2:00PM Water Cooler 5/16/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“Hillary Clinton launches political action group Onward Together” [Guardian]. Please kill me now.

New Cold War

I don’t often “talk of court news” these days, but over the weekend I had occasion to watch CNN as the lastest tsunami of outrage over Trump was breaking, and it was quite something. (CNN is extremely loud, and clearly engineered to stoke the maximum of fear and outrage in its viewership. Hilariously, James “Not Wittingly” Clapper, seems to have become a paragon of truthtelling and a Hero of the Republic. I suppose this is not unlike rehabilitating George W. Bush, Hero of the Iraq War, because he has a lovely family. Liberals seem increasingly strange to me.) Be all that as it may, the current cycle of outrage has gone through four phases: (1) the original story, (2) reactions to the original story, (3) Trump’s tweets, and (4) reactions to Trump’s tweets. Obviously I’m not going to be able to process everything, even if I could stand it, in the time available for Water Cooler, but I’ll try to hit the salient points in each phase.

(1) The original story from WaPo, headline: “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.” There are two sections that seem salient to me. The first concerns process after the meeting:

Senior White House officials appeared to recognize quickly that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout. Thomas P. Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, placed calls to the directors of the CIA and the NSA, the services most directly involved in the intelligence-sharing arrangement with the partner.

One of Bossert’s subordinates also called for the problematic portion of Trump’s discussion to be stricken from internal memos and for the full transcript to be limited to a small circle of recipients, efforts to prevent sensitive details from being disseminated further or leaked.

This certainly suggests an effort by White House worker bees to (mixing metaphors) put the toothpaste back in the tube. But the nature of the toothpaste is unclear. Here it is, still from the WaPo story:

Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft

The “laptop computers” part makes sense to me; speculating freely, I bet Trump got an earful about the laptop ban from his golfing buddies, since the ban would make international business travel more painfui even than it already is. Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph (Australia) is somewhat more skeptical:

The information in question is now said to have been about ISIS plots to sneak a bomb on to an airliner in a laptop, a plot device easily imagined by any Hollywood TV writer or paperback spy thriller author.

Fine. The rest of the story is that anonymous officials in the intelligence community are very, very unhappy about “the information in question” and how Trump went off-script (assuming the story is correct). I won’t bore you with the details, since my expertise in intelligence tradecraft — rather like, I suspect, most of the scribes in the Beltway — comes from John LeCarré novels. The bottom line — and this may be one reason I don’t write much on court news these days — is that I see no reason whatever to regard intelligence sources, especially anonymous ones, as credible, nor access journalism based on those sources. If these stories are that important — and remember, in strong form, one theory pushed by these anonymous sources is that Trump is, quite literally, a Russian agent — than it’s more than a little incongruous that sources that claim to have evidence for them will show neither the evidence, nor their faces. WaPo’s new motto is: “Democracy dies in darkness.” Very well. Then let its sources come out into the light, where the public can see their faces.

(2) Reactions to the original story. Of the various reactions, this one from Bloomberg seems to me most level-headed: “Trump’s Best Defense on Russia Is Incompetence,” from Eli Lake:

But in light of that, it’s also important to get some perspective. Let me make a prediction here. Whichever allied intelligence service had its sources and methods endangered will not end intelligence sharing with the U.S. I base this on the fact that in the last seven years, the U.S. has endured worse. American allies were also exposed by the State Department cables shared with the world by WikiLeaks and the NSA documents provided to journalists by Edward Snowden. The Obama White House blamed a 2012 Associated Press story on another threat to airlines for disclosing a source from an allied intelligence service within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Today we remember this incident primarily for the extraordinary steps the Justice Department took to monitor the phone records of AP reporters in its subsequent leak investigation.

And importantly, Bloomberg’s “McConnell Calls for ‘Apolitical’ FBI Director, Less Trump Drama.” McConnell is the big dog here. He doesn’t have to set his hair on fire to get people to pay attention.

(3) Trump tweets (naturally). Here they are:


(4) Reactions to Trump’s tweets. I can only quote a few, but they’re all alike. CNN’s Chris Cilizza, quoting the Post’s Ashley R. Parker, is the best:

Trump confirmed the story only if you believe that “facts” (Trump) are “literally” (Parker) the same as “highly classified information” (WaPo). Of course, if you’re an access journalist in the Beltway, you may actually believe that. (Parker is also wrong that what Trump says contradicts what McMasters said: “At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.” Not all “facts” have to do with “intelligence sources or methods” or “military operations!” The upside is that you can cross both Cilizza and Parker off your list of journalists worth reading (if they were ever on your list).

