Recent Items

Links 3/8/17

Lynne Stewart, Lawyer Imprisoned in Terrorism Case, Dies at 77 New York Times

Grasping at strays: In Istanbul, fat cats are a good thing Economist

Soi Dog Foundation: Love Will Always Triumph Over Evil Charity Film Awards (furzy). Be sure to watch the video and vote for it if you like it.

Dishonesty gets easier on the brain the more you do it aeon (Micael)

Get ready for a whole lot more Lyme disease in the Northeast. Grist. One of Haygood’s pet peeves.

Americans’ sex lives have gone limp—lovemaking fell ~15% since the ’90s ars technica

China asks North Korea to stop missile tests, tells U.S. and South to seek talks Reuters (furzy)

Swift Banking System Bars Several North Korean Banks Wall Street Journal

Records tumble through Straya’s “angry summer” MacroBusiness

India becomes “frontline” state in US war plans against China WSWS

Merkel battles to galvanise core voters as support peels away Financial Times

Francois Fillon did not declare loan in 2013 – French paper BBC

Vault 7

Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed Wikileaks

WikiLeaks publishes ‘biggest ever leak of secret CIA documents’ Guardian

WikiLeaks CIA files: The 6 biggest spying secrets revealed by the release of ‘Vault 7’ Independent

WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents New York Times. Note trying to spin this as less serious than Snowden, plus the obligatory expert quote from an expert saying the Evil Rooskies may be the perps. The comments on the article are truly depressing. I need to get my act in gear re becoming an expat…

WikiLeaks Dumps Trove of Purported CIA Hacking Tools Wall Street Journal. By contrast, “The revelations were considered by many experts to be potentially more significant than the leaks by Mr. Snowden.” And notice the WSJ implicitly disses the Evil Rooskies notion:

“I think it would have to be a disgruntled employee or a contractor,” the former intelligence officer said, suggesting a foreign country would have been more likely to keep the information for its own use than release it publicly.

CIA Documents Reveal Agency Spying On Us Through Smart TV George Washington

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

From Russia, With Panic Yasha Levine, Baffler. Today’s must read. Too bad is it competing with the Vault 7 revelatoins. Key sentence: “This is forensic science in reverse: first you decide on the guilty party, then you find the evidence that confirms your belief.”

New Cold War

Leading Putin Critic Warns of Xenophobic Conspiracy Theories Drowning U.S. Discourse and Helping Trump Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

Rail blockade by Ukraine patriots creates headache for Kiev Financial Times

Trump Transition

Official Washington Tips into Madness Consortium News

This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World Huffington Post (Adrien)

Trump Met Russian Ambassador During Campaign at Speech Reception Bloomberg

EXAMINING TRUMP’S MILITARY BUDGET JSTOR (Micael)

Three cheers for Trump as a man of his word on Syria Indian Punchline (financial matters)

Trump and Republicans see a ‘deep state’ foe: Barack Obama Washington Post

2016 Post Mortem

2016 Election Study Published – Wesleyan Media Project shares lessons, analysis from 2016 election cycle Media Project. Dan K, from the report: “Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests.”

Rapport Between Donald Trump, Barack Obama Crumbles Wall Street Journal. Not sure this qualifies as news, but has some interesting detail.

Obamacare

President Trump Endorses Affordable Care Act Replacement Legislation C-SPAN (Kevin C)

The Republican Health-Care Bill Is the Worst of So Many Worlds Nation (furzy)

Union president blasts GOP healthcare plan after meeting with Trump The Hill

GOP’s Health Plan Draws Skepticism on Capitol Hill Wall Street Journal

Health insurers billion dollar windfall GOP Obamacare replacement CNBC (UserFriendly). Circulate widely.

The Bumbling Plot to Destroy Obamacare New Republic

Immigration under capitalism: Life and death along the US-Mexico border Part Four WSWS (Micael)

Deliver 44,000 Petition Signatures to Cuomo to Stop Spectra. Facebook (Thomas R)

The Next Domino to Fall: Commercial Real Estate Charles Hugh Smith (Chuck L)

U.S. Zeal in Suing Banks for Lending Bias Is Expected to Cool New York Times. “Zeal”? Help me.

Borio to central bankers: the “secular stagnation” is coming from inside the house FT Alphaville (UserFriendly)

Is Wall Street Responsible for Our Economic Problems? New Yorker (UserFriendly)

PwC blames Corzine for MF Global demise as trial starts Reuters (Dita)

Borio to central bankers: the “secular stagnation” is coming from inside the house FT Alphaville. Important and readable. Basically says the Greenspan/Bernanke put was the mother of all monetary evil.

Class Warfare

Interviews for Resistance: Workers Are on the Frontlines of Making Sure Banks Don’t Rip Us Off In These Times (Melody)

Excessive CEO Pay for Dumb Luck Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Why Take Uber or Lyft to Work When You Can Hitchhike for $1? Wall Street Journal

Drug firms poured 780M painkillers into WV amid rise of overdoses West Virginia Gazette. Bob: “Over 400 pills for every man woman and child were shipped to WV.”

Overdoses In W.Va. Drain Fund For Burials Intelligencer (Chuck L)

The new authoritarians aeon (Micael)

Antidote du jour (Dr. Kevin):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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248 comments

  1. Clive

    Re: (not sure exactly how to file this! so I’ll try…) Utterly Fed Up and Despairing of Where We Live:

    Ironically, given Yves’ comment about thinking of fleeing an increasingly awful U.S. and becoming and expat, I’ve stepped up (from “casually musing” to “looking at real estate and checking with the embassy about residency requirements”) my planning to retire to Palm Springs. I figured it can’t possibly be worse than England during my declining years. So I guess the takeaway is, there’s always somewhere worse to live than where you live now. If I recall correctly, don’t they put that on New Jersey licence plates?

    1. windsock

      While you’re in the “safety” of Palm Springs (re Yves’ comment)… please spare a thought for those of us who can’t buy real estate anywhere else in the world and will be reliant on the state pension in what is fast becoming a country at its most vile and spiteful and vindictive in living memory… that is, of course, if the state pension continues to exist and we are not all Soylent Green by then. Sometimes I am left wondering where the “off” switch can be found.

      1. Clive

        Yes, I agree. Abandoning your “native” country raises many moral, eihical and economic dilemmas. Do you try to stick it out and hope to bring about meaningful change? Or do you, if you can, get out (adding, potentially, “while you can”)? Don’t we have a duty to the society which has, in my case, given me an opportunity to escape to try to save that same society? I’ve done the abandonment bit before but expat life is not a cure-all and I came back. I remain ambivalent if that was the right thing to do.

        Personally I’m reminded, genuinely but dispiritingly, of the quote attributed to Billy Wilder in 1945: “The optimists died in the gas chambers, the pessimists have pools in Beverly Hills”.

        1. windsock

          Well, I have adopted your first option, because I don’t have the opportunity to take up your second… but given different circumstances, I am not at all confident I would make the same choice.

          It’s also dispiriting to realise that sometimes pessimism = realism.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who haven’t got it. – GB Shaw

        2. Leigh

          Hello Clive;

          “…raises many moral, eihical and economic dilemmas.”

          I’m curious as to why you frame this issue that way. Seems to me, if a system shows no moral, ethical and economic interest in you – why would you hold yourself still accountable to it on your end.
          Love the quote!

          1. Clive

            Well, because of people like windsock I suppose. I always think this when I see trailers for the movie Elysium. Obviously there were those who moved to the utopian satellite. But what about those who could have done but didn’t? It was an interesting angle (which, unfortunately, the producers didn’t explore from what I’ve read because they couldn’t decide whether to make a high-concept film or a shoot-em-up).

            (oh, and it did start out as a dilemma until I added, unwisely I think in retrospect “economics”; I’m channeling my inner Yogi Berra today!)

            1. Leigh

              Not familiar with Elysium – I’ll check it out.

              I spent 2000-2010 in Toronto – Id move back in a heartbeat (my wife’s Canadian) but we can’t afford a cardboard box up there right now….

              1. paul

                I wouldn’t bother, they opted for a dull action thriller. District 9 by the same director is both more exciting and interesting.

                1. polecat

                  Also …. it doesn’t cast Jason ‘I’m With Her’ Bourne as the lead …. ‘;]

                  so that’s a plus in my film book !

                2. Odysseus

                  District 9 was brutally terrible. 5 minute of plot scattered throughout a full length movie.

                  1. Marina Bart

                    I want some arts version of NC where people discuss pop culture intelligently. (I haven’t seen District 9, so I can’t respond to your criticism of it. But I do appreciate your bluntness.)

                    Blacklist: Redemption has apparently decided to abandon all of The Blacklists‘s lefty goodness in favor of literally reiterating old Mission: Impossible episodes, except instead of during the Cold War, when they had the good taste not to actually name the Soviet Union as the enemy, Blacklist: Redemption is naming Russia as our evil, murderous enemy in the trailer. The episode had to have been written before the election. I’d love to know how the decision to create fake countries for other bad guys but name Russia as creating fake Americans to infiltrate our country right now came about. Did NBC push this, or merely approve it?

                    1. Procopius

                      Interesting. I’ll have to see if I can download the movie. It suggests to me that the demonization of Russia is part of a much longer plan than we realized. Just as the war is Syria is the result of orders by Bush/Cheney in 2003, not the Arab Spring of 2011.

              2. marieann

                I live in the southernmost tip of Canada, we are south of Detroit.
                There are lots of great affordable places to live besides Toronto, of course if you need to find work that could be a problem.

                1. Leigh

                  Appreciate that heads-up Marieann. Jobs would be the issue…

                  No doubt though – Canada is monstrous & beautiful & and I am dead-jealous of you!

          2. Katharine

            You say that as if we only deal with an abstract “system” but that is not so. We also deal with other people, many of whom are in similar or worse conditions as compared with our own. To deny moral accountability to our fellows seems to me like accepting the values of the system, in effect being part of it on whatever level may be available. Since I don’t believe I can escape it, I would rather go on trying to change it. That may or may not be futile, but at least it’s not surrender.

        3. RenoDino

          “The optimists died in the gas chambers, the pessimists have pools in Beverly Hills”.

          That’s the point. When NYT readers start to sound like a lynch mob, it triggers a totalitarian alarm bell in the keen observer. If your gut tells you things are about to go sideways, bugging out is not a luxury, it’s survival. This is not a drill, unless it is. No one can put their finger on the exact moment when the sh*t gets real.

          1. Marina Bart

            Sadly, plenty of pessimists also suffered death, impoverishment and immiseration.

            The number of people driven from their homes, communities and livelihoods by WWII who did not die in the camps is much higher than the number of screenwriters who ended up with pools in Beverly Hills.

            It’s always better to be lucky. And being a talented refugee does not get you a pool. That takes luck.

        4. oh

          Clive san,

          You can take the boy out of the country but you can never take the country out of the boy!
          Sore wo oboette itte ne!

    2. Sam Adams

      Been doing a search for awhile. It’s no longer easy to expatriate as an American. Between the visa difficulties of staying beyond 90 days as a tourist, banks that refuse to deal with Americans because of US reporting and monitoring requirement, and US expatriates’ individual paperwork requirements it’s almost impossible to leave the US unless you work for a multinational. It’s almost as if Big brother took lessons from the Stasi.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I did go to Oz for 2 years on a four year entrepreneurial visa, and came back when I concluded I wasn’t likely to get my business up to the level needed to get permanent residence (the hardest target was employing 3 full time equivalents). But I probably could have gotten someone to sponsor me, but was uncomfortable with the idea of being that beholden/dependent on someone.

