Links 3/25/17

This humble scientist, a ‘national treasure,’ showed us how to understand birds WaPo

A new hypothesis of dinosaur relationships and early dinosaur evolution Nature

Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore Bloomberg

Colorado Youth Score Decisive Legal Victory Against Fracking Industry Common Dreams (MR).

Google Needs to Protect Its Ad Golden Goose Bloomberg

Ex-Penn State president convicted of 1 count of child endangerment over handling of Sandusky molestation scandal AP


EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker on the Brexit bill and the eroticism of power FT

Brexit: What would ‘no deal’ look like? BBC

The British are bluffing: a bad Brexit deal is better than no deal Irish Times


Shadow bank crackdown prompts China cash crunch FT

Hong Kong Property Agents Won’t Accept China UnionPay Cards Bloomberg

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of Foreign Policy

New Cold War

Trump was right after all about the Obama administration wiretaps Jonathan Turley, The Hill. Linking to this again, since I’m stunned that Turley would write this, given the Democrat stance that intelligence agencies are the Republic’s only safeguard against tyranny. (OK, I exaggerate. But only a little.)

Spy agencies intercepted Trump communications, says congressman FT

More signs that House panel’s Trump-Russia probe is reeling McClatchy

The London Terrorist Attack and the JCC Bomb Threats Global Guerillas

Did AIPAC Help Fund Attack-Ad by Islamophobic Group on J Street? Lobelog

AHCA Debacle

Summarizing: ObamaCare is the worst possible Republican plan (the AHCA being, evidently, worse than possible).

GOP Obamacare repeal dies as House pulls American Health Care Act bill Modern Health Care

Who Stopped the Republican Health Bill? NYT. Brings some welcome clarity. 33 Republicans stopped the bill. 15 were from the “Freedom Caucus,” 10 were “moderates” mostly from the Northeast (the “Tuesday Group”), some of whose districts went for Clinton, and 8 were miscellaneous (“One said he was concerned about its changes to Medicaid expansion, another preferred a full repeal and a third said he was worried about the bill’s impact on treatment for opioid abuse”).

Looking once more at pathways to misfortune, we have, unsurprisingly, no single cause. The primary pathway, through the 15: Contradictions within the Republican Party itself, between at the very least the (Koch-funded) Freedom Caucus, the (establishment) Ryan wing, and the (insurgent) Trump White House. (Incidentally, if you are Trump, and you ask yourself which faction is least likely to betray you in case of impeachment, the answer can only be the Freedom Caucus.) A secondary pathway, through the 10: #SaveTheACA, for all the “Town Hall” sound and fury, can only have had significant impact in this pathway, in districts that went for Clinton. Another secondary pathway, through the 8: Loss aversion (opioid programs; Medicaid). A final secondary pathway: Inept Republican leadership generally, not just in the House, and not just in the w-a-a-a-y-too-lightweight Trump White House, but in the once-vaunted conservative nomenklatura. Not only did Republicans have no replacement bill ready to go, after eight years in opposition, but they couldn’t even present representatives with data on the effects that AHCA would have in the district (which the Democrats were able to do). Republican inepitude opened the door for zeitgeist factors to operate on the waverers: The Senate Republican leadership signaling, in its muffled way, that it would just as soon the whole ugly matter was dropped; loss aversion, generally; and above all the CBO report, which put (aggregated, not district-by-district) numbers to the losses in coverage.

Happily, #MedicareForAll forces took advantage of the policy debate to push for single payer, which the Sanders campaign had at long last forced Democrats to put “on the table”; it has now seeped into the conventional wisdom that ObamaCare is not, after all, the perfect statute. In particular, the contradiction at the morally vacuous heart of the #SaveTheACA campaign — that it’s a bad thing for the AHCA to throw millions off the rolls, but it’s OK if millions aren’t on the rolls in the first place under the ACA — was thoroughly exposed. The widely propagated video of Senator Sanders going into Trump territory and talking voters into health care as a universal benefit on live TV (!) should also penetrate the pea-brains of even Clintonite Democratic strategists, though it probably won’t.

A Republican in a district Hillary Clinton won gets reprieve on health care vote McClatchy

How local news sounded the alarm over the GOP’s defeated health plan CJR

* * *

‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care WaPo and ‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead WaPo

How Paul Ryan played Donald Trump Ezra Klein, Vox

Freedom Caucus drives dagger into heart of young Trump presidency FOX. Fun, but there was more than one hand on the dagger; see pathways to misfortune, above.

Opinion: The GOP’s Big Health Care Winner — Mitch McConnell Roll Call

* * *

Why Democrats should push ‘Medicare for all’ now The Week

Warren moves toward single payer support (which should tell you what the grassroots really wants, and it’s not #SaveTheACA:

Thanks once again to 2009’s career “progressives,” for introducing the brand confusion between the so-called public option and Medicare for All, which lets Warren slip away from an outright endorsement. The gift that keeps on giving.

Krauthammer’s Take: Democrats Have Created the Expectation of Universal Health Care National Review. “The zeitgeist in the country has changed.” Well, everywhere but in the “never, ever” faction….

* * *

The Republican Waterloo David Frum, The Atlantic. Liberal icon Frum peddles the lie that ObamaCare is universal coverage.

Why Obamacare Defeated Trumpcare Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine. Skip, or if you must, read all the way to the end, where Chait confuses health insurance with health care.

Trump’s Choice on Obamacare: Sabotage or Co-opt? Margot Sanger-Katz, NYT. “Mr. Trump will need to decide, quickly, whether his goal is to knock over the still-functioning markets.” The markets being a neo-liberal’s first concern, 100% of the time.

Trump Transition

What we learned about Neil Gorsuch during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing Los Angeles Times

Trump SEC pick assures that his Wall St. work not problem San Francisco Chronicle

Trump Administration Says More Fees For Student Loan Borrowers In Default Forbes

Here are some photos of Trump pretending to be a truck driver Boston Globe. What, no “Dukakis and the tank” jokes? Still too soon for the Globe?

2016 Post Mortem

Wall Street First Michael Hudson (altandmain).

How Scott Adams Got Hypnotized by Trump Bloomberg

The Agony and Ecstasy of Chelsea Clinton Fans Vice

On Chelsea Clinton Matt Bruenig, Medium. Useful compilation.

Class Warfare

The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People’s ‘Deaths Of Despair’ NPR. Interview with Case and Deaton; notice NPR carefully erasing “working class” from the headline.

Economic shocks are more likely to be lethal in America The Economist

Maine medical examiner seeks more money to handle overdose deaths Portland Press-Herald

How human sacrifice propped up the social order Nature. From 2016, but curiously relevant today.

Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs Bloomberg

Pay crash expected in online gig economy as millions seek work New Scientist

You’re Hired! Democracy. Jobs guarantee.

The Job Guarantee, Wage-Price Inflation And Alternative Solutions: Part 1 Philip Pilkington, Econinterest. Part two.

What a Start-Up’s Scandal Says About Your Workplace NYT

Adrenaline zen: what we can learn from extreme sports The Conversation. Sorry. Whenever I see a photo of some twenty-something jumping off a skyscraper in a wingsuit, I think “Yes, that’s what the labor market is like.”

How to revive Massachusetts’ first language Boston Globe

AP style change: Singular they is acceptable ‘in limited cases’ Poynter Institute. She, he, it, and they.

Let’s Add Some Nuance to the ‘Two Americas’ Narrative New York Magazine

Guided By The Beauty Of Our Weapons Slate Star Codex. Facts, the truth, the backfire effect… Must-read.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Musicismath

    From the Vice article on Chelsea Clinton fandom:

    “Nick Stevens defended Chelsea’s political qualifications like this: ‘Hillary is Queen, Bae, Beyoncé—you get it. Chelsea is the prodigy—2.0, if you will.'”

    I mean, I could unpick this for what it reveals about the links between the corporate entertainment industry and “progressive neoliberalism,” or the way pop culture fandom has remade all modes of opinion in its image … but mostly what I want to do with this paragraph is seal it in lead and hurl it into the Mariana Trench.

      1. DanB

        I hear you, but given her bio. fans is all she can expect. When I told my students how Chelsea got her job at NBC -no real interview, having a retune of representatives, acting “like she was doing NBC a favor” (said one NBC source- they got exactly what I was saying about Max Weber’s concepts of class, status and power, and the associated concept of Life Chances.

      2. polecat

        “fans” …..

        Right up there with the likes of Laura Dunham … I guess

        ….. both, straight out of the wilderness, to wreck havoc … carried forward by the adulation of their minions !

    1. Pat

      Did you know that Lisa Marie Presley tried to have a recording career? Probably you, the guy who was stupid enough to be quoted like that and the writer of that Vox article don’t. I guess being the only child of the King doesn’t mean diddly if you don’t have their talent and charisma. Mind you it isn’t as if Hillary has ‘charisma’ either, but…

      It isn’t just the link in a significant portion of the public’s mind between the entertainment industry and the ability to govern I refuse to say neoliberal, as Reagan, Sonny Bono and Trump are also big signs of this. And they are not neoliberal while far closer to that view of the world than I, a recovering democrat, am.

      1. Toolate

        Her best shot would be to divorce him calling him a capitalist pig and then renounce her parents in a Patty Hearst like fashion
        Who could not love her then?

        1. tempestteacup

          “You knew me as Chelsea but now the world knows me as Tania. Fuck you Bill, fuck you Hillary. Death to the fascist insect.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The ‘other team is always scarier’ symptom.

      Murphy’s Law only happens to our team. “Oh my god, how many of our guys are on the questionable list for this Sunday’s game?”

      A final secondary pathway: Inept Republican leadership generally, not just in the House, and not just in the w-a-a-a-y-too-lightweight Trump White House, but in the once-vaunted conservative nomenklatura. Not only did Republicans have no replacement bill ready to go, after eight years in opposition,

    2. craazyboy

      Well, they are busily re-branding the plan as the Trumpcare Plan. Not that brave, really. hahahahaha.

      Maybe the voters will pick up on the fact that the big failure was the mod-nut wing and wingnut wing couldn’t agree on how to make something even more nasty and dysfunctional than O Care. Like they spent 8 years in a dark, smoky bar over way too many shots and beers belching out wingnut talking points and quoting right wing talk radio while the designated driver took notes, codifying the symphony of brain farts into proposed healthcare law. That would be fun.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m not so sure this is a Trump “loss”, what matters is power and money, not doing the right thing for the poor citizen-slobs. So what the public think doesn’t matter. With that view, the Repubs got rebuffed, not Trump, and the Dems now undeniably own O-Care. Death spiral continues, premiums continue to soar, and Trump can thumb his nose at Dems and R’s alike. And the American PMDS Health Care Program (“Pay More To Die Sooner”) will lurch on.

  2. Steve H.

    Hummingbirds: if you aren’t lucky enough to have them live outdoors, here‘s a list of where you can experience them.

