Links 3/24/17

Parrots flying high on drugs are annoying farmers by plundering poppy fields to feed their opium addiction Daily Mirror. I know, I know it’s the Mirror. But who could resist this headline? Or the subhead: “Drug-addled birds sit perched in wait before swooping down behind workers’ backs for a nibble before retreating to high branches – where some then fall to their death passed out”.

The Frequent Fliers Who Bombarded WSJ. Oops.

The Revolution Will Not Be Curated The Baffler

Is punk dead? Johnny Rotten admits he will ‘sorely miss’ the Queen when she dies Daily Telegraph

Snooki inspires legislation to limit state university speaker fees NY Post. Moi: Speaking as a born and bred Jersey girl, I applaud the state legislature’s action. Nice to see the state of my birth lead the way in something other than corruption or toxic waste. And about time– $32K to hear Snooki speak at the Rutgers commencement? Are the administrators nuts? And the proposed $10k cap is too high. Why should any speaker receive more than expenses and a modest honorarium, e.g., $1K– which incidentally, anyone with any class would immediately donate back to the university.

Martin McGuinness dies: The ‘super terrorist’ who became a super-statesman– like so many others The Independent. From earlier in the week, but spare a moment for Robert Fisk.

Class Warfare

Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Important: Latest paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton.

When Americans emotionally spend, they buy toilet paper and Clorox MarketWatch

THE GIG ECONOMY CELEBRATES WORKING YOURSELF TO DEATH The New Yorker. A point now so obvious that the New Yorker picks up on it.

Law Enforcement Struggles With New Opioid Craze: Elephant Tranquilizers Daily Beast

No Salt Added Jacobin

Group that found VW cheating says costs of fuel efficiency have been overstated Ars Technica

Does It Matter Who Pulls the Trigger in the Drone Wars? American Conservative. Don’t miss this.

The Man Who Would Beat Bibi Politico

New Cold War

Prominent U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union: “The Whole Brou-Ha-Ha Over Contacts with Russian Diplomats Has Taken On All The Earmarks of a Witch Hunt” George Washington

Why would Democrats ever let Neil Gorsuch be confirmed? Vox

TV station’s breast implant exposé: When lower regulations meet high-caliber reporting Columbia Journalism Review

MF Global administrator settles $3bn PwC lawsuit FT

Health Care

Trump Dares GOP Into High-Stakes Vote on Troubled Health Bill Bloomberg

Two thirds of cancers are unavoidable even if you live a healthy life, study finds Daily Telegraph


Conservatism has left British politics—disaster will follow Prospect

Brexit is a failure and a tragedy, says EC chief Juncker Guardian


Ganga, Yamuna declared human entities: What exactly does this order mean? Court ruling gives two Indian rivers human status, a week after a New Zealand court handed down a similar decision. Interesting and well worth a read– especially when you understand that India allows for Public Interest Litigation– e.g., is not hamstrung by the onerous standing requirements of US law that can stymie public interest lawsuits.

India meat crackdown leaves butchers concerned BBC

6 things for which Aadhaar card is mandatory now Business Insider. The slow steady march of India’s biometric identification system– unavoidable now in order for Indians to avail themselves of certain services. This passage caught my eye: “The biometric system, which is created by Nandan Nilekani, works on optimal ignorance and you will need a 12-digit Aadhaar number to avail many services.” Huh?

Central Ministry, State Government Departments Publicly Expose Personal Data of Lakhs of Indians The Wire

India has a drug-resistant tuberculosis crisis but lacks the right tools to detect cases

Why coca leaf, not coffee, may always be Colombia’s favourite cash crop The Conversation

California Earthquakes: San Andreas Fault Could Cause Coast To Instantly Sink Below Sea Level International Business Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

Sleaze in the Seventh Fleet: The Lion King’s Harem FCPA Blog

Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush Counterpunch


Here Is One Powerful Way the U.S. Could Boost Solar Adoption MIT Technology Review

Be afraid: China is on the path to global technology dominance South China Morning Post. Very interested to see what more tech-savvy readers have to say about this piece.


Aid Officials Beg Congress to Help Yemen, While Trump Sends More Bombs The Intercept

Starving Yemen to Death American Conservative

Roadside bombs kill 10 Egyptian soldiers Al Jazeera

Syria Summary – The U.S. Move On Tabqa May Complicate The Political Situation Moon of Alabama

Trump Transition

Exclusive: U.S. embassies ordered to identify population groups for tougher visa screening Reuters. Important. “Mandatory social media check.”

Is Trump Really at War with the CIA? The Jury Is Still Out AlterNet

SEC Chairman Nominee Jay Clayton Calls for Scaling Back Regulations to Encourage IPOs WSJ

Schumer a no on Gorsuch, will urge Dems to oppose The Hill

Trump: ‘I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president and you’re not’ Politico

Trump Lawyers Swipe at Teen Over Cat Website Hollywood Reporter

Trump’s Draconian Budget Deals a Blow to Appalachia Truth-out.

Nunes apologizes for going directly to White House with monitoring claims Politico

Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says Fox News. Yes, I know this is Fox. Evidence promised this week so we don’t have long to wait to see whether there’s any there there. Also amplified by The Hill: Fox report: GOP investigators expect evidence showing Obama surveilled Trump team.

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

WikiLeaks Vault 7 Leak Claims CIA Bugs ‘Factory Fresh’ iPhone

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says Fox News. Yes, I know this is Fox. Evidence promised this week so we don’t have long to wait to see whether there’s any there there. Also amplified by The Hill: Fox report: GOP investigators expect evidence showing Obama surveilled Trump team.

    The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

    The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.
    “No doubt” is undoubtedly a high bar. Its taken a while, but the issue is the unmasking and leaking – and the motive. AND whether any of the Trump team was engaged in anything nefarious. I suspect the CIA’s view (or painting it as such) was that Trump was so bad the information could just be “disappeared” (ironic that the CIA is worried of such) and evidence of Trump treason lost. But if it is just the normal bribery and grifting of US politics, it may be that we will just have endless squabbling over this.

    I note the story is by James Rosen, one of the Foxes who is not actually insane (crazy)….

    And it will be fascinating to see if the rest of the media will cover it if it is true? Could the MSM accept that Obama is….on par with Nixon?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Great minds think alike, Dan. Pat Buchanan ends his column with the age-old question:

      “What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?”

      Impeachment is off the table since he’s not in office no more, and ex-pretzeldents enjoy a de facto immunity from prosecution for acts committed in office (cf. Bush’s war crimes in Iraq).

      But we can at least keep 0zero’s simpering mug off Mt Rushmore. :-)

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        March 24, 2017 at 8:06 am

        I’m thinking about Leigh’s question at 8:09 am (why would Obama do such a thing) a little more and I think a better response would be another question – Why would Nixon bug the dems? (did Nixon initiate it or only cover it up? Either way, when one considers how Nixon trounced McGovern, that it was a foolish, foolish thing to do…..humans, not always doing what is logically in their own interest….)

        1. Pat

          I’ve been thinking about Leigh’s question since this morning as well. And I would like to add two other likely possibilities to the list. Not being entirely clueless, and having a future retirement and legacy to protect.

          Obama was not as in the dark as the rest of the Democratic Party about Hillary’s weakness. Not only had he beaten her, but OFA had originally been his campaign organization and really only stepped up again to reelect him, but was still actively the organizational arm of the Democratic Party. We know that the SEIU organizers and state organizers were sending SOS messages to the Clinton campaign. There is no reason not to assume that OFA was updating those close to Obama about these cracks. Even without that, she was NOT breaking away from Trump, there was never a real landslide lead. I will also point out that no drama Obama did not deal well with anyone or anything that got in the way of what he actually wanted, even if he doesn’t do it as publicly as Trump. There are a few of the strong arm stories from the ACA fight that make that very clear. And Trump was upsetting the apple cart regarding TPP (his nomination threw the entire timeline off, being elected would kill it entirely), not to mention flat out saying that ACA was dying under its own weight (which was true to anyone bothering to pay attention). And then there was how much Obama had done under the radar, he could not be sure that Trump wouldn’t blurt out the truth about his actions in office if he was ever in position to get the whole record. He had to be sure he was undermined in some manner early on if Hillary didn’t get her act together. He couldn’t have known how much Trump derangement was going to affect the whole fourth estate.

          So even if he didn’t originate the IC overstepping their bounds (and the moment anything was circulated it was overstepping the law even if the original collection was legal), it is not so off the wall that damage to the campaign and/or hamstringing Trump would not lead him to check out what they had.

          1. fresno dan

            March 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

            thanks for that – I think those knowledgeable insights give some rational reasons that are certainly plausible instead of my mere speculation that Obama went Nixon paranoid.
            And I’m sure with a detailed knowledge of the intelligence community, it would seem one could use some 11th dimensional chess to set someone up – and they would never know what hit them…. And it certainly must have seemed that Trump would not be able to counter such a ploy.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From 3/22/2017, the same question existed then:

        March 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm

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

        Like Watergate, it’s really about the denial or the lying.
        “When did you know about the, er, collecting?”
        For how many days have we ridiculed Trump for his alternative universe imagination

        Not all, but some, it was

        1. No spying on Trump….Trump is crazy to imagine that
        2. When ‘Incidental’ is shown, then, it’s ‘Trump is not exceptional.’

        When ‘Trump is not exceptional’ is so obvious, one wonders why the diversion ‘Trump is crazy’ would last more than a second, when it was in the media for weeks?

        1. fresno dan

          March 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm

          As they say, just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get ya…..

    2. Leigh

      Hi Frenso Dan –

      I guess nothing is out of the question these days, but I have a hard time coming up with the “Why?”

      Why would an outgoing President feel the need to squander his entire legacy just to spy on Dump?

      And even if anything was garnered – how could you leak it without exposing your own nefarious activity?

      I still hold that this is yet another desperate distraction to keep the faithful fish on the line..

      1. bronco

        Doesn’t matter why , they knew Hillary was going to win and it would never come up. Hillary had 20 different scandals going on that the opposition would investigate before anything Obama did on the way out.

      2. fritter

        Because you lost the white house and congress maybe? Oh and you were worried about criminal prosecution interfering with your “retirement”. Its not really that hard to come up with motivation not that it matters. We’re talking about someone who assassinates Americans just because he can.

      3. fresno dan

        March 24, 2017 at 8:09 am

        I think that is a very good point and I tend to agree – we use terms like “Obama administration” as if one person really can be in control of the multitudes of Federal employees. On the other hand, its easy enough to construct a cover story that “national security” demands monitoring.
        I am very concerned that IF the CIA did this, and it did it because it opposes rapprochement with Russia, we may end up in a very bad place because of an extreme ideology not seen since that mustachioed guy in WWII. Both parties have gotten themselves in an insensible war mongering hysteria in which we foolishly believe that we can attack and are immune from consequences.

        1. Steve Roberts

          I think that’s one of the issues. Intel Community members monitor their dates and even family members. With any Windows based computer with a microphone being a listening device, I have a hard time believing a politically motivated agent didn’t potentially listen in on some phone calls or meetings. Doesn’t mean that Obama ordered it but since he quietly allowed these programs to develop – he’s by default going to receive blame as the leader.