        Some countries have low bars for foreigners, such as Ecuador, Thailand, and I think Uruguay. I have another option that I’d rather not jinx by discussing.

        1. Carl

          A friend reports that Spain appears to be relatively welcoming. Agree about Ecuador. Chile is also worth a look. I find Portugal intriguing.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Spain and Portugal have attracted retirees etc for years. Cyprus and Malta, too.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              The retiree communities there are amazingly large – sometimes entire towns developed for Brits, Dutch, Irish etc.

              Of course, as the Brits have found out, its only good value if sterling stays strong and there are complementary health care rules. Brexit will make life very difficult for a lot of people there, especially if sterling falls significantly, which I expect is quite likely. A combination of falling property values (with rents) and a drop in sterling could put a lot of retirees there in penury.

              1. Colonel Smithers

                Thank you, PK. Spot on.

                Not just in the Iberian Peninsula, but France, too. The return of such migrants, usually older and no longer economically active, will strain services in the UK, especially as younger and / or economically active migrants leave.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Yes, although the impression I get (I’ve no figures on this, its just my perception) is that most Brits who go to France are generally more interested in becoming part of the communities and often set up businesses.

                  A year ago I was talking to a French woman from a small village near Bordeaux, and she said the villagers are really happy with the English incomers – at first they were suspicious, but they started opening up recently shut shops and bars and so on, revitilising the local economy. But I get the impression these were mostly early retirees or people seeking a different way of life, and quite willing and able to start new busineses – quite different from those going to sunshine spots in Spain and Portugal, essentially looking enjoy their later years in somewhere warmer and cheaper than Essex. I suspect the impact of Brexit on the former will be a lot less than on the latter.

              2. vlade

                Which will lead swapping poor(ish) UK retirees (moving out of the EU back to the UK) on the NHS/social care, for the young immigrants (moving out of the UK back to the EU) that are providing these services in the UK right now.

                Will work a treat, I’m sure.

                1. Marina Bart

                  Will work a treat

                  That’s slang, right? Do you know the background? It reads great.

            2. dontknowitall

              Portugal has 10 year tax-free on pensions for foreigners that retire there but Sweden is angry about it since a lot of Swedish retirees are moving there.

              Not sure if this is true but I have heard people wait until their 10 years are over and move over the border to Spain for a few weeks and return again to enjoy another 10 years. Not sure if you have to be a EU/EC citizen to get the benefit.

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/special-reports/11519095/The-ultimate-pension-freedom-Retire-in-Portugal-and-reduce-your-tax.html

              1. polecat

                This is all really rich ! .. pun intended ……… as if everyone has big bucks (to appease host country extortion) /and/or a ‘pension’ (home country they jettisoned from) … to draw on …….. which leaves the rest of us the useless mugs (the 80%rs) to fend for ourselves .

                in the immortal words of Monty Python’s King Arthur : “Run Away, RUN AWAY !!!”

          2. voxhumana

            My sister recently moved to Spain, as a retiree not seeking Spanish employment. The residency visa process was cumbersome (fingerprints for FBI background check, medical clearance and “official” translations for all application documents) but not overwhelming, especially since there are services that can help expedite the application process… took about 2 months in total. The non-working residency visa requires the applicant to demonstrate the equivalent of $2500 a month income (pension, SS etc). There’s also an instantly approved “golden visa” program for the wealthy – people who purchase a home valued at 500,000 euros or more.

            I hope to move there within a year’s time, although I’m also looking at Portugal, which apparently has even friendlier terms… as well as, arguably, the most progressive socialist government in the EU.

            Uruguay certainly interests me, but I don’t know anyone there. In Spain, I have the added comfort of several close friends as vecinos

            It obviously helps to be fluent in Spanish, which both my sister and I learned living in Madrid as teenagers during Franco’s final years. I, a lefty radical already at age 15, was outraged at the repressive/fascist politics which dominated under “El Caudillo” (my Spanish friends called him “El Momio”) so the irony of returning there to escape caudillos (of both political stripes) in the USA is stark.

            PS …I have a long distance boyfriend in Helsinki and would move there but for an extreme sensitivity to cold weather… and he prefers me in Spain anyway, where he can escape the tundra during winter. And since there are few places I’d rather be in summer than Finland, this could work out quite well for both of us!

            1. jrs

              “The non-working residency visa requires the applicant to demonstrate the equivalent of $2500 a month income (pension, SS etc). ”

              geez, most people are never going to meet that in retirement (SS doesn’t pay that for sure). By the way what’s a pension?

        2. Jim Haygood

          Nearly every country south of the US border has a residency procedure for those with a pension or other income who don’t plan to work. It’s only the income threshold, typically in the $1,000 to $3,000 a month range, that varies.

          This is in contrast to rich OECD countries, most of which don’t have any straightforward residency program for pensioners. The US and Canada are two examples.

          It was the appalling case of the late Lynne Stewart [first link above] that impelled me to buy property in deep LatAm about a decade ago. When a defense lawyer is not only imprisoned, but has her sentence hiked from 28 months to ten years on appeal, you are seeing a Soviet-style Gulag in action.

          Lynne Stewart had to be silenced at all costs to cover up the hinky circumstances under which Usgov sponsored the radical sheik’s residency, gave him a green card, and stood by for the first WTC attack in 1993.

          Vault 7 is a look in the rearview mirror, at how a military-intel shadow gov has usurped democracy. Now the litmus test is whether a Church committee style investigation is undertaken to root out the rot, or else a cowed Congress just lets this slide on the pretext that Russia is a greater threat than our menacing homegrown security state.

        3. marieann

          I sponsored my sister and her family when they moved to Canada. It is not an onerous task, we put them up for 3 months until they found work and got settled in.The sponsorship only lasted for a year.
          If you have family or friends over there who are willing I think you should go for it.

        4. Procopius

          I’m happy in Thailand, but we do have restrictions on immigrants. You can’t work without a work permit. The paperwork for starting a business is kind of daunting. You can’t own land unless you are lucky (and rich) enough to gain citizenship. It’s hard to establish permanent residence, and expensive. You can’t use your Medicare here. On the other hand medical care is relatively cheap. I have Thai (married into) family for support. I believe my combined Army pension and Social Security allow me to live better here than I could in the States. The military dictatorship is unobtrusive.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        “It’s almost as if Big brother took lessons from the Stasi.”

        Oh wait . . .

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Our involvement with unsavory types from Germany goes back way further than that…

          Operation Paperclip, anyone?

      3. Steve Roberts

        I suspect you haven’t looked very hard. Banking issues aren’t limited to just Americans as Europeans have the same laws (required by the US). Getting a VISA is exceptionally easy for most Americans. At least a dozen Asian countries, almost every Central and South American country hands out Visa’s to anyone who can show they have income and assets (they don’t want you being poor in their country either). The Eurozone is even easier if you have any type of real assets. Leaving the US because of the CIA / NSA/ FBI is a horrific reason since they operate everywhere. Leaving because of dumb Americans ranting 24/7 about politics – 100% justifiable reasoning.

        1. Sam Adams

          Banking issues, at least in France are a bear. Banks are closing accounts because they do not want the burdens of us reporting requirements for customers with US citizenship. Show a US passport and immediately you are told no. Try living in Europe with a US account and credit card. Very difficult for long term.
          Long term visas are no longer easy to get for US citizens even after buying.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is the All-Cash (or Gold Coins) retirement plan the way to go then?

            “Sorry, cash is illegal here.”

            “How about Chinese Pandas then? Do you take them? I need a pack of cigarettes and a cold beer.”

      4. Steely Glint

        We have permanent residency in New Zealand, and it’s tempting to go back. However, it seems the billionaires have also found N.Z. My friends have told me our old house has just sold for 6x what we paid for it 17 years ago. N.Z. is also heavily feeling the affects of climate change, and more than the usual number of earthquakes. During my years as an ex-pat the saying that when the U.S. sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold seemed very true. Reaganomics invaded & single payer health care had to fend off may attacks.

        1. Vatch

          https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/01/documents-reveal-how-peter-thiel-was-granted-new-zealand-citizenship

          Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of Paypal, was granted New Zealand citizenship despite not meeting the usual requirements, new documents have revealed.
          . . . .
          The revelation came as a surprise to New Zealanders and public pressure has forced the release of 145 pages of documents by the country’s internal affairs department.

          They show that Thiel, who was born in Germany, was granted citizenship despite not residing in the country for the prescribed 1,350 days, or having any intention to live in New Zealand on a permanent basis in the future. The formal citizenship process took place in a private ceremony in Santa Monica in 2011.

          The documents said Thiel’s “exceptional circumstances” related to “his skills as an entrepreneur and his philanthropy”, which were deemed to be of potential benefit to New Zealanders and the country.
          . . . .
          The documents said that Thiel demonstrated his philanthropic side by donating NZ$1m to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund.

          According to Forbes magazine Thiel is worth $3.7bn and it was believed that his becoming a New Zealand citizen would help New Zealand entrepreneurs and enterprises be promoted on the world stage.

          One of the requirements for New Zealand citizenship is that that applicant should be resident in the country for a majority of the time over a five-year period, and plan to reside in the country after citizenship, or work for a New Zealand company overseas.

          Thiel did not meet either of these requirements as he had only visited the country on half a dozen occasions, and had no plans to permanently reside there, despite owning properties in Parnell and Queenstown.

          We can paraphrase Mel Brooks:

          It’s good to be the king a billionaire.

          1. jrs

            It’s hard to say why you even need to flee the country if rich, isn’t it pretty good to be rich most places including most definitely the U.S. – it merely sucks to be anything but rich pretty much.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Rich people ALWAYS want to be more rich, sorry, richer.

              (Some exceptions perhaps).

              1. oh

                I used to think so but the chances of pitchforks coming are slim to none in this police state. Don’t hold your breath or dream.

            2. Marina Bart

              This is about him joining the apres-apocalypse bolthole community down there all the Davos Men are planning.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Heavily feeling the effects of climate changes…unusual number of quakes…

          And the billionaires are rushing to get there?

          Isn’t that taking denial a bit too far?

        3. Sandler

          NZ is fine, step away from the news for a bit. Stay out of Auckland and buy a nice piece of land somewhere else. If you’re going to retire, or live simply, who cares about the parasite economy of Wall Street. NZ has more than enough food for itself, get solar panels, grow your own food, who cares if Americans out in Dallas can’t finance Chevy Tahoes anymore?

      5. tongorad

        I lived/worked in Thailand from ’02 – ’13. The vast majority of visa changes during that time was on the end of my host country.
        I’ve got nothing but admiration for the US embassy and consulate in Bangkok. I never had any issues with them during my stay in Thailand. The US paperwork requirements were nothing compared to the maniacal churnings of the Thai bureaucracy.

        In any case, it’s very much worth the effort to live overseas. Nothing else like it.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I think if you are an expat, you feel less responsible for what is wrong with the place. Plus the politics are a bit alien, so they may be easier to tune out.

