Links 3/15/17

The bear necessities of life! Pandas’ joy as they sit back and relax in the bath (but they can’t resist a bit of splashing) Daily Mail (Li)

The challenges of measuring Mount Everest Live Mint (J-LS)

Earth’s lost history of planet-altering eruptions revealed Nature (guurst)

Worldwide solar power growth increased by 50 percent in 2016 TreeHugger

If we assume global warming is a hoax, what should we expect to see? SyfyWire (resilc)

Climate Change Studies By Academia Paid For By Fossil Fuel Industry Gas2 (Glenn F)

Divisive ‘Bitcoin Unlimited’ Solution Crashes After Bug Discovered Bloomberg

In Africa, Scientists Are Preparing to Use Gene Drives to End Malaria MIT Technology Review (J-LS)

California Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows Cancer Warning on Roundup Truthout (martha r)

Poultry breeder Aviagen culls U.S. flock over bird flu fears Reuters (J-LS)


The magnificent irony of Louvre’s soft-power lesson to China South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Demonetisation Was Bad Economics But as an Act of Vigilantism it Served Modi Well Politically The Wire (J-LS)

South Korea dog row brews as Park Geun-hye faces questions BBC

And now for an idiotic war on batteries MacroBusiness

How Much Europe Can Europe Tolerate? Project Syndicate (David L)


The conundrum of Theresa May’s Great Repeal Bill Financial Times

Brexit Drains Swamp in London, Creatures Head to Luxembourg Wolf Richter

Dutch voters in crucial poll as Europe watches Financial Times

Turkey: 14 union leaders face imprisonment ActNow (Sid S)


Saudi Arabia launches girls’ council – without any girls BBC (J-LS)

Why has Iran wrecked its economy to fund war in Syria? Asia Times (resilc)

America has spent more rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding Europe under the Marshall Plan Boing Boing

New Cold War

When ‘Disinformation’ Is Truth Consortiumnews (martha r)

Dem senator: Justice Department should investigate RT America The Hill. EDH: “Forget about health care, let’s chase up RT.”

How Russia’s attack on Freeland got traction in Canada McLeans. Wowsers. This is the second article by Gavin trying to defend Freeland. Trying to claim that the absolutely true fact that her grandfather was a Nazi propagandist, and that she lied about is a “hoax” is a sign of desperation (aside from the fact that the article’s length is in and of itself a “the lady doth protest too much” tell). Freeland might have a defense if she could credibly claim she only recently found out about the truth of her family’s history, but she hasn’t gone that route, suggesting she has been knowingly misrepresenting her past for some time. And the mud-throwing at Greenwald is another backfire. Before this article ran, Mark Ames said via e-mail,

If anything has happened in Canada to “subvert the public’s faith in its establishment institutions” it’s the media’s coverage of Freeland’s Nazi grandpa. I’m hearing this a lot from Canadian lefties, how shocked they are. They really didn’t think it was this rigged. Classic establishment panic, then blame all the damage on the evil foreigners

Moscow moves to absorb rebel Georgian region’s military Reuters. Marshall: “They’ve been in South Ossetia for years now.”

Israel interferes in our politics all the time, and it’s never a scandal Mondoweiss (Sid S). From last month.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Vibrator maker ordered to pay out C$4m for tracking users’ sexual activity Guardian (Timotheus)

Vibrator Maker To Pay Millions Over Claims It Secretly Tracked Use NPR. J-LS: “And don’t neglect to check out the embedded document, We-Vibes Motion For Approval of Settlement.”

Is Facebook A Structural Threat To Free Society? TruthHawk (Paul R). I hope to get Marina to comment on this. This strikes me as a rather large exaggeration of what The Borg can/could do. For one, mapping to external databases is not reliable. I know of at least 2 databases (one that you would expect to be pretty rigorous) that thinks a different person with a similar name in the NYC metro area is me.

American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone NBC News

Trump Transition

The Foreign Workers of Mar-a-Lago New Yorker

Trump Tax Records Leaked to MSNBC, White House Confirms Wall Street Journal. Trump paid a lot of taxes that year for a rich guy. People have been nuttily acting as if Trump’s tax returns are a Rosetta stone. They aren’t. It is embarrassing how none of these people have talked to a tax expert. Getting Trump’s tax returns will NOT tell them something about who he borrows from. Get over it. Any borrowing by him will be non-recouse, by virtue of being secured by real estate and/or via a corporate entity. Non recourse loans are not listed on individual returns.

Rachel Maddow’s Trump taxes scoop was a cynical, self-defeating spectacle. Slate (resilc). Got this after I penned the bit right above. Good for Slate.

Texans Get First Land Notices for Trump’s Border Wall – The Daily Beast (resilc)

Trump Wins Saudi Praise After Meeting Prince Bloomberg. Wow, how sporting of them to make a show of kissing the ring. Now they can go back to doing dictation in private (not that transmission is 100%, mind you…)

Trump to Nominate Goldman Banker to No. 2 Post at Treasury Wall Street Journal. Gee, a few weeks ago, Trump swore off this sort of thing..

Chinese Firm Gives Kushner Family ‘Sweetheart Deal’ New York Magazine (resilc)

Rex Tillerson ‘used email alias’ at Exxon to talk climate change BBC

There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendy)

Republicans Keep Showing Us Who They Are Nation. Resilc: “Save the fetus, kill everybody else is their shtick.”

The Left Might Have A Hard Time Replicating The Tea Party’s Success FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly). Argues that the Tea Party’s clout among other things, came from the backing of big money donors. So according to this line of thinking, “the left” needs to sell out.

Charles Peters on Recapturing the Soul of the Democratic Party Washington Monthly (resilc)

A Soft Coup, or Preserving Our Democracy? American Conservative (resilc)

Rep. Gutierrez Handcuffed After Refusing to Leave Meeting with ICE NBC (resilc)


Republicans battle to save healthcare bill Financial Times

GOP Senators Say Health Bill Won’t Pass Unless Changed Wall Street Journal

I Don’t See GOP Bloodbaths in the Near Future Washington Monthly (resilc)

How Republicans Can Win By Making Peace With Obamacare Atlantic (resilc)

Trump Warns It Could Take Several Years for Health Costs to Drop Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Remember the People America’s Healthcare System Has Already Killed Motherboard (resilc)

Paul Ryan and Mick Mulvaney’s defend Trumpcare’s tax cuts for the rich. Slate

The Rising Tide of Militarism in the 21st Century: From Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump James Petras (UserFriendly)

Ron Paul: Whistle-blowers are heroic, patriotic USA Today (resilc)

How to Become an International Gold Smuggler Bloomberg (guurst)

Why Last Week’s Oil Price Crash Was Inevitable OilPrice

Citi Tells Investors to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Oil Bloomberg

PwC suggests MF Global was a risk culture run amok Financial Times

Wall Street Has Found Its Next Big Short in U.S. Credit Market Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

Your Tax Dollars Subsidize Amazon. Are the Jobs Worth It? Bloomberg (resilc)

Uber is using in-app podcasts to dissuade Seattle drivers from unionizing The Verge


Emboldened by Trump, Minimum-Wage-Hike Opponents Fight Back American Prospect (resilc)

Liberals and diversity Matt Bruenig. A must read. The Democrats are really doubling down.


I used to enjoy The New Yorker, but the bias of its stories now bothers me immensely.

Their latest Financial Page segment takes the President to task, rightly, for using foreign workers on H-2B visas to staff Mar-a-Lago. But of course they couldn’t stop there, so the last 40% of the column is used to justify the use of H-1B visas in the tech industry, and how the tech companies would just move to Mumbai or Vancouver if we didn’t let them bring cheap workers to America.

The rich part was the byline on the article … not James Surowicki, but their up-and-coming, well-credentialed young writer, Sheelah Kolhatkar. Yep, they used an Indian-American writer to justify giving visas to Indian tech workers, but not to seasonal laborers. Priceless.

Too few truck drivers – another bogus skills shortage story Fabius Maximus (resilc)

New take on Milgram experiment shows regular people still follow orders instead of their conscience Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Making Athens Great Again Atlantic (Micael). About exceptionalism and mortality.


Antidote du jour. From Josh, whose older Burmese died of cancer a few years ago. The kittens he got are now grown up and even for siblings are very fond of each other:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. todde

    Recourse loans aren’t listed on an individual tax return, nor a business return for that matter.

    1. todde

      And a number is only given for recourse loans on partnership returns as its the only time it matters.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I got the non-recourse remark straight from top tax expert Lee Sheppard, who among other things was the only one to figure out why Trump’s 1995 $915 million tax loss was kosher (here is the layperson version, here is her Tax Notes original). She is always very precise and specifically stated “non-rescourse” twice, so I have to assume there are some circumstances under which an individual might provide some footprints of a recourse loan on his tax returns. As a mere small business person who does not hang out at tax conferences, I’m not aware of any such instances so I can’t provide the details.

        1. todde

          There would be a footprint on Form 6198 At Risk Limitations – but it would only be part of a number and their would be no way to determine if it was a partner loan, a recourse loan guaranteed by the partner, or an investment by the partner.

          It is reported on a partnership return, on the K-1 that shows each partners share of loans, recourse and non-recourse and you could back door the number from a partnerships Schedule L.

          Lee Sheppard is highly respected, but I respectively disagree until I am provided with a Form and line number to report recourse loans on I will stand by my assertion with the caveat that I could always be missing something,

  2. Bunk McNulty

    Re: How To Become An International Gold Smuggler–

    This sentence intrigues me: “In the past decade and a half, global gold consumption has risen by almost 1,000 tons a year, to about 4,300 tons, according to the World Gold Council, a London-based industry group.” Where is it going? Gold-plated faucets on super-yachts? Payoffs to corrupt politicians? Etc.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      India’s the world’s consumer of gold– and the appetite for the metal extends way beyond the super-rich.

      See this link:

      As the country’s got richer (and the Indian middle class has grown), that would surely translate in more gold consumption, no ? (and thereby account for at least some of the increase in global consumption that you’ve flagged).

      1. diptherio

        Oh, they do love their gold….

        Once, after I learned to read Nepali, I noticed an odd sign above a shop window. The display was filled up with gold necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc…and the sign above the window read “yo sunko pasal hoina” this is not a gold shop.

        Apparently, this particular shop was selling faux gold jewelry (like India, Nepalis often store excess wealth as gold jewelry) and wanted to make sure the local thieves knew where to (and where not to) exert their energies.

    2. Linda

      In the past decade and a half, global gold consumption has risen by almost 1,000 tons a year, to about 4,300 tons

      Doesn’t add up.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Good catch.

        Decade and a half = 15 yrs

        1,000 tons a year x 15 yrs = 15,000 tons.

        So, 15 years ago, we were putting gold back into the ground at 10,700 tons a year?

      2. MoiAussie

        Translation: over 15 years, gold consumption has gone from about 3300 tons a year to about 4300 tons a year, so the increase is about 1000 tons a year, and the average rate of increase is about 70 tons a year a year. Make sense now?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          My confusion was to think, say the GDP of 2016, was just the GDP for 2016, because I was not used to hear or to say GDP per year.

          And we speak of GDP growth (or contraction) per year.

          So, I read it as 4,300 tons in 2016. And the increase per year was 1,000 tons/year, on average, every year for 15 years.

        2. human

          It still doesn’t make sense as annual gold production is only about 2500 metric tonnes per year!

          This only emphasizes that central banks gold vaults are indeed empty.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            No, the vaults are full of bars, who owns the bars is another question. In 2014 the IMF argued for an accounting rule change that said instead of banks reporting gold holdings as “physical bars and other instruments” they should break out the actual bars they own from the “I-promise-to-pay-you-Tuesday-for-a-hamburger-today” variety. Crickets.

    3. voislav

      It’s going to China and India as a store of private wealth. Sales of physical gold in the East (tracked through the Shanghai Exchange) have been going up for years as anybody with some money is using it to escape banks and paper currency, which are still very much distrusted.

      Jesse’s Cafe Americain has been having a good coverage of these trends, including the increased premiums that the physical gold, as opposed to paper gold, has been fetching in the East.

    4. Lord Koos

      It’s not just India and China. A lot of people like to own gold as an inflation hedge, and to keep some assets outside of the financial system. Times are scary, and that’s when more people become interested in gold.

    5. dale

      Me too. Plus consumption. No one really consumes gold. Once it’s produced, it never goes away. Sure, someone may lose a ring or a bracelet, but by now there must be millions of tons of gold in vaults, jewelry boxes, electronic equipment, etc.Gold is permanent.

      1. vidimi

        it oxidises quite quickly. i once read that the dome of les invalides in paris has to be reguilded every 24 years to replace the gold lost to oxidation

  3. bronco

    The Rachel Maddow tax thing disproves the proverbial tree falling story. She could conceivably do her show stark naked and no human would witness it. She releases his tax form and somehow its all over the internet.

    This is something I’ve noticed lately , people talk about her show , twitter about it , blog about it , but I’ve never met anyone who watches her show , or actually watches MSNBC for that matter.

    Is it like fight club? Cuz if it is then these people are breaking rule #1

    1. UserFriendly

      I used to podcast her show 5 or 6 years ago when there was practically no selection of podcasts. I can’t work out unless I have someone talking at 2X speed in my ear about something remotely interesting. She did a full 180 on dove to hawk this election, creeped me the hell out.

    2. Donald

      I am guessing I watch her about 20 times a year, though not last night and not for many months. But it sounds like what she did last night is what she usually does– a lot of hype and a monologue that is supposed to be informative but really isn’t very good ( she also thinks she is funny and she isn’t), followed by her saying you won’t want to miss this, followed by a commercial and then, finally, a whole lot of not very much.

      Once in awhile she is good, but I mostly watch if I am bored. She seems to have a following though.

      1. bronco

        The “won’t want to miss this” after the commercial bit is shared with a lot of other shows over the past decade or so.

