. voteforno6

          As the saying goes, people would be surprised at how often good things get done in Washington for the wrong reasons.

        2. Jim Haygood

          Countries that trade together tend to not go to war. This has been a big factor in preventing China-Taiwan tensions from escalating — huge volumes of trade and cross-investment.

          Yes, some tycoons are going to benefit from trade with Russia. But it’s still a better outcome than a new cold war benefitting another set of tycoons in the military intelligence complex, who have already sucked the country dry with their value-subtraction “investment” in ruling the world.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          Right…peace that is good for Trump’s casinos is preferable to war that is good for Biden’s plan to get into the fracking business.

          Many people, this is a deeply value issue that might go over your head, consider the cause of peace to be worth it and consider mindless Saber rattling to be a disaster for all mankind.

          This is a perfect example of why Democrats lose.

          1. Anne

            I was not and am not saying peace is bad, so let’s be clear about that; I have no interest in feeding the voracious appetite of the MIC.

            In fact, Clinton’s apparent interest in turning up the heat on Russia was one of the reasons I couldn’t vote for her; if Trump ends up stumbling into less frosty relations with Russia, that will not be a bad thing. He may do it for purely selfish reasons, but if it works, so much the better.

            That being said, I don’t really have much trust in either side of this relationship – Trump or Putin – or much faith that Trump will not get caught by the law of unintended consequences. Twenty-eight days in, it remains to be seen how well the Art of the Deal will translate to foreign policy.

            For example, how do you see better relations with Russia affecting the US’s relationship with China? Where is the balance point at which we are able to deal with both countries to the US’s benefit?

            1. Pat

              Funny, I think that the IC, MIC, Media hissy fit over things that have been essentially common practice for decades as witnessed by the multiple examples put forth is actually more damaging on that idea of better relations than talking to them.

              As for US’s relations with China, it isn’t as if they are not and have not been on troubled ground since long before Trump’s election. See the reasons put forth regarding the TPP. See the various fits about currency manipulation. See the worries about the South China Seas build up. Actions that alienate Russia and cause them to worry about our intentions have actually helped Russia and China bond. So tell me how that has been working out in your equation?

              Frankly actually negotiating with both of them might not be a bad idea.

              1. Anne

                First of all, I don’t have an equation – what I mostly seem to have are questions, and my hope is that others here who have more knowledge and understanding than I will help answer them.

                Second, I’d like to suggest that some of the so-called hysteria may be coming less from hypocrisy and more from a general fear/sense that Trump is just not a stable person. In other words, while we may not have thought the standard/common practices were necessarily any better or worse in prior administrations, or that the motives and plans embedded in them were, either, I don’t recall there being a sense of alarm that the person directing them may have been mentally unfit.

                1. integer

                  Second, I’d like to suggest that some of the so-called hysteria may be coming less from hypocrisy and more from a general fear/sense that Trump is just not a stable person.

                  Since a fear of Trump seems to be something you are personally familiar with, I would be interested to know where you think your fear that Trump is unstable originated from. Did you reach this conclusion by watching unedited recordings of his speeches and/or press conferences, or was it created from viewing/reading non-neutral sources, i.e. the reporting on Trump presented by the corporate media?

                  Also, in case you haven’t watched it yet, here is a link to an uncut recording of Wednesday’s press conference.

                  1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                    Anne watched the press conference, see below in the thread where she gives her reactions in more detail.

                    1. integer

                      Yes, I replied here before I read that far down, but have since seen that comment. In any case, I am more interested in what she perceives as the genesis of her Trump-related fear.

                2. aletheia33

                  please give an example of an action trump has taken that shows that he is “unstable” (what does that mean exactly?) and “mentally unfit” (more than any prior president).

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    Slicing through two party establishments like a hot knife through butter to gain the White House certainly shows a certain level of crazy. I mean, what sort of person would do that?

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              You are trying to cast aspersions on peacemaking as if people aren’t aware people are greedy or Trump is despicable. That’s not news, and since you we think the “ooga booga Russia” route, I assume you are a Democrat who believes the right magic incantation will make voters and non voters see the light. The Democratic Party has long lost trust of voters and chose to run a particularly loathsome and dishonest individual despite the factor. Since you seem to be focused on incantation as a solution you might not quite grasp this, skeptics of the Democratic Party will not be swayed towards Team Blue by any magic spell. Contrition or externally forced purge are the only solutions.

              The other problem is your argument is juvenile at best and a values choice adults already made. If you haven’t read it, a Tale of Two Cities is a fine example. The loathsome individual of the piece becomes the hero because of his actions at the end. Minor corruption in the cause of peace is simply an easy trade especially given that we’ve had all this major corruption in the cause of war.

              Rex Tillerson, Devos, , Flynn’s Islamophobia, the EPA situation in general and so forth are far more rationale arguments of why Trump is bad, and I question, “why Russia?” or “why the focus on Trump’s name calling of cable infotainment?” in light of Obama’s war on journalism and whistle blowers. If you want an example of great arguments, check out “Vatch” or “Jim Haygood” as long as he avoids Argentina.

              The Democrats have picked Russia as the villain because It’s distant and relatively mysterious and there is no way to affect any kind of change. It’s the perfect scapegoat, and you might wow the choir. The choir is there because they love the Democrat Party brand. They don’t care about message or the integrity of messagers. They want to sing.

              I would say most lefty or simply sane types have moved on to the best way to oppose the Republicans and right wing politics in general. “Ooga Booga Russia” is an argument that doesn’t explain why Healthcare premiums are going up, the bank won’t make new loans to a family farm, why the Democrats on the city council have ordered a war against the homeless, and so forth.

              Team Blue needs to grow up or its dead.

              1. Anne

                I already explained why I wrote what I did, and your assumptions are well off the mark.

                In any event, I think it ought to be possible for you to make your points – however wrong the ones directed at me turn out to be – without disparaging my maturity, my intelligence and my sanity.

              2. fresno dan

                February 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

                Harsh but true. It is not an accident that of all the things to criticize Trump for, the preeminent thing is R U S S I A. And its hard not to believe that is because it supports and strengthens the neoliberal and neoconservative agenda, and completely removes any attention from any other issue that might somehow inhibit the rich from getting richer.

                Of course Russia are not angels spreading fairy dust. But it is near as infinitely ironic as possible, that Russia, that suffered more due to fascism than any other country, is endangered by US nefarious dealings.


                Maybe I am wrong. But the fact that there is a lockstep refusal in the MSM to ever consider the viewpoints of other countries show an evolution to a MINDLESS nationalism that occurred long before Trump.

                1. Anne

                  I’m finding it kind of ironic, I guess, that there are so many comments here reacting to the media’s fixation on Russia, and very few comments speaking to what is happening in the Congress and Trump’s policies and plans, in general.

                  If there is no there there, why keep beating a dead horse, when there is much to focus on in the Congress? I note that no one has commented on Paul Ryan’s outline of the replacement for the ACA – or parts of it, at least. I didn’t see a single comment about A Day Without Immigrants. Nothing about the court ordering the release of the e-mails Scott Pruitt has withheld from the Senate committee, and the refusal by the majority to delay the confirmation vote until those e-mails can be read.

                  We’re seeing rollbacks of all kinds of regulations that will have serious and negative effects on the environment. Dodd-Frank is being gutted. Rules related to financial advice from investment advisors are being tossed.

                  I’ve said on more than one occasion that I thought allowing this Russia thing to suck all the oxygen out of the room was just distracting from the GOP agenda, but, no matter. I suppose that reality will hit when there’s nothing to be done about it.

                  1. Toolate

                    I agree. It is as if this could indeed be a perfect strategy to distract folks from the real mess. Trouble is, save Sanders there is no one focusing on what really matters

                    1. NotTimothyGeithner

                      Appeals to false unity are just that. If you want unity, understand this: the Democratic leadership is unacceptable and has lied repeatedly.

                      I know It’s a children’s tale from millenia ago, but the boy who cried wolf is a relevant story. People don’t eleven liars. If you want people to help with the wolf, get new shepards. It’s not complicated.

                    2. cwaltz

                      Heh NotTimGeither

                      We all know the GOP, who presently controls the WH and Congress have been paragons of truth in the past(despite the fact that they are for states rights for gay marriage and abortion but against states rights when it comes to retirement plans, labeling laws or anything that looks like remotely LIBERAL states rights)

                      They aren’t at all like the Democratic Party and couldn’t possibly have an agenda that might harm people.

                    3. Yves Smith Post author


                      Stop depicting the WH as being anti gay. That’s false. Trump spoke out forcefully in FAVOR of gay rights at the Miami nightclub killing and even got a room full of Republicans to applaud, a first for anyone in that party. And when asked about the transgender bathroom row in NC, he said, I don’t care who uses what bathroom, which is tantamount to siding with the transexuals.

                      There is plenty to criticize Trump about but I have zero tolerance for people making stuff up. If we can’t win on the facts, we do not deserve to win.

                  2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Trump is 100% correct to call out the media as 100% in opposition. Contrast that to Obama, who pushed through straight-up Bush corporo-fascist policies and the press unanimously fawned over him. So all of a sudden the press is concerned about actual policies? No. This is about the press having any remaining shred of credibility at all for the majority of Americans. Reporting the press conference as “unhinged” is accurate only to those who did not watch it…or are pushing another agenda.

                    1. Expat

                      What are you suggesting then? Are you saying that because the media fawned over Obama and Bush they MUST fawn over Trump? Why was it bad for them to fawn over Obama but not fawn over Trump.
                      Basically, you are a Trump supporter who is ecstatic that Trump won (goodie for you and the other 26% of American voters). But you are apparently also fairly thin-skinned.
                      A major foundation of democracy is a free media. We have spent years criticizing the Soviet Union because of their state media. But now when the Snowflake in Chief is under fire, the right suddenly decides that free press is communist, fascist and islamic…blah, blah blah.

                    2. JTMcPhee

                      To expat:

                      Is it too much to ask that the “media” just do the job they pretend to be doing? The job our national mythology tells us the “4th Estate” is supposed to do? The kind of stuff that used to often come out of “60 Minutes” and “20-20”, not that all that was not too often clotted and rotting with the subtle “enhancements” of the organs of “the permanent government?” Even “reporting” as the myth renders the term, out of the Chicago American and Sun Times and even the Tribune and Detroit Free Press (!), and that sick joke of a MSM rag that the former St. Pete Times, now “Tampa Times” fully in the bag for the neoliberal “side” and still playing on former glories as a home for Pulitzer winners who actually earned awards for what we mopes think ought to be the job of “journalists,” rooting out and reporting on corruption and informing the rest of us about “policy” and such? The Tampa Times is still flapping its gums about “Poynter Quality Journalism,” debasing a once decen brand to give us mopes the “Politifact” Big Lie Machine?

                      Not that, given the incentives and inputs and human nature, there is a snowball’s chance that anything of the sort, in the crapified corporatized “media,” could or ever would happen. And the flood of “content” and dissimulation and distortion that gushes over the “emergency spillways” of net space, gives some small window into ‘reality” and its parts and motions and implications, but as noted many times in NC that is a fragile reed in a huge windstorm…

                    3. Yves Smith Post author


                      There was nothing “thin skinned” about what OpenThePodBay said. Ad hominem attacks are a violation of site policies.

                      And being against the media engaging in fabrication is not “pro Trump”. You seriously think it’s acceptable for the media to engage in blatant propaganda because they don’t like the guy in the White House? Seriously?

                      Without even looking for them, Lambert and I found numerous occasions during the campaign where the media flagrantly misrepresented what Trump said via cherry picking and taking remarks out of context. All you had to do was look at YouTube to see the disparity.

                      It’s astonishing to see Trump opponents reveal their true authoritarian stripes.

                    4. Lambert Strether

                      You don’t even have to think about Obama or Trump to know what the media is.* All you have to do is remember what they did to Sanders.

                      “But we’re your friends now!”