      Plus the persona you present in writing is a bit like that of the Terry Pratchett character, the tourist Twoflower in you, in that you think well of people and as a result elicit better responses from them than most. I assume that’s very clever protective coloring in the midst of the ugly politics of big banks, to seem unnaturally chipper and pretend all the stupid and cutthroat stuff is the result of not having the right information and if everybody knew better, they’d behave more sensibly. But it has to work well in plenty of other contexts.

      One of the best scenes is when the main character Rincewind tracks him down at Death’s house, and find Twoflower oblivious to where he is, save having noticed everyone seems to have a lot of time on their hands. So Twoflower teaches Death and his guests how to play bridge.

      1. vlade

        Having almost made a full circle (collecting more passports than James Bond in the process – as I intended to stay at every one of those countries, but life intervened..), I can tell you that I feel quite a bit of attachement to all of them (say I followed with trepidation the NZ referendum about the new flag. I liked the old flag, even though I do understand why some people would want a new one).

        They all have their bright and dark sides, and moving around made me to appreciate the bright sides more.

        The problem with trying to bring some of the bright sides to the new (or old, when one returned somewhere after years of absence) place of residence often is that the locals don’t even start to understand what is wrong with their way of doing it – “we always did it this way and it worked for us”, even when it manifestly didn’t.

      2. homeroid

        Yves i ran away from the backwoods of NH 37 years ago to be an Xpat in Alaska. Now i live in a nice small place with aware, caring, people. Lots of sharing and food growing. Most want to make life here sustainable. The oil patch is shrinking so those dickheads are going back to the lower 48.
        Fighting to keep the community going is a chore that will last for the rest of my declining years. I say don’t run, fight.

      3. ChrisPacific

        Clive as Twoflower. I love it.

        Incidentally, for anyone interested in Pratchett’s work the Neil Gaiman interview in 2014 is worth reading. Pratchett wasn’t the ‘jolly old elf’ that you might think from his writing. To hear Gaiman tell it, his defining attribute was channeled rage. I used to wonder if there were any self-insertion characters in his books. After reading Gaiman’s take I am fairly sure it’s either Sam Vimes or Granny Weatherwax (or both in different ways).

        1. vlade

          You can see it (chanelled rage) from a number of his writing – not just Discworld.

          On self-insertion, I suspect Vimes is closer than Granny – it comes strongest in places like Midnight Watch, Thud and Snuff, and to some extent Unseen Academicals.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > channeled rage

          I love the Sam Vimes Pratchett books; Vimes embodies cool irony :-)

          The others, not so much. The police procedural is a wonderfully freeing genre, and the cast of supporting characters is great (and the characters aren’t all that flat, either).

          Maybe I need to look into the Granny Weatherwax series, then..

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Well, the ‘grass is always greener’ and all that. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way you can find somewhere better to retire is find a country with a weaker currency and a very different culture and then deliberately don’t learn the local language so you can pretend all the crappy stuff that makes the locals life a misery doesn’t apply to you.

      You can then just read the newspapers from home and think ‘I’m glad I don’t live there any more’ and doubly pretend that the locals you can hire cheaply to clean your home and serve you great food do it because they really like you, and not because its the only option to feed their children.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I know people who have retired to both for different reasons, and love it. But I think you can only be comfortable in those countries if you close your brain to some of the pretty horrible things that go on in both countries. Plus, I have this horrible vision in my head of becoming one of those expat bores you always meet in those places with one hand perpetually on a cold beer and the other around a local girl a third of his age.

          1. RUKidding

            heh… ah yes, I’ve seen many of those in SE Asia & India. If it’s a not woman one third the age of the older man, then it’s younger man. One does run across that a lot in that part of the world, although I enjoy SE Asia and India a lot. I could see spending some signficant time there but not living there permanently. I think you do have to have some affinity for the culture. It helps.

          2. polecat

            Ah … there’s that word ‘Retire’ …… WTF does that even mean .. for MOST people !

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Retire.

              First you tire yourself out.

              Then, you tire yourself out, again.

              Re-tire.

          3. Olga

            No place is perfect (having also lived in several countries), and so going somewhere else hoping that it will be sooo much better may be somewhat naive. But I think in terms of retirement, the big issue is affordability (and driving). Given the sorry state of affairs in the US, plus how unaffordable it has become (a reasonably nice house in a nice (i.e., close-by) neighbourhood in Central Texas has one paying btw $5000-$10000 in property taxes – before any other expenses – and then one has to drive everywhere!) – moving out makes sense. On the same income, I can make it in the US (carefully watching expenses) or I can live more luxuriously elsewhere. And yes, it does help to have at least some affinity for the local culture and know the language (at least a bit). Healthcare is also a consideration – but it tends to be much cheaper and even better (many places) than in the US.

            1. oh

              I think it only makes sense to leave if you have a great interest in the new country’s culture and people. Of course, good health care is an important factor. Otherwise, sooner or later you’ll find out you don’t really like it and will want to return.

            2. Anon

              Healthcare can become an issue. My understanding is that Medicare is not transferable to another country.

      1. Ed

        If you retire, and you have a retirement income that covers expenses, it shouldn’t really matter where you live. You are retired. You are not going to work, don’t have to deal with other people at all, and can tune out the crap going around you. Even in a police state, the government is not going to bother retirees much. Your only worry should be that your body is falling apart.

        For retirees, I’d imagine the priorities would be low recurring expenses and closeness to family and medical care.

      2. SerenityNow

        PlutoniumKun, I think you are hitting on the important points here–expatriating seems to me like a knee-jerk reaction that discards any responsibility to one’s own community..

        As a person under 35, I find many of these other comments about escaping to cheaper countries quite unnerving–isn’t this just what the super rich do, except at a middle class level?

        What about all the people the expats leave behind, who will work their whole lives never even dreaming of a pension, yet will be deprived of that retiree capital in their economies?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yeah, thats an issue, one thats hard to get away from. Whenever I travel in poorer country, I can never shake the guilt of knowing that part of the good time I’m having is because I’m proportionately vastly richer than the people around me, simply because I had the good fortune to be born in Europe rather than, say, Cambodia or India.

          I’m not really sure what the ethical answer is about moving on retirement. Its not something I gave much thought to until about a year ago when I was crunching some numbers on savings and I realised that my one significant asset – the apartment I live in – would almost certainly deliver me more per month in rental income than my supposedly quite good pension scheme (I was fortunate to get on board with one before they became rapidly crappified). Which means that would mean it would make financial sense for me to move somewhere cheaper if I live that long and climate change/bankers/neocons don’t destroy everything first. Whether thats the ‘right thing’ to do or not is a very different question and I don’t know the answer.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We call foreign expats immigrants here.

          Some come here because neoliberalism and free trade deals have destroyed their lives in their home countries.

          Some come, right out of free-college-tuition college, to get more money and maybe a home with a swimming pool (though not likely to be in Beverly Hills, per a quote today).

          All of us being all humans, I believe they also struggle with the same questions we pose here.

          “Should I leave my country that has given me such a quality education to make another country greater?”

    5. BillC

      Good category to add to the Topics index over to the right!

      But, but … Palm Springs may become waterless even within us old codgers’ lifetimes (apologies if I’ve liabled you) and with Fukushima’s disaster still awaiting its denoument, only the southern hemisphere seems to me a safeish bet, radiation-wise. The entire English-speaking world seems likely to remain firmly in the grip of neoliberalism and/or unrestrained fraudulent scamming (Australia, New Zeland). The classic south sea paradises like Tahiti are easy typhoon pickins and soon to be underwater. That leaves Africa and South America. I keep hoping South Africa can right itself, but there’s no sign of that, and shock doctrine disaster capitalism seems to be making a comeback in South America (Argentina, Brazil). Maybe Chile, Uruguay, Equador … ? Have I missed a good spot somewhere?

      1. Clive

        Yes, SoCal water supply issues absolutely cannot be discounted. And U.S. healthcare costs are deeply, deeply scary.

        1. Carl

          That would be the primary reason to leave the US. I keep asking friends, “where is your healthcare going to come from?” and I get crickets, mostly.

              1. Clive

                OMG, who knew? Just as well they didn’t have the ACA in medieval times, the co-pays would have bankrupted the peasants!

                1. duck1

                  When I was a kid (1960’s) word was you could still get leeches in North Beach SF (because Italian neighborhood?, I don’t know). Never checked it out, lived across town. We are not that far from their traditional use, I guess.

              2. Lee

                The leeches I encountered in Borneo will suck you for free. My theory for why the biomass in their rain forest is concentrated in the canopy is that every organism that could do so evolved to get off the ground where you can watch the leeches vigorously humping along toward your body heat. And if those don’t catch you there are those that extend themselves from shrubs along the trails. Even so, the critter and bird watching was glorious and I would go again.

                1. fresno dan

                  Lee
                  March 8, 2017 at 1:34 pm

                  You know, of course ;) that it is illegal to import non-FDA approved leaches for medicinal use – unless you doing so under a IND -investigational new drug application (OH, I’m not kidding…also, I doubt the agricultural department would let you import leaches without a license and permit. Just try and do something inexpensively …..So how much does it cost to travel to Borneo??)

          1. Merf56

            We know a couple who have retired to (coastal)Ecuador ( 7 years ago) as they saw their retirement (at ages 67 and 69) income being exhausted far too rapidly. They love it.
            As to medical care- the woman has rheumatoid arthritis. The medical care she needs and receives there is excellent and her medications are available at minimal cost. She has told us that her doctors all speak English well as do most staff and many trained in the US or Cuba. They live in a three bedroom apartment, have cleaning people and laundry service. Taxis are affordable but they have bought a small car as well. Their kids visit regularly. They say they are living very comfortably and their money is going much much farther and they feel physically and monetarily safer there than in the US. The have established themselves with both their Ecuadorian neighbors and the expat community and have an active social sphere.
            We are close friends with their adult daughter and her husband and have visited Ecuador with them. It seems a wonderful place. Both adult kids also have plan now to retire there and my spouse and I are considering it when the time comes.

            1. RUKidding

              Disclaimer: have only been to Peru, but I know people who have lived in Ecuador or were born and raised there.

              I believe Ecuador can be quite a good place to live, but I have heard from many that it is getting more and more expensive. So research is required, plus anyone would be well advised to go live there long term temporary first to see if it suits you.

            2. RabidGandhi

              Political risk: Ecuador’s economy runs a great risk of changing drastically depending on the outcome of the 2 April runoff election. This could very likely be a change on the same level as Brazil and Argentina.

      2. Carla

        “liabled”

        Is that a cross between “libeled” and “labeled”? I quite like it!

        As to possible places to land — Peru? Costa Rica has become quite a conventional choice, and of course Morris Berman recommends Mexico.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Young friends report Costa Rica is not so affordable anymore. They were able to get a little work in bars and as a nanny.

          Expat family reports love Ecuador. But they have retirement income.

          Me, I’m in it (USA) for the long haul or die faster haul. At least we can plant the veggies a month earlier and grow a month later these days…) My biggest regret – buying an on the grid home rather than building one off the grid.

          1. Anon

            So sell the grid-house. Do some planning first. Solar PV powered, off-grid homes are not that expensive to build (if you have building experience). Or you can purchase a custom pre-built and ship it to the land of your choosing. The key is finding the right location.

