2:00PM Water Cooler 3/22/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“Brown likes what he hears from Ross: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross emerged from a “productive” meeting Tuesday evening with Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was able to get Ross to commit to visiting a U.S. Steel Corp. plant in Lorain, Ohio, where significant production has been halted” [Politico].

Politics

New Cold War

“Devin Nunes is a conservative Republican from the San Joaquin Valley who advised Donald Trump through his transition to the presidency. Adam Schiff is a Los Angeles Democrat who campaigned for Hillary Clinton and isn’t shy in his criticisms of the man who defeated her” [RealClearPolitics]. Now the two California congressmen find themselves at the center of the political universe, leading a House probe into Russian meddling in American politics…. The two have no qualms about expressing disagreements with what they deduce from the same pot of information, but their joint appearances are a vestige of the kind of bipartisanship that has all but disappeared from Washington. And yet, Monday’s hearing showed the partisan divide on the issue, with Republican members focused on plugging government leaks of sensitive information and Democrats interested in possible collusion.” “Meddling,” “collusion.” Pretty squishy words…

“Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire” [Politico]. (Furzy Mouse). ZOMG!!!! The Ukrainians were hacking tampering with meddling in seeking to influence our election! Where’s that declaration of war I had lying around…

“From Russia, with Panic” [Yasha Levine, The Baffler (DG)]. This is an important post. Key point: “But in private conversations, as well as little-noticed public discussions, security professionals take a dimmer view of the cybersecurity complex. And the more I’ve looked at the hysteria surrounding Russia’s supposed hacking of our elections, the more I’ve come to see it as a case study of everything wrong and dangerous about the cyber-attribution business.” For example: “Matt Tait, a former GCHQ analyst and founder of Capital Alpha Security who blogs under the influential Twitter handle @pwnallthethings, found a Word document pilfered from the DNC and leaked by Guccifer 2.0. As he examined its data signatures, he discovered that it had been edited by Felix Edmundovich—a.k.a. Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka. To him, it was proof that Guccifer 2.0 was part of the same Russian intelligence operation. He really believed that the super sophisticated spy group trying to hide its Russian ties would register its Microsoft Word processor in the name of the leader of the infamously brutal Soviet security service.”

“Could the President Spy on His Political Opponents?” [The American Conservative]. “But regardless of whether [Trump’s “wiretapping”] claims turn out to be completely false, which is all but certain now, they do raise a question that shouldn’t be casually dismissed: Could President Obama’s administration have surveiled his political opponents under its interpretation of the law? Could President Trump’s administration now do the same? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.”

“Report: Paul Manafort Drafted a Plan in 2005 to Influence American Politics for Putin’s Benefit” [Slate]. I used Slate because “2005” somehow didn’t get into the headlines in the other stories. Here’s a blow-by-blow from NPR.

I can well believe that the Democrats are so feckless that they ginned up a Trump scandal with the wrong foreign power:

Heatlh Care

“A White House in full-court press mode deployed President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to call out and fire up Republican members about the party’s health care overhaul bill, but there was scant evidence it worked” [Roll Call]. “Trump and House leaders appear to be trying to cobble together Republican votes by picking off small groups of larger conservative factions, like the Freedom Caucus and much-larger Republican Study Committee. But just how many votes that will yield is a key remaining question. [Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows] told reporters Tuesday he has concluded that the White House and House leaders still did not have enough votes locked in. One high-level source said leadership sees “a path” to 216, and expressed confidence the bill will pass… Providing cover for those conservatives opposed is a bevy of interest groups vehemently opposed to the bill. Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth have all urged conservatives to oppose the measure, and some are backing that up with ad campaigns thanking Meadows and his band.”

“At least 22 Republicans in the U.S. House oppose or remain undecided on the American Health Care Act, enough to jeopardize the fate of the sweeping bill when it is slated to come for a vote on Thursday evening, according to an ABC News count” [ABC].

“We still don’t know how Poliquin will vote on GOP health bill” [Bangor Daily News]. District 2’s representative (my district). “[M]oderates are still spooked by the plan’s high costs for people shy of Medicare age. In Maine’s rural 2nd Congressional District, cost figures attached to the plan aren’t pretty.” We don’t build destroyers where I am, so that’s out.

Trump Transition

“President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Labor Department said Wednesday he won’t allow potential political pressure from the administration to influence his hiring decisions and regrets he let that happen on his watch at the Justice Department” [AP]. Oh.

“New poll: only 3% of Trump voters regret their vote” [WaPo]. And if I were a Trump voter and regretted my vote, you can be sure I wouldn’t tell the effing Post about it.

“Though Trump has been president for more than two months, he has begun campaigning for the 2020 election in a way. His rallies are funded by his 2020 campaign, which collects donations and sells merchandise at them” [Business Insider].

“Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State” [Politico]. “Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. An appropriation from countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Algeria, where real networks of intelligence, defense and interior ministry officials exercise real power to drive policy, sideline elected officials and eliminate opponents, the American Deep State is nothing more than an invention of President Donald Trump and his allies.” Oh, my. That will certainly be news to Peter Dale Scott!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Unknown Write-In Candidate Wins Special Election in North Philadelphia” [NBC Philadelphia]. They’ve got to count the write-ins. Maybe the winner will be Cheri Honkala?

“Science march on Washington, billed as historic, plagued by organizational turmoil” [Stat]. “At the heart of the disagreements are conflicting philosophies over the march’s purpose. In one corner are those who assert that the event should solely promote science itself: funding, evidence-based policies, and international partnerships. In another are those who argue that the march should also bring attention to broader challenges scientists face, including issues of racial diversity in science, women’s equality, and immigration policy… The event’s official diversity policy, posted just days after the march was announced in January, has undergone repeated revisions, and is now in its fourth version.”

“A New Yorker cartoonist is creating a new book that illustrates President Trump’s tweets” [WaPo]. That should change a few minds.

Stats Watch

Existing Home Sales, February 2017: “Existing home sales are on the soft side of expectations” [Econoday].”The pending home sales index, which tracks initial contract signings for resales, accurately anticipated weakness in today’s report, one that underscores the still hesitant activity in the housing sector.” And: “Also weak” [Mosler Economics]. And: “This was a poor month for home sales. I believe last month’s strong showing was an anomoly as there is no dynamic in play which suggests home sales should be improving” [Econintersect]. And: “Inventory decreased 6.4% year-over-year in February compared to February 2016. … This was below consensus expectations. For existing home sales, a key number is inventory – and inventory is still low” [Calculated Risk]. And: “Unless there is a surge in real incomes growth, it will be difficult to see a more than a limited near-term increase in home sales at prevailing prices” [Economic Calendar].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of March 17, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 2 percent” [Econoday].

Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index, January 2017: “an unusually weak showing” [Econoday]. “[G]iven how thin available housing supply is, the lack of significant price traction is surprising and ultimately points to limited strength in demand.” And: “This was a surprise” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Headline data for truck shipments were mixed in February – but our analysis believes trucking growth rate is improving” [Econintersect]. “I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which again showed a moderate improvement year-over-year. The ATA data continues to wander all over the map – and is likely a result of seasonal adjustment issues. It is also interesting that the current trucking employment pattern is now showing a short term improvement trend which supports the CASS index.”

Retail: “A Listing by State of 1,430 Sears and Kmart Stores” [247 Wall Street]. So we know where to send the black crepe….

