2:00PM Water Cooler 3/31/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


President Donald Trump today will sign two executive orders relating to trade: one to examine the causes of trade deficits with China and other major U.S. trading partners, and one to stop the undercollection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on unfairly traded foreign products” [Politico]. “A report from the Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on the trade deficits is due to Trump within 90 days and could set the stage for potential trade actions. ‘This will represent the first systematic analysis of what are the causes [of the deficit] country by country and product by product,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters at the White House on Thursday evening. ‘It will form the basis for decision-making by the administration subsequently and that will be decision-making that will be based on hard facts, not theories.’ Both orders come less than a week before Trump is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, though both Ross and National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro insisted the move was not meant to send any sort of signal to Beijing. But China, with its nearly $350 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2016, will be at the top of the list for review.”

“[A] draft proposal circulating in Congress shows strong attention to “Buy American” and tariff provisions. The administration would allow a Nafta nation to reinstate tariffs in case of a flood of imports that cause “serious injury or threat of serious injury” to domestic industries. And rules of origin—the share of a product that must be produced in Nafta countries—would be set to support “production and jobs in the United States.” A seeming compromise between trade hawks and moderates, the document could change, and it doesn’t take into account proposals Canada and Mexico might seek. So far, however, the approach may amount to an update rather than a full rewrite” [Wall Street Journal].

“TRUMP NAFTA RENEGOTIATION DRAFT NOTICE EXPOSES AN ALL-TALK NO-ACTION PLAN” [Sierra Club]. “Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement: ‘For all his grandstanding and bluster, Trump failed to put forth a plan to renegotiate NAFTA in the American people’s interest. As a candidate and now in office, Trump promised a serious renegotiation that would put American workers first and end corporate giveaways, but this plan fails to keep that promise and instead looks an awful lot like the TPP deal defeated by a movement of millions and decried by Trump himself. The American people deserve a real renegotiated NAFTA that will protect our workers, our communities, and our environment, not the same broken deal with Trump’s logo printed on it.'” It’s all going pear-shaped


New Cold War

“What Devin Nunes Knows” [Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal]. Why Nunes left his cab:

Around the same time, Mr. Nunes’s own intelligence sources informed him that documents showed further collection of information about, and unmasking of, Trump transition officials. These documents aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the “finished” intelligence products that Congress gets to see. Nonetheless, for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.

Mr. Nunes earlier this week got his own source to show him a treasure trove of documents at a secure facility. Here are the relevant details:

First, there were dozens of documents with information about Trump officials. Second, the information these documents contained was not related to Russia. Third, while many reports did “mask” identities (referring, for instance, to “U.S. Person 1 or 2”) they were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed. Fourth, in at least one instance, a Trump official other than Mr. Flynn was outright unmasked. Finally, these documents were circulated at the highest levels of government.

To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.

Mr. Schiff’s howls about Mr. Nunes’s methods are bluster; the Republican was doing his job, and well.

It would be interesting to know if this was still going on. And from the other side of the aisle:

Readers, those of you who can endure tweet storms and clicked through, what do you think of these three?

“The Senate Intelligence Committee turned down the request by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony, two congressional sources told NBC News” [NBC].

“Russians used ‘Bernie Bros’ as ‘unwitting agents’ in disinformation campaign: Senate Intel witness” [Raw Story]. You knew this was coming, right? The story is just as sloppy and misleading as the headline. For example: “Over time the anti-Clinton online faction became known by the nickname ‘Bernie Bros.'” Note lack of agency in “became known”; #BernieBro was in fact propagated by Clinton supporters. And then there’s this: “‘Senator, I think what they were trying to do was drive a wedge within the Democratic Party between the Clinton group and the Sanders group,” said [Retired Gen. Keith Alexander — former director of the National Security Agency]. “And then in our nation between Republicans and Democrats.'” Where to begin? Can Alexander really mean that Sanders and Clinton supporters wouldn’t be in conflict if it weren’t for the evil Russkis? Or Republicans and Democrats? I hope when Alexander analyzes Lower Slobovia he does a better job.

Trump Transition

“In four weeks Republicans must pass a funding bill to keep the government operating, either with the votes of the GOP conservatives Trump is targeting or with Democrats. Trump and his team have talked a lot — since members of the Freedom Caucus brought the Obamacare replacement bill down last week — about the need to reach across the aisle. But the time to woo Democrats has likely come and gone” [RealClearPolitics].

“The problem for Schumer and his caucus is this: Republicans are not bluffing when they say Gorsuch will be on the court one way or another. The squishes, the institutionalists, even the erstwhile “Gang” members are unwavering in their support. Gorsuch is well-qualified for the job, acquitted himself admirably by any measure, and if an unprecedented partisan filibuster is the only thing standing between him and the bench, the Reid Rule will be invoked for the second time” [Politico]. “The cloture rule now faces an existential paradox. Call it Schrödinger’s Filibuster. Assuming Schumer can hold the line within his caucus—and he has seven votes to give—the 60 vote threshold for Supreme Court nominations is dead. Do the right thing and it lives to see another day.”

“President Trump brought his chaos-and-loyalty theory of management into the White House, relying on competing factions, balanced by trusted family members, with himself perched atop as the gut-instinct decider. He now realizes this approach has flopped, and feels baffled and paralyzed by how to fix it, numerous friends and advisers tell us” [Mike Allen, Axios]. “‘Trump is thinking through his frustrations,’ said one Washington wise man close to the West Wing. ‘The team didn’t put the windows in right.'” I didn’t know there were “wise men” in DC any more. As Nooners (and I) keep asking, “Where is Trump’s James Baker?” Because Jeff Bannon sure is heck isn’t James Baker.

“Nobody knows where this nas­cent Don­ald Trump pres­id­ency is go­ing. New ad­min­is­tra­tions start off with an in­fin­ite num­ber of po­ten­tial tra­ject­or­ies, but this one is even more un­pre­dict­able than oth­ers. Trump could still turn out to be a suc­cess­ful pres­id­ent. As an Amer­ic­an, I cer­tainly hope he will. But today at least, it looks more like a ‘death by a thou­sand cuts'” [Charles Cook]. The NAFTA news makes me incline toward Cook’s view; something like Trump = Carter + Executive Orders + Bush/Obama’s national security powers. On the other hand, Trump rode “chaos and loyalty” all the way to the White House in his campaign, and all the same people yammering then are still yammering now.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Bernie Sanders visits Boston for three sold-out events Friday” [Boston Globe]. “‘The guy, who is not even a Democrat, is being treated like a rock star in deep-blue Kennedy Massachusetts, and it’s because he is a rock star,’ said Erin O’Brien, chairwoman of the political science department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. ‘It speaks to the vacuum that Hillary Clinton left. She never had the same kind of passionate support that Bernie Sanders had.'” “This guy”? “Rock star”? Really? More from O’Brien:

“Can a Sanders-Style Democrat Win Montana’s House Seat?” [RealClearPolitics]. “[B]anjo-playing country/folk musician Rob Quist is the Democratic candidate in the race to fill Montana’s vacant At-Large congressional seat. Republican Ryan Zinke left the seat earlier this year to serve as secretary of the interior in the Trump administration. Quist, a self-proclaimed Sanders-style Democrat, is scheduled to face off against Republican businessman Greg Gianforte on May 25”.