Presidents come and go, even bad Republican Presidents. Look at Obama! But the damage that is being done to the Constitutional Order right now — and not only by conservatives — will last for a long time. We’re seeing many, many figures in the press using “any stick to beat a dog tactics”; and we’re seeing the “intelligence community” emerging as a Praetorian Guard. It’s possible to make the argument that Trump is so bad that any means, extra-constitutional or no, are appropriate to get rid of him (although Nazi gleischaltung went down as far as picking the leadership for stamp collectors’ clubs, and Trump has yet to populate the blanks on the Justice Department org chart). But those who make that argument need to be very, very careful about getting what they wish for. Overturned elections have consequences.

UPDATE “McMaster: Trump’s sharing of sensitive intelligence with Russia was ‘wholly appropriate’” [WaPo].

“In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged,” McMaster said. “It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That’s what he did.”

Remember that McMaster was the guy The Blob allowed Trump to install after they defenestrated Flynn. So some of those anonymous sources in the intelligence community must be ticked.

Oh, and the story is from — drumroll, please! — Ashley Parker. She writes:

McMaster’s pushback came just hours after Trump himself acknowledged Tuesday morning in a pair of tweets that he had indeed revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of the Washington Post story and a move that seemed to contradict his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report.

Read Trump’s tweets. If words have meaning — granted, we’re talking Trump, here — Trump’s words do not say what Parker says they say. “Facts” and “highly classified information” just aren’t the same, any more than toast is the same as avocado toast.

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, April 2017: “A topping out from lower-than-indicated expansion highs is the news from the April housing starts report where levels, though still healthy, are disappointing” [Econoday].

Industrial Production, April 2017: “The manufacturing sector did in fact surge during April, to more than reverse contraction in March. Industrial production rose a stronger-than-expected 1.0 percent with the manufacturing component, after falling 0.4 percent in March, also up 1.0 percent. These are the strongest monthly gains for both of these readings since February 2014” [Econoday]. “Gains are spread throughout the manufacturing sector led by motor vehicles where volumes surged 5.0 percent in the month. And business equipment, in a positive indication for second-quarter business investment, rose a very sharp 1.2 percent. Production of consumer goods was even stronger, up 1.5 percent…. April is proving an uneven month for economic data, led on the positive side by this report and the monthly employment report but offset by weakness in retail sales, housing starts, and consumer inflation. But for manufacturing, today’s news is very positive and helps vindicate what has been a long run of very strong signals from regional reports including the Philly Fed.”

E-Commerce Retail Sales, Q1 2017: “Online shopping, after a slow fourth quarter, picked up sharply in the first quarter” [Econoday].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 64, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 16 at 12:40pm.

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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here.

And here’s today’s plant (ChiGal):

In March. I love the Spring cycle of flowering plants.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Kronos

      Guidance system for drones. I believe the F-35 is working on a system to work in conjunction with a swarm of drones. Why not build a device that communicates with drones. Just get it close enough to a plane, link up systems, and guide it in. This almost seems too easy when you think about it. Can it fit inside a laptop?

      1. Huey Long

        I addressed your laptop-drone theory in a comment further down, but in short if one wants to bring down an airliner, there are easier ways of doing so.

        The F-35 is pure bezzle. It has lots of high tech features that either don’t work, can’t work, or were just bad ideas in the first place, so don’t expect the drone-swarm feature to work for another decade or two. Air Power Australia has a great write-up on just how crappy this plane is:


        Speaking of drone swarms, the Russians have had similar technology on their anti-shipping missiles since the 70’s/80’s:


        It’s pretty cool stuff; one missile flies high while the other missiles hug the sea to avoid radar, and the high missile designates the targets for the ones close to the sea. If the high missile should be destroyed, another member of the swarm pops up to replace it.

        1. Will

          I will go you one better on the F-35.

          All airplanes in the US inventory can have their wings removed so that when they need big repairs and are on the ground in, let’s say Afghanistan, they can be crated up and shipped to the US in a transport aircraft.

          Not the F-35. The wings and fuselage are all one piece. The F-35 is one of the greatest examples of the revolving door of the military/industrial complex.

          Nobody needed the F-35 except some Generals looking for their reward and of course the defense industry.

        2. clarky90

          “The JSF Program (F-35) and resulting aircraft designs have, since the very first days of the program, been burdened by fatal optimism, a total indifference to what is real, placement of form over substance, the acquisition malpractice of concurrency and the fact that the STOVL F-35B is the baseline for all three variants, having dictated and constrained most if not all key aircraft parameters in the definition and resulting design of the other two JSF (F-35) variants”.