Shipping: “Organizing the supply chain: interview with Jeff Farmer” [DC Velocity]. (Farmer is the The Teamster’s director of organizing.) “The supply chain is a big and small place. Big in that it touches virtually every part of the planet and affects each one of us. But small in that the people who make it go are often one- or two-person bands that don’t get much notice yet are vital cogs in an enormous wheel. For the Teamsters union, this collection of port drivers, warehousemen and women, and loaders and unloaders, among others, offers tremendous opportunity to bulk up its membership rolls. It is uncharted territory, however, and one that’s difficult to crack because of labor laws that bar independent contractors, which many of these workers happen to be, from forming a union.”

Shipping: “A day in the life of a Freight Forwarder” [Shipping and Freight Resource]. “For those seeking a thrill, beating the odds, racing the clock, feeling the lure of the unknown and that adrenaline pump while still at work, Freight Forwarding is where the action is!” And it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be automated any time soon…

Shipping: “Concerns over price-fixing in shipping are spreading just as global container lines are preparing to line up in powerful new alliances. The U.S. Justice Department effectively disclosed an investigation into the liner companies… by crashing a meeting of top industry executives and issued subpoenas to companies including Maersk Line, a unit of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moller Maersk A/S and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG. The probe comes as carriers are undertaking big changes following a crushing downturn, consolidating businesses while exerting new discipline on operations and pricing” [Wall Street Journal]. Hardly surprising. I mean, price-fixing is one reason to consolidate in the first place, no? Too bad Holder never crashed a meeting of bank CEOs. That would have been fun.

Shipping: “Volume growth at the world’s largest container ports was fairly moderate in 2016, but throughput levels did rise at a faster rate than the previous year.Sluggish trade growth in 2015 continued into the early stages of the year. Trade sentiment, however, improved significantly in the second” [Lloyd’s List].

Supply Chain: “These fibres were shipped to Egypt, where they were spun into yarn. This yarn was then sent to China where it was woven into a fabric. This fabric was then sent to Spain where it was dyed, in this case pink. The fabric was then shipped to Morocco to be cut into the various parts of the dress and then sewn together” [BBC]. I’ve been reading Empire of Cotton; this is is not new.

The Bezzle: “Of an estimated ad spend totaling $66 billion last year, some $12.5 billion (20%) was wasted as a result of fraud or invalid traffic. The total lost to fraud was larger than all the advertising revenue booked by 80 premium publishers, including the AP, NBC, NPR, PBS and many more represented on Digital Content Next rolls” [247 Wall Street]. “According to a study by m/SIX, a U.K. media agency, $27 billion was spent last year on programmatic advertising (ads sold through an automated process) 29%, or $7.8 billion, was invalid and advertisers received no benefit from the ads. Another $4.65 billion was lost on fraudulent direct sales.” Yes, but which 20%?

The Bezzle: “SEC sets marketwide risks, money market funds and cybersecurity as top examination priorities” [Pensions and Investments]. “To address marketwide risks, the ‘OCIE will focus on compliance with the SEC’s Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity, which establishes uniform requirements relating to the automated systems of market participants and utilities, and anti-money laundering rules, and how well money market funds are complying with amended rules that went into effect in October.”

The Bezzle: “On February 14, 2017, President Trump signed into law a joint resolution of Congress to repeal a critical anti-corruption rule [the ‘Cardin-Lugar regulations’] for oil, gas and mining companies. The law was introduced by the House on January 30, 2017. It quickly moved to the Senate, where it was passed with the support of the Republicans and opposition of the Democrats” [Mining.com]. “A concern for Canadian and foreign companies who will maintain their reporting regimes is whether the repeal of the Cardin-Lugar regulations will place U.S.-listed companies operating in mining extraction areas at an advantage compared to companies subject to rigorous transparency requirements. Particularly for projects in developing countries such as Africa, where there is a problem with corruption and where succumbing to bribery could lead to the award of mining rights and subsequent contracts.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 36, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 22 at 12:00pm. No stats of note, so perhaps a Trump hangover. Like this:

“Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.”

(Kingley Amis, Lucky Jim.)

Water

“Five Lessons from the Oroville Dam Crisis” [American Rivers].

Health

“One change in the bill gives states the option to convert their Medicaid programs (except for their elderly and disabled beneficiaries) into a block grant, under which states would get a fixed amount of Medicaid funding for the year that wouldn’t change if a recession hit, a plant closed, more people became poor, an epidemic struck, or anything else happened that raised health costs. Because a state’s block-grant allocation would rise each year only at the general inflation rate, which is well below the rate at which U.S. health care costs rise, the block grant would necessitate increasingly deep Medicaid cuts over time. Nor would the block grant funding level adjust for population growth, either” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities]. It’s the Medicaid cap that’s the worst part of the bill, IMNSHO.

“These are difficult days for those of us who have advocated for pay-for-performance (P4P) as a policy tool to improve health care quality. The idea behind P4P has always been simple: physicians and hospitals should be financially rewarded for providing high-quality care and financially penalized for providing low-quality care” [Journal of the American Medical Association]. “The early studies on P4P found that these programs had little effect on quality but provided bonuses primarily to those who were already doing well. A key study found that the largest hospital-based P4P program known as the Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration, had no effect on patient outcomes. This program provided bonuses and penalties of up to 2% of total Medicare payments to hospitals based on their performance on a series of quality metrics. However, there has been the mounting evidence—even in multiple meta-analyses—that P4P programs were having little effect across a range of clinical services, from quality of ambulatory care to rates of breast cancer screening. Despite this, Congress created multiple P4P programs within the ACA to incentivize better care. Although some, like the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program appear to have had modest effects, the national VBP effort is not.” Oopsie.

Class Warfare

“All 51 startups that debuted at Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 2” [TechCrunch] (day one). This is a good one:

Collectly helps doctors collect 2x’s more debt than they have before. It’s a business with $280 billion sent to debt but the debt collectors only collect on average up to 20%. The founder is a former CEO of a debt collection agency and collected over $100 million before

The acerbic Pinboard comments:

He’s not wrong. (And any time you encounter an online company with a cute name that’s also an adverb, like collectly, run a mile, because it’s a startup that wants to harm you. Kidding! I think….)

“[S]tarting in April, Portland [Maine] plans to try a new tactic. The city will hire a few panhandlers a day, pay them $10.68 an hour, the city’s minimum wage, and assign them to clean parks and public spaces. The Portland city manager, Jon Jennings, said it was time to think of another solution and believes this one will help everyone. He hopes to eventually be able to convert some of the jobs into full-time work with the city, he said, and Portland’s parks will be more beautiful [New York Times (Jerry)]. So why not a jobs guarantee for everyone?

“The New Rules Hurting Retirement Security” [Democracy Journal]. “Fewer than one third of Americans aged 65 to 74 have any savings in a retirement account and the accounts that exist are inadequate to provide a secure retirement—the median balance is just $49,000. The situation for younger workers is even more dire.” So, in the face of this crisis, liberals have a complicated “nudge theory” Rube Goldberg device, which sucks, and conservatives have a simple machine (in this case, the screw). The unasked question: Why should people have to “save for retirement” at all?

News of the Wired

More Chuck Berry:

RH comments: “Chuck Berry stole the show. Johnny cancelled both other guests after this performance of Roll Over Beethoven at 15:05.”