            I live near the famous Oprah and these folks are building “safe houses” on their properties for when the culture gets real iffy: PV powered (battery sustained), high-security, substantial potable water storage, long-term food source, secluded, livable abodes.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t know the situation for US nationals, but Taiwan specifically markets itself as a retirement destination for Japanese. They see it as a way to repopulate small villages and towns in the south and east of the country. Leaving to one side the tiny issue of maybe going to war with China, its a great country – warm all year round (you can escape the heat on the south coasts or high in the mountains), very developed, lots of English speakers, etc. And their healthcare system was specifically designed as Medicare for All – they more or less copied the Medicare system, and just made it universal.

        1. Tom_Doak

          I just returned from a trip that included a few days in Taiwan. I caught a stomach bug while there, and a local friend took me to a small clinic in Taipei. Twenty minutes later, I was out the door after visiting with a doctor, and with my medicine … for the equivalent of US $17. So I think they’ve improved on Medicare !

    6. cm

      Palm Springs???? You need to read up on the California water crisis!

      You’re British — why not NZ or Oz?

      1. Enquiring Mind

        San Andreas Fault.
        Palm Springs experiences a lot of earthquake tremors, so not for those who are easily rattled.

        1. polecat

          But think of the fabulous waterfront property Clive will gain ….. about 60 million years, or so, from now ….

      2. Sandler

        FYI, Brits do not get any special privileges when it comes to visas to Australia and NZ.

    7. Tom

      What about becoming an expat in place? (Similar to “shelter in place” — a chilling phrase we’ve all become familiar with) What I mean is to withdraw from the grid as much as possible while staying right where you are (if possible) or by moving to a location where living off-grid is feasible — perhaps in small local grid community configurations.

      Seems to me there’s a confluence of trends, technology and attitudes that make off-grid living a real possibility. The tiny house trend, the falling prices of alternative energy systems, advances in battery technology, a desire for walkable communities and for buying locally-produced foods, a growing appreciation for minimizing one’s footprint and collection of stuff, etc.
      Because with each new revelation about the size and scope of the insitutional forces and resources arrayed against us (e.g., Wikileak’s latest bombshell about the CIA’s voluminous tools for hacking and sacking) I am reminded of an image I saw in a YouTube video — a man standing on the beach looking seaward as the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 bore down upon him. Towering above him, moving far faster than the fastest human, this guy stood perfectly still, mesmerized by the sight of the wave that would kill him in seconds.

      At times lately a sense of overwhelming futility washes over me, seeing how deeply entrenched the ruling class is over so many aspects of our lives. That the richest country in the history of the human race (as far as we know) is rife with seemingly endless and expanding poverty, illness, crime, war, corruption and pollution makes me question what the point is of participating in all this anymore.

      Is this really the best we can do? What a tawdry, tacky and merciless mess we’ve made of it. Rather than leave, however, why not leverage what’s useful from the system while making a strategic withdrawal into self-sufficient communities?

        1. polecat

          ‘The Land that (good) Time forgot’ ??

          I think Jane Hamsher moved to Oregon, did she not ?

          If we just get rid of federalism …. than it’s every State a Country ….
          See, that was easy …

    8. Lord Koos

      My wife and I are in our 60s and we lived in Thailand for 7 months in 2012 to check it out. It’s a great place to live, and cheap, but Thai immigration law discourages long stays. A lot of people cheat of course, but that’s risky. They do have a retirement visa but even that must be updated regularly and you need a big bank deposit. The expat scam in Thailand is to marry a Thai — then you have citizenship without the hassle, can own a business, own property, etc. On the same trip we visited Malaysia and were surprised how much we liked it – everyone can speak English there, the food is fantastic, and while not as inexpensive as Thailand, it is still quite cheap by American standards. People were very friendly as well. Being a Muslim nation, they are very strict about certain things, is the downside. We were looking at Uruguay also, but you would need to learn Spanish to live there I think – same with Chile. I think being in the southern hemisphere might be a good idea… it’s a bit more out of harm’s way. Things could get weird in SE Asia if the USA presses a confrontation with China, and there are also environmental issues in much of the north. Places like Portugal, Spain, Croatia, etc are also attractive, however.

      Almost every country will allow American retirees to stay if you have extra money to dump in the bank, or to invest or buy real estate. But without a spare $100-200k, for the most part you’re out of luck as far as permanent stays.

      One thing that hit us hard after we returned to the US, was just how much Americans are being ripped off in comparison to other countries. Pretty much everything, rent, food, medical care, internet, cell phone service etc. is much cheaper almost everywhere else. Arriving home, it felt like we were hemorrhaging money as soon as we hit the airport. If we weren’t here to look after my aged mother, we’d be gone. It’s partly a matter of affordability, and partly a desire to leave a culture that I find increasingly toxic.

      1. Olga

        I totally concur – on the ripped-off part in the US (and Malaysia being wonderful – although 25 yrs, Islam there seemed more tolerant). Even Europe is cheaper for long-term living…

        1. Lord Koos

          People in Malaysia seemed quite tolerant, but we were not in the rural areas much, where the culture is more conservative. In Penang and Kualsa Lumpur things are pretty relaxed. The Chinese community in Malaysia, who exert power and influence beyond their numbers, seem to be a pragmatic and liberal counter to the official Islamic rule. You wouldn’t want to try to score weed there though…

      2. Ruben

        Having to learn a second (or third) language is a plus, not a con, as in living in Uruguay or Chile and learning Spanish. Studies show that learning a new language at adult age is one of the best methods to keep the brain agile and avoid deterioration due to aging.

    9. Jeotsu

      A comment as an ex-pat now living in NZ.

      In 2003 there was a flood of American’s post Iraq war. This was the same time as when we arrived (having been planning the move for many, many years before hand). We found the new arrivals fell into two camps, those who had moved “away” from the US, and those who had moved “to” NZ.

      This had important psychological implications. No country is a perfect utopian nirvana. But when you choose to move “to” it you are accepting the new home, warts and all.

      Those who had moved “away” from the US were never satisfied in NZ, and the moment Obama was elected they all streamed back northwards – many of them then to suffer from long-term unemployment in the wonderful post GFC ‘recovery’.

      So I guess I’m trying to say that you need to look at yourself and your own motivations/psychology before planning on running to/away to a different place. If you pack up all your fears and insecurities and bring them along when you move, then you’ve not really made things better at all.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        We expatriated to Australia after Bush was re-appointed in 2005 and it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done. But agree: you better be clear about your motivations and psychology. It has helped that AU culture is Anglo (though they say that the US and AU are “two countries separated by a common language”). Every day I am amazed by the innate sense of social justice here; the health care is amazing and cheap; they have an actual basic income scheme; and the country is small enough to be manageable. Our overall cost of living is about the same as the expensive California town we were from. They even still like Americans.
        On NZ, be aware that they call the climate “maritime”. Translation: it rains every single day, often all day long. That’s why it’s so green. And with just 4M people in the whole country we didn’t feel there was a large enough economy to support ourselves and then our kids.

    10. TheCatSaid

      It could be worse if there is water scarcity and rising temperatures in Palm Springs.

      Good luck regardless of what you decide.

    11. Dead Dog

      My you started a conversation there Clive, or was it Yves? Very interesting, anecdotes and experiences from everywhere.

      Yes, when things start looking bad at home, we all look elsewhere and wonder if the grass is greener. My own family emigrated from the UK in the mid 70s, to Australia, otherwise my life would have been very different. But better or worse, who knows? What I do know is that Australia has been very good to me and my family, but I do also think of moving when I despair at the direction we have been taking since the 1980s and the huge debt ponzi we are all in.

      Australia was very different country when Yves lived here, more egalitarian and tolerant, easy to get a job, unions still had power, we still made things (car industry closes in Oct 2017) and neoliberalism was still in its infancy. In the 70s, you could still buy a house on 3 to 4 times income in Sydney. Yet now, real estate prices being high as they are, you need a lot of money to come here and buy a house or apartment.

      One thing I haven’t seen in the discussion is that each country’s immigration policies are often based on bilateral ‘agreements’ – basically we’ll process your visa and immigration requests in the same way you do.

      The general exception to this is third world countries like Thailand and Malaysia welcoming people who bring foreign income, by way of pensions or passive income – as this increases employment, consumption and their respective economies. Their governments permit this even while Thais and Malays find it difficult to get on the immigration queue or apply for a working holiday visa. We’re happy to let Europeans in for a working visa, or people with lots of money, just none of those brown/asian people (unless they’re doctors, that’s ok). /s

      So, from what I read here and elsewhere, it is becoming harder for foreigners to enter the US on a tourist visa (just the idea of a Customs ‘pat down’ at LAX is enough for me to say no thanks), let alone emigrate there.

      Only when US citizens start getting ‘pat downs’ in London, Paris, Sydney (or where ever), such an invasive practice might stop.

      Sadly, I think things are only going to get worse, everywhere.

    12. skk

      I moved to the US in 1992 to Los Angeles from the UK where I grew up, studied and had a career. Recently, two of my Brit friends of similar ages to me have retired and returned to England for their retirement.

      Me ? I remember the Asian Youth Movement in the UK in the 80s during the rise of the National Front – and their slogan in defending their areas from NF attacks was “Here to Stay, Here to Fight”.

      So me ? I’m staying put. the new slogan – they are gonna wrest away my gorgeous Los Angeles weather, multi-cultural life from my “cold dead heads”. ( with apologies to Charlton Heston :-) ).

    1. fresno dan

      Tom
      March 8, 2017 at 7:25 am

      that is great!!!!
      I feel sorry for the spooks who have to watch me…..’can’t that guy put on some pants and stop scratching his b*lls? why do you ALWAYS get to watch the coeds playing nude twister?’

      1. Tom

        Ha!

        Scene:
        Interior
        CIA morning staff meeting

        Supervisor: And your assignment for today is to monitor Fresno Dan.

        New guy: The twister guy … again?

  2. Richard

    ” I need to get my act in gear re becoming an expat…”

    Yes, you absolutely do. With ease-of-communciations such as they are, there is no impediment whatsoever to leaving the country and living elsewhere. You do NOT have to adopt a new nationality to do this.

    In addition, you will benefit from a personal IRS tax exemption of over $100,000 per person if you emigrate from the U.S.

    Life is almost certainly going to be a lot more inexpensive elsewhere and healthcare costs….

    I don’t even know where to begin. You can get expat health insurance for a tiny fraction of what you’d pay in premiums in the U.S. and the cost is a equally minuscule compared with the U.S. Standards are almost always going to be superior to those of the U.S. (Info just out has it that medical “error” is repsonsible for fully 25% of preventable deaths in the U.S. (in third place).

    What are you waiting for? I left in 2009 and never looked back.

    1. Clive

      If only it was quite that straightforward. Few countries give you indefinite leave to remain without either fairly significant capital investment to prove your ties to the country or a guarantor such as an employer sponsored visa or an application for citizenship. Those countries with seemingly “e-z residency terms” usually have other strings attached. Or they are trying to lure expatriates because the countries are sorely lacking in development — economic, social or both. Put it this way, Dubai and Monaco are just such places which tout themselves as expat heaven but I’d rather live just about anywhere else on the planet than there.