          “The acquisition malpractice of concurrency” is a beautiful, poetic, phrase! (IMO)

          “Acting Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall says it was “acquisition malpractice” to approve production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 years before the first flight of the single-engine stealthy fighter occurred.

          “It should not have been done,” Kendall told an audience Feb. 6 hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But we did it.”

          1. MoiAussie

            fatal optimism, and a total indifference to what is real

            That instantly reminded me of so much of today’s technohype, like uploading your mind to facebork, colonies on Mars in a decade, etc.

            1. ambrit

              Colonies of uploaded minds in servers spacelifted to Mars? Sounds “cutting edge” to me.
              “Vallis Galtis,” just north and anti-spinward of the ‘Vallis Marineris.’

              1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

                I’m looking forward to being uploaded to a George-Clooney-esque android well before this carcass of mine shows signs of putrifaction or before my marbles make the case for early release.

                Pip Pip

        3. Another Anon

          I couldn’t help but groan when the Air Power Australia write-up said that the F-35 most resembled the old F-105 whose nickname was “The Lead Sled” because of sluggish handling. So perhaps pilots will now call the F-35, the “Lead Sled, The Next Generation”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That has been public knowledge for I don’t know how long – a month?

      We banned laptops on flights from a few countries back in March, then more recently, on flights from Europe.

      Usually, one would suspect that has something to do with laptops.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        What is public knowledge, is now classified, if Trump mentions it. I knew about this several months ago. Fortunately I don’t do air travel anymore. That and smartphones are a major target of customs. Only people with their head in the ground like ostriches, don’t know this already. But now the Russians know .. oh my!

      2. Montanamaven

        Yes, that was my thought. They were banning laptops because of bombs since March from certain Middle Eastern country. The big reveal last night was that the WaPo decided to give a big hint as to who gave us the intel. Not Trump. The editors of the Washington Post should be under investigation.

  1. cocomaan

    the current cycle of outrage has gone through four phases: (1) the original story, (2) reactions to the original story, (3) Trump’s tweets, and (4) reactions to Trump’s tweets.

    Anyone else see a pattern here when it comes to the anonymously sourced stories? Sometimes, instead of tweets in (3-4), it’s him giving an interview on 60 minutes, or something that the press secretary says. But the whole thing seems to go down again and again in the same way.

    I think it’s losing steam though. 538 just ran a story about declining interest in Russia scandals: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-to-know-if-the-trump-russia-story-has-momentum/

    Here’s the google analytics report on it: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%203-m&geo=US&q=trump%20russia Again, a decline.

    I find very little attention given to any of these stories anymore in my personal circle. People normally frothing at the mouth are losing interest, perhaps from a lack of froth. I hear you can order extra froth at Starbucks.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its the old its easier to attract flies with honey rather than vinegar scenario. We already have one fear mongering party in the GOP. We really don’t need a second one.

      Without anything to be afraid of or positive direction to move in, it just loses steam on its own. The cable news junkies were the same people who voted for Hillary in the primaries. They aren’t known for their political organizing. If retaking Congress wasn’t a concern, this whole Russia thing would be pretty funny, but its served to distract from actual organizing and reform. Now Chairman Perez plans to court anti-choice fanatics.


      I should probably read 538 again. Nate does correct his mistakes after a time.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And you know what? They’ve caused me to move beyond reading books and articles about Russia and watching videos from Russia. They’re making me want to learn Russian so I can chat with people when I visit …

        … RUSSIA!

        1. Huey Long


          I’m right there with you, and since moving to a Russian neighborhood 2 years ago I’m even more curious about Russia now.

        2. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

          Arizona Slim, If you do go to Russia, report back on the public lavatory scene*. I live in Australia where you can find them fairly easily when out and about. They are free of charge and well supplied with the usual requesite, and in tolerable condition – and I’m not talking about in shopping malls etc.

          Forget GDP , tot up the public restroom situation – a truer real indicator of wealth than any other. I firmly believe that FOREX rates should be linked to this attribute before any other.

          Pip pip!

          *A frient of mine did a tour of Russia – a couple of decades ago it must be said, and came back bemoaning the dearth. Does the Russian Bear still have to bleep in the woods?

      2. no one

        I find this story stunning in a country where, thanks to the Sup Ct and “Citizens’ United,” any rich person can buy any candidate he or she wants. Unlimited contributions in a country that once, like other democracies, banned contributions from corporations. One might suspect a lack integrity regarding US elections from this fact alone. And all the Democrat Party can flap about is Russian interference.