        Like history channel , TLC, science channel ad nauseum. They do this coming up next foreshadowing thing , hit you with 11 teen commercials then repeat what they just did word for word. It’s just a way of puffing 22 minutes of content up to fill an hour.

        The worst example is the morning local news. All I need to see is the 1 minute weather and 1 minute traffic report why does it take 3 hours to get it to me?

      2. uncle tungsten

        Will someone tell me when she does a story on the Awan brothers. That should be a scream. I’d pay to see her cover the American Spectator story of February 27th.
        I just feel good at the thought of her twisting that into a Russian horror story.

    3. integer

      From the “When ‘Disinformation’ Is Truth” article:

      It also turns out that this New McCarthyism has become profitable for its leading practitioners. The New York Times reported on Monday that the ratings for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are soaring with her frequent anti-Russian rants

      “Now, rattled liberals are surging back [to network television], seeking catharsis, solidarity and relief,” the Times wrote, citing a Kentucky woman explaining why she has become a devotee of Maddow: “She’s always talking about the Russians!”…

      Already, neocon Sen. Lindsey Graham has declared, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.” If Trump doesn’t go along, he will face battering from the likes of Maddow, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and pretty much every mainstream news outlet. So, Trump may have no political choice but to get tough. But what happens when Putin pushes back?…

      Sometimes, I envision the argument that I would hear as the mushroom clouds begin rising over U.S. and Russian cities. If not incinerated in the first moments of the cataclysm, the “smart” people of the mainstream U.S. media (and their liberal and neocon allies) would be insisting that it wasn’t their fault; it was someone else’s fault; blame-shifting to the end.

      So, as the Democrats and liberals join with the neocons in launching this New McCarthyism over Russia – and with people like Rachel Maddow leading the charge – what is arguably the most depressing fact is that there appears to be no Edward R. Murrow, a mainstream journalist with a conscience, anywhere on the horizon.

      1. Plenue

        I suspect Putin won’t push back, at least in any overt way. He has no reason to. He just has to continue strengthening ties with China and improving Russia’s self-sufficiency. Never interrupt your opponent when they’re making a mistake, and the US is make a damn fool of itself on the international scene.

        What does Graham imagine Congress is even able to do against Russia? Expel some more Russian citizens? Impose some more sanctions? Big whoop.

        What matters more than anything is how Trump interacts with Russia, and how our two military’s interact. And so far, it seems deescalation and even cooperation are the name of the game.

      2. jonboinAR

        It’s batsh!t crazy! End of the world as we know it aside, what earthly good does it do our country (I can understand some politicians’ venal motives) to demonize Russia? After the Soviet Union dissolved, I never expected to see this, from the Democrats no less! This is the most bizarro political year I can recall.

        1. hidflect

          I think Russia is a target for blocking efforts to dismantle countries bordering that beleaguered beacon of democracy in the Middle East and so thwarting long term plans for Greater Israel.

        2. Procopius

          Heck, I lived through the McCarthy years and I have never understood why anybody feared Communism. It never seemed like an attractive alternative to what I saw around me, but I grew up in a middle-class, white, segregated area. I can’t imagine how people can fear ISIS or Russia the way they do. It’s not as if they could invade. There’s a fcuking ocean between us, not to mention that ISIS is maybe 30,000 guys in pick-up trucks.

    4. Left in Wisconsin

      I watch pretty frequently but I find myself changing the channel after the first segment a lot. I didn’t get home last night until after 8 (central, which is when she comes on out here in flyover) and didn’t realize the pres-show hype. Just watching the show, it seemed obvious this was a Trump-assisted leak, not some big anti-Trump takedown.

      I totally agree with the general point that she basically claims on every show that Trump has committed treason but for some reason it seems to be enough just to snark and show faux outrage about it. Political theater.

        1. ewmayer

          I’m sure all the devastating details are coming soon – stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this!

          1. Pat

            It isn’t as if I don’t think that Presidents have been known to do things I considered tantamount to treason. Hell, I have said for years Bush 1 should have been charged for proposing and then enacting tax cuts for building factories outside of America, and that is the mildest of my reasons for any of the previous four. But all the evidence is spurious claims of outside interference and in a few cases the crime has been SOP with countries other than Russia, with much result of support largely against America’s best interests for decades.

            IOW what I am getting is Trump’s treason was beating the main stream choice, Clinton. I want someone to give me some evidence that Trump has done anything outside of winning and beyond common practice to harm this country. Merely not wanting him to be President does not make him treasonous.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I would argue that the intense effort by the previous occupants of the Oval Office to undermine the legitimacy of the current elected occupant would be much easier to define as “treasonous”. What, precisely, is the Big O still doing in town? Shouldn’t he be in San Clemente or somewhere on a golf course?

    5. ChrisAtRU

      As someone who used to watch Hayes/Maddow nightly (*cough* thanks for the cure, NC!), I can only surmise that during the last election, #MSNBSeeYaLaterSuckas lost a lot of viewership from those of us who supported Bernie and his progressive platform. I pretty much watch occasionally now (like last night) in a more critical mode, looking to see how fairly/exhaustively certain topics are treated.

      I believe Maddow has pretty much lost it. I’m not sure if she is obsessed with her own brand, or if it’s that she was really so blindly pro-Coronation. What is clear, though, is that Maddow’s main aim is to delegitimize Trump:
      Trump should not have won.
      Trump should not be in office.
      We need to get rid of Trump.

      Even last night, as she sought to build the hype to a frenzy in her (ever so long) preamble, the path ultimately went through Russia! (Shocker!)

      So given the issues truly at hand for this country and the well-being of us all, she’s kinda useless. She epitomizes the liberal view in some quarters that things only got bad after January 20th, and that Dems are “the good guys” and the GOP are “the bad guys”.

      Sadly, none of that reflects reality.

  4. UserFriendly


    Wow, and I thought my great great great great uncle Eli changed the cotton industry.

  5. Anne

    I just think it’s kind of hilarious that Trump, who proclaimed himself so smart during the campaign for not paying taxes is now bragging about how much tax he did pay. Income taxes! Sales taxes!

    And I guess we know why he hates the AMT so much – but for that, he’d have paid about $5 million on his net taxable income of about $30 million.

    Here’s the thing, though: even if we had copies of the complete return, we still wouldn’t know all there is to know. You’d need to see all the back-up info, the 1099s, the K-1s from all the business and partnership interests – you’d need to see the business returns to know if the amounts flowing onto Trump’s individual return are correct.

    Are we ever going to get all that? Of course not. But Trump needs to stop using audits as a reason for not releasing them, because even the IRS says that being under audit does not prohibit a taxpayer from sharing the returns. I’m not sure he can come up with a reason that doesn’t sound like he’s got something to hide, though. But not to worry – he now has the deflection of someone stealing these two pages, and the media irresponsibly revealing them.

    I suspect that perhaps the returns would reveal, just on a surface level, that he’s been overstating his wealth, as well as his business acumen – and that’s not something Trump is going to ever admit to.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Some tax experts think Trump may have leaked the 2005 return.

      While I agree that it stinks that Trump promised to release his tax returns and didn’t, all the media types expecting to find some sort of new revelation are proving how lazy they are.

      Trump provided a shocking amount of disclosure in his Federal election filings. He provided the names of HUNDREDS of legal entities in which he has an interest. So why has no one bothered to do the work when they’ve been given a gold mine?

      I suspect the reason Trump didn’t provide his recent returns is pretty simple, as in any of

      1. His recent income has been lousy, which is consistent with reports of how little in the way of liquid assets he has for a guy as well off as he is. Yes, he has underlevered real estate, he can easily get more cash by borrowing against that, but his tax returns might show he’s been a dud as a businessman of late.

      2. He’s paid a low effective tax rate which would be politically controversial even post election

      3. He has Swiss bank accounts. Those are kosher if you report them but the sorta dirty secret is most people report them probably came clean in the amnesty a few years ago, where the IRS would forgive you if you came clean and paid the back taxes.

      These tax returns are just not as revealing as the public would like to believe once you get past the overall profile (how much they made v. paid, nature of main sources of income, how much they gave in charitable deductions). See this story by Lee Sheppard on Romney’s returns (sadly the underlying story is back behind a paywall). To her credit, she nailed the use of his wife’s show horse as a tax deduction, and Romney actually refiled as a result of her story because it was so dodgy. But although very tacky, this was chump change in terms of his total deductions.

      1. MoiAussie

        If you publish/broadcast the details of someone’s tax return (or medical record’s, etc) without permission here, I suspect that you may be charged with an offence under privacy laws (against which “public interest” may or may not be a possible defence.) Are there no similar protections by the state of citizen’s privacy in the US? Has Maddow/NBC/the journalist who gave it to her committed an offence?

      2. JohnnyGL

        Interesting tidbit, if true, regarding whether Trump himself leaked the tax returns. Why 2005, anyway?

        Perhaps because that was during the real estate boom and he had good income that year and had to post gains and pay taxes on them? Since ’08, he’s probably been declaring losses and deducting them. I’m no tax expert, just speculation from me.

    2. cocomaan

      In general, I think chasing a candidate around the block about their tax returns probably isn’t a useful exercise in understanding the presidential candidate’s character or their conflicts of interest. Maddow’s crusade is the case in point.

      Plus, as we’ve seen with Trump’s rise, executive branch conflict of interest provisions don’t apply to the office at all, so it kind of makes the entire exercise silly. Even if something was in his returns, nobody could do anything about it, because he doesn’t sign CoI paperwork.

      There’s plenty that sucks about Donald that doesn’t have anything to do with his filings. For instance, he doesn’t support Single Player. For instance, he doesn’t give a damn about the environment. For instance, he makes disgusting generalizations about people. That’s enough to go after.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        He paid no taxes – He’s exploiting the system or the system favors the rich.

        He paid a lot of taxes – He was just bragging he paid no taxes and is now bragging how much he did pay.

        Looking back at then, he knew he paid no taxes one year and was taking heat, and he knew he paid lots of taxes in another year. He could have said something to deflect that.

        But he didn’t say much. And the main impression was he paid no taxes, why he did, in at least another year.

        Why did he do something that was kind of counter-intuitive for many politicians?

        Was he because that was what he wanted us to do, to get busy with what will turn out to be nothing, and not focus on something else?

        Is that what we still doing – chasing things about Trump that will turn out to be nothing?

        Moreover, if he can get us to think about the futility with this revelation, maybe we will not chase things that might turn up something. So, now, we are uncertain…right where he wants us to be.

        1. JohnnyGL

          “Is that what we still doing – chasing things about Trump that will turn out to be nothing?” — This has clearly become part of the standard playbook from Trump. Using twitter to create a media frenzy about some remark keeps the talking heads busy talking about something that doesn’t really matter.

          Trump’s thrilled to do it, and the corp ‘librul’ media loves to accommodate.

          It seems well-timed to take some focus off a very controversial tax cut bill masquerading as a health care bill.

        2. Anne

          My sense is that Trump is “governing” – or “presidenting” – in much the same fashion as he ran his business. That he isn’t hell-bent to bring down the democracy as much as he just wants to win at whatever it is that is in that currently has his attention. That if there are deals and associations that involve people or governments we don’t consider to be our friends, it is still just about the money.

          That being said, while it isn’t technically illegal for Trump to have conflicts of interest, isn’t the reason – if only nominally – why previous presidents have either divested or established truly blind trusts is so that, in their role as president, they can better choose the interests of the country over the interests of their businesses or other financial holdings?

          And because Trump has done neither, shouldn’t his children, including especially, his son-in-law, not be able to switch out a business hat for a family hat for an administration hat and be presumed to be maintaining any kind of Chinese wall between these roles that would eliminate their own conflicts?

          I feel like the presidency is just something Trump has acquired as a higher and more powerful platform from which to grow his personal influence around the world and open up markets and connections for his personal benefit; if the US ends up benefiting in some way, it will likely be more coincidental than deliberate.

          1. cocomaan

            If he violates the Emoluments Clause, he’ll be brought to court. If he doesn’t, he’s within the letter of the law on COI and we should pick other battles, like the fact that he’s shredding environmental legislation, or not supporting Single Payer.

            Regarding his kids, if they are on the federal payroll, they have to take the CoI provisions into account. Since they aren’t, they can’t really be expected to be held to CoI provisions.

            This might be a gap in the law, sure, but I don’t see it as a worthy exercise to try and argue it. Trump would be getting advice from his daughter and her husband regardless. JFK appointed RFK as his AG. Is it a CoI to have your brother be AG? Probably. Family often gets a pass in these affairs.

            It’s about issues, to me, not a campaign cycle, and these are indeed campaign-type objections. He’s president now. I think that making it illegal to be a business owner and be a chief executive is unreasonable. We all knew he was a business owner. We all could read the constitution. The CoI arguments didn’t even arise until after the election.

            Many don’t agree, so I encourage them to begin drafting legislation to that effect. In the meantime, I say let’s drop the taxes, the CoI, the family, all of that stuff. Let’s get back to the issues.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Might I suggest if you are looking for “a higher and more powerful platform from which to grow his personal influence around the world and open up markets and connections for his personal benefit” that you have a brief look into something called the Clinton Global Initiative. In their case, stealing from the poorest people in the world in Haiti and Rwanda was very profitable indeed.

        3. cocomaan

          Was he because that was what he wanted us to do, to get busy with what will turn out to be nothing, and not focus on something else?

          You bet. And the entire thing reminds me of the Obama birth certificate debacle, led by Trump, who apparently learned from the best – when presented with a conspiracy theory, build hype around it by not releasing a single thing. Rinse, repeat. Create screaming masses clamoring for your head. Get corporate media to try and drive ratings over the scandal.

          Then, at the pivotal moment release the power of the nothingburger and watch a movement fizzle.