            1. Allegorio

              The ultimate irony, will be after “moving on” over the despicable crimes of the Bush administration and Wall Street, Obama is prosecuted for treason. Not likely to happen but a delicious irony none the less. Would love to see that smug smirk wiped off his face. Besides we know that black crime is always prosecuted when Europeans are given a pass. It’s that ethnic privilege thing they all love so well.

          1. robnume

            The fact that, according to the WH visitors logs, Eric Schmidt and other tech titans were more than regular visitors to the Oval Office, it isn’t such a stretch to believe that our former president had everything to do with spying on anyone and everyone.

      4. Kukulkan

        I find this disconnect really weird.

        Big Brother Watching You Watch is a regular feature in the links, appearing almost every day with new stories about the surveillance state. So we know that the CIA, NSA, et al have expanded their capabilities, presumably with presidential approval (which for the last eight years would have meant Obama) and are listening to everyone — except, apparently, for Donald J. Trump.

        They listen to everyone’s conversations, private and public — except for Trump’s.
        They read everyone’s emails — except for Trump’s.
        They rig all manner of electronic devices to secretly monitor conversations occurring in the vicinity — except those devices located in buildings owned or rooms occupied by Trump.

        Why does Trump get an exemption? Did Obama authorize the agencies to monitor everyone except Trump? Or did the agencies decide on their own to exclude Trump from their operations?

        The GCHQ is maintained by the British government specifically to listen to other people’s private conversations, but they say they weren’t listening in on Trump. To which all I can say is: Why not? Isn’t that your job? What is the British Government wasting taxpayers money on you if you aren’t doing your job?

        The question isn’t: Why would Obama authorize spying on Trump?
        It’s: Why would Obama exempt Trump when authorizing spying on everyone else?

        Saying the Obama administration spied on Trump is just saying that Trump is like everyone else. Despite being a billionaire real estate mogul, he gets treated just like the rest of us commoners

        1. fresno dan

          March 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

          GREAT POINT!
          Now, supposedly, everybody is MONITORED, but the conversations are listened to unless there is a legal reason. NOW, was a “legal” reason manufactured, or is Trump or his associated guilty of something. The purposefully ignorance of the core issue of the media strikes me as very telling….

        2. JTMcPhee

          Yah, it’s being done to everybody, so it’s ok, I guess… person would have to be a real fool not to assume that the STASI for our times and place are not Hoovering up every bit of dirt and random information they can. Just because it is possible. Just like it is possible to jigger the alleles in genetic material using readily available and ever-more-quickly-advancing “tech” like CRSP-R and now even “3-D printing” of molecules.

          The real question is “What does the end game look like?” Some cross between “The Matrix,” and “Clockwork Orange,” and “Soylent Green,” and “Brazil,” and “Gattaca,” and “Elysium”?

          What outcomes do we mopes want (and what outcomes are we ever going to get) from our the political economy?

          1. Toolate

            “What does the end game look like?” Some cross between “The Matrix,” and “Clockwork Orange,” and “Soylent Green,” and “Brazil,” and “Gattaca,” and “Elysium?”

            End game? That pretty much describes today…

            1. polecat

              If we’re going to throw out dystopian end games, I’d like to make a pitch for Atwood’s MaddAddams ‘gods gardeners’ as an idea of which might help to cushion the blow of the global elites follies upon the rest of us …. !

              1. lyman alpha blob

                Yeah, except for the ‘almost every single person on earth gets a disease and dies’ part before you get to the ‘god’s gardeners’ ;)

                  1. craazyboy

                    It would be top soil too. Black Plague carrying lice, fleas and tics may outlive the cockroach. So much dystopian literature would be disproven, if that happened.

      5. NotTimothyGeithner

        A few thoughts:

        -don’t look for or expect rationale behavior from individuals
        -does Obama understand how computers work? He can’t simply hide orders from a future President if the future President wants to see them.
        -given Obama is a “constitutional scholar,” I’ll assume he knows the Preside the doesn’t have a classified rating, but do other political figures in the White House and Langley understand this?
        -Obama or the Obama administration? Does Obama delegate?
        -a brown noser could be the problem. If the agent (s) responsible were the types who extolled the virtues of Obama and Obama’s people on a daily basis, is it possible they are they types who will extol the virtues of Trump and his people on a daily basis?
        -the CIA is big. There aren’t secrets despite the mystique. Faith in the mystique of the CIA ignores it’s a place like any other full of braggarts, bean counters, and people who will fill out expense accounts revealing their activity no matter how secret.

        1. fresno dan

          March 24, 2017 at 9:24 am

          “a brown noser could be the problem. If the agent (s) responsible were the types who extolled the virtues of Obama and Obama’s people on a daily basis, is it possible they are they types who will extol the virtues of Trump and his people on a daily basis?”

          In the presence of English Barons, Henry II—who is now utterly vexed by Becket’s actions—cries out: Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest? Believing the King meant for Becket to be murdered, four knights ride to Canterbury Cathedral and kill Becket on December 29, 1170.
          In the presence of IC Toadies, Barrack the I —who is now utterly vexed by Trump tweets—cries out: Will no one monitor for me this troublesome candidate? Believing the POTUS meant for Trump to be surveiled…,but not “wiretapped” four secret agent men ride to Trump Edifice and bug (but not wiretap) Trump in June…of 2016…maybe

        2. Allegorio

          So much of intelligence has been privatized, precisely to avoid accountability. Booz Allen Hamilton ring any bells?

      6. Katniss Everdeen

        And even if anything was garnered – how could you leak it without exposing your own nefarious activity?

        I suppose you could make a policy during the last months of your administration encouraging every tom, dick and harry in the “intelligence” community to spill anything and everything that they come across, from fact to fabrication, including names of any american, to anyone who will listen, without fear of retribution or prosecution.

        Then you could get an august “news” organization like the nyt or wapo to legitimize the tactic as a means of “preserving information” of vital, existential importance to the republic.

        You could do all this while stoking a white hot hysteria of Russkis banging down every american door–both actual and electronic–ever erected to protect the prostrate, overly trusting, sadly politically deluded american public, to justify what might, at first blush, appear to be “nefarious,” while repeating the words “act of war” relentlessly.

        But who would ever believe that a gracious, tall, handsome, eternally smiling black man who won the Nobel Peace Prize and led this glorious nation to heights of greatness never before imagined could do anything like that?

      7. uncle tungsten

        WHY? Obummer knew the fanatics in the intelligence community well enough to actually do nothing and authorize nothing. Perhaps ‘other people’ spoke with them suggesting a course of action but I am more inclined to the ‘you can rely on their fanatical pursuit of overreach’ for them to sweep all Trump Tower data up then leave it any one of the five eyes gang to analyze.

        Any one of the five eyes team has the competency and mechanisms to do the analysis. Not just GCHQ.

        Obummer has a clean track record of not risking his legacy PLUS doing very little (to be polite). In politics there is a very powerful ploy in doing nothing whilst relying on the momentum of some other to achieve the outcome you prefer. The ai-ki-do of utilizing the forces in play.

        If Trump really seeks to protect himself, then his allies and appointments should pursue the Clinton machine and the IC leaders under the broad framework of protecting the national security. After all there is a demonstrated history of security lapses/sabotage and perpetual leaks right up to now. I see Judicial Watch is doggedly persistent perhaps soon the impact of his administration appointees will be legible.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Silly me. I thought the clickbait headline referred to an armed aesthete, outraged by an interior decorator’s off-note accent color. “Get the fuchsia off of me!” — BANG —

      1. HopeLB

        Thought the very same thing, but only because I am in the middle of Jasper Forde’s “Shades of Grey” where an exclaimation like that about fushia occurs regularly.

  2. bronco

    On the brand new Iphones with CIA installed bugs I say great. If this kind of news gets people to reconsider their obsession with phones its a good thing , if it has no effect then they are too far gone.

    I was paying my phone bill at a Tmobile store yesterday and saw a woman buying a new Iphone for an 6 year old. Lots of useful intel from those I bet. In fact , if you are a terrorist the safest phone would probably be one swiped from a kid that was put on the ignore list after the first hour of its initial purchase .

    1. Pavel

      My last iPhone was the 5S — I confess I found that to be a fabulous, (literally) edgy design. The latest ones from Apple seem indistinguishable from 90% of Android phones. The 5S sits unused in a drawer with a dead battery.

      I switched a year or so ago to a very cheap Nokia and a separate iPod, which I use all the time for music, podcasts, and email/web when in free wifi zones. Often I go out without either on me, which now feels curiously liberating and subversive. (Though as a single older male w/o kids it’s easier to do so.)

      It seems strange that people are so wedded to their phones and just take them for granted. When I was a kid, especially in the summer, we would play outside all day, roam around on our bikes, and be gone from the house all day; basically unreachable and our whereabouts unknown. Of course there is some risk there (not in my neighbourhood at the time) but something has definitely been lost. Everyone knows precisely where everyone else is at all times; one is always reachable.

      My young niece and her friend came to visit me in Paris a few years back and they used their phone maps constantly — no rambling around serendipitously or stumbling on places by accident. Sigh.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Appalling news from Marketwatch:

        iPhone owners are 21 times more likely to judge others negatively for having an Android, while those who have an Android are 15 times more likely to judge others negatively for having an iPhone. And those who have older models of either smartphone are 56% less likely to get a date.

        Only one way to trump this rampant phone snobbery. Next time some hottie bridles at my cheap-ass flip phone, I’m going to give its retro rotary dial a spin, hold it up to her bejeweled ear, and say, “Listen to the sinister clicking, wench. That’s the sound of QUALITY.

        1. zer0

          That’s a great article haha! Not surprised apple fanboi’s are more bitchy about Android users than vice versa.

          Ive kept my Note 3 for 4 years now. Is that considered an old phone? Probably. Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to date anyone that considers wealth-by-phone a useful metric in finding a suitable mate.

      2. scott 2

        I bought an unlocked Chinese brand Android phone last month. It will run in standby for two weeks on a charge. My previous Android phone (won’t name the brand) would have periods of high battery drain in the middle of the night. I guess it was syncing up with the NSA server (I don’t use cloud storage).

      3. JEHR

        I walk in the mornings, sometimes in the woods, and my partner kept insisting that I take a phone with me. I said, “No.” Hence, it is very easy for me not not use a cell phone at all although I find it useful for emergencies.

  3. fresno dan

    Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush Counterpunch

    Nearly a decade and a half later, the former crusader-in-chief, now fashions himself a painter. And he has found an odd and surprising new fan club amongst liberals. Liberals have sought to revive his image in order to turn him into an anti-Trump. We are told that Bush is everything Trump is not. Unlike Trump, he never embraced Islamophobia, respected the media and liberal constitutional norms and tolerated dissent.
    And somewhere in the space blended together, Bush’s crusade erected a regime of torture, detention, and disappearance.

    To praise Bush now is to erase these victims, and all in the name of an impotent strategy. Trump’s success depends on his ability to convince his supporters that he isn’t like the George Bushes of the world. And by legitimizing Bush, we legitimize in part some of the worst potential policies of a Trump administration. To put it simply, it is difficult to lament Trump’s desire to bring back torture while praising as his foil the man who implemented the very regime of torture Trump wishes to resurrect.
    …exploited a tragedy like 9/11 for a consolidation of power, Bush’s actions in its aftermath go far beyond the pale of what anyone could imagine. Bush subsequently invaded Afghanistan, but sought and received a Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that never mentioned the country by name. This is because instead of arguing for military force against a single national, Bush proclaimed a global war, a war in which every corner, of every country is a battlefield.