“The Death of Transit and Beyond'” [Geoff Huston]. Not public transit (well, sorta public transit). Important thoughts on changes to Internet architecture.

“Is the dark really making me sad?” [Ars Technica].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (CB):

Another apple photo from CB, giving me an excuse to quote from Michael Pollan’s wonderful Botany of Desire:

John Chapman is better known as “Johnny Appleseed,” a very successful businessman in the Ohio Valley!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

125 comments

  1. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Jon Jennings hiring panhandlers in Portland.

    Jennings is about as pro-business as it gets. As the assistant city manager in a neighboring city he took a health care company on a shopping trip tour of city owned property that said company might like to relocate on, never mind the exist zoning that should have made it a non-starter. Needless to say residents were not amused and the project got killed. Jennings took his ball and went to Portland not long after.

    Now he’s turning Portland into more of a tourist haven that it already was, the locals be damned. Last summer he ripped up half the city for a ridiculous street widening project that backed up traffic all over town for months, parts of which had to be redone several times, and once finished didn’t do much of anything to make the street any better. Heard through the grapevine from a reputable source in government that Jennings was in a rush to get it done before the tourists showed up in the summer – that’s his priority.

    So yeah, giving the homeless a job is better than a kick in the head but my cynicism leads me to believe it wasn’t done out of feelings of altruism so much as a way to get cheap labor to make the city pretty for people from away. Why not set an example and pay an actual living wage? In the city whose main industry these days is overpriced artisanal restaurants and redeveloped condos none of the locals can afford, $10.68 doesn’t cut it.

    1. lambert strether

      I don’t care so much about his motives if the program is good.

      That said, your description is why I’m happy to live way the hell up in District 2 (albeit in a university town with its own problems).

      Street construction feeds local construction companies which no doubt contribute to his campaign. Sad to say….

  2. FreeMarketApologist

    ““Science march on Washington, billed as historic, plagued by organizational turmoil”.

    These articles are so depressing… Why, it seems, must every march be about every single issue and sub-issue that plagues the field? Pick a single big thing, focus on it, and get people’s attention and engagement. Once you’ve got them engaged and working on the problem, then expand their knowledge and engagement by pointing out the other things that need fixing.

    Nobody will need to care about, say, racial or gender diversity in science if there isn’t any science.

    1. Ernesto Lyon

      If “science” hadn’t let itself be used as a cudgel against those who questioned the safety and usefulness of market driven technical “advances,” I’d have a little more sympathy for its plight.

      Being told I’m “anti-science” because I’d prefer to not eat laboratory invented foods doused in pesticides has encouraged me to accept the title.

      1. Ian

        Here is a link I really enjoyed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaCTs8oeAh8 one of the interesting comments made was in regards to Technology being a byproduct of science and that science has largely been captured and enslaved to the need to exploit and produce results under that byproduct. Or some such things to that effect, my own interpretation.

    2. Adam Eran

      Infighting is endemic to any opposition cause.

      That said: http://www.marchforsciencesacramento.com is gearing up for Saturday April 22. Earth Day is the next day.

      My personal gripe with the enviros is that all too often they’re willing to negotiate within the frame already provided by local decision making. Believe me, the fix is in when anyone accepts existing institutions as offering genuine solutions.

      This is like the contention that the right (Kochs) is opposed by the “left” (Soros). But the Kochs are really, really right wingers (raised by a Nazi governess!), and Soros is a billionaire currency speculator, not much concerned with income inequality, a big Hillary supporter, and not much of a labor advocate. If Kochs vs. Soros is really the range of policy options available, then the fix is in.

    1. allan

      Cry me a river. He can join the other 310 million of us who can be “incidentally collected”.
      Apparently GOP concern for civil liberties ends at the party’s edge.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        You do realize it was a Democratic Administration lead by St. Obama that was in charge for the last 8 years?
        And you think the Democrats are somehow concerned with your civil liberties?

        Interesting…

        1. RUKidding

          Yes, I totally get that and have been beyond disgusted with Obama for that and many other things.

          That said, it was what happening potentially to all citizens, not just Donald Trump. I dislike this intensely, but why should Trump get special dispensation over other citizens? Would like to know the reason for that.

          Do you really believe that the Trump Admin will do anything differently than what the Obama Admin did in this regard?

          If so, what will be different and why will Trump take the lead on it?

          I’m serious and curious. Thanks.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Oh, don’t misunderstand me…I loathe the complete erosion of civil liberties and do not expect the Trump admin. (or any administration that is composed of “elites”, Demo or Repub) to do any better than the administration before them. It just gets worse…
            That’s what frightens me.

            I don’t think Trump should get “special dispensation”.
            I think the surveillance apparatus/partnerships should be demolished once and for all. The principles of privacy and freedom from illegal searches should apply to all of us.

            1. RUKidding

              Fair enough. I agree, but I doubt anything will change, sadly.

              Given Trump’s very recent (at some dinner gathering, I think) “enlightenment” that Pres Lincoln was – gasp! whocoulddaknowed??? – a Republican, I am now wondering if Trump’s recent tweets about his phones being “tapped” is similar in that he just recently discovered all the spying/collecting/whatever that’s been going on for quite some time now via BigSpy, Inc. It truly wouldn’t suprise me if Trump was out to lunch vis the Snowden reveals and what it meant for all US citizens, including one Donald J Trump.

              The man is incredibly incurious and seems totally ignorant of many many things going on with the US govt that any political junkie has known for years.

              That’s my speculation: that Bannon revealed to him that ObamaCo was spying on everyone, including Trump, and there’s Trump: furiously tweeting about how HE had his phones tapped. Screw everyone else. It’s all about the Donald.

              feh…

              1. dale

                But that’s what I appreciate about Trump, That’s he’s so damn ignorant. We, street smart and wise, take so many things for granted, while he doesn’t take anything for granted because he doesn’t know anything. This allows us to reflect on our own loss, so to speak, watching his reaction to discovering, for example, that everything we communicate is collected, analyzed, cataloged and stored. This is new to Donald. He’s shocked to discover that he really is just one of us.

              2. Allegorio

                Except for the fact that at the time of Snowden’s revelations Trumpenstein tweeted that he was a traitor and should be executed.

                1. fritter

                  It makes total sense. Trump would never think all that Snowden stuff applied to him. Its not like he is a commoner.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            There’s also this showing evidence that Trump Tower was specifically monitored during the Obama administration, although the probe was targeting Russian mafia and not Trump and was done well before he declared his candidacy.

            The FBI did wiretap Trump Tower to monitor Russian activity, but it had nothing to do with the 2016 Presidential election, it has been reported.

            Between 2011 and 2013 the Bureau had a warrant to spy on a high-level criminal Russian money-laundering ring, which operated in unit 63A of the iconic skyscraper — three floors below Mr Trump’s penthouse.

            Not exactly a confirmation of Trump’s rather wild claims, but something.

            Still waiting for any evidence to appear that Russians interfered with the elections or colluded with Trump.

            1. uncle tungsten

              Ok, so they were just after the Russian mafia, phew I feel better already. So they got the felons and they are all arrested?

              What utter BS! Why is Semion Mogilevitch still at large in Hungary and no extradition process? What about Felix Sater and Steve Wynn and on and on. Why are they incapable of prosecuting mafia mobsters and instead chasing politicians?