          1. bronco

            The birther thing was spawned by Clinton 2008 , Trump talked it up but why does everyone seem to forget where it originated?

            1. different clue

              Probably because so few people actually know this to begin with. Probably a very detailed study of where Birtherism came from and who used it every step of the way and who helped it along would inform many readers for the first time about where Birtherism really came from.

              And of course Trump went on and on about it. He made it his own. He kept beating the fading stain where a dead horse used to be. So of course people think he invented it.

  6. Deadl E Cheese

    Matt Bruenig not only hits it out the park but beans a millionaire passerby in a top hat, too. If you read one link in that list today, read his.

    Beauchamp’s article gives a clue as to where liberals will go with this. Since they believe 1) diversity is incompatible with justice, and 2) that diversity is important and good, they will reach the conclusion that 3) justice should be sacrificed in order to “beat” right-wing populism. As Beauchamp notes, pursuing a more economically just society “could actually give Trump an even bigger gun” because it flies in the face of the immiseration of racial minorities that majority groups in diverse societies necessarily demand. Thus, it would seem the only way forward is to give in to the bloodthirst a bit in order to stave off an even bigger atrocity.

    Of course, we’ve seen what this looks like before. It looks like Bill Clinton executing a mentally handicapped black man, promising to lock up blacks in huge numbers to keep down crime, and agreeing to starve black mothers and their children. That is what the pragmatic centrism that gives in some to the supposed difficult challenges of a diverse society actually looks like: a racist wet dream.

    The metamorphosis of orthodox liberalism into right-libertarianification is five-eighths complete. They just need to get their butts kicked a couple of times at the voting booth for pursuing their idiotic ‘we had to suck up to billionaires and sacrifice a few black criminals to protect people of color as a whole’ strategy a few more times — after realizing that they can’t reliably use the marginalized as stooges to juice their political careers anymore, even against ghouls like Trump and Pence, the mask will come off. Whereupon CAP will complete its ideological transformation and become indistinguishable from CATO or even CPAC.

    In retrospect, pro-segregation Samantha Bee was pretty forward-thinking (career-wise) in rehabilitating Glenn Beck.

    1. voteforno6

      They just need to get their butts kicked a couple of times at the voting booth for pursuing their idiotic ‘we had to suck up to billionaires and sacrifice a few black criminals to protect people of color as a whole’ strategy a few more times…the mask will come off.

      When will that happen? They have been getting their butts kicked several times over, yet they keep going back to this well.

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        I don’t claim that the Democrats will come to their senses. I claim that as their policy of class-denialist fake-multiculturalism gives diminishing returns (and we’re already seeing it with Millenial voting), they’ll stop even vaguely pretending to care about the marginalized and go full-on warhawk libertarian. Think 1992 Bill Clinton, but without the patina of bourgeois intersectionality.

        You can already see this frustration building on the margins. People like Joy Ann Reid and Clara Jeffrey only barely conceal their contempt for Latinx / young people, in the former case outright weaponizing racial trauma to guilt trip people into voting for Democrats. If they blow 2018 and 2020, and they will, expect this frustration to metastasize into implicit and even explicit bigotry towards ‘their’ voters.

        How long THAT phase will last, I can’t say, but a precinct captain (i.e. donor class) has no use for a Good Cop (i.e. Democrats) that suspects despise and ignore more than the Bad Cop.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Wealth inequality is their major political problem for Team Blue.

          The Team Blue strategy would work out if economic conditions were improving. Quite simply, the families of the 38% of kids below the poverty line simply don’t care how Trump won’t be filling out a NCAA bracket. Team Blue types lived In denial for so long, they’ll never be able to get away from this problem.

          Also, black and brown are two wildly different statuses. Capturing Hispanic voters because a candidate makes an ethnic gesture won’t work, and blacks largely swung to the Democratic Party to vote for a blue blood New Yorker with polio who made policy promises back in 1933. Nostalgia and fear of the GOP are the primary reasons Team Blue pandering seems to win black votes. There were significant declines with black voting in 2010, 2014, and 2016 even after Obama declared he would consider not voting a personal insult.

          1. Torsten

            Overruled. “Intersectionality” is meaningful sarc when preceded by the adjective “bourgeois”.

    2. GlenO

      I have read (not sure where it was) that attitudes of racism and tribalism are stirred up and amplified by conditions of stress and insecurity. If this is true, then diversity is not only compatible with economic justice, it is threatened by the conditions created when there is none. The false choice presented here is simply yet another rationalization for keeping the status quo by those who are currently benefitting from it.

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        Beyond that, though, even if we accept their formulation of the problem, what’s the endgame? Clinton-Obama liberals, including Zack Beauchamp, claim that programs made to address racial injustice increase racial animosity to the point of defeating any other attempt to relieve society’s tensions.

        If we accept that logic, then we also have to accept an indefinite future of marginalized backsliding where no lasting gains can be made; the liberal class can only slow the descent into herrenvolk entropy, because any attempt to reverse it will only accelerate it. Which is definitely how the Clintons and Obama behaved. The slightly savvier ones will lie to your face and say that racism must be fought through non-political means to break this cycle, but they will never give you a timeline on this. Considering that it’s been 40 years since the Watergate babies/Atari Democrats have been trying this plan and we still have Donald Trump, one might suspect that this plan is never going to work.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          These people are Ozymandias. In their minds, they are the sum total of human accomplishment. Theu have facebook. Like so many before them, they are simply shallow and selfish. If they had an “end game” of any sort, these people would never have taken in David Brock who is so repulsive that he can only hurt their cause. Donna Brazille is a continuing embarrassment, but to acknowledge these problems is to acknowledge that they might not be worthy of a statue declaring their wonder.

          It’s like the politician who was astonished there were people who didn’t want to name every street after Obama, the man with the most votes ever to be President and another President who most people did the vote for even with his token significance and clear path in 2008. Obama took the reverse course of the Lincoln funeral parade to enter Washington. Lincoln himself snuck into Washington in 1861.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

            Oh, the endless Lincoln self-comparisons. The monumental self-regard that inspired those– starting with the Springfield announcement of the presidential bid. That should have served as ample warning: cave, hic dragones!

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I read the Matt Bruenig piece and wondered what I was missing that made it a must read. The Beauchamp extract it embedded dragged in several false equivalences:
      a “significant shift to the left on economic policy issues” somehow transformed into “European-style welfare state” which transformed into “social spending programs” which as I read the argument transformed in my mind into the American Welfare programs Clinton ended as we know them. [I believe this last transition in my mind was the intention of the chain of “reasoning” and a quirk of my mind.]

      From this reasoning by insinuation Bruenig extracted the kernel of the argument as “diversity leads to racism, which leads to lower support for the welfare state”. What does “diversity” mean exactly? To me it’s a euphemism for far too many Liberal programs driving identity issues to the front of political discussion and crowding out economic issues.

      Bruenig next equates economic justice with the cluster of meanings in “welfare state — social spending” and restates the kernel of Beauchamp’s argument as “you can have diversity or you can have economic justice, but you can’t have both.” This is painted as “the arch-conservative position” and elaborated as “monitor … immigration” … dragging the immigration issue into the argument through the door of “diversity” … dragging in Nazis and black nationalists at the Nation of Islam … BUT Liberals go on supporting diversity even though they believe diversity leads to “children going hungry” … “mass incarceration” and “discrimination.”

      In my opinion the quality of argument does not improve so jumping to the conclusions — Bruenig asserts essentially without argument that the best way forward for Liberals is “organizing along economic lines that aim to unite working class people of all stripes into political and civil institutions together.” OK — I can buy that but I started reading this piece already believing that.

      At the close Bruenig asserts liberals believe diversity is incompatible with justice but good and important and justice must be sacrificed to “beat right-wing populism.” Just to emphasize this point Bruenig takes a gratuitous swipe at Bill Clinton.

      At this point of the political discussion I don’t care about the fine points of the Liberal strategy to “beat right-wing populism.” For me variants of the Liberal strategy for pushing identity politics lost their appeal long long ago — not that they ever held much appeal to me as a white male — a category too often equated with the villain in the stories.

      Why couldn’t Bruenig start his analysis of the Beauchamp tripe by noting that Reagan’s welfare queen driving the Cadillac is white as often as not in the minds of the white working people who resent the welfare programs. Many working people — white, brown, black, yellow and red — work at crummy low paying jobs that provide little and sometimes less than people receive from our crummy state welfare programs often paid for from regressive state taxes. Diversity has nothing to do with the resentment. What does diversity have to do with immigration programs that to me appear designed to undercut the power of Labor and drive down wages and job security. Beauchamp, Bruenig and the Liberal identity politics can go hang

      1. jrs

        Yea diversity and immigration are separate issues, diversity can merely include the great diversity of citizens we already have (and we do).

        The working people who resent people on “welfare” (what little exists of government programs for the poor) regardless of the color of those people are deluded though, they have let envy resentment cloud their ability to even make good choices in thier own interest. If all those people on “welfare” were competing in the labor market instead it would only make those working people’s lives worse. So they are working against their interest regardless of whether racism plays any role.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Working people who resent people on “welfare” don’t realize how much work and humiliation “welfare” involves. If they took a closer look at many of the people on welfare and gave the matter a little more thought I believe they would agree with me that we are all better off if those people are not working. I believe most of the people on welfare are there because they have no other options. For various reasons they’re not employable — they must care for children or other family members — or they have mental health issues — or other health issues or temperament issues. For the ones that are just too lazy to work — I think we can afford to keep some “grasshoppers” from freezing and starving to death. As you point out we have no shortage of people who need work and no good reason to press the lazy into the ranks of the underpaid.

          [A side issue — my sister worked in the NY State welfare service. I was amazed by the amount of money paid to the hotels and motels providing housing for those on welfare. Welfare dollars support more than the needy.]

          Welfare — like diversity and immigration — is not the main issue. The low wages for work are a problem. The glorification of work as a good thing in-itself and the inability to tolerate leisure are other issues — and the DNC and its strategies and tactics can go hang.

  7. QuarterBack

    Regarding the global warming discussion, I am frustrated that the majority of the points spoken or written are on the topic of whether or not the earth’s temperatures are actually warming vice whether mankind is the cause. I honestly can’t think of a single person (other than usual suspect on teevee) that is arguing that a climate warming is not happening. The linked article also spends most of its text defending the point that warming is actually happening and has fewer words on man’s role. It’s time to move the greater discussion on to the question of mankind’s role.

    I am not arguing that mankind is not the dominant cause of the current global warming, but I am not ready to accept the point as fact yet either. The main reason for my skepticism is for my lack of knowledge on the arguments identifying alternative causes for the current global warming and then disproving that they are a significant factor. After all, in geologic time, the earth has experienced great swings including a time when glaciers carved most of North America. I presume that mankind was not a factor.

    I would hope that such discussions of the alternative theories and the scientific case for discounting each already exist. I am very open to accepting the mankind cause argument, but please help me through this.

    A few alternatives off the top of my head would be the role (or not) the astronomical cycle of the sun’s changes (may or may not) have, and what impact the current cycle of the earth’s magnetic field polarity may be playing (again, or not). As to the magnetic field, prior to a polarity shift, the field slowly drops before the change and slowly increases again after the change. A weaker magnetic field decreases the protection from solar radiation at the poles, which sounds like a plausible theory (to be discounted) for radiation melting polar ice caps and effecting the jet stream.

    All I am saying is please shift the discussion from defending the points in least contention and start speaking more to mankinds specific role and (just as importantly) the exclusion of alternative theories.

    1. Ed

      I read a lot of red statey type sites and have red statey type friends, and they do indeed say that the temperatures are not rising. The problem is that they think the temperature data is faked and part of the hoax, so you can’t cite temperature data either. Then they accuse “warmists” of being part of a cult.

    2. MoiAussie

      Please, you’ve picked the wrong forum seek to refutations of your alternative causes for warming, if that was what you wanted. The core science that proves warming is largely man made is simple.

      1. The measured concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from about 280pp to over 400ppm over the last 160 years, due to the burning of fossil fuels, and land use changes. This is pure observation, and calculation based on use of fuels and deforestation.

      2. Radiative forcing due to increased CO2 means that necessarily more solar energy is being trapped on earth than before, causing a rise in temperature. This is basic physics.

      More simply: we’ve created a lot of CO2. It reduces the planet’s radiation of heat energy back to space, but the sun keeps pouring about the same energy in. So it gets hotter.

      1. QuarterBack

        As to the forum question, I was only commenting because the article was posted here, and I have been following NC for about 10 years.

        As to your CO2 points, they speak to correlation but don’t scientifically prove causation. Many people state that “the science proves it” or accuse me of being anti-science because I want to hear the scientific case for causality. I’m not saying a scientific case doesn’t exist, I am saying that I have not seen it. I have been asking but I only see the data on CO2. I am looking for where the data is excluding other potential causes. I do not need a debate presented, a few links to papers would be helpful.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Facts are easy to toss around, scientific conclusions are harder.
          How about this one: “for 95% of Earth’s history there was no ice cap at all”.
          What I think is interesting is to look into prior warming cycles. Apparently in the one that was +/- 15,000 years ago, enormous glacial lakes formed in places like (today’s) Hudson Bay. The water was bottlenecked (?) and released catastrophically in one go. Supposedly sea levels rose 15 feet overnight…perhaps explaining why so many ancient cultures independently came up with “flood” myths.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      You indicate no one doubts there is Global Warming but doubts remain whether mankind is the dominant cause. I have to wonder what leads you to conclude doubts remain whether mankind is the dominant cause. I thought we were at the point of arguing how bad things will get how fast and whether we could ignore the problem for another decade or two or for another century.

      In any case if Global Warming is occurring and Global Warming is a serious threat — among several threats — to human populations and human civilization — such as it is — does it really matter whether mankind is the dominant cause? I know it matters from the standpoint of fixing blame and assessing guilt and damages — assuming we had some system of Justice — but it does not matter as far as the threat it poses in our all too near future.