        1. thoughtfulperson

          I think it is an attempt to help distract from any legislation for the 0.01% (tax cuts???, health uncare) that happens to make it through congress.

          I wonder if the long term plan is a hope/goal, is that eventually, after maybe a few huge deals for billionaires are made, Trump will be deposed one way or another, which will consolidate the power of the praetorian CIA/ MIC…

    2. Huey Long

      I find very little attention given to any of these stories anymore in my personal circle.

      Same here, and I’m not even overhearing any conversations about it in the elevators at my office building which is chock full of media tenants, although the captivate screens in said elevators do have at least one Trump-Rooskie blurb on them per day.

      Perhaps the frothing is confined solely to the Dem nomenklatura at this point.

      1. reslez

        I don’t hear conversations about Russia, but I do hear people duckspeaking the word “Russia!” at semi-random points in conversation, kind of like the way some people say the word “Cat!” automatically when they see a cat, or the way people repeat the catchphrase of a commercial when it’s in constant rotation. There’s no thought involved, simply the utterance of the word without any thought behind it, because one has heard it recently. And when they say it, they usually follow it up with a self-deprecating laugh.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Norm, normal, and normalcy have jumped out to me.

        Record poverty, a warming planet, the bartender/waiter “recovery”, childhood hunger/poverty, childless households, adult children living at home not as caregivers, and so forth.

        There are kids who weren’t in Kindergarten on 9/11 serving in Iraq. Normalcy does not exist. Trump despite basically being an uncouth Romney is violating normalcy of the shallow upper classes, but Trump is the result of the lack of normalcy for the 99%.

        As faith in institutions declines, the guardians and people directly dependent on these institutions which have failed the American public grow closer to facing backlash. On the Democratic side, the “moderate suburban Republican” didn’t abandon Trump for Hillary, and if they aren’t going for Hillary, the other Democrats have a real problem going forward. Many are as heinous as Hillary, not on such a grand scale, but they don’t have their celebrity. Tom Perez was hit by NARAL and other abortion groups for his support of an anti-choice Democrat.

        The Democratic elite were warned what was happening. 2010 and 2014 happened. Obama needed a visceral reaction to the GOP to win, and those record setting minority voters didn’t show up in 2014 or 2016. Corey Booker, with dreams of Big Pharma funding his 2020 run, voted against importing prescription drugs. On what planet did he think he would get away with this? He seemed astonished there was push back. Did he not understand Hillary Clinton faced a credible challenge from an even older person from Vermont with no institutional support?

        Instead of having a measured discussion about Flynn’s dealings with Turkey and Kushner cashing in and selling the office along with the usual GOP wish list of terrible ideas has been replaced into a bizarre Manchurian plot with shady characters and a former board member of HSBC going from hero to villain depending on someone’s mood ring. The criticisms of the Democrats starting in 2009 (the baseball steroids committee predates Obama and was a sign of what was to come) from the unserious, unicorn chasing left came true, and not only did they come true, the Democrats have no on the ground organization. It was demolished. They are limited to 18 states as a powerful entity. I do believe the Dems are having a collective meltdown as the lessons they learned from “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom” have failed them. Hillary didn’t set things right in 2016 which is what Pelosi promised to angry donors in 2014. The world view of “normalcy” has been shattered. Hillary Clinton was a Senator and Secretary of State. She was the Senator of New York, where the world capital New York City is. She has a Southern background. In one sense, she was a perfectly normal candidate for President. She could have been a tv character. Trump is not normal and probably didn’t expect to win. “Normalcy” did not become President. The Dem elite now has to navigate a new normal which I don’t believe they are prepared for.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘She has a Southern background.’

          … in the sense of having lived there (Arkansas) for 17 years, from 1975 to 1992. However, Hillary’s notorious prickliness did not go over well and was a factor in Bill’s shocking 1980 gubernatorial loss, which nearly put them both out of the political business.

          Arkansans rebelled against her Hillary Rodham handle, her college girl headbands, and her unconcealed distaste for having to slum it with people who were (in her view) less sophisticated than herself.

          Suffice it to say that since Hillary cannot pass for southern or expect to win any electoral college votes from the region, those were pretty much wasted years for her.

          This will not stop Chelsea from sweeping through the Bible Belt sporting a cowboy hat and an affected drawl, exploiting her faux street cred of having been born in Flyover Country. The Clintons: keepin’ it real!

