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2:00PM Water Cooler 3/7/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday: “My point is simply this: Most of those in our profession have chosen to ignore the broader national security risks that stem from large and persistent trade deficits and the concomitant decline of our manufacturing and defense industrial base. Instead, most of our profession, as well as much of the mainstream media, continues to embrace and espouse an antiquated, Ricardian view of the world that has little to do with the events – or risks – of our time” [Politico].

Politics

Trump Transition

“So far, talk is all that’s being produced from President Donald J. Trump’s promise of a grand $1 trillion investment program for, as he put it in his recent speech before both houses of Congress, ‘new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.’ But in a recent gathering of top state highway officials in Washington there was considerable skepticism that Trump’s plan, like so much of his fledgling presidency, is a lot of talk and very little doing” [Logistics Management]. Ouch!

“Trump’s Wiretap Claims: What We Know and What We Don’t” [Weekly Standard]. Quoting the Weekly Standard makes me want to claw out my eyeballs, but here we go:

Let me begin with an admission, an observation, and a guess.

The admission: Even after weeks of reporting, with good sources in the national security world, on Capitol Hill, and (believe it or not) among Trump’s team, I cannot claim with any real confidence to know the ground truth about Trump and Russia or potential federal investigations or Obama loyalists pushing storylines.

The observation: Neither do most of the people closest to the back-and-forth allegations, including President Trump, or those talking in public about what is unfolding. Most of what we’re seeing in the media is the public version of an elaborate game of “telephone” that’s taking place behind the scenes.

The guess: March 4, 2017, will end up being a rather consequential day in the presidency of Donald Trump.

Either: the president used thinly sourced media reports to float a conspiracy theory about his predecessor and he was wrong; or, citing thinly sourced media reports, he overstated the details of an actual investigation into his activities or the activities of those around him, alleging presidential involvement without evidence; or, citing thinly sourced media reports, he accurately accused the former president of doing something highly illegal and accidentally uncovered what would surely be one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history. Whatever the case, the events of the last two days will undoubtedly have lasting effects.

The bright side, though: We get to see liberals defending secret courts and secret law, because who on earth wouldn’t accept a secret FISA court ruling?

“After seven years of drafting a replacement plan, we get … this?” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. I hate to agree with Young Ezra, but since I’m quoting the Weekly Standard, why not?

“House Republicans released their long-awaited bill dismantling and replacing the core of the Affordable Care Act Monday evening, but will have to overcome major hurdles — erected by members of their own party — getting the legislation to President Trump’s desk” [RealClearPolitics]. “One key conservative, Rep. Jim Jordan, said that the legislation ‘is not even close to what we told the voters we’re going to do.”‘ In other words, it’s not horrible enough:

“We put on President Obama’s desk a bill that ended Medicaid expansion after a couple years, a bill that ended all the tax increases and a bill that had no new entitlement, but we’re going to put a bill on a Republican president’s desk a bill that keeps tax increases in place, keeps Medicaid expansion in place for four years and a bill that starts a new entitlement?” said Jordan, a key House conservative. “A Republican Congress is going to put that on a Republican desk? That makes no sense.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“These Bernie Alums Think They’ve Found the Secret to Reaching Trump Voters” [Mother Jones]. What I am noticing is that the first two organizations actually started by Bernie alums — Our Revolution and Brand New Congress — don’t seem to be getting much play in the press at all. Odd. This one seems legit:

Knock Every Door—formed in January by a group of Sanders campaign alums and led by his organizing guru Becky Bond—is an oddity among the hundreds of liberal groups that have popped up in the wake of Trump’s election. The name gives away its mission; the group is focused on reaching two groups of voters: people who voted for Obama in 2012 and then flipped to Trump four years later, and the people who simply didn’t vote at all.

“Democrats found a reason to celebrate last weekend when they claimed their first competitive electoral victory since President Donald Trump’s inauguration” [Vice]. “A 527 nonprofit advocacy group, Flippable’s stated goal is to create a nationwide network of progressive activists dedicated to winning down-ballot races. “State legislative elections are the future of the Democratic Party,” Flippable co-founder and CEO Catherine Vaughan told VICE News. “They determine the future of policy and the future candidates for higher office.” Flippable was launched by Ohio Clinton volunteers.

Stats Watch

International Trade, January 2017: “January’s trade deficit came in very deep but at least right on expectations, at $48.5 billion and reflecting a surge in foreign consumer and vehicle imports and higher prices for imported oil” [Econoday]. “Strong demand for foreign goods and light demand for U.S. services and capital goods is not a favorable mix for GDP. This report puts first-quarter GDP on the defensive. ” And: “Our monthly analysis using unadjusted data showed surprising growth in both exports and imports. But the data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are improving. The worsening of the trade balance does not bode well for 1Q2017 GDP” [Econintersect]. But: “The trade deficit with China increased to $31.3 billion in January, from $28.9 billion in January 2016. The increase this year was probably due to the timing of the Chinese New Year (the deficit will probably be smaller in February). In general the deficit with China has generally been declining” [Calculated Risk]. And: “In comments overnight, US National Trade Council head Navarro stated that the trade deficit damages national security and that a lower deficit would boost growth. He also remarked that the US deficit with Germany was one of the most difficult trade issues and that bilateral discussions were needed” [Economic Calendar]. “Any further short-term widening of the trade deficit would increase political pressure and also increase fears that the Administration will push for protectionist policies or look to weaken the dollar in order to support exports.”

Gallup US Economic Confidence Index, February 2017: “One-third of U.S. adults described economic conditions as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 20 percent rated them as ‘poor'” [Econoday]. “However, opinions about the future trajectory of the economy, however, soured last month. Less than half of U.S. adults (48 percent) said economic conditions were ‘getting better,’ while nearly as many (45 percent) said they were getting worse.”

Factory Orders, January 2017 (Monday): “Strength in aircraft orders is masking what is not a favorable factory orders report where the January headline rose a nearly as-expected 1.2 percent” [Econoday]. “When excluding transportation equipment, orders rose only 0.3 percent. And when looking at core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) the results turn decidedly weak, at a 0.1 percent decline for orders which points to softness ahead for related shipments. And shipments were already in contraction in January, falling 0.4 percent.” And: “Back to slow growth from the lower levels” [Mosler Economics]. But: “Recent manufacturing surveys have remained generally firm with the ISM index at the highest level for over 2 years. Although the February Markit PMI survey reported weakness in export orders, there has been no immediate evidence of major deterioration. Overseas demand has improved which has provided support and the energy sector is also in a much healthier position than in early 2016 which will help underpin manufacturing” [Economic Calendar].