      If your well is polluted by the rotting carcass of a dead bear do you worry over how the dead bear ended up in your well — or do you try to find some way to fish the carcass out and clean your water? If someone starts pissing into your well do you ignore that since you’ve been told they didn’t put the bear carcass in your well and you believe them and the well is already polluted anyway? And if you try to remove the carcass with the well bucket but you can’t because it’s too heavy for you to lift up without help and then rope breaks — do you just give up and drink the water anyway?

      1. ewmayer

        Yes, it matters hugely whether mankind is the dominant cause, because of the “what is to be done?” question. To use a medical analogy, your question is akin to asking “look, the patient is dying – does it really matter whether a pathogen or ill humors are the cause?”

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Mankind dumped massive amounts of CO2 into the air and caused Global Warming. How does knowing that help you find a cure — continuing your medical analogy? We know the poison so you know the antidote? We know the “pathogen” — there is too much CO2 in the air. Do we need to identify the “vector” before we attempt treatment of the patient?

          Assigning blame doesn’t help remove that CO2. If there is too much CO2 in the air then mankind should definitely stop dumping CO2 into the air — regardless whether mankind is the dominant causal agent. Indeed we seem to be near the edge of triggering one or more of several strong non-linear positive feedbacks further amplifying the rate that CO2 and other greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. Even if the direct contributions of mankind were a substantial but minor portion of the accumulating CO2 caution argues for stopping our contribution.

          Following your medical analogy we also need to discover and attempt to mitigate the other sources adding CO2 to the atmosphere. We are doing that and we are attempting to assess the relative contributions of each source. I believe we might argue whether mankind’s contribution is so small and insignificant that we can ignore it and focus on mitigating other sources of the CO2. The evidence does not support an assertion that mankind’s contributions are small or insignificant.

          Our political and economic systems, our societal systems have proven completely unwilling and unable to deal Global Warming — in addition a lack of capacity for dealing with the other threats in our future. So far there is no viable scheme for removing the CO2 already in the atmosphere and no viable scheme for directly mitigating the wide ranging disastrous effects of Global Warming now and as it begins to accelerate. Our military is making plans for “quelling” future global unrest but it’s the only government organization taking action in response to Global Warming.

          I don’t know what I might do as an individual. I am trying to learn as many practical skills as I can and trying to gather and save some of the knowledge we spent thousands of years building — and yes that’s a sorry ass answer to the problem. I hope to position and prepare myself and my family for the problems to come but I quickly become too lazy or too involved with everyday problems and unrelated interests.

          I doubt whether any real actions for dealing with Global Warming will be taken by human society until we are threatened with an immediate disaster … and it might be too late by then. I can’t resist the temptation to repeat a quip I spotted in a link from a couple of days ago: “… it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” gleaned from the book and repeated by a book review of Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? by Mark Fisher.

          So — is it really that important to argue about whether mankind is the dominant causal agent for Global Warming? — especially since most of us have already reached that conclusion. It seems like a stale red herring to me.

          1. KFritz

            “How does knowing that help you find a cure?”

            If enough people and the necessary people come to understand that our CO2 is the cause of the problem, then it can be curtailed, and hopefully, stopped.

        2. jrs

          Is it the case that at a certain tipping point mankind isn’t the dominant cause any longer, but methane leaks from melting permafrost and so on will be? Now mankind is the ultimate original cause of that as well, but when mankind isn’t the proximate cause it won’t matter to the “what is to be done” question.

          At a certain point it’s more: the patient is dying does it really matter if benzene exposure 40 years ago is the cause? Not at that point it doesn’t.

          1. ewmayer

            @jgrimm: To counter with a not-completely hypothetical – say the consensus today is that mankind’s CO2 emissions are the primary driver of GW. Among the multiple ways of addressing that is to replace usage of fuels like coal and oil with natural gas – this has been occurring to a sizable extent in many ares of the world. Several decades down the road, improved climate models reveal that in fact the methane leaks associated with natgas extraction and usage are in fact the primary driver of warming, and the increased use of natgas has thus made the problem worse. Even “overwhelming scientific consensus” is subject to change, that’s how science progresses, and why the urge to “do something, anything” is dangerous if it assumes a fixed monolithic consensus which will not change.

            @jrs: If it’s too late to save the patient, would you still recommend radical surgery? Again a case where the “do something, anything” urge can be counterproductive.

            Don’t get me wrong – I do believe there are important things mankind must do to have a chance of avoiding catastrophe. Switching away from carbon-based fuels – not just coal and oil but also natgas – is a big one. Curbing our “consumption equals happiness” mass delusion – still being relentlessly promoted by mainstream economics – is another. But forced consensus and marginalization of dissenting voices – when such dissent is grounded in data, mind you – never lead to improved outcomes.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              If Global Warming is an important problem — warranting the monetary but more important the cultural and lifestyle costs mitigating the problem will incur — and if mankind’s contribution to Global Warming is not insignificant relative to other factors then something should be done to diminish mankind’s contribution to the problem. Further something should be done to mitigate the effects of the problem on the present and future world. If there are multiple ways to slow Global Warming or mitigate its effects then of course we should weigh the costs and benefits of those multiple ways and do what we can — Here I must interrupt the chain of my argument to emphasize my belief that this weighing of costs and benefits is a social and political process which we must decide as a human society balancing ethical and practical considerations NOT a problem the Market can or should solve.

              I fully agree with your assertion that all mediations must be monitored and adjusted as we learn more about the complex interactions that drive Global Warming. I don’t think we must “do something, anything” and I’m not certain what we could do as individuals. As a society we could use our wealth and capital to ease the terrible impacts Global Warming promises to visit upon large populations of those without the necessary wealth and capital. Providing food and clean water are two concerns which immediately come to mind — though of course those are old concerns we should have addressed long ago without Global Warming as a driver. Unfortunately some portions of humankind have of late demonstrated great difficulty grasping the concepts of Society and the Common Good and other human values. I should also plainly state my opinion that geoengineering is a remarkably foolish and remarkably dangerous approach to Global Warming which deserves no serious consideration given our present state of knowledge — now and into the distant future. Global Warming is a hard problem.

              So — Do you still believe it’s important to argue about whether mankind is the dominant causal agent for Global Warming?

              1. pretzelattack

                yes, because the damage is not fixed–we can make it much worse, and will, the longer we fail to switch to renewable energy.

    4. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


      Polls — endless polls — of scientists and the public show majorities who believe that the Earth has warmed during the past century and that “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.” (Quote from the SPM of the IPCC’s AR5 report).

      The relevant public policy question is how much warming we can expect and when. AR5’s four scenarios are the best framework for both analysis of this (hence used in the peer-reviewed literature) and for communication to the public.

      Unfortunately activists have focused almost exclusively on the worst-case scenario — RCP8.5, with its unlikely assumptions (which are becoming ever less likely). The public, probably correctly, sees this as another of the Left’s doomster obsessions — hence the low ranking given among the various public policy priorities, and little action taken by elected officials.

      Activists who have not used RCP8.5 have often used even more extreme scenarios, usually with far less (or no) foundation in climate science to say that humanity — or even the world — is doomed. After decades of hearing similar (and false) claims from Paul Ehrlich and his ilk, people find this easy to ignore.

      Obama’s Clean Power Plan was (brilliantly, imo) conceived and sold largely as a logical next step to reduce coal’s pollution.

      1. Charger01

        I’ll take note of your last sentence. The CPP was a policy mechanism to disadvantage coal energy generation vs tax subsidized solar/wind generation. I would argue that low natural gas prices have ultimately been trending down coal production in favor of very efficient combined cycle natural gas units. The question is: what happens when the price of natural gas goes up? Will coal units remain on line for baseload, or will we simply pay higher prices for natural gas?

        1. Scott

          Many of the coal plants have been shut down permanently due to both low gas prices and increased regulations on sulfur, mercury and other particle emissions (the capex would be too much on the larger plants). Some coal plants might operate more hours if natural gas prices rise, but most likely we will simply pay more. A major, sustained increase in gas prices will also lead to increased renewable penetration.

        2. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


          “what happens when the price of natural gas goes up?”

          On a global scale fracking has barely begun, so the largest impacts on coal lie in the future.

          “Will coal units remain on line for baseload,”

          Alternative energy sources continue to advance faster than coal tech. Solar is now at grid parity in favorable regions, with much potential for future advances. Private capital has begun to fund fusion research, showing that some smart investors believe commercialization is possible within a generation.

          We’re as likely to have a coal-based global economy in the late 21stC — as described in RCP8.5 — as a whale oil based economy.

      2. MoiAussie

        It’s pretty easy to discount the RCP8.5 assumptions as being unlikely, but it’s important to understand that none of the IPCC AR5 models take into account carbon feedback, i.e. release due to melting permafrost, loss of carbon sinks due to tropical forest dieback, etc. In other words, nature may contribute substantial carbon emissions of it’s own to the mix, up to 400GtC by 2100, which is about the amount we’ve already contributed by fossil fuel use and cement production since industrialisation.

        Whatever assumptions about growth and emissions you want to argue for, the reality is that uncertainties in the Carbon Cycle models used in AR5 are large and poorly quantified. These are known unknowns. From a risk and policy perspective, it doesn’t make sense to focus only on scenarios that strike economists as being likely, until the uncertainties are better understood and feedback processes factored in. And then there are the unknown unknowns…

        1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


          Scientists know quite well that the RCPs are not definitive research, just the best available when published. They do not include a great many poorly understood factors. Some might accelerate warming. Some might slow warming. Some might reverse warming.

          Co-playing climate scientists by pointing to one factor and drawing big conclusions doesn’t help. The Left largely abandoned the IPCC with the release of AR5, adopting the “it’s too conservative” mantra and embracing a wide range of doomsters. How has that worked out?

          The IPCC is still the “gold standard”. Not in the sense of perfection, but being the best foundation for building public policy we have. Getting back to reliance on it — after years of attacks by Left and Right — will be a long hard journey.

          1. pretzelattack

            what “left attacks on the ipcc” are you talking about? scientists themselves are saying the projections have been too conservative in some areas.

            1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


              “scientists themselves are saying the projections have been too conservative in some areas.”

              Yes — if the IPCC’s analysis is accurate on average, half should be “too high” and half “too low”.

              I refer instead to broad attacks on the IPCC’s work as “too conservative”. For example, see these reactions to IPCC’s AR5:  Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360.

              There are many many more. Needless to say, there is little or no foundation for these attacks.

              1. MoiAussie


                “if the IPCC’s analysis is accurate on average, half (the projections) should be “too high” and half “too low” ”

                No. They are different scenarios, for emissions, growth, etc., and it makes no sense to average over them. Your statement is equivalent to saying if the IPCC is correct then future reality must fall right in the middle, and there is no reason to believe that. It all depends on what we do and how the planet responds.

                It is painfully obvious that there is currently no global political will to do anywhere near enough to reduce emissions and preserve carbon sinks. Few parties in power want to do anything that raises electricity bills or gas prices, except to maximise energy industry profits. The masses want low energy bills, cheap gas and bigger SUVs & trucks.

                Here in Oz the ruling party want to build more coal-fired power stations to undermine the push for renewables, even though noone thinks it makes economic sense. But it makes political sense, apparently.

                There will be a panicked scrabble to do more when climate change starts to really hurt the 1%, but it will be too late, unless you consider a solution like nuclear winter caused by a short WW3 to be acceptable.

                “Needless to say, there is little or no foundation for these attacks.”

                Opinion on your part. There is now plenty of scientific evidence that the IPCC’s work is likely “too conservative” if you look. That doesn’t mean the doomers are right to make predictions without evidence, as some certainly did. And it is obvious that the IPCC’s work is conservative due to scientists’ inherent conservatism, and the lengthy nature of their consensus process means it was never based on the latest science.

                1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


                  “They are different scenarios, for emissions, growth, etc., and it makes no sense to average over them. ”

                  Yes. That’s why the people who say the IPCC is too conservative — see the examples I cited — said nothing like that. They’re not fools.

                  “There is now plenty of scientific evidence that the IPCC’s work is likely “too conservative” if you look.”

                  Your first statement suggests that you have no idea what the people who say “too conservative” actually mean.

                  There is nothing remotely like sufficient evidence to say, as you appear to, that the RCP’s projections are too conservative. By that you must mean that the models’ predict too little temperature rise given an assumed radiative forcing (2.6, 4.5, 6.0, 8.5 W/m2). Since these are based on 2011 papers, climate scientists as yet have too little data too draw conclusions about the accuracy of this latest generation of predictions.

                  You appear to think like those climate skeptics who look at short periods of data and declare climate scientists wrong. So you and your Right-wing buddies throw bricks at the IPCC. Together you have gridlocked the climate policy debate. Let’s hope we don’t pay too high a price for your skepticism about the IPCC.

                  I hope that the large middle in America will decide to ignore folks like you on the Left and Right, return to seeing the IPCC as the gold standard of climate science (i.e., the best statement we have of mainstream cli sci), and start making some sensible public policy.

                  1. mikkel

                    Editor, I am afraid that you have fallen victim to an understandable yet catastrophic mistake made by the scientific and policy community.

                    The sad truth is that there is plenty of evidence to support the assertion that the IPCC is too conservative. The evidence comes from both a systems science perspective and paleoclimate data.

                    From a systems science perspective feedback loops are THE most important factor in determining validity of a forcing model. If you don’t incorporate primary feedback loops then it is impossible to generate a risk model, and if those loops cannot be well described then you should use tail risks as your base assessment.

                    This is because complex systems under strong forcing undergo phase shifts, and feedback loops tend to strongly couple, leading to rapid positive feedback (with wild oscillations) until the new state has settled.

                    If there was no evidence of higher climate sensitivities than the IPCC uses that would be one thing, but the bulk of paleoclimate studies show a non-linear CO2 sensitivity with value of around 5-6C for the emissions we’re talking about.