    The ramifications of this are profound. To date, between both Bush and Obama the authorization for military force in question, which is still in effect, has been cited 37 times to justify military actions in 14 countries.
    How did we get to a point in time when such a revisionist view of Bush can triumph? Bush can thank, in part, Obama for his rehabilitation. Obama as president embraced and expanded the worst aspects of Bush’s global war. Although he had earlier stated the AUMF should be repealed, Obama would cite it 19 times, compared to Bush’s 18, to justify foreign military action. He would also seek statutory codifications of the President’s right to detain individuals indefinitely.

    And media revelations from the Bush era about NSA spying paled in comparison to the Snowden revelations. In short, Obama helped to normalize some of the worst aspects of the Bush Administration, which is why it is now easy to paint Bush as reasonable or respectable.

    One thing – by dealing with men instead of policies….it would be very embarrassing to dems how similar Obama is to Bush….and likewise, repubs that Obama was tougher than that wuss Bush on a number of points…

    And I can’t help but think it really is a media bubble if they think there is some groundswell of affection of Bush in the heartland – remember the contempt Jeb! was held in? Maybe reporters are reassessing Bush – none of my right wing friends are….

      1. RUKidding

        Oh thanks a lot for THAT reminder. And on a Friday, too. Now I want to gore my eyes out, too.

        That was a super creepy UGH moment, for sure.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s just part for the course. The Shrub and vacant send off at the inaugural in 2009 was disgusting.

      2. Mel

        George W. Bush is a Grand Old American, like Henry Kissinger. An adornment to any campaign. If there were ever bad Americans, it would be the end of the world.

      3. marym

        Someone commented at NC that the National Museum of African American History and Culture was a project of the Bush administration that he strongly supported. I’m no defender of B. Obama on public policy, nor of M. Obama as far as whatever she may have done to advance that policy. However, maybe this was a private as well as public moment for her and her family.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Yah, I’m sure that’s all it was. Just a private as well as a public moment for her and her family. Family. Very important. We must always say nice things about the people that rule us, and never wear white after Labor Day…

        2. Alex Morfesis

          Ha…now that they are out of office and only have access to assassins to defend them…ummm…you wont find much in public about it…but the black metropolis project in chicago was her claim to fame and what val jarrett and michelle used to propel up the daley machine ladder, pulling obatz with them…

          they were assigned the task of plowing under and asphalting the historic black community in chicago so that u of c, iit, micheal reese hospital campuses could be expanded…and they were doing their corporate carabinieri jobs at the chicago dept of planning, until a small group of local warm blooded carbon based life forms decided it was their lives that were about to be paved over…

          my publicist will neither confirm nor deny that moi was the token white guy hiding behind row three in the photos…

          Soooo…the meme that michelle obatz or daddy obatz give a ratz #&! about anything having to do with black america…too funny…

          They were able to ride that failure into barry getting “non city govt” opportunities…as the machine did not believe they failed by accident…and barry kept saying “harold washington” even though he could care less about the man…

          1. marym

            I know all that, and I don’t believe I’ve said anything good about Obama on policy since 2009. If she’s proud and happy and gracious at a moment in cultural history that’s fine with me.

            1. Alex Morfesis

              A project of the bush…ummm…this was not his idea…the idea has been floating around since elder michaux, “happy am I” radio preacher who tried his “negro memorial to the progress of the colored race in america”, originally set for jamestown…later adjusted to be built in dc where he was based…later adjusted to be the african national memorial…

              When he passed away in 1968, j edgar himself was at the funeral service to give a eulogy…

              If “african national memorial” rings some kind of visual bell…

              you might notice malcolm x would give his speeches in harlem in front of the african national memorial bookstore…owned by someone who would become his personal secretary…

              Lewis Michaux…brother of rev solomon “lightfoot” michaux

              It’s nice to imagine bushman2 was supportive from his own personal beliefs…but the time had come…with or without him it was going to happen…he just did what politicians do when they have a losing hand…he gave it a bear hug and called it his own…

              “War declared on the devil” was pasted on the membership cards at the “radio church of god”…

      4. John

        Marco, spare your eyes and don’t jump…George Carlin explained it…there’s a club, and you ain’t in it.

      5. Teejay

        “Why would they do that?” George is in the club, Michelle and Barack are club members too. Members help each other out. One of the dues Barack paid while president to ensuring his membership was giving American war criminals a get-out-of-the-Hague pass. As Howard Zinn wrote in his topsy-tervy speech over 46 years ago: “They really like one another no matter what they say.” That’s what the photo op hug was about, the comaraderie bond of being “in the club” protecting each other. The rule of law applies to the little people not club members. There are two sets of laws one for the haves the other for the have nots. Justice has 20-20 vision.

        1. Teejay

          Members don’t criticize other members Larry Summers told Elizabeth Warren. So no Republican aspiring to become a member will be caught saying Michelle Obama hugs war criminals. It’s not part of the insider ethos.

      6. jsn

        If W is at all culpable for the crimes on his watch in the passionate first act of the GWOT, Obama must be doubly so for having institutionalize the worst of them in his serene second act.

        For the third act to not end in tragedy for him, W must be vindicated for his passion.

        Of course Michelle loves W, her husband has staked his legacy on cementing the mans “achievements.”

    1. John Wright

      I believed, perhaps unrealistically, that parents would use George W. Bush as an example to their kids of how some portions of the American power structure functions.

      A son of a former president, a failure at nearly every business he tried (even the supposedly successful Texas Rangers baseball team was made valuable by the taxpayer subsidy), who was pushed to greater positions of responsibility by his family/and other well connected individuals.

      His original share of the Texas Rangers sale was $2.5million, hardly enough someone to pursue politics, but the other partners voted to decrease their shares and increase his share to $15 million.

      This gave Bush the financial means to pursue politics.

      Keeping baseball in mind, I, perhaps foolishly, believed people would point to George W. Bush as the “Babe Ruth of screw-ups”, starting life with great family advantages but leaving damaged investors in his early business career, riding a taxpayer subsidy of his baseball team to personal wealth and capping his failures by severely damaging the USA and its international reputation after his eight years of multi-trillion dollar illegal wars, illegal detention, and increased surveillance of the entire world.

      To Obama’s shame, by following his “inner George W. Bush”, Obama was the George W. Bush rehabilitator-in-chief.

      But it worked for Obama and he’ll have a good lifestyle to show for it.

      1. curlydan

        I’m biased, but when my 9-year old asked me a few weeks ago what was the worst mistake any U.S. President ever made, I said (among many possibilities) the invasion of Iraq. George W. Bush remains an evil crusader in my eyes. The 2004 Republican convention was the scariest “political” event I’ve witnessed. Scared me so much I gave a lot of money to Kerry–a decision that now befuddles me

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          FDR allowing the progenitors of Shrub to not face treason charges was a mistake. The Iraq War was not a mistake. There were no good intentions. Shrub is an evil man who has taken up painting in response to his lenses changing shape and his world view moving from shades of blue to greens and yellows, a fairly common phenomenon.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            FDR was moidurderd…he got a call from ike and patton as they were being lowered into the salt mines at merkers…by the time they got back out to call “frank”…

            avinoff/Ivanov/shoumatoff, the white russian, had…well…

            the white russians were not too pleased stalin would continue ruling “their” country…

            somehow, in all the haste, the secret service not only escorted her from the place without apparently even asking any queations, they let her take all her “evidence”…


            artwork and equipment with her on the way out the door…

            Patton was joking with ike on the way down the mine shaft about them not being allowed to make it out once they saw the goods…ike was not pleased and told him to shut up when a joke about the elevator being easily used to….

            FDR was going to prosecute many…but…

            And if it were not for the loss of patton, we might have never had watergate…

            nixon and he lived in the same congressional district…

            forget the black and white photos of yalta…his doctors were shocked he died and he was not expecting to go, as he had hardly bothered keeping truman up to speed with anything going on in the whitehouse nor with the war…

      2. John k

        And then there’s Mcshame, who wrecked multiple planes, somehow survived and then promoted on account of daddy.
        And now is pissed trump might not let us go to war with Russia.

      3. robnume

        Sounds like John Wright has read the late, great Molly Ivins’ book, “Shrub.” That’s where I learned all the important stuff about Dubya’s early years. Still miss Molly a lot.

    2. Susan the other

      Yes, I agree. Little Bush acts like an “oh, shucks” kinda guy now, full of love and peace… but in 2002 he was the most audacious person to ever take the office and immediately take us into war. And organized to the hilt. With the backing of our great Wurlitzer, and the entire EU, including Israel, etc. Breathtaking at the time. Lest we forget.

    3. RenoDino

      Bush’s story has been one of endless redemption and forgiveness. He was a drunken lout saved by Jesus and now an international war criminal hugging it out with Michelle. Most of us could never recoverer from even the most modest setback without severe life-long repercussion, unlike Bush who enjoys the love of a grateful nation and the safe and comfortable retirement of a revered public servant. It’s the kind of cover only a royal family can bestow.

  4. fresno dan

    That in and of itself is not necessarily a scandal. As Tim Edgar, who served in President Barack Obama’s first term as director of privacy and civil liberties at the White House, told me, the names of U.S. persons can sometimes appropriately be unmasked. “If he is saying there was a bunch of information overheard in intelligence reports and it WASN’T NECESSARY for their names to be INCLUDED for foreign intelligence purposes, that is a violation of intelligence oversight rules designed to protect the constitutional rights of Americans,” he said. “That is the purpose of the House Intelligence Committee.”
    It could be that there was a very good reason to distribute intelligence picked up by government eavesdroppers about the Trump transition team, if it turns out there was real coordination between Trump’s associates and Russia on interfering in the election.
    But it’s also possible that all of this is just smoke and no fire, to borrow the phrase of former acting CIA director and Hillary Clinton campaign surrogate Michael Morell. In that case, it’s very troubling that Obama’s intelligence bureaucracy appears to have been distributing intelligence reports about his successor’s team.
    It is my understanding that one can’t give information obtained through foreign monitoring through incidental surveillance of a US citizen to US law enforcement for criminal investigations – but I’m not positive (if only I still have those brain cells killed by lead….)

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Be afraid: China is on the path to global technology dominance South China Morning Post. Very interested to see what more tech-savvy readers have to say about this piece.

    I’d be a bit sceptical about this. China has undoubtedly made a major leap in the last 10 years or so in terms of its ability to develop new and innovative products, but if you compare China’s level of innovation to, for example, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea at approximately similar stages of development, they were all significantly ahead in terms of developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative products. And in many respects China has benefited much more from a direct transfer of manufacturing technology than those countries did.

    Good and all as Chinas universities are, they are still significantly behind most developed countries in producting quality graduates. The Chinese education system is really quite poor in many respects, far behind Japan and South Korea. The sheer dynamism and size of China will mean there will be individual bright spots, with both large companies and entrepeneurs developing new projects, but if you look at the cutting edge of biotech, aerospace, advanced materials, power generation, etc., the Chinese are not pushing the boundaries and many of their attempts to make great leap forwards (such as in nuclear power and military tech) have been largely failures so far.