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, February 2017 (Monday): “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending climbed to an average of $101 in February. This is the highest average for the month of February since 2008, when spending averaged $106. The latest monthly average is up $13 from January’s figure, but still lower than December’s holiday-influenced $105” [Econoday]. “It took eight years for Americans’ spending to return to this pre-crisis level, as consumers’ “new normal” aversion to spending took hold after the recession and ensuing periods of high unemployment. Their hesitancy began to ease in recent years.”

Commodities: “The head of China’s second-largest copper refiner is sounding a bearish note on the red metal, even as the country is targetting higher economic growth” [Mining.com].

Commodities: “China iron ore slips on rising inventories; steel supported by cuts” [Reuters].

IT: “Mobile devices [shipped to primary and secondary schools] that run on Apple’s iOS and MacOS operating systems have now reached a new low, falling to third place behind both Google-powered laptops and Microsoft Windows devices, according to a report released on Thursday by Futuresource Consulting, a research company” [New York Times].

Rapture Index: Closes up on on Satanism (“Satanism in America Booms under Trump”) [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189; October 10, 2016. Current: 181. Hoo boy.

Debt: “Starting to look seriously ominous” [Mosler Economics]. “When delinquencies start going up, banks tend to start tightening up lending standards a bit to keep them in check, which tends to slow down lending, which causes the economy to soften, resulting in a downward spiral that doesn’t end until public sector deficit spending increases sufficiently.” Lots of FRED charts.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 69, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 7 at 12:44pm. Greed may be good, but more greed is better. What’s wrong with these people?

Water

“Ghana may soon import water over galamsey – EPA” [Citi 97.3].

Class Warfare

“Today, mothers and fathers are billed for their children’s incarceration — in jails, detention centers, court-ordered treatment facilities, training schools or disciplinary camps — by 19 state juvenile-justice agencies, while in at least 28 other states, individual counties can legally do the same, a survey by The Marshall Project shows” [Marshall Project].

“Rural Colorado hard hit by opioid addiction crisis” [Durango Herald]. “Pueblo, Adams, and Denver Counties experienced the greatest increase in overdose deaths among urban areas.” Of course, these deaths aren’t part of the narrative: Deaths in flyover states are not important, by definition.

News of the Wired

“A Backyard Evaporator for DIY Maple Sugaring” [Seven Days]. A little late in the season, but maybe for next year!

How to choose and pair typefaces [Zell’s Blog].

“Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed” [WikiLeaks].

* * *

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:

This summer, I’d like to construct a shelter of some sort so I can sit out and work in the garden even if it rains (and so I don’t have to thread my way to through the raindrops carrying my laptop). Building something like this looks like work, though. I was thinking more along the lines of sticking rebar in the ground, and bending it…

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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.

131 comments

  1. WheresOurTeddy

    Re: “Trump’s Wiretap Claims: What We Know and What We Don’t” [Weekly Standard].

    The bright side, though: We get to see liberals defending secret courts and secret law, because who on earth wouldn’t accept a secret FISA court ruling?

    “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.” – JFK

    1. Renodino

      Trump is whining on Twitter when he has the entire apparatus of a secret society at his disposal. He can arrest and imprison indefinitely his political enemies, yet all he wants to do is complain about the MSM attacking him. This does speak to his basic decency.

      Eventually this unrelenting witch hunt will bring out worst in him when he is cornered and can no longer tolerate his critics who want him out no matter what he does to appease them. Maybe only then will he open up the secret gift box left to him by his predecessors and take matter into his own hands.

      I do agree with observation that the date of March 4, 2017 is beginning of something very big.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the secret gift box left to him by his predecessors

        Indeed. Speculating freely, I think Trump thought he was doing a deal when he defenestrated Flynn. He wasn’t. Appeasement isn’t going to work, as the neo-cons themselves are constantly telling us.

        These upcoming hearings should be interesting, not least because they’ll give us a chance to see whether the Democrats have managed to drive a wedge in the Republican Party, furthering their quest to make Mike Pence President, can you believe it? (No, me neither.)

        1. John k

          Would Mic prefer Pence? If so, dem activities are well explained… they carefully explain, over and over, that candidates you think are horrible are their strong preference.
          Think of it like this; wouldn’t she, along with Obama and Biden, prefer Pence to trump? Bring back Tpp! Oppose Russia! We can win a warm war!

  2. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Vault 7 release sets up a revealing legislative litmus test.

    For the past 15 years, the $50 billion-plus black budget (including the CIA) has been discussed with an insider Gang of Eight consisting of the majority and minority leaders, and chair and ranking minority member of the intel committee, in each house. Their caucuses are then told to vote for it without knowing what’s in it.

    We now know the result of such dereliction of oversight: when the cat’s away, the mice will play.

    Revelations of an agency gone rogue clearly require blockbuster investigative hearings. Either they happen (revealing much about who’s in charge) or they don’t. In the latter case, we will know that the spooks have co-opted and compromised Congress to the point of simply being a convenient facade concealing the real power structure.

    The Agency already put me on full-time moderation. ;-)

    1. toolate

      I think that is a forgone conclusion. Has been since Dwight warned us. Imagine all that has transpired since then…

    2. allan

      In not totally unrelated news, investigative journalist Jason Leopold is branded a `FOIA terrorist’ and part of an `FOIA posse’ by members of the FBI and DOJ, and is then later accused by the NSA of being a `self-styled FOIA terrorist’ by the NSA, in trying to squash his long-pending FOIA suit for Inspector General reports.
      Read Leopold’s 32 tweet long thread and then remember that we taxpayers are paying for this.

    3. cocomaan

      Fortunately, this isn’t the only leak. This is part one in a series.

      I am really hoping for another Church committee. It’s time we understood what our government does with our money.

      1. DJG

        cocomaan: There won’t be another Church committee, just as there won’t be a special prosecutor. There will be some congressional hearings with screaming for the sake of the news cycle. That’s what passes for investigation, for probity, and for justice these days. And without hearings with a real scope and legal heft, the looting can safely continue.

      2. JerseyJeffersonian

        I am afraid that there will be nothing similar to to a Church Committee investigation nowadays. We are not so fortunate as to have men and women of character serving as our delegated representatives, rather we almost without exception have pwned assclowns who have neither the interest, nor perhaps even the ability, to understand the Constitution and the Amendments to same, and therefore expecting these sleazy poseurs to adequately defend it – as their oaths of office ostensibly obligate them so to do – is delusional.