      London, for example, is socially tolerant and could fairly be described as swinging. There’s no shortage of well-documented horror stories about how minor transgressions in highly conservative Dubai will land you — at best — on the next plane out the country or — worse — in jail under a dodgy legal system.

      You can get away with living undocumented or stretching your visa terms, but being thrown out of your home is always a risk and has terrible consequences.

      1. Richard

        I cordially invite you to come to Malaysia. No hassles at all. MM2H visa (My Malaysia 2nd Home) is ridiculously easy to obtain, gives you the right to live (but not work) here and lasts 10 years, easily renewable (almost automatic). People speak English here (ex-British colony). Laws are, like the U.S., based on English common law, cost of living ridiculously low. If you live next to Singapore like I do, you can be in downtown Singers in 35 minutes, you have all the advantages of an incredibly lively and fun place, international, horrendously expensive, but then you can return to your abode across the causeway in Malaysia and live really inexpensively.

        What could be better? Oh yes, no taxes at all on income derived from outside Malaysia. I am therefore a walking tax haven. Healthcare is excellent and dirt cheap, Or you can go to Singers and get worldclass health care. Don’t need to, though. M’sian healthcare is easily as good as U.S., actually better. They have all the latest technology and doctors usually studied in the U.K. or Australia (and sometimes specialised in the U.S.)

        Weather is spectacular year-round. Food to die for, also dirt cheap. It’s actually cheaper to eat out than to eat at home. Seriously. I mean, what’s there to dislike? I’ve been here since 2009. Use your tax savings to go back and visit the family twice a year. Internet WAYYYYY better than the U.S. and a fifth of the price.

        1. Clive

          I’m not knocking the place, but it isn’t exactly what I’d describe as being in the vanguard of tolerance and liberalism.

          It doesn’t encourage alternative lifestyles https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Malaysia. And what’s all that whipping for smoking a joint all about https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malaysia/local-laws-and-customs ? And I know every country has its share of whack jobs, but The Obedient Wives Club? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obedient_Wives_Club WT, and, indeed, F?

          Don’t get me wrong, England has just as many ills as, I’m sure, does the U.S. And if you’re a foreigner you may well get cut way more slack than the locals. But as I found while living in Japan, the more integrated you became, the more you were expected to follow “the rules”. Which can be, erm, a tad oppressing.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I know of one transgender person who took an early retirement to India on the basis that the culture there seems much more welcoming. She lives very comfortably on the modest income from an accounting textbook she wrote when a he. Thailand also has that reputation, although so far as I know its reputation is resented by a significant proportion of the population.

            1. Clive

              I’m wondering why she didn’t exercise her right to move a bit north because what, I ask you, could be more welcoming to her than the dulcet tones of Arlene “the voice of tolerance” Foster? And she even looks like a drag queen gone wrong, to boot.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Now there is a very good reason to retire to a different continent.

                But in Ms. Fosters favour, I would say that she does a very good job of making her fellow party members look cheery and tolerant in comparison.

            2. Lord Koos

              While living in Thailand for seven months we observed the Thais completely ignored people who presented as trans or gay, and not in a bad way — it just wasn’t a thing that people seemed too concerned about, which is as it should be.

              Malaysia is a really nice place in many ways. You can’t expect perfection, matter where you go there are issues, but one of the nice things about leaving the US is that the culture in many other countries feels a lot less toxic. Americans are angry a lot.

              1. Marina Bart

                I have become convinced that living inside the Imperium is actually worse for most of its citizens, than being outside it — unless you’re a member of a population under direct attack by the Imperium, like Syria right now.

                I think that was probably true of most British citizens during its time as an empire. It’s just that they were so well suppressed they hover on the fringes and in the shadows of all the extent records, which are primarily mined, analyzed and discussed by 10%ers here, who ignore their own living oppressed fellow citizens, and so don’t even notice all those dead oppressed British citizens who never get more than a line or two in a Austen novel.

                It’s not like this is a new or exciting insight. But everybody steps around it, like a pothole in the sidewalk, unless they’re all so used to doing it that no one even notices the wound is there anymore.

                Think about how infrequently any historical or economic analysis even acknowledges in passing how brutal most of the “advances” of Western culture were for the majority of people in the most privileged countries.

                I’m not surprised about gender and orientation variance being more accepted in some Asian cultures. That goes back a long time. Not all cultures work so hard to enforce a toggle-like A/B only concept of gender and sexuality.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When in Malaysia, do as the Malaysians do.

            I evolve. You evolve. She evolves. They evolve.

            How do we know this person or that person won’t get to where I am today, and I won’t get to where you are tomorrow?

        2. Vatch

          I’ve read that Malaysia can be a very dangerous place for exiled family members of dictators.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Just avoid cute looking young women wearing rubber gloves and carrying cloths and you should be fine.

        3. ook

          I’ve been in Singapore for 14 months, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen the place described as “incredibly lively” :)

    2. cocomaan

      To me, the US is still pretty swell. We have some awful politics, but it’s always been that way. There are many things worth staying for. We have some of the most fantastic temperate climates in the world. The country is gorgeous. We have the best public lands and wilderness areas in the world, and maintain an intact suite of wildlife species. I love it and I love the people who make a living in it.

      Now, if you are an urbanite, I completely understand, because cities are roughly the same wherever you go – I spent time living in Cairo and it wasn’t too different from any other big metropolis. People are friendly and generous wherever I’ve been.

      Plus, we’re all implicated in this mess and I feel responsible.

      1. Annotherone

        Hear hear! I love this country too – and its people – while still despising its politics. I’m very happy to be here instead of in England from whence I came in 2004 after marrying a US citizen. I live in, and love these “flyover” states – somebody has to, so I’ve taken on the job. :)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When California declares independence, I will be an expat involuntarily.

          I just hope it’s an amicable divorce and the new country will honor Social Security.

          1. Marina Bart

            California can’t and won’t declare independence. Sorry. We need US water, US defense contracting, US fiat currency and US trade relationships. The tax imbalance doesn’t tell the whole story.

            Frankly, I’m counting on other states drowning the corporate Democratic Party in a bathtub for us, so we can fix governance here. California is not Nirvana, and our Democratic Party leadership doesn’t care about us any more than Democratic leaders care about citizens anywhere else in the United States. We just had a better social system than most states, that has taken more time to destroy.

      2. John Wright

        I agree that the USA does have some advantages.

        Yves wrote :”the comments on the (NY Times) article are truly depressing”.

        As a former NY Times subscriber, I stopped commenting after observing which comments were upvoted by readers, particularly when it came to supporting Hillary Clinton.

        It appears the readers have self selected to be slavish Times “true believers”.

        I do know of one case, in February 2014, where a “trusted commentator” wrote a comment questioning Tom Friedman’s salary and ability.

        As a Times “trusted commentator” the comment was posted without moderation.

        The comment was upvoted by a number of people, including me, to a good position on the readers’ picks of this Tom Friedman column.

        THEN the comment disappeared.

        This is evidence that the Times comment moderators actively influence the “comments” narrative, as one cannot see, except in this case, the comments that do not survive Times’ moderation.

        To continue in this vein, perhaps the Readers’ Picks are being gamed by the Times to indicate greater reader support than is actually there?

        I still look at the Times website, but have not tested my free 10 articles/month limit since leaving last year.

        The Times is a habit one can kick.

        1. Liberal Mole

          Did you notice the anger in comments when Bernie was still in the primaries? People were furious at the Times’ prejudice and behavior. People were dropping their subscriptions. I would assume that those readers, like myself, have stopped reading or writing in to that lying, neoliberal rag, so all is left is the deceived true believers.

        2. Lord Koos

          I had a NY Times comment censored last year when I reacted to one of Paul Krugman’s anti-Bernie Sanders rants. I told him he needed to get out of his $1,400,000 Manhattan apartment a little more often and see how other people lived. Apparently that was too much.

          1. John Wright

            I saved the Feb 2014 deleted comment as an example of how the NY Times manages readers’ comments via moderation, in this case, killing the comment AFTER it had been viewed by many readers:

            Personally archived comment to a Tom Friedman column at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/friedman-start-up-america-our-best-hope.html

            **************** archived comment begin *****************************

            “M**************t: is a trusted commenter NY Metro Area 13 hours ago

            Here we go again. Start a new company. Have Thomas Friedman shill for it. Wash. Rinse. Spin. Repeat.
            You lauded Groupon, which is not doing so well. You suggested that we monetize our closets, as if garage sales and eBay never existed. And renting space in your home. Some of the start-ups you cheer for were not created by people who can create the future, but are desperate. When will you realize, Mr. Friedman, that not everyone is an entrepreneur and not everyone has bright ideas.
            Better yet, when with the powers that be at The New York Times realize that many of the people who respond to your columns are more creative and insightful than you are? (And can write for less money than you command.)”

            ************end of archived comment*****************

            There was enough information for me in the original comment for me to track down the actual poster of this comment, it proved to be a young mother trying to find paying work as a journalist.

            I, and a lot of New York Times readers, liked the comment, but suggesting a New York Times columnist, such as Tom Friedman, is not worthy of respect is not to be tolerated at the Times.

            The New York Times, “All the news fit to manage”

      3. Uahsenaa

        Plus, we’re all implicated in this mess and I feel responsible.

        One of the reasons why I continue to teach, despite the conditions of my employment being generally exploitative, is that I feel a responsibility to push back against all the crap. Our life in Japan was arguably better with regard to a number of things (food, healthcare, transportation), but the whole time we were living there, I felt profoundly disconnected from what was going on around me. It didn’t help that this was at the height of the foreigner panic of the 2000s or that the rampant sexism and polite racism nibbled away at my heart on a daily basis. The US probably isn’t better, just different, but here I feel like I have an in to help make things better. In Japan, I just felt powerless. I was secure in my person, but I felt like what I was doing didn’t matter.

        This may not come off in my comments, but I can be pretty brash and reckless. I thrive on confrontation in ways that scare even some of my closest friends. I’d rather fight the bully than run away.

        1. Clive

          Gosh, yes, the sexism. If you’ve only lived in the US or Europe as a woman, you simply have no idea until you live — as opposed to vacationing — in some other countries. Japan has a special version of it, I don’t quite feel and get subjected to it being a man, but I get a sense of it through observation. It’s most apparent via a kind-of demeaning attitude but that isn’t really the right word for it.

          I grew up in 1970’s Britain so of course we had sexism then (men in offices where women worked would think nothing of pinning up a naked woman’s picture (the so-called “Page 3 Stunnah”, thank you Rupert Murdoch)) and it has never totally gone away but I think Japanese sexism is worse than that overt, almost childish sexism ever was.

          My sister still lives there. I do not know how she puts up with it. As a gaijin, maybe it’s more like water off a duck’s back. But you can’t not notice it and noticing but being unable to say anything is tolerating it. Not a nice conundrum to be in.

          1. Uahsenaa

            My wife, who is also a whitey from the midwestern US, always said that it’s a difference of ingrained expectations. For her Japanese co-workers, most of whom were teachers, it simply never occurred to them to complain about things that to her were straightforward examples of institutional sexism: the fact that all department heads were men; the fact that women were expected to perform all the servile tasks like making tea, whenever visitors came to the school; the fact that the female teachers were more often than not the ones who stayed after to help students catch up on their work. One time, my wife’s supervisor, who was a total creep, personally thanked me for allowing her to stay on another year, as if I had anything to do with it…

            Then there are the structural distinctions in employment: jimushoku, who are mostly women, have absolutely no route for advancement in their companies, while sogoshoku, who do have such a route, are mostly men. Yet, the two classifications of employees perform exactly the same work.