                    Using reconstructions from glacial to interglacial periods is wrong because it doesn’t take into account the point of unleashing the full carbon feedbacks.


                    There are a host of other feedback problems with using IPCC to make policy, such as their ice dynamic models and lack of caution about atmospheric/oceanic current reconfiguration. Both of those issues relate to how many effects there will be from a particular warming. As we are beginning to clearly see, atmospheric and ice effects are more sensitive than imagined.

                    I have talked to multiple climate scientists about this and asked them why their projections weren’t more in line with standard practices in risk modelling for complex systems. Their response was that state transitions are impossible to accurately model (true) and therefore they are focused on the linear forcing components that they can justify, believing that it is enough to trouble policy makers into action.

                    I believe this is a huge mistake and has led people like yourself greatly astray.

                  2. mikkel

                    “The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2013 and 2014, provided a comprehensive overview of the literature on the costs of action and inaction. But the assessment understated the limitations of the research done so far. Essentially, it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks of unmanaged climate change.

                    Moreover, many estimates do not account for factors such as catastrophic changes and tipping points.

                    It is these hard-to-predict impacts that are the most troubling potential consequences of inaction. The next IPCC report needs to be based on a much more robust body of economics literature, which we must create now. It could make a crucial difference.”

                    Nicholas Stern, head of the


                  3. mikkel

                    Here is a link to many other paleoclimate studies that looked at time periods relevant to our current CO2 concentration, finding “During the Middle Miocene, when [global average] temperatures were ~3° to 6°C warmer and sea level was 25 to 40 meters higher than at present, pCO2appears to have been similar to modern levels.””


                    I feel this is enough to show that statements about the IPCC being too conservative is far from a radical activist position.

                    1. Jeremy Grimm

                      I agree with you and appreciate the effort you made to gather sources noting how conservative the IPCC reports are with their estimates.

                      The scientific community’s attachment to the 2 degrees C. line-in-the-sand is what informed my opinion of the importance of politics to their official pronouncements. The 2 degrees C. increasingly seemed less related to climate science than to an arbitrary number the political situation could tolerate.

                      It’s too late at night and I’m too lazy to hunt down the statements made when the paper from Hansen et al came out in a draft form without peer review. I recall the team did this because the normal review process typically requires about four years and the team was very concerned and wanted to raise an alarm while something could be done. As it was the paper zoomed through the review process to follow the draft after only nine months. I also recall the reviewed version of the paper replaced statements in the draft suggesting indications of polynomial or exponential growth with the less descriptive “nonlinear” rates of growth.

                      Just to put this point of argument on its head — why aren’t the IPCC reports sufficient — whether they’re overly conservative or not — to motivate the beginning of some kind of government action to address Global Warming — that is some government action besides increasing our Defense budget and beefing up the nuclear arsenals?

                      Of late the IPCC pronouncements seem crafted to allow Society to push any action on Global Warming into some fuzzy time in the future.

                    2. MoiAussie

                      Mikkel, thanks for this contribution – you’ve done a much better job than I at substantiation.

                      Jeremy, you lack a reply button (indentation maxxed out?), but I think you’re asking a good question – why aren’t the IPCC reports sufficient to cause appropriate action? I gave a brief response to this earlier (7.44pm above). The editor seems to think it’s brick-throwing radicals undermining the IPCC, which to me is bizarre – almost a denial of the obvious – no mention of politicians captured by vested interests, or the industries and deep pockets that have funded climate change denial.

                    3. mikkel

                      Jeremy and Aussie: I’m glad to have helped.

                      As for the 2C limit, it was *never* meant to be a goal.


                      Perhaps surprisingly, the idea that temperature could be used to guide society’s response to climate change was first proposed by an economist.

                      In the 1970s, Yale professor William Nordhaus alluded to the danger of passing a threshold of two degrees in a pair of now famous papers, suggesting that warming of more than two degrees would push the climate beyond the limits humans were familiar with…

                      Hansen didn’t offer Congress a definition of what constituted dangerous climate change. So in 1990 a team of researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) took it upon themselves to try and answer that question.

                      Based on scientific understanding at the time, SEI suggested that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, a limit should be set at two degrees. But, the report warned, the higher the temperature rise, the bigger the risks from climate change.

                      “Temperature increases beyond 1.0°C may elicit rapid, unpredictable, and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage,” the report said, suggesting there is nothing necessarily ‘safe’ about a two degree limit.

                      There is a key difference between a target and a limit in a nonlinear system. If you go past a limit, then the system becomes uncontrollable and chaotic, as positive feedbacks come to dominate. The 2C boundary is the point at which there is roughly a 50/50 chance that feedback loops will take us to 4C, which is why it’s critical that we don’t go over it.

                      Much beyond “2C” Co2 levels is the point where really weird things will start happening, such as Greenland melt threatening the AMOC, which could eventually create a state where Europe falls by 3-5C almost immediately even as the rest of the world has risen by 5C.

                      Going above 2C is truly entering into climate chaos territory.

                      Quite frankly, the target should have always been 1C with a buffer acknowledging that we may reach 1.5. The fact that they are only now talking about the goal of 1.5 (after we have reached 1, with enough inertia to get us well beyond 1.5!) is crazy.

                      And after saying this, I recognize the other problem with the IPCC is framing everything around 2100. None of the early literature put in the arbitrary 2100 target, they were merely talking about ecosystem effects, which presumably would include the slow feedbacks.

          2. Plenue

            “The Left largely abandoned the IPCC with the release of AR5, adopting the “it’s too conservative” mantra and embracing a wide range of doomsters. How has that worked out?”

            I don’t really know what you mean by ‘how has that worked out’, but this is the correct position on the IPCC. It is too conservative. IPCC reports are highly political, and involve a lot of different players and compromise. It should be treated as the absolute minimum baseline for what our climate future holds.

            You don’t have to agree with Guy McPherson’s view that humanity will be extinct by the middle of the century to be impressed with the vast amount of sources he’s gathered here:


            It’s painfully clear that things are consistently happening both sooner and to a more extreme degree than entities like the IPCC predict. And most models still don’t factor in positive feedback loops.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        How well has it worked out to stand by the IPCC’s imperfect “gold standard”? What sort of public policy has the IPCC gold standard engendered? Cap and Trade? Obama’s Clean Power Plan? Some other Market based solution? “Private capital has begun to fund fusion research, showing that some smart investors believe commercialization is possible within a generation.” What about space mirrors? Space mirrors would be cool.

        As you point out: “The relevant public policy question is how much warming we can expect and when.” But there is another public policy question that should not be ignored. How much time will it take to implement an effective public policy response to the Global Warming impacts predicted by the IPCC AR5 “gold standard”? Many of the significant impacts of Global Warming are happening now and what is the public policy response?

        I agree with your point that arguing the IPCC AR5 is too conservative and embracing a wide range of doomsters instead is a poor tactic. However I’m not so sure drawing big conclusions is unwarranted — based on the IPCC AR5 data. I guess we disagree as to what constitutes a big conclusion. I would conclude weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and weather is becoming more severe and it’s not a great leap to conclude crop yields will be adversely affected. That is big conclusion to me.

        The Arctic and Antarctic are melting. This is a big change. It doesn’t seem like a great leap to conclude this big change could have a large impact on the progress of Global Warming. What does the IPCC AR5 predict and how much “imperfection” attends that prediction? Is it silly to worry about the effects that aren’t modeled or modeled correctly as we observe epochal changes to the poles on our planet?

        Are you arguing for a measured rationale response to Global Warming based on the IPCC AR5 “gold standard” and hope for fusion power and alternative energy sources to replace our dependence on oil, natural gas and coal and halt their contributions to atmospheric CO2? I’m starting to feel very uneasy about such a measured rationale response.

    5. justanotherprogressive

      “All I am saying is please shift the discussion from defending the points in least contention and start speaking more to mankinds specific role and (just as importantly) the exclusion of alternative theories.”

      Why should NC do this? It won’t change your mind, will it? After all, there is voluminous proof out there and it has already been written up in the most simplistic to the most complex terms, so that depending on your scientific sophistication, you could see and understand the facts for yourself, if you only wanted to. What can NC add that hasn’t already been said?

      The problem isn’t the science – the problem is you…..

      1. QuarterBack

        My question here is because the link was here. My comment was on the article. I not looking NC to debate it. Just ask any readers for links.

        Would seeing the evidence change my mind? My point is certainly could. i wasn’t debating against it, just asking for someone to point me to the data. I’m not trying to sell pro or con. It just bugs me that this topic has generated more ad hominem attacks than many others. That’s not how science is supposed to work.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          Is NC the only thing you read? If so, you are severely limiting yourself, aren’t you? The point is that there is a wealth of information on global warming on the internet – all you have to do is read. Google is your friend. We don’t know what your level of knowledge is so how can any one of us point you to THE site that will solve all your problems?

          Perhaps the reason you aren’t getting the answers you want is because you are employing a very commonly used tactic used by “deniers” to create doubt. (Yes, we’ve all seen this tactic before.) Why would you be doing that here?

    6. inhibi

      Humans have been polluting the planet and changing its chemical composition since the Silk Route at the beginning of the Han Dynasty, which we know due to carbon dating in the water below deserts around China (carbon sinks). Yew trees were almost completely eradicated from Europe’s landscape due to a writ by an English King for bows and arrows to fight the French. Even before that, 50,000 years ago, the giant bird was hunted to extinction in Australia.

      What other forces do you see changing the environment at the pace of humans? Only massive volcanic eruptions come close, and we have all recent ones on record. The eruption of Tambora in 1815, which caused the Year Without a Summer, emitted an estimated 100 million tonnes of SO2 and killed 71,000 people. It is the largest in recent history, larger than Vesuvius by almost a full magnitude. Compare that to the BILLIONS of tonnes of human produced gases, chemicals, petroleum products each year.

      If you can’t bridge the billions of tons of ammonia, co2, petrol, etc etc. ad infinitum produced each year today to ‘changes in our environment’, you probably shouldn’t even think about it at all. This isn’t rocket science. When every single independent study across all major continents points to massive upheavals in climate change in the timespan of a century, its obviously due to humans.

    7. Synapsid


      Here’s a sort of backwards way to find discussion of alternate proposals for the cause of global warming or (a more inclusive term) climate change:

      Go to the site Skeptical Science and on the left side of the home page note the thermometer labeled Most Used Climate Myths. At its base click on View all arguments. You’ll find a numbered list, and after each stated “myth” (remember, this is a denier-rebuttal site but that need not mean the information won’t be useful to you) will be a rebuttal, and then a list of sources and links supporting the rebuttal.

      It’s a valuable resource, one you can make use of without agreeing with, or disagreeing with, the site itself.

  8. Edward E

    Oh he’s just draining that swamp right into his cabinet.
    “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him. (Cruz) Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton”

    1. Vatch

      he’s just draining that swamp right into his cabinet.

      Ha! Good one! In addition to the Goldman Sachs guys (Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Steven Bannon), there are plenty of Koch Brothers proteges and associates (Mike Pence, Scott Pruitt, Mike Pompeo, Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry). The Trump administration is an oligarch’s wet dream. (Yes, I know that a Hillary Clinton cabinet would have had just as many Goldman Sachs people, but there would have been far fewer Koch Brothers toadies.)

      1. cocomaan

        The billionaires are entrenched in both parties. The rest of us get to fight over the scraps.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Did he want Goldman guys (and gals) all along?

          Is it more a case of getting the best technical persons to carry out his plans (or so he thinks)? Does he think he is in charge, having control over him or is it more that they have been in control of him from the start?

          If he’s using them for their expertise to finance his plans, the Goldman clique will surely clash with the anti-trade people he also has.

          And we did hear recently of a clash, a civil war, between them.

      2. fosforos

        If Mussolini had been like Trumpe-l’oeil in relation to his promises, he would have relocated all government offices to the Pontine Marsh.

    2. Ed

      As much as I hate to admit it, there is a strong argument to continue to let Goldman Sachs run the US Treasury Department for the time being.

      The federal government has gotten itself into one of its ridiculous “forgot to raise the debt ceiling” crisises today, with the possibility of another government shutdown down the road, I think in April. This means the Treasury officials have to do alot of technical stuff to avoid a formal US default for the next few months.

      Trump was really “elected” to reduce immigration and make some changes on trade in a more protectionist direction. The Goldman Sachs clique could maybe block him on trade but can’t do anything about immigration, as much as they may want to. He doesn’t need the headache of tackling federal financial policy as well. That needs reform, but it will have to wait until later.

      There was a serious argument for Trump to just leave the Obama officials in place at State (but not Nuland!) and Treasury, with instructions to just avoid getting the US into a war and to avoid default. Kerry and the Goldman Sachs crowd were up to that. He is already in big fights with the intelligence agencies and over immigration.

  9. Steve H.

    : There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendy)

    Too easy. We want solid meat to savage, this is just one bubble to pop.

    Oh, wait, another FiveThirtyEight! So that’s two bubbles…

      1. Cujo359

        It’s good to see that he now realizes a bubble. Remains to be seen if he can put that knowledge to use.

  10. Jane

    Re: Maclean Freeland article

    It’s delicious to see a right-wing magazine of record so ardently defend a liberal with the same voice they so often use to denounce them.

    1. JEHR

      Maybe the defense is legitimate. There are nuances to being “right-wing” and “liberal” that need to be teased out as by themselves they each mean next to nothing. These words are not brand names that are immutable. Perhaps one nice person is writing to correct some inaccuracies about another person. Is this a case of “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

      Too much relish, I think.

  11. Ed

    “I used to enjoy The New Yorker, but the bias of its stories now bothers me immensely.”