    1. fresno dan

      Steve H.
      March 25, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Is that a Pinocchio species of hummingbird? Or maybe this particular hummingbird is in the hummingbird … “adult” industry?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Maybe if the deep blossomed flowers it prefers are its non-consenting partners ;)

        I think this hummingbird was recently featured in the Planet Earth 2 series – it lives with other shorter billed hummingbirds and evolved the long bill so it doesn’t have to compete with them for the same food.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah I remember thinking “why didn’t it, having the longer bill, outcompete the other hummingbirds for *all* the flowers and thus be the only one left..” — and then I realized I was just being a stupid human who’s ignorant beliefs in “competition” will hopefully clear us off the planet within the next millennium.

  3. Pavel

    After this AHCA fiasco/farce do you think the DC crowd will finally admit the current US system of “government” is just a complete joke? The Dems had all the majorities they needed and came up with the bloated mess that is Obamacare (cf Lambert’s excellent Clusterf*ck series from way back when). The Repubs railed against it from the start but instead of carefully developing a workable alternative over the last half dozen years they could only come up with this AHCA plan, which incredibly managed to be worse than ACA.

    Honestly, the US would be better governed if the congresscritters were just chosen randomly from each state’s population. I’d prefer a few teachers, managers, IT workers, restaurant dishwashers and even the guy flipping burgers at McDonalds to the corrupt parasites in place now.

    As Stacy Herbert pointed out recently (as have others), “Health care is not that difficult” — just look to the north. The Canadian system isn’t perfect but at least it works.

    ACA and AHCA aren’t about “health care” — they are about “health insurance”. True health care would be better education for all, better prenatal care, sensible drug and gun policy, proper teaching about nutrition and access to healthy foods, exercise promotion… And an understanding that humans all age and must die of something. Ludicrous amounts are spent in the last 2 or 3 weeks or months of a person’s life, when typically instead of being stuffed full of tubes and chemicals (at outrageous cost to the family and state) the patient would prefer to die peacefully at home.

      1. Lord Koos

        It’s not totally random — the attorneys get to pick and choose from the pool of jurors.

    1. mikey

      Just wanted to jump onto this and say I’m increasingly in favor of choosing Representatives in some sort of demarchic system.
      The main criticism I hear when pushing this idea is that the burger flippers would be grossly incompetent. But would this not create the incentives for a truly robust education system? If even the least among us can become a Representative in the House, should we not ensure that they can do a decent job? No child left behind indeed!

      I also happen to think we should elect Senators based not on state, but on which committee they will serve on. Perhaps making the Senatorial elections more issue-based would change both the internal dynamics of the Senate and how voters interact with the Senate for the better.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If we don’t abolish the Senate as we don’t have slavery anymore and the state economies are much more fluid:

        -glorified congressional districts with many more people that do the align to house districts. NYC and it’s suburbs would have two Senators and the rest of NY would have two. We would just do what states with bicameral legislatures already do. We would still have staggered elections.
        -indirect elections. I think the elevation of former state Speakers would prevent demagogues who are measuring their White House drapes and promote people who understand of difficult governing is.
        -PR districts and abolish SMDP, they are anachronisms.
        -lottery. Shrub, Obama, and Trump. And people say lottery would elevate people who are unfit…

        1. polecat

          Exactly !

          Our ‘leaders’, as they are in their current capacity, are only fit to shovel horse manure … if that ! I say lets pick, at random, some lowly ‘deplorables’ to lead … I mean, how could they be ANY worse that what we have now ?

      2. Eclair

        God, yes, mikey!

        Whenever I see the faces of those senators who have held the reins of power for 20, 30, 40 years … all I can think of is how desperately out-of-touch with the lives and needs of their constituents (well, not the needs of the .1% of their wealthiest constituents and corporate cronies) they are, how smug and self-satisfied they look, how botoxed and salon-tanned and firmed up and dyed.

        I like your point that if we chose legislators by lottery, we might think it more expedient to have a well-educated populace.

      3. fresno dan

        March 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

        “The main criticism I hear when pushing this idea is that the burger flippers would be grossly incompetent.”

        So? Anyway, the competence of the current congresscritters is highly debatable.
        The REAL issue is corruption. The only thing congress-beings actually seem to get more knowledgeable about is getting the grift…

        1. MartyH

          I can’t remember where, but I saw a note that the Koch brothers machine threatened Freedom Caucus members with the loss of access to $$$$$$$$$$$$ if they voted for the RyanMess. Stiffens your spine when your real income is at risk, I guess. Wouldn’t surprise me if true … continuing proof that money in politics gets results!

      4. Matt

        I do believe that most people flipping burgers understand that islands do not float and Russia is not invading Korea.

        One positive benefit of having every day Americans go to congress to vote for or against legislation would be that the bills would have to worded in an easy to read and easy to understand way. It takes way too much time to decode what the current bills actually say with all the lawyer jargon in them.

        1. Pavel


          A much simpler move (though not quite as radical and effective) would be to require that ALL congresscritters be present and that EVERY proposed legislation be read out in its ENTIRETY by its sponsor(s) before its passage. That should at least lead to more succinct and hopefully clearly bills.

          As it stands now (as NC readers are no doubt aware), the lobbyists who actually write the bills are able to sneak in all sorts of pork and loopholes and other crony capitalist scams and even the senators and representatives who vote aren’t aware of what is in the legislation.

          1. Young

            We all know that Congress critters don’t write the bill.

            I am not sure if they can read though.

      5. KurtisMayfield

        The main criticism I hear when pushing this idea is that the burger flippers would be grossly incompetent.

        Please tell me how anyone could be worse that the Congress critters? Two possibilities for the ‘failure’ of AHCA:

        1. The Republicans are so incompetent that they cannot govern (which actually matches their ideology at this point)
        2. The bill was purposely made this bad so that it wouldn’t pass.

        My money is on number 2.

      6. Mark P

        Mikey wrote: ‘I’m increasingly in favor of choosing Representatives in some sort of demarchic system.’

        Needless to say, the SF writers have been there. Philip K. Dick’s first novel, SOLAR LOTTERY (1955), does in fact feature a future society so ordered in which the Quizmaster, head of world government, is chosen through a sophisticated, computerized lottery.

        I’ll quote the Wiki precis —

        ‘Society is further entertained by a televised selection process in which an assassin is also allegedly chosen at random. By countering and putting down these threats to his life, the leader gains the respect of the people. If he loses his life, a new Quizmaster, as well as another assassin, are again randomly selected. Quizmasters have historically held office for timespans ranging from a few minutes to several years.’

        Needless to say, the elites have learned to game the system in Dick’s novel.

      7. hunkerdown

        As if titles and the ability to service billionaires while wearing a necktie were significators of competence, or as if executive competence were a necessary or sufficient condition for delivering adequate and fair material benefits to the people! Except that’s not even what elective aristocracy is meant for. It exists to establish an arbitrary hierarchy of value and justify value’s expropriation and concentration into the fewest practical hands. If it didn’t do this, there would be no point.

        Lottery, with a robust and final popular recall mechanism to re-roll the dice, would be an excellent, fair way of staffing the civil service and government. It would inevitably bring new narratives into the ruling discourse to challenge the old, “settled” narratives, and in so doing serve well to smash the Deep State that, in Charles Hugh Smith’s first stab at a precise definition, collect, archive and curate the dominant narratives and their implicit teleologies, and suppress alternatives rightly or wrongly.

        Unfortunately, the oligarchic Senate is the cornerstone of the Union, the only invariant of the US Constitutional government: that the States, that is, those admitted to the club of oligarchs by the oligarchs themselves, shall not be deprived of their representation in the Union, as symbolized by the Senate, without their own consent. Would that there were a way to reconstruct the Senate, as a whole, into a sort of retirement home for salespeople, a ceremonial body of cosmetic import and no policy influence whatsoever, whose options when presented with any matter are to assent or resign.

    2. Carolinian

      Term limits were a prominent feature of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and naturally the first thing he dropped after becoming speaker. However some of those freshman Republican congressmen (including mine) honored their pledge and stepped down at the end of their “limit.” To me it’s further proof that Animal Farm was Orwell’s great book rather than the far fetched 1984. Once the insurgents take over it’s two legs good, four legs bad. Naturally the media are treating the AHCA defeat in the only terms that interest them, not just “markets” but also power. The truth is that everything that’s happened since the election has been a vulgar power struggle. Exaggerating Trump into the new Hitler is part of this, thereby rationalizing the vulgarity. Since we peons have little seeming control over said power–not even those term limits–there’s little to do but pass the popcorn, or perhaps the booze.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Those “term limit Republicans” also came from a large class, and the personalities who matter in Congress are the members of small classes and the leaders of large classes. If you don’t me get elected as the boss of a large class, you are more or less doomed to back benches status, so you might as well get out for otherwise thankless jobs. Those people aren’t the ones who get to go on TV. You get all the perks plus you can go back to your old life and probably find a way to make more money without prostitution ones self.

        If the Dems weren’t wiped out in 2010, there would be a host of retirements.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Dems had all the majorities they needed and came up with the bloated mess that is Obamacare (cf Lambert’s excellent Clusterf*ck series from way back when). The Repubs railed against it from the start but instead of carefully developing a workable alternative over the last half dozen years they could only come up with this AHCA plan, which incredibly managed to be worse than ACA.

      It will probably take an united effort…bipartisan.

      One team alone hasn’t been able to do it.

      The saddest thing is that some opportunists will take advantage of this for 2018 and 2020, talking up single payer. And then, we will again find out, one party alone can’t do it.

    4. pce

      “Voting by lot is in the nature of democracy; voting by choice is in the nature of aristocracy.”

    5. fosforos

      That would not only be a vast improvement–it would also mean we had a REAL (ie., Athenian-model) democracy.

      1. witters

        Why is everyone a trifle disparaging of the burger-flipper? This was not the Athenian way.

        “In the Assembly each male citizen of Athens could speak, regardless of his station. The orator Aeschines says that “the herald, acting as a sergeant-at-arms, does not exclude from the platform the man whose ancestors have not held a general’s office, nor even the man who earns his daily bread by working at a trade; nay, these men he most heartily welcomes, and for this reason he repeats again and again the invitation, ‘Who wishes to address the Assembly?’”

          1. clinical wasteman

            Yes! +[pick a number by lottery].
            And if we were to suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine that “developed world”* states were meaningfully democratic, “Citizens vs. Helots” would not be such a bad analogy for the global relationship between the upper 20-25-30-40% in those lucky places and everyone else, i.e. 60+% of the “developed” and almost everyone everywhere else. Helots weren’t allowed to spend a lot of time in the shining centres of Hellenic Culture either, and even when they did, a reasonable chance of staying alive and unmaimed was not part of the deal. See Perry Anderson, ‘Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism’, and G.E.M. de Ste-Croix, ‘Class Struggle in the Ancient World’.

            (*”developed world”: personally I prefer the negative of that particular picture)

        1. Rhondda

          Thanks for pointing that. I wondered what you were quoting and looked it up. Very interesting! This kind of direct, participatory democracy really appeals to me.

          This should be taught in school. Maybe it is; certainly wasn’t in any of my schooling experiences and I attended well over a dozen schools in 4 states.