    This doesn’t mean it won’t happen – the sheer scale of China and its relentless and systematic pursuit of high technology will make a difference and it will be a major player. But when you look at longer term historic trends its very difficult for countries to catch up on the leaders, there are all sorts of cultural and economic forces at play.

    1. Robert Hahl

      About 6 years ago I attended a business development meeting between Chinese businessmen and US patent lawyers. The subject of cheap labor was dismissed as irrelevant. The Chinese said that was not going to be their future because costs were rising to fast. They only cared about high value research and development.

      About 2 years ago I was looking for contractors who could make some DNAs, express the proteins, and evaluate their properties. A Chinese company backed by US venture capital turned out to be the most responsive and capable group. Really impressive.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps when there is a national understanding to acquire know-how, to catch up, people work harder.

        Only those over-confident, maybe arrogant enough, or not caring let money-making knowledge transfer abroad.

        The history of China, if it is any guide, is one of regret over the secret of silk making being stolen by either a Han pricenss sent to marry some ‘barbarian’ beyond the Great Wall or some Christian (Nestorian?) monk who hid silk worms in a bamboo case.

        Was it because of that lesson that the West never could manufacture blue and white porclainns to match those from Jingdezhen?

        1. sid_finster

          One of the dumber conversations I have ever had was with a Polish banker with Citi, who insisted that tge West had nothing to fear from China, as Chinese could only imitate and not invent the way only Europeans can.

          Oh, I dunno, paper, gunpowder, moveable type, civil service examinations, compasses, just to name a few.

          The banker then said that these didn’t count because paper today is different than the stuff the Chinese originally came up with. Like every invention isn’t modified and refined.

          I didn’t get Citi as a client that day. ;)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Han general, Ban Chao, Protector General of the Western Regions, around the 1st century AD, was said to be a few miles from running into Roman soldiers, somewhere in Parthia.

            And the forever unanswered question – would the Chinese assembly-line produced crossbow (the crossbow would not be seen in the West for another thousand and more years, and assembly line production, not until the 20th century) have prevailed over the Roman pilum?

            Of course, the production of the cross bow might have been also a state secret, as part of their industry policy.

            Even today, countries like Korea, Japan, ROC Taiwan and China, all run their own version of industrial policy.

        2. uncle tungsten

          The Jingdezhen method was lost in China as a result of empire extortion leading to social collapse. I understand that the Russians did develop a method that enabled the same qualities as existed in China. If Dresden had not been obliterated at the end of WW2, then there may be more material to accord the Germans the same capability as the Russians and the Chinese in the perfection of porcelain. Certainly knowledge must have been passed around but there were many individuals across the globe seriously intent on independently perfecting the porcelain beauty.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Robert, I would ask, “What kind of people are we?” But that might be rude.

        All this whoopdedoo about innovation. I follow the “Defence” (sic) area quite a bit, and there’s all kinds of cross-pollination and innovation going on there, all kinds of new ways to kill large numbers of people more efficiently, all kinds of one-upsmanship and “Ford vs Chevy” partisanry. And usually not a damn thought or word about where it all is going, where “we” are apparently headed. And because the money flows so freely, zero check and limits on incentives that are to put it politely, perverse.

        So “we” can now go to various contractors, who have innovated their way into the facile ability to “make some DNAs, express the proteins, and evaluate their properties.” We have also got to where some “scientists” (more like technicians, it seems to me) have scratched their fuzzy little heads and decided it was really COOL to resurrect the pathogens from past plagues, like the 1917 influenza virus and a bunch of others, who want to keep smallpox viruses on hand “just for research,” who want to build new virus and bacterial pathogens that leapfrog over the defenses that human bodies have managed to develop from surviving exposure to past epidemics.

        And that’s just in the bio area. The Navy’s getting a Star Wars laser weapon to beta-test. “Smart”ly targeted weapons of all sorts, down to individual mortar shells and grenades, are “in the field” or on the way through “development-procurement-deployment.” Every day the Defense Industry Daily and similar publications blandly announce “contracts” for millions to billions, public money mostly, going to the incredibly idiotic treadmill of threat-counterthreat-countercountercouinterthreat. Each new ‘mark” or “level” or “set” of killing gadgets leading to the demand for still more, to “restore the balance of power.”

        So what did you expect to get out of the money paid to those clever Chinese bio-fiddlers (backed by US venture capital)? gin up a bunch of atoms linked together in “innovative” ways, that might do exactly what? And of course the low-bid contractor got the job, and one can be sure that they ask no questions, cheap out as much as possible on the cost side, and never ask any questions about what the “proteins” the express from the tailored DNA might do, once injected into the “stream of commerce.”

        Did dinosaurs experiment with DNA, back in the day?

        Oh, and a few years ago, speaking of business development and lawyers, I recall a segment on either “20-20” or “60 Minutes.” The setup was that some investigative reporters and even a few government enforcement types had got wind that a Chinese company was selling large quantities of counterfeit “medications” into that ever-flowing “stream of commerce.” So they set up a kind of sting, getting a very attractive female sales rep of the Chinese company to present to what she thought were a bunch of buyers for Canadian and US and other pharmacy chains and distributors. She was very proud of the degree to which her employers had managed to duplicate the packaging and labeling and inserts and of course the pills and capsules and films themselves, “We do very good, cannot tell holograms on labels from original! Pills made precise to dimensions and color and markings of real drugs! We can deliver in container lots, or smaller! Have many customers already, great market penetration! You sign now?”

        And this sh!t all goes on, heedless, profit-driven, idiocy-spawned, 24-7-365. And we the illumined and sophisticated think nothing’s gonna go bad in all that “innovation” and “progress.” Or at least hope it won’t all go south before we have boosted our personal wealth and pleasure-gain to a maximum, and died confortable and well cared for at the end of a very larger life than we could have had, absent all that “innovation…”

        1. Avalon Spark

          Hi – great essay there. I read it three times. ” heedless, profit-driven, idiocy-spawned, 24-7-365″ is such a perfect way to describe it. I’d add ‘corporate welfare’ to the description too.
          Thank you for posting this, I learned a lot and will look more into the items you mentioned.

          I wish there was a way to tie “Russia” to all of the above because then maybe it would get more exposure.

        2. robnume

          My husband is a biochemist and I argue with him on a regular basis about the question: Just because we can, does that mean we should?” In the scientific mind, apparently ethical questions, at least according to my husband, who has lectured on HPLC all over the world, rarely, if ever, come up.
          He is of a mind that, “Hey, it’s going to happen anyway so why shouldn’t I be the one to discover and promote whatever the discovery is, never mind that the government is always going to “weaponize” whatever that discovery happens to be?”
          I went to law school and found I didn’t want to practice at all, ever, but my favorite class was “Legal Ethics.” So ethics are very important to me personally and I find my husband’s and those of other scientists argument against ethical considerations in scientific discovery and application to be disingenuous at best and insupportable all around.
          Strangely enough, many fellow legal students couldn’t be bothered to take our ethics class seriously, except that the class was a requisite. Go figure. But, hey, that’s just me.

          1. Robert Hahl

            Each and every scientific phenomenon is explored for its weapons potential. Remember the effort at seeding the clouds to “make it rain” in the ’60s? That was an attempt to steer hurricanes toward intended targets. You just can’t do science without also potentially helping the war industry.

            1. JTMcPhee

              I guess some of us can find comfort in, and silence the vestiges of conscience via, that notion that of course every “innovation” in science and tech will be “explored” for its weapons potential, “that’s just how it is.”

              I, personally, and likely my daughter, are apparently displaying the effects of the 2,3,7,8-dibenzodioxins and -dibenzofurans that affect hundreds of thousands of US Imperial Troops exposed in Vietnam, and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians, all of us dosed with megatons of Agents Orange, Green, Pink and Fuschia. Because our rulers said “we can do it, we can defoliate thousands of square miles to keep the Gooks from sneaking up on the Imperial troops that had no ethical or moral right or reason to be there in the first instance.

              I go with robnume: always ask the question, “is this trip necessary?” On accounta that glib pablum about how “everybody’s doing it” has justified just about all the bad stuff that “innovative” people have come up with, over millennia, to torture, and kill, and debase other people, or, in the Obama framing, “folks.”

              There were good German scientists who played God with twins, and submerged “folks” (not “Volks,” of course) in vats of ice and water to see how quickly they would die from hypothermia, among other carefully designed and documented bits of “science.” And of course Zyklon-B and mustard gas and Agent Orange were just pesticides, right? If one looks to “eugenics,” which your biotech is making ever more accessible and maybe inevitable?

              With no limits and boundaries and constraints, the ancients understood, there is no freedom — just license, a very different notion. But hey, can’t limit “scientific inquiry,” now can we? Or force the corporate monster to live by that “precautionary principle,” which says it’s incumbent on any “projector” into the Stream of Commerce of neo-ANYthing, to provide that it at a minimum DOES NO HARM. My personal formulation of that notion is that unless you completely understand a system, whether biological or ecological or mechanical, one has no right to mess with it — because the potential for really bad outcomes way outweighs the greedy or egoistical motivations of possible vast profits.

              But your viewpoint obviously will prevail, since there’s Money To Be Made in it, hence personal pleasure to be derived and augmented, and there is no enforcing any kind of ethical or moral standards that decent people might recognize, the stuff that comes out of that fairly universal formulation of the Golden Rule about doing unto others as one wants to be done to.

              All this, as if “the war industry” is some force of nature, always and everywhere omnipresent, omnivorous, omnipotent. And maybe, as I look around, your formulation is a winner, in the arc of existence of our pretty well fokked-up species, also because horrendous pretty bad stuff is what we, writ large, do for fun and to “get a living” and cleanse our surroundings of Others and all that. All the incentives and momentum are in that direction…

    2. L

      I have to share some of your skepticism, as presented the article is quite breathless about big showcase technologies. Having anecdotal advances is vastly different from having a coherent gain.

      That said the one thing that runs through this article is investment. Unlike the U.S. China does have a consistent industrial policy focused on technology development and exports. The U.S. By contrast has a technology policy focused on stock bumps. The former is far more likely to lead to sustained development than the latter.

      1. gf

        The west is also handicapped with the belief that taxes fund spending and China is not.
        So that gives them an advantage at least for now.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Americans should be scared witless because yes, China is out-innovating by a country mile.
        The article is right to zero in on payments because that is the glue that binds easy e-commerce together. And China is so far ahead because America, with the 50-state licensing, FinCen, FINRA, and the rest, makes it ridiculously expensive and complicated and even impossible to innovate.

        WeChat is a combination of Facebook, Paypal, Snapchat, Uber, Amazon, Pinterest and much more all in one app, all bound together by simple payments:

        And to see a real, grass-roots, lower and middle technology manufacturing class emerging don’t miss this video from Wired about Shenzhen. Stunning:

        What can the US do? Simple, install a regulatory sandbox. *Zero* regulation and zero tax for new fintech innovation for companies with less than $20M in revenues and 200,000 customers.

        1. uncle tungsten

          Not just China. Take a peek at many of the european states and their serious focus on maximizing educational opportunity and harnessing the intellectual capacity of their people to support innovation and discovery in all the sciences.

          Intellectual capital when stimulated and fostered and working in socially progressive ventures builds our societies and our future.

          Those states that neglect or impair educational chance for young people, destroy their national future. USA is but one in that class of decline.