        I should like to think otherwise, but our system of electoral politics only vomits up (with few exceptions) the small-minded and the small-souled as our representatives. And the entrenched mediocrity of these people, in combination with the vicious self-interest of the hangers-on who gorge on the carcass of our Constitutional order leaves little hope. This is how the Republic dies.

        1. SpringTexan

          I heard Frank Church speak about this when I was in college. His intelligence and commitment were amazing.

          It is so sad that his strong efforts failed, and that we are now in this horrible place.

  3. JohnnyGL

    Going for a repost on the CIA leak, but it seems some news outlets are missing the most important finds….

    1) CIA kept the tools/coding for the malware unclassified so they could avoid prosecution.

    2) Because of 1, they lost control of the tools and they’ve proliferated around the internet so no one knows who’s got these sophisticated malware tools now.

    Much like the blowback we see on arming bad guys in and around Syria, now the CIA has now accidentally armed unknown hackers, too!!!

      1. toolate

        YIKES:
        “If anyone still has doubts that Wikileaks and the Russians are working together to undermine and destabilize our government institutions, erode public confidence in our government, and generally wreak havoc in our country, this latest document dump should erase all doubt. We are under attack by an adversarial nation, with a President here at the helm who seems not to take any of this seriously.

        Spy agencies spy, this should come as no shock — this is how they infiltrate potential terrorist plots against America and keep us safe. We are less safe today thanks to Wikileaks and Assange’s unholy alliance with Putin..”

        The most liked post today at NYT. Orwell understood our desire to conform and be “safe” oh so well.

        1. clarky90

          Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the monasteries at Mount Athos, northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites.

          https://www.rt.com/in-motion/344748-putin-mount-athos-greece/

          “Today, as we resurrect the values of patriotism, historical memory and traditional culture, we hope for … a strengthening of relations” with Mount Athos, he said.

          Perhaps the NYT commentators are the Communist Provocateurs and Putin is the Good Man? At the one minute mark of the video, you can see Putin standing before the Ancient Throne of the Byzantine Emperors. The monks had invited him to sit on the Throne, but he chose to stand as a mark of humility.

            1. Tigerlily

              Yes.

              Putin’s comment and the place he made it is telling. He really doesn’t like gays, hippies, or cosmopolitans. He’s basically a conservative traditionalist.

              I think this point is underappreciated in the west.

              1. nechaev

                the west? you mean like LA and the Bay Area? – as opposed to the flyovers?
                What is little appreciated in those mostly coastal cosmopolitan enclaves of prosperity and fashion worldwide is how the ‘little people’ of the heartlands cling so fiercely to nationalist and religious [and in the case of the Russian Orthodox Church, religio-nationalist] tradition. Something Putin obviously grasps.

      2. cocomaan

        Those comments are just amazing. Russia this, Russia that, everywhere. Or the tax returns. One of the wikileaks findings is that the CIA can impersonate other nation state actors, which puts all of the hacking BS into question.

        1. Jagger

          findings is that the CIA can impersonate other nation state actors

          I wonder if they can impersonate commentators on NYT?

          1. RMO

            The “OMG RUSSIANS! PUTIN! HACKING!” thing amazes me. It’s as if a peeping Tom while spying on a suburban house found that the basement of the house was filled with cages and inside were abducted children being fattened up, butchered and eaten by the owner of the house. The owner of the house was running for the position of mayor. The burglar writes about what he found on the internet and the police find that what he said was absolutely true. Then the newspapers and television stations do nothing but run scare stories about the terrible menace of this awful pervert who goes around violating the security of our homes and interfering with our democratic processes. The fact that the mayoral candidate was in fact eating children goes completely ignored.

            And that story only really matches up with what’s going on if the Russian intelligence services were indeed behind bringing the DNC emails out into the open. I think if there was any evidence of that at all we already would have heard it.

    1. Jess

      As my late mother used to say, “I’m confoozed”. Can somebody explain how leaving these hacking tools unclassified provided protection against prosecution? Prosecution of whom? For what?

      1. marku52

        From over at emptywheel, here is why:

        “To attack its targets, the CIA usually requires that its implants communicate with their control programs over the internet. If CIA implants, Command & Control and Listening Post software were classified, then CIA officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the Internet.”

        Aha!

        1. Tigerlily

          That quote is actually from Wikileaks, not Emptywheel, she just included it in her post.

        2. bob

          That still doesn’t make any sense.

          I’d be much more willing to believe that they “developed” the software by finding it on the web. They couldn’t classify it because it was already in the public domain.

          When is google and, specifically, ANDROID going be called out for their part in this? Does google help find the holes, or design them in from the beginning?

          1. Tigerlily

            It’s true, critical thinking is dead.

            I have a simple rule of thumb that has served me well: if something seems too absurd to be true it probably is, and closer scrutiny is warranted.

            The idea that the CIA didn’t classify highly sensitive material because it feared legal repercussions is absurd. First of all, the CIA has never been particular about following the letter of the law. Second, are you telling me bureaucrats couldn’t find a way around the law that would have protected the material without (at least technically) running afoul of it? I know bureaucrats – they live for those kind of challenges.

            This looks like Wikileaks trying to discredit the American intelligence community.

            Cui bono?

            1. RWood

              Cui bono?!

              None but the “vested interests.”
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH8FWrbzxEs

              A truism that cannot be true:
              Debt that cannot be paid, won’t be paid.

              Solution?
              “Today, mothers and fathers are billed for their children’s incarceration — in jails, detention centers, court-ordered treatment facilities, training schools or disciplinary camps — by 19 state juvenile-justice agencies, while in at least 28 other states, individual counties can legally do the same, a survey by The Marshall Project shows” [Marshall Project].
              YES! MAWR DEBT! MAWR!

              Parenti shouted it awhile ago:
              They only want one thing — and that’s everything!

        3. Rageon

          Excuse my ignorance (I’m not American) but could a FOIA request be made of the CIA for this information if it is not classified? Is the CIA even subject to FOIA requests?

    2. fresno dan

      JohnnyGL
      March 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      “… now the CIA has now accidentally armed unknown hackers, too!!!”

      Putting on my massive 40lb tinfoil hat, than tipping right over, I am still able to utter, ‘how do you know it was an accident?’

      1. flora

        heh. Gosh, increased mayhem and badness seems also to result in increased CIA and intel bureaucracies’ budgets. (yes, this is foil hat territory. )

        1. flora

          one does admire the near perfect self-licking ice cream cone aspects of both the intel/MIC industries and the big data/IT industries.

        2. JohnnyGL

          Is it really tin foil hat territory when the links with Al Qaeda have been extensively documented over decades and even bragged about as if it helped win the Cold War by bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan? Now we’re seeing history rhyme in Syria!