  4. fresno dan

    Trump was right after all about the Obama administration wiretaps Jonathan Turley, The Hill. Linking to this again, since I’m stunned that Turley would write this, given the Democrat stance that intelligence agencies are the Republic’s only safeguard against tyranny. (OK, I exaggerate. But only a little.)

    As you posted again, I’ll comment again ;)
    One of the most telling examples of media mania was the insistence that Trump was referring only to wiretapping and no other form of surveillance. From the earliest days of the scandal, I balked at that narrow reading. As someone who has written and litigated in the surveillance field for over three decades, the narrow reading is absurd.

    “Wiretap” has often been used as a generality for surveillance, particularly among those of Trump’s generation. It is the same colloquial meaning as when the Supreme Court commonly used “eavesdropping” to refer to surveillance.It was not limiting decisions like Katz v. United States to circumstances where people hid in the eaves of homes and listened to conversations within.

    There is no reason to assume that Trump meant solely the act of an actual wiretap when he put wiretap in quotations as opposed to surveillance. Yet, when this obvious point was made by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, the media lit up over the White House was changing its allegation.

    Likewise, referring to President Obama as tapping phones can reasonably be understood as the Obama administration, not specifically President Obama, venturing to Trump Tower in some disguise as a repairman to tap a phone. Yet, the media has continued to express alarm that the “facts are changing” when the White House made that obvious point about these tweets.

    Now, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (who previously said he knew of no evidence to support the allegation) has disclosed that he has seen evidence that Trump presidential transition officials had their communications monitored during the Obama administration (though Nunes later suggested that he might not have actually seen the evidence of the surveillance).

    He also said that the inadvertent interceptions were then subject to “unmasking” where intelligence officials actively and knowingly attached the names of the parties to transcripts and then circulated the information widely within the intelligence community. If true, that would clearly support a part of the president’s allegations and raise very serious questions about the improper use of surveillance. It would be Trump’s ultimate “redrum” moment.

    Yet, when this disclosure was made by the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, CNN and other news outlets immediately proclaimed that it did not prove anything about the Trump allegations — again emphasizing that he said Obama “wiretapped” Trump’s phone. That is like saying that an alleged victim is not to be believed because he said that some “second story man broke into my home” when the evidence showed that there was no second story on the house and the burglar entered through an open window. The point is whether Trump campaign staff were subject to surveillance under the Obama administration.

    I want to be scrupulously fair and not be guilty of the very thing I would accuse others of. The president of the US (Trump) should be very exact and careful in his language, and maybe read up on things so he at least appears to have some minor amount of knowledge of what he is talking about. And maybe even consider after making a charge…I dunno, propose some action to alleviate it?

    But it is hard in listening to the media not to get the impression that they are seriously offended by the notion that Obama has been insulted and it is the media’s duty to defend Obama’s honor.

    Now, there is some heavy, heavy IRONY in that. Obama has done more to limit press freedom and imperil whistle blowers and make government less transparent that any other president. The dem brand is that they are liberal – facts be d*mned – and the main stream media’s brand is that they are interested in the “deep” truth – yet they do more to perpetuate the false notion of a civil libertarian Obama* and perpetuate shallow and callow notions than any other institution in this country.
    All public relations all the time….

    I watched considerably more CNN and MSNBC than usual last night (most was about health care), and it appeared to me that there would be no walking back ONE iota of the stance that Trump WAS NOT WIRETAPPED. It seems there is the idea of even THINKING that illegal surveillance could have occurred is some kind of venal sin (thinking that the Obama administration could have done something wrong)..

    *Well, the whole notion that this is actually a freedom loving country or a country run by the rule of law…

        1. Alex Morfesis

          MGM presents…not to suggest that what Montgomery claims should not be questioned…but when the article is written by a 1% er who has decided that to supplement the trust fund checks with a “yahb” a$ a $elf proclaimed “inve$tigative” reporter…

          Loew…as in the Crystal Hall on 14th…aka arcade vaudeville company…marcus loew…

          Have not followed krazypantz sheriff in McCainville…but…when the news barks that someone has been held in contempt of court…that is the legal equivalent of being arrested for resisting arrest because you didn’t say enuf yessuhz to officer bob and he processed you for not obeying a “stupid” but “lawful since he said it” order…funny that…

          But that nyt article is by risen….so there is that…

          Funny how much money slushes around the military budgets…

        2. Matt

          I would still like this to be investigated on whether it is true or not. I have not heard of one phone number or I.P address being disputed by anyone that was made aware of the surveillance documents. Furthermore, I do not see it being possible for even the best scam artist to fabricate 600 million documents and have contact information for each person being surveyed correct. The New York Times is nothing more than a mouthpiece of the permanent state (intelligence communities). The New York Times attacking the credibility of this person makes me think he is actually credible and the Intelligence Community (permanent state) is scared of these documents going public.

          William Binney makes a good point when he says that the NSA could prevent a lot more terrorist/extremist attacks if the NSA spent more time monitoring the terrorist/extremist instead of political adversaries and citizens of this country.

          I wonder how much of the deficit we could eliminate if we eliminated 14 of the 17 intelligence agencies?

        3. Rhondda

          Reading that NYT story by Risen, I was reminded of the nasty Inslaw / PROMIS machinations in the 70s.

          I don’t know what the truth is, but something’s smelly here.

      1. dcblogger

        Larry Klayman is a notorious Clinton hating right wing conspiracy theorist. Newsmax and Freedom Watch are wing-nut sites.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      One of my frustrations with the news media is their selectivity in what to highlight (and by extension, to leave out). They seem to take what they perceive as facts, often through a very narrow, willfully literalist reading, then fit those into their narrative or worldview. They jump at any chance for caviling, while ignoring what so many readers, viewers and sentient beings notice. No wonder trust in the news is so low.

      It is one thing to pursue the evidence wherever it leads, and quite another to manipulate that pathway. In the process, news consumers become (more) path-dependent. Bug or feature, depending on one’s point of view.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Trump was not wiretapped. He was wrong to say that. Trump was spied on. We win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…again.”

    3. Lee

      fresno dan
      March 25, 2017 at 8:30 am

      It seems there is the idea of even THINKING that illegal surveillance could have occurred is some kind of venal sin (thinking that the Obama administration could have done something wrong)..

      *Well, the whole notion that this is actually a freedom loving country or a country run by the rule of law…

      An equally disturbing thought is that said surveillance is perfectly legal.

      1. fresno dan

        March 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm

        I agree.
        Now I am still unclear if FISA warrant(s) were issued for Flynn or not (maybe the fact the system is a star chamber is what is making getting at an official documented statement so difficult). But whether it was or not, it seems pretty apparent that laws prohibiting the “unmasking” of American conversations “captured” incidentally has occurred. And as usual, these “violations” of constitutional rights will result in nada, zip, nothing in the way of consequences – no demotions, no firings, no prosecutions, no convictions…..which tells you all you have to know about our masters concern with protecting our rights….

        1. Lee

          There is a detailed explication of the issue from the heart of the Blob in an interview of Michael Morell by Charlie Rose. How unnerving it must be to find the agency of which you are the putative head, is reporting to you details of what you thought was a private conversation. Yikes!

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL, “warrants”, LOL.
          None are required, we now ship raw “un-privacy protected” data straight to our Five Eyes allies, thanks to Obama. So our seditious former President just asked our allies for the Trump spy data. Et voila! A true banana republic police state.
          It’s almost like that thing called “the Constitution” doesn’t exist any more. Good news! We can save costs by firing all those judges and lawyers who work to see that it is upheld. Next up: those pesky so-called “laws” that Congress insists on passing all the time. It’ll be every man for himself (good thing America is heavily armed)

          1. JTMcPhee

            I’d offer “No, it won’t be every man for himself/woman for herself/kids too “– I think a series of articles posted in NC a couple of years ago explains fairly presciently (in my limited gaze) what stuff is more likely to be like: “Journey into a Libertarian Future,” starting with part one at

            Organize, and be wealthy — or be screwed…

            And so many of those “laws” are just to add to the advantages of the kleptocracy/oligarchy, all behind a cover story that “Hey, we got representative government, you voted these people into office, now you got to live with whatever they legislate in your name and on your be-halved…”

          2. Rhondda

            …we now ship raw “un-privacy protected” data straight to our Five Eyes allies…

            The 5 Eyes — and Israel.

    4. uncle tungsten

      Where was Flynn at the time? Has Moonofalabama got it right? or even newsbud dot com?

  5. MoiAussie

    At last, the US-led civilian bloodbath in Mosul is getting some MSM coverage:

    U.S. Investigating Mosul Strikes Said to Have Killed Up to 200 Civilians
    Iraqi forces pause Mosul push over concern for civilian casualties
    Airstrike monitoring group overwhelmed by claims of U.S.-caused civilian casualties

    “Almost 1,000 civilian non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March — a record claim,” Airwars said in a statement.

    Allternative sources give a clearer picture: Iraq Civilians Caught in West Mosul Crossfire
    ISIS using civilians for cover and Iraqi troops using non-precision rockets is causing high civilian casualties, as particularly are coalition air-strikes.

    Rights groups have expressed concern over the mounting civilian death toll, as ISIS fights from homes and densely-populated areas, a threat the Iraqi military and US-led coalition have been countering with heavy weaponry to support troops on the ground.
    Families fleeing Mosul in recent weeks have talked of high numbers of civilians killed by air strikes, and said that in many cases ISIS jihadists have already slipped away by the time the bombs hit.

    Also, to my shame: Questions raised over Australian Defence Force’s tracking of suspected civilian casualties from air strikes

    But Airwars said Australia was refusing to disclose the date, location and targets of their air strikes and that the NGO now ranks the ADF as one of the least transparent military coalition members. “The contrast with Australia couldn’t be starker. With Australia we get nothing,” Mr Woods said. “We’re incapable of engaging with Australia because they won’t tell us where they bomb, they won’t tell us when they bomb and they won’t tell us what they bomb — and that’s been going on for 30 months.”

    The “contrast with Australia” referred to is between US’ and Australia’s military transparency. As revealed in the article, in response to an FOI request a local lawyer was told the Australian military

    “does not specifically collect authoritative (and therefore accurate) data on enemy and/or civilian casualties in either Iraq or Syria and certainly does not track such statistics”.

    The the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights said that if what the ADF told Ms Tranter (the lawyer) was true, Australia may not be meeting its obligations under international law.

    1. Dead Dog

      yes, sport, my shame too.

      We are there to show our master our fealty.

      And, if you are going to commit war crimes, best not to record the details

    2. Rhondda

      Iraqi troops are also calling in US airstrikes. I have said that is a stunningly bad idea since it was first revealed as new .mil policy during the Obama regime. It’s bad enough that we’re bombing anyone — but having people from other countries tell us where to drop them? As I said at the time, “What could go wrong?” Jeebus.

    3. wilroncanada

      Transparency in invasions, whether they be called “wars on terror” or not, is pretty much myth. It might be better to call it translucency, being part of the”fog of war.”
      All propaganda, all the time.