Lambert here: I don’t understand. This Quist guy isn’t a centrist carpetbagger and London-based documentary film-maker who’s never run for office but has raised millions and appeals to suburban Republicans, especially suburban Republican women. I mean, is Quist even a Democrat? (And do read the whole RCP article on Montana, because it contrasts how Democrat Jon Tester won to how Clinton lost at the county level.)

“GA-06 Special Election Moves to Lean Republican” [Charles Cook]. “It’s hard to remember the last time a House race became as much of a national fixation as the race in GA-06 to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price. With less than three weeks left until the initial April 18 primary, minor celebrities and Democratic staff continue to pour into suburban Atlanta, and left-leaning donors – with few other ways to channel their anger towards the Trump administration – continue to pour millions into the coffers of Democrat Jon Ossoff.” (Ossoff is, of course, the Perez- and DCCC-fave contrasted above to Quist.) “It’s possible Ossoff could hit 50 percent on April 18, but the mostly likely scenario is still for this race to head to a runoff on June 20. You can bet the contest’s national prominence will only snowball in the next few weeks, and that may not be the worst thing for Republicans, who badly need their base to wake up. This race moves to the Lean Republican column, and that’s probably being generous to Republicans.” Because celebrities worked so well for Clinton in 2016. Georgia readers, what’s going on?

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, February 2017: “A second month of weak spending on services pulled down on consumer spending which could only manage a 0.1 percent rise in February, one that follows a nearly as weak 0.2 percent gain in January. February’s result is below consensus and at the low end of the Econoday forecast range” [Econoday]. “Income data are more favorable headlined by an as-expected 0.4 percent gain and a very solid 0.5 percent increase in the wages & salaries component. And consumers moved money into the bank as the savings rate climbed 2 tenths for a second straight month to 5.6 percent. Increases in savings are a factor behind the weakness in spending.” And: “Remember these are average numbers – not median. The rate of growth of consumption is slowing which does not bode well for 1Q2017 GDP. On the bright side, this is a corrrection as consumption has outpaced income growth recently which historically the two have remained in balance” [Econintersect]. And but: “Using the two-month method to estimate Q1 PCE [Personal Consumption Expenditure] growth, PCE was increasing at a 0.4% annual rate in Q1 2017. (using the mid-month method, PCE was increasing 1.0%). This suggests weak PCE growth in Q1” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “There was further evidence of a partisan divide in the data which has not shown any significant sign of easing since November’s Presidential election” [Economic Calendar]. “There has also been evidence that consumers have lowered their underlying expectations with relatively subdued growth rates in the economy viewed more positively than would have been the case in previous years.”

Consumer Sentiment, March 2017: Below consensus but still a gain [Econoday]. “A puzzle in the report is a noticeable decline in inflation expectations, down 2 tenths for the 1-year outlook to 2.5 percent and down 1 tenth to 2.4 percent for the 5-year outlook. The declines aren’t due to gasoline prices which have been edging higher, not lower, and raise questions over the consumer’s outlook for wages and general economic strength.”

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, March 2017: “[B]eats the consensus” [Econoday]. “This report falls in line with the breadth of anecdotal data that are signaling a pivot higher for the economy, one however that has yet to appear.” And but: “The results of this survey continue to agree with district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey” [Econintersect].

Rail: “We review this data set to understand the economy. If coal and grain are removed from the analysis, rail over the last 6 months been declining around 5% – but this week improved +7.8 % (meaning that the predicitive economic elements improved year-over-year)” [Econintersect]. So, on the one hand we have the anecdotal/survey data saying “Everything’s gonna be peachy!” On the other hand, we have the real data saying “Not so fast, I don’t see a thing!” On the third hand, we have “stuff is moving,” as here. Is anyone actively pursuing a state of non-baffflement on this? Can this “stuff” all be a “lump in the python” brought about by shippers’ fears of Trump tariffs? And if that’s the theory, how does that account for the Chemical Activity Barometer?

Commodities: “China’s internal shifts on energy production have already sent coal markets into sharp swings, and experts say the country’s outsize role in commodities from aluminum to zinc leaves other markets open to sharp swings. That’s created a market for what’s essentially detective work, as consultants use satellite imagery and measure truck movements to check official figures. The results may have a crucial impact on commodity shipping operations that are finally flexing some financial muscle. The Baltic Dry Index measure of dry bulk shipping rates reached a 28-month high this week, suggesting demand is on the upturn and could stay there unless commodity markets become oversupplied” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Container manufacturer Singamas suffered its biggest loss ever in 2016, but chairman Teo Siong Seng believes the worst is over.Hit by a $59.4m net loss, Mr Teo told a press conference on Thursday that since late last year demand had gone up and so had box prices” [Lloyd’s List].

Shipping: “Who’s fooling who as alliance reshuffle falls tomorrow?” [Splash 247]. “Did the world’s liner planners not clock the irony of tomorrow’s date when choosing a time to launch the new dawn for container shipping? April Fool’s Day does seem appropriate however for the start of THE Alliance, the Ocean Alliance and 2M redux. It’s just hard to see who are the fools – the lines for their slovenly planning for tomorrow’s big day, their clients for putting up with them or the regulators for letting the lines get away with this monopolistic move. Shippers seeking to move goods from Europe to Asia have been struggling this month thanks to a large drop of available slots for containers on almost every shipping line. The confusion and growing anger was always likely when one looks at how last-minute so much of the planning has been for tomorrow’s big day. Ports were kept in the dark about the alliances’ final network details until a couple of weeks ago giving scant time to prepare their landside operations. Then there’s the whole competition question to ponder as we count down to tomorrow. The [European Shippers Council] has also drawn the attention of the regulation authorities to the upcoming market structure where from Saturday three major alliances control close to 90% of the capacity on the major trades. The council’s concerns follow hot on the heels of the FBI raiding a meeting of the Box Club, the annual get together of the world’s top liners.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 43, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 31 at 12:00pm. Dodging a bullet?

Our Famously Free Press

“Is it any coincidence that the race to the bottom in media—toward clickbait headlines, toward the vulgar and prurient and dumb, toward provocative but often exaggerated takes—has accelerated in lock-step with the development of new technologies for measuring engagement?” [The Atlantic].

” Two journalists who say they have been targeted by the United States have filed a complaint against the American government, accusing it of putting them on a “kill list” and demanding to be taken off it” [Al Jazeera]. “The complaint was filed in the US District Court of the District of Columbia on Thursday on behalf of Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan – a dual Pakistani-Syrian citizen who works for Al Jazeera and Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American who has freelanced for Al Jazeera.” Sure hope Trump doesn’t follow Obama’s precedent of whacking Americans with drones. That would be bad.