        2. Adamski

          Wait. There was a poll saying the public, by a gigantic margin, now wants the Dems to retake the House. (Granted, lack of organisation combined with gerrymandering may prevent that)

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Some were. In any case, I don’t find “there was a poll saying” adds a great deal of value to the comment section, without a showing of the actual poll. YMMV, and apparently does.

    1. Pat

      I’m sure that parody can do justice to Onward Together as well.

      For instance a cartoon of Hillary being carried in a sort of sedan chair on the backs of struggling people, one hand in frame patting one of the people below her and saying some seemingly meaningless trope like we get so much further together. The next frame moves up where we see the huge vacuum she is holding up to grab the money from the balconies above and the GPS in the front of the sedan chair showing the destination wilderness as she continues “I will show you the way”

        1. Arizona Slim

          Whenever I saw anything that said “I’m With Her,” I was reminded of that tee shirt that said “I’m With Stupid.”

          1. maria gostrey

            actually when i saw this slogan on a bumper sticker, i always thought the bumper sticker on hillarys car would read:

            I’M WITH ME.

          2. reslez

            I saw a bumpersticker on a minivan today, it said “Mamas for Obama”.

            More like “Suckers for Motherf**amilybloggers”, IMO.

      1. nippersdad

        There were some fun exchanges in that thread. Twaikuer had the idea of doing an anagram: Owned Together/Thwarted Ego. Not perfect, but in trying to fix it I came up with Thwarted Gorn. Also not perfect, but a Gorn-in-a-pantsuit is an image it will certainly be difficult to forget…

      2. JP

        The graphic in the tweet makes a delightful FB banner, thanks. it is being distributed as I type.

      1. ambrit

        The standard practice is to re-negotiate terms every four years.
        This next Clinton Campaign should have a much “sweeter” payoff for Wall Street than previous coup attempts.

  2. Carolinian

    I’ll admit I’ve spent maybe five minutes following the latest fake scandal but if the outrage is over exposure of an ally’s “sources and methods” then one might think the last thing that should be done is to splash a story about it across the front page. It seems pretty clear that our intelligence agencies and leakers see embarrassing Trump as more important than any so-called security breach. The implication is that they view the threat as coming not from Russia but from their own president.

    John Frankenheimer got there first with Seven Days in May–Burt Lancaster, Frederic March. Some Hollywood scripts turn out to be more plausible than others.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yes – I posted in today’s links earlier that despite all the hand wringing about exposing secrets, the WaPo did an extremely good job of narrowing down who the ‘ally’ might be with this:

      The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

      It’s not like the Five Eyes are going to stop cooperating so it likely isn’t a Western country. Others with knowledge of ISIS aren’t allies so that would leave precious few countries left who are allies, have knowledge of ISIS, and would be peeved if it were known they were cooperating with the US (waves to Pakistani ISI). Of course it’s pretty well known what countries cooperate with the Uncle Sugar and even which ones pretend to their own citizens not to cooperate for political reasons but in actuality do so anyway; what isn’t known so well is whether the info they give is accurate or complete BS.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Wow this must be a really super duper secret that should never have been told if they are now blabbing it all over the place.

          I can’t believe I was wrong! Do I at least get a participation ribbon?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, maybe Bibi did one of his Democrat friends a solid. We’ll never know!

          Some seem to have the picture that “reporters” are going out and getting this story. They’re not. It’s being fed to them (or pushed at them) in driblets.

      1. Procopius

        “[A]n ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State” would most probably be Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not Israel. Although Mossad is said to be very good, the Saudis are the chief funders of both IS and Al Qaeda (I believe they give AQ more than the CIA does) they presumably get frequent reports on what, exactly, their clients are doing.

    2. curlydan

      I tried to read the original WaPo story closely. The worst I saw there was that Trump may have given away the name of the city from which the ISIS intel emerged. So the end result? A number of higher-up plants in ISIS in that possibly named city might get killed from suspicion/retaliation, and the country from where the plant comes is angry at us.

      As a commenter pointed out above, the U.S. is constantly burning (intentionally or not) its allies and intel partners. So yes, much hyperventilating going on here.

      Many are incensed at Trump while we sweep “collateral damage” or “civilian deaths” from our imperial adventures under the rug.

      1. Gee

        It’s not just that. I think the point is that if you betray the confidence of an intelligence partner, they aren’t the only one that is going to be concerned that it is no longer safe to give you information. It doesnt matter if what this particular partner told was true or false. There are other better partners that would likely give true information, and now they have to worry that some moron is going to just go and babble about stuff that could get their people killed. Even without sources and methods, the worry is that some information, if revealed, could with a little brain power (reverse engineering as they say) could be the key to figuring out what the source was.