  6. Jim Haygood

    “Mr. Trump will need to decide, quickly, whether his goal is to knock over the still-functioning [Obamacare coverage] markets.” — Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times-Mockingbird

    Counties with only one health insurer (roughly one third of them in 2017) are not markets; they are monopolies. More importantly, though, a “markety” health coverage overlay on a cartelized industry is merely the illusion of a market — fine for journos and well-coiffed solons, but not okay for us.

    While new-patient discount coupons from dentists do exist, one NEVER sees quoted prices from a hospital or medical doctor. It’s unprofessional and indelicate to discuss vulgar prices, says the AMA. Their system is analogous to military contracting: it’s “cost plus,” with every piecemeal line item added on and astronomically marked up (as opposed to a lump sum price, which they have plenty of data to offer).

    US health care is even worse than military contracting, in that the health cartel gets to make up its own specifications as it goes along. Far from encouraging economy, this setup incentivizes runaway overspending, to the tune of several percentage points of GDP. That’s incredible.

    ACA and AHCA are just Band-Aids on a cancerous tumor. A competitive model with quoted prices, or comprehensively administrated prices, or a hybrid model with basic in-kind health services plus a self-pay overlay — successful examples exist of all three.

    What we have in the USA is a moribund political duopoly which lacks any imagination or creativity, and is sold out to entrenched interests. If the “comfortably numb” regime in DC can’t be fixed, some regions may prefer to just check out altogether.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      While new-patient discount coupons from dentists do exist, one NEVER sees quoted prices from a hospital or medical doctor. It’s unprofessional and indelicate to discuss vulgar prices, says the AMA.

      Those doctors who don’t speak up against this are not healing their patients.

      Healing includes relieving stress over paying for health care.

      They are, in this fundamental sense, not doctors, not physicians.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      March 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

      “While new-patient discount coupons from dentists do exist, …”

      adventures in medical bargaining….
      Mr. Haygood Now that I have you in the chair, let’s discuss Novocaine….type: good, better, or best??? – And: Dose – – ineffective, near effective, or totally effective???

    3. Ruben

      You said there are successful examples of competitive model with quoted prices, comprehensively administrated prices, and hybrid models. I would suggest that the private-public health insurance system in Chile is an example of a relatively successful competitive model with quoted prices.

      Chile has the 2nd healthiest people’s in the Americas (after Canada) according to Bloomberg’s health index:

      The Chilean system is like the ACA except that it includes a public option with much lower prices. People that have used the public option are generally satisfied with their service, though it might be slower and less fancy than the service from the private insurance companies.

      I have said earlier in a rather cynical manner that one key to the functioning of this competitive model with a public option that pull prices down is that a group of government technicians every year calculates how much underfunded the public option has to be in order to herd how much of a proportion of the non-snobs 10%-ers out of the public option and into the private insurance companies.

      Still there are lots of chicanery by medical staff in private health insurance to increase prices but they have to hide their dirty tricks from both the patient and the insurance companies so it is not totally arbitrary.

  7. BeliTsari

    So, NPR has now been apprised that middle aged white folks who do NOT listen, on their pre-set Blaupunkts, are dropping like flies. Granted, I’m pretty fahklempt that Mormons & Seventh Day Adventists aren’t smitten, so it’s unlikely to be divine retribution? “Working class” and “white” always seemed like too many consonants to NPR? Maybe, once my people have to plant, grow, pick, slaughter, butcher, pack, ship, prep, cook, serve & bus… our own somatotropin, antibiotic, GE monoculture, nitrosamine & HFCS engorged food… we’ll basically live forever?

  8. bwilli123

    re Bloomberg’s take down of Dilbert creator Scott Adams, ” How Scott Adams Got Hypnotized by Trump ”
    His reply also bears reading

    “Last autumn, before the election, a writer for Bloomberg asked to spend a day with me to interview me for a feature piece about my blogging on Trump, and my life in general. I could tell from the initial conversation that it was going to be a hostile article. The reporter was open about being deeply frightened of Trump, believing him to be a racist, sexist, homophobic monster. So you can imagine how she felt about me for writing flattering blog posts about his persuasion talents.
    I quickly determined that agreeing to the interview would be foolhardy. Obviously it was going to be a hit piece. The writer weakly tried to conceal that fact, but failed miserably. ”

    1. MartyH

      Mr. Adams’s posts pointed out his interpretation the “persuasion” approaches (propaganda?) used by Mr. Trump and contrasted them with the Clinton Campaign’s behaviors. It was “reporting” … influenced no doubt by Mr. Adams’s confirmation bias regarding “persuasion” and its effectiveness. It is at best “amusing” to see Bloomberg, the handicapping giant of the economy (entrails of a duck, shapes of clouds scudding across the sky, position of Neptune with regard to Mercury, etc.) complaining about somebody’s methods of predictive analysis.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are not happy about Mr. Adams or Russians violating their monopoly on ‘opinion making.’

        Only they are authorized to make, to manufacture opinions.

    2. John Wright

      The Bloomberg-Business Week piece led me to view Adams as an impressed observer of Trump, not that Adams was “hypnotized” by Trump.

      Usually Business magazines/media celebrate people who appear to correctly foresee and capitalize on events/trends.

      In this prediction arena, Adams appears reasonably successful with Trump’s successful election.

      While not an Adams predicted landslide by any means, but Trump did do well in the Electoral College.

      Adams will probably get more net readers of his blog and strip as a result of this interview.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Adams made several, rationale predictions and observations about the Trump/Hillary match up lost on the press and the Clintonistas. Donor types want to know what went wrong, and if I was a major donor, I might have picked up on Adams and get, “why didn’t you see this?” to the pundocracy. The current courtier class desperately needs to delegitimize everyone who was right, or they risk losing their jobs. Why didn’t the brain trust at Forbes get it right?

        “Fake news” and “OMG Putin” are part of the same trend. The couriers of Versailles aren’t pulling their weight. In a country of 300 million, anyone can be replaced, even Bill Belichick who has three guys on his staff right now who could take over.

      1. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        March 25, 2017 at 11:01 am

        are we speaking of “dey babble” – a group engaging in babbling….typically a defined group, e.g., gang of 8, or red nose ringed moderate health care reform repubs.
        or are we speaking of “debabble” – a particular babbling regarding a distinct issue or subject, filled with recognizable soundbites, e.g., “murderous thug Putin!”

        and both variations in spelling are for one definition?

  9. Linda

    Thursday was World Meteorological Day

    USA Today

    The world’s cloud authority, having not classified a new cloud in three decades, arose Thursday to name about a dozen new types, including a rolling, slalom-like form known to blanket the Iowa sky.

    The asperitas cloud is among the stars of the World Meteorological Organization’s scarcely published International Cloud Atlas. A new version of the atlas, last published in 1987, was unveiled on Thursday, World Meteorological Day.

    Adding asperitas to the atlas’ about 100 cloud combinations was the work of the world-wide Cloud Appreciation Society. …

    Among the new clouds were five “supplementary features,” which included asperitas and five “special clouds.” Stand-outs included the volutus, which the organization describes as a “tube-shaped cloud mass” that streaks horizontally across the sky.

    “If we want to forecast weather we have to understand clouds,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “If we want to model the climate system we have to understand clouds. And if we want to predict the availability of water resources, we have to understand clouds.”

    International Cloud Atlas has 12 new classifications: volutus, asperitas, fluctus, cavum, murus, cauda, flumen …

    The World Meteorological Organization Twitter page

    1. Stephanie

      The asperitas cloud is among the stars of the World Meteorological Organization’s scarcely published International Cloud Atlas. A new version of the atlas, last published in 1987, was unveiled on Thursday, World Meteorological Day.

      Thank you for sharing this! I’ve seen these occasionally when driving down to my dad’s place and thought “What the heck?” Now I know.

    2. fresno dan

      March 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

      I’m gonna lay out in the yard and look up at the sky until I see ’em all…..of course, we’re getting very close to when there is not a cloud in the sky for months and months in Fresno……I better pack plenty of beer….

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I remember the paucity of clouds in the Central Valley for much of the year. Up here we can’t see much of clouds in the sky, the low clouds, trees, and rain block them out.

  10. Linda

    Hello Bob … health care article, Wa Post.

    In case anyone else has trouble: I hit a paywall trying to read that article. Tried a bit to get past it, but no. Then clicked over to the home page, saw the link to the story there, and clicked over and read it with no problem.

  11. b

    “How Paul Ryan played Donald Trump Ezra Klein, Vox”

    Klein is simply dumb.

    Trump let Ryan do his thing and fail. Trump gave no support to him. Ryan and the crazy Republicans take the blame, not Trump. He has the crazies tamed now. Next time they will have to listen to Trump, do what he says and not fall out of line with their own projects. Otherwise .. well, they have seen now what happens otherwise.

    Slick move by T.

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      Klein has been pushing ‘actually, Paul Ryan is a super smart wonk’ bullshit for years and years.

      He is seriously one of the stupidest Daily Show Liberals we’re forced to put up with. I think he’d lose a battle of wits to Jonathan Chait, who in turn would lose a battle of wits to Elmer Fudd.

      1. JTFaraday

        Before EK twisted himself into knots rationalizing everything the D-Party did once it returned to power in 2008, he was not entirely dumb. Shows you what too much ideology can do to a person.

        The reason they all say that about Ryan is that he is the only Republican that even bothers to try to fake it. They are a faith based collectivity that functions almost 100% on ritual incantation.

        1. JTFaraday

          This last– ritual incantation makes it so– will be on full display when they move on to tax cuts, the rain dance that is supposed to create Trump’s boom economy and prop up a stock market that’s already overvalued by about 30%.

          Help me.

    2. Carolinian

      Exactly right. Trump can say he fulfilled his campaign promise even if he didn’t try very hard to do so. As Haygood says above, the real medical crisis–cost–may be beyond political reach at this time.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Agreed – Klein has it exactly backwards but what do we really expect anything else from these clowns?

      I admittedly haven’t followed the latest healthcare dustup very closely as it was clear from the outset this was a garbage bill everyone hated and it was never going to pass. But it was clearly Ryan’s idea, not Trump’s, and Trump gave an ultimatum the other day to basically either s**t or get off the pot. Seemed pretty clear he wasn’t willing to waste any more time with this nonsense.

      The Democrat party gloating about this looks pretty silly – ridiculing him for failing to pass a bill he didn’t want to pass in the first place.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump doesn’t really have “ideas.” He farmed out the process, largely because he had nothing which is partially a response to Hillary not having policy until she was forced to.

        The obvious problem is Healthcare is already a disaster and will continue to unwind, and most of the “harmless” tweaks that wouldn’t upset the apple cart were done as part of ACA. The Republicans can’t do much without ticking off people, and direct cash infusions to corporations with a little edit of window dressing such as Medicare Part D where no one is directly hurt won’t go over well with the deficit hawks and the Ryan crowd. The situation with Healthcare was always moving to chaos or single payer. The government lacks the permanent class of analysts who might be able to create a non single payer plan, but look at Hillary back in ’93. The whole exercise was how to present an alternative to single payer. And it turned into a clusterf#@k. Anything short of destroying the for profit health monopolies will fail.i suppose one could force the HMOs into non profit outfits and pass laws requiring insurance to cover out of network emergency coverage which is sort of similar to the system prior to Ted Kennedy’s HMO Act of 1973. The “best laid plans of mice…” issue is the problem. Legislating that is virtually impossible especially when the “good” party farms much of Its important work (Veterans and budget committees are big jobs) to a relatively uncredentialed, independent Senator.