          3. cocomaan

            Collectly is some really depressing stuff. Wow. More from their website.

            3. Transparent collection
            Our intelligent software automatically reaches out to customers that didn’t pay in time, so you will never need to manually chase them again. And you can see every action on every case.

            Totaly fair.

            Totaly fair? I had to read it twice. Is that a typo? Or does it mean something?

            Next up: our intelligent algorithm using state of the art innovative techniques of automation innovation disruption innovation disruption automatically sends orders to police and judges to prepare and serve pay or stay warrants, making sure your debtor goes to jail for their crime!

            Edit: Weird, this went in the wrong place. Oh well.

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That said, it was what happening potentially to all citizens, not just Donald Trump. I dislike this intensely, but why should Trump get special dispensation over other citizens? Would like to know the reason for that.

            Like Watergate, it’s really about the denial or the lying.

            “When did you know about the, er, collecting?”

            For how many days have we ridiculed Trump for his alternative universe imagination?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He can join the other 310 million of us who can be “incidentally collected”.

        Didn’t your mother tell you that 310 million wrongs don’t make a right?

        Neither party establishment cares about that quaint concept, civil liberties. If Obama’s flip flip on FISA reform in July 2008, giving the telcos retroactive immunity for Bush’s warrantless surveillance, didn’t convince you, then his 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy should have.

        1. fritter

          Not to mention monitoring a politician opens up a whole new can of worms. I’m convinced Trump must pretty clean relatively because the IC hasn’t gotten rid of him yet and you know they have all of his communications.
          I’m with Lambert on neither party caring. I knew all I needed to when Obama voted for FISA and the following years just reinforced how corrupt the Dems were. There is an import point here though. I don’t think Trump would have thought that all of the surveillance would be applied to him personally. It was just about other people. It was probably a legitimate eye opener. Now Trump is at the head of the surveillance apparatus. Instead of asking wikileaks to release all of clintons emails, he should just do it himself. The Dems who were all for collecting on everyone can’t (non-hypocritically) complain about Trump having all that now. I mean, we can never know how far the extremest have penetrated into our government unless we trace where all that Saudi money terrorist influence goes.

    2. Code Name D

      Not just incedently, in concreshional hearings, Comie flat out says that Trump and his team were investigated for Rushan connections, and that none were found. The question now is was the investigations properly secured or not. Something completly in the air.

      But team dem is still playing the “wire tap” canad.

    3. Randy

      The surveillance state bites the politicians that created it in the ass. I love that. They are not happy, I love that too.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It was already a farce when McCain went after Paul.

          Though it was, before that, a horror film, with the ‘ways the intelligence community can get you.’

          1. fresno dan

            MyLessThanPrimeBeef
            March 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

            It is a satire, wrapped in a parody, hidden in slapstick, on top of a farce, buried in a bro-mance between a man with a tower and another man riding a horse without a shirt (and the man isn’t wearing a shirt either….)

      1. allan

        Also, this kind of incidental collection has been known about for years.
        Here’s a Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani article (linked to by Emptywheel)
        from the WaPo in 2014 and based on the Snowden documents:

        In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are
        [WaPo]

        Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

        Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. …

        And what was the reaction of many Congresspersons
        (including many Dems, and all of the GOP except maybe Rand Paul and Justin Amash)?
        Revealing this is treason. People will die.
        And Trump’s CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, has called for Snowden’s execution.

        1. fresno dan

          allan
          March 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm

          Sorry allan – I got all excited at seeing a Nunes article in ZeroHedge and posted a comment – your article is better and it makes for more coherent comment threads to keep them together – I should have looked before I leaped (posted).

          Nunes: “I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.
          Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration—details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value—were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.
          I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.
          To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

          ==============================================
          So the worm turns. The hypocrisy espoused by all sides is…..well, 11th dimensional.

          1. 3.14e-9

            fresno dan, this was a major topic of discussion during the committee hearing with Comey and Rogers on Monday. I listened to the whole thing – all five hours and 18 minutes’ worth – because I suspected that the corporate media would omit important details or spin it beyond recognition. And so they did.

            The bipartisan divide is being portrayed as Democrats wanting to get to the truth of Russian efforts to snuff out Democracy, and Republicans wanting to “plug leaks” (see Lambert’s RCP except above), with some reports suggesting the Rs are advocating stifling free speech, prosecuting reporters for publishing classified information, and the like.

            Republican committee members were indeed focused on the leaks, and there was talk about how to prevent them, but their concern – at least as they expressed publicly on Monday – was specifically related to whether all those current and former officials, senior officials, etc., quoted anonymously in the NYT and WaPo (the infamous “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies”) violated FISA provisions protecting information about U.S. persons collected incidentally in surveillance of foreign actors.

            Sure, they’re playing their own game, and it could be a ruse to divert attention from the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian ties or simply to have ammo against the Ds. Even so, after listening to all their arguments, I believe they are on more solid ground than all the Dem hysteria about Russian aggression and Trump camp treason.

            I don’t think I’ll ever get Trey Gowdy’s cringe-worthy performance during the Benghazi hearings out of my head, but he made some pretty good points on Monday, one of which was that investigating Russian interference and possible ties between Trump advisers and Russia is all well and good, but there may or may not have been any laws broken; whereas leaking classified information about U.S. citizens collected incidentally under FISA is clearly a felony with up to 10 years. Comey confirmed that by saying that ALL information collected under FISA is classified.

            And then he repeatedly refused to say whether he thought any classified information had been leaked or existed at all (I counted more than 100 “no comment” answers from Comey, who astonishingly managed to find 50 different ways to say it).

            My beef isn’t so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability.

            In fact, there were some interesting comments in Monday’s hearing about the possibility that some of what has been reported was fabricated. Then, you might expect Comey to say something like that. For all his talk about not tolerating leaks from his agency, blahblah, it was clear that he’ll provide his own people with cover, if necessary. I think that’s what Gowdy and a couple other Republicans were getting at.

            It goes without saying, but I’ll add that the Dems were hardly even trying to disguise their real goal, which isn’t protecting the American People® from the evil Russkies, but taking down Trump.

            1. fresno dan

              3.14e-9
              March 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm

              Thanks for watching the whole thing – the nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

              “My beef isn’t so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability.”

              First, I a squillion percent agree with you. This is a big, bit deal because essentially the military/IC/neocons is trying to wrest control of the civilian government – the idea that the CIA is some noble institution that wants the best for all Americans is preposterous, yet accepted by the media, which proves how much propaganda we are fed. The sheep like following, the mandatory use of the adjective “murderous thug” before the name of “Putin” just shows that most of the media has been bought off or has lost all their critical thinking faculties.

              But I also don’t want to be a hypocrite so I will explain that I don’t have too much of a problem with leaks. WHAT I do have a problem with is the purposeful naivete or ignorance of the media that the CIA and/or facets of the Obama administration is trying to thwart rapprochement with Russia. Administrations BEFORE they are sworn in talk to foreign governments – the sheer HYSTERIA, the CRIME of talking to a Russian is beyond absurd. We are being indoctrinated to believe all Russia, all bad…

              There is a ton of information about Podesta and the Clintons dealing with Russia for money. If Flynn and whatshisname are just grifting that is pedestrian stuff and everybody in Washington does it (I thing they call it “lobbying”). If there is REAL treason something should have come out by now.