        1. Byron the Light Bulb

          It is so much worse than that. If a communique was intercepted on what was once relied as a secure channel with unbroken encryption, that pipeline will go dark. Total blindness. Years of work down the drain.

          It’s like if in the middle of the Second World War, FDR said to Stalin, “I get the best intelligence. That Enigma contraption. Solved. I solved it. Great right?”

          1. Altandmain

            The British and the Polish played the biggest role in solving the Enigma codes.

          2. Yves Smith

            Oh, come on. The partner had to be either Israel or Britain. Britain is our poodle and Israel is a client we let push us around. Neither is going anywhere.

            And it turned out to be Israel.

            I’m not saying Trump’s action wasn’t reckless and stupid, but you are a walking example of hysterical hyperventilating on this topic.

            1. Procopius

              You really believe that story? That it was Israel? Did Bibi hold a press conference to say he was miffed?

          3. hunkerdown

            You mean this source identification endangers the full-take of all mass surveillance collection (including USPERs) that Israel presently has? How, exactly, is that bad for USPERs?

    3. reslez

      Reminds me of nothing but the original (and far superior) British House of Cards, in which the oily Chief Whip orchestrates the resignation of the PM through a brutal secession of leaks and whipped up faux scandals. Literally just an ongoing daily pounding of leaks, and the hapless officeholder who trusts the villain out to do him in.

      And all the while, Landless’s armies [the print media] are labouring for me through the darkness towards dawn, telling the story: A leader out of touch. A man of straw clutching at straws, his future closing in front of him like a fist. Who would be a leader… in this wicked world?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > just an ongoing daily pounding of leaks

        Yes. The whole thing is a campaign, as has been obvious since the Democrats refused to accept the election results as legitimate with the faithless electors gambit, back in November and December.

        That doesn’t speak to the merits of any individual story/scandal, and that case can be made that Trump is erratic on the scale of Kaiser Wilhelm (not a good outcome, there, eh?). But a campaign is what it is, it’s supported by powerful interests working in concert — old players who know each other’s moves, not CT — and it won’t stop.

        Frankly, I’m a lot more interested in working out the consequences of victory or defeat than I am in the individual stories. I mean, that time when Obama called Holder into his office and told him “I want you to take the heat off my buddy, Jamie Dimon.” That talk never happened, right? Because it never needed to.

        1. It's all too peachy!

          Regarding the fate of the Kaiser and comparisons. (Lambert)

          Kaiser Bill escaped to exile in the Netherlands. Czar Nicholas II of Russia, however did not have a similar relatively benign fate. And from what I’ve read that Nicky would as be nice as pie to his ministers’ faces, then shaft them by letter without warning. Spooky Eh?*

          My mind has fixed on someone who has got the Rasputin-esque role. However I can’t decide on which country would make the pistol – always a matter of contention for some reason.

          Compare and Contrast**- the luxury of those who can and do read.

          Pip Pip

          *With thanks to Dame Edna Everage.
          ** I used to really hate those words when I was at school tho’.

  3. barrisj

    Intel “share” with a partner engaged in purge of IS in Syria…und? MSNBC and CNN going off the charts yesterday afternoon on this “breaking news”…Fox – sensibly (!) enough – largely ignoring. Anti-Trump hysteria, wrongly directed…MSM, no shame.

  4. Pat

    At least two networks covered McMasters and the press earlier today. He was there to speak about Trump’s coming visit to the Middle East. The press was there to pelt him with questions about Trump and the Russians. Interesting watching them not take no for an answer for a change. Mind you it was annoying because frankly there is a whole lot more important things than Trump telling a Russian official why we are so concerned about some of ISIS/ISIL capabilities. Especially since as McMasters pointed out, Russia needs to be concerned about terrorists taking down planes as much as we do since they have an incident with hundreds dead even more recently than we do.

    I have to wonder if Obama and his people were treated this way, if our country would be in better shape today. But then for them to be outraged they would have to be offended by unauthorized wars, massive deportation and huge failures of the legal system to do their job to investigate and prosecute crimes when the victims are people without millions of ill gotten gain, but the criminals with billions, perhaps trillions, of ill gotten gain share their ‘windfall’ with the politicians. But since most of them work for many of the criminals or those benefitting from the criminals, they know better.

      1. apotropaic

        Yet we still have a situation. What, other than snark, do we have to offer?

        I ask as a PA Stein voter, not whoever I might be made out to be for asking this question. Also my posts are not being approved. Please rectify.