          The fine line between “moderates” and “extremists” gets airbrushed over as needed.

          Remember, they tried to airbrush Osama bin Laden himself!

          Here’s that oldie, but goodie….

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/anti-soviet-warrior-puts-his-army-on-the-road-to-peace-the-saudi-businessman-who-recruited-mujahedin-1465715.html

      2. Old Jake

        Where can I get one of those hats? It’s becoming more and more obvious that those are the only sure means of defense.

        1. BobW

          Not so fast. “It has long been suspected that the government has been using satellites to read and control the minds of certain citizens. The use of aluminum helmets has been a common guerrilla tactic against the government’s invasive tactics [1]. Surprisingly, these helmets can in fact help the government spy on citizens by amplifying certain key frequency ranges reserved for government use. In addition, none of the three helmets we analyzed provided significant attenuation to most frequency bands.”
          http://web.archive.org/web/20100708230258/http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

            1. craazyboy

              They are right about GPS operating at 1.2 Ghz. And I didn’t know aluminum foil did attenuate or amplify this frequency. (sympathies for the meager equipment budget)

              However, it still requires a GPS receiver chip implant with a nano neural link to receive current global position and atomic clock time and, with the flick of a switch the government can change this data via satellite uplink and make Very Serious People believe it is 1946 in Berlin and the dude sitting next to you on the subway or high speed train wearing the funny looking tall beaver hat is really a Cossack Liberation Army soldier and fully intends to grope you without your prior consent.

              Getting one of these devices implanted is presently only covered by Federal employment medical insurance policies – ObamaCare does not!

              Fortunately, the government is still unable to read minds. Mosfet power transistor technology, tho vastly improved, remains slightly less than 100% efficient and the waste heat would cause your brain to burst into flames. However, reading minds has already been deemed useless by the government.

              I think the MIT researchers started out trying to create parody, but then realized where this was headed, and decided to play it safe and just cut the experiment short. I’m sure they kept the tin-foil hats. I would.

    3. temporal

      Without a doubt the CIA keeping their tools unclassified so their people wouldn’t get in trouble if any of it got into the wild was the biggest surprise of to me. The fact that they keep signatures of previous attackers so that they could plant plausible evidence as needed was the least surprising. All those folks that argued that the so-called evidence of a hack on the DNC server proved something must be in some serious denial right about now.

    4. ChrisPacific

      Another important point according to WikiLeaks: after the Snowden revelations, the government (of which the CIA is an agency) agreed to disclose any zero day security vulnerabilities that they knew about, rather than hoarding them for their own use. They committed to this in 2010. The latest leak contains details of numerous zero day vulnerabilities that the CIA knew about but failed to disclose.

      (A quick Google suggests this is somewhat overstated, as the ‘Vulnerability Equity Process’ discussed has numerous flaws and was never given the force of law, so it’s possible that the CIA is just following unofficial policy on this – it wouldn’t be the first time that it turned out to be the opposite of publicly stated policy).

      1. Carla

        “after the Snowden revelations, the government (of which the CIA is an agency) agreed to disclose any zero day security vulnerabilities that they knew about, rather than hoarding them for their own use. They committed to this in 2010.”

        I don’t understand this, as the Snowden revelations occurred in 2013.

        What am I missing here?

        1. ChrisPacific

          That is a bit confusing, sorry. Here is the source:

          https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

          (scroll down to the CIA hoarded vulnerabilities part)

          The source is a bit confusing as well and it looks like I read it wrong. Instead of “committed to this in 2010” I should have said “committed to releasing all vulnerabilities discovered after 2010.” If Snowden was a trigger then the commitment itself must have come later, as you stated. The details are not all that clear and it looks like WikiLeaks are either spinning it themselves or assuming a lot of context that most people don’t have.

          1. Irredeemable Deplorable

            The NSA committed to that, the CIA did not. Very few people even knew until today that the CIA had built it’s own internal NSA, and spent $100 BIllion+ on it.

            The key takeaway is the part where they allowed “contractors”, many of whom employ real hackers, to use the toolset. These are the kinds of things hackers dream of at night, I think it is obvious that these tools would leak out into the wild internet sooner rather than later, the temptation and sums of money would be too great. Every hacker on earth is now trying to get these tools, if they haven’t got them already. So much for any sort of “security” whatsoever. Thanks Obama.

            And every MSM Russia hacking/influencing the election story of the last year is now proven to be very fake news. As you can see by the mental gymnastics being committed right now on TV, or in the idiotic NYT, where they are attempting to walk back every “story” they so breathlessly reported as recently as last week.

    5. Tigerlily

      Can you link to actual documents in the Wikileaks archive that substantiate these claims?

      They say fake news is now a thing, and there’s your proof.

      As nearly as I can tell the only source for these allegations are completely unsubstantiated claims in Wikileaks own press release, which is more like a dissertation and clearly intended to shape the narrative on the leaks.

      Turns even Wikileaks has an agenda.

        1. Tigerlily

          If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to shift the burden of proof…

          1. Yves Smith

            Wikileaks provided THOUSANDS of pages of documents, plus the names of the programs rather than re-releasing the programs. This is about 4 orders of magnitude more support than you see for ANY news story. Stop being absurd.

  4. Altandmain

    I wonder what the real joblessness figures are in the US and Canada.

    Obama often brags about his jobs record, but what’s not factored in is:

    1. Discouraged searchers who have given up looking for work
    2. Underemployed workers who are working at low wage, part time jobs below their potential
    3. The huge amount of temporary jobs with no job security

    Oh and there are other problems. Pensions used to be more common. These days, outside of the public sector, who offers a pension save for executives?

    I wonder what that is doing to aggregate demand? No wonder why my generation (Y) cannot afford cars, homes, or pretty much anything but the basics.

    I have just been turned down for another job myself. Oh and I’m in a supposedly “good field”. Other “good fields” like engineers, scientists, etc also struggle. The job postings out there are all in demand of more years of experience, but the pay is not at all commensurate with a senior level job and more in line with an entry level job.

    Finally Mark Thompson on war:
    http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/military-industrial-circus/2017/what-ive-learned-covering.html

    Yeah we need Imperial Collapse watch for sure. Money for war, Wall Street bailouts, but not for the people.