    3. Susan the other

      ‘More power to China’ is all I can think to say, They have social/industrial/ecological policy. What do we have. Not a damn thing.

      1. Allegorio

        We have Trumpenstien, with that really great intelligence, believe me. He is very very smart believe me! His cabinet has the highest intelligence of any cabinet ever, believe me.

    4. Toske

      Yeah, I wasn’t impressed either. A bike share app? Toy drones? The title of fastest supercomputer changes hands constantly and is set to return to Japan soon. And everyone knows American internet is artificially slower than just about everyone else’s thanks to our ISP oligopoly.

  6. KurtisMayfield

    RE: Health care bill vote in House

    Has the Republican led house reached the point that they cannot pass a bill. My theory is that the ACA is fine with the political classes corporate masters, they don’t want it changed, and this is all theater. They want to look like they are replacing “Obamacare” to please the base, meanwhile they want zero responsibility for the changes. Just like all those repeal votes that they had for nothing, it’s all a show.

    1. RenoDino

      Your theory is correct in the sense that what they’re doing doesn’t make any sense– unless one factors in the purely racist nature of the repeal. Replacing one bad program with an even worse program only adds up if the real purpose is to deny Obama his legacy issue. The “base” is code for angry whites. Satisfying them with a bill that gives tax breaks to the rich is a Republican dream come true. This is one very ugly legal circus act, particularly since the “base” gets screwed, but they are so focused on denying Obama his due, they don’t care.

      1. JTMcPhee

        You know, screw the “Obama and his legacy” noise. The ACA is no kind of legacy, other than the kind of “legacy” that goes to people who inherit a recessive gene from each parent and die young from some withering disease. This may be in small ways “about” race, but it’s “about” the kind of sausage-making and log-rolling and influence-buying/bribery that make up what we call “politics” in the Imperial capital. It’s “about” wealth transfer, and crushing poor people of all “races,” and a “race” to the bottom or actually a whole bunch of such “races” being run simultaneously.

        “Denying Obama his due”? do you benefit from the ACA, fall into that maybe 2% of Americans that gets some benefit from the tiny redistributive parts of the thing? Obama was and is just “a member of the club,” And it’s just that old rule about the bad people hanging together, to crush the little folks ever harder into a dead-end corner, to extract the lat drop of wealth and health from them before they are told to “Just DIE!”

        1. Avalon Spark

          You and I are so much on the same page I think. Why aren’t their more folks that come to these conclusions. That more then anything else drives me crazy.

        2. RenoDino

          Oh, now I get it. The Republicans hate Obama not because he’s black but because he didn’t make things bad enough to begin with for the masses and then bragged about it by putting his name on it, when he should have made things even worse and put their name on it. This race to bottom is filled with potholes.

        3. robnume

          Considering Obama, the “constitutional scholar” chose to leave the ACA – which is a living, breathing oxymoron, after all, – as his “legacy” achievement it is all too fitting that it be acknowledged as such.

          1. Allegorio

            The only legacy Obama cares about goes Kaching, Kaching, Kaching. Toward the end there you could see how anxious he was to get out of the White House to collect his due before it all falls apart, not on his watch. He’s been keeping a very low profile since, going from one 5 star hotel to another. That is the only legacy he cares about, believe me.

      2. different clue

        Phuq Obama’s due. The only due Obama cares about is the money he expects to be paid for getting Obamacare passed. Seeking to cut off this stream of future revenue to Obama is a perfectly proper thing to do.

        That said, I hope there is some other way to do it than passing Ryan Trumpcare. And it looks like there will have to be, now that Ryan Trumpcare is “off the table” for now.

    2. Carla

      On behalf of all the poor people in the U.S. who have benefited from Obamacare, I hope you’re right. On behalf of all the poor people who are still left out, and all of the middle class people whose insurance has been crappified, and the public health of the country at large (yes, even including rich people), I will continue to work for Expanded and Improved Medicare for ALL.

        1. Katharine

          Thanks for keeping tabs on this!

          And why only 72, in heaven’s name? That’s roughly a sixth of the membership or a third of the Democrats. Two thirds of Democrats are still unwilling to get behind it? I want my party back.

          1. different clue

            The way to get your party back is to purge and burn and exterminate every Clintonite and Obamazoid from every corner of the DemParty. The only way I can think of to do that would be to primary and Naderize every Democratic Officeholder in the House who has failed to back HR 676. That’s as good a litmus test as any for not being a Clintonite or an Obamazoid. If every non-backer of HR 676 could be defeated in its next election, the Democratic Party Caucus in the House would be purified down to a committed devoted core of Red Gingriches ready to “burn down the House” till they get their way.

            “We want the whole loaf. NOW. Or no bread for anybody”.

    3. RUKidding

      It sort of looks that way to me. I think the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver will be sorely disappointed if this POS isn’t passed, which is surely an added bonus in my eyes.

      The fact that Trump was ever so willing to totally toss his constituents under the bus by offering the FreeDumb caucus a huge percentage of what they wanted – no kids on parent’s insurance, no coverage for maternity, no coverage for pre-existing conditions – was quite telling. OTOH, I suppose it’s Trump’s way of making deals, and perhaps he was counting on this sh*t-stains to just say no bc those draconian measures simply were not draconian enough.

      I heard/read somewhere that Trump allegedly wanted to work on his Tax Cuts for Mega-Super-Rich People plan first and then do the repeal/replace of ACA, but the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver was all hot to trot to get this POS out first. There’s gossip (who knows?) that Trump really doesn’t give a stuff if this doesn’t pass.

      So political theater?? Probably not for all of those parasites in Versailles on the Potomac, but almost definitely for some of them. Definitely a sop to the base: well we TRIED to rid you of this plan that, you know, actually provides coverage to you and your family. So sorry we failed to toss you out into the cold cruel world of Obamacare, where, you know, you are actually getting coverage for your pre-existing conditions. How very terrible that must be for you to accept that.


  7. Ignim Brites

    “Ganga, Yamuna declared human entities: What exactly does this order mean?”

    “The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains and nourishes – fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.” – William O Douglas.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The river as a plaintiff..

      Is that from the case ‘Crimes of Humanity?

      “How could you not know? Where do you think your coffee come from? Your marijuana? Your organic vegetables? Your batteries?”

        1. robnume

          Not to mention the Dumbocrats – that’s me – and the Rethuglicans! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Hey, it’s Friday, dammit!

          1. uncle tungsten

            Rethuglicans YES ++

            Where I dwell there is a governing party with the acronym LNP who I always refer to as the Lying Nasty Parsimonious party.

    2. Allegorio

      Well, if corporations are people with human rights and religion, why not rivers? Rivers do a whole lot more good than corporations. It’s actually a wonderful concept to protect the environment.

  8. fritter

    About China technology

    Its the same game that the US played as it was developing. Ignore (IMHO stupid) restrictive IP laws until there is more money to be made by preventing competition. Several examples here:

    Yes, some of the claims are overblown now on both sides of the argument but like the Japanese automotive industry it will grow.

    The important bit is that IP is an exercise in transferring wealth into the hands of the 1% through large global corporations. For more background see Richard Stallman, FSF, History of the Commons and others. IBM loves patents its the easiest way to prevent competition no matter the quality of the patent. One famous example is the patent for a sandwich with the bread crust cut off.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      IP…Intellectual property is theft!!!

      Is that an acknowledgement of the ownership of an idea (or a thought) to quote someone?

      Does the material world belong to all on the planet (and maybe on Mars as well)?

      Does the idea world belong to all, if it can be ‘owned?’ …If I don’t ask this question, does it, the question, still exist? It seems, this question can not be ‘owned.’ It has its onw existence without any humans asking the question.

      Do you say, this is ‘my’ comment?

      Do you say, this is ‘my’ Ph.D. dissertation?

      Do you say, this is ‘my’ idea?

      Do you say, this is ‘my’ manuscript?

      Do you say, this is ‘my’ composition, or ‘my’ painting?

      1. Susan the other

        technically you cannot patent an idea but only the expression of the idea. so technology – at the time of the patent… Maybe the key here is to devise technology that is new enough to escape this discrimination. And certainly in future, when all these loose ends come together, we will most likely have to do away with patents all together. Because, as in today’s delightful sermon on Rivers, human knowledge is a river.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Knowledge is a river for all humans to drink from.

          In that sense, is intellectual property theft?

        2. hunkerdown

          Copyright protects expressions of an idea. Patents, at least those of the utility flavor, protect applications of an idea.

          MLPTB, categorically yes.

  9. RenoDino

    Does It Matter Who Pulls the Trigger in the Drone Wars?

    We are bringing truth and frontier justice to the world Manifest Destiny style. We don’t need no stinking badges to form a posse and ride out to deliver due process at the end of a laser targeted rope. Until we make this world safe enough for the six o’clock news team, these villains are on notice that we will deputize a broom if that’s what it takes to clean up this mess.

  10. Jim A

    Why would Democrats allow Gorsuch to sit on the Supreme Court? Because he’s likely to be less extreme than anybody nominated by Pence.

    1. SpringTexan

      No. No, he’s not. Anyone who thinks so is fooled by the mealy mouth and the cultured accent. Don’t be.

      1. SpringTexan It’s all mummery, of course. Gorsuch has the votes, on the committee and in the full Senate. He knows it, which is why he’s not overly concerned by the fact that, the longer he spoke before the committee, the more incredibly arrogant and condescending he became—and never more so when, in discussing the dissent in which he said that a truck driver owed it to his employer to freeze to death by the side of the road, Gorsuch opined that the law is ill-suited to extend to, “ends as ephemeral and generic as ‘health and safety.’ After all, what under the sun, at least at some level of generality, doesn’t relate to ‘health and safety’?”

        1. m

          Just got email from two senators, which appears they will allow vote-lose & this lunatic will end up getting seat. That trucker guy should have frozen to death for his job, women shouldn’t have babies till they retire and that disabled boy only needs a barely adequate education. Instead of slow bleed here is the crash & burn.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            And precisely when do all of the Dems who voted for him get held to account? Oh, look, on the first of never. It’s like asking when Bush gets held accountable for a $6 trillion war that killed millions, or when Obama gets held accountable for his get-out-of-jail-free card for criminal bankers who impoverished millions. But make a lewd comment on a private video about a woman 15 years ago and WATCH OUT for the vitriol of millions will be upon you

        2. JohnnyGL

          Whether he does or does not, it seems the hearings probably had little effect on anyone’s vote. The guy looked like he was trying to master the art of exchanging pleasantries as a form of stonewalling.

    2. Vatch

      That article points out that game theory shows that in many cases, a tit for tat response is the best way to counter an intransigent opponent. The Republicans refused to even consider Merrick Garland, even though Garland was hardly a left winger by any definition. In response, the Democrats have an obligation to oppose Gorsuch by any legal means available. And if Pence ever becomes President, the Democrats will need to continue doing the same.

      1. Tom_Doak

        Yes, but “game theory” is all predicated on the assumption that you’re actually trying to WIN the game, long-term. The Dems are content to lose when it makes their pay masters happy, and installing another business-friendly Justice of the Supreme Court will certainly do that.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For the true master, there is no need to WIN the game.

          Just change the game.

          Captain Kirk knew that, when he took the Kobayashi Maru test.