“Major Fracked-Gas Pipeline Leak Shuts Down Rhode Island Interstate” [Ecowatch].

“Two lawsuits were filed in Montana on Thursday aiming to stop construction of the TransCanada Corp.’s (NYSE: TRP) Keystone XL pipeline. Both suits argue that the U.S. State Department erred when President Trump signed the executive order to permit construction because the environmental impact statement used as the basis for the permit was outdated and incomplete” [247 Wall Street]. “Among the groups filing one of the suits in federal district court were the Northern Plains Resource Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. The Indigenous Environmental Network and the North Coast Rivers Alliance filed the other.”

Guillotine Watch

“One of the main concepts behind ‘Hamilton’ is the idea that people with vastly different backgrounds and feelings can come together and create something that matters, such as the United States of America” [Iowa State Daily]. Gag me with a spoon. That’s not what Hamilton is about at all.

Class Warfare

“‘One of the mantras I heard the steelworkers repeat over and over again was ‘We invested so many years in this factory, and they don’t see us. We’re invisible,’ [playwright Lynn] Nottage said” [The New Yorker]. “‘I think it profoundly hurt their feelings.'” I think that’s the most New Yorker sentence ever.

“Killer Debt: The Impact of Debt on Mortality” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. “Worsening creditworthiness and increases in severely delinquent debt are found to lead to increases in individual mortality risk. This result has implications for the benefit of policies such as the social safety net, which aims to protect individual finances, by adding reduced mortality to the benefit of any intervention.” They call it “class warfare” for a reason…

“Wages for college graduates across many majors have fallen since the 2007-09 recession, according to an unpublished analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington using Census bureau figures. Young job-seekers appear to be the biggest losers” [Bloomberg]. We really do need a debt jubilee. See the link above.

News of the Wired

“DEADLY DECISION: Malheur County murder suspect feigned insanity for 20 years to avoid prison” [Malheur Enterprise]. No particular reason to pick this link, except to give throw an old-school reporter at a local paper some hits on a terrific (in all senses) story.

“No, Twitter Didn’t Just Ruin Twitter by Changing How Replies Work. It Improved Itself” [Slate]. “Nine years and three CEOs later, replies on Twitter finally work roughly the way you might expect replies to work on a modern social networking service.” Of course, the users hate it. Just like Twitter hates them!

“Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain” [Scientific American]. I’m very dubious about any study that “pinpoints” effects in the brain. Surely an infinitely plastic brain is adaptive?

“Public computers at libraries have become an extension of the classroom, and they’re an important resource for children who don’t have unfettered access to broadband Internet at home. The cloud has only made those public computers more effective” [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 (JM):

Last of the gnarls!

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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.


  1. Altandmain

    Murray Dobbin on NAFTA:

    There seems to be a total ignorance as to why there is so much opposition to NAFTA (which came into action on January 1, 1994):

    Image of the richest 20% gaining more is the almost symmetrical to the losses of middle 60%:

    Scary fact: Add these up and the bottom 20% have almost nothing.

    I think that the reason why the Clinton Liberal faction, the upper 10% or so haven’t opposed the Establishment is because they are making huge gains at the expense of the middle class.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      The Overton Window has moved so far to the right that the party of FDR ran a Goldwater Girl while calling the New Deal Democrat a socialist dreamer who was only supported by white men.

    2. Gary

      “I think that the reason why the Clinton Liberal faction, the upper 10% or so haven’t opposed the Establishment is because they are making huge gains at the expense of the middle class.”

      Yep. It took me a while but I finally realized, Congress, et al, didn’t just bail out the banks, they bailed themselves out because they were in on the gaff.

    3. fresno dan

      March 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      D*mn fine links Altandmain. Can we finally retire the tired phrase that the “economy isn’t a zero sum game” – it sure as f*ck is.

  2. allan

    “We really do need a debt jubilee.”

    And Betsy DeVos thinks so too … APRIL FOOLS!!!

    More than 550,000 people have signed up for a federal program that promises to repay their remaining student loans after they work 10 years in a public service job.

    But now, some of those workers are left to wonder if the government will hold up its end of the bargain — or leave them stuck with thousands of dollars in debt that they thought would be eliminated.

    In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said. …

      1. Vatch

        Wow. Hundreds of years ago, after seven years of servitude, indentured servants would get their freedom. Sometimes it was hardly distinguishable from slavery, except that there was an expiration. In the 21st century, I guess the expiration has been done away with. Thanks, Barack and Betsy! You’re quite a pair of Christians!

        1. cocomaan

          It’s wild that the entire Dept of Ed has just become a massive, crippling loan operation.

        2. polecat

          uhh .. Don’t leave out our lovin favorite: uncle Joe .. BIDEN !

          …… Indenture for million$, but help where it’s most needed ……. COKEHEAD HUNTER ………. !

    1. djrichard

      “We really do need a debt jubilee.”

      This is and will always be a non-starter. Just imagine what it was like in the 1800s when there was no central bank: bank runs and bankruptcies went with the territory. The sword of damocles hanging over your head kind of loses its power when you see that bankruptcy is just a way of doing business. Worse than that, it loses even more power when you realize the asset side of “doing business” was just games played with funny banker money.

      1. djrichard

        “The United States have developed a new weapon that destroys people but it leaves buildings standing. It’s called the stock market.” – Jay Leno. Just saw that quoted on ZH, but relevant here too.

        And fundamentally it’s not the stock market per se, it’s the funny banker money behind it.

        Without the central bank there was no way to back-stop the bank runs. The facade would all come down. And from the ashes, we would couldn’t help ourselves but repeat the cycle again. Moderation when it comes to banker funny money just doesn’t seem possible.

        Except when the central bank back stops it all. In such moderation we trust. In which case, all your debts are belong to us. All else is secondary, including your health and mortality.

  3. Altandmain

    Lots of inequality in the Baby Boom Generation:

    What recovery? Life sucks for college grads:

    Finally, Glenn Greenwald is always worth a read:

    Why has trust collapsed in the media? Gee it’s a real mystery.

    Oh and if you are interested, Bernie Sanders right now is delivering a live speech at the Kennedy Institute:

    1. UserFriendly

      That Bernie at the Kennedy Institute thing is well worth the watch. He does his usual stump speech and then a Q&A with a reporter from the globe. If you are short on time you can probably skip the stump speech but the Q&A is a must. Among other things he explains why he has been talking about the public option. https://youtu.be/cuuSvBFCHCU?t=1h9m42s

  4. timbers

    “Russians used ‘Bernie Bros’ as ‘unwitting agents’ in disinformation campaign: Senate Intel witness” [Raw Story].