                      * With, as ever, rare exceptions. Synechoche (part for whole) again…

            3. Yves Smith Post author

              Trump has no business in Russia. This meme is crap. The CNN article on this is grasping at straws, like having hosted a Miss World there in 2103 and trying to get some things launched that never got off the ground. Basically, the most they have is that he sold some real estate in the past to Russians, as has literally everyone in high end real estate in the US.


              And did it not occur to you that MORE instability in Russia would lead to MORE flight capital, as in be better for US real estate magnates?

              You didn’t even bother Googling and you came here and made stuff up. You’ve violated our comments policies repeatedly, to the point we put you in moderation. Against my better judgement, Outis let you out so you could comment on a timely basis on the Women’s March post. You are so unable to contain you antipathy for Trump that you might as well be a paid Dem operative. We don’t tolerate people of any point of view who engage in fabrications.

          2. Outis Philalithopoulos

            “Many people, this is a deeply value issue that might go over your head” –

            I can’t figure out what “deeply value” is doing in this sentence, but “might go over your head” is condescending and unnecessary.

          3. jrs

            Only there is no guarantee of peace with Trump except for with Russia (maybe Syria), I mean stirring stuff up with Iran etc.. He may not be the most militant we’ve had by far (that remains to be seen) but ..

            So never mind that things are going to go to heck with many other issues, might not even get peace. Trump is such a wild card even with peace. If someone supported Ron Paul because he was anti-interventionists and they hoped for peace, ok I can see that, he at least seemed to be against most wars on principle (but who knows what DC would do to him). But Trump is a best randomly so sometimes when the mood strikes.

            1. Lambert Strether

              There are no guarantees in this life.

              In election 2016, the Sophie’s Choice was between a candidate who had a proven track record for fomenting war (Iraq, Libya) and coups (Honduras, Ukraine), the cumulative impact, leaving aside the deaths, being destabilizing the EU with refugee flows, and who was trying to foment war with Russia in Syria, and a candidate with no such track record, who called bullshit on Iraq before a military audience and didn’t want to foment war with Russia. So….

              I would love to have it explained to me why fometing war in Iraq and Libya, and coups in Honduras and Ukraine aren’t “crazy,” but that doesn’t seem to be talking point that Clintonite orthodoxy needs to address.

        4. Leigh

          We are all getting played here – and most here seem to be unaware of it.

          Trump is loving every minute of this – being at the center of chaos and confusion are his hallmark.

          The media is loving every minute of this – chaos and confusion sell. Cha-Ching!

          The more uncertainty and chaos – the more people feel the need to stay tuned – the more they stay tuned, the more anxiety they feel – thus creating a very detrimental stagnating feedback loop.

          I’m surprised there is not equal disgust thrown at both the Media and Trump.
          We deserve better.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not distracted enough to take down Flynn, and so far, one nomination.

            Trump hopefully owns media stocks already, because he’s making it more expensive for himself to buy later.

            1. cwaltz

              Flynn took himself down.

              The guy got high up enough on the food chain to think bureaucratic rules didn’t apply to him. Surprise! They do.

              1. WheresOurTeddy

                indeed, Flynn jumped the gun.

                As Hillary showed us, you do all of the indefensibly felonious things AFTER you are in the cabinet, then years later if anything comes of it, “mistakes were made” and nobody goes to jail or has any consequences.

                Pay attention, Mike!

          2. m

            Not so sure. Before Trump won someone in his group held a business type roundtable stating trade & business were better than war. Wish I had link. No the establishment & media are trying to confuse, nothing more. Trump is all about money and I would rather he make some than cause worldwide chaos.

            1. Eureka Springs

              I just read the entire transcript. Trump said the following at several points. I ask, have we been presented with hard evidence to the contrary? It’s one thing to assert or even believe the man is interested in making more money in general, but it’s another to suggest he’s interested in making nice right now with Russia for those reasons.


              And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.
              Well, I had nothing to do with it. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything.
              But I tell you one thing, she tried to make a deal. She had the reset. She gave all that valuable uranium away. She did other things. You know, they say I’m close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States. She’s close to Russia.
              Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn’t. I just have nobody to speak to.
              I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Why would Trump be so obsessed with doing business in Russia?

                A hotel there could be easily lost in any conflict btw the US and Russia, with more traditional administrations after his.

                He gets his resort in Sochi in 2025, and Hillary provokes Moscow. What do we think will happen to that business?

                1. Lambert Strether

                  > Why would Trump be so obsessed with doing business in Russia?

                  Irony, right?

                  As for Clinton and the uranium, the Clinton Foundation worked through cut-outs, so Trump over-simplifies, but he’s much more right than wrong.

        5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if he makes more money, easier too, by getting into the book writing/lecture circuit business.

          In the meantime, he should inquire into each senator’s interest and each congressperson’s interest in any particular issue for ulterior motives.

          “Are you doing it for fame?”

          “Are you doing it for friends’ approval?”

          “For wealth?”

          “For debt payback to campaign donors?”

          “For ego?”

          “For power?”

          1. Leigh

            Reminds me of the idea (forget where it germinated) of mandatory jumpsuits for Congresscritters – like race car drivers – wear the names of their “donor-owner” . Then we can all fairly judge EXACTLY where their motivations lie. I love this idea bigly…

            1. Lee

              Not sure if this guy was the first person to suggest it.

              SAN FRANCISCO — You can tell who sponsors NASCAR drivers by the patches on their jumpsuits. So why not do the same for politicians?
              That’s the idea behind California entrepreneur John Cox’s proposed 2016 ballot initiative, which would require state legislators to wear the logos of their top 10 campaign contributors on their clothing when they advocate for policies on the Senate or Assembly floor.


              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                The flaw is the largest donors are the major employers in the district. The issue is convincing people of the revolving villain theory because individual voters will rationalize the rest difficulties facing the “elected” they once shook hands with. Take Biden. He’s a skeevy troll who works tirelessly on behalf of predatory interests who employ his state. What is Delaware without the credit card companies? The first state, but a glorified suburb of Philadelphia. No one would be shocked to find out Grassley is sponsored by major agribusiness or how tobacco front companies own Mid-Atlantic politicians.

                Vermont is a major beneficiary of the F-35.

                Voters are so naive they will be astonished by jerseys. Except for a few cranks, no Manchester United fan opened a Barclay’s account because they sponsor the team. If anything the Celtics brass is laughing all the way to the bank as they cash GE’s check because they can’t believe GE thinks that advertisement will help their local appearance in Boston.

                Besides, I’m confident Robin Williams told that joke for decades.

        6. Pat

          Let’s see tens of thousands dead, billions wasted on weapons, possible nuclear war or Trump’s businesses profit.

          I know what I vote for.

          Oh, and until I get proof that Putin and Russians did more to disrupt this election than have a friggin’ preferred winner that was based on real concerns to THEIR safety and well being rather than some nefarious desire to make America Russia West, I will continue to say stop blaming Clinton’s incompetence on them. Clinton didn’t make the case to America that she should be President and the majority of Americans either voted for someone else or stayed home.

            1. fosforos

              Speaking of swamps. Trump is no Mussolini. Both men promised to drain the swamp. Mussolini actually did so (maybe the only good thing he ever did, though I don’t know enough about the ecology of it. Anyway, no more malaria in Rome). The swamp, though, seems to be draining Trump.

              1. WheresOurTeddy

                as a descendant of people who got out of Italy in the 20s and France in the 30s, please don’t bring your “trains ran on time” BS to this blog.

                We’re better than that here.

        7. River

          Who cares if Trump makes a billion or two. If it results in peace AND the drawing down of U.S forces, how many billions will be returned to America’s coffers? How many PTSD cases avoided? How many new amputees won’t be created? How much death avoided?

          1. JTMcPhee

            I wish Trump lots of luck if his notion is to de-claw the MIC and hack off all its tentacles. Too many people are wired to think “enemy” and “threat” anytime they hear anyone else breathing in their direction, and too many more are wired and get their paychecks from “building toward war” and the ultimate hegemony of the warrior(/ultimate bureaucrat) caste.

            I knew Young Republicans in college (Brown University) who were hoping, praying, for that final confrontation with that Enemy they learned about in sermons and catechism and bible study, just over the horizon. And many of them are now installed in seats of power in the military, the corporate offices, and the faux-elected “popular’ branches of government.

            Give Anne credit for a subtle bit of propaganda, intentional or inadvertent, by pushing the idea that Trump is in it for the money. It’s hard enough to build anything on the thousands of “closed” landfills across our own looted continent. Harder yet to build anything on radioactive rubble. Though that gives lots of places for autonomous battle robots to find cover from which to shoot or lase or Death Ray the idiot remnants of a species too stupid to prolong itself, and able to pose and already activate a whole set of existential threats to its continuance.

            One wonders (i don’t blog enough any more to get a sense) how many Correct The Record effectives, with their argumentative acumen and subtlety and messages, are still busy. Impossible to get straight information, honest appraisals, any kind of momentum toward a more decent human presence on the planet — too many people pulling on the wrong end of the rope, too many people pushing where they should be pulling. No organizing principle that could inform and drive any kind of “bettering.” Just people with their overactive limbic systems, seeking pleasure and profit and power and satisfaction of various destructive lusts… “Kill a CommieHajjiGookWogLibrul for Christ!” (and slip me a couple of billion from the lootable commons, while yer at it…)

            “The only way to win is not to play the game.” Can we suppose that Trump, accused master of another kind of WOPR, saw the movie?

            1. fresno dan

              February 17, 2017 at 11:51 am

              exactly right. rereading the below, the big money is making the war machine bigger. And like Sam Nunn said, there is a “threat blank”…..and we CAN’T have that.

              Game On East vs. West, again Andrew Cockburn, Harpers. Mark P:

            2. Tigerlily

              I wish Trump lots of luck if his notion is to de-claw the MIC and hack off all its tentacles.

              Is this the same Donald Trump who is promising to increase defence spending, antagonized China even before he was sworn into office, and filled his administration with hawks who are itching to bomb Iran?

              If you think this guy is a peacenik just because he has a soft spot for Putin you have a big surprise coming.

              1. jrs

                Yes, people are confusing deescalating Syria and escalating Iran (but we will see how far it goes I guess) with peace.

                People are confusing softening toward Russia and taking a hard line toward China with peace (though even I suspect the U.S. is not insane enough to go to war with China so I am inclined to think that is mostly talk).

                1. JTMcPhee

                  The trick for our War Leaders, to maximize their personal pleasure and gain, is to march right up to the actual Red Line, the one that various Great Game Players have attached with hard wiring to the computers that launch the nukes and loose the other horrors of Armageddon, without going over it.

                  And it helps that “we” are on the far side of the world, except for depressed-trajectory submarine-launched ICBMs and such, and radioactive ash and debris up in the jet streams and stratospheric circulation, I guess, in the minds of people who in Reagan’s time could assert that Civil Defense would Save The Nation: “If nuclear war comes, we are all going to make it, with enough shovels. Just dig a hole, put a couple of house doors across it, and cover it with dirt. It’s the dirt that does it.” That’s from memory, not an exact quote perhaps, from a fella who planned to sit out the initial stages of high-radiation decay in a nice bunker. And I took it as a sneaky admonition to the mopes not killed outright to just dig their own graves, inter themselves, and thus not present a public health hazard from all the rotting corpses.

                  So one has to be careful about personifying/hypostatizing “the US” when talking about going to war with any other place. Helps to specify which of the actors and groups of actors that can push the buttons and pull the triggers and open the cages of the dogs of war.

                  Where is the “careful, intelligent parsing” of the words of the campaign, this 29 days of Trump, and the words, actions and apparent and avowed intentions of the mother truckers who actually “send in the troops” and pick the targets and all that?

                  I personally am pretty comfortable that all of this is out of any control, that all the drivers and incentives and vectors of the corporate shemozzle, including the MIC and Monsanto and the rest, embedded in the personalities and preferences and behaviors of all the myriad of people who “lead’ and staff the bigger Blob that is global in its interconnections and pathologies, are all aligned and moving our species and a bunch of others toward another extinction event.