        2. Vatch

          The Dems are content to lose when it makes their pay masters happy

          That’s only partly true. SOME Democrats are content to lose, but not all of them. Since there’s so much attention being focussed on this issue, even some of the Democrats who would be content with a loss may feel the need to try to win. At least, I hope so.

          1. witters

            “SOME Democrats are content to lose, but not all of them…[there may even be] some of the Democrats who [otherwise, and as a rule] would be content with a loss may [here, on this rare and special occasion!] feel the need to try to win At least, I hope so.”

            As the other Pope said: Hope springs eternal in the human breast…

  11. linda amick

    Random reasons for cancer via mutation.
    Could be… but I could also argue for lack of detailed lifestyle and environmental toxin exposure information for every single person contracting cancer. There are so many unknowns. An example is the ongoing fukushima crisis. 20 years from now how many cancer victims will be related to this incident? Probably none.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Research” suggesting most cancers are “unavoidable” would seem to conveniently cover a multitude of sins.

      Did you take a gander at the link TV station’s breast implant exposé: When lower regulations meet high-caliber reporting Columbia Journalism Review which deals with a new type of lymphoma called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL.)?

      Since 2011, the fda has only been willing to admit a “possible association” between breast implants and the cancer. Needless to say, the european health systems have been more aggressive in their warnings. This week, the FDA adjusted its stance. The agency released a statement saying that it had “strengthened [its] understanding of this condition,” and agreed with the World Health Organization that the rare lymphoma can develop following breast implants, and occurs more frequently following implantation with textured (rather than smooth) surfaces.

      The rarity of the condition seems also to be in dispute:

      Suiters compared the lifetime risks of developing ALCL in the U.S. (one in 30,000) with Australia (one in 1,000); a former FDA analyst told her that the statistical difference proves the disease is underreported.

      But the kicker is this, with regard to the possibility of serious complications like cancer with breast, or any implanted device:

      To help answer those questions, Suiters consulted Dr. Mark Clemens, a member of the plastic surgery faculty at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and one of the world’s experts on ALCL. Clemens’ research, noted Suiters, revealed that patients never think to ask about ALCL, and only one one-quarter of surgeons always discuss the risk of the disease with patients during initial consultation.

      Plastic surgeons are, apparently, reluctant to “scare” women or “limit their options.” So they reckon that a patient should remember to ask about them. Unavoidable mutations indeed.

      Seriously, is all of this some kind of joke?

      1. MoiAussie

        Cosmetic surgeons are a self-selected group who welcome surgery for profit, coz markets. And most patients really don’t want to be told of all the unlikely but possible bad outcomes. Any surgery under general anaesthesia carries an average risk of death estimated at 1 in 100,000.

        There’s no shortage of nasty things in the environment that can trigger cancer, and internalizing foreign substances, whether by surgery, eating, drinking, or just breathing, can raise your risks. Does anyone except a child really need a doctor to tell them that?

        Most but not all people continue to willingly take the risks of eating bacon, too much red meat, artificial colours/flavours, highly processed foods, etc, and to microwave food in plastic containers, which are all known to increase your risk of certain cancers. How much this actually raises your risk of dying from cancer is unknown, but my point is that almost noone is prepared to behave in a way that avoids all known risks. Do those who could afford it invest in cosmic-ray shielding their houses?

        The bottom line of this research is that most cancers are caused by “something going wrong” in a dividing cell, and perfect avoidance behaviours might reduce your risk by 1/3, but the other 2/3 is unavoidable. Dying early is the best avoidance strategy of all.

        1. Oregoncharles

          What kind of roof would shield against cosmic rays? Steel? Tile? Lead would be expensive and heavy, but there is such a thing as copper roofing. Very pretty.

          Some building materials, like bricks, tend to be radioactive. Concrete in some places, too. It’s one reason to make sure houses are venilated – that, and the chemicals from modern building supplies, etc.

          1. MoiAussie

            An igloo with very thick walls would work pretty well. In the US, you’d be better building a house with a large rooftop swimming pool and thick wax filled walls.

    2. Gaianne

      “There are so many unknowns. An example is the ongoing fukushima crisis. 20 years from now how many cancer victims will be related to this incident? Probably none.”

      And there you have it.

      The Art of Research Study is to massage the protocols and data set to get the answer you want BEFORE applying analysis. This way the analysis gives the desired results.

      Also, avoid history. History is full of embarrassments. Cancer existed before modern times, but it wasn’t so common. You will always be told that people didn’t live so long back then, and therefore did not live long enough to get cancer. It is true that people did not live so long, but only on average. Old people today are no older than old people during the Middle Ages. There were just fewer of them. And the few old people had plenty of opportunity to get cancer, but unlike today, they mostly did not get it. Cancer was rare.

      We have so polluted and altered our environment that all animals–not just humans–are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals no matter what they do. You can, of course, increase your exposure, but you cannot decrease it below the modern threshold.


    3. Allegorio

      Random mutations when there are so so many pollution and environmentally induced mutations? This just sounds like more scientific cover for corporations polluting the planet for profit.

  12. ex-PFC Chuck

    The interview with Jack Matlock, the “Prominent u.s. ambassador to the Soviet Union,” is a welcome splash in the face of common sense. He was in that position during the collapse of the USSR and his book on that period, Autopsy On An Empire, is as good an account as you’ll find.

  13. ex-PFC Chuck

    The frequent flyer WSJ link triggered a memory of a similar marketing cluster***k back in the 60s. A major U.S. airline (United IIRC) had a promotion offering business travelers who took their wives (given the era I’m pretty sure the promos specifically said ‘wife’ and not ‘spouse’) along a half price ticket for her. But the marketing genius behind it also thought said wives would appreciate a thank you note in the mail a week or so after the return. It might encourage them to accompany hubby on future trips. I don’t recall what it did for airline bookings, but the divorce bar certainly saw a welcome uptick in new female clients.

    1. RUKidding

      heh… that rings a bell somewhere. I think I heard about this one way back when. Thanks for the memory.

  14. DJG

    The Case & Deaton paper is remarkable: I recommend downloading it. I tried to linger over the statistics, but I have other things to do today. (Preparation! See you all at the NC meetup on LaSalle Street later, where this paper can be a topic of discussion.)

    One assertion that disturbs: The other English-speaking countries (U.K., Canada, and Australia, in particular) show similar trends but less deleterious. This is one of the reasons that I keep advocating getting out of the Anglo-American echo chamber, particularly with regard to economic ideas and religious attitudes. As this paper shows, the echo chamber is now reducing life expectancy: Not getting out in the world will kill you.

    One picture that is worth your while: The maps of the U.S. of A. show a cultural distinction that Case and Deaton address only once or twice: The trends are not as dire in the old band of settlement of New England and New York, which then extended across Pennsylvania into the upper parts of the Great Lakes States and out into the Great Plains all the way to Washington State. It is as if the Northern / Yankee dialect correlates. Conversely, the South from Virginia to Texas once had the nickname of “The Heart Attack Belt.” We still see it. The surprise, to me, is the health disaster of California. Hmmm.

    I realize that as someone of Italian descent, I am food-obsessed. But on a recent trip to Greece and Italy, I noticed that the Greeks and Italians in general are slimmer than Americans. They walk more. And it used to be that I was the tallest in a crowd of Italians–no more. Especially in the north of Italy, there are plenty of six-foot men. The Greeks, curiously, are shorter in general than Italians, which is odd, because they are of the same stock. So: Diet? Education? Social solidarity? Sense of belonging to something larger? A bigger political spectrum to express oneself in? Doting mothers and grandmothers? The contradictory universal messages of Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy? (The paper hints at all of these, athough not the last: It should disaggregate by religion.)

    Can’t figure out how the Greeks get away with smoking so much. Must be the retsina, which counteracts the tobacco…

    1. Admaski

      California doesn’t have high GDP per head compared to other US states; the thing about it being the six largest economy in the world is due to having a large population. It is also one of the most unequal states economically and has a high cost of living of course.

      How about poorer, southern Italian men? One would expect them to be shorter, as a group. Greece has long working hours and low productivity, dunno how it compares to Italy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Unequal economically…

        Is that because California take in a lot of upward-mobility-is-available immigrants who start from the bottom, out of kindness, compassionately?

        Or is that because California take in a lot of upward-mobility-is-available immigrants who start from the bottom, so as to help the natives pay for the high cost of living, or for billionaires to make more billions?

    2. vidimi

      and italians are greeks are fatter than other europeans, except for the spanish.

      height is mostly linked to dietary animal protein.

    3. Eclair

      Yes, DJG, I too noticed the uptick in rates of death from drugs, alcohol and suicide in other English-speaking countries; Sweden and Denmark, as well. Check out Table 2. Trends in mortality by cause, annual average rate of change 1999-2015, men and women 50-54.

      In the ’90’s, my husband worked for months at a time in France, where I would accompany him. We lived in the mountains, near the Italian border. I remember one time, on my return home to SoCal, I had tiny panic attack standing in the check-out line at the grocery market; all the people surrounding me were so huge! And they were using their ‘outside voices’ indoors. I had become used to living with shorter, wiry types … who were a lot quieter in public. Les mamans were constantly admonishing their small children to speak softly.

      The facility where he worked had a marvelous cafeteria; delicious 3 course lunches with wine. None of the hamburger and fries stuff. And everyone was expected to take an hour for midday meal.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        And oh, look, France has the same productivity and GDP per capita as the US, with much lower debt: GDP, five weeks holiday, great health care, decent retirement, and public infrastructure that makes the US look like Gambia.

    4. Eclair

      And, then there is the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation, in South Dakota. Or, Concentration Camp, as the Lakota like to call it. Life expectancy there is about 45 years. The Lakota have been dying from despair …. suicide, drugs (the latest being a meth epidemic), alcohol, for decades, if not centuries.

      If you want to see what dying from despair looks like, in real time, drive through White Clay, Nebraska, right on the state line and an easy 2 mile walk from the center of downtown Pine Ridge. The single main street is lined with liquor stores. Recumbent bodies litter the side of the the road and are propped up against the store fronts. It’s genocide by alcohol. No one cares.

      The undereducated poor white men of a certain age … and, increasingly the same class of white women and their babies … will be killed … by alcohol, meth, opioids, their own hands. Ethnic cleansing? Genocide? White trashicide?
      Do we need to invent a new word for our latest foray into mass murder?

  15. Tertium Squid

    Gig economy and working yourself to death.


    One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

    Actual drug of choice already listed.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Uff, how will John Carpenter scare a society that doesn’t need x-ray specs?

      How are you set for gum?

  16. Tertium Squid

    “Does it matter who pulls the trigger in the drone wars”

    One of the not-horrible things about Donald Trump being president is the left can be anti-war again.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I hope that is the case, but sadly there will always be a top-level scum on the ‘left’ leadership pond being ‘anti-war’ only because they are in opposition and do not control the triggers…as we have seen, these types are more then happy to return to bellicosity as soon as they can pink-mist brown people again from the comfort of their elected office.

      Interesting thing, at least where I am from (up in the mountains, Washington State) is that an increasing number of old & young red-blooded flag-waving patriot types…Trump voters…and in particular recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are becoming as anti-war as I was in the 80’s during the central american secret wars, and later during the run up to OIF.