    Medicare for all and universal single payer healthcare is a Russian plot to divide America and was used to interfere with the election to get Trump elected and steal the Presidency from Hillary, who would have defeated Putin by now if she had won, just like we won in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and lots of other places.

    I think I’m going to try this line out on customers next time I tend bar. Their input should be very helpful especially after they’ve had several cocktails.

    1. LT

      Of course. The Democratic Party is dismissive of the fact that the institutions they hold so dear are corrupted beyond reformability. They have zero self-awareness no matter how much yoga or meditation they practice and the sooner the party goes extinct the better.

    2. dontknowitall

      So now Bernie Bros are Stalin’s unwitting dupes since “Trump is a Putin agent” doesn’t seem to be working out. As a Bernie Bro this Russian connection is news to me, I couldn’t stand Hillary forever (before Putin even) and even less her hapless cadre of well wishers. If you pile up all the lying and obfuscating that went on with Obama and Bush, I was more than ready to look outside the Beltway for a life raft.

      I tell you when I absolutely decided I was not going to play the ‘lesser evil’ game and that was when it became patently obvious that Sec State Hillary Clinton was going to approve of the DAPL pipeline by having its environmental impact ‘independently’ scrutinized by a contractor that was also working for the pipeline’s owners. That piece of straw broke the camel’s back…

      I have yet to figure out why Apple’s autocorrect keeps changing Bernie Bros to beriberi…

      1. HopeLB

        I customized some visors with “Bernie for us in the US, 2016” and sewed on some great fluffy white hair(from JoAnn) on the sides. If you want one let me know. You just have to take a sharpie to the 16 and change it to 20. Wear it proudly.

      2. different clue

        Well . . . I myself was willing to give the Lesser Of Two Evils just one more chance.

        That’s why I voted for Trump. He was the Lesser Of Two Evils.

    3. Alex Morfesis

      White russians vs formerfakered russians…100 yrs later, razputin sez read my hips…no interference in american election…

      but from archangel…where about 100 years ago the only americans ever shot by russians died…about 20 there and 30 Vladivostok…if I have split the 50 killed over two years from actual combat correctly…

      America and russia must always be kept apart…otherwise europe (and china) will not flourish…

      Russia is twice the physical size of the usa with one third its population…

      Are there and have there been conflicts between the 2 nations these last 100 years…well we invaded them at the end of ww1…just as we (& others) invaded and occupied china for a few decades…but yes…major countries and with russia spanning three continents(arguing diomide island & Aleutian isles are part of n. America) it is impossible for Russian interests to not involve most northern hemisphere economies…

      Just as communism and marxism is not some communicable disease…neither is hamiltonianism…

      If fearless leader were powerful, the trappings of power(big building…we see you erdo…), big posters, big parades & 365247 as talking head would not be necessary…

      If pinochet, fidel, marcos, stalin & franco were “powerful” they would not have had to round up and kill “dissidents”…

      Who would ever want to be king…

      1. Allegorio

        If the occupation of Europe ever ends and Europe including Russia unites, there would be the largest most powerful nuclear armed social democratic nation on earth. Can’t have that! No Siree! Q.E.D.

    4. aletheia33

      actually i am worried about this. if they can persistently smear sanders enough with this kind of associated-with-foreign-enemies lie–which they can escalate in various directions from a foundational “russians used bernie”–i can see it taking him out from any further effectiveness. the younger generation may not take it seriously, but knee-jerk patriotism is still quite useful–it’s never failed when TPTB want a war, has it?–for directing americans’ minds to where TPTB want them to go. i keep thinking of how easy it was for mccarthyism to take hold in the 1950s, and we are now seeing so much that is reminiscent of that. and mccarthyism was very effective in crushing the left, with consequences we are still suffering. the more followers sanders attracts, the more dangerous and frightening to TPTB he will become. they have barely begun to take him seriously as a threat. this is only the beginning of what they will try in their effort to erase it if they see it escalating.

      please correct me, i want to be wrong.

      1. a different chris

        Unfortunately, the only thing you are wrong about is just being worried about “this” so specifically… the TPTB will try any and all possible levers to get what they want. It will take more than Sanders to stop them, and they will crush quite a few people along the way. Might include Sanders, but if he’s the only resistance then they will certainly crush his movement and will get their war on.

        We need a 1000 flowers to bloom. Every type and in every direction.

        1. aletheia33

          @a different chris,

          agreed. i am specifically worried about the russia/sanders thing (and not mentioning all the rest that you refer to) because i don’t see it being taken seriously now at its inception. i think it’s important to call attention at the first emergence of a new disinfo campaign, which often evokes from people, initially, laughter and disbelief.

        2. HopeLB

          I was thinking along the lines of an internet deluge of messages which convey something along the lines of , ” Do you actually think you have dumbed us down to the point where we would actually believe this Red Scare Shit? Or are just gauging how much worse you have to make common core education and lead levels to get us there?” Not catchy but something to that effect.

          1. different clue

            Or . . . How long did it take you people to come up with that?

            How much did it cost you to have that focus-grouped?

    5. Steve

      I was reading the comments on the RawStorys piece last night. It was absolutely frightening the hate the majority of commenters have for people who supported Bernie. The fact that almost all of their information is untrue doesn’t make any difference to them. They are poorly informed and becoming very unhinged.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They were always unhinged.

        Do you remember “battle tested” and boasts about Hillary winning Republicans? Those were just as fantastical. Hillary ran in two elections (2006 doesn’t count). She carpet bagged her way into New York where she wound up facing a candidate too extreme for Peter King and only won by 10 points. Gore won by 25. Then she lost to Obama. She polled as a consistent drag on down ticket races.

        The stuff about Obama’s soaring rhetoric was absolutely nuts. “We aren’t red states or blue states. We are the United states.” He was dopey then. This is largely the result of emotional investment in candidates. Admittedly, they are lashing out because their imaginary friends aren’t on TV all the time. They remind me very much of Lonzo Ball’s old man or crazed sports parents and stage mom’s in general.

        Of course, one does wonder about Brock’s trolls.

      2. Big River Bandido

        They are completely unhinged. No better than birthers, Tea Partiers, and anti-vaxxers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unhinged, or just their true selves…this is normal for them?

          Is it a bug, or a feature?

          Is it divorce time? Finally knowing there is no changing the two-timer.

          1. a different chris

            *this* — realize the Republican Party, hard to say about Trump himself, but the Rs are literally no more to the right of these people than Sanders is to the left.

            So it’s not unhinged to treat him just as badly.

            They are OK with US tax levels because they are comfortably well off, and being more urban they can see the infrastructure and understand that it has to be paid for. They are OK with Obamacare because they aren’t subject to it and it “sounds good”. They are OK with wars because other people fight them. And so on.

      3. different clue

        I have said before that the millions upon millions of Klinton Koolaid Kultists will be a social problem going forward. They may well become a menace.