    I’m genuinely curious to find out what happened. The magazine is now more embarrassing than in the Tina Brown era.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I was thinking exactly that the other day. While TB took a year or two to drag the barge to a different tack, Remnick seems to have done it in about 24 hours.

      It took TB a while to clear out the pipeline of works in progress (those 10 part articles on the history of sand), and she did remodel the magazine into something a little zippier and relevant. Remnick then finished off TB’s job by loading up on cheerleaders for the politely trendy (ooh! Artisanal pickles!) and financially secure (with an occasional article about poor people, to perhaps tug the faux-liberal heartstring but mostly make the readers glad they didn’t live like that). He now finds himself staffed up with writers who are utterly incapable of significant journalism or cultural criticism (save Alex Ross, perhaps), and a readership that was so blindsided by the election that it may be years before they can relax their grip on their pearl strands. So TNY is reduced to irrelevance for a while. Enjoy the cartoons, and read the ads for their reflection of the culture of 10 years ago.

    2. RUKidding

      Didn’t like much what Tina Brown did to TNY, but in comparison, the TB era looks wildly intellectual and stimulating.

      I rarely buy TNY anymore. Used to do so once in a while when taking a plane somewhere. Now the majority of the “articles” just look dull and uninteresting.

      I still like Anthony Lane’s movie reviews, but I can read them quickly at the newstand for free. ;-)

      Too bad. Vanity Fair has also gone down hill over the past decade. VF was always lightweight, but it used to have some interesting investigative journalism going on amidst the sucking up to the rich and famous. Even their rich and famous articles used to have a bit more bite to them. I stopped subscribing to VF quite a few years ago, but then a friend of mine paid for a new subscription, so I glance through it when it shows up in mailbox. A shadow of its former self. Alas.

      1. Ed

        I pretty much stopped my print media consumption in favor of blogs years ago, like many other people.

        There is a chicken and egg issue of whether the internet is killing print, or the decline of print media is driving people to the internet. I think its very much the latter. The one point in favor of the former is that its nice not having to deal with the management of piles of physical newspapers and magazines. And the comment feature on blogs works better than the letters to the editor.

        However, its gotten to the point that I won’t even read the stuff the established English language (the rot has spread to the UK and Canada) media organs for free. These entities all have websites themselves where they post free content, and I can still browse an article or two at magazine racks and pick them up at coffeehouses or when visiting relatives who still subscribe to the stuff. And you always have dentists’ waiting rooms. But I am finding I am passing up the chance to read them even then.

      1. voxhumana

        I had dinner with Remnick once, after having performed as part of a New Yorker produced comedy review at Town Hall (I was a no-name singer in a cast that included Alec Baldwin, Swoozie Kurtz and the one and only, Buck Henry – all directed by Gregory Mosher) and found him to be exceptionally boring and colorless… but maybe that’s because the only reason I was invited to the after party was due to the hideous way I had been treated during the performance…. while all the show’s “stars” had been ushered into the green room upstairs and enjoyed an expensively catered “snack” table, I was banished to the basement (literally under the stage) to wait, by myself, until my 5 minute contribution was required and quickly returned to my purgatory after. Now, it was ultimately worth it – to be seated next to Kurtz and across from Buck Henry at the dinner (Alec Baldwin was not present) was enough to make me feel at least a little bit special. And Remnick sent me a bottle of wine a week later, so he made some effort… but my one on one experience with the man himself was truly a non-event.

        One of these days I’ll write a book about all the famous people I’ve met and my often less-than-flattering impressions of the same… I have a little story about a 3 minute interaction with Michael Eisner – the man has psycho eyes, dead and deadly (don’t even ask about Garrison Keillor – never a fan of Prairie Home so maybe I am biased but, wow, what a pompous ass). I’d have never imagined that my small measure of success as a classical singer would have brought me so close to many of the important ones, but it was all quite edifying in a “famous people are often full of shit” kinda way…

        …and since I shamelessly dropped their names above, along with all the others, I need to emphasize that Kurtz and Henry were both very kind and genuine to me… so, honestly, not all the famous people I’ve met suck.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I got drunk with Sandy Weill (Citi CEO) once at a resort in upstate NY. Just him and me, closed the little resort bar. I told him his kind was full of sh*t and he loved it, nobody talked to him like that.
          I also met Susan Rice at the airport in Chiang Mai, travelling incognito with her gal pal, got immense pleasure calling her out as a war criminal and she had no cops or handlers to protect her.

      2. JamesG

        He has ruined it.

        The $8.99 print version is no longer a magazine. It’s a puddle created by the editor’s incontinence.

        Remnick is Trump-obsessed and puts that obsession above his responsibilities as an editor.

        A moral person would quit the job, grab a placard and begin marching down Broadway.

        I’ve been a reader for decades but will not renew.

  12. funemployed

    Is there anyone here who can explain to me how, accepting that corporations are legal persons, giving special tax breaks to some and not others is not an obvious violation of the 14th amendment. In other words, could Florida, if they really wanted me, try to induce me to move there by saying I don’t have to pay state income tax, and that they’ll build my driveway for free? What am I missing here?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      You are making two dubious assumptions. First — you seem to believe you are a person. In the Neoliberal Market you are a business — the agent for your own success or failure. Second — Florida won’t waive taxes and build a driveway for just any Corporate person. The Market dictates that Corporate persons exercise their rights to the equal protections of the law in the Marketplace — which is the new due process.

      The Constitution must be read very carefully since its words don’t have the common meanings they have in our everyday speech.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry — I’m afraid my answer isn’t entirely just being clever. The quips about you as a business echo analysis by the anthropologist Ilana Gershon in a podcast: “Interchange – Selling Me, Inc.: Part Three of The Way of Neoliberalism”. The statement I made about the Constitution and its wording makes an allusion to a speech by Howard Zinn: “Second Thoughts on the First Amendment”. He very thoroughly describes how the courts have interpreted the plain language stating the First Amendment into a tortured statement supporting the suppression of what a common man might consider free speech.

          I’m not an attorney and so can give no legal advice. I have been in court enough times for various reasons to have a very jaundiced view of the law and what’s legal. In my opinion what’s legal is what you can get away with if you have enough money to hire a team of lawyers and contribute to the political campaigns of various officials and judges. I know that’s not Justice but we do have the best law money can buy.

  13. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

    Re: “Too few truck drivers – another bogus skills shortage story”

    Of the 4,000 posts we’ve published since 2007, this is the first one that has had a large blue collar audience. It went viral among truck drivers — getting over ten thousand pages in the first day.

    There is a large potential audience for explanations of what people see in their lives and around them. Simple clear class analysis. As so many, like Thomas Frank, have said — that is the direction for the Democrats to go if they wish to regain power.

    Calling Trump names and identify politics are just paths to long-term status as the loyal (or not loyal) opposition — and plutocracy for America.

    1. RUKidding

      Indeed, but (no offense) you are making the cardinal mistake of thinking that the Democratic Party wants to appeal to the hoi polloi. Nothing could be further from their minds. Hillary Clinton made it blindingly obvious that she wanted to have nothing to do with the stinky, smelly, icky, awful, disgusting, worthless working classes… and of course, the poorz are to be ignored or spat upon.

      1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        ” but (no offense) you are making the cardinal mistake of thinking that the Democratic Party wants to appeal to the hoi polloi.’

        Sad but true. But the “Democratic Party” is just a coalition of people. Change minds and the Party will change. It has happened before and can again.

        More fundamentally — my belief, expressed in scores of articles about ways to reform America, is that we the people are the weak link in America. Our apathy and passivity have put us in this hole. We can mobilize again and reform America again.

        It’s our responsibility, after all.

        1. John k

          Hard to change minds when salaries/payola depend on not changing.
          But you’re right, it’s up to us to make change, there’s nobody else, not in any existing party.
          Only chance I see is either a new party, say the Progressive Democrat Party, or take over the Green Party, maybe rename it the Progressive Green Party, and naturally replace dysfunctional with functional as necessary. Personally I see the latter as the best shot, both dems and reps would fight to the last donor dollar to keep the former off any and all ballots.

          1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


            “Only chance I see is either a new party …or take over the Green Party”

            We can only guess at this point about such things. My guess is that both parties are hollow, and subject to take-over from inside.

            Unfortunately, we might not be the ones to exploit this opportunity. Today we are apathetic and passive. Our plutocrats are bold and aggressive. For details about this see: Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this.

    2. sd

      Does the interest encourage you to pursue more articles along a similar vein since there seems to I’m be both a need as well as a demand?

      1. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website


        Absolutely. I have asked some of our authors and frequent guest authors to take up this challenge. For example, economist Ed Dolan will be writing about health care.

        I’m embarrassed to have stumbled into the blindingly obvious insight that to influence a mass audience one must speak to people about things they’re interested in — a varied assortment of easily understood hot content. The trucking article was just the latest example. Other recent posts that went viral …

        Does Donald Trump have a perverted attraction to Ivanka? Details of a smear.

        Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia and Debunking the stories about a Trump-Putin conspiracy.

        Oddly, these are far easier and faster to write than our usual fare. Finding the theme or subject of the article is the difficult part. Suggestions are welcomed.

        1. kareninca

          How about, “Should My Kid Join the Military?” And then an explanation of what exactly we are fighting for (as opposed to what we are pretending to be fighting for), in each country we are fighting.

          How about, “Why Can’t I Start Medicare at age 55?”

          How about, “Who Makes Money When My Neighbor’s Kid Overdoses?”

          How about, “Who Really Runs the United States?”

          How about, “Can I Trust the CIA?”

          How About, “Why are So Many Young People Getting Colon Cancer?” (” (“People born in 1990, like my son, have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer” compared to the risk someone born in 1950 faced at a comparable age, said Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist . . .”)

          How about, “How Many People Are Homeless?”

          How about, “Will My Pension Survive in One Piece?”

          How about, “When Has the U.S. Experimented on People?” (include Tuskeegee)

          How about, “Should I Worry About Using Facebook?”

          How about, “How Much Should My Kid Borrow for College?”

          How about, “How does Money Affect Politics?”

          How about, “How Does the U.S. Kill People With Drones?”

          oh, I have so many more . . . .

    3. voteforno6

      My grandparents ran a small trucking company for a while. They managed to build a good home, put some of their children through college (at least the ones that wanted to attend), and so on. It saddens me to see what’s happened to this industry, which used to offer a pathway to a decent life for so many people. Oh, and my grandfather (who they would’ve considered to be a “deplorable) was more of a progressive than those identity politics warriors, and that was 50+ years ago. Maybe that’s because something he had in abundance – empathy – is sorely lacking with them.

      1. Sam Adams

        Seeing your buddy die in a march over the sands of a Normandy gives one a sense of empathy.
        It worked for a while.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Are you so sure this report isn’t some sort of preemptive strike against a public backlash against “driverless” trucks–along the lines of jobs that americans don’t want to do any more?

      These “studies” and articles have a convenient way of resurfacing when justification of unpopular policies or laws is required.

  14. Carolinian

    The Nate Silver “There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble” is excellent and explains much about why our MSM is so non-excellent. An excerpt

    James Surowiecki’s book “The Wisdom of Crowds” which, despite its name, spends as much time contemplating the shortcomings of such wisdom as it does celebrating its successes. Surowiecki argues that crowds usually make good predictions when they satisfy these four conditions:

    Diversity of opinion. “Each person should have private information, even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.”
    Independence. “People’s opinions are not determined by the opinions of those around them.”
    Decentralization. “People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.”
    Aggregation. “Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.”

    Political journalism scores highly on the fourth condition, aggregation. While Surowiecki usually has something like a financial or betting market in mind when he refers to “aggregation,” the broader idea is that there’s some way for individuals to exchange their opinions instead of keeping them to themselves. And my gosh, do political journalists have a lot of ways to share their opinions with one another, whether through their columns, at major events such as the political conventions or, especially, through Twitter.

    Indeed these people who gossip for a living seem to love Twitter above all else (just like the president they hate). Silver’s point is that it is the press itself that has lost diversity since it now consists of the same college educated socioeconomic demographic and therefore the first three preconditions to “wisdom” are lacking. While the NYT says it is seeking “truth” in that silly ad campaign what they are really seeking is consensus. It’s not even a liberal or conservative bias but rather a bias toward insiderdom. Or as Larry Summers put it, insiders don’t criticize other insiders and above all else reporters these days want to be insiders. If Trump were to buddy up with reporters and give them nicknames the way Dubya did they’d probably think he was just great.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This article presumes that the msm wanted to get the story right. There certainly have been no adverse consequences to having been so massively wrong, and there has been not one iota of self-reflection in pushing the current “Russia did it” meme.

      I’d suggest another possibility along the karl rove lines of “creating your own reality.” Maybe the msm wanted to shame, bully and intimidate the Trump low-lifes into, if not voting clinton, staying home, with endless versions of the derision they would suffer in the event they helped elect Trump, the contempt in which their countrymen would hold them should they be responsible, and the always persuasive “everybody’s doing it” high school cafeteria tactic. Perhaps it was more about ensuring the result than reporting it.

      I’ve always wondered how and why clinton guarded the transcripts of her goldman sachs speeches so tenaciously, yet let her “deplorables” comment be available for broadcast far and wide. It’s as if she wanted people to know the contempt in which any Trump voter would be held, and hoped that the implied possible ostracism would be enough to get her to the finish line. Because lemmings.

      1. Carolinian

        Yellow journalism–the thing they are committing on the Russia story–has always been around of course. What may be different is the lack of press diversity and their sanctimonious image of themselves as some kind of public servants. Back in the 19th century journalism was assumed to be partisan. Have just been reading a book about Andrew Jackson who as president countered his critics by having his allies start a pro Jackson newspaper. To continue the Silver excerpt

        But those other three conditions? Political journalism fails miserably along those dimensions.