        As for Team Blue gloating, what do they have going for them? They are likely to lose Senate seats next year, and Pelosi and company are still running the House. Let them have this.

        1. Mark P

          In 2006-2008, I saw a analysis of potential future scenarios for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry prepared by Stewart Brand and Peter Schwartz’s foresigh company, Global Business Network, that predicted that by 2020 medical costs would have risen so high more Americans would be outside the system than in it.

          So I’ve always understood that the ACA/Obamacare/Romneycare is a preemptive bailout for the American medical-industrial complex. Possibly it’s served to forestall collapse till, say, 2022-2024. But collapse will come. On the positive side, at least the ACA and its accompanying political battles have forced the term ‘single payer’ into the media conversation.

    4. RenoDino

      You are misreading the situation. Trump is an absentee landlord when it comes to the nuts and bolts of policy. He was misled by the three establishment Ps, Pence, Priebus and Price to believe that Ryan was a grand master of the “Way Forward.” He bought their plan not really knowing what was in it and proceeded to sell the sh*t of it gaining Ryan’s fawning praise as the Big Closer. It was a doomed union from the start, but Trump was totally clueless and committed his political capital to the effort. Now he looks like a total fool and knows that three Ps and Ryan are the reason he’s no longer seen as a winner.

      Now it gets really ugly because he can’t trust anybody around him. I said here three weeks ago that Ryan would drive this bill into a ditch and he will do the same to tax cuts with his border adjustment. Trump is all bluster. By calling for the ACA to exploded, he looks particularly mean spirited after having failed to fix it. This will crush his popularity to new lows and those who once feared him will laugh in his face.

      1. bronco

        he is misreading the situation? Seems like you just made up everything in your post No one likes Paul Ryan anywhere least of all Trump , Ryan is just always mentioned by the fake news press as a leading republican because it makes the right look dumb. Republican voters barely know who Ryan is because they don’t watch the channels that talk about him.

        When you say “This will crush his popularity to new lows and those who once feared him will laugh in his face.” thats just some sort of wishful thinking on your part .

      2. PH

        I agree with most of your analysis, but take a little issue with the idea that Trump “learned” he cannot trust Ryan. Trump never had any choice. He Is staffed by Republicans, and his agencies are full of Republican Hill staff (or soon will be).

        That messianic skinny budget was just for show, and was DOA just like every other presidential budget.

        The famed infrastructure proposal is just as irrelevant as all the ones Obama pumped out (there were many). That stuff is technical and methodically negotiated on the Hill (when it happens) and no one is working on any such thing. No press release will change that hard fact.

        The debt ceiling has the Republican Party careening toward a nervous breakdown, and Dems will probably try to stay out of the way and let it happen (like Trumpcare). I am not sold that that is the right approach, but it is what I expect.

        In short, frustration ahead for the Donald. I expect him to lash out against the Freedom Caucus, and for those zealots to dig in their heels.

        Now is the time to be hitting the drum for a Progressive alternative, but I do not know who to look to for leadership. I see no organization yet.

      3. kareninca

        Huh? Trump despises Ryan; that has been clear for a while. He played Ryan here; he let him put out a POS bill and then supported it just enough to look like a team player. This is going to make Trump more feared, since he just made Ryan look like the moron he is; Ryan’s power is now diminished.

        1. PH

          I do not know whether Trump likes Ryan, but he depends upon Ryan for Hill things.

          Trump has independent power in important areas. Rulemaking, enforcement, military, intelligence, etc.

          But for running things through Congress, Trump needs an agent. Ryan is willing to be Trump’s boy. McConnell not so much.

          With tax policy next, the Trump/Ryan team rides again.

    5. craazyboy

      Unfortunately, tax cuts are the next thing on the agenda, and the chastised Rs will need to get cooperative….

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        He will have the same problem with taxes except maybe the AMT in the Northeast and coastal California.

        The Cruz types will want to end taxes. The deficit hawks will blunder about. The overtaxed are usually small businesses and lower class types being taxed by states in response to declining federal revenues to the states.

        Rationally, the GOP should still be a rump party built around the KKKhristians and gun nuts. Right now, the leaders are Trump, Ryan, and McConnell, largely because Team Blue is a gang of Clinton hanger ons and Obama devotees. Not one of the three is an evangelical based candidate or a gun nut. It’s astounding when you think about it.

        The same situation will occur as with ACA. There isn’t much room for federal tax relief without appeasing the deficit hawks who will demand higher taxes on the majority to help out the rich. Everyone is on edge. There will be a backlash, and there isn’t a workable majority for bad policies the way there have been in the past, and the tweaks such as those $300/600 gift cards have been done.

        1. allan

          craazyboy is right.
          When it comes to tax “reform”, our long national nightmare of GOP gridlock is over.

          There are no deficit hawks.
          Forced to choose between cutting taxes and raising defense spending,
          modern Republicans will run over their grandmothers.

      2. flora

        Both party establishments have an electoral problem with continuing the neoliberal ‘business as usual’ politicies of the last 35 years, imo. I think the saner members in both parties know this.

        From Jeremy Grantham’s 2016 4th qtr GMO quartley newsletter.
        “The Road to Trumpsville: The Long, Long Mistreatment of the American Working Class”

        “By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people?
        Well, they are us. All of us.

        ” I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary. ”

        Yes, tax cuts are next on the agenda. But with the realization the the polity has largely turned against ‘business as usual’ ; the knowledge that voters just elected Trump instead of a more ‘business as usual’ Dem or Republican, I’d guess there are some second thoughts about how far to push more tax cuts for the rich. Doesn’t mean the saner ones can rein in the firebrands of course.

        1. flora

          I do expect tax cuts, but how deep and how targeted? Will they again reward looting, laying off employees, off shoring, carry interest and capital gains? Or will they reward re-shoring manufacturing, expanding capacity and hiring, making education and medical costs deductable, for example?

          1. craazyboy

            I’m hoping for the best, but the Dark Side has amassed 40 years of TINA arguments generated by their massive network of “think tanks” and lobbyists which are mostly economic propagandists and lawyers financed by “tax exempt” foundations or well paid lobbyist firms created by our “philanthropist” billionaire and corporatist overlords.

            Moreover, 40 years of brainwashing does work, and at this point the general population and even well meaning experts probably can’t even imagine workable alternatives to TINA.

            They have been “killing the beast” all along, and I’m afraid only some people are starting to become aware that The Beast is us, and the enormity of the high powered and coordinated effort that exists to make life on Earth an impossibility for the 90%.

            But I’ll still keep my fingers crossed. Because our TINA.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Power is the ultimate…maybe not quite…ugly frogs and squids usually need some other help…always figured clayton bigsby had a bit of a lisp…

      White pow(d)er…white pow(d)er…

      Dr Strangelove had a personal assistant born in nyc named Lapo who certainly thought so…

      And as to the court jester of kyffhauser (youn-kyr) who proclaims himself an innocent…

      having the grandson of josef selmayr as your campaign manager and chief of staff over the eu…


      and just because his grandfather was “rehabilitated” by the foolish admittance of former “intelligence” officers who claimed to do a sgt schultz…

      Erdo is being nice…he has the files…he should out the grandchildren and let the world decide…

      or maybe I can just see if the rays are going to make the playoffs and have some spanakopita on central avenue….


  12. MtnLife

    Related heavily to the extreme sports zen article. I’ve been snowboarding for over 20 years and teaching for 18. It saved my life. When I was younger I had serious problems with depression. Snowboarding gave me an outlet that made me feel alive. When I ride, the rest of the world melts away and I have the giddy exuberance of a young child. I have a tendency to live in my head and not in the moment. I don’t have that problem riding. I’ve jumped off of 30′ cliffs in BC where landing on the wrong edge would’ve meant death. The moments before and during that drop were some of the most beautiful, high definition moments of my life. Make no mistake though, this wasn’t some careless, reckless, hucking my carcass into the abyss situation. It was the culmination of years worth of training, practice, experience, and constantly riding the edge of the envelope. There’s a satisfaction and addiction that comes with facing fear down and holding your sh*t together in the face of danger. I’m not happy if I’m not testing myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. Optimader

      Its the stuff of dreams.. literally..

      To finesse your way in control on a board or skiis or surf or bike or skates…pick your obsession. Geared up and skiing fast through birch trees . dropping a shoulder to knit your way through them.. then stopping to look up at the azure blue sky to take it all in, pulling out a pbj sandwich and some horrible gatorade kinda drinky in the quiet. Stuff of recurring dreams for me.
      People that don’t get it have never truly experienced that feeling and probably never will.

      Control doing something you have an apptitude for is what makes any of it so satisfying. As you get older and maybe can’t do the 30′ jump into the goosedown powder, the sum of these experinces will remain in your dreams. Ya gotta live while you’re here, just dont be stupid in the perpetual risk/reward calculations.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Kinesthetics, one of my favorite words. There is something to outdoor sports, whether extreme or just fun, that encourages entering a zen-like state. Inner skiing and inner tennis concepts became popular a few decades ago, thus leading to more inner life. The same concepts including non-verbal thinking may be applied productively in many aspects of life, although perhaps not with the immediate feels-great payoff of a rewarding run down a mountain.

    3. Lee

      Sadly, my arthritic frame can’t handle skiing any more. Relatively late in life, I have discovered motorcycling. Maneuvering through heavy traffic and swooping up and down the less traveled two-lane twisties engenders an exhilarating clarity of mind.

    4. Cat Burglar

      The extreme sports article gets much closer to the reality and diversity of what people get out of them.

      One thing that has always bothered me, a climber for 45 years and an ex-mountain guide, is how inaccuarate the “adrenaline junkie” idea is at capturing how many of climbers are very risk averse. One of the jokes about climbers is that they are all control freaks! And you can see why — the hazards are often obvious (though not always, like avalanche hazard presented by a placid 25 degree snowfield) and the consequences are fast to happen (though not always, like being trapped by storm way up a glacier without enough fuel to melt water).

      We all have to deal with social risks like poverty, unemployment, being stigmatised, car accidents, health problems, all kinds of things — but mountain hazards are refreshingly simple and direct and almost always within the limits of your action or forebearance, and conducting yourself through them gives feelings of fulfillment, competence, tangible freedom, and of being at home in a beautiful world. And you do get the right, when a billionaire poses as an expert on risk taking, to think, “Yeah, right, I bet you know all about risk taking!”

      People will ask me about mountaineering, “Isn’t that dangerous?” But I always wonder, what life isn’t dangerous, and full of exposure to hazards you did not choose? Job interviews seem a lot riskier to me than falling off a cliff, and the consequences of failing that test can be more drawn out and just as lethal. And as the late Royal Robbins wrote in an article about a climb of El Capitan, The North America Wall, a cliff has no malignity.