            Ugh.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            I dunno. I found as a gaijin at Sumitomo Bank that I was so alien that there were no additional points to be lost by being female. But I also had a rank in the Japanese hierarchy, I was not a “local” (foreign) hire.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Mauritius is beginning to attract Americans, residents and students.

    In the past dozen years, much land has been taken out of sugar cane production and converted to residential, often gated communities / golf estates. At first, a majority of buyers were from South Africa, but in the past year or two, European buyers (mainly French) have overtaken the South Africans.

    For gated communities, one has to pay in hard currency, anything between USD500k-1m, but one can get a passport. One can buy outside, as many have done in the villages where I get away for the festive season. The quality of life is good, not just because I am parti pris. The island is no longer that isolated.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        One need not buy in gated communities. It’s not expensive coming from outside.

    1. Lord Koos

      Mauritius sounds nice, but isn’t it among the places that will be mostly underwater from the warming climate trend in the near future? Of course if you are retirement age that may not matter.

  4. roadrider

    Re: Samsung TV listening to you

    I have one of those TVs. Now that I know, I’ll regularly shout “Fuck the CIA!” at it.

  5. hemeantwell

    Dishonesty gets easier on the brain the more you do it aeon (Micael)

    The article is a great example of how psychological investigators, trying to cast their findings in “hard” science terms, veer into neurological accounts that lose track of internalized social relations and encourage a mystification of psychological and social processes.

    Early on in development moral behavior draws on, first, the threat of real parental sanctions — loss of use of a toy, bed without supper, etc. — and then on the threat of internalized parental sanctions — feeling guilty, ashamed, fear of loss of the parent’s love, and so on. This bedrock persists. (I’m uncertain where to put direct empathy in here.)

    Later in life, the individual may find themselves in a social milieu that doesn’t sanction immoral behavior. A potential is set up for them to “escape” the internalized sanctions with social support. This may not happen, the parent may be venerated, or the individual has so elaborated the initial moral code into a world view that it becomes impossible for them to violate the code without feeling at sea, without identity.

    Alternatively, it is possible for the individual to discover that the anxiety they experience over breaking internalized norms does not foretell an insurmountable state of guilt or shame. They can work this out on their own and/or with the help of those around them. Relatively early on, life with peers offers a platform for reworking family-based restrictions. (Remember (re)learning what sex is about with your friends?)

    For example, a rural worker in 1930s Spain might “discover” that hating the landowner who exploits them doesn’t result a devastating experience of the loss of a deity’s love, as the priest threatened and as their religious parents worried. To the worker, hatred “makes sense,” it seems appropriate to numerous violations of contract, respect, etc. It’s “right” — and it’s also what their anarchist friends say.

    So “dishonesty gets easier on the brain” is just a physiologically-couched way of saying that something has been unlearned or reflected upon and overcome. We should be very leery of accounts of behavioral and psychological change that involve “my brain made me do it” kinds of explanations. It makes it harder to appreciate whatever personal and social power we still have.

  6. justanotherprogressive

    I’ve also researched being an expat as have other members of my family. But then you start learning the language and reading the local newspapers and you realize what caused things to be so bad here is spreading all over the world – there is just no escaping these problems….
    Soooo…..when they start taking applications to live on Mars or the Moon, let me know…..

    1. ProNewerDeal

      For USians moving to a Civilized nation with Civilized Universal healthcare like Canada, I am wondering if it is a “no-brainer”, if it possible for the particular USian to emigrate (like others said, many USians would be rejected in the application process).

      I wonder if the EXPECTED money/time cost of say emigrating from the US to Canada, if successful, is LESS than the EXPECTED money/time cost of dealing with the US “healthcare” system.

      There seemingly being no even “Public Option” to purchase in to either Medicare or the Veterans Affairs systems on the horizon, despite 58% of USians supporting MedicareForAll policy. I hope efforts from the social democratic/Sanders faction can hostile take over the D party, but it doesn’t seem likely currently. The Clint0n/0bama Establishment D party hates their base, their base’s policy goals, & democracy itself

      I’ve read some of the nightmarish comments from NCers, either Boomers or younger NCers with somewhat rare serious medical conditions (a child with severe autism, etc). It seems the money/time cost from dealing with the US Sickcare Mafia cannot be as bad as any immigration process to a Civilized nation like Canada.

      1. Lee

        I just completed the online questionnaire for immigration to Canada and found myself ineligible. I suspect that my advanced age, lack of a couple of millions of Canadian investment dollars and being out of the workforce counted against me. This is in spite of my retirement income putting me in the 75th and my net worth in the 85th percentiles respectively here in the U.S. I guess I’m just poor white trash as far as they are concerned. And here’s silly me thinking I’d risen so far up and away from my roots.

        1. Sandler

          Im not sure why you expect them to take you. retirement income means nothing if one develops a serious disease which could easily cost the State hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare costs. Unless you’re willing to put up your assets as a bond for healthcare it’s not rational. And moving to Canada but not receiving their healthcare seems pointless.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Health insurers billion dollar windfall GOP Obamacare replacement CNBC (UserFriendly). Circulate widely.

    So, I get that this is a tax loophole for insurance companies, but it doesn’t seem like such a huge deal.

    The removal of the the mandate and changes in the subsidies would seem to be more relevant.

    Most of the “analysis” has focused on changes in Medicaid expansion. Reportedly, republican senators from states headed by republican governors that expanded Medicaid recognize that those newly “insured” under that program would lose those benefits, and are reluctant to be seen as responsible. What’s interesting is that Medicaid is a “government” healthcare program, and the part of obamacare most closely resembling single-payer.

    But the mandate is essential to the “success” of the insurance-based part of the system. zeke emmanuel opined last year that, in order to keep obamacare functioning, the mandate should be strengthened by making the penalty more onerous–i. e. much larger–to prevent the calculation that paying the penalty was cheaper than buying an unusable insurance policy.

    In the repub plan, subsidy amounts are cut, in some cases dramatically; based on age instead of income; and are tied to taxes instead of directly paying the monthly cost. No mandate and less and less timely premium support would seem to call any insurance company participation in the program at all into question.

    1. marym

      Medicaid isn’t like single payer. It’s highly privatized.

      http://pnhp.org/blog/2015/06/15/privatized-medicaid-managed-care-yet-another-health-policy-disaster/

      “More than one-half [in 2015]of Medicaid beneficiaries are now in privatized plans, which have been catching on in many states based on the unproven theory that private plans can enable access to better coordinated care and still save money. That theory is not just unproven, it is patently wrong. Privatized programs have high administrative costs, built-in profits, and do not save money or improve care. Their route to financial success is by finding more ways to limit care and deny services.”

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        By that I meant that the government / taxpayer pays the bills and, presumably, requires a certain standard of service at a set fee. I understand that there has been some experimentation with regard to administration through private entities.

        Still, it seems to me that most of the obamacare “success” stories involve people who benefited from the Medicaid expansion as opposed to those who bought metal-flavored “plans” off the exchange. “Coverage” seems to be better when the government pays the bill.

        1. allan

          Agreed. But the GOP bill needs to be understood as a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations,
          wrapped up in the bright shiny object of `repeal.’ The largest cuts are:

          Repeal 3.8% capital gains surtax: $158 billion
          Repeal health insurance company tax: $145 billion
          Repeal 0.9% health insurance tax: $117 billion, from

          http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/7/14844362/ahca-ryancare-trumpcare-tax-cut-rich

          Sunsetting the Medicaid expansion and capping per-capita expenditures for all Medicaid recipients is just to make the afterglow last longer.

          1. Uahsenaa

            It’s also highly unlikely to pass in its current form. Louie Gohmert and his band of Freedumb misfits just gave a press conference in which they stated categorically that they would accept nothing less than what they passed through the House when Obama was president, namely a straight repeal of the ACA. Given that no Dem is likely to vote for this thing, they will need the misfits in order to pass this new (and improved) bureaucratic boondoggle.

            Which just goes to show how short-sighted they are. Trump has clearly done the political calculus here and understands that throwing out the baby with the bathwater will hurt them electorally in precisely those places, the Midwestern “flip” counties, they relied upon in the previous election cycle. Then again, I suppose, when you come from a district that has been gerrymandered to never be competitive, you don’t have to think about things like elections.

            1. Pat

              Call me wild and crazy but there is no winning here for the GOP. The only answer for most of the public is…well Medicare for All, and not even that gets everyone not in the 10%, but for the majority of the voting public it would be the same or better. For the libertarian/market is all freaks anything but repeal and throwing everyone to the wolves is unacceptable, even though most of them will end up screaming because that is not going to make their lives better. And all this split the difference is going to do is annoy everyone except the wealthy with cadillac (by coverage not cost) policies who get a tax cut.

              Seriously this version is going to annoy the hell out of the majority of Trump voters:

              You are still required to buy overpriced and largely unusable insurance or pay a stiff penalty, see that 30% surcharge. There are going to be even fewer subsidies for those policies. Those who got the medicaid expansion are going to see it stripped of most of its value as the block grant thing kicks in.

              1.) Insurance is too expensive. – Not Addressed
              2.) Insurance doesn’t provide health care – Not Addressed
              3.) Penalty for not having insurance if you cannot afford it. – Addressed to make the penalty more onerous.
              4.) Subsidies – still there if you hate them, but lowered if you bemoaned they didn’t cover enough.

              Pretty much the only thing that happened was the removal of the taxes that the usual suspects hated are gone, and some of the requirements are lowered for them. Meaning that most of the people who wanted reasonably cost health care get little or nothing except punishment.

            2. fosforos

              For any proponent of Improved-Medicare-for-All the only proposal to be supported is the Gohmert one: outright repeal of the Obama/Heritage Foundation ACA. That would make establishment of health care as a fundamental right the central issue of American politics for as many national elections as it would take (not more than two) to get it established.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            Thanks for this.

            Don’t I feel stupid for assuming that any of these bills was actually about “healthcare.”

        2. marym

          Possibly it’s more accurate to say “when the government pays the bill and exercises its right to specify services and standards.” Changing Medicaid funding to a block grant would diminish the latter.

          1. polecat

            That’s assuming we have a functional proactive government … which of course, we don’t, and haven’t had for decades …

            ‘Forward ! … into the Bloody, Offal filled (waves to the CIA/NSA boys) Ditch !!’

        3. oh

          I’ve heard reports that if you are on medicaid it’s a lot harder to find a doctor. And referrals to specialists are harder and may involve travel of several miles (say >200) from where you live. Another problem is the clawback provision in Medicaid.

    2. Anne

      Doesn’t eliminating subsidies and replacing them with tax credits that aren’t going to be sufficient to allow poorer people to purchase health insurance mean that more people will be showing up in emergency rooms for treatment they can’t afford to pay for, which means more people will be saddled with medical debt they will never get out from under – or – more costs of care will be passed on to the government?

      It also means that more people who used to at least have the benefit of “free” screenings and annual exams won’t be getting them, thus allowing for conditions to not be identified until the cost of treating them is hideously expensive and unaffordable.