        Should Sanders supporters quietly begin forming armed and trained militias to be able to protect themselves and eachother from rioting Clintonite mobs, Clintonite home-invaders, and so forth?

        1. dontknowitall

          Both Sanders and Trump supporters are in the crosshairs of a historic hurricane of bullshit. It is worrisome, but sticks and stones may brake my bones…etc etc…we are not in Clintonite mob territory yet. I see this malaise as a stage of grief and no one has the intestinal fortitude and the resources to maintain this kind of pressure for much longer. People will get sick of it and demand to move on or just tune out. Like a bad movie you have seen to many times. Like a physician to King George III said “the wealthy die hard and use many of the profession” so too does the Dem party which dies hard and splurges on consultants and trolls in its last gasp for survival.

          Notice Sanders has recently dropped the Trump name calling and is talking health care unceasingly so maybe he sees an opening for reform which explains the sudden interest by the co-opted media in calling Bernie Bros Putin’s little minions. Sanders has an increasing street credibility so we shouldn’t worry. Unfortunately he may be selling a complicated variety of public option rather than Medicare-for-All so not all is roses. Could he see that as an opening gambit for a better deal with Trump down the line ?

          As far as Trump, all these trolls cost a lot of money, for little payoff so far, and at some point (maybe already) people will too start to grudgingly respect Trump for holding on in the hurricane until his nails bleed. He may not be polished and have a James Baker holding his hand but he stopped TPP and gave notice to NAFTA as he promised and if he doesn’t do another damn thing from now on that is already a great accomplishment.

      4. Allegorio

        I find that often accusers, as in Rachel Maddow and the bot tweet storms, accuse others of what they are actually guilty of themselves, as in Russia manipulating US elections. How many elections have the US manipulated, nay overthrown with military force? It kills two birds with one stone, you distract attention from your crimes by accusing your opponents of the same, delegitimatizing them and exonerating yourself. A technique known in school yards all over the world.

        So Rachel Maddow suggests bot tweet wars against Hillary Clinton and now we see “absolutely frightening the hate the majority of commenters have for the people who supported Bernie”. It occurs to me that either the bots are now trained onto Senator Sanders or it is the Hasbara. Losing Vicky Nuland @ the State Department, must really really hurt quaboshing the whole neo-Khazar Empire thing! For now.

        The fact that Senator Sanders & his supporters are perceived as a major threat to the neo-liberal agenda, in a way that Trumpenstien never was, explains why so early in the election cycle his supporters are being targeted.

  5. Vatch

    “Russians used ‘Bernie Bros’ as ‘unwitting agents’ in disinformation campaign: Senate Intel witness” [Raw Story]. You knew this was coming, right?

    Well, no, I did not know that this was coming. I suppose I should have; I did not realize that I, as a Sanders supporter, was a tool of Russian propaganda. I naively thought that I opposed Clinton because of her immoral family foundation activities, her secret and lucrative speeches to Wall Street firms, her Senate vote for the invasion of Iraq, her vote to make it harder for people to get out of bankruptcy, her votes to create and reauthorize the Patriot Act, her disdain for environmentalists, and all of the bizarre events associated with her private email server. I guess I now better now. (sarc)

    1. djrichard

      That’s no excuse. One must strive to not have overlap with the Russian agenda. America depended on us when we were most needed and in our failings we failed America. /sarc

    2. Cujo359

      Almost as though a term as a US Senator and four years as SoS would give us no idea how she might govern. It was Russian propaganda that made us believe she was going to do no better than give us more of the same…

    3. DJG

      Vatchushka: I knew all along that you are a running dog of Russian imperialism. Come on. Admit it.

    4. Arizona Slim

      And to think that my beloved aunt (RIP, Jean!) turned me on to Bernie Sanders. Does that make her a BernieAunt? If so, she’d think that it was hilarious.

          1. different clue

            maybe the Bros should get ahead of the persecution campaign by calling themselves

            Kiss me, I’m Deplorabro.

            Kiss my axe. Its Deplorabro too.

    5. Gareth

      I take this as meaning that the Queen of Chaos is running again. This time in a leather jacket.

      1. Marina Bart

        Every time she does her leather lesbian routine, I get excited for a brief moment that she’s going to come out as bi, which would be one cool progressive thing she could achieve that would cost her nothing (in reality — in her mind, I think she still believes she’s going to be President).

        And then I remember the scam about the hot sauce in her purse, and I wonder whose pocket she’s trying to pick by doing this.

    6. Skip Intro

      There are 2 kinds of people in the US: Clinton voters and Putinist tools.
      All else follows from this observation.

    7. Allegorio

      Likewise Maine Senator Susan Collins suggesting that the Russians were behind Occupy Wall Street. To my mind it is a lot like McBeth where the neo-liberal plot to rule the world starts to unravel. “Out out damn spot”. So close yet so far away. If at first you don’t succeed, try try and try again

  6. diptherio

    Quist is gonna win, easy, I think. Gianforte just comes off as a rich douche, while everybody and their brother loves the Mission Mountain Wood Band.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I don’t know….
      I don’t live in MT any more but having lived there for many years, I wouldn’t even attempt to predict this special election.
      It’s hard to tell what Montanans will do. They will vote for Democratic Governors and Senators and send a right wing Republican to Congress. Remember that Zinke beat his opponent handily in the last election.
      The plusses for Quist are that he has name recognition and is willing to fight to win. He also isn’t seen as a carpetbagger like Gianforte is.
      The minuses for Quist are that has a history of debts, he’s a singer, not seen as a “real” rancher, and some Montanans see him as an “odd duck”. His opponent, Gianforte also has name recognition (he ran against Bullock for Governor and lost but not that badly) and he has oodles of money.

      My relatives that still live in Montana are going to support Quist but even they won’t give me a prediction…..
      I’m hoping Montanamaven chimes in because I think she would have a clearer picture of what is going on up there than I do.

    2. MT_Bill

      I heard my first ad about the race on the radio this morning. They were trying to hang Pelosi around his neck like an Albatross.

      That could get some purchase here in MT. But agree that a lot of folks can’t stand Giant-farte.

      1. flora

        yes. I’ve gotten several. they start out “Hey everybody, this Barack Obama.” I hang up before I hear the pitch. Maybe the DNC is trying to trap registered Dems in amber so we can’t move. /s

          1. flora

            I’ll listen next call (and there will be one). Could be a pitch to support the Dem candidate in the 4th Dist special election to fill Congressman Mike Pompeo’s chair. (I don’t live in the 4th Dist, so no point calling me.) If that’s all it is, it’s a day late and a dollar short from the state dem estab. Again. The state dem estab takes its orders and gets money from the national dem estab.


            1. flora

              Adding: Bernie did a fund raiser for the state Dem party this Feb that raised a boat load of money. They had to move the fund raiser to a much larger location because of the number of people who went, even paying $150 a ticket.


              Where did the money go? Nobody appears to know.