        1. apotropaic

          Thanks, approve the one with little content. Is this an open forum? My earlier comment was pointed and demanded that snarky folks here at least be honest about things. but no, nothing, just my complaint is posted. Worthy of Markos himself that kind fo spin.

    1. 3.14e-9

      Russia needs to be concerned about terrorists taking down planes as much as we do

      A good point that it’s being conveniently underplayed. I watched as much as I could stand of CNN last night, maybe seven minutes (which is more than I can stand of Rachel Maddow and Brian “Beautiful Bombs” Williams), and was gratified to hear at least two panelists mention that the Russians have a need to know this information, and they are our partners in fighting Daesh in Syria, however tense that relationship may be.

      Another panelist brought up the point that leaking information to WaPo was as much of a breach as Trump’s sharing intel with the Russians.

      Neither point was discussed further. Instead, Anderson Cooper asked leading questions of guests more inclined toward hysteria. Don Lemon is even worse lately. If he doesn’t get the answer he wants, he raises his voice over the guest, makes his opinion the final word, and cuts to a commercial.

      I left a late comment on yesterday’s 2:00PM Water Cooler, in which I pointed out how WaPo buried the caveats. It’s relevant to this conversation, so I hope it’s OK to link to it.


      1. Carl

        I was in the San Francisco airport on Sunday, and I could watch, briefly, but not hear, CNN’s hysterical coverage of this retarded, ginned-up issue, as parades of talking heads (including Clapper! wtf?) were obviously shouting their “points” ad nauseam. Speaking of which, I was already nauseated from some stomach bug, and so I was twice grateful for the lack of sound. Kudos to Lambert for having the stomach to listen as well as watch this ridiculousness, so I don’t have to.

  5. flora

    Re: outrage about Trump

    So easy for the Dem estab to be against Trump, an individual. So hard for the Dem estab to be for Medicare for All or single-payer, support for public k-12 schools, support for voting access, support for the VA and veterans’ medical care, support for SS, etc and etc. Trump makes the perfect distraction from their failures.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Dems seemed to be gearing up for a big anti-wall, anti-crackdown phase, but realizing they said jack while Obama pretty much deported every poor Hispanic he could find or at least stick them in prisons in Texas took the wind out of their sails.

      Triangulation has produced a vacuous party with no moral center from which to voice policy ideas. Since everything was farmed out to Obama and subsequently lobbyists, the Dems don’t have any recent experience with policy.

      In 2014, the Dems had one issue they would mention which was abortion. Today, Perez wants to appease “pro life Democrats.” They are so backwards they don’t grasp the problem wasn’t that they campaigned on abortion. Its that they didn’t campaign on anything more relevant to daily lives (abortion like miscarriages and dead children are not topics of daily conversation) despite abortion probably being a traumatic experience. I would assume. Now they are going to give up a popular position if not relevant to a vote for some nebulous goal of triangulation.

      1. clarky90

        Fresno State Students For Life – Confronted By Faculty and wiping out their free speech


        If anybody saw the Southpark episodes about PC Principal, here he is in real life.

        “Free Speech is Free Speech in the Free Speech Area. It’s a pretty simple concept. Okay? This does not constitute a free speech area. Okay?”

        “College campuses are not free speech areas. Do you understand? Obviously, you do not understand.”

    2. RUKidding

      No kidding.

      I heard something last night about Empress Pelosi demanding this, that and the other thing vis the Donald bragging to the Rooskies about all of the best secret information ever. Pelosi was just soooo UPSET.

      But after the passage of the execrable AHCA, when asked if Pelosi would NOW support Single Payer, what did the Empress say? Not. A. Chance.

      I mean, seriously, WTF is the purpose of the Democratic party??? Rhetorical Q.

      1. redleg

        To amass billions in bribes campaign contributions without having to actually win elections, let alone govern. That’s the purpose of the Democrat party.

        1. Huey Long

          actually win elections, let alone govern.

          Or deliver on any campaign promises. I’m still waiting on card check Barry….

      2. flora

        ” Pelosi was just soooo UPSET.”
        Yes, Pelosi has perfected the “I’m about to break into tears” voice.

      3. Allegorio

        It is the purpose of the Democratic nomenklatura to prevent true progressives who advocate for the people and not for the corporate elites, to get on the ballot. They can no longer get out the progressive vote as witness the last election. What they do not understand is that they cannot win elections without the support of their progressive base. But that’s OK, as long as they keep progressives off the ballot. They think that they can win over suburban Republicans. When it comes to choosing between their Democratic base and their anti-democratic donors, you know who they choose, and the reason they will continue to loose elections, no matter how much of their donors money they spend.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s the conference about future Democrat policy that didn’t invite Sanders? Skimming it, what a steaming load of liberal piety. “Economic uncertainty….” Hmm, let me check the footnotes for the Case-Deaton study. Nothing? No? What a surprise. Tanden at the start and Teixeira at the end of the insanely long author’s list. All you need to know.