      Not all of them, certainly, and maybe not as rabidly as some of the far left, but enough…enough to where the sentiment is percolating through *their* families and friendship circles. Be wary ‘powers that be’, for when you start turning combat-trained veterans against your bloody machinations you might just be surprised at what happens the next time you try and quash an anti-war movement.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Huh? The Dems weren’t anti war in 2002. Gore, Kerry, and Clinton love American wonder weapons, and Obama sought out Holy Joe as a mentor.

      I suppose local Democratic partisans can go back to not being so insufferable, but that probably won’t happen.

      1. Vatch

        Partly true, but not entirely. In the Senate, 49 Republicans voted for war, and 1 voted against war. 28 Democrats voted for war, and 22 voted against war. Jeffords, the independent, voted against war.

        In the House, 215 Republicans voted for war, and 6 voted against war. 81 Democrats voted for war, and 126 Democrats voted against war. Sanders, the independent, voted against war.

        So in 2002 a significant number of the Democrats were opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Not enough, though, especially in the Senate.

  17. fresno dan

    As I am no fan of Trump, I try to read this article as dispassionately as I can. So we have this “fact checker” making a contortionist born of rubber band parents look rigid and dogmatic.

    The NYT headline stated:
    “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides,”

    FACTCHECKER: “This is misleading. Neither the print nor online version of the article supports Mr. Trump’s accusation that Mr. Obama ordered surveillance on him.”

    FACTCHECKER: “The Times reported that there were intercepted conversations involving Mr. Trump’s associates, but it did not report that they or Mr. Trump were the subject of wiretap orders. To date, The Times has not found evidence of that.”

    and so on….read it for yourself. On the details, the NYT is correct. And the important thing at Ford’s theatre for Mrs. Lincoln was the play….

    I would certainly admit the truth of the matter that Trump is inexact and painted with too broad a brush. It was foolish, impolitic, inflammatory and incredibly naive to make a specific charge against Obama instead of wording it as “the Obama administration” Frankly, Trump seems too lazy to delve into detail (about anything) to understand or explain his own actions/motivations and I have to say Trump’s careless ignorance drives me to near apoplexy.

    Trump was apparently surprised to find out that in the good ole USA everybody is monitored (apparently 24/7)….and that all US government …spies?…..police….FBI agents…..are not all noble defenders of truth, justice and the American way and may not think Trump’s ideas are so great.

    The media beclowns itself because it seems in its contempt for Trump it is unwilling / unable to acknowledge that the CIA is not composed entirely of saints appointed by God to protect the USA. That it is POSSIBLE (I do not know how likely) a highly convoluted sophisticated scheme was hatched to undermine the Trump campaign and discredit possible Trump policy initiatives with regard to Russia by saying that Trump was a Russian stooge, dupe, or a traitor. The fact that this scenario can never be spoken gives me the impression that the press, in its rah rah go USA mode has become a CIA distribution mechanism. IS IT SO PREPOSTEROUS???

    I don’t know the truth of the matter, but it sure appears to me there is a anti Trump thumb on the scale…

    1. Goyo Marquez

      It depends on what audience Trump was addressing. I don’t think the audience he was addressing will draw a fine distinction between wiretapping and surveillance. Trump understands how to communicate to the 90%.

    2. skippy

      American telephones have been sniffed from back in the analog days, from a base in the southwest, communication that triggered flagging was recorded and past on to analysts.

      disheveled… commie fright fat tail thingy….

  18. Jon Cloke

    Anyone else making the link between the gig economy and the opioid crisis and elephant tranquilizers as drug-of-choice..?

    Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first feed Carfentanil

  19. jerry

    Trumps move on the healthcare bill is like a master class in political chess, take notes. He knows how awful healthcare is, he knows how unpopular the kind of changes the GOP want to implement are, and he knows that the actual needed solution (single-payer, which he has previously voiced support for) cannot be done in the current political paradigm.

    So what does he do? Gives the house a rope to hang themselves. He makes them put the bill forward, which is awful, and no one wants to support. Then when it starts to crumble, he pulls the rug out from under them. Ryan/congress take the blame and lose, Trump wins. A president who RAN on repealing Obamacare (and arguably had no intention of doing so) is going to come out of this without a scratch having changed nothing, which is unfortunately the best case option for him given the reality of the US healthcare industry and the GOP alternative.

    Love him or hate him, you can’t knock the hustle. And this, my friends, is a HUSTLE.

    1. Eclair

      Crazy, or Master Manipulator? Where ‘crazy’ is defined as always coming out on top, always to be seen as ‘winning,’ no matter the issue or the ideology or the ethics, then, yeah, he is crazy. And, a Hustler.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If he wants it, he should know that there is no single payer in the current political paradigm, unless he gets more help, support or demand from those outside the Swamp.

      “There is no next life. No heaven after this 4-year of existence. Focus on the present, not 2018, not 2020.”

      People need help now.

    3. Aumua

      There you go, ascribing these altruistic motives to the President’s actions again. On what baseless idea do you pin the hope that Trump wants single payer, or anything that’s going to really help or empower the people?

      Obama’s ‘hope’ was bad enough, but this hope-beyond-hope that Trump’s working on pulling all these victories for the common man off is .. really reaching.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If he wants it. Maybe he doesn’t now, or didn’t before.

        People should still help, support or demand it.

      2. jrs

        What it all signals is OUR utter powerlessness. Trumps motives are no more knowable than Obama’s were (was Obama really evil? how could he deal with terror Tuesdays otherwise? I don’t know, it’s not knowable – we need to judge actions not motives). There is no evidence at all that Trump is motivated by superior genius or concern, besides even though it’s a horrible bill, Trump not being able to get a consensus makes Mr. “Art of the Deal” look weak at getting to a deal, just saying.

        But about our utter powerlessness: we are powerless to stop horrible healthcare bills like the AHCA or get better ones. All we can do is hope the worst bills self-destruct whether it is because the players are paid off or because they are extremist nutcases or because Trump is a genius (although that last one is unlikely). It is the games of the gods on Mount Olympus if the gods were crazy. Ours it the fate to be bore. Now how did it get to this and what can we do to have any power?

      3. witters

        Actually, what is baseless is you saying that this baseless claim (Trump the altruist) was made in the firs place..

      4. Oregoncharles

        Trump supported single payer before he ran as a Republican. His current position seems to be mostly politically motivated.

        Single payer makes excellent business sense for him; he owns hotels, so LOTS of fairly low-level employes.

        A lot of whom are probably undocumented – don’t know why nobody looked into that during the campaign. Conceivably, he’s careful about that.

    4. robnume

      Those of us old enough to remember when “The Hustle” was a dance-craze in the late “70’s should have seen it coming that the latest dance craze would turn into a rigamorole of crazed public policy ideas and implementation? We have only ourselves to blame…

  20. Ernesto Lyon

    Fox News is surprisingly good right now.

    Their Trump reporting is supportive but skeptical, reflecting the rift in the GOP.
    They give lots of time to GOP newsmakers, full coverage of Spicer’s press conferences, for example. It allows you to decide what you think without a pundit pre-interpreting a carefully selected moment.

    Far better than CNN or NPR, IMO.

    1. Montanamaven

      I have to agree with you. “Supportive but skeptical” is perfectly put. They also cover other news than political news. I was one of those people who made the restaurant or bartender turn off Fox News without ever having watched it. During the election I started listening to it on the radio and watching on the TV and was surprised at the coverage. It was critical of Trump, but not shrill. Curious and “skeptical” as to what he was up to. And certainly not as full of themselves as Rachel Maddow and the Morning Joe crowd. But they also say dumb things like “football players need to stand for the national anthem”. Really? Not terribly freedom loving. Interesting times.

      1. fresno dan

        March 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm

        IMHO Fox is still pretty slanted – but, so are the other networks now. All the MSM has the “shining city on a hill” & “indispensable nation” bullsh*t that people trying to sell adult diapers and cruises feel they have to say to pander to their audiences.
        But if you never stop by FOX you are going to miss important facts and a different world view.

        “But they also say dumb things like “football players need to stand for the national anthem”. Really? Not terribly freedom loving. ”
        EXACTLY – big believers in freedom – – but never, ever actually being practiced.
        The cognitive dissonance that everybody at the CIA and FBI who were working to topple Trump aren’t EACH and EVERY one a hero is worth watching as they grapple with that incomprehensible thought….

  21. Terorismo

    McGuinness was still a super terrorist; contrary to popular belief, because of their disarmament and their statement ending the “current campaign”, the IRA still exists, hasn’t renounced violence, is practically still armed due to the Northern Bank robbery in 2006 and millions of euros it makes from crime annually in the Republic, and the UK government knows it. Hence when it killed 2 men causing the last collapse of the Assembly, the govt picked personnel for an independent report which was a whitewash. How much longer can this continue?

  22. Carolinian

    Excellent chapter and verse on the crimes of George W. Bush. That Ellen, Michelle and others are chummy with the great malefactor says it all about the superficiality of current so-called progressives. In fact some of us had hopes that Trump, not they, might prove to be the “resistance” to elite enthusiasm for near genocidal foreign meddling. It’s quite likely that the Russia hysteria is really a premeditated ploy to make sure that never happens (seemingly with some success so far). TPTB want to make sure we forget our recent history and thus are condemned to repeat it. Isn’t that what the left should be fighting at every turn?

  23. JohnnyGL

    Interesting TYT segment about the Koch Bros coming hard against the AHCA, ready to drop $300M-$400M on the next election cycle. Big show of power from them. How Trump decides to handle this may well determine the outcome of his presidency.

    There’s a clear move he could make to counter the Koch Bros. and that’s to do the unthinkable….work with Bernie Sanders on a piece of legislation. This has several advantages: 1) it’d be popular 2) it’d give Trump moral high ground because it’s ‘bipartisan’ and 3) it would send a clear message to Koch Bros that “I can get stuff done when you are opposed”.

    The thing a lot of us like about Trump (to the extent we can stomach him) is that he’s a King Cobra who eats other snakes. Please, Trump, eat some more big snakes like the Koch Bros!!! You’ve already bested the Clintons and the Bushes, add some more scalps to your collection!!!

    I see this AHCA disaster as a real learning opportunity for Trump. He’d better take it and fast.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Lots of “principled stands” being taken in congress on this based, supposedly, on the wishes of their constituencies.

      When did they get religion? When public sentiment was running 300 to 1 against the bank bailouts, they acted like they didn’t even know that they had constituencies.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Bailout votes were a bit more complex than that. At first, the calls were heavily loaded against, but after a massive fear campaign, supposedly the calls started getting more evenly balanced.

        Bush II couldn’t get the TARP passed. Obama was the one who was able to deliver his party’s votes.

        Constituent pressure matters a lot more when donor class is divided, as it seems to be for the moment.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The 2008 election outcome was largely set. Maybe, Coleman would have defeated Franken, but outside of a few House races, Obama would have scored a huge electoral college win and Pelosi and Reid would have continued to lead caucuses with larger majorities.

        Only a financial panic could have altered anything at that point. Don’t forget Shrub did the heavy lifting on the bailout. He was the face. He didn’t have Pelosi and Reid out there as the face which was important. The Tea Party which didnt exist had not challenged the seemingly safe Republicans who voted for the bailout. Guys like Eric Cantor were shown the door in the next couple of cycles. He would be Speaker today if he wasn’t ousted.