      1. Praedor

        Nice article except she bases her arguments on the FALSEHOOD that government funds itself on taxes. Taxes are NOT necessary to fund government. At all. Ever. Not if it issues currency and denominates all its debt in that currency. Taxes fund nothing. They are ONLY for incentivizing or de-incentivizing certain behaviors. That’s it. If Ann Pettifor would learn MMT instead of keeping her thinking tied to the false gold-standard thinking (that money is in limited supply and all government-issued money MUST be taxed back to balance the books and fund government). She’s on the right track, that what is done with money is ENTIRELY a political choice rather than some “natural” act driven by “markets” or the “invisible hand”, but on the tax and debt/deficit side, totally wrong.

        1. Carla

          I don’t think she ever says that “the government funds itself on taxes.” I think she states (as you do) that taxes can be used to achieve certain political outcomes, which indeed they certainly are, and that if we desire different outcomes, we will tax differently to achieve them.

          But here is what she actually says:

          “Most orthodox economists would have you think of money as finite, like a commodity. Which makes it very easy for politicians to say, when you come asking for paid maternity leave, or government-subsidized childcare, Sorry, ma’am, there’s no money in the budget for that. But you’ll note that they don’t reach for that excuse when they have other priorities—when they want $54 billion for military spending, for instance, or a trillion dollars to bail out the banks, suddenly the money is magically available. A well-managed economy has the means to fund any priority it holds dear.”

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Taxes are NOT necessary to fund government

          If the government is the currency issuer. Our state and local governments need taxes to fund themselves.

      2. Lord Koos

        One way to estimate the real figures is this site: http://www.shadowstats.com/

        According to their accounting, real US unemployment is around 20%, a figure I find quite believable. Also take a look at their inflation stats.

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Knock every door

    The only reason this notion seems new is due to the infatuation with big data in recent years which allowed the parties to identify a resident’s party affiliation and voting proclivities ahead of time. Through that, the decision was often made not to waste time approaching those unlikely to support one’s candidate.

    This always seemed a little backwards to me and when my wife, a relative unknown, ran for local office this year she eschewed that losing strategy and knocked on everybody’s door. She picked up a decent number of votes from conservatives voters (at least according to what they said after she approached them) and also forged some ties with some of our town’s current and former conservative elected officials. A LOT of people are just happy to have any politician pay attention to them at all – she heard from quite a few people that she was the only candidate for any race who had bothered to stop by and that won their vote.

    Big data may have its uses but that alone isn’t going to win the race. 90% is just showing up – that counts for a lot more than these DC denizens realize.

    1. stillfeelintheberninwi

      In local office races which are often low turn out, the data that is useful is who votes in these elections. With this info, you can spend your time knocking on the doors that matter.

  6. L

    From the Klein article:

    At best, you can say this bill makes every obvious health care metric a bit worse, but at least it cuts taxes on rich people? Is that really a winning argument in American politics?

    At the risk of sounding cynical and jaded I must state that it often is.

      1. NYPaul

        Ah, but that’s because the slogan was, “We’re going to cut taxes”, not, “We’re going to cut taxes for those who need it most, and raise them for those who have been ripping/raping the system like, forever.”

    1. curlydan

      The R’s will advertise it as a step toward more “FREEDOM!”. And “FREEDOM!” smells so good, especially when you got yours.

      The Ds could start to emphasize “FEAR!”, i.e. every time you go to the doctor, you not only FEAR a sickness but FEAR a medical bill that literally could be any size because no one knows any prices.

      Or you FEAR you just wasted a visit on a worry that will suck up your $3K-$6K deductible after a zillion tests are done.

      Or your FEAR of a huge bill prevents you from even going to the doctor.

      Or possibly you FEAR leaving your corporate job and becoming an entrepreneur because you FEAR the $15K it will cost you to insure your family with $8K premiums and $7K deductible. Your idea, a great one, can sit in that trash can.

      Or you FEAR your doctor is getting kicked out of your network.

      Or you FEAR your life saving medicine costs $1,200 per month in the US even though you know it costs only $100 per month in Canada.

      Or you FEAR the mountain of medical bills from your insurer that sit on your desk at home.

      Or you FEAR for your life the 60 minutes of daily phone calls (55 minute hold times) required to sort out the bills.

      Or you FEAR you can’t even understand the bills.

      Or… the Ds could just scream “Save Obamacare”, and no one will really listen.

      1. Carla

        Or you FEAR that the generic tetracycline (an antibiotic) your doctor prescribes, that you used to buy for $10 for 100 pills, will now cost $900 for 60 pills (one month dose) — and it DOES.

          1. dale

            A coincidence, at 3:00 a.m. I was reading this,

            “Doxycycline (Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic of the tetracycline class.[1]) is available as a generic medicine and is generally inexpensive.[1][6] The wholesale cost in the developing world is between 0.01 and 0.04 USD per pill.[7] In the United States 10 days of treatment is about 14 USD, however some in 2014 were selling it for more than 3.00 to 10.00 USD per pill.[1][8]”

            In Mexico one capsule costs about five cents U.S.

    2. tgs

      From what I have read and heard, Klein is probably right. The Republicans over at Fox are claiming that Trump voters wanted Obamacare repealed. But that is not true. From a poll I saw on Fox, the vast majority of people, including many Republicans, wanted Obamacare improved.

      The voters, including most Republicans, don’t care that they will now have a ‘market solution’. They are interested in healthcare not ideology.

      Trump is going to lose a lot of Trump voters on this. He was very specific on the campaign trail: my plan will be better and cheaper. It won’t. But it will take a couple of years for people to realize that they have been screwed.

      1. Cynthia

        The only reason ObamaCare is popular among the public, including the viewers at Fox, is that most of the free and heavily subsidized stuff has already taken effect. And this happened towards the beginning of Obama’s presidency, while most of the stuff to pay for it, thus the unpopular stuff, was either postponed or wasn’t scheduled to take effect until he stepped down from the presidency.

        For instance, the Medicaid expansion with 100% funding from the federal government and the huge federal subsidies for individuals to buy ObamaCare insurance through the state exchanges, both very popular, took effect right way. However, Obama made sure that the states didn’t pick up 10% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion program until he left office. BTW, 10% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion doesn’t sound like much money, but it certainly is given that Medicaid expenses make up well over a third of most state budgets. On top of that, most states are already strapped for cash, which would force them to choose between scaling back Medicaid expansion or making steep cuts to school programs, road construction projects, and law enforcement. It’s a very unpopular choice either way, which is why Obama made sure he was well out of office before the unpopular parts of ObamaCare took effect.