    5. neo-realist

      White water rafting is the bomb,?. On a hot summer day, going fast while getting splashed with water and witnessing beautiful outdoor scenery. City kid here doesn’t care much for the drudgery and work of hiking and camping, but rafting can fill the need for speed and adrenaline, possibly much like boarding and skiing.

    6. Tom

      Cross country skiing is the ultimate winter sport as far as I’m concerned. Go to craigslist for a set of like-new skis, poles and boots for next to nothing (many people try it once and never again), jump into your vehicle and find a park or forest where there’s snow and have at it. No fees, no time limit, no lines, no rules. Get into the groove and settle your mind while your body gets a total low impact workout. Highly recommended.

  13. PH

    I was interested in your comments about what stopped Trumpcare. Mostly, it was Dem votes. That was the base.

    Beyond that, I agree that the CBO score was influential. It put a number out there that had some credibility. That causes me some chagrin because I think most CBO numbers are fanciful, or politically driven, or both. Like the costs of addressing climate change that do not measure the costs of letting things proceed toward rapid climate change. But here, the CBO gave a number that was shocking that media could use as a hook, and Repubs had no time to address with some counter calculation.

    About the Zeitgeist I am not sure what to think — and maybe it is prudent not to be too sure. But I think you are underselling the impact of the townhall stuff. Congressmen are not geniuses, but they have political ears, and they notice when something is different. People did not used to show up and yell like this, and now they do. That is very loud in that world. The flock moves when it hears wolves baying at the moon.

    I doubt Trump is too worried. He figures Obamacare will fail, and he can just blame Dems.

    Right wing Redstate commenters are worried though. They see Obamacare collapse leading to support for single payer.

    I hope so but a lot can happen between now and then, and will. Other topics will intervene and move the electorate in unpredictable ways, I think. Our times feel in flux to me.

    Taxes seem destined to be the next center ring, with defense spending and the debt ceiling as background. Ironic. Debt ceiling was first enacted to reign in war making.

    Munchin was in press yesterday saying debt ceiling is silly. So we know where the Donaldbis heading. But Freedom Caucus will not follow.

    Can Dems be a positive force? Looks troublesome. That balanced budget Clinton mantra is insane or worse, but has a lot of popular appeal and little organized opposition.

    Plus, do we want deficit spending if the only additional spending is for bombs and aircraft carriers?

    Do not peddle hopes of huge Repub infrastructure bill. No one is even working on one.

    1. lambert strether

      > Mostly, it was Dem votes. That was the base

      The Republicans would have been foolish to expect any Democrats to vote for AHCA, given that no Republicans voted for ACA, which is why I argue that only place the Democrat Party had influence over the process was in districts with Republican reps, that went for Clinton

      1. PH

        You assume that the Dems were automatically s united front. When does that happen? Almost never. And who knows if Dems will scatter over taxes or defense/war spending soon. They might.

        Something special was going on in Dem party, and it started at grass roots. Repub flock were not the only flock hearing the wolves baying.

        There was no public support for Ryan’s effort to decimate Medicaid. Ryan tried a first 109 days blitzkreig tactic, and it did not work.

        Ryan is a pea brain, and comes up with pea brain plans. The miracle is that for once the country saw it.

        1. Pookah Harvey

          Ryan’s plan for huge tax cuts for the donor class calling it healthcare have failed. He now plans to push forward on huge tax cuts for the donor class calling it tax reform.. At least he seems a consistent pea brain

  14. m

    I worked in Arizona for a short time and there were a number of crush injuries, broken bones & amputations that were worked related. I was only there for six months.
    Workers beware, but this has been going on for a while.
    factory deaths
    workers in North Dakota
    independent contractors working cell towers

    1. BeliTsari

      It’s just, now… Worker’s Comp, etc. is frequently optional. I remember witnessing an Indian SAWL mill in Baytown kill the first of 3 workers in a single week (2006). I’d just greeted him, while cutting through his work area, an hour previous. Both their fluoroscope operator & I were reprimanded for using cellphones to get the local paramedics to roll a unit* since mill procedure would’ve had us notify a rent-a-cop to send a supervisor to ascertain whether a 60yr old man, crushed by a 6 ton, 48′ diameter pipe required medical attention. My co-workers, 150′ away, had no idea this had happened, until their line got blocked-out. With no backboard, blankets, oxygen, paddles… or designated EMT assistance, we couldn’t move the man, so we did what we could, while their managers stood-by, fitfully (as production continued throughout the mill.

      * First ambulance arrived within 35 minutes. Carlos was flown-out after an hour. He died a week following.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      It wasn’t just wages that caused people to form unions, it was also worker safety. As an example, the formations of unions in Butte, MT (once a union stronghold in this country):

      I am sure than when workers were fooled into giving up unions to keep their jobs (yea that worked out well, huh?), they didn’t realize that they were also giving up control over their working conditions…..

      1. wilroncanada

        The story also is pointing out that offshoring began, and is still operating as offshoring from the rust belt, or from Europe, or from Canada, to the southern states, and for the same reason as “offshoring” to Mexico or the far east: low wages; no organized worker schemes allowed, often by law; absence of worker safety; poor environmental oversight, also often by law.

        Interesting that rust belt workers don’t seem to be angry at their fellow southern country folk.

        1. BeliTsari

          Astute, infrequently discussed point, thank you! Southern workers seem oblivious of their craven, obsequious suck-upedness; it’s now so infected most Yankee co-workers, almost like they’ve been hypnotized by their truck radio, preacher or slavering FOX puta. My employer took 80 years to move from Pittsburgh to Houston (just in time, for the jobs all to move in the opposite direction). They’d managed to thin our ranks with piss tests (Delta 9 THC vs crank, crack & truck-startin’ fluid) and union decertification. Deluded peckerwoods jumped at 1099 (FreeDUM!) and sales or “managerial” mis-characterization (made them feel more important?)

          When you work alongside blithely indentured crackers & shitkickers, speciously oblivious to wage theft, rampant nepotism of their neoConfederate, feudal counter-meritocracy, it’s a slap in the face. They’ll gladly take whatever they’re offered, to outrun skip-tracers, deputies, debased spouses & repo-men; projecting their piss-poor impulse control upon anysomebody worse-off… their victims?

      2. cgeye

        Isn’t the presence of pain among the working class the reason for the huge spike in opioid use?

        Untreated pain? Injuries not sufficiently covered by medical care, workers’ comp or disability plans?

        And, once these workers have this pain, what other jobs are there for them to do, to support themselves and their families?

        A lot that unions used to do — especially in protecting their members who need help — is frowned upon now, culturally. Should we be surprised that drug dealers now fill that gap?

  15. tongorad

    Obamacare has seemingly accomplished it’s political aim: to block single payer for a generation or two.

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Trump’s Choice on Obamacare: Sabotage or Co-opt? Margot Sanger-Katz, NYT.

    I tend to agree with those who say (not this author) that Trump may get the last laugh on this one–pelosi and schumer own obamacare now.

    According to this article, Trump will need to continue obama’s “fighting court cases” to protect deductible and co-pay subsidies, “cajole,” “support,” and “woo” insurance companies into the “vulnerable” obamacare insurance market. Sounds like a pretty desperate ask.

    Does anyone really know if this law can stand on its own two feet? What’s going on with the medical device tax, cadillac plan tax and employer mandate? Are they still in there and just not being enforced yet? What about the mandate penalty? Does it eventually become onerous enough to make buying an unusable policy the better option?

    The stupid repubs may have had 7 years to come up with a replacement and didn’t, but the stupid dems had 7 years to make obamacare viable and didn’t. And now the dems will need the repubs and Trump to help them.

    I guess we’ll see what happens, but this triumphant victory lap the dems seem to be taking may be a bit premature, shall we say. And it’s worth remembering that this whole brouhaha involves 20 million people out of a population of 320 million, and three-quarters of those got government Medicaid, commonly referred to on both sides of the aisle as an “entitlement.”

    1. SpringTexan

      Look, a victory lap is warranted, if only because this stops the HORRIBLE destruction of Medicaid that Ryan was high-fiving his buddies about getting into this bill. I was so relieved.

      Yes, maybe it’s a temporary reprieve, but the way to stop bad stuff is to stop it now and then if we have to stop it tomorrow. If this bill had passed Medicaid would be on its way to becoming toast.

      1. PH

        I agree. Politically, you could see a possible advantage in 2018 if Trumpcare passed, it caused suffering, and Repubs owned it. But that is not a responsible way to behave.

        Plus, predicting the direction of angry voters thrown into chaos is not usually as straightforward as logic might suggest. Politics by crisis often goes in authoritarian directions.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right; it’s not responsible to take advantage of suffering.

          Worse is to do nothing in 2018 and beyond, with that political advantage. (And to do nothing is likely, given what happened in the past). That would be irresponsible twice (or squared).

    2. Oregoncharles

      Trump has already ordered the IRS to stop enforcing the Mandate. I I have some doubts whether it really matters, since it hasn’t been tested, but now it will be. Furthermore, from reporting here, Obamacare has already entered a “death spiral”, where rates keep jumping up and driving yet more people out of the “markets.” Haygood mentions this somewhere up above.

      Trump has also mentioned it: he told the Republicans that all they had to do was wait. That’s good politics; why get your hands dirty? So yes, a very good time to start pushing Single Payer really hard.

  17. timbers

    The widely propagated video of Senator Sanders going into Trump territory and talking voters into health care as a universal benefit on live TV…

    Missed this and can’t find it googling. Can anyone provide link? Have friends and family to share it with.

  18. Zephyrum

    While I’m a fan of Slate Star Codex, this piece misses the mark. Supporters and critics of Trump have something in common–they are unhappy with how many things are today, and they are trying to communicate that broad range of opinion through the very narrow channel of a single lever that happens to be labeled “Trump”. People who push the lever up are outraged at those who pull the lever down, and vice-versa. Nobody is quite sure what the lever does or will do, but they know they are unhappy with the past, they fear the future, and they hope that the lever in their chosen position will help. The truth is that the lever has at least some good and some bad consequences in each position. No debate or facts will tell people how to weight those consequences; they will decide for themselves.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Interesting that either position of that lever produces wealth flows that go only in one direction… And more bad consequences for the mopes that create the real wealth that becomes the froth of bubbles that float up to the Fokkers circling high above, around their Elysium hangouts…

      1. Mark P.

        ‘Interesting that either position of that lever produces wealth flows that go only in one direction…’

        The System is working.

    2. diptherio

      The article is about how to interact in a useful way with people who don’t share all of your opinions to begin with, which is to say it’s about how to restore some civility to our political discourse. Part of the problem is that we’ve been convinced that there are only two options to voice your opinion and that both involve a “lever”. The truth of the matter, or one of them anyway, is that there are a variety of ways to usefully express and manifest your ideas about how the world could be a better place, but if you want to focus on those, you’ve got to stop caring about which position the lever is in.