        Diversity of opinion? For starters, American newsrooms are not very diverse along racial or gender lines, and it’s not clear the situation is improving much. And in a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees. A degree didn’t used to be a de facto prerequisite for a reporting job; just 70 percent of journalists had college degrees in 1982 and only 58 percent did in 1971

        Journalists now sympathize with the ruling class because they are part of the ruling class. Some of this can probably be blamed on television, which has made many of them TV stars.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Spot on. Except, they’re never going to buddy up to Trump. The New York based media made him a designated goat years ago, they’re ego-invested in holding him in contempt, and they will not change. The pity is, there are very good reasons for despising Trump. It’s just those aren’t the reasons why they detest him. They despise his ‘style’, his real estate/entertainment empire built on the under-groomed aspirations of lower class Long Island type, etc.

      They never gave much of a damn about his contempt for those who are weak, or in need, or vulnerable. Except as it pertained to them directly. Trump always let the doyens of elite culture know that he was more important than them, because money! He was constantly reminding them that, compared to him, they might as well be uneducated, undocumented welfare mothers themselves. They hated him for that. Most people at his level lie to the upper middle class a little better, and get truly insane degrees of complicity and obedience in return. It’s not that he doesn’t need or have minions, but he drew them from an immediately underlying social stratum, which seriously peeves our upper middle class arbiters of good ton. Their fixation on creatures like Kelly Ann Conway – and comparative under-coverage of guys who actually make policy – is a result of all this finely tuned classism.

      Of course now, as POTUS, the guy has billionaire minions. Boo-yah!

  15. freedeomny

    The Trump tax return “leak” is somewhat a joke. You can’t really tell much about an individuals “exposure” from a credit risk standpoint from their individual return if they own a business/businesses. NYC lending for real estate developers is primarily non-recourse – whereas in CA and other areas that is not typically the norm. Standard underwriting practice would require the analysis of any Corp tax return where the individual owned 25% or more of the business as well as ytd profit & loss and balance sheets.

  16. EndOfTheWorld

    On the subject of global solar power—I’ve never seen any in the Philippines, and I’ve traveled to several of the 7,000 islands. It would seem to be a natural place for solar—-plenty of sunshine, and electricity now is very expensive with lots of brownouts. Why no solar?

    1. Grebo

      As a third-world denizen myself I would guess that it is a combination of the difficulty of importing, the expense it adds, a lack of local expertise and even awareness.
      Solar seems to be making small inroads in the poorest places, thanks to outside help, as a system that can run a light and charge a phone is cheap. In the middle tier places where people might want to run washing machines and air-conditioners a solar system is still a huge expense.

  17. allan

    Trump’s pick to lead CFTC unveils major new policy agenda [Reuters]

    The top U.S. derivatives regulator laid out plans on Wednesday for a sweeping overhaul of the agency that will include everything from cutting regulation to restructuring the unit that conducts surveillance for market abuses.

    In a wide-ranging policy speech, Acting Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, who was nominated by President Donald Trump as permanent chairman late Tuesday, said it was time for the CFTC to “reinterpret its regulatory mission” by focusing on fostering economic growth, enhancing U.S. markets, and “right-sizing” its regulatory footprint. …

    Will definitely lead to a wave of job creation for unemployed blue collar workers.

    1. bronco

      Obama’s CFTC was mainly used to cover up abuses so at worst it will be status quo.

      JPM’s silver manipulation , Aluminum manipulation , the MF global thing where Obama’s bestest bundler buddy stole a few billions , all were pretty clear cut but no one is in jail

      1. craazyboy

        I guess next we’ll have to pull the SEC’s dangerous fangs and if they de-regulate the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that would get them some publicity and the public may become aware that there is such an office, and they are one of our top three important financial regulators and need to be preemptively swatted down, just to ward off any possibility they may ever do anything.

        And must I remind everyone of Liz Warren? That bitch has got a mouth on her and needs to STFU!

        Then, Wall Street will be able to Make Stuff Up as God intended – America will be blessed with asset growth!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      If memory serves, The Commodity Futures Modernization Act was a clinton, as in bill, financial “innovation.” The group sent Brooksley Borne packing and declined to regulate otc derivatives. Hard to get much more “deregulated” than that.

      Kinda hard to expect a “law” to do what it was explicitly designed not to do.

      1. JEHR

        I wonder what total deregulation is going to look like: will it mean that financiers can do whatever they want to get rich without paying any fines. None of them has gone to jail. Maybe they will pass a law that all money goes to the wealthy and the poor get nothing–oops, it is almost already there!

  18. mad as hell.

    I’m waiting for Trump’s March Madness basketball brackets. It would be a another good way for the MSM to compare him to Obama. Who is really smarter or something like that!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I believe he’s not doing it, and Obama went chalk plus he would give the likes of K and Pitino plus one. Since the Selection Committee does try to do a good job, Obama usually does well in comparison to the general population.

      There always seems to be a 5/12 upset because the 12s are usually teams playing into the tournament and one of the fives was a senior laden team that won early but declined as the seniors proved to not warrant a top 25 status as better teams came along.

      Pick your upsets for the second round. Conferences that did well in the non conference usually do well in the tourney. See you later Minnesota and Wisconsin. Michigan’s tourney run was a sign of Big Ten weakness.

      Teams that live and die by the three aren’t going past the Sweet Sixteen or beating a better seed two games in a row. A team like VCU or West Virginia with peculiar styles might do better against random opponents versus conference opponents who are more familiar with their style. Give them a plus one. Don’t try to predict Cuse’s run similar to last year.

  19. allan

    Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House [Politico]

    A culture of paranoia is consuming the Trump administration, with staffers increasingly preoccupied with perceived enemies — inside their own government.

    In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to President Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a “deep state” of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them. …

    One senior administration aide, who like most others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that is unsustainable.

    “People are scared,” he said, adding that the Trump White House had become “a pretty hostile environment to work in.” …

    This will surely end well.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Let’s be grateful that they didn’t say “paranoid Trump in bunker ranting about being betrayed by military and intelligence officials.”

    1. cocomaan

      They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop.

      That’s just smart.

    1. uncle tungsten

      Thanks Parker Dooley for the link fix. That was such an important story for serious and not so serious reasons. The serious ones are bloody obvious.

      But can you imagine the christian, tin foil, anti zionist, conspiracy mad hatters having conniptions about the 666 5th avenue street address. This will cause apoplexy especially given it is from China instead of Russia. I wonder if any of the Awan brothers stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria anywhere.

      Way too good a story to have missed for that link. I will laugh myself to sleep tonight.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it’s man-made global warming, and if God made man, then, it is God-made global warming.

      If God is Nature, as some believe, then, it’s Nature-made global warming.

      But if its God-made global warming, and God is more than Nature, then, to these believers, it’s not possible for an All-Good God to induce global warming without a good purpose.

    2. Katharine

      Despair, which amounts to bemoaning the future you’re not going to have, is a really good way to destroy the present you could have.

      1. salvo

        I don’t think that’s what this means: Feeling despair when confronted with the knowledge of the very likely unavoidable devastating loss (in the not so distant future) caused by our actions is an ethically sound reaction, which of course should not prevent us to take the appropriate action to avoid that loss.
        Furthermore, being a climatologist and having so to deal with that prospect (the future he’s not going to have personally) in his everyday work, I suppose he’s not able to suppress that knowledge as most of us do routinely in order to not ‘destroy the present we could have’.
        btw … this sounds in a way like Tillersons infamously cynical “What good it is to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

  20. amousie

    And so the health care snowball starts to gain a little more mass and speed. Now executives can admit “policies” out loud.

    Mayo to give preference to privately insured patients over Medicaid patients
    Pushback on Medicaid, Medicare part of a trend.
    By Jeremy Olson Star Tribune
    March 15, 2017 — 9:57am

    Mayo Clinic’s chief executive made a startling announcement in a recent speech to employees: The Rochester-based health system will give preference to patients with private insurance over those with lower-paying Medicaid or Medicare coverage, if they seek care at the same time and have comparable conditions.

    The number of patients affected would probably be small, but the selective strategy reveals the financial pressures that Mayo is facing in part due to federal health reforms. For while the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured patients, it has increased the share covered by Medicaid, which pays around 50 to 85 cents on the dollar of the actual cost of medical care.

    Mayo will always take patients, regardless of payer source, when it has medical expertise that they can’t find elsewhere, said Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo’s CEO. But when two patients are referred with equivalent conditions, he said the health system should “prioritize” those with private insurance.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      FINALLY we get to the heart of the matter.

      When my parents were alive and being treated under Medicare, practitioners would routinely b*tch, to them, about the low reimbursements, and proclaim their desire to “quit taking Medicare altogether.”

      Really puts “for-profit” and the currently much ballyhooed “coverage” in “do no harm” context.

      1. knowbuddhau

        When I worked as a certified nursing assistant in a skilled nursing facility, I was shown the Medicare wing, and told, if all the call lights are on, let them wait and answer the others first.

        Somehow, I never could remember that.

        1. Portia

          yes, I had the same experience as an LNA. the Medicare wing patients were also not treated for low-grade illnesses, endangering all others around them. I finally had to bail after I got sick myself.

    2. cocomaan

      The reason the “actual cost” doesn’t match the payout is called PRICE DISCOVERY!

      It floors me every day that Bernie and others are not demanding that the Democrats put forth a single payer, Medicare for All bill as a foil for the idiotic Republican plan.

      They could run their own satirical power point presentations and do skits where someone walks into a doctor’s office and the receptionist takes their Medicare card and says, “That’s all, take a seat, the doctor will see you in a moment”.

        1. Portia

          “There is no use having a conversation about something [single payer] that is never going to happen,” she[Nancy Pelosi] added later.” Jan 2016

      1. marym

        “….their own satirical power point presentations”

        The bullet points practically write themselves.

        37 pages
        millions more uninsured
        higher premiums, deductibles, copays
        less coverage

        HR 676
        30 pages
        everybody in, nobody out
        no premiums, deductibles, copays
        everything covered

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This is the exact time to talk about Single Payer.

        When else do you bring it up?

      3. Tom_Doak

        The part that burns me the most is that I’d take the chance of going without insurance, instead of paying these extortionate prices for my “deductible,” but every time we get a hospital or doctor bill they show me they would have billed 2x or 3x if we were on our own, instead of paying protection money to Blue Cross. I realize the reasoning is that customers on their own are often unable to pay, but at the same time, giving favorable prices to certain insurers is more than a “nudge” to encourage you to get in the racket.

    3. jrs

      not just medicare for all, outlaw private insurance. In fact I’m not sure it can work in the U.S. if you don’t, as inequality is great and the rich tend to abandon systems they don’t need (like public schools for example).

  21. Ignacio

    RE: Dutch voters in crucial poll as Europe watches Financial Times

    It includes the following:

    “the authorities had limited the use of software for counting votes over hacking fears”

    Hacking fears. In the front page in EL PAIS (the most important “liberal” news outlet in Spain) they mention as a given that Russia has hacked the informatic system for vote counting in The Netherlands.
    Here is the front page:

    The fact is that according to the Guardian:

    Dutch officials are already on alert for signs of possible cyber hacking following allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russia may have meddled in November’s US presidential polls to help secure Donald Trump’s victory.

    So the potential hacking of the counting system it only justified or unjustified fear but this appears in the front page as a fact that russians are interfering with elections in Netherland.

    El Pais is in serious danger of becoming a panphlet.

    1. Pat

      Anyone with half a brain and any minor knowledge of internet hacking issues has been demanding that there be some pretty serious non tech based checking of any software based vote count OR even better an outright ban of it long before Putin became the US’s favorite Boogeyman. Frankly the recent WikiLeaks post of the CIA’s hacking program should make it clear that America cannot be trusted either.

      But that doesn’t help the agenda besides election integrity these decisions are intended for

  22. cojo

    RE: In Africa, Scientists Are Preparing to Use Gene Drives to End Malaria

    My understanding is that mosquitoes serve no other real purpose on the ecosystem other than as a vector for disease. Their biomass is not enough to be a significant food source for other insects/animals so if they can be driven to extinction, I wouldn’t shed a tear. That being said, the law of unintended consequences says, be careful of what you wish for…

    1. sd

      I was under the impression that tadpoles eat mosquito larvae so that droughts have the effect of increasing mosquitos and decreasing frogs.

      1. craazyboy

        I wouldn’t sweat it. Monsanto or someone will come out with a frog food product we can buy. It will probably fly so that frogs know they are supposed to eat it. We mess with the eco-system all the time.

    2. LT

      See my post below.
      And with mosquitos being such a great disease transmitter…I just don’t think the reasearch is about what they are claiming it’s about.

    3. LT

      And you have to remember, in the course of evolution, millions of Africans have built up a genetic resistance to malaria. That’s one of the reasons Africans were picked as slaves to work the hot, swampy South.

      1. cojo

        I wouldn’t call sickle cell anemia an optimal way to build resistance. Essentially, if you have only sickle cell trait (heterozygous carrier) you are immune. If you have two sickle cell genes (homozygous) you are affected by sickle cell anemia. Not a pleasant disease.

    4. LT

      Your comment sparked another thought.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the foundation’s research was more about the study of effective tramission of diseases rather than cures/prevention.
      Humans have genes such as the sickle cell gene that could be studied IF the point was really about building genetic resistance to diseases.

      1. cojo

        I cannot profess to know if there are ulterior motives to the malaria/mosquito research, but of all the diseases to use as biological warfare, mosquito borne diseases are probably not rapid or reliable enough to weaponize. You need something airborne or waterborne to make an effective weapon. Now, disease prevention of mosquito borne illnesses like malaria, yellow fever, etc is more useful for military purposes, especially in jungle warfare. I’m at peace with this “military” application being co opted for civilian purposes.

        1. LT

          “mosquito borne diseases are probably not rapid or reliable enough to weaponize”

          True, but you’re talking about the mosquitos that we have now and not genetically modified mosquitos or some insect mosquito like.
          There are already preventions for yellow fever and malaria. Access to those need to be expanded.