      The AHCA seems to be a plan that will accelerate the deaths of poor people, so perhaps the “H” and “C” in “AHCA” should stand for “Heartless” and “Cruel” not “Health Care.” Or maybe we should rename it what it really is, the “Crappy and Cruel Act” or “CACA.”

      1. Katharine

        The loss of care will be seriously exacerbated by the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which is the source of primary care for many of its patients of both sexes.

    3. Benedict@Large

      Please don’t jump on the insurers with this new bill. As an ex-professional in health insurance systems. I can assure you everyone in the business is gobsmacked over the complete stupidity of what the GOP House is trying to do here. Whatever credibility Paul Ryan has had with these insurers up and vanished when this bill and his plan to get it enacted become public. At this point I would not be at all surprised if the insurers as a group got up and pulled the plug, saying the will walk on TrumpCare AND ObamaCare if this process is not immediately stopped. Insurers MUST have a stable platform from which to build their book, and Ryan’s plan is to hide all that necessary stats and jam in an unknown mess made up by children who have no idea what they are doing.

      This seriously is the most childish attempt at governing I have ever witnessed. It is cruel, it has no purpose, and it is completely reckless.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Exactly the point I was trying to make. Without a reliable mandate, why would insurance companies participate at all?

      2. RUKidding

        I’m glad to hear that BigIns is also opposed to this even worse clusterf*ck than ACA. But I predicted here not too long ago that whatever the Republicans came up with would certainly, no doubt, be worse than ACA.

        I’m correct. What’s my prize?

        I’m also guessing that Trump figured the dickheaded Republicans would come up with something so awful that it wouldn’t get passed, and his supporters would continue getting whatever value they can wring from ACA (just don’t call it Obamacare – they like ACA but hate Obamacare).

        Ergo, probably not much will change, at least at this point.

      3. Anne

        These Republicans spent the better part of 8 years trying to repeal the legislation; there was no effort, that I can recall, to design or propose a replacement that would be an improvement to the ACA, both in terms of coverage and cost. No effort, that is, until the GOP – thanks to colossally bad political strategy by the Democrats – realized it had a good chance of taking control over all three branches of government.

        Then, we saw the advent of “repeal and replace.” Catchy little bit of rhetoric, but the “replace” part was all but absent. They had nothing. No one wanted to go back to the days of pre-existing conditions, or kids having to go out and get insurance on their own. No one wanted to lose the mandated preventive screenings and well-child/well-woman coverage. Or the mental health coverage. People who finally could get treatment for addiction under expanded Medicaid didn’t want to lose that coverage. So how was the GOP going to keep its promise to repeal AND give the people the things they liked about the ACA, but at a lower cost and with more coverage?

        And how were they going to pay for it?

        All of the mechanisms for offsetting some of the costs under the ACA were eliminated under the AHCA. Oops.

        Seems to me this all represents a giant opportunity to advocate for an improved Medicare For All – so where is that effort? Dems seems to not be able to function in any position other than “anti” and have not figured out that they have a golden opportunity to suggest MFA as the “replacement” for the ACA.

        Instead, we are where we always seem to be, fighting an insane GOP for the chance to have sane policies that do not hurt the people who most need the government to be on their side.

        As it stands, aspects of the Ryan plan could see more employers dropping plans and sending their employees out into an individual market that could be so chaotic and unstable it will seize up altogether.

        Republicans will keep their promise to repeal the ACA even if it means throwing themselves – and by extension, all of us – on the funeral pyre that is the health system they are creating. A bill that takes up 10% figuring out how to deny tax credits to lottery winners is not serious legislation; a high school government class could do better.

      1. Quentin

        Russkies also established Woman’s Day on March 8 when female textile factoryworkers went on strike in St Petersburg, which is seen as the beginning of the February Revolution. Within days the czar abdicated and soon the Provisional Government gave women the right to vote. The day became a holiday in Russia/Soviet Union and was recognised by the UN in 1975. Those Russians always seem to nose in our fun.

        1. craazyboy

          Ah, yes. St Petersburg, Florida, I recall. They were our Allies back then. Happier times.

  8. nycTerrierist

    Glad to see Soi Dog Foundation getting a link here.
    They do important work — saving pups from the dog meat trade.
    One of their founders recently died. Amazing people.
    Dog bless them.

    1. nippersmom

      I was also pleased to see Soi Dog getting some coverage. Many people are not aware that, in addition to breeding dogs specifically to be used as meat, these purveyors of dog meat also steal dogs off the street and even people’s pets. The dogs are kept in appalling conditions and tortured prior to/during the slaughter process. Soi Dog does excellent work in rescuing and rehoming these dogs, and in raising public awareness of the horrors of the dog meat trade.

      1. Marina Bart

        As someone who had a pet house pig growing up, I’d like to mention that ALL the animals raised to be consumed in the west also are tortured from the moment of their birth to the moment of their death in most commercial farming operations.

        Sheep are stupid, but even the stupid deserve to live in safety and comfort. Pigs and goats are quite smart. We had border collies, and the pig was smarter.

        I applaud Soi Dog for its work. Every animal deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, whether we choose to eat them or merely exploit them. That includes human animals, of course.

        1. oh

          A big meat eater from rural (flyover) country told me that cows are stupid because you can get near them and push them till they fall. I told them they’re trusting, not stupid. Same with sheep and sheeple!

          1. Marina Bart

            No, sheep are really, really dumb. We had a house sheep at the same time as the house pig, plus a herd. Being up close and personal with a whole bunch of sheep for an extended period of time gets you past the phony image of cute, fluffy white critters right quick.

            But they still deserve a decent life and a painless death, as do we all.

    1. fresno dan

      allan
      March 8, 2017 at 9:45 am

      But….but….but…. …..BUT America is already Great!!!

      1. allan

        Have no fear – help is on the way:

        Next step in Dem realignment: Their own CPAC
        [Politico]
        Speakers are being told to bring ideas — not just political attacks on Trump.

        Instead of CPAC, it’ll be the Ideas Conference. Instead of at the National Harbor, it’ll be in the main room at the St. Regis Hotel, a few blocks from the White House. Instead of featuring President Donald Trump, it’ll be the first real cattle call of the Democrats nosing around 2020 presidential runs.

        And it’ll be the Center for American Progress’s biggest move yet to establish itself as both the nexus of the Democratic Party’s future — and a player trying to shape what that future will be. …

        All they need to do is throw in ADA 2.0 and victory is assured.

        1. fresno dan

          allan
          March 8, 2017 at 10:30 am

          I’m NOT saying their only idea will be P*ssy hats imprinted with “Hillary in 2020” – – somebody will think they can get those flyover types with TRUCKER hats imprinted with “Hillary in 2020”

          1. voteforno6

            There might be variations, such as “Re-Elect Hillary,” or “America is still already great.”

          2. craazyboy

            CAP is CPAC spelled backwards, almost. Look for “yssup” caps. I think that’s Yiddish, which always helps too.

        2. voteforno6

          It looks like our old friend Neera Tanden is involved in organizing this event. Given her (everyone else involved, for that matter) track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if they booked the hotel on the wrong weekend.

        1. david s

          They thought that not being Donald Trump was all they needed.

          It’s amazing to see the hoops the Democratic establishment is willing to go through to avoid admitting they had a bad, status quo candidate who ran a terrible campaign.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            And it’s even more amazing to see the hoops it’s willing to drag a once great country through.

            1. Marina Bart

              Particularly Barack Obama. As his corruption and deceit became more manifest, a lot of Obots defaulted to “he’s a good guy; he’s just weak.”

              His aggressive and successful moves of the last few months prove otherwise. He is actively working to prevent anyone from saving the American people and America’s victims overseas from the exploitation and death his administration facilitated and enhanced.

          2. John k

            Gotta keep the 2020 options open… and anyway, who would want to exclude the comeback of the best candidate ever?

  9. fresno dan

    https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/

    INSTAPUNDIT READER AND SECURITY EXPERT ERIC COWPERTHWAITE ANSWERS SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LATEST CIA HACK:
    The Wikileaks disclosure also makes clear that the CIA (and undoubtedly every other government agency) built tools that would make it look like they were some other intelligence agency. For example, there is a tool in this called “Stolen Goods 2.0” that uses Russian techniques and footprints. This means that it becomes very difficult for investigators to have any idea who actually conducted the cyber attack. It might have been the Chinese, but it might actually have been the British using tools that made it look like the Chinese were the bad actors. Just because someone publicly attributes the attack, does not mean anything. As security professionals say to each other all the time, “attribution is hard, bro.”

    ==================================================
    “… the CIA (and undoubtedly every other government agency) built tools that would make it look like they were some other intelligence agency.”
    That is not news, but what is noteworthy is that this is from a right/”conservative” albeit with a libertarian bent – – Russia could be framed by the CIA!?!!??? IC Leaks not just aiding and abetting our enemies???
    The “right” defends Russia and the MSM “librul” media goes full McCarthy….strange times indeed….

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Jeezus! Wikileaks comes through for Trump again. Trump isn’t colluding with the Russians–it’s the intelligence community making it look like they did because he dissed them.

      Julian Assange must have a death wish.

      1. Stormcrow

        Questions are being re-opened about the strange death of Michael Hastings.

        WikiLeaks ‘Vault 7’ dump reignites conspiracy theories surrounding death of Michael Hastings
        http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/wikileaks-vault-7-dump-reignites-conspiracy-theories-surrounding-death-of-michael-hastings/news-story/0df1d06403d0223ce1cfc286a1e75325

        It’s amazing that Assange has survived as long as he has. Trump may also be in the crosshairs, if not in one way then in another, i.e., perhaps not literally. Trump seems so erratic and unhinged, one has to wonder if he has really taken the measure of what he is up against.

        1. JustAnObserver

          Actually being erratic and unhinged might be one of Trump’s best defenses.

          Whether calculated or (most likely) entirely natural it means that his reactions to whatever the IC and their paymasters try to do to him will be (largely) unpredictable. Leading to a very real possibility of severe, public, blowback if the would be coupmeisters get it wrong.

          Twitter vs. the Blob. The Blob may, ultimately, win out but the victory is likely to be Pyrrhic at best.

      2. Alex Morfesis

        Assange grew up running from a cult with a mumz that was a little less than financially stable…hanging in the embassy is the longest he has stayed put in one location his entire life…

        He has a god wish not a death wish…or at least a demi-god wish

        He was being watched and sheepdipped as a baby hacker/script kiddie by one of the 5 eyes…my only question is did he reject and revolt…or is he stuck in some tornado…

        1. Marina Bart

          I personally watched the NSA grooming kids as young as five, using clowns and cake. What was it like for people in Assange’s generation?

  10. Bill

    Robert Painter, the Ethics lawyer in the Bush Administration, pointed out on MSNBC’s Morning Joe a couple days ago, that the 7 countries from which immigrants were banned, are all countries which have no Trump businesses within their borders.

    So this appears to be simple extortion but at the National level from the Grifter in Chief.

    1. RUKidding

      I had heard that before. I think Trump took Iraq off the list bc his bidness buddies – or Tillerson’s bidness buddies – are all happily wringing whatever they can outta Iraq. It certainly is NOT bc we should be letting in Iraqis who helped us during the War, Inc. Nay verily: it’s all about the money, honey.