      I, personally, found the SSC article very well put together and very necessary, given the decrepit state of the national “conversation.”

    3. c1ue

      Ironically, the article specifically notes that “debate” that consists solely of “Trump is good” vs. “Trump is bad” is ineffective.
      Instead it talks about ways by which people with a strong opinion can be interacted with such that they will feel unthreatened enough to actually examine their opinions in some detail.
      Your comment repeats the mistake that Slate Star Codex urges avoidance of.

    1. shargash

      There is no way to know what is possible/negotiable in 10 or even 5 years. But if you say “never, ever” or call it a Chimera then, yes, you’ve probably rendered it impossible.

      Here is the big difference between the parties: In 1964 the Republicans lost a presidential election in a landslide because their candidate was too far right for America. So they developed a long-term plan to move America to the right. In 1972 the Democrats lost a presidential election in a landslide because they decided (incorrectly, I think) that their candidate was too far left for America. So they decided that they, the Democrats, would move to the right.

      Politics is not something that happens for a few months every four years. If you have a plan, and work at it, you can make things happen in the future that seem impossible now. That is what single payer advocates are working at now.

    2. marym

      Thank you for the link. It has been my understanding that in countries using some version of the private insurance (Bismarck) model for universal healthcare the “basic” coverage plan – in this case

      a core universal insurance package for the universal primary curative care, which includes the cost of all prescription medicines.

      had to be not-for-profit.

      The information in the link doesn’t state that constraint on profitability explicitly for the Netherlands. However, the requirements of a fixed benefits package, fixed premiums, redistribution of funds to insurers with higher payouts, and controls against monopoly would seem to inhibit a predatory level of profitability.

      It’s my opinion that a highly regulated, not-for-profit (or even strongly constrained for-profit ) private insurance model is a chimera for the US, Obamacare being the outer limit as far as regulation of a for-profit industry..

  19. ScottW

    Turley’s comment on the press’ coverage of Trump’s tweets about being “wiretapped” by Obama misses the mark. Trump was very specific in the language he used intending to convey to the public that Pres. Obama personally directed “wiretaps” shortly before the election. Trump’s tweet is directed at Obama, not his administration, as Turley suggests. The term of art–“wiretapped”–was intentionally used, instead of “surveillance,” because it requires a higher level of judicial review and sounds more sinister. Trump knew, or should have known, the difference. And his intent was to raise the greatest possible reaction from his followers.

    Ask 100 Trump supporters to interpret Trump’s tweets and I bet they would all conclude that Pres. Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump’s staff before the election. Which without a warrant would be illegal and a massive controversy.

    As Snowden pointed out this week in an interview with Jeremy Scahill, any calls between a U.S. citizen and foreign country are captured for possible further review. So if Trump is upset about being “wiretapped,” I expect him to object to this level of “surveillance” we have all been unlawfully subjected to the past 10 years. Fat chance.

    Turley also missed the mark on predicting the original Muslim Ban might survive judicial scrutiny. It was struck down with such decisive reasoning that the Trump Admin. rewrote it. It has most recently been struck down again pending further review.

    Trump’s tweet regarding being “wiretapped,” without any evidence is crazy. Until such evidence is produced, there is no need to rationalize what he really intended to say. His words speak for themselves and if he had not made the tweet in the first place there would be no press coverage on the subject.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Amazing how it took what, 350 WORDS, to “explain clearly” what Trump intended and typed in his limited-to-140-CHARACTER tweet. Thank you for laying it out for the rest of us. Well crafted impeachment, including the cred-building makeweight bit about Turley “missing the mark” on whether the Trump order on vetting and barring people from 7 mostly Muslim countries would survive judicial review. That was the clincher, for me.

      I do know a couple of Clinton supporters who “believe”, on the record such as it is, that “Obama” in fact (and right properly) listened in on the communications of “Trump, the operation.” The other folks I know who think Obama can mostly do no wrong, are of your opinion.

      The Narrative is powerful, and has many adherents…

      Too bad it’s all about personalities, and icons, and shibbolleths, and so very little about what the sophisticates call “policy…” But then ordinary people, who do the paying and bleeding and dying, have been artfully confused and fractioned for generations, so they mostly can’t even formulate an answer to the question I occasionally ask: “What outcome(s) do we really want, from the political economy we perforce live in?” Can’t even get national health care, which would be good for so many, even Chamber of Commerce members, for so many reasons (depending, of course, on effects of corruption — referencing Lambert’s definition — and mode of implementation…)

      1. ScottW

        I knew when I wrote my comment the, “you love Hillary,” etc., crowd would come out of the wood work.

        No–I did not vote for Hillary (voted for Stein) and am not a fan of Obama. I think Snowden did a public service, I support single payer, oppose war, hate drones. But why do I have to explain that all to you?

        Comments like yours ruin great sites like NC. Criticizing Trump does not mean you support the Democratic party. And the “Neera” comment below by DJPS is just plain lazy.

        As an attorney, I appreciate Turley’s analysis on surveillance. But in this instance, I don’t agree with his logic.

        We can all disagree. But reflexively painting any Trump criticism as support for Hillary or the Dems is flat out lazy. Now please count my words and tell me how many it took to me respond.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Those who have ears, let them hear…”
          “Those who have eyes, let them see…”
          “Those who have JDs, let them parse…”

        1. ScottW

          Only my friends call me Scotty. But seriously, if you found the comment condescending, I offer my apology. Sorry for offending with the attorney reference.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      “Trump was very specific in the language he used…”

      Have you ever heard the guy speak before?!?!?!?! If he were specific, which he wasn’t, it would be a momentous first occasion of such.

      1. Oregoncharles

        My thought exactly; he’s very sloppy and imprecise, not lawyerly at all.

        That’s part of his appeal; he doesn’t “sound like a politician.” (Nader, about Jesse Ventura, a point I always think of.)

        But yes, the tweet, like all of them was designed to be as sensationalist as possible. that said, he really does sound rather wounded.

    3. ewmayer

      LOL, claiming Trump is prone to “lawyerly parsing” in order to advance your ‘argument’ – that’s gotta be some kind of first.

  20. Andrew Foland

    Is it not the case that there is now a blueprint for defeating Trump-driven legislation? Namely: drag the legislation out 18 days until he loses patience and interest.

    Which is comical, because on Capitol Hill “drag the legislation out 18 days” is roughly similar in difficulty to “breathe in oxygen, breathe out carbon dioxide.”

    1. Oregoncharles

      It wasn’t his legislation; it was Ryan’s, and Ryan, of all people, should know what can pass.

  21. giantsquid

    “Linking to [Trump was right after all about the Obama administration wiretaps Jonathan Turley, The Hill] again, since I’m stunned that Turley would write this, given the Democrat stance that intelligence agencies are the Republic’s only safeguard against tyranny. (OK, I exaggerate. But only a little.)”

    Turley’s stance should hardly be a surprise. After all, last June he wrote a devastating critique of Hillary Clinton for USA Today, which included this comparison to Barack Obama and Richard Nixon:

    “While Obama could be criticized for embracing Nixon’s imperial presidency model, his personality could not be more different from his predecessor. Clinton however is the whole Nixonian package.”

    If I remember correctly, he also supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

  22. justanotherprogressive

    Re: Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore Bloomberg
    Articles like this just anger me. It is all well and good to determine what will happen to municipal bonds and private equity if the pension tsunami hits (poor poor rich people), but what about what will happen to the pensioners? Regardless of what the elite wants to think, pensioners paid for those pensions – those pensions weren’t given to them for free. What about THEIR investment? Does no one have a drop of compassion for them?
    These people weren’t the elite of society; they were the people that actually made society work, like firefighters, and police and teachers. What are they supposed to do? It’s not like they can go back to those jobs, many of them have age limits, and it isn’t like they can find other part time jobs to supplement their income. Are our public servants now to be condemned to living out their final years on welfare because they didn’t “invest wisely” (like they actually had the choice?)? Some payback for their service! Not to mention the added safety net costs the city taxpayers will have to bear….
    Ah, but who cares? Because it is far more important to think about what color you want your private plane to be…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe they can be added to Social Security.

      Why not one universal pension for all, instead of the many endangered pension plans now?

      1. justanotherprogressive

        They already get SS, which they also paid for….but Social Security alone is not enough for anyone to live on – hence pensions…..

        Why not a universal guaranteed living wage?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Then we all need pensions or bigger Social Security checks.

          Universal living wage when working.

          Universal retirement wage after.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Buncha rotten Commie Socialist Pinko Kneejerk Libruls… Who’s gonna PAY for all that? And it’s gonna make the National Debt just YUUUUGE! and think of the DEFICIT MY GAWDWHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO TO YOUR GRANDKIDS!!!??!! /s of course.

              Let’s see what Skunet does with that…

        2. amousie

          Do you work for an agency of a state or local government?
          Unlike workers in the private sector, not all state and local
          employees are covered by Social Security. Some only
          have their public pension coverage, some only have Social
          Security coverage, and other government employees have
          both a public pension and Social Security coverage.
          When it began, the Social Security program didn’t include
          any of these employees. Over the years, the law changed.
          Most employees have Social Security protection, because
          their states have special agreements with the Social Security
          Administration. They’re called “Section 218 agreements.”
          Congress passed a law in July 1991 extending Social
          Security on a mandatory basis to most state and local
          employees not covered by an agreement or a Social Security
          equivalent public pension system.

          1. kareninca

            Schoolteachers in CT are not covered by Social Security. My mom has a $4,000/month pension as a retired CT schoolteacher; she does not get any Social Security payment. And as a consequence my father is in no way entitled to Social Security as her spouse. In his case he does get his own since he worked outside the home, but you can picture scenarios in which the spouse would be left destitute. And, somehow, magically, she is in no way entitled to his Social Security – when he dies, it all goes away; she will not get a spousal share.

            Contrast this with the abuses: the four Los Angeles police officers who collected over a million dollars each in pension payouts last year (

            There are a lot of unprotected people out there, and there is also a lot of corruption out there.

    2. Mel

      Yup. Neoliberalism rule #1.

      “Well, that’s investing for ya. Ya win some, ya lose some. Don’t give up, Tiger!”

    1. polecat

      I was, just last night, mulling this very thing, about how despair in both populations, over different time-spans, had a correlation to high opioid use among the forsaken, with all the attendant health problems …… one could also include heavy alcohol use as well, along with a little help from our pill-pushing Big Pharma.

      1. VietnamVet

        Yes, there are no coincidences. The Boys of Harvard who did it to Russia in the 1990s have imposed their disruptive capitalism on the West. The media fury against Donald Trump is the Elite’s fear that he will be a sequel to Vladimir Putin and will end their looting.

        Does anyone else notice that that the last time I heard “peace and prosperity” was last century?

  23. a different chris

    “some Republican governor got it off the ground”…. omg, poor poor Mittens! He’s gone from Presidential candidate to complete non-entity, and truth be told that’s something (thru gritted teeth) we probably have to thank Trump for.

  24. a different chris

    >the (Koch-funded) Freedom Caucus, the (establishment) Ryan wing, and the (insurgent) Trump White House. (Incidentally, if you are Trump, and you ask yourself which faction is least likely to betray you in case of impeachment, the answer can only be the Freedom Caucus.)