          “I’m at peace with this “military” application being co opted for civilian purposes.”
          If there was ever peace we could then be at peace.
          And when you say “civilian purposes” that may not necessarily be the most “civil” purposes.

    5. uncle tungsten

      My pacific blue eye native fish thrive on mosquito larvae. They clean them all up and never eat frogs eggs. They do their bit to eliminate a number of serious mosquito born virus. I am totally unconvinced about any strategy to obliterate a species to benefit our ecosystem.

      1. Cojo

        I think many people are missing an important point. The mosquito species that act as disease vectors are a small minority of all mosquito species. Your pacific blue eye native fish will be fine while allowing a large portion of humanity in the tropics, and due to global warming, even larger parts of the rest of the inhabited world to avoid serious life threatening diseases.

  23. Hana M

    This was a bit of a surprise:

    In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

    “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

    Propublica H/t Sofrep:

    1. craazyboy

      Not to mention 10 states or so of USofA coastline going underwater. The Devil is in the details – Rooskie warships could sail straight into America’s Heartland!

      Good catch on the part of our defense planners, I’d say. These folks really know how to keep us safe!

      P.S. Somebody needs to make a movie about this stuff. Is Mel Brooks still available?

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Yup…that big bad “stealthy” aircraft carrier that uses all the black smoke to confuse and camouflage…them roozkeez got us all fooled with that fleet of one aircraft carrier…and my goodness…moving at that super speed, my aunt Margie would have a hard time keeping up on her tricycle as it made its way inland to kansas…

        1. craazyboy

          Well, the Rooskies are far ahead of us in deploying steampunk military technology. The CIA plans to release credible rumors via the Washington Post about the Rooskie coal powered Cyborg Marine Offensive Landing and Imperial Conquest Force. These cyborg marines can be deployed by the stealth aircraft carrier when it runs aground on a Kentucky mountain top. Local coal for fuel and the long supply line issue is solved! Poor Aunti Margie won’t stand a chance.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Good news brothers…the cyborg project is moving forward, but the kuznetzov will be…ummm…well…repaired ???

            no tovariches…upgraded…

            just in time for the 2020 election…

            so…hopefully aunt maggie can keep that old tricycle going until then…

            1. uncle tungsten

              Elon Musk has a clever innovation in mind for aunt maggies tricycle. Batteries, motor, smart switch, pacemaker bluetoothed to the gear change etc.
              I can feel a startup coming on.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Their latest Financial Page segment takes the President to task, rightly, for using foreign workers on H-2B visas to staff Mar-a-Lago.

    Instead of going after one person for using the program, it’s more fruitful to reform or drop the program, be it H1-B, or H2-B.

    If taxes are going in say, California, in 2018, and we think it’s the right thing to do, do we go after everyone who doesn’t pay the 2018 rate in 2017? If the state needs that money, why aren’t we paying more this year, right now? But when the new tax law goes into effect, it’s expected everyone pays the new, higher rate

    Many might even have advocated for higher taxes in 2015, but how many would have paid more, until there was a new law?

    By the way, why do people donate to private charities, like the Green Peace, but don’t pay taxes more than what their accountants compute to be what the law requires? Isn’t anything above the required taxes like charitable donations? Here, you expect the government to do charity work or some good work (because you trust enough) with your not-required, additional tax payments.

  25. LT

    Re: Insect gene manipulation to fight malaria

    Not really necessary if they protect the trees and shrubs that produce cures/treatments in East and West Africa (maybe more places, but the article focuses on Africa, which I have also visited). The people now dying of malaria has more to do with social circumstance than lack of treatments.
    Additionally, millions of Africans have already built up a resistance to malaria that is already reflected in their genes.

    These scientists could end up modifying insect genes to a point where new strains of the malaria viruses (resistant to existing treatments) are introduced to a population that has already largely adapted to malaria and really just needs more of and better distribution of current natural and other rememedies.

    Something really doesn’t add up about this Gates Foundation plan….

    1. Ditk77

      You are getting warm. As a test, you might say yes to the plan on the condition that Bill, Melinda, all the scientists involved, and the author of that article all agree to life in a privatized prison if something goes wrong.

  26. Ed

    There was a link to the prospect of a primary challenge to Senator Joe Manchin. This pol isn’t well known outside his state, so as a background he is a Democratic Senator, up for re-election next year, who represents the state that gave Trump his biggest percentage of the vote margin in 2016 and has been pretty blood red politically for some time now. Manchin understandably votes with the Republicans more often than other Donk Senators.

    I raise this because the 538 website actually has a pretty interesting article on this. And that article links to their excellent tracker of how much each Senator has backed (or opposed Trump), as opposed to how much they could be expected to do given the lean of their state.

    Now I am not necessarily opposed to Trump, and I see a difference between his agenda and the GoP establishment agenda, but then this attitude would get me primaried myself if I was a Democratic Senator. But the 538 ranking,, is a pretty good tool to see who should be primaried. And its updated! Its still early and the rankings will change quite a bit over the course of the year.

    On Manchin specifically, he has voted with Trump 64% of the time, one of three Democratic Senators who have sided with Trump on a majority of the votes (I am not counting Angus King). All three represent deep red states, and their adjusted Trump scores run from -35% to -38%, lower than all bur four Democratic Senators. Granted there is some bias in that it is easier to get a low adjusted Trump score if you represent a state that Trump carried.

    The other Senator from West Virginia sided with Trump 100% of the time. So replace Manchin as the Democratic candidate would lose an anti-Trump vote on a third of the Senate votes, given the votes so far. West Virginia is so read that any Democratic candidate but Manchin is guaranteed to lose. Manchin’s own re-election prospects seem to be slightly better than 50-50.

    There is a legitimate argument that having people like Manchin around dilutes the party brand and demoralizes activists, but this is weighted against losing that vote a third of the time, or a sixth of the time if you account for the prospect of Manchin losing anyway.

    However, the 538 list shows better primary targets, all of which are Democratic Senators with positive Trump scores:

    Harris CA 0.2% (newly elected)
    Warner VA 1.9%
    Cardin MD 5.4% (up for re-election in 2018)
    Hirono HI 8.4% (up for re-election in 2018)
    Schatz HI 11.9% (just re-elected)
    Feinstein CA 15.1% (up for re-election in 2018)

    There may be some parochial Hawaii thing going on with the Hawaii delegation.

    But the list indicates that the top primary targets should be Feinstein, followed by Cardin, neither representing states the Democrats are likely to lose with some other candidate. Now Feinstein will be 85 in 2018 and Cardin will be 75 so they may both well retire. If Feinstein does run, she should be primaried anyway just for being 85 years old. But these two are bigger problems with party discipline than Manchin, Donelly, and Heitkamp (note McCaskill and Tester have voted against Trump more often than not).

    For contrast, Chuck Schumer has an adjusted Trump score of -0.7%, having sided with Trump 21% of the time so far.

    The deep red states that have Democratic Senators tend to be filled with deplorables, so there will be no pressure for the Senators from those states to vote with whatever plans on health care and taxes that Ryan and the Freedom Caucus sends over from the House.

    Only four Republicans have voted against Trump at all (meaning less than 100% of the time), Collins, Murkowski, Portman, and McCain, and the biggest dissident, Collins, still voted with Trump 89% of the time. A Republican Senator can still side with Trump on every vote and still get a fairly mediocre Trump score because the state is just really, really red, a weakness of the 538 methodology.

  27. diptherio

    Citi Tells Investors to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Oil

    The meaning of this is what? Citi has a short position it needs to unload? I’m not saavy enough to sus out what the scam is, but it does strike me as suspect…not that I don’t trust Citi to be anything other than forthright.

    1. integer

      I expect it has something to do with Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal being the single largest shareholder in Citi and Saudi Aramco going public next year.

      The world’s biggest oil company, Saudi Aramco, is still planning to go public next year.

      “We’re still looking at 2018 and no change in our plan to deliver in that time,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told CNNMoney’s John Defterios at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

      Saudi Arabia revealed plans to sell part of its oil giant last year when deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled a new economic strategy.

      The kingdom was forced to rethink after a slump in oil prices blew a huge hole in its finances.

      If it happens, the sale of Saudi Aramco is expected to be the biggest IPO in history.

      Saudi officials have said they expect an IPO to value Aramco at around $2 trillion. If the market agrees, selling just 5% would raise $100 billion

  28. Katharine

    What I find interesting about the Trump tax story is that the White House apparently chose to leak numbers to other reporters after Johnston had sent them his information for confirmation.

    I’ve been at this 50 years, and I’ve been dealing with White Houses since Nixon. I have never before sent the White House a document to allow them to comment on it and have them take my exclusive story and give the information to other reporters. And that’s what they did. They never responded to me. They instead went to other reporters and said, “Here’s what’s going to happen.”

    That’s an interesting if unattractive maneuver, presumably to undercut the impact of the story (and perhaps of people like Maddow). I find Johnston’s comments to Goodman on the taxes informative anyway, which is more than I felt about the hoopla by and about Maddow.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s an open war between Trump and the media, according to the media

      They still largely control what unattractive moves news consumers are exposed to.

    2. MLS

      If that’s what the White House did to Johnston (and I doubt he made the story up), then so what? He can complain all he wants but I don’t see why the Trump administration owes him any favors to let him run with the story, particularly if the WH feels like he’s part of cabal looking for anything and everything to make Trump look bad.

  29. vidimi

    re: the brexit drain to luxembourg article from wolf street, luxembourg’s main feature, which the article doesn’t mention, is that luxembourg allows virtual offices. for example, AIG Europe chose luxembourg over dublin because luxembourg allowed them to keep most of their staff in london whereas dublin wanted the jobs in dublin. this is a massive undermining of the EU by tiny luxembourg, one that, i hope, will not be tolerated but, i fear, will be ignored.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That virtual office trick will work great when corporations can be domiciled on the Lunar Republic of Negative Taxation and Zero Extradition.

  30. Pat

    I have come back several times today just to awww at Josh’s beautiful siblings. Those cats are beautiful and their snuggling together is truly an antidote. Thank you.

  31. LT

    Re: Liberals and Diversity

    Nobody mentioned studies that showed economic security eased racial angst.
    I do remember such theories being studied in the past.

  32. LT

    Re: Liberals and Diversity

    Diversity in the healthcare sector has increased, affordablity has gone down.

    Affordability (economics of PRICES) is the gateway to access for everyone, not more people of all colors charging outrageous prices for insurance and care.

  33. Plenue

    >How Russia’s attack on Freeland got traction in Canada

    “Ling decided to take a pass on the “story” because there really was no “story” to be told, but the smear erupted in headlines last week after Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that the Canadian Forces training mission in Ukraine, which has been besieged by Russia for the past three years, would continue until at least March, 2019.”

    As far as I can tell the only besieging going on is of the ethnic Russian eastern part of the country by the Kiev government. Donetsk and Luhansk aren’t the ones who have launched offensives, as even sources favorable to Kiev begrudgingly admit, at least for the most recent offensive in February.

  34. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Making Athens Great Again

    The author of that piece clearly hasn’t read IF Stone’s The Trial of Socrates.

    IMNSHO, Socrates was a blowhard and Stone concurs. He argues that the real reason Socrates was sentenced to death was because he was encouraging tyrants at a time Athens had just thrown out a whole bunch of them and restored their democracy. And it wasn’t the first time they’d done so either – Athenians definitely remembered the Peisistratids from the 6th century.

    Sentencing Socrates for “corrupting the youth” was similar to convicting Al Capone on tax evasion – everyone is aware that wasn’t his worst offense. And Socrates had ample opportunity to allow himself to be exiled or simply escape – the Athenians just wanted their democracy back him gone. It was only due to his own intellectual pride and arrogance that he was executed – he basically insisted on it.

    Now we’re 2500 years on and still waiting for Plato’s vaunted philosopher king to make an appearance.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thanks for the link! – always nice to read old I F.

        If you’re interested, another more recent and very good book on the subject which makes a similar argument to Stone’s is Why Socrates Died by classicist Robin Waterfield.

      2. witters

        There is no mystery here. Plato believed that political power inevitably became the property of elites. He felt, therefore, that the great task was to produce and ensure that the elites with power were not oligarchs concerned with furthering their own power and wealth (‘pleonexia’). In the Republic he tried to imagine how we might have good elites, concerned for the good of the citizenry as a whole, and it turned out that this demanded elites who were reluctant to rule, were poor, had no family, lived always in the public eye, relied entirely on public provision, owned no private property, and had endured decades of being morally tested and intellectually stretched.

        It seems if I link here to web essays of mine, the comment disappears… But I think I made Plato’s value and use today pretty clear in an essay in the journal, Philosophy in the Contemporary World (What Plato can Teach Us about Politics & Freedom). It is at for those who might be interested.

  35. Cojo

    In reply to witters,

    Thank you for your essay, if I may quote your conclusions:

    Despite what Popper and others would have us think, the challenge of politics is not to eliminate or marginalise positive liberty, so to avoid authoritarianism or worse; it is, rather, to ensure that our ruling elites have sufficient virtue, have enough self-control and self-mastery, to pursue what is good for the community, rather than to view it as does a predator its prey, in terms of what can be wrung out of it.

    This is, I am prepared to admit—just as Plato admits (“immunity from corruption is rare” (490e))—no easy task. But it is the task of politics, and it is a perennial challenge, and (if you don’t mind finishing on a dark note) it is one we have special need of meeting.

    If we do not meet it, if we ignore Plato for whatever institutional magic we can think up to save us from the consequences of negative liberty unleashed—then I fear an authoritarianism and a tyranny far beyond anything of the moralistic and utopian kind that so worried Popper.

    I fear the desperate and fatal tyranny of predator and prey in an increasingly bleak environment.

    It seems our current state of affairs is the exact opposite of what you propose.

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