              “”I don’t think it’s atypical for campaigns to ask parties to chip in. We asked the party to pay for a $20,000 mail project that would essentially be an early voter outreach,” Curtis said.

              “Curtis referenced the party’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, which showed the party had $274,111 cash on hand at the end of February.

              “That figure appears to be in error, however.

              “A Feb. 20 letter from the FEC to the party says the filing lists a $143,000 transfer from “Hillary Victory Fund.” But the FEC letter says a review shows only $14,300 was disbursed.

              “That would mean the party’s actual cash on hand was closer to $145,000.

              “But Witt said the actual amount available to use in a federal race is much lower, around $60,000. And that money also is used to pay the operational expenses of the party, such as payroll and office overhead, he said.”


        1. Oregoncharles

          OK, I can’t resist that one:

          Maybe this says something about being a “registered Dem”???

      2. katiebird

        Yes! “Hi, this is Barack Obama” — but neither of us can hang on long enough to find out what he wants from us!!! We freak out and hang up!!

        1. Gary

          Are you sure they are robo calls??? It could actually be Obama calling. It’s not like he’s got a lot going on. Maybe he needs a ride from the bus depot or something… nahhhhh.

          1. Vatch

            He’s a Nigerian Kenyan prince, and we need to provide him with our bank account routing information.

    1. crittermom

      I’d love to hear from Obama.
      I have quite a few things to say to him.

      Bill and Hellary are welcome to call, as well. Much to tell them, too.

    2. Steely Glint

      Probably for the same reason I’m getting calls from the IRS about tax problems (not), credit card stollen identity (not), Microsoft asking me to open my computer to them (hell no). Out of outrage today after a call center phone call, I asked them how they got my number since it’s unlisted & on a no-call list. The caller said from the health dept. My reply, illegal. With all this selling of my info. a supplemental income of about $300/month would be welcome for the trouble. It would be interesting to see a line item accounting on corp. returns for income generated for selling personal info.

    3. Tom Allen

      Apparently there’s been a robo-call scam going on for a while using what sounds like Obama’s voice to solicit funds. Ostensibly it’s to oppose Trump, but in reality … well, it’s not clear where the money’s going.

  7. cocomaan

    Re: Charlie Cook: Trump hasn’t yet had a real crisis. That will be where we’ll see if he’s a Carter or not. I don’t see how we’re going to avoid the various financial contagions out there over the next three years, so Donald may yet get his chance to crash some helicopters in the financial desert.

    1. jsn

      There will be a real crisis and it could just as well be WW3 as GFC2.0.

      Can’t wait to see what the Glibertarian visionaries in the West Wing do on the fulcrum of history.

      It will be fascinating if we survive it.

  8. Carolinian

    Hillary has been doing her homework since 1947–when she was born–and knows commie sympathizers when she see’s them. Nuff said.

    for @vatch

  9. Matthew G. Saroff

    Preserving the filibuster on Supreme Court justices for Republicans is not doing the right thing.

    The calculation is that the filibuster must be preserved, and so Democrats must never use it.

    F%$# that.

    1. a different chris

      Yup, and there is no reason, no reason in the world, that we can’t try a balanced court. If they can’t get to 5-3 then maybe the case was adjudged well enough, leave it be.

    2. UserFriendly

      I hate this mindset. Yes, the dems are feckless and it would be great if they could grow a spine. Do you really have to insist it is at the one time that it makes NO sense to do it? You just want to throw a temper tantrum and it is going to get us a hard right court. Start thinking without the emotions. The GOP will get Gorsuch one way or the other because they will nuke now to keep the balance of the court the same. They are less willing to nuke on the next one. But family blog it, it will feel soooo good to get them to filibuster and make any other resistance for the next 4 years pointless. Remind me to come back to this when RBG dies or Kennedy retires and we have no shot of the court being anything but HARD right for the next 20 years.

      It will be great when they start killing all the New Deal 2.0 stuff we ever get passed if we ever do.

      URGHHHHHHHH the told you so is going to be so NOT WORTH IT.

  10. Jim Haygood

    As a companion to Craazyman Fund, today a new and simpler portfolio is introduced. Thumper is a monthly trading model which selects one sector on the last trading day of each month, from a menu of seven choices: Energy, Financials, Industrials, Technology, Consumer Staples, Health Care and Consumer Discretionary.

    Each sector fund holds between 35 and 85 individual stocks drawn from the S&P 500 index of the largest US stocks. While the sector funds are diversified among companies, the similarity of their constituents means that sector performance can vary greatly from the S&P 500 index, either positively or negatively.

    Simulated results indicate that Thumper beat the S&P 500 index in 20 of the past 27 years, often by substantial margins. Since simulated results can be unrealistic owing to hindsight, a live one-year trial of Thumper begins today.

    On average, Thumper changes its selection eight times per year. Therefore, it would be most appropriate for a tax-deferred account such as an IRA, Keogh or 401k. In a taxable account, sector futures would offer more favorable tax treatment than sector funds.

    This chart shows the simulated performance of Thumper over the past 12 months, as of 3 pm today. For April, the selection remains Financials (stock symbol XLF). This is not an investment recommendation. It’s a live public trial of a research project.


    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      March 31, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      if one has an active…perverted…imagination, one can see thumper having (missionary) sex with the S&P….being a family blog, I can’t describe the position I anticipate in the next 6 months….

  11. Lee

    McCaskill to Sanders backers: ‘I need you. I want you’

    Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) pitched unity during a recent fundraiser, urging supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to be involved with her reelection campaign, according to audio posted by the state Republican Party.

    “All of you who are Bernie supporters … I need you. I want you. I want to talk to you. I want you to be part of our effort,” McCaskill says in audio from the private event posted Thursday by the Missouri Republican Party.


    “I’m a little worried about a primary against me because I think the Republicans would want to return the favor,” she said. “I think the Republicans might give a lot of money to one of my primary opponents doing a similar thing to what I did for Todd Akin.”

    Dear Claire, GFY. We remember

      1. Marina Bart

        She’s a Senator. She doesn’t have to. (I think that’s the logic they’re using.)


        On a reportorial note, apparently the staff of California Democratic Congresscritters have never heard of HR 676. When I called mine to find out when he was going to join the co-sponsors list, I was asked for the bill number. He had never heard of the bill by name or number, indicated there is NO discussion in the Congressman’s office about it, and he’s never heard any chatter anywhere in the building. That…can’t be correct, can it?

        I’m seriously contemplating a quixotic primary campaign against him. The Berner who tried last time came off as too LA crunchy granola. The machine is very powerful here. I don’t mind losing, but I don’t want them coming after me and my family.

        Come to think of it, the LA Congressmen would be an interesting test of whether Our Revolution has any integrity. Adam Schiff should be primaried, at the very least. He’s really, really terrible. He is also not backing HR676 — too busy looking for reds under beds. Taking him out with a primary challenge would be pelt worth hanging on the wall. Anybody here linked up with OR CA?