                  Of course that does not excuse one from trying to steer the juggernaut away from the cliff… which is another kind of horror…

                2. Tigerlily

                  I hope you’re right, but things got off to a rocky start when Rex Tillerson said at his confirmation hearing: “”We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” Not going to be allowed? How can that be interpreted as anything but a threat of war, which is what China’s state media called it? The White House declined to comment.

                  Maybe Tillerson was just careless, but in the world of diplomacy careless words can have consequences.

                  Also, wars can start without anyone really wanting them to. People misperceive and miscalculate all the time, and sometimes events can take on a momentum of their own.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    The problem was building those islands was also a war provocation, and we let it go further than it should have. We should have gone in and ripped out the very first bit of material addition or blockaded them as soon as they started. We missed the right window to act and now we have a bigger mess.

                    1. Richard

                      Don’t understand. What business is it of America’s what the Chinese do in far away areas of the world which have no possible truck with the United States? Look what happened when America did the same thing by blocking Japanese oil and other commodities from reaching Japan. It was called “Pearl Harbor”. But no American child will ever be told that America was responsible for Pearl Harbor.

      4. Eureka Springs

        There was one hopeful sign… as the ridiculous press relentlessly pursued its Russians-are-coming fantasy he stated and restated again his pledge to work toward detente rather than war, not just with Russia but with the whole world. I’m not saying I believe him, but I can not recall any president having the gumption to state plainly and seemingly without guile that “wouldn’t it be great if we can get along with everybody” while reminding that a nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

        Thanks to all for sharing. I don’t have television and can’t load videos. This is indeed reason for more hope (cautious of course) than Mr Hopiate provided in eight years.

        1. fresno dan

          Here’s the transcript.

          As I say (well, what I said is in moderation) I can’t stand to listen to Trump speak – his tics of repeating himself and holding his fingers in an “O” just drive me nuts. But reading it really “dispassionates” it and it is easier to see the substantive aspects, both with the media anti Russian hysteria and the MSM indoctrination that the economy is great.

          1. David Carl Grimes

            I watched the press conference on Youtube. Nothing as insane as the media makes it out to be. It maybe long and rambling but it looks like Trump could talk all day. It’s a far cry from Hillary, who shunned press conferences like the plague.

            The same thing is going on in the Philippines, wherein Duterte, the Philippines first “No Filter” president has been subject to very slanted media coverage. Like Trump, a lot of what Duterte says is taken out of context.

      5. SpecialAgentA

        Did anyone notice? Trump didn’t just take on and call out the entire MSM, he also called out the Intelligence Community and the Deep State(!), making it clear the leaks were ILLEGAL and would be prosecuted as his team takes charge. In the Banana Republic playbook that Capitalism’s Invisible Army has been busily exporting around the world, this is about the stage where the stubborn populist demagogue dies in a mysterious small plane crash. Whether bravery, ignorance, stupidity or calculated risk, that was a remarkable performance that everyone should watch for themselves. Maybe the Lord does work in mysterious (even hysterical) ways? Could you imagine Obama doing anything like that?

        1. cwaltz

          This batch of whistleblowers behavior is no more illegal than the batch that made everyone aware that Clinton had an illegal server.

          Flynn lied. Apparently some of you are OK with that.

          1. integer

            This batch of whistleblowers behavior is no more illegal than the batch that made everyone aware that Clinton had an illegal server.

            This is incorrect. Clinton’s illegal server was discovered during the congressional Benghazi hearings by Trey Gowdy and his team.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              And to this point, this isn’t just a leak, and let us not forget that Saint Obama was willing to prosecute garden variety leakers, but these were leaks of intelligence intercepts, as in classified information, with the intent of undermining the government. That fits the textbook definition of treason.

              It’s one thing to go Daniel Ellsberg and risk prison, and he FULLY expected to go to prison. It’s quite another to do this as an insider. There’s no way to pretend that this is principled.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Seriously? You offer the fabulist Edward Klein up as an accurate reporter? How about this for starters?


                And how credible is it that a sitting President, with all his formal and informal avenues, couldn’t get anyone to take this up? This story does not disprove the fact that Trey Gowdy’s committee unearthed the existence of the server and made it public.

                Finally, the existence of a private illegal server is not confidential government information. So even if Obama really did attempt to get people interested it and failed, it was not a leak.

    3. cocomaan

      His playing of the media is something else. Now he’s buried other stories by doing a buffoonish act on stage.

      I thought the most effective thing he said was that, if he wanted to do what was popular with the press, he’d blow up the Russian spy ship off the coast. That’s telling.

      1. meme

        I didn’t watch the press conference, but watched clips from it on Morning Joe (Mika scoffing “The public doesn’t believe us anymore?”, Scarborough calling it the most chaotic, rambling press conference he’s ever seen, Geist saying Trump was back in his element, throwing out things that were verifiably false), and I’m glad to get the context of the “greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship thats 30 miles offshore right out of the water” clip. I stopped watching MJ after the hysterical opening comments, but was curious what that was all about.

        1. cocomaan

          Christ, they took the one coherent thing he said, about at least attempting to keep the peace, and threw it out of context? It’s worse than I thought.

          I’ve decided that I want primary sources all the time now. Anonymous sources? I don’t believe them until they are on the record. Clips? Gotta watch the entire thing. Excerpts from a speech where someone is racist? Have to sit down and digest what they say.

          1. craazyman

            They’ve gone collectively insane. They’re at a psychopathic stage of collective consciousness.

            I stopped watching these news bufoons and political hacks on TV a while back and haven’t missed one day of it. They’re a pestilence and a plague.

            Never in my New Yawk years did I think I’d ever be a “President Trump” supporter. The very thought of it would have shocked me. But here we are and I am now — a supporter that is, by and large. (not of every potential policy, to be sure, but if it’s a contest between him and the media/blob/establishment, then “I’m with Him”. LOL

            I don’t know though, this all may just be yada yada that makes for ratings. It could be little more than that.

            1. cocomaan

              Thank god for the commenters and bloggers around here and in other sane portions of the net, or I’d lose my mind.

              We cancelled cable about eight years ago. I figure I’ve saved something like five to eight thousand dollars. Plus my own sanity.

              Best thing we can do is stick to principles and pick apart the news that way. I believe in peace, easy taxes, and tolerable administration of justice. I’m going to continue believing in those things.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                From reading posters’ comments about the media coverage, I get a picture of our leader in his bunker ranting and raving.

              2. polecat

                I haven’t had a TV since 2002 …. and, as a result, feel like I’m living in a parallel universe, sans Matrix ..

            2. Aumua

              Trump supporter? Come on now..

              Why can’t this just be a good, old fashioned lose-lose situation? Cause from where I’m sitting, that’s what I see. Very unfortunate times, all around.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Ah yes and how we long for the wonderful “spectacle” that was Obama. So handsome! So charming! Disaster at home and abroad, but ah the spectacle!

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                The man won the election and a mandate to pursue certain policies. The *unelected* press, 85% of which is controlled by five companies, has decided they collectively and unanimously do not like those policies.
                So unless you’re happy to be ruled by five unelected companies instead of in a representative democracy, you should be 100% worried about the “coverage” the president is getting.

                1. Aumua

                  You’re right, and also either side winning this conflict is a losing proposition for us, for the people, for humanity. So, once again, I refuse to back either contestant.

                  Democracy and freedom, yeah sure. You know I’m all for that, fellow patriot.

              1. Vatch

                Katharine, you’re correct. Some English speakers may not realize that “pravda” means “truth”, and “izvestia” means “news”, hence your form of the joke.

          2. fresno dan

            February 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

            “Christ, they took the one coherent thing he said, about at least attempting to keep the peace, and threw it out of context? It’s worse than I thought.”

            I agree 1,000% – the Russia thing is now beyond hysteria….hysterific? hysteritastic?
            anywho, if that isn’t slam dunk evidence of trying to change the plain and obvious point of what Trump was saying, than I don’t know what is.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              As a foreigner, I have to say that I am hoping that Trump can hang on in there. My reason is primarily due to his stance towards Russia as I feel that I can cope with many things, but being vapourised by an ICBM is not one of them.

              He reminds me very much as an extreme version of certain businessmen I have had the displeasure of working with, but like them, I imagine he sees little sense in blowing up the environment from which he extracts a profit.

              Nobody imagined the full horror of WW1 or it’s big brother follow up, which at it’s start was predicted by the then experts as a state of play, which would not be a whole lot different from it’s predecessor.

              Now it appears that despite the fact that even a five year old could grasp the concept of the devastation that a nuclear conflict would unleash, we have yet another bunch of experts, who are willing to play Russian roulette in a repeat of a game, that I believe has already resulted in around nineteen near presses of certain buttons.

              Putin has already complained about certain US warships whose armament is impossible for them to clarify whether it consists of conventional or nuclear. A situation which in terms of brinkmanship strikes me as being incredibly foolish & based it seems on the belief that Putin will eventually back down.

              Perhaps he will, but what does it say about those who are prepared to push him into a corner to find out ? They also appear to be willing to risk an accident, unless they are so full of hubris that they think that their cunning plans will for once proceed without a hitch.

              I imagine that the main architects will have hidey holes at the ready, but that is not likely to extend to the lynch mob media who enable the above through their constant screaming for an example to be made of the apparent upstart(s).

              So very selfishly I hope that Trump persists & that the disgrace of what was once the Democratic party is in the meantime reformed as something other than the Neo-Con, Neo-Lib rats nest it is now.

              I know that the Trump card is also a wild card, but if it serves to lessen the chance that the world ( including the US for the first & possibly last time ) has to experience something much worse than what was experienced during WW2, then that is as far as I can see, the best I can hope for.

              1. fosforos

                “Nobody imagined the full horror of WW1 or it’s big brother follow up.” Not quite nobody. As a correspondent in the Balkan Wars that were the runup to WWI, Leon Trotsky saw and explicitly predicted the horrors that were to come in the general European war. Jean Jaurès and Rosa Luxemburg had pretty clear foresight as well.

                1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                  Thank you for the information & I did suspect that there must have been some voices of dissent.

                  A generalisation on my part, but I still imagine that it would have been almost impossible for anyone to imagine the full extent of destruction for both wars, due to among other things, the advances in technology which constantly added more fuel to the flames.

            2. jrs

              I tried to read that Guardian article linked here, gave up on it. They were making fun of Trump for saying nuclear war is a very bad thing.

              1. witters

                JEHR is “very sad for the spectacle that is Trump and even sadder for those who love and emulate him.”

                If you replace ‘Trump’ with ‘Guardian’ and ’emulate’ with ‘read’, then I think it pretty much right.

          3. Lambert Strether

            > I’ve decided that I want primary sources all the time now.

            Exactly. That’s where I am. Vetted primary sources.

            Streamers are going to be very, very important of the #resistance ever seriously heats up (not that I think that’s necessarily a good thing).

    4. armchair

      Look at what’s happening to our country now that drugs are cheaper than candy bars. People are so zonked, they can’t even see the clarity of Trump’s vision.

    5. Lee

      Watching the news hounds baying for Trump’s blood was quite an amusing spectacle. I found my sympathies to be with the fox, taunting them from his perch. Taking on the media and the intelligence community is dangerous. But even more dangerous might be them trying to take Trump out. His supporters will also march on Washington and they won’t have just signs in their hands.

    6. Lambert Strether

      > what the hell has happened to the Left.

      Please don’t confuse the left with liberals. Democrat liberals (mostly, if not entirely, Clintonites) have lost their minds because they’ve lost their power, and their rice bowls have been smashed. They are not reacting well.

      The left never had any rice bowls to begin with.

      1. jrs

        I don’t think most liberals had rice bowls either. The average liberal voter out there is not getting any kickback.

          1. PhilM

            OK, this just confirms something I have suspected for days, that Lambert has been digging around in the second-year-Latin-textbook’s appendix on figures of speech. I finally threw mine out last year after having it on the shelf for forty years, and now, as usual in such cases, I need it.