    I’m sure this was just awkward wording (we really need to pay you guys more!) but on first pass I read it as the Freedom Caucus actually being safer for Trump than his own White House! Hmmmm…. maybe it is (looking at you Ivanka!)

    1. JTMcPhee

      There was a nice series on one of the premium channels, artlessly titled “The Borgias,” which ran three glorious years of back-stabbing, poisoning, complex plotting, all that stuff that we mopes thrill to see our betters doing (proof of Fitness to Rule, I guess).

      “It has been an honor to work with the great Neil Jordan and the incomparable Jeremy Irons on ‘The Borgias,’” David Nevins, Showtime’s president of entertainment, said in a statement. “Neil has written nearly every episode of this series himself. His extraordinary storytelling combined with Jeremy’s fascinating portrayal of the infamous Pope Alexander VI, has made for truly outstanding television that will live on. I look forward to future collaborations.”

      In early May, Deadline also reported that Jordan has his sights set on a “Borgias” movie.“I would like to finish it with a two-hour movie,” he told the British press at a launch campaign. “Another 10 episodes is kind of exhausting. I’ve mapped out a movie, which, if (Showtime brass) agree, will shoot in June with the same cast, and finally the Pope will die horribly.” Planned to be replaced by another series titled “The Vatican.” Oops.

  25. Oregoncharles

    On ”
    The British are bluffing: a bad Brexit deal is better than no deal
    Failure to reach a deal would result in chaos and be dire for the UK and Ireland”

    Isn’t Ireland one of the levers available to Britain? If Britain were leaving the EU on bad terms or no terms, Ireland, still a member of the EU and one of its shakier economies, would be a sacrificial lamb. In that case, it would be in their interest to make a separate deal with Britain – or, conceivably, with Scotland and N. Ireland: a “Great Celtica.” I suspect that’s against EU rules. So EU vindictiveness would further destabilize the EU, which is increasingly unstable.

    In reality, I suspect we’re seeing pre-negotiation posturing and both sides will find new levels of reason about a year before the actual exit. That’s essentially what Jim Haygood suggested right after the vote. That’s assuming the EU isn’t in its own death throes by then (another reason not to be too vindictive.)

    1. begob

      Impossible to say, too many moving parts. As one of the judges said during submissions in the Brexit case: time for a “final shake of the kaleidoscope.”

    2. Mark P.

      ‘In reality, I suspect we’re seeing pre-negotiation posturing’

      Of course. Yves likes to focus on how the EU has overwhelming preponderance over Britain in the financial and conventional political sphere. And that’s true, and NC is primarily a financial and political blog. So fine.

      But back in the real world, while this may be an era when inter-state conflict is increasingly channeled into financial warfare, if Britain is existentially threatened by the EU in the financial realm, then it has resources outside that realm to inflict existential damage right back.

      It’s kind of scary, actually.

      Of course, too, Marine Le Pen could make all this moot.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘And now, Lawrence, we politicians must talk about how to rule a nation.’

    The widely propagated video of Senator Sanders going into Trump territory and talking voters into health care as a universal benefit on live TV (!) should also penetrate the pea-brains of even Clintonite Democratic strategists, though it probably won’t.

    “Trust we, we Democrats couldn’t do it in 2009, but we will do it in 2020,” trying to win by somewhat mixing or hinting universal health care with getting back in power.

    Thank you, Alec Guinness, sir, or rather, Lawrence (just in case, nothing is guaranteed in life).

  27. knowbuddhau

    >> How human sacrifice propped props up the social order

    FIFY, Nature.

    Kudos to the author for including at least one contemporary practice: the death penalty; instead of simply looking down on the “savages” we are presumed to have long since surpassed in morality.

    Believe it or not, I woke up this morning thinking about this. People die. One of the awe-ful powers of a leader is to decide who dies when, where, how, etc., and most importantly, why.

    Haven’t the tens of thousands of deaths since Obama and his courtiers gave us Obamacare instead of single payer been sacrificed on the altar of insurance company profits (proximally) and elite power (distally)?

    What about Terror Tuesdays? We even had a Jesuit in on the “disposition.” Is not war at some level a contest to see who can pile up more lucky stiffs on their altars? “We can kill more of you, faster, so bow down.”

    Or highway deaths. Or deaths from pollution from power plants. Or workplace deaths.

    Or deaths from despair?

    Elections are our versions of ritual regicide. We kill the office holderss, and then (miraculously?) bring them back to life. Ideally, this would have something to do with fitness for office, in the Darwinian sense. But really, in what sense was HRC “fit” for the highest office in the land? Or Trump? Clearly, it was Bernie’s time.

    Maybe Darwin Awards are in order for HRC/DNC. Maybe a modified version in which the venality of some leads to the mass deaths of others.

    We daily sacrifice thousands for our vaunted “way of life.” One of the worst things about the science documentaries I so enjoy is the implicit threat embodied in such observations as (paraphrasing) ‘Yes, thousands die every day, but that’s what it takes to provide us with our modern way of life (genuflects). So if you like modern comforts, don’t complain.’

    Human sacrifice, I’m saying, is alive and well right here and now. We’ve just learned not to see it so explicitly. Hard to enjoy modern comforts in the clear and present knowledge of those we deliberately sacrifice to obtain them.

    Which reminds me of Lambert’s “How Can They Live with Themselves” series. But, as usual, I’ve already said too much.

  28. Eclair

    The dead in Mosul, Aleppo, Libya, Yemen, Somalia. The suicides in China’s Apple factories, the hundreds crushed in the wreckage of that garment factory in Bangladesh …. human sacrifices to prop up our ‘way of life.’

    We are so not civilized.

  29. Katharine

    I’m glad AP finally is catching up with reality, but they haven’t really gone far enough. Chaucer used singular they. Thackeray used it. According to a letter I saw in the Chronicle of Higher Ed decades ago, the rule against it was simply created out of whole cloth by an officious eighteenth-century grammarian, who had the gall to assert that the male gender (sic) was comprehensive. I have always cast my lot with Chaucer: when the identity of the individual is unknown, they singular is the obvious choice.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The humble scientist…understand birds.

    I wonder if he could communicate with birds, like Francis.

  31. Tvc15

    Maine medical examiner seeks more money to handle overdose deaths. You know LaPage is blaming D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty. Thought this article provided an opportunity to drag out this overtly racist comment from Maines dubious governor.

    LaPage: “These aren’t the people who take drugs. These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time, they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we’ve got to deal with down the road.”

  32. Jeff W

    The zeitgeist here really isn’t about universal health care coverage—that ship sailed sometime ago. (The Democrats sold guaranteed issue falsely as “universal health care coverage.”) The zeitgeist is “we’ve tried your crappy health ‘care’ reform—and your ‘fix’ to that is far worse. Now let’s try what actually works.”

  33. Jess

    Regarding the Pension Tsunami crisis and its relationship to muni bonds: Anyone have any idea how this might unfold? Is there a legitimate chance that muni bonds, esp. in CA, will default? If so, can the various FDIC-type insurance guarantees in place for muni bond holders actually make good on defaults, or are we looking at the need for a federal bailout, which would seem problematic given public resistance from states whose pension funds are not in great danger? (Can’t see folks in flyover states getting all fired up for federal bailouts to muni bond holders in blue state bastions like CA, NJ, IL for instance.)

    So, anyone with either solid knowledge, or a crystal ball, on which to make predictions. (In case you haven’t guessed, yes, I have a good stock of CA muni bonds, most paying around a modest 2%.)

    1. JTFaraday

      “Can’t see folks in flyover states getting all fired up for federal bailouts to muni bond holders in blue state bastions like CA, NJ, IL for instance.”

      That’s because some of those states are too busy stuffing the former slave state shit holes to pay their own bills. That could be fixed.

  34. Vatch

    From the article about human sacrifice:

    In the third century bc, for example, Chinese administrator Li Bing eliminated the sacrifice of young maidens to a river god during the conquest of Sichuan by the First Emperor. Some have suggested that he called the bluff of a local racket in which families rid themselves of unwanted daughters while getting rich on the compensation they received. Whether or not that is true, it’s easy to imagine how rituals could be abused for prosaic gain.

    I emboldened the final clause. Even today, all over the world, rituals are used (abused) to enrich and empower those who already have wealth and power.

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s what all liberals do when they’re in private. Sometimes it’s classism, but not as often as you might think. Not sure what the real moral problem is, from a liberal perspective. I mean, he should quit anyway for believing in markets and rich people as moral paragons, but that’s a separate matter.

  35. neighbor7

    I suspect there is more to learn from the Scott Adams piece than meets the eye on a first read–and not what he thinks it is.

  36. JTMcPhee

    I’d say the BIG problem with Dj is his embrace of corporatist neoliberal policies. The sexism-racism thing is about as effective a scourge as a well-past-al-Dente noodle.

    But let us not concentrate on policies and better outcomes for ordinary people and the biosphere…

  37. ewmayer

    Re. “The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of | Foreign Policy” —

    I suspect such surveillance has already been ongoing to a much greater extent than the article claims. To throw out just one obvious stratagem, here are already millions of private and local-government data feeds operational, from traffic cams to police cell-tower-hijacking to security cams of all stripes. Tapping into those would be a readymade way to surveil the citizenry without any telltale instruments like drones circling overhead. Think Room 641A, but now in a distributed local-feed fashion.

  38. c1ue

    Re: The Job Guarantee
    The author means well but both articles are fundamentally focused on the wrong issue.
    Both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, indeed most Americans would agree that there exist some situations where a financial/social safety net should exist.
    The problem isn’t the existence of the safety net, the problem is the degree of inclusion.
    A Universal Job Guarantee is an issue guaranteed to inflame every conservative in existence. The reality is that there are some people who won’t ever work if they can get by with what they consider a sufficiently easy existence – it is this situation which conservatives abhor.
    Equally, criminality exists as well. The “Welfare Queen” meme worked so well precisely because it taps into fears of the free rider.
    Thus the inclusiveness of a Job Guarantee is a fundamental problem.
    Even were this problem to be resolved, the next problem is the degree of guarantee. An Irish or British style dole where generations can live entirely on welfare – is that really what is wanted?
    What about the criminals who derive income off the grid?
    The Job Guarantee sounds nice for people who have ambition and would never accept a minimum life style because they fundamentally believe they can achieve more than that standard of living, but there are plenty of people who would sink that a mediocre standard of living and stay there forever. Is allowing this truly a service to those people and their children? And the society they exist in?
    I’m not saying that no guarantee is good – but neither do I believe that a universal guarantee is good either.

    1. JTFaraday

      One thing no one ever addresses is what happens when the employer of last resort becomes the employer of first resort because, well, it’s easy.

    2. Mel

      The Main Street economy is tortured by a demand collapse. I imagine a barber standing behind the shop-window watching all the people in the street who don’t have the money for a haircut. The barber might welcome in even freeloaders if the freeloaders would pay. Then the barber could buy groceries.

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