              1. 3.14e-9

                Thanks, fd.

                I began covering congressional hearings while I was still in j-school and sat though many like this during my years as a reporter in D.C. Even though I haven’t worked as a full-time journalist for many years, I still prefer original sources and am willing to take the time to dig for them or, in this case, to sit through a hearing as though I were covering it as a member of the press – especially when I don’t even have to wash my hair or get dressed!

                I didn’t mean to imply that I have a problem with leaks. I certainly encouraged enough of them in my time, and I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with publishing leaked material, even certain kinds of classified information. It depends.

                There’s the kind of “classified” information that is restricted expressly to keep the public from knowing something they have a right to know, and there’s information that’s classified to protect individual privacy. The first kind should be leaked early and often. The second kind, close to never (and off the top of my head I can’t think of an instance when it would be OK).

                Even though journalists aren’t (and shouldn’t be) held liable for publishing classified information given to them by a third party, they need to be scrupulous in their decisions to do so. Is it in the public interest? Who or what might be harmed? Would sitting on the information cause more harm than publicizing it? Does it violate someone’s constitutional rights?

                These questions can get tricky with someone like Flynn, who’s clearly a public figure and thus mostly fair game. However, if I had been reporting that story, I think I would have sat on it until I had more information, even at the risk of getting scooped – unless, of course, I was in cahoots with the leakers and out to get him and his boss.

                At that point, I am no longer an objective journalist committed to fair and accurate reporting, but a participant in a political cause. Although newspapers throughout history have taken sides, and pure “fact-based” journalism is a myth, there’s a big difference between having an editorial slant and being an active participant in the story. Evidently, BezPo has decided that the latter is not only acceptable, but advantageous.

                Sorry, didn’t mean to ramble on when I’m likely preaching to the converted. I feel very strongly about this issue, and it’s disconcerting to me, as a lifelong Democrat, that I agreed more with the Republicans in that hearing. At the same time, the D’s propaganda machine is pumping out so much toxic fog that it’s shaking my faith in unfettered freedom of the press.

                Exactly what Putin wants, right?

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > I began covering congressional hearings while I was still in j-school and sat though many like this during my years as a reporter in D.C. Even though I haven’t worked as a full-time journalist for many years, I still prefer original sources and am willing to take the time to dig for them

                  Hmm. NC needs an in-house emptywheel…

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              You did this so we didn’t have to. Thanks!

              * * *

              This:

              In fact, there were some interesting comments in Monday’s hearing about the possibility that some of what has been reported was fabricated.

              I mean, it’s not like we don’t have several major players with the expertise and the institutional mandate to fake evidence. Waiting for a shoe to drop on this. Call me foily….

              * * *

              And this:

              My beef isn’t so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability.

              For this, we have the First Amendment? Really?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I agree that everybody is surveilled all the time, especially in the Beltway, where probably there are multiple simultaneous operations run against…. well, everybody.

          It doesn’t, er, bug me that 70-year-old Beltway neophyte Trump used sloppy language — “wiretap” — to describe this state of affairs. (I don’t expect any kind of language from Trump but sloppy.) All are, therefore one is. It does bug me that the whole discussion gets dragged off into legal technicalities about what legal regimen is appropriate for which form of Fourth Amendment-destruction (emptywheel does this a lot). The rules are insanely complicated, and it’s fun to figure them out, rather like taking the cover off the back of a Swiss watch and examining all the moving parts. But the assumption is that people follow the rules, and especially that high-level people (like, say, Comey, or Clapper, or Morrel, or Obama) follow the complicated rules. That assumes facts not in evidence.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Incidental collection was always a likely scenario.

      We’ve also seen statements from people like GHCQ that clains they surveilled Trump at Obama’s behest were “absurd,” but those are non-denial denials. I can’t recall a denial denial. Am I missing something?

    1. Katharine

      Thanks for this! The Guardian had not yet cross-posted to World News, and I was unaware of what had happened.

  3. Ivy

    That New Yorker tweet book could be in honor of Pauline Kael, along the lines of Nobody I know reads those tweets. That could touch a few Gotham institutions at once.

  4. Vatch

    Even if only 3% of Trump’s voters regret voting for him, that’s a rather large percentage this early in his administration. Here’s a summary of Trump’s approval ratings from Gallup:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

    I realize that some people who voted for him weren’t Republicans, but I’ll simplify things, and note that 89% of Republicans approved of him on Jan. 20 to 29, 2017, and this was down to 86% on March 13 to 19, 2017. Independents dropped from 42% to 35%, and Democrats from 13% to 10%.

    Here’s similar data for Obama:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/116479/barack-obama-presidential-job-approval.aspx

    Democrats increased their approval from 88% on Jan. 20 to 25, 2009, to 90% on March 16 to 22, 2017. Independents stayed steady from 62% to 62%, and Republicans plunged from 41% to 27%.

    So Trump’s approval has dropped among all three groups, but Obama’s approval only dropped among the people who mostly did not vote for him. I know there were clues to how bad Obama was, even before he was inaugurated, but it took me about a year to realize it. I expect it will take a similar amount of time for some Trump voters, and that a little more than 3% of his voters already regret voting for him seems significant. However, I doubt that very many of them regret having voted against Clinton, judging by what the WaPo article said. They said that only three of them wished that they had voted for Clinton, but seven of them wished that they had voted for one of the third party candidates.

  5. TK421

    In another are those who argue that the march should also bring attention to broader challenges scientists face, including issues of racial diversity in science, women’s equality, and immigration policy

    LOL. God forbid people not be able to immigrate from one part of our ecologically ruined planet to another! And who cares if we’re running out of fossil fuels that our civilization can’t function without–i want to hear the march organizer’s plan to provide bathrooms for all 60 genders!

    1. cocomaan

      The article also makes no mention of the many other economic problems in our scientific industries, ones that transcend identity politics, so I assume the whiners aren’t either:

      * Graduate undergraduate student labor and the lack of protections for these individuals
      * Adjuncts/precarious employment, contingent employment
      * Administrative bloat
      * Government unfunded mandates on education
      * Educational institutions and their mission creep beyond academics to sports and other things
      * Scientific journal gatekeeping
      * Reproducibility crisis
      * and so on and on

  6. Pat

    Pardon me if I mourn the loss of K-Mart before it is gone. I accepted a while ago that the useful, filled with value Sears I grew up with no longer exists awhile ago. But in recent years, K-Mart has been a go to for clothing, underwear and yes some grocery staples I need like cat food. I will continue to shop there until the end. I will also probably stock up as much as I can on my favorite pants and shorts, so I have some time to brush up my sewing skills. (I thought it was just me, but another woman I know mentioned she had to exchange a blouse at K-Mart. Comparing notes we found that we both did a lot of shopping there. I’m sure she won’t be so happy either.)

    1. RUKidding

      If it worked for you, then I’m sorry for your loss (really). A KMart near me closed quite a few years ago. I did get some good bargains at the end.

    2. Katharine

      I am reminded of the loss of Woolworth’s, and a woman quoted in a news article saying, “Where will we go?” The question was valid then, for the many things one could and did get at Woolworth’s (in the neighborhood, no less!), and will be asked again.

      Good luck with the sewing! Fabric stores aren’t what they were either.