        1. aab

          I think a lot of regular people are doing a combination of acting out because they know on some level they’re at fault for backing Clinton, which is partly why they’re so mad at the leftists that warned them and turned out to be right; and mimicking their “betters”/leaders because a) they’re followers and b) it’s the easiest way to process the situation, as it involves the least amount of effort and thought. It feels really good, clearly. A lot of entertainment sites are packed with this nonsense, and they really, really feel good. Righteous and good. Which, of course, is by design.

          If 10%ers disengage from the story being told by the rice bowl liberals, they have to face their complicity in eight years of brutality against their fellow citizens, and millions of people overseas they supposedly care about. That’s a pretty heavy lift.

  4. Carolinian

    That may be the unfunniest Onion ever linked here. Example:

    Q: What are Trump’s advisors accused of doing?

    A: Violating the Logan Act, which states that American civilians must wait until after they take political office to commit treason.

    Is Trump Derangement Syndrome going to mean the death of humor, irony, perspective? Apparently SNL–never watch it anymore–has also pushed the Russia/treason line. It used to be an axiom that there is no such thing as a funny conservative as it’s hard for the object of satire to do the satirizing. Clearly “progressives” are starting to join their ranks.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Onion owner Haim Saban has lost his sense of humor, after flushing ten million or so down the toilet on the Clintons.

      Oh well … maybe the big AIPAC bash next month will cheer him up. Nothing like bombing Iran to put a smile on shiny happy neocon faces. :-)

    2. RenoDino

      Great analysis of the death of political humor in the Trump era. When I saw the Onion rant, a little piece of me died, having been a fan for years. I can no longer watch several humorists/comedians/hosts I use to enjoy. It’s not because I can’t stand anyone poking fun at Trump, but because I don’t think a screed is funny. I would love to see a 24-hour telethon for sufferers of TDS. I would give ’til it hurts. Not funny, funny.

      1. fresno dan

        February 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

        The VERY, very, very worsest thing Trump has done and will ever do….is make people say OUT LOUD…that the CIA/IC/MIC is a noble patriotic altruistic bunch that has the best interests of most Americans at heart…..

        The IRONY…IT BURNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Anne

          I know exactly one person who works for the NSA, and no one knows what he does, not even his wife, but I can tell you that this man is a good, honorable, decent person.

          I offer that because I think we might need to separate out the upper-level people from the folks doing the grunt work. I have to think that the low-level folks do what they do not necessarily with any control over what then happens to the information they gather or the interpretation thereof.

          I am right there with those who decry the horrible things that have been wrought at the hands of the various intelligence agencies; whatever, for example, Russia may have done “meddling” in the US election, it can in no way compare to what we have done in places like Central America, Africa and the Middle East. Nothing.

          And I don’t rule out that this whole thing with Russia could be a reverse double-fake gaslighting operation, either.

          My question is, is there anyone we can trust? Is there anyone or any organization that will tell us the truth? And how would we know if there was someone?

          I do believe there are people working at these agencies who truly do have our best interests at heart, but these probably aren’t the people who have the power to do anything about it, whose only option is leaking at their own peril, or quitting. Not much of a choice. I think there are those at the top who think they have our best interests at heart, but whose ideas about what those interests are really don’t align with our own.

          Driving home today, I caught the end of one panel and the beginning of another, of a Journalism and National Security Discussion on CSPAN:

          Panelists examined the legacy of the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers, and how it changed the media’s relations with the government on issues of national security. Panelists also discussed how procedures for collecting and disseminating classified information have changed in today’s digital age

          Part 1 is here. Here’s Part 2.

          Georgetown University, which sponsored the series, describes it here.

          I found the little bit I heard very interesting, and will likely try to watch – or read the transcripts of – the whole thing.

          1. fresno dan

            February 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm

            “I know exactly one person who works for the NSA, and no one knows what he does, not even his wife, but I can tell you that this man is a good, honorable, decent person.”

            I am glad there was one good one in there, because me and my friends drank, gazed at porno, and spent all our time trying to get laid. AND we all admit, that our jobs were SO TOP secret, that even we didn’t have any idea of what we were doing…. ;)

            I was in the US Air Force from 1975 to 1979, and I worked under the command of NSA in Greece and Ft. Meade MD as an Arabic linguist. I, as well as everybody I knew, went into the military because we needed a job – we thought ourselves damn lucky not to be in a war. And there was always talk of the “BIG PICTURE” – you know what? Those generals and above had no idea of what was going on any better than a 20 year old airman…

            The very BEST thing about the difference between the guys at the bottom and the guys at the top was written by a certain German officer – Hermann Goering:

            Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
            Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
            Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

            1. aab

              I didn’t want to join in beating up on Anne, but isn’t this perilously close to “just following orders”?

              The NSA for years reached out to an organization for profoundly gifted children, offering parties for all the little math geniuses as young as five or six, where the kids could spend the day eating cake, watching clowns make balloon animals, and go on tours of all the awesome, super-powerful computers they were told they could play with in just a few years, with lots of other people just like them!

              It sounded like grooming to me.

    3. Aumua

      There were some signs of a revival, but yep, The Onion is still looking DOA.

      RIP, the Onion. Maybe it’s just a few bad apples there?

    4. cwaltz

      Uh if he had waited until Trump had taken office to do it then it would have been called diplomacy. As it stands though regular citizens don’t get to undermine the people tasked with diplomacy.

  5. financial matters

    Dumbest Statement Coming Out of Congress Yet on Healthcare . . . Angry Bear

    Tennessee Hints at Chaos If Republicans Leave Obamacare in Limbo Bloomberg (martha r)

    “”The health law relies on private insurers to offer insurance options in its exchanges. If insurers make the decision that the markets aren’t a good business opportunity, that’ll undermine the system.””

    This paragraph says a lot about what is wrong with US healthcare such as the words private insurers, markets and business opportunity.

    Seems like an excellent time for Trump to push hard for the popular mandate of single payer.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I’ve long thought everyone should be telling Trump he would be remembered as one of the countries greatest presidents if he did.

      I prefer to be for something whenever possible.

      1. Lambert Strether

        That there is an amazing opportunity for either political party to gain and hold power for a three or four generations, as did FDR, by implementing a universal program that provisions concrete material benefits for all citizens, especially the working class, does mean that the opportunity will actually be seized by anyone…

        1. toolate

          apparently gaining and holding power is just not a priority right now. Being wined and dined by big pharma and the insurance industry is so much more palatable

  6. meme

    The Washington Post story Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources. states:

    Which is it? Is the media making up fake nonsense? Or is the intelligence community leaking real information? Both things can’t be true.

    It seems so obvious that the intelligence community could be leaking misinformation to their mouthpieces in the press, but apparently that is (according to the WP) impossible. And from reading some of the WP comments, it seems most of their readers lack sufficient critical thinking skills to make that connection.

    1. fresno dan

      February 17, 2017 at 8:18 am

      I noticed that too and the fact that it doesn’t EVEN OCCUR to the reporter that the CIA spreads disinformation AND that the point is to advance the MIC is astounding.
      AND now WIKILEAKS reveals the CIA had to straighten out the French….

    2. Pat

      Not to say that Wapo would be so dastardly as to edit comments, but do we really know that the readers lack those skills, but…. OR perhaps they are all former readers.

    3. PhilM

      “In late 1934, Himmler and Heydrich came to the conclusion that the justification of a permanent police state required a carefully elaborated scenario portraying an all-pervasive and subtly camouflaged network of enemies who made necessary an extensive and sophisticated security system to detect, expose and defeat them.”
      Robert Gerwarth, Hitler’s Hangman, 87.

      Could someone with a better knowledge of the US intelligence services tell me when that moment happened to them, and who was involved? It seems like a Nixon thing, as with the War on Drugs.

  7. RenoDino

    The Swamp Strikes Back

    Good assessment except for the conclusion. The battle is not just beginning, it’s over. Trump caved for his own survival. I could even detect a giddy change in tone among the reporters at NPR (National Pentagon Radio) today following the press conference. Trump chose Pence over Flynn, neocon over Russian stooge. In the past few days, Trump has made two clear statements that Hillary could have authored on Russia. First, Russia must vacate Crimea and secondly, he wants to set up sanctuary cities in Syria. Both are a poison pill to the Russians. Putin got the message loud and clear and is acting accordingly with his own provocations. Trump’s stupid pantomime act at the press conference about being friends with Russia (maybe we will, maybe we won’t) is for local consumption, playing to his libertarian base.

    Whenever a politician blames leaks, it’s a pathetic admission of their shrinking stature. The Swamp is still coming for him and now they have backup, the Russians.

    1. Aumua

      Why does Russia have to be our enemy again? I’m not real clear on that point. I mean, this is 2017 right? It’s not 1950, or is it?

      Any Russians here want to speak up about that? Are you guys our enemies?

      1. Expat

        China is a major trading partner. We can’t go to war with the source of all of plastic crap and washing machine. Europe is not our enemy at all. Africa doesn’t have a single country with an army equipped with more than sporks. South America is just chlling these days. We have pussy-whipped Central America. So far Antarctica has no countries.
        That leaves Russia. We need an enemy with tanks, missiles, ships, and troops. That way the Pentagon and the defense industry can justify their trillions in guns and bombs. Putin likes it well enough and will play along. It makes him look tough and makes Europe quake.
        Money makes the world go round.

        1. Aumua

          Hey, imagine if we took all those resources and used them together to solve our collective planetary problems. There is no challenge we could not overcome. There is no limit to how far our species could go. Together, forward motherf*ckers.

        2. fresno dan

          February 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm

          not quite cynical enough, but your getting there!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I suggest you read the Saker piece. I’m not convinced it’s right but it offers an alternative theory. And Trump didn’t back down on his position on Russia in the press conference.

      However, I don’t see how his administration squares its Iran hawkishness with de-escalating with Russia.

      1. integer

        One possibility worth considering is that the focus on Iran is designed to deflect any Syria related criticism from Israel and its US supporters, who take the (nominal?) position that ousting Assad will protect Israel from Iran. Also, the whole “Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism” thing is an Israeli foreign policy shibboleth and is primarily based on Israel considering Hezbollah to be an existential threat. Personally, I find it hard to believe that the US would go to war with Iran, though posturing as being tough on Iran does serve a political purpose for the Trump administration, especially in light of the goal of Russian detente and what that means wrt Syria.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I agree we are very unlikely to go to war with Iran, but Trump is acting like yet anther good poodle of Israel and the Saudis. And on that note, I don’t understand why the Saudis are so determined to escalate with Iran. Iran has made it clear they won’t make a first strike but if attacked they will torch Saudi Arabia, which is easy given how exposed its oil field operations are.

          1. integer

            Trump is acting like yet anther good poodle of Israel and the Saudis

            Considering that Trump already has the IC and the media doing their best to destroy him, it is possible that his support for Israel and Saudi Arabia is simply based on temporary expediency, i.e. his not seeing the immediate future as being the best time to formally push back against two countries that have aligned their interests and have very powerful US-based lobbying and PR networks. Of course it is also possible that he will, for whatever reason(s), simply continue to do the poodle thing for the duration of his presidency. I guess we will see soon enough so I am reserving my judgement for now.

            Adding: While it is not a game changer, I think the lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign nations is an affront to both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Also, note the involvement of the Podesta group with Saudi Arabia, described in the above link:

            Saudi Arabia is in the market for a better reputation in Washington, D.C.

            In September alone, foreign lobbying disclosure documents show the Saudi government signing deals with PR powerhouse Edelman and lobbying leviathan the Podesta Group, according to recent disclosures.

            Edelman, the largest privately owned public relations agency in the world, is known for helping clients win favorable media coverage on mainstream outlets. The Podesta Group is a lobbying firm founded by Tony Podesta, a major fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              He’s gone far enough in the Israel hawk camp that he would have to do an awfully long walk back to retreat. For the good of the US and the world, I’d much rather be wrong, but I don’t see much basis for optimism. Even if this is realpolitik, as in what he thought he needed to do to keep the Republicans on his side he appears to have gone from wanting to de-escalate v. Russia and in the Middle East, and toughen up with China a bit, to looking militaristic on just about every front except v. Russia. This is not a good outcome.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > Trump chose Pence over Flynn, neocon over Russian stooge

      Pence is a neocon?