        No doubt that one of the most unpopular parts of ObamaCare is the Cadillac tax, which slaps a 40% excise tax on rather “generous” employer-sponsored healthcare plans. This is largely how all the ObamaCare freebies and subsidies are to be paid for. But who cares if ObamaCare is completely devoid of any kind of funding source. It’s more important to protect Obama’s legacy. And what better way to do this than to perpetuate the myth that ObamaCare doesn’t cost anything. According to ObamaCare mythology, it’ll simply pays for itself much like how a huge parking lot across from an NFL stadium pays for itself.

        Obama knew how extremely unpopular the Cadillac tax would be so he made sure that it didn’t take effect on his watch. In fact, the tax was pushed off into not 2018, mind you, but all the way into 2020! Obama wanted to make totally certain that everyone would completely forget that the Cadillac tax was an ObamaCare invention, not a product of Trump.

        What bothered me most about Obama was how disgustingly deceptive he was in just about everything he did, from running the predatory drone program to making false accusations against Assad and Putin. But his healthcare reform law takes the cake in terms of deception.

        It doesn’t help that the MSM, led by pro-Obama propagandists like Ezra Klein, played and are still playing into this deception. They have never once mentioned the truth that ObamaCare was designed explicitly to be front-loaded with popular benefits, many of which are phased out over time, and backloaded with unpopular costs, many of which don’t take effect until Obama leaves office. But, needless to say, much of this deception wouldn’t be possible if the public, including the viewers at Fox, weren’t so ignorant and naive as to believe all the pro-Obama propaganda dished out to them by the MSM, and if they weren’t so lazy as to NOT seek out information from sources that lie well outside of the mainstream.

        1. tgs

          Thanks for that info. Obama’s duplicity is as always staggering. The fox poll I referred to showed that those who wanted Obamacare improved vastly exceeded those who preferred it left as is and those who just wanted it repealed.

          Of course, what they meant by’ improved’ I’m not sure. But I doubt people want their subsidies removed.

        2. Science Officer Smirnoff

          This comment overlooks what is now finally being emphasized (to select readers)—the progressive taxation that undergirds ACA (from my post, October 2015).

          Here’s the relevant bit of Schwab’s capsule for 2015:
          Also, an additional 3.8% surtax applies to net investment income for taxpayers with AGI over $200,000 (single filers) or $250,000 (married filing jointly).

          Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends
          A top rate of 15% applies to qualified dividends and the sale of most appreciated assets held over one year (28% for collectibles and 25% for depreciation recapture) for single filers with taxable income up to $413,200 ($464,850 for married filing jointly). Long-term capital gains or qualified dividend income over that threshold are now taxed at a rate of 20%.

          So the total rate for “top people” on long term cap gains is 23.8%=20%+Medicare’s 3.8%.

          Now the right wing will, with all the righteousness of the most propertied, abolish this taxing regime (in their struggle to reach Paul Ryan’s Party goal of zero taxation of income from wealth and on inheritance). (chorus)

        3. Science Officer Smirnoff

          Or there’s this:

          . . . Nearly half of that expense [of the Republican replacement] would be due to the termination of just two taxes that primarily target upper-income households. Republicans would nix the 3.8 percent surtax on capital gains for high earners, at a cost of $158 billion over a decade. About 90 percent of that windfall would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center. Meanwhile, the GOP would also kill off the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, which only applies to couples making at least $250,000 a year. That’s worth $117 billion.

          So how are Republicans planning to pay for their rump of a health care law, you ask? The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t scored the bills yet, but there’s the Cadillac tax, for starters. Aside from that, it mostly looks like cuts to Medicaid carry the burden. Because as St. Paul once wrote, the only true way to be fiscally responsible is to yank health coverage from the poor. God bless.

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/03/07/the_republican_health_care_plan_is_a_massive_tax_cut_for_the_rich.html

          emphasis added

        4. Science Officer Smirnoff

          Finally this:

          . . . We don’t have a full distributional analysis of the Republican bill yet. But the Medicare surtax and the investment tax alone combine to a tax cut of $195,610 for the top 0.1 percent, not far off from the $197,340 average cut estimated for full repeal of Obamacare. It’s hard to overstate what a massive windfall this is for the richest Americans. You don’t have to be a total cynic about the wealthy’s influence on American politics to see this as a major factor motivating Republicans’ determination to rapidly pass a replacement plan that eliminates most of Obamacare’s taxes.—Dylan Matthews, Vox

      2. marym

        Monmouth University Polling Institute

        Before House Republicans revealed their new health care legislation, most Americans (51%) said they would prefer to keep the Affordable Care Act and work to improve it, with another 7% saying they want to keep the ACA entirely intact. Just 4-in-10 want to see the ACA repealed, either with a replacement put in place (31%) or repealed entirely without a replacement (8%). The poll finds majority support for retaining the ACA regardless of how individuals get health care coverage – such as through an employer (57% prefer to keep the law), a privately purchased plan (55%), or publicly funded coverage (63%).

    3. jawbone

      Time to bring out that old “Hurry Up and Die” summary of what the changes will bring? Especially for those on Medicaid (or not lucky enough to get on before the Trump/Repub changes put a freeze on new patients for Medicaid), older Individuals not old enough to get on Medicare, and, given what may happen, just about any one once the Repubs start on attacking Medicare itself.

      Then, it becomes “Soylent Green” time.

    1. dcrane

      Great link, thanks….here’s a key passage:

      A genuine populism, one defined and often articulated by Bernie Sanders, could sweep the Democratic Party back into power. Regulating Wall Street, publicly financing campaigns, forgiving student debt, demanding universal health care, bailing out homeowners victimized by the banks, ending the wars in the Middle East, instituting a jobs program to repair our decaying infrastructure, dismantling the prison system, restoring the rule of law on the streets of our cities, making college education free and protecting programs such as Social Security would see election victory after election victory.

      But this will never happen within the Democratic Party. It refuses to prohibit corporate money. The party elites know that if corporate money disappears, so do they…

      …They may have lost control of the Congress and the White House and hold only 16 governorships and majorities in only 31 of the states’ 99 legislative chambers, but they are incapable of offering any meaningful alternative to neoliberalism and empire. They are devoid of a vision. They can only moralize. They will continue to atrophy and enable the consolidation of an American fascism.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Unanticipated consequences:

    [California water officials] apparently did not anticipate a side effect of their decision to stop feeding the gushing Feather River — a rapid drop in river level that, according to downstream landowners, caused miles of embankment to come crashing down.

    With high water no longer propping up the shores, the still-wet soil crashed under its own weight, sometimes dragging in trees, rural roads and farmland. “The damage is catastrophic,” said Brad Foster, who has waterfront property in Marysville (Yuba County), about 25 miles south of Lake Oroville.