    3. a different chris

      I’m with you. We have a nearby smaller K-mart, now I will have to go 3x as far to the bleeping mall and have to walk three times the aisle distance to get what I need. Interestingly enough the Sears in that Mall has been closed for quite a while. Also maybe even more interesting, there is a Radio Shack in a strip mall even closer than the K-mart, and it survived. So maybe somebody will somehow keep that Kmart (maybe under a different name) in operation. It seems reasonably busy.

      1. R

        I wonder if the main cause is poor revenues or debt service. I’m betting the latter.

        Mid-town Kansas City has no K-mart type stores. You can get some things at the tax-increment-financed drugstores like Walgreens or CVS. But underwear, a coffee maker, kitchen towels…clothes, shoes. Unless you wear a size 4 and are totes all about the Anthropologie or BeBe you must have a car and drive to the crapified strip malls in the suburb ring. This last weekend I had to drive half an hour each way to buy a damn memory foam dog bed. It’s utterly ridiculous.

        My stepdad used to call it Red-K Blue-Mart.

    4. Dead Dog

      Ah well, at least you have all those good Amazon jobs and don’t need to go out anymore /s

  7. steelhead23

    “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire” [Politico]. (Furzy Mouse). ZOMG!!!! The Ukrainians were hacking tampering with meddling in seeking to influence our election! Where’s that declaration of war I had lying around…

    I can see Lambert, that you are a fan of irony. Oh, those dastardly Ukrainians. Don’t they know that meddling in elections is the U.S.’s stock and trade? How dare they tread on our turf?

    Also, I am suffering severe cognitive dissonance about the whole “The Russians stole our election” meme. I recognized early on that this was a red herring, intended to distract us from the corruption of the party and Clinton displayed in Podesta’s emails. And, the leaks that destroyed Flynn made me quite suspicious that elements of the U.S. Deep State were out to destroy not just Flynn, but Trump as well – a quiet coup if you will. And now, to my horror, I find that Steve Bannon agrees! OMG!

  8. I Have Strange Dreams

    Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire

    The invisible hand waves bye-bye to Eddie Lampert, whose business plan has run Sears into the ground

    Lampert is now known as one of the worst CEOs in America — the man who flushed Sears down the toilet with his demented management style and harebrained approach to retail. Sears stock is tanking. His hedge fun is down 40 percent, and the business press has turned from praising Lampert’s genius to watching gleefully as his ship sinks. Investors are running from “Crazy Eddie” like the plague.

    That’s what happens when Ayn Rand is the basis for your business plan…

    1. cocomaan

      Reading this, I keep thinking of Mote in God’s Eye, one of the best sci fi books ever written, and the motie’s mythical character of “Crazy Eddie,” a story of that guy (you know, that guy) who refuses to realize that in a contest of two bad choices, there is no third option that will magically make everything better.

      1. a different chris

        Yeah but Lampert had a lot more than two choices of how to do things, he just didn’t care about any other way than the one that appealed to his permanently-teenage brain.

      2. craazyboy

        You just reminded me I need to re-read the “Mote in God’s Eye”, and it’s sequel “The Gripping Hand”.

        Larry Niven sure had a knack for creating aliens and alien civilizations.

    2. RUKidding

      Well yeah, but it worked out so well for Lampert, I’m sure. And isn’t that the Ayn Randian goal: it’s all and only about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…. and all those lousy lazy worthless moochers can go EFF themselves. I got mine, screw you.

      Lampert will no doubt walk away with million$ while the workers can eat sh*t and die (literally). No doubt his fellow and sister CEOs are giving him High Fives for a job well done.

      It’s all about Lies, Injustice and the Murkin way of life.

      1. a different chris

        >will no doubt walk away with million$

        God we can’t keep up, can we? I know what you meant but nowadays it’s at a minimum “hundreds of millions”.. guys like him don’t even come out of the house for “millions”.

  9. Arizona Slim

    From the original post:

    The unasked question: Why should people have to “save for retirement” at all?

    My answers:

    1. Because the financial industry wants to get its greedy paws on those savings.
    2. What the financial industry wants, it gets.
    3. If people didn’t “save for retirement,” they’d be drinking lattes! Lots of lattes! And they’d be doing this with friends! And we can’t have that, now can we?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Your comment reminded me of that ad Prudential is running, the one that says “If you could save 1% more for retirement, blah, blah, blah…..”. Well, after 40 years that 1% you save, even at their supposed rate of 5.5%, won’t do much for you, but think what it will do for Prudential if they can get a million suckers to fall for it….

      1. Arizona Slim

        Precisely.

        You hear a lot about compounding returns. Well, the bad news is that costs also compound.

        Which is why you want to keep those costs as low as possible. That sure won’t happen if you go the Prudential route.

        1. andyb

          Given the zero interest rate environment, it is doubtful that many insurance companies will survive the next decade; most are walking financial zombies. Anyone else notice that auto insurance keeps going up even when your driving record is crystal clean?

    2. a different chris

      What’s funny (sad funny) is all the people, sometimes the same ones I bet, also telling us we need to spend more “for groaf”.

  10. Peter Van Erp

    “Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State” [Politico]. Yesterday, Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex, and current member of the pundit class from her position as the First Woman to Head the Wilson Center.
    Let the word go forth from this time and place that the government works in your best interests, despite the apparent fact that it doesn’t work for most Americans and keeps delivering more and more benefits to the oligarchy. Any attempt to explain it as deliberate policy is a fantasy, a fever dream of rabid leftists right wing nuts.

  11. Paid Minion

    Funny how some are getting their undies in a twist over “foreign interference” in our elections.

    Globalists push global markets, global labor pools, global “race to the bottom” rules for white collar crime. Yet are surprised/offended by “global elections”. Especially when the US government interferes (directly or indirectly) with every country on the face of the earth.

    Maybe we should be happy that our government is for sale to the highest bidder, worldwide. After all, global competition has done so much for US business and labor.

    So we have Global Kleptocrats. In charge of the Global Banana Republic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Domestic interference’ is not OK.

      But I think we should ignore it for now, per the Propaganda Ministry.

    2. fresno dan

      Paid Minion
      March 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Do unto others as you would have others do unto you? That’s just crazy talk….
      We’re the INDESPENSABLE (i.e., special snowflakes) nation

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For many, to be alive is an achievement.

        Let’s not forget to give out awards for that.

        “Congratulations. You just survived neoliberalism. Maybe I will see you tomorrow…’

      2. RUKidding

        I just wish she’d go far away where we never have to see her again. Let her live the good life, but let it be far away from the US political scene. Please! One can only dream….

    1. marym

      Editor’s note: This story originally stated Chelsea Clinton was to receive a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” It has been corrected to state that Clinton will receive an “Impact Award” from Variety in partnership with Lifetime.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Too bad Chelsea’s “Impact Award” wasn’t for CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain).

        As they say on Wall Street, “Buy the fireball.” ;-)

      2. JustAnObserver

        Calling all cartoonists in the NC commentariat.

        Chelsea Clinton as the asteroid hitting off the Yuccatan Peninsula with a dinosaur standing on the US going “Oh No! Another Clinton. We’re doomed, I tell you, DOOMED!”.

        1. craazyboy

          Why not subcontract the job to Mad Magazine?

          Would make a great cover for the May issue, methinks.