      > playing to his libertarian base.

      Trump’s base is libertarian?

      I’ve got to study up more on my right wing factions, but those two statements don’t seem right to me.

  8. Paid Minion

    “Lost Faith in Expertise”

    Maybe if the “expertise” hadn’t been discovered time and time again aligningtheir opinions with what puts more money in their bank accounts, they wouldn’t be seeing this scepticism.

  9. roadrider

    Re: CIA and the media

    Some readers doubted my comment from Mark Ames that the CIA had assets at some major newspapers

    “had assets at some major newspapers?” That’s an understatement. Some major media companies (Time-Life, Wapo, CBS, NY Times) were owned or controlled by people who, if not outright assets had very cozy relationships with the CIA.

      1. roadrider

        Yes, good point! Great example: WaPo, owned by Bezos who owns Amazon who has a huge cloud computing contract with the CIA.

  10. allan

    Detained Dreamer’s Lawyers Say Government Doctored Legal Document to Try and Prove False Gang Affiliation
    [The Stranger]

    Lawyers for Daniel Ramirez Medina, the twice-authorized, 23-year-old DACA recipient who was scooped up by immigration enforcement near Seattle last week, say that government officials doctored a legal document at the Northwest Detention Center in an attempt to prove that Ramirez Medina belonged to a gang. …

    The brief states Ramirez Medina originally wrote: “I came in and the officers said I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.”

    But according to an additional declaration filed to the court, the statement returned to Medina by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials five days later says: “I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.”

    The document filed to the court bears clear signs of erased words. (See the image above.) …

    AG Sessions will surely and quickly swoop in to prosecute the submission
    of altered official documents to a Federal court.

  11. fresno dan

    I find Trump incredibly grating. His tic of saying things twice drives me nuts. So I just read his news conference instead of listening to him. And he certainly says some juvenile and stupidly wrong things (does he do that to drive the media apoplectic?)
    But what I got out of the news conference is that the MSM is a wholly bought and owned subsidiary of the CIA…and that is not a good thing. Question of the day: is the CIA hagiography now greater than the Obama hagiography was?

    TRUMP: “To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country; you see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.”

    This is probably the point where I think the media, next to Russia, has the greatest blinders on. UNIVERSALLY, every thing I read from the MSM is that Trump is INSANE to say that. Yesterday, NC had a link about how low GDP has been since the great recession – and since we can never discuss distribution of income in this country, and somehow the 99% can’t get raises unless growth is 4%, the idea that the economy is a mess doesn’t strike me as all that preposterous – its certainly arguable. And of course NC has brought up Case Deaton and a society (US) that ironically, other than Russia, is the only western country where middle age life expectancy has declined.
    Now, maybe I am too cynical (moi????) and pessimistic, but just the lock step indoctrinated idea that the economy is humming along just shows that all the talk about diversity is JUST talk because every right thinking person has to believe the same thing. But somehow, those inconvenient truths to the status quo can never ever be spoken of.

    1. optimader

      Don’t like it now, imagine in four years, how you’ll like it.. in four years? The perpetual superlatives still make my eye’s all about the fantastic superlatives Fresno.. the superlatives.. right…
      Make my eye twitch…

      If it were Hillary though, I might be making involuntary vocalizations ack,ack,ack.. involuntarily that is.

      1. Lambert Strether

        That would be a fun project to analyze a Trump speech, replacing the words with their placeholders, like [superlative] for “huge,” etc. I wonder skeletonizing his rhetoric that way would look like.

  12. Anne

    I was home sick yesterday, and ended up watching Trump’s entire presser. Hoo, boy…

    Some observations and thoughts:

    * How the media is able to listen to Trump’s word salad answers and get anything out of them is a mystery to me. If he makes love the way he talks, I doubt any woman he’s ever been with has had an orgasm. A migraine, maybe, but not an orgasm.

    * You think the Dems can’t let go of the 2016 election? The guy who won it can’t let go, either; I guess his obsession with electoral votes is how he copes with losing the popular vote, but the fact that he continues to tout his electoral victory – falsely – as the largest since Ronald Reagan is just more proof of his massive insecurity.

    * The CBC is a mystery to him, but he does apparently think that all black people know each other “Are they friends of yours?”

    * Why the need to completely fabricate a story about Elijah Cummings?

    * His administration is running like a fine-tuned machine? The travel ban rollout was smooth? What I wonder is, does he actually believe this – in which case I think he’s delusional – or does know this isn’t true, but figures that if he says it enough, people will believe it?

    * Schoolchildren of the world, listen up: uranium is nuclear weapons.

    * He states something as fact, follows it with “well, maybe that’s true, I heard that, maybe not, i don’t know, I think I’m right.” And he does it over and over. I’m waiting for the day he asks, Steve Urkel-style, “did I do that?”

    * How much TV does this man watch?

    * Anyone with access to the internet and who has rudimentary search skills will be able to find a timeline of Trump’s involvement with Russia vis-a-vis his businesses. Lies, lies and more lies.

    * So, he thinks Americans would cheer if he blew up a Russian ship, but isn’t doing that because he still wants to do a deal with Russia; how does this square with him saying he’s not going to tell the media anything about what he will or won’t do because he doesn’t want to show his hand? Hasn’t he just given Russia permission to provoke?

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the GOP is opening a can of whoop-ass on the environment, and trying to cram through Scott Pruitt’s nomination to EPA before we can see what’s in the e-mails Pruitt withheld, and Paul Ryan was out talking about the plan for replacement of the ACA – one that is going to get the flow of money back on track from the poor to the wealthy.

    People think Russia is a ruse? No, Trump is the ruse, the useful idiot whose antics and chaos and shiny objects of mental problems will distract from the conservative agenda.

    1. Carolinian

      Re Trump/orgasms. Marla Maples: “best sex I ever had.” It was a headline in the NY Post long ago so it must be true.

      You are certainly correct that listening to Trump ramble can be a painful experience but some of us also got the hives listening to Obama and Bill Clinton. Bush Jr not exactly Demosthenes either.

      1. Anne

        Yeah, and I was also one of those people. Usually had to read transcripts rather than watch/listen, but darn if I couldn’t still “hear” them…

        As for Marla Maples, I’d put that in the category of her knowing which side her bread was buttered on.

        1. optimader

          As for Marla Maples, I’d put that in the category of her knowing which side her bread was buttered on

          ahhh yeeeaah.. we’ll just let that one go…

        2. jrs

          At least you could READ their transcripts. As anyone who has ever tried to read a Trump transcript knows it’s wildly incoherent (some of which I think doesn’t come through except in transcripts),

    2. hreik

      And he tells the Kippah wearing Jewish journalist to “sit down, sit down!” when asked about the 40+ incidents and threats against JCCs and synagogues. Then proceeds to say he is the least anti-semitic person in the world. Ho boy

      1. integer

        He also says that many of these attacks and threats were false flag incidents, which is certainly possible, and imo highly probable. The Israel-first cohort have shown themselves to have absolutely no shame when it comes to the pursuit of their neocon agenda.

    3. Jomo

      Thank you, Anne, for a great nonpartisan summary of the press conference and the problems of trying to understand and accept the visions of our fearless leader. Hope you are feeling better!

    4. Vatch

      Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the GOP is opening a can of whoop-ass on the environment, and trying to cram through Scott Pruitt’s nomination to EPA before we can see what’s in the e-mails Pruitt withheld, and Paul Ryan was out talking about the plan for replacement of the ACA – one that is going to get the flow of money back on track from the poor to the wealthy.

      + 1776 !!!
      + 1789 !!!

      Either will do.

    5. JEHR

      No, Trump is the ruse, the useful idiot whose antics and chaos and shiny objects of mental problems will distract from the conservative agenda.


    6. Lambert Strether

      > I doubt any woman he’s ever been with has had an orgasm.

      Do you really think this is a useful perspective? If I were to emit similar snark re: Hillary Clinton, what would your reaction be?

      I moderate for snark about cankles, for example (though I can’t claim to have shot down every one) not only because I think it’s fifth grade-level snicker-worthy content more appropriate for Facebook or Reddit, and not NC, but because it’s disempowering: The opportunity cost of crapola like cankle, both in the original comments and the follow-on snickering, is serious, non-agnotological commentary.

      I am now going to let this portion of your comment sit, rotting in the sun, as an example of what not to do. Don’t do it again.

      1. cwaltz

        Similar snark was emitted here throughout the election cycle.

        I don’t like the woman but let’s not pretend there weren’t whole entire threads dedicated to her wardrobe choices.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, come on.

          Yes, and there has been extensive MSM discussion about Trump’s inability to tie his tie properly. And we just ran a post on the significance of Putin’s peaked collars.

          Hillary appeared to be doing some efforts with imaging with her under-use of the typical female pol blue and subdued colors. And the Hillary-sympathetic press commented extensively on the purple, martial outfit she wore when she gave her concession speech.

          And do you forget that Hillary did a Vogue cover when Vogue only does women it can bring up to its appearance standards? They approached Shiela Bair about an in-depth interview and then cancelled it. They told Bair it was because they couldn’t make her look good enough. And Chelsea had a cover in Elle last year. So don’t pretend that discussions of Clinton attire are verboten when the Clintons openly play that card when they think it’s useful.

          Politicians are public figures. Wardrobe has long been fair game. Their bedroom performance is not.

        2. aab

          You’re talking about me, I believe, and I forcefully reject your assertion that my commentary on the political and possible health implications of her very, very unusual campaign costumes was superficial and mere insult.

          It was not snark, and it was not misogyny. I am trained in the analysis of art as communication, interpersonally and communally (i.e., what we generally mean when we think about the use and impact of “art”) and also what it reveals historically, politically and sociologically. I have used clothing and costuming myself as an artist — including doing actual costume design — and part of my business practice as a communications consultant involved considering the persuasion impact of various aesthetic elements, like color choice, font, echoing of different historical periods, etc. I have advised clients on optimal clothing choices to achieve their goals in business interactions and negotiations. I have books of scholarship from my college years still on my shelves regarding the use of clothing by monarchs and other individuals of power. People get their Ph.Ds in this stuff.

          How humans cloth and decorate themselves is one of the most powerful ways humans communicate with and influence one another.

          My discussions of what Hillary Clinton was doing in how she displayed her body on the campaign trail and its impact on voters — while usually quite negative — was not in any way, shape or form the same as some lazy idiot making fun of her ankles.

          The guys here sometimes indulge themselves discussing women and their appeal in sub-threads that make me want to turn the tables on them, if I thought Yves and Lambert would allow it. I know they don’t understand how it feels to be a woman reading it; it’s invisible to them. And I’m not claiming to be a saint. Have I made petty, mean comments about Hillary Clinton here out of rage and resentment that add no probative or analytic value? Probably.

          But “reading” the imagery surrounding a figure of power — including their clothing– in order to understand what they are communicating and whether or not it is effective in achieving their goals is a perfectly valid addition to discussions of political economy, because what they’re signaling both intentionally and unintentionally tells us important things about them, the mindset of the ruling class, and the mindset of the ruled. If Yves wants to rule it out of bounds on her web site because it’s qualitative, not quantitative analysis, that is obviously her right. But I’m not going to sit quietly while you slur such analysis as mere snark.

          You can read images, cwaltz. Maybe cultural critique is not your thing, but that doesn’t make it 4Chan or Us Magazine. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make bad.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Apologies. We do tolerate craazyman talking about how certain women are hot regularly. I take it as making fun of himself and how men stereotypically think, but I can see how it might bother some women. I’ll watch more carefully for incidents beyond him. The slack I cut him may unduly encourage others.

            And per aab’s bigger point, politicians are very attuned to how they signal power v. affiliation, among other things, via their attire. I’m sure aab can give numerous examples, but a simple one is among men, the quality of tailoring is a huge status marker. I always notice in debates who is wearing a well-cut suit v. not. Some men choose to make defying it a point, as star litigator David Boies does, by always wearing one style of suit that he buys from J.C. Penny, with similarly cheap shoes. His attire is a twofer: when he is before a juries and judges who came from the wrong side of the tracks, he’s signaling that he is a man of the people. And for the monied and credentialed, he’s saying he’s so good at what he does he doesn’t have to dress fancy to prove it.