        Then there was the briefing where Obama asked inconsequential but still relevant questions compared to McCain’s drooling and usual babbling.

        With the major party change coming and the unquestioning faith in Obama, Washington was able to push a narrative that the new Sheriff will clean house. Do we really want Shrub making these decisions?

        The Democrats had every Kerry state plus Iowa and Ohio locked in the worst case scenario which is NYT editorials about where Edwards’ mistress would live. The White House or the Blair House?

  24. Teejay

    Thank you for reposting Thomas Franks’ “The Revolution will not be Curated”. Daily life got in the way of my intent. Though
    I share his conclusion, Franks meandered too long (IMHO) in describing and illustrating liberals latest affliction of all things curated and exulted by curators . The original was much more succinct and profound and chilling 45 years later.

  25. dbk

    Just to note that the four-hour debate on the AHCA, all 124 pages of it, is ongoing on the House floor and being live-streamed at c-span.

    This is an opportunity to get a general idea of the personalities/approaches of many of our Reps in a brief period. Pretty fascinating, actually. The divisions are stark.

    The solution is obvious, but nobody has dared speak its name – yet.

  26. justanotherprogressive

    Re: The Case-Deaton article:
    Very interesting! Seems to challenge some of society’s beliefs (i.e., Contrary to public opinion, obesity and heart disease may not be related), reinforces some of what we already know (that those countries who provide healthcare for all have people that live longer), and is bringing up new ideas (like the deprivation economically disadvantaged people see when they start out may not be overcome simply by increasing their earnings later in life. To quote: “We propose a preliminary but plausible story in which cumulative disadvantage over life, in the labor market, in marriage and child outcomes, and in health, is triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education.” Question to be answered in a future report: Why for whites?)
    This article is preliminary, so I can’t wait to see the final results.

    1. wilroncanada

      Could it be that whites have not in the past been forced to make-do, as blacks and Hispanics have for the most part been forced to do? That in their deepest depressions of the past, they always had the justification of the race card? I’m still better than him/her; we still have Jim Crow. Could it also be that, in despair, the white person visited a doctor, who was only too happy to give that white person a few samples of that new mood altering drug which was supposed to be just the cat’s pajamas for this sort of white depression? The black or Hispanic would be far less likely to visit the doctor over a mood, longstanding or not, because that black or Hispanic person had been taught from childhood to avoid doctors.

  27. susan the other

    Just a quick comment on drones and who pills the trigger. It is a horrifying thought that government/political executives (pun?) are the ones to decide who to kill and they are the ones entrusted to “pull the trigger”. Because they do not have the conscience for such an act. Only the military, in full knowledge of just how dangerous and awful acts of war are, should pull those triggers. Drones are just too easy.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    When Americans emotionally spend, they buy toilet paper and Clorox MarketWatch

    Psychologically, this says, I believe, that Americans want to drain and clean.

    Drain the swamp and clean that money stench from politics.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Frequent Fliers Who Bombarded WSJ. Oops.

    A somewhat related question.

    Is it safe to read profiles of Russian ladies on

    1. Grebo

      Is it safe to read profiles of Russian ladies on

      It depends on whether you are worried about your blood pressure, your NSA file, or your marriage.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How do they get it passed, now, without talking to Trump?

      If not now, are we talking about the next election cycle-life, when we will be in Heaven if we vote a certain way in 2018 and/or 2020?

  30. Pelham

    If two-thirds of cancers are not caused by environmental factors but are rather due to unavoidable genetic coding errors, then cancer rates over the past, say, century or half century should have gone up by no more than 50%, adjusting for longevity. Right?

    So, is that the case? About half of everyone today gets cancer. Of course, some of this is due to the fact that people who survive to adulthood (eliminating the irrelevant factor of childhood mortality) live longer and are thus are more likely to be afflicted.

    But what if we eliminate the childhood-mortality and longevity factors and look at cancer rates among adults from age 20 to age 60 today as compared to adults in that age range a century or half a century ago? What would we find?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      You make a good point. It’s individual cohorts that should be compared, not average longevity rates. And I would prefer they look at the incidences of cancer, not necessarily the mortality rate, because cancer mortality rates have changed over time.

    1. gsinbe

      I liked the comparison of Trump to Boris Yeltsin – giving away everything to the plutocrats and dismantling state institutions. If that scenario plays out, like Russia, we’re likely to go through a very rough spell before a competent autocrat takes the helm.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      His most ardent voters were college educated whites despite the claims of the Democratic elites who failed to deliver on their promises to win suburban republicans. Virtue signaling in California coastal cities, NYC, Boston, and the Washington metro area helped reduce the college white vote for Trump or it might have been worse.

      Poor, rural whites don’t vote. Organizing rural people around candidates who despise them (deplorables) is fairly difficult. It’s why it’s easy to blame them. Tonight Bill Maher will likely mock hillbillies while intently listening to the Tory and Republican has has on as guests.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not about, or it’s more than just about one and done with a person.

      It’s about 4 years of our lives and the many battles (and opportunities) that lie ahead.

  31. Antifa

    Seventeen acres of artillery shells and rockets are blowing up the town of Balakleya in Ukraine right now. Some 45,000 people had just enough time to grab their shoes, coats and the cat when the Soviet era ammo dump suddenly lit off last night. A nearby dairy farm has blown up, releasing a lot of chlorine gas, and a local electric power station has also blown up. The air in and downwind of Balakleya is highly toxic, and unbreathable.

    No one at the base could do anything to control the fire last night. They really had no choice in this, since running was the only hopeful option. Authorities have sealed off a circle around the ammo dump of about 5 kilometers distance this morning, and shut off the main natural gas pipeline that runs about 4 kilometers from the ammo dump. That pipeline normally carries about ten percent of the gas Russia sells to Europe. That supply is being routed through other pipelines now.

    Ukrainian authorities have invited NATO to send in “de-mining” experts in the coming days, to help them clean up whatever remains.

    This being Ukraine, and only 60 miles from the Donbass front line, there is all kinds of speculation about who is behind this, and how it got started. Everything from Russian space lasers to an airplane bombing to simple sabotage or an accidental fire. Including that the Russian mob already sold all the good ammo to ISIS, so this is just their way of getting rid of the remaining stockpile while hiding the fact of the missing inventory.

    Whatever the cause, there will be no evidence of anything but lots of gigantic explosions for sleuths to pore over. The town is pretty well destroyed and polluted, and local authorities have no facilities for handling 45,000 refugees who have lost their homes. At least it isn’t the dead of winter.

    No American media is covering this at all right now. The ammo will be lighting off for several days to come, and it may be a week to ten days before anyone is brave enough to go see what’s left to defuse.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      This has been going on for almost a day and still no US news outlets have picked it up. I guess nobody handed the story to them. They apparently don’t know about the Russian tanks massing on the border either. God knows that none of our well heeled media would actually go out and look for news any more…….

    2. Susan the other

      very amazing. Ukraine is a new Vietnam? Since it has been 40 years since the truce in Vietnam (but it took from pre 1940 to 1975 to accomplish politically – so 65+plus years) – there is a political lag time. And politics assumes (if it is sane) that there is more than one opinion – so we can assume that this is the new battle front between ideologies. So question: why don’t we do 10 and 20 year experiments, closely controlled against corruption – to determine which ideologies are the most socially successful and just fucking stop killing each other. Goddammit.

    3. Rhondda

      Including that the Russian mob already sold all the good ammo to ISIS, so this is just their way of getting rid of the remaining stockpile while hiding the fact of the missing inventory.

      Same scenario, insert ‘Ukrainian mob’. Just as likely, if not moreso.
      I find your assumption telling.

    4. uncle tungsten

      Russian mob??? come come, try Ukraine mob first then look north to that mobster in Hungary who holds US and Israeli passport and once Russian citizenship. Lets keep speculation somewhat bounded by logic.

  32. robnume

    On the topic of healthcare: Well, my 17 y.o. cat’s vet just told me that my cat has a possible cavity in one of his teeth. My husband found out that a cat cavity would cost between $750.00 and $1200.00 to treat.
    I said in reply that perhaps there’s a vet in Tijuana who would perform that treatment for far less and that I’d go that route just to have the conversation with CBP at the border coming back into the U.S. You know, it starts with, “Well, I can’t afford veterinary dental services for my animal in the U.S. so, here I am, cat in tow!”

  33. Reify99

    India’s Multidrug Resistant TB crisis.

    The current environment in this country seems ripe for ignorant cutbacks in public health which, when coupled with the overall attempts to deport illegal immigrants, will
    come back and bite us in the butt

    TB is the perfect agent for this butt biting. 20% (twenty), of the world’s population carry it and if a person who carries it has a robust immune system
    It can be held at bay for years. (We’re talking 20, 30years) Then, when the immune system wanes, say when granny is dying of complications of advanced dementia, she might develop “pneumonia.”
    TB mycobacterium can remain airborne for two Hours in a poorly ventilated room. Everyone at the bedside is exposed.
    Last time I checked (2006) airlines do not filter their recirculated air or use ultraviolet light in their ventilation systems. Mind you, if a person is a carrier they are not contagious unless they are symptomatic. So in the case of the mail order bride that I worked with who came over from the Philippines, she wasn’t contagious even though she had a baby case of active disease. At that time the standard in airlines if the patient was considered infectious was to do the contact investigation with the row that the patient had sat in, plus a row in front and a row behind.

    The outbreak in Ft Wayne in the early 2000’s was a direct result of Reagan’s cutbacks. I didn’t meet her but the ONE nurse in charge of TB control
    sent several pleas up the chain of command that she was going under.
    She was ignored at the time, vilified later. 45 cases of active, contagious disease came out of that. preview/mmwrhtml/mm5348a4.

    Over 91% of active (infectious) TB cases are in people that are foreign born.

    My great grandparents came over from Ireland in the holds of ships. In the 2 years after arrival 3 relatives died of TB. My father had TB on a kidney, discovered when he was in the navy. Working as a TB nurse in
    Indiana I met six brothers who came up from Mexico, were all working in restaurants, had girlfriends, maybe wives back home, sending remittances home. One of them had it in all lobes of both lungs. Their father had died of a “coughing illness”, their mother was very ill back home with s “coughing illness”. I would go in with a mask on and watch him swallow his pills. Neither one of us knew much of the other’s language. He’d been working washing dishes in a chinese restaurant. (Imagine clouds of steam wafting around and a coughing man in the cloud.)

    One day he and I were alone in the house and I had just given him his meds. I heard soft snoring, looked to the floor behind the sofa and saw
    Pair of feet sticking out. It was a friend from Mexico City who had just arrived.
    Mind you my guy was still very infectious. I was supposed to do a skin test, maybe order an X-ray, and to do this with any girlfriend,
    girlfriend’s child, etc. I drove them to the hospital for X-rays as needed. Etc.

    All of this was very tricky, hit and miss.
    Fortunately the Public Health clinic had a free pre-natal clinic with a Spanish fluent Nurse Practitioner.
    These ladies knew my guys and if one didn’t show up for me when they were supposed to these ladies would crack the whip and he would usually comd in.

    All this was based on them knowing I did not care if they had papers or not.
    I made it clear that the disease was the enemy, not them.
    If you make these folks hide because they are afraid of being deported how cooperative do you think they will be?
    So if we do not yet have MDR-TB we are surely creating the conditions for it to thrive.

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