    1. marym

      “I think the Republicans might give a lot of money to one of my primary opponents doing a similar thing to what I did for Todd Akin.”

      LINK 2012

      “Senate Democrats got exactly what they wanted in Missouri on Tuesday night…

      There’s a reason why Democrats spent over $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his three-way primary. He was the most conservative candidate in the field — and the most unpredictable one…”

    2. Steely Glint

      Dear Claire, I remember when you sold out Columbus IBM’ers to H1B visa holders, after IBM got relocation tax breaks. Enough said. Perhaps this time you won’t be running against as stupid as Tod Akin.

    3. UserFriendly

      Well, the comments and the number of upvotes at the hill are heartening.

      Katrina • a day ago
      Senator McCaskill trashed Bernie and his supporters throughout the primary. She is a ConservaDem who is more closely aligned with Republicans than Democrats. In fact, she voted for every Trump administration nominee.

      I will gladly donate to a progressive candidate who challenges McCaskill in a primary.
      103 • Reply•Share ›

      Patriot1 Katrina • a day ago
      McCaskill and Clinton decided that Independant votes did not matter and said they did not need us. Now they can both drop dead because we do not need them. If they run Clinton again she will be responsible for eight years of Trump.
      45 • Reply•Share ›

      LadyDana Patriot1 • a day ago
      What about Democrats retaking the Senate and stopping Trump in 2018? Get over your 2016 hurt feelings. Your hurt feelings are not more important than stopping Trump in 2018. Neither McCaskill or Clinton said independents didn’t matter. Both knew they couldn’t win without them. Democrats know they need independents. Why act like you are some kind of victim? 2018 matters and independent votes matter to stop Republicans in the Senate.
      4 • Reply•Share ›

      eric lundy LadyDana • a day ago
      You are a fool Dana. Vote for a progressive in 2018. McCaskill is the problem not the solution. Time for a changing of the guard. Neoliberal center right dems need to go. Paying lip service to the progreeive base isnt going to cut it anymore.
      43 •

  12. fresno dan

    “What Devin Nunes Knows” [Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal]. Why Nunes left his cab:

    Around the same time, Mr. Nunes’s own intelligence sources informed him that documents showed further collection of information about, and unmasking of, Trump transition officials. These documents aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the “finished” intelligence products that Congress gets to see. Nonetheless, for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.

    Mr. Nunes earlier this week got his own source to show him a treasure trove of documents at a secure facility. Here are the relevant details:

    First, there were dozens of documents with information about Trump officials. Second, the information these documents contained was not related to Russia. Third, while many reports did “mask” identities (referring, for instance, to “U.S. Person 1 or 2”) they were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed. Fourth, in at least one instance, a Trump official other than Mr. Flynn was outright unmasked. Finally, these documents were circulated at the highest levels of government.

    Other than right wing sites, this is the first instance of the argument I have seen of the repubs that has been put forward coherently and the issue stated cogently. That does not mean its true, but at least it is put forward.

    I was watching CNN last night and the blonde commentator woman (Kirsten ???) put forward the proposition that the intelligence agencies “collecting” information on Trump associates does not mean Trump associates were surveilled – now this was in the context that the discussion was about the fact that Trump individuals were supposedly illegally “unmasked” by the intelligence agencies because the information was …..collected because they were under surveillance. Parsing “collection: vs “surveilling” was disingenuous beyond reality. One can put forward the idea that Trump personnel had conversations because of “incidental collection” or that Trump personnel are lawbreakers or treasonous as a reason for the surveillance (if surveillance happened – it seems obvious that it did happen) and the surveillance was legitimate.

    Unmasking could be legitimate as well – we don’t know right now. But to continue to put forward the proposition that Trump associates were not surveilled (by the Obama ADMINISTRATION) is simply preposterous.
    Again, I just see purposeful obtuseness. And the trust in the honor and integrity of CIA and intelligence agency officials assumed by the MSM when there are so many instances of documented lying is hard to reconcile with an objective press.

    I pretty much suspect there were some standard Washington scams/influence peddling going on – more so because this is Trump – and someone in the Obama administration was over anxious to leak this information, developed from classified information to hurt Trump. The only problem is that intelligence gathered information is not to be used for common criminal law. So we have the common law breaking on the Trump side and we have constitutional law breaking from the Obama side. Unfortunately, this country seems to have lost all desire to restrain the government from access to ALL communications of US citizens. And the MSM seems entirely unconcerned about unlimited government snooping.

    1. Allegorio

      What big surveillance you have Grandma? The better to coerce legislators with, my dear!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Both orders come less than a week before Trump is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, though both Ross and National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro insisted the move was not meant to send any sort of signal to Beijing. But China, with its nearly $350 billion trade surplus with the United States in 2016, will be at the top of the list for review.”

    Mar-a-Lago should be decked with as many Made-in-China products as possible…maybe even laminated flooring.

    “This is why we have to address that $350 billion trade surplus, Mr. Xi.”

    Shirts, socks, coffee cups, apple juice, etc.

  14. Byron the Light Bulb

    It’s as if GRU and Spetssvyaz had their own political action preferences based on self-interest. Destabilize and fragment Eastern Europe for bilateral relations with individual gov’ts to which warm relations are rewarded with lower natural gas prices at the risk chaos and armed conflict. Or preserve the stable central adversary for deployment of sober conventional forces that have unity of purpose with the stabilizing benefits of large conservative institutions that will just sit and rust. But what do I know? I’m just a bot. Don’t know what is real, what isn’t, and probably won’t be be paralyzed by doubt in leadership and ability to self-rule.

  15. cojo

    RE: “Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain” [Scientific American].

    Krasnow’s team genetically engineered mice to remove a specific subset of neurons that contains two genes: cadherin 9 (Cdh9), a gene that is expressed in the pre-Bötzinger complex, and developing brain homeobox protein 1 (Dbx1), which prior studies had demonstrated are necessary for respiration—without it, mice do not breathe.

    Researchers both in mice and later in human studies were looking at effects of the respiratory drive of the human brain. This is located in the brain stem, also known as the “reptilian brain” for it’s evolutionary basis throughout most vertebrates since reptiles. This portion of the brain also includes other “subcortical” brain structures such as the amygdala which is responsible for fight or flight responses. These portions of the brain are important in many of our subconscious “automatic” body functions such as respiration, blood pressure and temperature control.

    What this study implies is that meditation and other repetitive efforts at mindfulness do have an effect on these deep brain regions along with their functions. This is an example of brain plasticity at work. On the same vein, many psycho social ills suffered by humans are also due to this brain plasticity although via opposite mechanisms where maladaptations tend to send these regions into overdrive causing revved up fight of flight responses leading to stress, high blood pressure, and eventually to human diseases all to prevalent in modern society such as heart disease, strokes, cancers, and eventually death.