          1. kgc

            OT, but does anybody remember the Mad (I think) cartoon about the dog catching the car? IIRC, the man and woman in the car said something like “Let’s stop and see what he does if he catches us,” followed by a screeching stop and finally “Now that we know, let’s find a car wash.” Been looking for this for a while without success

        2. uncle tungsten

          The Toystory dino would be the perfect character. Can someone do a youtube or better and post link.

    2. crittermom

      Forgive my now cynical views of many things, but my first thought when I read that headline was that I wondered how much her parents had to ‘pay’ to buy her that honor now that she has aspirations of following in their footsteps?

  12. djrichard

    Just a bit of a thought experiment, building on some thinking from a comment yesterday by jefemt

    Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurors, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again— effectively being single-payor, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

    Taking jefemt’s thinking further, imagine the health insurance provider was not only monopolistic (owned the entire market), but was also a GSE (government sponsored enterprise). Now take it one more step and imagine it was an actual part of the government and not merely a GSE.

    Conceivably, it wouldn’t even have to live off appropriations from congress, assuming it was equally as extractive from the private sector as it is now (i.e. revenue model is the same). Talk about good living. Who knows, maybe they pocket their proceeds into some kind of surplus in Treasury dept.

    But let’s assume they had to give up on revenue models. [Afterall, it’s easier to find partners in congress when you have an appropriations process that binds you to them.] Then they would be exposed. Somebody would get the bright idea that this agency doesn’t need as much staffing since they are no longer revenue oriented. That indeed, they could have the same staffing profile as the agency responsible for medicare. Indeed they could be folded into medicare.

    I was thinking of this too as a reponse to Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State” [Politico]. “Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. …”

    Indeed, I think of the insurance industry as being part of the deep state already. It seems that congress’s preference is that this part of the deep state is outsourced. So that’s it not a GSE, and not even a monopoly, but maintained as an oligopoly. And then, well hey whatever surplus it can hoover up is fair game. After all free-hand of the market and all that. [And heaven knows, we don’t want to crowd that out.]

    In contrast to other parts of the deep state that don’t really have a revenue model. In which case, those parts need to be insourced by the Fed Gov.

    1. human

      The CIA has a long history of drug trafficking. The FBI traffics in blackmail. The NSA in network surveillance. DIA, special ops. NRO, satelite throughput. 11 more in the US of A and countless more globally. They all have opaque resources outside of regular channels.

      1. Ernesto Lyon

        Great documentary about the 80’s cocaine business in Miami called “Cocaine Cowboys.” It’s real life Scarface.

        Guess who the Feds sent to get a handle on the cocaine smuggling?

        See-eye-aye man George H.W. Bush. Coincidence?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the deep state

      Watch that definite article. (What that Politico article shows is how easy it is to write sloppy articles about the “deep state.” That’s because the deep state is such a sloppy, amorphous concept. It’s very sloppiness is what makes it simultaneously (a) useful to our scribes in the political class, who can (b) bang out stories with click-baity headlines easily, while (c) disempowering to the rest of us (since to have power over your enemies, you have to understand them).

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    Speaking as a mechanical engineer, I’ve never thought that the screw should be considered a simple machine.

    It’s simply an inclined plane or wedge that has helical features.

  14. BeliTsari

    Post disappeared, so I’ll just endeavor to persevere. Your first link concerns US Steel’s ANCIENT seamless mills up Lorain, where I basically lived 6 1/2 years, while Shell bought pipe for the YOOJ deep water Gulf platforms trashed by Katrina… notice, they did not leak? #4SMLS was largely female & African American and #3 SMLS, 3rd generation Chicano. 2nd generation Puerto Rican & Hungarian… how in god’s name can they be closing these, without Russian or Indian oligarch’s buying them? Exxon’s Blackbeard 24″ Q125 casing was from here… http://www.southernfriedscience.com/chronicle-of-a-death-forestalled-the-gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-that-didnt-happen/

      1. BeliTsari

        I was remarking on the Politico article you’d linked to, where Wilbert Ross & Sherrod Brown blame Chinese dumping for the shutdown of one 1933 era plant and the pending shutdown of the last large diameter seamless pipe/ casing mill in the western hemisphere… 120 miles from what’s about to become fracking’s hell with the lid off… again? The dumping continues (municipalities buy from the cheapest suppliers!) and virtually all of the scary new and despicably archaic old mills are owned by Indian or Russian thugs. I was just curious, why neither state & federal forces were even looking for a buyer, since the plant had steel making facilities, continuous caster on the property and it own Q&T in 3SMLS (it could manufacture both casing and linepipe about to be in demand, as wet gas fracking resumes). A lot of swell folks, out there & in the Gaslands… all, basically invisible.

        1. BeliTsari

          Trump will take credit for what’s been occurring since 2007… once the union’s are all gone? https://ww2.kqed.org/perspectives/2017/03/14/pipelines-russian-steel-and-buying-american/ http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2017/01/president_trump_orders_america.html https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/02/13/abramovitch-putin-keystone-xl-steel http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2015/03/15/Where-do-Pennsylvania-oil-and-gas-drillers-get-their-pipe/stories/201503080097

          1. BeliTsari

            No, I’m sorry. Working mostly in the SAW mills. Basically, following Katrina, one after another SAWH (large diameter spiral) mills were built (mostly Indian) while the raiders enumerated above parted-out closed rust-belt mills to multinationals, like ArcelorMittal, EVRAZ, TMK or V&M Tubes. I’d moved out of WPA, so was dealing with the Indian, Russian, Brazilian/ Korean mills popping-up, with untrained 1099 crews just back from Iraq & Afghanistan, or totally undocumented temps. Nobody’s noticing this was just as unions were decertified; managers, 3rd party auditors & empirically knowledgeable techs & engineers were forced out of the gas companies, vendors, processors, inspectorate, PHMSA and the media taken over by K Street shills? Just reading comments posted to these articles gives me the creeps about our future?

  15. fresno dan

    So I see where Nunes in a ZeroHedge posting says that there might have been “incidental surveillance” of “Trump” (?Trump associates? ?Trump tower? ?Trump campaign?)
    Now to the average NC reader, it kinda goes without saying. But I don’t think Trump understands the scope of US government “surveillance” and I don’t think the average citizen, certainly not the average Trump supporter, does either – the nuances and subtleties of it – the supposed “safeguards”.

    I can understand the rationale for it….but this goes to show that when you give people an opportunity to use secret information for their own purposes….they will use secret information for their own purposes.
    And at some point, the fact of the matter that the law regarding the “incidental” leaking appears to have been broken, and that this leaking …IMHO was purposefully broken for political purposes….is going to come to the fore. Like bringing up “fake news” – some of these people on the anti Trump side seem not just incapable of playing 11th dimensional chess, they seem incapable of winning tic tac toe….

    Was Obama behind it? I doubt it and I don’t think it would be provable. But it seems like the intelligence agencies are spending more time monitoring repubs than Al queda. Now…maybe repubs are worse than Al queda – I think its time we have a real debate instead of the pseudo debates and start asking how useful the CIA is REALLY. (and we can ask how useful repubs …and dems are too)

    1. craazyboy

      If Obama taped the information, stuffed the tape in one of Michelle’s shoeboxes, then hid the shoebox in the Whitehouse basement, he could be in trouble. Ivanka is sure to search any shoeboxes she finds.