    The quick draw-down of water also left chinook salmon and steelhead struggling to survive in isolated pools and puddles on the river’s edge. The fish, which migrate to the Pacific Ocean, were trapped as the main stem of the river swiftly shrunk [sic].

    Between Tuesday and Thursday, crews saved close to 1,900 trapped salmon and steelhead, including more than 1,700 juvenile fall-run chinook salmon, plus 1,500 to 2,000 fish of other species.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Riverbanks-collapse-after-Oroville-Dam-spillway-10976144.php

    Shutting off a river like flipping a light switch just ain’t natural. We’d better add this insight to the Hydrology 101 curriculum.

    1. bob

      While turning off a river isn’t normal, neither is having to turn off a river.

      The deeper you get into the oroville story, the more it comes back to water politics. Someone in another comment said that no one pays any attention to them normally, and they are therefore run by and for the benefit of #1 Developers, and in CA especially #2 Agriculture.

      The majority of people paying for it have no say.

  8. toolate

    “Of course Obama tapped Trump. Snowden told us. Obama tapped everyone! Which is how we know Sessions is a traitor!”

  9. LT

    It really is becoming a question of:
    Health insurance (not care) or iphone?
    Health insurance (not care) or food?
    Health insurance (not care) or car?
    Health insurance (not care) or housing costs?
    Health insurance (not care) or new clothes?
    Health insurance (not care) or college courses?
    And economists wonder what happened to demand…

    1. PhilK

      Saw a Toles cartoon recently, where a guy with a clipboard, who looks like an economist, is telling a guy who looks like a working man, “The fundamentals of the economy are sound.” The working guy responds, “But I can’t make enough to survive!” And the economist looks down at his clipboard, and says, “That’s not one of the fundamentals.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for the health affairs link but do consider reading the post. There are in fact two links, starting at

      “After seven years of drafting a replacement plan…”

      And

      “House Republicans released their long-awaited bill dismantling…”

  10. Scott

    I went to complete my taxes this weekend but found out I couldn’t.

    This link is about a month old, but file it under crapfication of government services, Massachusetts has stopped the free online tax filing service, forcing us to purchase software to complete our taxes.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/02/05/massachusetts-drops-its-online-tax-filing-system/nGADnVZWiAOF2fVEcn8HmN/story.html

    The kicker is the state said the state money, of course it will – they provide fewer services.

    1. bob

      Was in Mass last year.

      Who’s making all the money on those non-toll both/camera stands on the mass pike? They can’t possibly work well, and probably contribute to accidents (flash bulbs at night).

      I did some bit of research, and found the usual polish from the globe, without any details at all.

      It had the sound of giant sucking….It’s not simple to build them. Gotta be upward of 10 million a pop, before the ongoing costs.

      1. Baby Gerald

        According to my brother, who lives in Greenfield, MA, the toll automation was [of course] contracted to a private company. Out-of-state drivers will be sent their toll charges by mail. Anything to get rid of employees who collect a decent salary and a pension when they retire.

        1. human

          Any driver without an EasyPass ™ will receive a bill by mail. I spoke with a couple of toll takers before they were made redundant. I was told that some 400 employees were pink slipped.

      2. human

        The Toll by Mail ™ cameras work very well and transparently. Received my first bill in the mail last month. It included a photo of my license plate and the times I was sensed.

        I’ve made a point to examine their use on subsequent trips and could detect no flash on any vehicles in front of me. The sensor arrays are right out of sci-fi. Think spy apparatus turned instrument of capitalism.

    2. NathanP

      you don’t have to buy software (turbo tax), you can simply sign up for taxact.org. i’ve used it every year since 2010. Easy Peasy. All the software is online.

  11. mcdee

    I haven’t got around to un-registering as a Dem so I got a survey in the mail from the DNC about the future of the party. It had a section for the amount of donation you would send in (I put $0) and a space for comments. So I commented. Pretty much a shorter version of what Hedges wrote and not as well written, of course. But the thought was there.
    It had a cover letter from Donna Brazile with the following gem: “Will you join me and millions of other Democratic Party activists in fighting to protect the tremendous gains (!) we have made over the past eight years?” Gains???? On what planet? They are beyond pathetic.
    I wonder how many responses like mine they are receiving in this survey. It would be interesting to know.

    1. Lord Koos

      It can be valuable to keep your Democratic registration as it allows you to participate in Democratic party caucuses. Although I’m an independent, I keep mine for that reason.

      1. Paid Minion

        My contention is that we are witnessing Genocide-Lite. Or you can call it a “Kinder, Gentler Genocide”

        The reality is that the government/PTB have created a situation that isn’t “fixable”, without a major course correction from the status quo. and have a bunch of “unemployables/deplorables/takers/subhumans” on their hands who are no longer financially viable entities under current economic conditions, and are only going to become “useless mouths” as they get older/sicker/more drug dependent.

        Since direct shootings/gassings/mass murder are considered bad policy/frowned on, what better way to get rid of the useless mouths than by encouraging self-destructive behavior? Or at least not discouraging it. Let Darwin sort them out.

        (Which seems like a curious plan for people who also believe in “intelligent design”)

        This plan has the added benefit in that it’s easier to “blame the victim” for his problems, rather than admit that the problem was created due to government decisions.

        Don’t believe me? Ask yourself:

        -What set of policies would be implemented if the government/PTB actually thought “All lives matter”?

        -What policies would government implement if they preferred a big percentage of the population to “just go away”?

        – What policies are the government/corporations/PTB currently implementing or promoting?

        1. Lord Koos

          I totally agree… it’s pretty obvious really that they are would like to get rid of all “the takers”, including aging boomers.

        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          Who has this agency? My best guess at the current situation is that we are in a contention between mouth breathing globalists, and troglodytes who think you cannot attack a country with the cannons they built for you.

          To me, the 0pium wars seem like a starting off point. Semi-colonized territory, etc.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Dunno about genocide but the numbers really are AIDS-level.

          I can’t imagine why this isn’t on the radar in the Acela corridor (to mix metaphors).

          [snort]

    1. Uahsenaa

      Ghilarducci was one of the few bright lights in the Clinton campaign. She’s very good on labor issues and the need to reinstitute pensions/create a livable benefit for all retirees. I saw her testify before a congressional committee, and she was rock solid on the issues. She may not be a superhero like Kelton, but she’s definitely not a villain.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    Backyard Evaporator link not working, here’s the correct one: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/a-backyard-evaporator-for-diy-maple-sugaring/Content?oid=4368435

    And you’re not late with this one – a lot of syrup makers are just thinking about getting started. Season doesn’t usually end until early April.