      And that will be BIGLY what motivates Trump throughout his Admin. Whether he does good stuff or not, he’s mainly motivated about making money for himself. Don’t forget it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hard to have hotels in those country when the last administration was droning hospitals and other buildings there.

      “Can’t even get insurance.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The question is, are they getting health care currently or just paying for high-deductible insurance plans they don’t use?

      1. oh

        Not trying to mock the poor who have little or no health care but losing health insurance may be better than paying and not able to use the insurance (need to spend at least $12,000 first to file a claim with the premiums, deductibles and co-insurance). ObamaCare what a boon!

  11. fresno dan

    From Russia, With Panic Yasha Levine, Baffler. Today’s must read. Too bad is it competing with the Vault 7 revelatoins. Key sentence: “This is forensic science in reverse: first you decide on the guilty party, then you find the evidence that confirms your belief.”

    “As allegations of Russian responsibility for the DNC hack flew fast and furious, we learned that the FBI never actually carried out an independent investigation of the claims. Instead, agency officials carelessly signed off on the findings of CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm retained by the Democratic National Committee. Far from establishing an airtight case for Russian espionage, CrowdStrike made a point of telling its DNC clients what it already knew they wanted to hear: after a cursory probe, it pronounced the Russians the culprits. Mainstream press outlets, primed for any faint whiff of great-power scandal and poorly versed in online threat detection, likewise treated the CrowdStrike report as all but incontrovertible.”
    ……………………..
    In a frustratingly vague statement to Congress on the report, then-DNI director James Clapper hinted at deeper and more definitive findings that proved serious and rampant Russian interference in America’s presidential balloting—but insisted that all this underlying proof must remain classified. For observers of the D.C. intelligence scene, Clapper’s performance harkened back to his role in touting definitive proof of the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s WMD arsenal in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.[1]

    John McCain and Hillary Clinton jointly nominated Saakashvili for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Support for Georgia was bipartisan and continued right up to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia; more than a thousand American troops held a joint exercise with Georgia near the South Ossetian border in July. [2]
    …………..
    Those who had covered the region understood that Georgia was no innocent. The ethnic conflict between Ossetians and Georgians has old, festering roots—indeed, Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia was centuries in the making. The Ossetians consider the territory of South Ossetia to be native lands they have occupied for centuries, while Georgians view Ossetians as relatively recent interlopers.[3]
    ==============================================
    People should read the entire article – these snippets don’t do it justice….
    [1] Clapper – who says there are no second acts in America? A man who empirically proven to be an idiot and/or a knave is listened to is probably why we are in the situation that we are.
    [2] McCain and Clinton AKA Satin and Beelzebub
    [3] Yes….we’ve done so well in bringing peace and prosperity to the the middle east, we should definitely get involved in Russia…. (do I really need a “sarc” tag)

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Agree completely on the “must read” status. Tom Clancy couldn’t have done better with fiction.

      My favorite part:

      The flimsiness of this evidence didn’t stop CrowdStrike. Its analysts matched some of the tools and methods used in the DNC hack to APT28 and APT29, slapped a couple of Russian-sounding names with “bear” in them on their report, and claimed that the FSB and GRU did it. And most journalists covering this beat ate it all up without gagging.

      “You don’t know there is anybody there. It’s not like it’s a club and everyone has a membership card that says Fancy Bear on it. It’s just a made-up name for a group of attacks and techniques and technical indicators associated with these attacks,” author and cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr told me. “There is rarely if ever any confirmation that these groups even exist or that the claim was proven as correct.”

      This is the basis on which the overlords are willing to tear this country apart.

      1. craazyboy

        I was pretty sure CloudStrike was fullo’krap. Now Vault 7. With our 17 Intelligence agencies going at it, Russian hackers may be a fantasy altogether. It’s all our people spying on each other.

        “When living in glass houses, don’t swim naked in the shower. You might find yourself with 3 blind men and an 800 lb angry bear. With orange hair. The bear’s trunk is tied in a Gordian Knot. The center cannot hold. Golden showers, news at 11. Birds of a feather flock together!” *

        * Candidate for Thomas L. Friedman Twisted Metaphor Contest.

        1. fresno dan

          craazyboy
          March 8, 2017 at 4:40 pm

          “When living in glass houses, don’t swim naked in the shower…..”
          That’s too damn good – admit it – your taking credit for an actual Friedman quote!!!

    2. fosforos

      Satin is a failed first-baseman for the Mets. Beelzebub (Baal Zevuv) is a mushroom, *amanita muscaria* (aka fly agaric). Neither, as far as I know, would descend so far as to have anything to do with any Clintons or McCains.

      1. fresno dan

        fosforos
        March 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        your exactly right – my apologies for besmirching Satan and Beelzebub by likening them to Clinton and McCain…

    3. djrichard

      self-licking ice-cream cone comes to mind in reading this. Ike’s admonition to beware the military/industrial complex needs to be expanded to include the cyber-security complex.

    1. human

      “every American enjoys the First Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution.”

      Is there anyone in DC who acknowledges the real world?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      FCC chairman: “Enemy or friend? I think the question can be better answered by our intelligence community.”

  12. Alex Morfesis

    Trump transition…cant wait for new years day (march 25th) to see if emperor jones pulls a Senate in session massacre and farts on his republicanocratz and makes a few hundred “recess” appointments to get on with the business of governing and dares his republican sloths to overturn them…if he doesn’t then his sell by date will have expired in my book

  13. freedeomny

    A bunch of folks I know have been thinking about becoming expats and I would say 3/4 of my friends are actively trying to figure out how to get out of the NYC area. Most of them are too young to retire, but old enough that they don’t have to make as much money. They are hoping they can find a crap job that offers health insurance. One friend recently quit her executive job, sold her apartment, moved out of state and got a job at her local Trader Joes. I’ve been planning my escape for the past 1 1/2 yrs. I did go to Panama to check it out but wasn’t thrilled. I’d say there is a 60% shot I will be out of here within a year.

    1. RUKidding

      I’m thinking about leaving for a while once I retire, but I suspect I’ll need to come back later on to be close to family for them to help me out. Depends on what I discover when I’m “out there.” I’ve lived overseas for longish periods in my life, so it wouldn’t be all that strange for me. I’ve gotten a few good ideas for places to investigate from our disucssions here today.

      Where I presently live in the USA right now is still a pretty decent place to live. We’ll see how it goes over time. I am very lucky to have a good paying job that I love, and it has decent benefits. Believe me when I say that I’m grateful every day. I realize how rare it is.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    Sen. Tim Kaine’s Son Arrested During Anti-Trump Protest

    Linwood “Woody” Kaine, 24. Kaine resisted arrest and a “chemical irritant” was used. Luckily Kaine was subdued by one of the un-trigger happy, not-inclined-to-fear-for-his-life coppers.

    Kaine was among “five or six people all dressed in black clothing from head to toe” who entered the State Capitol and set off fireworks and smoke bombs, according to a St. Paul Police Department incident report.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sen-tim-kaine-s-son-arrested-during-anti-trump-protest-n730666

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for that – first time I’ve ever seen one of these ‘black bloc’-looking people identified.

      Wonder how close Daddy Kaine is to the IC?

    2. Grebo

      Yesterday I said I thought Black Bloccers never get arrested because they are policemen. Now I realise I am not cynical enough.

  15. Plenue

    >This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World

    I’m really getting tired of all the claims that Trump and his cronies are somehow the ultimate depths of depravity and evil, when the previous ‘normal’ was routinely dropping bombs from oversized RC planes onto foreign brown kids because a bunch of ‘rational’ men in suits sitting in an office in DC decided their magical Disposition Matrix (which is also totally rational and reasonable, and not racist at all guys, honest) told them to.

  16. Nakatomi Plaza

    I read the reader comments on the “Drug firms poured 780M painkillers into WV amid rise of overdoses” story. The comments appear to be local, though I have no idea how legitimate they are. Many of the comments blame doctors for writing the prescriptions, not the drug providers. Or they justify the drug use as legitimate for various reasons, including the physical hardships of coal mining. So, I’m confused now. Do I condemn these people as idiots for not understanding how Big Pharm influences doctors and policy and give those market-loving West Virginians a big middle finger as they destroy themselves? Or do I figure this is just some nuance of life in rural America that I don’t understand?

    1. bob

      ” just some nuance of life in rural America that I don’t understand?”

      I’d say it’s the Calvinist internet trolls. Remember, most people DON’T comment online. I’d also not put it past the drug co’s, who are being sued for this, to be running a PR campaign. It could be real, or it could be astroturf. Given the $ amounts involved, I have a very hard time blaming all of the billionaires in WV.

    2. Jen

      So here’s an interesting tale of unintended consequences. A friend of mine is a physician in a college health center. She sees a lot of students with sports injuries, some of whom she has to refer to local orthopaedic surgeons. When the student need surgery, the local orthopod will usually prescribe 100 does of an opioid pain killer. The college health center used to have a practice of re-prescribing – i.e., they’d take the 100 dose prescription and replace it with a 10 dose prescription, and tell the student to come back if they needed more. Then our state joined the rest of our region in monitoring prescriptions. My friend now needs to go through multiple online databases to verify her patients aren’t shopping for meds. Result, when you have too many patients and too little time: you say “f*ck it” and let the patient keep their original prescription because you don’t have time to deal with the bureaucracy around refilling these prescriptions. There’s no good answer here.

      1. bob

        Not sending over 400 pills per person to WV would be a good start.

        There’s no nuance required with this one.

  17. Adam Eran

    A little caution for the Uruguay emigrants…here. Excerpt:

    1. The weather

    South America means beach parties and caipirinha cocktails, right? Micro-bikinis on the beach, sunshine and long, warm evenings?

    Not in Uruguay.

    At least not between June and November. Instead, think dreary, overcast, wet and dank. It gets legitimately cold here, too. The weather here throughout the winter and much of spring and fall is much more London than Los Angeles.

    Then there’s the summer. Uruguay has been roasting the last couple of weeks. The interior of the country recently reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit. You like your summers hot and sweaty? Then come on down.

  18. uncle tungsten

    Re Guardian story on Wikileaks Vault 7release. Typically the grauniad covered for the establishment – yet again. This grauniad cover-up and pathetic piece was truly clobbered in The Canary. com.

    Can I suggest that if there is some imperative to reference the Guardian, at least some decent left journal should get a run.

    Unless, of course, NC likes being provocative and that will always get my vote.

  19. Patrick Donnelly

    The Dirty Little Secret of New Zealand is that it is the backdoor for entry to Australia! Largest category of immigrants to Oz, in fact!

    I think Yves already is aware. You have a right to “cross the ditch” to Australia and live there, with restrictions on our social welfare system. But, after 3 years, currently, you apply for citizenship of Oztraya! Yes, simple. NZ permanent residence requirements complement those of Australia and do not recreate them. Basically, the age limits are gone! 20 years work used to be the main qualifier…. And that tw*t said there was no provision for UK …. ! ENGLISH is the key!

    I look forward to greeting “Citizen Smith” (!) in due course. The attractions of Oz still pertain and big business is about to find the going much rougher as their cronies lose power for a decade or more.

    Trouble is, onl;y one city is tsunami proof: Brisbane. Massive barrier islands and one small deep water channel. Oz navy setting up a new base there, like WWII …… but we are a long way from trouble

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