            1. aab

              Don’t worry about policing the dude talk on my account. Of all the casual misogyny I’m exposed to in my daily life, it’s literally the least frequent, least upsetting and least meaningful. I’m generally treated as an intellectual peer by these guys. I care about that a lot more. The only reason I even notice it is because it’s such an unusual part of the discourse here; on some level, I drop my guard about that more here than elsewhere, so when it shows up, even though it’s so much milder than other environments, there’s a pang, like a little reminder of the outside world.

              If things were calmer around here generally, it might be a cool little experiment to flip the dynamic occasionally. It helps make the invisible visible. But that’s not the mission of this site, and I’m not interested in people getting even more upset and on edge. If I want to participate in a site where people scream emotively at one another, 99.9999% of the Internet is available for that.

              Thanks for sharing the Boies nugget.

              1. Lambert Strether

                One more point: The commentary here was of such volume for the campaign that we literally couldn’t get to it all and I’m sure shouldn’t have whacked everything that should have been whacked. That’s why we brought Outis on board.

                Also, I see a difference between an obviously constructed and semi-parodic dudely persona, to which I can apply a discount, as it were, and the casual, which really adds no value at all. We should whack the casual.

            1. aab

              Thanks! I it up and started reading, but realized I’m too burned out to focus on it right now. The decorative choke collar of the necktie as a symbol of status and power fascinates me.

              1. homeroid

                Here here. I do not own such a thing (a tie) and never will. I was forced to wear a neck tie as a child and found it frightening. I wear clothing that is functional. If that is not acceptable to some then stand outside in your three piece suit and tell me about it. The whole suit as respect does not click in my mind.

        3. Lambert Strether

          cwaltz writes:

          Similar snark was emitted here throughout the election cycle.

          I wrote:

          I moderate for snark* about cankles, for example (though I can’t claim to have shot down every one)

          Do consider a substantive response to what I actually wrote before (implicitly) accusing a moderator of hypocrisy. You will also recall that I restrained myself from emitting snark on Christ Christie’s girth, tempting though that was at the time.

          * * *

          You also write:

          I don’t like the woman but let’s not pretend there weren’t whole entire threads dedicated to her wardrobe choices.

          Again, “let’s not pretend.” Nice. Gosh, was I pretending? It’s not clear to me why the semiotics of power dressing should be a topic ruled out of bounds by liberal orthodoxy. Do feel free to explain (although I see, reading down, that other commenters have done a far better job of that than I could have).

          * Did so for some regular commenters, in fact.

    7. Cheryl B

      Anne, many thanks for your comments. I sometimes feel like I am not sure why there is such a focus on Russia /Trump in these pages. I step back and find that while everyone is watching some kind of shiny thing here, I read that the house of representatives, according to the HSUS, has overturned a rule and now permits killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in dens, and aerial shooting of grizzly bears in Alaska. Off to the Senate… And the site Milkweeds for Monarchs Waystations is reporting on the fact that Pruitt has been confirmed as head of the EPA, yet another Trump selection willing to dismantle the department. Those of us out here in flyover Land see that Trump/Russia is the shiny thing distracting everyone away from some serious consequences to what we thought we were as a country. While it’s fun to blame the broken dysfunctional Democrats, I just wish I saw more serious conversations here about our future.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Dear Lord. We bring in a new author — hopefully, we’ll see much more from her — whose post has the title: “Wearing White: What Resistance Looks Like in America’s Heartland, and the comment from “those of us out here in flyover land” is that there aren’t “more serious conversations here about our future” [throws up hands in despair].

        Links are to a great extent news-driven. We try to maintain a critical (i.e., at this point, sane) stance on the particular links chosen, but the subject matter is part of what Clintonites label “the national conversation.” So if, for example, the intelligence agencies are filling the press with narratives about Russian, we need to cover that. See the site motto? The last two words are “politics” and “power.”

        As to your wish for other topics, you write “I read that….” and allude to various interesting topics. Rather than whinging that these topics are not covered, it would have served readers better had you simply added links to the material you read, so that others could read it. Much of the content in links is reader-supplied; that’s what the initials at the end individual links signify.

        Finally, check the moderation policy and don’t assign us tasks, however passive-aggressively. Thanks.

    8. witters

      ‘People think Russia is a ruse? No, Trump is the ruse,’

      Trying to keep track here. So, Anne, Putin thing is not a ruse, it is ‘real’? OK, now some evidence, not feeling, please.

      And the ‘useful idiot’ stuff you throw in. So Trump is Putin’s useful idiot? (as above).

      Or is it ‘the conservative agenda’ (that strangely agentless thing) that has Trump as its useful idiot?

      I’m really struggling here.

      1. cwaltz

        No Trump is the GOP’s useful idiot.

        You all are still obsessing over the CIA and Putin while hardly discussing the GOP health care alternative or the fact that Scott Pruitt got confirmed without handing over his emails.

        1. Yves Smith Post author


          Scott Pruit was never not going to be confirmed. The Dems couldn’t even get enough allies to block DeVos despite tons of constituent calls.

          1. cwaltz

            He was never going to be not confirmed because the GOP is a majority and they have no problem with hypocrisy. They’re presently asking for subpoenas for AGs that are looking into Exxon concealing climate change data.


            By the way, the GOP actually needed the 2 Democrats who chose to vote for Pruitt to get him across the finish line since apparently Collins is more liberal then Manchin or Heitkamp.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              You don’t have the math right. The Republicans need three defections to lose a vote. In the case of a tie, Pence votes.

              They had only Collins defect. They didn’t need the two Dems. The vote was 52-46. If the 2 Dems had gone the other way, it would have been 50-48. Please see the roll call:


              Stop making stuff up. You are already in moderation for that. This is a violation of our written site policies (see “agnotology”) and you are persisting. One more time and you will be blacklisted.

  13. Kukulkan

    How America Lost Faith in Expertise

    This would be the expertise that told us:

    * Iraq was chock-a-block full of weapons of mass destruction that could be sent against the east coast of America on gliders launched on 45 minutes notice?

    * Russia invaded Crimea?

    * Osama bin Laden was involved in an epic shoot-out with Seal Team Six, shooting at them while hiding behind his wives, as they were trying to capture him alive?

    * That tax cuts for the wealthiest would create a “trickle down” effect, enriching everyone?

    * Hillary Clinton lost because the Russians hacked the election?

    * That austerity will enable Greece to pay off it’s debt and return to prosperity?

    * That There Is No Alternative?

    That expertise? Can’t imagine why people may have lost faith in those who display such expertise. How dare they give more credence to evidence than credentials! The nerve!

    1. LT

      And a slew of scientific “facts” promoted, then debunked (but that’s how real science is supposed to work).

      Love that you added the dreaded “TINA”…though it is the unspoken mindset of the largely DaVos types.

  14. fresno dan

    “After getting a lot of flak over my last column on the political assassination of Michael Flynn, I’d like to clear something up about national security leaks. I am in favor of them. What’s more, I oppose the rigorous enforcement of the outmoded laws meant to protect state secrets, particularly if that involves monitoring or investigating reporters.

    The issue with the ouster of Flynn as national security adviser is not the mishandling of classified information, despite some of President Donald Trump’s tweets about it. It’s about Flynn’s detractors selectively disclosing to the public the communications of U.S. officials, and how this represents a chilling abuse of power.”
    It’s also been reported that Flynn had contacts with Russians during the election. That’s a bit more troubling, but in and of itself it means very little. It’s also not unprecedented. In 2008, an Obama foreign policy adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, traveled to Damascus to offer the government there his views on the Syria-Israeli peace talks.

    Many Democrats, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, took meetings with Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations during George W. Bush’s final years as president, at a moment when our military leaders accused Iran of killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq by providing militias with improvised explosive devices. If Bush’s FBI had launched Logan Act investigations in that period, would Democrats have cheered on the leaks of the investigations?
    one voice of sanity in the Bloomberg asylum….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My guess is many incoming administrations had, during their campaigns, talked to foreigners like

      1. British
      2. Israelis
      3. Germans
      4. NATO people
      5. Canadians

  15. cocomaan

    That Foreign Affairs article about Losing Faith in Expertise was awful. You can almost run through a checklist these days to throw out an article about expertise: press CTRL+F and look for: Idiocracy; Dunning Kreuger Effect; Confirmation Bias; Conspiracy Theory. If you hit two of the four, shred the article.

    What this little piece fails to get at is the drastic failures in expertise which have resulted in severe ethical problems. The consequences ripple out from important decisions by academics, technocrats, and other powerful people. My recent favorite is Janet Yellen’s “I have no idea what economics actually says about the economy right now” speech. An old standby is the “avoid fat” conspiracy. Since the article relies heavily on social science research in order to make its points, it’s also worth a shot at reading about how much of social science is foggy nonsense.

    The article confronts it in two paragraphs at the end. Here’s an excerpt:

    When they do fail, experts must own their mistakes, air them publicly, and show the steps they are taking to correct them. This happens less than it should in the world of public policy, because the standards for judging policy work tend to be more subjective and politicized than the academic norm.

    This is nonsense. The reason that the experts fail to take responsibility for their mistakes is that their decisions have resulted in hurting many, many people. Look at the bureaucrats in the FDA and the prescribing doctors and the bureaucrats in the drug companies releasing Fentanyl. Similarly, I didn’t see many economic commentators falling on their swords in 2009. Politicians didn’t commit seppuku after our failures in Afghanistan.

    The level of discourse on expertise is extremely obtuse.

    1. fosforos

      If anyone is called an “expert” on anything you should first ask what he has actually *done* which *proves* that expertise. Absent such proof, total disregard is merited.

  16. David

    On the Wikileaks press release, this looks to me like a case of intelligence agencies actually doing their job, i.e. supplying their government with information about subjects of great interest. In this case it was who might win the elections in a major European nation and what their likely plans were; remind you of anything?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Right but couldn’t they have found that out by maybe reading a French newspaper and through using consular contacts? Did they need “SIGINT”? By the time Sarkozy got out of the 2nd debate it was clear that he was going to lose…but maybe they needed to tap some phones, just to be sure.

      1. Katharine

        And HUMINT would appear to mean that French politicians or their staff members were talking with foreign intelligence officers. If this is different from what is known and not merely alleged about Flynn, please tell me how.

      2. David

        I certainly came to the same conclusion that the CIA evidently did some time before the election. I think though that the Clinton email leak shows what has always been assumed of all politicians – that they say and do a great deal that is never made public before elections, and that their actual plans may differ a lot from their public ones. Likewise, who’s going to get which job, what X or Y will do in the case of defeat etc. are not usually things publicly discussed. I assume the US Embassy was reading the papers (and talking to many of the players) but of course if you have intelligence assets and capabilities in place, it’s natural to want to use them. Without the texts of the reports, though, it’s hard to know if all this activity actually provided any stunning insights not available elsewhere.

          1. David

            To be honest, I don’t think DSK needed any help. The man was a disaster waiting to happen. One can over-estimate the capacities of intelligence services.

  17. financial matters

    “”And given that we were able to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars so that those on Wall Street could keep pushing paper and start their work in sowing the seeds for the next financial crisis, perhaps they could have had a few billion dollars less to inflate asset prices so that we could have had a few million dollars more for a community out in California wouldn’t have otherwise needed to flee in a panic late into the February night. And I’m guessing that putting a giant concrete wall on a massive hillside requires using a lot of machinery and employing quite a few people too, which certainly isn’t a bad thing for an economy that continues to struggle with sustained economic growth and widening wealth inequality. I’m just sayin’ . . .””

    There is a lot of unused government power to directly employ labor to address the Fed’s unemployment mandate. No need to borrow money from private banks to get these projects moving.