    Learned to make syrup from my dad who made us a very similar starter evaporator on his own – just cut up a 50 gal metal drum to fit a square pan on top for the boiling, stuck on a stovepipe and away we went.

    1. 3.14e-9

      Thanks for the correct link, and thanks to Lambert for turning up this off-beat story.

      It could be just my imagination, but the syrup doesn’t taste like I remember it as a kid. I would bet that anyone with the time and money to invest in a Sapling will be rewarded with good, old-fashioned syrup, the way it should be made.

      Maple syrup has become big business, not just for the producers, but the equipment manufacturers, distribution channels, marketing, etc. My brother lives in Upstate New York and recently was hired as a part-time consultant for a producer who was going under because he wasn’t up-to-date on all the latest technology.

      We were laughing, because when we were kids, he used to tap the trees in our yard and once made a quart of thick, perfect syrup on the kitchen stove. He was maybe 8 or 9 years old and did it entirely on his own. He collected the sap daily and kept the pot going 24/7 for a week. He found some old-fashioned taps in the shed, from our father’s sugaring days in the backwoods of northern Vermont in the 1930s.

      As part of his gig, the client paid him to go to an annual maple sugar symposium and trade show. He was flabbergasted by the advances in technology over the years. They don’t even use taps anymore but insert vacuum tubes into the trees that stay in year-round and run directly to the evaporators.

      Speaking of which, my brother also learned about the trend in “maple water,” which evidently has been around for a few years, but it was the first time either of us had heard of it. Essentially, it’s just tree sap in a bottle, marketed for the alleged health benefits. Not only is that questionable, but what a waste! Let them drink San Pellegrino and save the sap for syrup.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes the days of a team of horses pulling a gathering tank through the woods and unloading buckets by hand are long gone for the most part. It’s all pipeline, vacuum pumps and reverse osmosis these days.

        All this does affect the taste of the syrup. With buckets, if you find some sap that has gone bad you can just dump it out. With a pipeline, it runs straight into the evaporator and affects the quality. Far fewer people make what used to be called ‘Fancy’ grade syrup these days.

    1. Jen

      Not to make light of the raft of odious voter suppression legislation making its way through our beloved legislature, but cities and towns would actually have to fund their police departments to do that.

      I note the astonishing drop in motor vehicle citations in my town over the past 2 years – something like a 400% decrease. This has bugger all to do with changes in driving habits and everything to do with reducing our police force from 2 officers to 1. Other crime statistics haven’t changed.

  13. George Phillies

    March 4 Other choices:
    Trump is a beneficiary of the folks who just supplied wikileaks with Vault 7 and has complete details about what was done.
    Trump has deep turf warfare between several Federal agencies, and one of them found a way to nail another one.
    Trump has precognition, as witness his rant about Swedish unrest before the event happened.

  14. oho

    >Trump has precognition, as witness his rant about Swedish unrest before the event happened.

    See “Pre-suasion” by Robert Cialdini
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini

    there’s also a fan gif-meme floating around that sets forth the evidence that Trump and Pence are time travellers from the future :)

  15. clarky90

    “Rural Colorado hard hit by opioid addiction crisis”

    Could we call this A Crime Against Humanity? Genocide is genocide, regardless of the means-of-annihilation; a machete, cyanide gas, a bullet in the back of the neck, starvation, an intentional release of infectious agents or poisoning with opioids.

    The psychopathic mind, when harnessed with “inventive”, “disruptive” “innovative” “profit seeking”, becomes The Angel of Death.

  16. Elizabeth Burton

    It might actually be preferable, given the kind of coverage true progressive organizations and movements tend to receive from the MSM, that Our Revolution and Brand New Congress continue to operate without all that probably detrimental publicity. Those of us who joined early are available to spread the word, and that’s likely for the best.

    TBH, it wouldn’t surprise me, once a few OR/BNC candidates win, to see articles suddenly appearing casting all kinds of aspersions on their efforts, their staff, their ethics, their viability…well, you know how it goes. The brainwashed millions will hear how the OR/BNC efforts are commendable but, in the end, lack the necessary [fill in blank] to become anything like a force for change.

  17. Big River Bandido

    Speaking of #TheResistance(TM)…I note that today was supposed to be the day for a womens’ general strike. Yet not one of my female colleagues or students seemed to even notice, and I’ve seen no media “reporting” about it whatsoever. Could it be that millions of women had no time for another astroturf stunt concocted by Podesta, Tanden and Palmieri?

    1. marym

      International Women’s Day is 3/8 if that’s when #TheResistance(TM) had something planned. The Water Cooler date is wrong, but here’s a live blog of events already in progress.

      1. Big River Bandido

        The “strike” was planned for 3/7. I’m also teaching today and don’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

  18. Kurt Sperry

    The super right wing stuff that’s gushing out like sewer main break in the street from the Trump administration is a constant reminder of his weakness. He needed a constituency that he could count on and the price he had to pay was to grant power and access to every wingnut movement conservative from the disreputable furthest right that the mainstream Republicans have often kept at bay–the same mainstream that fought tooth and nail against Trump until the day he wrapped up the nomination. Trump has never been very ideological, that’s why his positions are so fluid. I suspect it would have been nearly as easy for him to go to the left of the mainstream party, but there is no constituency for that within the Republican Party, and he *needs* to have a telling plurality of the party behind him, he knows the mainstream have their knives drawn behind him and he’s far too weak to take on the party’s motivated hard right base, the party mainstream, and the opposition all at once. Pence and the parade of cartoon villain right wing crazies staffing his administration is the bargain he had to make to move forward. He has no other path.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep. Why, it’s almost as if the Democrat soft coup was imagined by accelerationists (“worse is better”) and intended to push Trump right….

  19. ewmayer

    Chris Hedges had a good interview in his latest [i]On Contact[/i] installment on RT:

    Resistance In the Age of Trump

    Includes a brutal takedown of MoveOn, a call for nationalization of the TBTFs and MMT-style “take the money creation privilege out of the hands of the banksters and return it to The People”, and the economically corrosive role of the MIC and U.S. imperialism.

  20. Ancient1

    “This summer, I’d like to construct a shelter of some sort so I can sit out and work in the garden even if it rains (and so I don’t have to thread my way to through the raindrops carrying my laptop). Building something like this looks like work, though. I was thinking more along the lines of sticking rebar in the ground, and bending it…”

    Lambert, If you need some help with this, I offer my service, an old retired architect with 45 years of experience, but crabby as can be. Have done design and build of an inexpensive open gazebo for my own use, (more like what the English call a “Folly”). Warning, drawings will be done by “hand” only.

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