  16. Paper Mac

    ‘“Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in Brain” [Scientific American]. I’m very dubious about any study that “pinpoints” effects in the brain. Surely an infinitely plastic brain is adaptive?’

    No one believes that the brain is “infinitely plastic” (neurogenesis and synapse remodelling are limited processes; in adult human brains they’re extremely limited- that’s why brain damage is a problem) or that plasticity implies free neofunctionalisation of brain regions within a single person’s lifespan. Functions can be reliably localised to particular regions of the brain, eg. visual processing functions don’t ever up and migrate from the visual cortex to the cerebellum.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you just look at activities (electromagnetic or whatnot) and heat/energy generated, you may get the idea that one brain region is processing this or that information or signals.

      But suppose an alien does the same to the country of America.

      1. New York money demands a certain action and reaction policy in DC. New York originates it in a low key fundraiser and that is transmitted to DC, without much noise the alien can detest.

      2. Russia responds with a strong signal

      3. DC then responds with its own strong signal. Both 2 and 3 can be detected by the alien easily.

      Does the alien then conclude the DC is the only region really processing, or the only region processing the kind of signal Russia sends?

  17. DJG

    Hillary Clinton, doing her homework since 1947 and reminding us of her moral superiority for doing so, even though we all had to do our homework, too. Also, Hillary Clinton, since 1947, really good at really unusual forms of mathematics involving dollars.

    1. Jim Haygood

      While the placement of the blue text bar in the Hillary photo above the Erin O’Brien tweet may be good graphic design in an abstract sense, the way the narrow horizontal window below it highlights her stripedy nether regions made me shield my eyes in involuntary horror.

      Now I can’t unsee it. :-(

  18. djrichard

    “The Senate Intelligence Committee turned down the request by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony, two congressional sources told NBC News” [NBC].

    So what’s the over/under on this?

    My speculation is Flynn doesn’t have anything to say about Trump. He just doesn’t want to have the Logan act hanging over his head. But if he’s got nothing to contribute, that means Flynn is more valuable to anti-Trump forces if he doesn’t open his mouth – gotta keep the other narratives going.

  19. LT

    Somebody in the Green Party in California answer this:

    Going on five years since I changed my voter registration to Green. My next change will be unaffiliated. Why? Never rececieved one bit of mail to inform what the party is doing or even to ask for a nickle.
    What gives?

    1. Arizona Slim

      You’re not the first person to say such things about the Greens. Especially on Naked Capitalism.

      Suffice it to say that, when it comes to the mechanics involved in running a political party, the Greens haven’t a clue.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Give them clues.

        Take it over.

        Easier to do that than to continue the fatal obsession with the D party.

        Sure, there will be a lot of work to build it. Better that than to be used by some politicians (Now I am for Public Option…today…jam tomorrow) to gain back their neoliberal power.

        1. djrichard

          Take them over and call them the Blue Party. We can reclaim blue now right, now that the democratic party has moved on to purple?

          1. John k

            Personally prefer Progressive Greens… hate to be confused with dems in any way, including color.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Do you really want an answer? I can’t answer for California, but I can for Oregon:

      Snail mail costs money. Registrations provide ONLY mailing addresses, with occasional emails or phone #s as a voluntary bonus. A mailing to every registered Green in California would be a LOT of money. Among other effects, this causes us to industriously collect email addresses, since email does NOT cost money. It means that our mailings are quite selective. And you’re right: this has unfortunate effects, cutting the party off from a lot of its members.

      You can correct the problem for yourself by going to the website and signing up for an appropriate email list (assuming their system is similar to ours – but a former Californian administers ours, so it’s a good bet.) If you really want to make things happen, send them some money earmarked for mailings, and give them your address (once you donate, you may wish they’d stop).

      For an anti-corporate party, almost everything comes down to lack of money, compounded by a shortage of people, since very few of them get paid (in Oregon, precisely one, the fundraiser/treasurer/webmistress). I know excuses don’t really cut it, but that was my weekly reality for about 10 years.

  20. ewmayer

    Following NC reader “Knot Galt”‘s observation in yesterday’s 2PMWC regarding the parallels with 1930s Hochmodisch in Leder Gestapo-wear, I’d like to urgently request a new Links subcategory, “Leather”, featuring articles about the recent spate of “Hilla, She-Wolf of the DNC” sightings. Can I get a second?

        1. skippy

          The Cape York peninsula is pretty prehistoric territory…. that said have you seen our feral cats – ????

          Some theorize that if this is an example of the ‘mesopredator release hypothesis’ where feral cats are literally growing into the ecological gaps left by thylacines & dingoes.

  21. Vatch

    We’ve seen Ben Carson and his Egyptian pyramid grain silos, Betsy DeVos and her grizzlies, Mike Pence and his peculiar rules for eating dinner with or without his wife, and of course, Donald Trump and lots of stuff. But Rex Tillerson may outdo them all:

    ‘It’s Medusa!’: Internet loses it after diplomats are told to avoid ‘eye contact’ with Rex Tillerson

    We’re going to have to study Greek mythology if we want to understand the Trump administration. Forget political science and economics, head to the library and check out books by Edith Hamilton, Jane Harrison, and Walter Burkert!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Among the most dangerous Greek mythological creatures are the sirens.

      They lure with free jam tomorrow.

  22. juliania

    Thank you, thank you, Lambert, for that excellent Matt Stoller piece. At the risk of repeating what others I hope have already read, this stood out for me:

    “…The Obama era looks like an echo of the Federalist power grabs of the 1780’s and 1790’s both in its enrichment and glorification of financial elites and its open disdain for anything resembling true economic democracy…”

    The parallels he draws are irrefutable.

  23. IDontKnow

    Nothing Intelligent about CIA

    Why the CIA Is Increasingly Worried About Chinese Moles-Newsweek “A year or two ago, [the CIA] went through a very big mole scare because very high-level [Chinese] sources were getting wrapped up,” a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst tells Newsweek, asking not to be quoted by name on such a sensitive subject…The CIA continues to hire applicants who’ve spent time in China—at least those who’ve withstood a security check that can take two years. But the critics stand by their assertions that the agency’s heightened security sensitivity to applicants with multiple visits to China has also cost it high-quality talent. “If you have that on your background, your résumé is just tossed in the trash, because they are so paranoid about MSS penetration and co-opting students,” a former senior CIA intelligence analyst tells Newsweek on condition of anonymity.

    Strategist Edward Luttwak, in an entertaining way, speaks to this sort of stupidity

  24. stonecutter

    “We’ve seen Ben Carson and his Egyptian pyramid grain silos, Betsy DeVos and her grizzlies, Mike Pence and his peculiar rules for eating dinner with or without his wife, and of course, Donald Trump and lots of stuff”

    And our great hero is an incompetent, failed, carpenter guy who was kicked out of a commune because of laziness, and who made some money writing rape porn, and more money as a public “servant”?

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