    1. VietnamVet

      I want to highlight this post. There is a correlation between the Oroville dam crisis and what is happening in the stock market and Donald Trump’s News Conference. The joy of the Oroville residents that there was enough water in the lake to open the spillway for the first time in 5 years has turned to anxious fear. Perhaps Dilbert’s creator is right. What we see are our hallucinations. Unfortunately, there is reality. It is scary that the Cold War 2 has restarted. Sane people must work to restore detente. WWIII is an extinction event. Likewise, the one guarantee with capitalism is that there will be a downturn. If the underlying causes of the 2008 financial crisis are not fixed, gambling, hoarding and bad debt, the next crash will be historic.

      The destruction of the USA could be triggered by the mini coup against the Trump Administration underway in DC led by the intelligence community and corporate media. Or is it the opposite? A purge of the embedded globalists by American nationalists and making the media the scapegoat for America’s ills. My reading of the Huffington Post and the disarray in the White House indicates it is mostly the first.

  18. Sigh

    You keep saying that, show me in the NATO Charter where it says 2%. There is no binding 2% commitment. It’s Article 192747 of the US Wish List, and it’s na ga happin.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Here is an article from the Economist, speaking clearly of a “target of 2% that NATO members all agreed to in 2006.” It adds:

      At a summit in 2014, NATO reiterated its commitment to the 2% target. Members that fell short at the time promised to meet their obligations by 2024.

      1. David

        It was a political commitment, to keep the US quiet, and to make Obama look good for pressuring the Europeans. There have been many such over the years, beginning with the 3% real growth commitment in the Carter years. Not to be taken seriously.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          1. The target was set BEFORE OBAMA. Lordie.

          2. Obama let it slip due to the crisis.

          3. Saying that it is “political” is an inadequate response. This article makes clear that Americans, who are the ones writing the checks, have taken this notion more seriously than the Europeans. Trump merely whinging about NATO budgets is now forcing some European countries to realize they need to pony up more for defense.

  19. JohnnyGL

    Trump’s already failing on healthcare. He really should either undergo a religious conversion to single-payer, or just step away completely. Obama tried giving the insurance industry what it wanted, he let a former exec, Liz Fowler, write the thing. It failed. Any changes that give the industry what it wants are doomed from the start. This is like giving in to tantrums from toddlers, they’ll just keep asking for more and changing their minds.

  20. LT

    Re: How Americans Lost Faith in Expertise

    I know it’s just a headline, but “faith” in expertise is not what is needed in a society that demands ever more critical thinking in a world over flowing with info.
    The article gets to the heart of the matter with “trust.”
    In a world that will twist a good number of scientific findings in order to squeeze out an extra buck, people feel burnt by experts.
    Info is not the same as knowledge and knowledge is not the same as wisdom.
    I have to remind myself of that.

      1. ginnie nyc

        Thank you so much for linking this article. As I read it, it was like re-living one of the worst parts of my childhood in the same damned section of Pennsylvania. This kind of thing is just killing, in the literal and figurative senses of the word.

        1. BeliTasri

          The scary thing is: after David Brock’s CTR assult on the big lefty blogs, it’s not like we have many places to blow a whistle? I imagine it’s pretty much the same in any number of sectors: energy, transportation, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, military, regulatory agencies, finance… Now that The Guardian seems to be shilling geo-engineering, I wonder how long ProPublica & DeSmogBlog will be able to hold out?

        1. BeliTsari

          And where: the DEP had specific instructions to ignore & disappear all incoming complaints from thousands of victims, where return water is simply watered down to legal limits (or NOT), where a large reservoir was fracked as were plays within 1/2 mile of giant 40 yr old fission reactors… mostly under a Democrat administration. Here’s the salient part of Tony’s webinar: (how PA DEP was suggesting <3% failure rate, while Slumberger's own studies were suggesting cement-job & casing failures ~33% over the same period. Bottom line: I doubt I'll be retiring to the one area yet to be fracked in the Marcellus. Josh fox got this right (finally) in Gas Land II: media & industry collusion in obfuscating or ignoring leaking methane & our outrageous exposure to return water, have been the YOOJ große Lüge promulgated by both parties. It's not about jobs & energy independence it's about poisoning many to benefit a very few, at the tip-top of the pyramid… then, walk away from a dying, poisoned wasteland we'll all have to pay for.

  21. allan

    Trump weighs mobilizing Nat Guard for immigration roundups [AP]

    The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

    The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

    Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

    While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north. …

    Oddly, some campaign promises will be kept. But please don’t hold your breath for that stimulus.

    1. cocomaan

      Where’s the memo? AP says they have a copy but I guess they didn’t post it.

      Let me read it for myself.

      1. allan

        There are many reasons not to release a raw document (electronic watermarking)
        or even a transcription (different wording in versions circulated to different people).
        Obviously I can’t speak for the AP, but can respect their professional judgment.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          AP sure knocked it out of the park on the California primaries!

          So, you’re right, you can depend on AP.

          1. allan

            Wow. That’s an awfully broad brush. The author of today’s piece had nothing to do with last year’s AP hit pieces on Sanders.

              1. Skip Intro

                Indeed, she is up to her old tricks, writing premature vote-count victory laps for Perez in the DNC race.

            1. Skip Intro

              Your evidence for that? AP is AP after all.

              ooops moderation..
              So did AP accompany this particular story with some sort of seal of additional credibility?

      2. Anne

        Here is the alleged memo. It’s a pdf. I haven’t read the whole thing.

        Also, here are two McClatchy articles, both of which say the WH has denied that this is under consideration (here, and here).

        Also, note that Obama and Bush also made use of the NG in connection with border enforcement.

        And, as has been pointed out numerous times, Obama deported more people than any other president.

        1. Bill Smith

          Anybody can write up that stuff.

          As pointed out here earlier – many, many outside groups wrote up Executive Orders for their pet subjects. Most never even get in the door of the White House – much less out the front door.

          This is not new.

            1. Bill Smith


              These things can be written up exactly as the sponsoring group would want them sent out.

              Just sign here and don’t trouble yourself to read anything…

                1. allan

                  Lack of agency and the passive voice. A twofer! And commonly encountered when someone is caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          Is there a Killian generator for PDFs out there, or is the government still leasing photocopiers from Halide?

          IOW How come the text is so degraded?

          1. cocomaan

            How would we know that Kelley wrote this? Why isn’t it on letterhead? I guess I am asking basic authenticity questions. But your points are all sound, thanks for putting this to me. It does indeed say natl guard would be mobilized as agents.

    2. KoopaTroopa

      I am a member of the National Guard and have been mobilized for several domestic missions of various types in the past. This proposal would face significant kick back from military leadership. I participated in the “border security mission” back in the Bush era and the key guidance we received was do not engage. Let the federal agents we provided support do all the heavy lifting. We are not trained to be ICE agents and the Guard would never want that potential liability hanging over its head. Soldiers have a lot more latitude oversees than we do stateside (for good reason) and the Guard is very hesitant with these types of missions. Plus you run into an issue of what type of funding will pay for the soldiers (state/federal), length of orders, and a potential mass exodus of soldiers who find the fact that they are being used on US soil to kick down doors and haul people into the street morally inrehesible.

  22. LT

    Re: CIA and the media…

    They are completely off the chain globally.
    The activities in Latin America are especially troublesome.

  23. cm

    Regarding the Cheaper drugs from Canada? Pharma despises the idea, but top senators are pushing HHS chief to try it article, this is very weak sauce indeed. From the article:

    To qualify for importation, the senators’ proposal would require products to be off patent or no longer marketed in the U.S. by the original developer. They’d need to be free of direct competition and to have seen a “significant, unexplained” price hike. The imported product would also need to be produced by a reputable company. The bill additionally calls for fast-track FDA reviews of competing drugs.

    I have a simpler proposal: all drug imports are legal in NAFTA & NATO countries using the base country’s price. Substitute NATO for G-8 or whatever entity you wish.

    1. JohnL

      Some pharma companies run identical side by side product manufacturing lines, one for the US market, and one for Canada. They only FDA certify the US line and then claim Canadian drugs are “unsafe”

    2. Gareth

      I have a friend who buys her drugs from an online Canadian pharmacy. She saved over $3,000 last year. Her Doctor faxes the prescriptions to the pharmacy and delivery takes about two weeks. I checked my medication prices there online, Northwest Pharmacy, and discovered that an asthma med which costs $150+ a month in the US goes for $33 dollars there. My current copay is $25 so I won’t be buying from them, yet. It’s so obvious that the pharma companies are perpetrating a massive swindle in this country.

      1. W.A. Bentley

        I’ve met women who order birth control pills from Canada because it is either too expensive in the US or not covered by their insurance.

        Just as Margaret Sanger always dreamed!!

        1. Anne

          “Free” birth control is one of the ACA mandates; neither my daughter who has private (non-employer-provided) insurance, nor my daughter with insurance through her husband’s employer, pay anything for their birth control.

    3. ewmayer

      Re. “significant, unexplained” price hike — That appears to leave the door open for the Martin Shkrelis of the world to offer “because we’re greedy” as an explanation.

  24. allan

    A good example of why unions matter:
    Most Delta Air Lines workers got much skimpier bonuses than the $13K average [Seattle Times]
    While Delta this week gave its employees bonuses averaging about $13,000, that encompasses both a very lucrative contractual bonus for pilots and a considerably thinner one for some groups with different deals.

    There are very few companies in America with a profit-sharing plan as generous as that of Delta Air Lines, which this week paid out $1.1 billion in annual bonuses to employees — a quarter of the airline’s net profit last year.

    Yet the way the payout was distributed has still managed to anger a large group of Delta workers.

    When the Seattle Times reported — accurately — that the average bonus paid on Tuesday came to $13,000, more than a half dozen outraged Delta workers called or wrote to say they’d received nothing close to that amount, and that their bonus was way less than last year’s. …

    Indeed there were big differences in the payouts among different worker groups, and not only because some have higher salaries than others. …

    A second flight attendant said her bonus was only $2,300, “less than half what I got last year.”

    A member of the ground crew who works only part time said he got a bonus of $1,500.

    In contrast, the pilots’ union said that under its contract, Delta’s 13,000 pilots got a profit-sharing bonus of 17.8 percent of annual pay. For many of the pilots, that meant a bonus topping $20,000.

    The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), are the only group of unionized workers at Delta. The better terms in their profit-sharing plan were part of a new contract negotiated in December. … Non-union workers at Delta got a 25 percent base pay increase in stages over two years. But at the same time, Delta cut their slice of the profit-sharing formula significantly for the future …

    Shorter C-suite to non-union employees: Trust us.
    You’ll make up for the lower wages during the down years with lower bonuses during the up years.

  25. BeliTsari

    GMail’s mail client needs permissions to read “body sensors” on Android 6.0 and up. So I went to their forums to see how to get around this (I’d blocked access, use a 3rd party firewall, Bitdefender, uBlock etc.) Within HOURS, my e-mail had been spoofed? I’ve been online for decades without this occurring. Am using Signal, a VPN and TypeAp. Anybody find anything else like selficam shots, GPS, fingerprints or contacts leaking from your phone?

    1. integer

      Thanks for this. Interestingly enough, the dynamic that Adams describes seems to be playing out in this very comments section.

      When reality violates your ego that rudely, you either have to rewrite the movie in your head to recast yourself as an idiot, or you rewrite the movie to make yourself the hero who could see what others missed. Apparently the Huffington Post chose to rewrite their movie so Trump is a deranged monster, just like they warned us. That’s what they see. This isn’t an example of so-called “fake” news as we generally understand it. This is literally imaginary news. I believe the Huffington Post’s description of the press conference is literally what they saw. If you gave them lie detector tests, they would swear they saw a meltdown, and the lie detector would say they were telling the truth.

    2. Lambert Strether

      When I went to see Trump speak in Bangor, I had no idea what to expect, and for all I know I was going to hear a crazy person. From that post:

      I want to focus on how he made the points: He didn’t just emit them in bulleted-list form. Rather, he treated them as waypoints. He’d state the point, clearly and loudly, and then begin to move away from it in ever-widening circles, riffing jazzily on anecdotes, making jokes, introducing other talking points (“We’re gonna build the wall”), introducing additional anecdotes, until finally popping the topical stack and circling back to the next waypoint, which he would then state, clearly and loudly; rinse, repeat. The political class considers or at least claims Trump’s speeches are random and disorganized, but they aren’t; any speech and debate person who’s done improvisation knows what’s going on.