    2. Irredeemable Deplorable

      Oh the Trump supporters are all over this, don’t worry. There are many more levels to what is going on than what is reported in the fakenews MSM.

      Adm Roger of NSA made his November visit to Trump Tower, after a SCIF was installed there, to….be interviewed for a job…uh-huh yeah.

      Freedom Watch lawyer Larry Klayman has a whistle-blower who has stated on the record, publicly, he has 47 hard drives with over 600,000,00 pages of secret CIA documents that detail all the domestic spying operations, and likely much much more. The rabbit hole goes very deep here. Attorney Klayman has stated he has been trying to out this for 2 years, and was stonewalled by swamp creatures, so he threatened to go public this week. Several very interesting videos, and a public letter, are out there, detailing all this. Nunes very likely saw his own conversations transcripted from surveillance taken at Trump Tower (he was part of the transition team), and realized the jig was up. Melania has moved out of Trump Tower to stay elsewhere, I am sure after finding out that many people in Washington where watching them at home in their private residence, whichi is also why Pres Trump sent out those famous angry tweets 2 weeks ago. Democrats on the Committee (and many others) are liars, and very possibly traitors, which is probably why Nunes neglected to inform them. Nunes did follow proper procedures, notifying Ryan first etc, you can ignore the MSM bluster there……..observe Nunes body language in the 2 videos of his dual press briefings he gave today, he appears shocked, angry, disturbed etc.

      You all should be happy, because although Pres Trump has been vindicated here on all counts, the more important story for you is that the old line Democratic Party looks about to sink under the wieght of thier own lies and illegalities. This all stems from Obama’s Jan 16 signing of the order broadening “co-operation” between the NSA and everybody else in Washington, so that mid-level analysts at almost any agency could now look at raw NSA intercepts, that is where all the “leaks” and “unmasking” are coming from. AG Lynch, Obama, and countless others knew, or should have known, all about this, but I am sure they will play the usual “I was too stupid too know what was going on in my own organization” card.

        1. Irredeemable Deplorable

          Lambert when I post links you diss them. This stuff is all out there on many websites, just DuckDuckGO for “Freedom Watch”, the rest I get from pro-Trump websites (that do provide all the links) that you would dismiss as “not credible”. Adm Rogers visit to Trump Tower was widely discussed at the time. Of course it’s not reported factually in MSM propaganda outlets, but what is?

  16. ewmayer

    Received a “new academic programs” missive from my alma mater in today’s mail, containing the following:

    How to Make Innovation Happen in Your Organization

    The Certified Professional Innovator (CPI) program is intended to develop the competency of high potential leaders in the theory and practice of innovation. It is rooted on the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation.

    The certification is comprised of a 12-week curriculum with specific syllabus and assignments for each week, including videos, workbook assignments, and reports. During the program, participants, functioning as a cohort, communicate and collaborate with each other and faculty through a series of webinars and discussions. The program culminates in project pitches.

    “It is rooted on [sic] the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation” — OK, fine there, but it is also rooted in the notion that such creativity can be taught in a formal academic setting, here monetized and condensed into a 12-week program. As for me, I’m gonna hold out for the following surely-in-development mini-courses:

    o Certified Professional Serial Disruptor (CPD)
    o Certified Professional Innovative Thought Leader (CPCTL)
    o Certified Professional Smart Creative (CPSC)

    I love the smell of money-greased credentialism in the morning.

  17. craazyboy

    “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire” [Politico]. (Furzy Mouse). ZOMG!!!! The Ukrainians were hacking tampering with meddling in seeking to influence our election! Where’s that declaration of war I had lying around…
    ______________________

    Ukrania IS A NEW WORLD ORDER!!!!!

    Ukrainian World Congress
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_World_Congress

    Members[edit]
    European Congress of Ukrainians (Yaroslava Khortiani)
    Armenia: Federation of Ukrainians of Armenia “Ukraine”
    Belgium: Main Council of Ukrainian Public Organizations
    Bosnia and Herzegovina: Coordination council of Ukrainian associations
    Czech Republic: Ukrainian Initiative in the Czech Republic
    Croatia: Union of Rusyns and Ukrainians of the Republic of Croatia
    Estonia: Congress of Ukrainians of Estonia
    France: Representative Committee of the Ukrainian Community of France
    Georgia: Coordination Council of Ukrainians of Georgia
    Germany: Association of Ukrainian Organizations in Germany
    Greece: Association of the Ukrainian diaspora in Greece “Ukrainian-Greek Thought”
    Hungary: Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary
    Italy
    Latvia: Ukrainian Cultural-Enlightening Association in Latvia “Dnieper”
    Lithuania: Community of Ukrainians of Lithuania
    Moldova: Society of Ukrainians of Transnistria
    Norway
    Poland: Association of Ukrainians in Poland (Piotr Tyma)
    Portugal: Society of Ukrainians in Portugal
    Romania: Union of Ukrainians of Romania
    Russia: Association of Ukrainians of Russia
    Serbia
    Slovakia: Union of Rusyn-Ukrainians of the Slovak Republic
    Spain
    Switzerland
    United Kingdom: Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Zenko Lastowiecki)
    Others
    Australia: Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (Stefan Romaniw)
    Argentina: Ukrainian Central Representation in Argentina
    Brazil: Ukrainian-Brazilian Central Representation
    Canada: Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Paul Grod)
    Kazakhstan: Ukrainians in Kazakhstan
    Paraguay:
    United States: Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (Andriy Futey)
    United States: Ukrainian American Coordinating Council (Ihor Gawdiak) [2]
    Uzbekistan: Ukrainian Cultural Center “Fatherland”

    They also are attempting to influence our Atlantic Council!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Council

    Funding[edit]
    In September 2014, the New York Times reported that since 2008, the organization has received donations from more than twenty-five governments outside of the United States, including $5 million from Norway.[34] Concerned that scholars from the organization could be covertly trying to push the agendas of foreign governments, legislation was proposed in response to the Times report requiring full disclosure of witnesses testifying before Congress.[35] Other contributors to the organization include the Ukrainian World Congress, and the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.[9][36]

    Plus, Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the famous DNC security firm, Cloudstrike, is a senior fellow of our Atlantic Council!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitri_Alperovitch

    Cloudstrike also has hired some top FBI security professionals. Revolving Door!

    Keep plenty of Declaration of War forms handy. We’re gonna need ’em!!!!

  18. John Morrison

    “… images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants!”

    So I take it that dog vomit slime mold counts as well. (Speaking as one who found three patches in his yard recently.) Slime mold is a form of fungus.

  19. Procopius

    I’ve been convinced for months that the supposed “proof” of Russian hacking is plain propaganda. The idea that Matt Tait, “a former GCHQ analyst and founder of Capital Alpha Security,” would actually believe, “that the super sophisticated spy group trying to hide its Russian ties would register its Microsoft Word processor in the name of the leader of the infamously brutal Soviet security service,” is utterly absurd. It is so implausible that you couldn’t even make a joke about it. Of course we have no idea what these dubious people actually believe, but since what he said he believed is clearly idiotic, he probably is saying it because he’s being paid in some way to say it. Either that or he’s another example of the many people who have successfully pretended to be something they are not. Doctors, single persons eligible to marry, trustworthy financial advisers, computer experts, etc.

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