      The professional issue that reporters have, I think, is that Trump doesn’t package his quotes up for them in a way they find easy to use (which matters because the national press, on the whole and on the average, is lazy and arrogant).

      The structural issue is that the press as part of the political class simply hates the guy — and his voters — and can’t be trusted to quote or report on him accurately. Both Yves and I noticed that, reasonably early in the campaign, when we compared the reporting to transcripts, and found that what Trump said was regularly distorted. (Trump is also funny, in a meta sort of way; see the post for examples. This doesn’t come across well in the reporting either.)

      Just as a troll prophylactic, this isn’t a defense of Trump. We might think of the press as the eyes of the body politic. And if we don’t like what we see, it certainly seems like an odd choice to smash our glasses, or even to claw out our eyeballs. But that’s what liberal Democrats are doing to the reporting function of the press. This too is wonderfully clarifying.

      1. fosforos

        I agree. By accident I found myself watching it, and I was able to stay tuned with my eyes and ears open. Which is the best thing I can find to say for his performance, but it far exceeds the best that can be said of any presser by Obama or any of the Bushes or Clintons.

  26. rich

    Uh oh….

    Steward to acquire eight hospitals in three states

    Steward Health Care is branching out beyond Massachusetts for the first time, with plans to acquire eight different hospitals in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

    Steward will acquire all eight hospitals from Community Health System (NYSE: CYH), moving approximately 7,000 employees from the national, publicly-traded company to the for-profit Massachusetts-based system.

    Remember this?…

    Cerberus Uses Private Equity Looting Strategy With Scandal-Ridden Steward Health Care Hospitals
    Posted on October 1, 2016 by Yves Smith
    Background – Caritas Christi Bought by Cerberus Capital Management, Became Steward Health Care

    Steward is what used to be Caritas Christi Health Care System, formerly a Catholic, non-profit health care system in Massachusetts. In 2010, Caritas Christi was purchased by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity, aka leveraged buyout firm, which was known for its not very successful run managing Chrysler (look here) and GMAC (look here). Cerberus also had enlarging holdings in the gun industry, later expanded into the Freedom Group, and in military contracting, specifically including DynCorp which hired armed “security forces” and was involved in multiple scandals in Iraq, all of which might strike some health care professionals as inappropriate (look here and here).

    Steward Health Care, as run by Cerberus, was one of the earlier leaders in hiring corporate physicians, whom it pressured to avoid “leakage” of patients to other hospitals and doctors, even if some might question whether the care provided elsewhere might be better for those patients (look here). The multimillion dollar a year CEO of Steward suggested the health care had become a commodity, objectionable to those who thought that health care should be a mission-based calling (look here).

    Game on….

  27. fresno dan

    Game On East vs. West, again Andrew Cockburn, Harpers. Mark P:

    On the other hand, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat. The gift that had kept on giving, reliably generating bomber gaps, missile gaps, civil-defense gaps, and whatever else was needed at the mere threat of a budget cut, disappeared almost overnight. The Warsaw Pact, the U.S.S.R.’s answer to NATO, vanished into the ash can of history. Thoughtful commentators ruminated about a post–Cold War partnership between Russia and the United States. American bases in Germany emptied out as Army divisions and Air Force squadrons came home and were disbanded. In a 1990 speech, Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, revered in those days as a cerebral disperser of military largesse, raised the specter of further cuts, warning that there was a “threat blank” in the defense budget and that the Pentagon’s strategic assessments were “rooted in the past.” An enemy had to be found.
    “Threat blank”
    what with my cynical nature and tin foiley hat on, if we can’t FIND a threat, we MAKE a threat….

    1. Nakatomi Plaza

      Portraying the press as a monolithic group with all the same interests and values is as irresponsible as constantly portraying Trump as an unhinged nut. Trump’s behavior, however, was embarrassing at the press conference. I’m not sure why NC is generally so determined to ignore Trump’s ridiculous behavior.

      1. bob

        It’s pitiful. Trump is ridiculous. It seems to get him some sort of support.

        The dems get to snicker, and try to play the bully game, from below. Without any humor.

        Who’s going to win a name calling contest? Trump. He’s better at mean too. It got him elected, by some reports.

        The whole idea of Truth, or, laughing, Responsibility, from a press conference is idiotic from the start. It’s stagecraft.

        How can anyone be surprised that the reality TV star “wins”, when he sets the stage?

        I’d put good money on Trump demanding that Bannon and Priebus joust, in their underwear, in front of the press pool, if things ever really heat up for him and he needs a distraction. The press will love it. Mr. Bean’s head will explode. Even better ratings!

        What drives me most nuts is that *we* don’t have anyone to take him on in name calling.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Straw man. Go and re-read the “Trump Transition” section today, or for that matter, any day.

        I infer that the fact we don’t make this all we talk about regarding Trump is your real beef. We don’t take kindly to people who show up to act as orthodoxy enforcers. Plus as we’ve said repeatedly, the Dem and media fixation on Trump’s behavior diverts attention from what he is doing on policy and herertofore has been a losing strategy (the hyperventiliating about it for months on end didn’t cost him the election).

        Shorter: Kos is over there, as Lambert is wont to say. .

  28. JonboinAR

    Re: Trump unleashes fury after four long weeks – Politico

    My God! This guy’s a certified bozo! What have we done? I’m sorry, Congressional Republicans, you have to fall on your swords. You have to impeach him somehow. Yes, progressives, Pence will be less disasterous. At least there might be a modicum of executive competence. Trump’s just a wingnut, a national embarrassment. Can the state of being obviously unqualified be somehow criminalized, ex post facto, or something? Or go after him hard for improper contacts with Russia. Bring that Starr fellow out of retirement. Investigate his daily fecal stool, just as you did with Bad Bill. Something will turn up. I’m sorry you have to do this to one of your own, but we know you know how. The country will thank you.

      1. RalphR

        Go look at the actual news conference vid and reach your own conclusion. Most of the people above who did seem to think the media is exaggerating.

  29. Lambert Strether

    > Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources

    So, on the one hand Trump is not only history’s worst monster, but guilty of treason. Everybody knows it!

    On the other hand, nobody’s willing to risk their career by going on the record.*

    Something wrong with this picture?

    NOTE * That includes the heroic Democrats of the #resistance who can use parliamentary immunity to read whatever they want into the record.

    1. aab

      That includes the heroic Democrats of the #resistance who can use parliamentary immunity to read whatever they want into the record.

      Those of you utterly freaking out about Trump need to look to Hillary Clinton as your guide. She knows him much better than you do. Her daughter and his daughter are best friends. Her husband golfs with him. They go to each other’s important ceremonies.

      Here’s what she’s been doing: going to a resort; going to the theater; negotiating a book deal; going to restaurants with celebrities.

      Here’s what she hasn’t done: participated in the Womens March, or any other march; boycotted the inauguration; called an emergency meeting of Democratic leadership, as the formal standard bearer of the party (since Brazile was installed as part of the process of her being installed as the candidate, Obama is out of power, and the new DNC Chair is yet to be selected, Hillary is still the de facto leader of the party) to map out what to do to stop this catastrophic usurpation of power by an interloper.

      Chuck Schumer, who is arguably the other leader of the party, as he is the Democratic leader in the Senate, which is much, much closer in terms of party power balance than the House, has not punished members of his caucus for voting for Trump’s appointees. He seemed startled that anyone would even expect it.

      And yet I’m supposed to accept that Trump is actually the long-awaited Manchurian Candidate, on the basis of unsourced allegations from the CIA? I mean, SERIOUSLY?

      He may be a terrible president. In fact, that is more likely than not. But all this hysteria is pushing him right into the CIA’s arms, which is just what Hillary wants, but I don’t understand why anyone not well-paid to foment war would want it.

      If people stop being lemmings about the Russia nonsense and stop shrieking that he’s insane (he’s not), maybe we can put together some effective carrot and stick action to keep him from gutting the EPA, which is a real thing. Because, as a reminder, the Democratic Party chose to throw away all its governing power so its elite leadership could get rich. They can’t stop him. Instead of pushing him into the arms of the neocons and religious zealots to protect himself and his family, it might work better to appeal to his vanity and sense of himself as a competent and honorable person. That’s if you actually do care about the EPA, of course.

      1. PhilM

        Probably too late for aab to see this reply, but to me, her comment gets the “perspicacious observation of the year” award. What those people do counts, not what they say. In this matter, as possibly in no other, we should follow Hillary’s example: keep politics in its place and enjoy life a bit.

        Right now I’m reading the history of Reinhard Heydrich and the SS security service (SD and Gestapo). It noted that the vast majority of their personnel were drawn from the pre-existing Political Police forces of the Weimar Republic, with the addition of about 20% new recruits, mostly committed Nazis. It was really a turn-key operation: all you needed was a guy like Heydrich to turn the key.

        1. aab

          Hi, PhilM!

          I try to come back to look for replies, since I consider commenting here conversation, not standing on a soapbox. (And today I have a mountain of boring, unpleasant tasks to face; as every writer knows, that is my cue to do something else.)

          I don’t think I understand your point in your second graf, in case you see this.

  30. Sigh

    Outis, skip the Economist propaganda and go to the sources. It’s not in the Charter. The English text of the Warsaw Summit Communiqué calls 2% a guideline. “Defence Ministers will continue to review progress annually.”

    There is no binding 2% commitment.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Why are you splitting hairs on this?

      The phrase in Links mentions an “agreement,” not a “binding commitment,” and it says nothing about the Charter. It’s obvious from the Economist quote that the commitment isn’t “binding,” given that it refers to a 2024 target.

  31. Edward

    “The swamp strikes back” was written by Pepe Escobar, not the Saker. Escobar is usually good, but this is his second article based on a mystery source, which seems unprofessional.

  32. cripes

    It is completely possible that
    1) the MIC / MSM are orchestrating a propaganda campaign to paint Trump as a madman;
    2) stir up fear and hysteria in the populace (Russia!);
    3) Trump is pointing at the naked emperors of the MIC / MSM in a way no president ever has;
    4) Trump is also over his head in Washington power politics and lacks a sufficient army of professional operators to manage his administration;
    5) this opens the door to a free-for-all power struggle;
    6) creates perfect cover for the Ryan-Pence faction and the rump Clintonistas/Obamatons (with MSM in the fore) to struggle fight for primacy, while misdirecting the attention of the people they are about to screw over;
    7) the MIC is asserting their veto privilege over any policy-or hint of policy-that would diminish their munitions iron rice bowls;
    8) the pathetic liberal/left is lining up in support of the worst CIA cold warrior propagandists since Joe McCarthy;
    9) It’s all about the looting
    10) Anyone parroting the CIA / WaPo’s talking points on Putin should have his head examined

    It’s not binary people.
    There are no good actors here.

    1. Lambert Strether

      There are other actors who are good or at least better, but they’re not in your summary (which is not a criticism).

      In general, “both of these things can be true” is a good guide to sorting through the bullshit.

  33. cripes


    Paul Ryan said it with unrestrained glee on January 26:
    “This is our chance! To do great things! To our Nation!”

    It’s a clusterf*ck.

    1. aab

      If the Clintonites get their wish and either remove Trump from power or neuter him, Ryan will get free rein. Trump is literally the only thing stopping Ryan. The Democrats can’t and won’t.

      Personally, I’m much more afraid of Pence and Ryan. Can someone offer a non-emotive argument that I’m wrong? (So no Hitler/Russia/insanity claims.)

      1. Lambert Strether

        Won’t it be great when responsible Republicans like Ryan and mainstream Democrats like Schumer extend the right hand of good fellowship across the aisle and finally pass a Grand Bargain? Unfortunately for me, I had to keep searching today’s comment section for the word “orgasm,” but in this case, I think its use would be totally warranted.

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