      I’m reading it–

      Shorter CAP: Trust us. We’re gonna get it right this time.

      1. Carl

        I think we learned last year that “trust us” doesn’t work as well as it used to. R’s too.

      2. ChrisAtRU

        So many places to “file” this under, but let’s start with:

        Bernie Would Have Won: yes, so now we’re all about this when during the primary it was derided as “pie in the sky” and “wanting free stuff”.

        I’ve always felt like the core tenets of #MMT would be co-opted by people who openly derided it eventually. I’m personally waiting for Paul Krugman to sign on to something like this claiming he “said it all along”.

        Sham on them all for sidelining the only candidate that articulated this message during the election cycle. Few are fooled, though …

  6. craazyboy

    Things are finally getting interesting. ZH has a story from Fox News, sourced from an FBI leak.

    Seems dead men can tell tales. Rich is identified as the source of the DNC “Bernie” emails, and all the yoga and yogurt salad dressing recipes. The Rich email leak was confirmed by Assange back then. [Hillary, “Can’t we kill him?… Yes?] Also, some evidence that the DNC++ is blocking the Rich investigation. The family has a PI on it.

    Wonder what the Clintons will do now? Announce all three will run for Prez in 2220??? One of them has got to win. Play the odds!

    I’d suggest a new tag line. “C Cubed”. This highlights the Neo-Con influence and stands for “Command” [Bill], “Control” [Hillary], and “Communication” [Chelsea], tho Chelsea is still growing into the role.

    Waddaya think?

    The Donald had better keep his head down! hahaha. Maybe just hang out in the WH basement from now on. I would.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Rich’s family denies it, although, read closely, maybe not, exactly. And then, they would.

      They said, in particular, that the investigator wasn’t really working for them – a “3rd party” is paying him.

      that said: this might get really interesting. I take it the case is still open? Random killings are extremely difficult to solve; this is the kind of info that could break the case.

      1. craazyboy

        Airbelly’s mind has gone missing. Found him flat on his back with a 3X5 3M Extra Large, Crime Tape Yellow, Sticky Note safely pinned to his hoodie lapel. Said he’s terrified and got willfully sucked into the Guitar Universe, now being the safest place he could think of, on short notice. Say’s he’ll be back in a few.

        The Monkey Dude went thro a complete personality regression. He doesn’t talk anymore, shows no interest in creative loan broker terms [even with pentonic scale rates!] and refuses to wear his cotton pink hat. I feel sorry for the little guy.

        I confess I feel a twinge of fear at times too!

    2. grizziz

      Keepin’ it foily, the Washington Metropolitan Police handling the Rich Murder Case work under the US Capital Police. IT workers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan hired by House Democrats are under criminal investigation by U.S. Capitol Police on suspicion they abused their administrator-level access to sensitive congressional data. To (cough) quote the Daily Caller:

      Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis. The two committees deal with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.

      Politico reported March 1 that Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New York Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks declined to fire Imran, and that both members have a “friendly personal relationship with Awan and his wife,” according to multiple sources.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think we need yet another “where there’s smoke, there has to be fire” story. And crusading private investigators working for free don’t build my confidence. I do think there’s plenty that’s odd about the initial facts of the case, but “odd” isn’t exactly a scarce commodity at the moment. I also don’t like the timing of when this blew up (again). Smacks of partisan distraction.

      1. craazyboy

        I’m reserving judgement. It’s all too convenient. The players, the facts, the timing.

        If you did a Bad and found yerself in Hell 3 days later, you’d be suspicious of “why” too.

  7. Kurtismayfield

    The Dems seemed to be gearing up for a big anti-wall, anti-crackdown phase, but realizing they said jack while Obama pretty much deported every poor Hispanic he could find or at least stick them in prisons in Texas took the wind out of their sails.

    I am not sure if he actually deported more people,or if there was a change in the way deportation was counted:


    Until recent years, most people caught illegally crossing the southern border were simply bused back into Mexico in what officials called “voluntary returns,” but which critics derisively termed “catch and release.” Those removals, which during the 1990s reached more 1 million a year, were not counted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deportation statistics.

  8. Carey

    afterthought on ‘Owned Together’… will they even be able to keep that (vacuous) slogan?

    It’s just too sweet a target!

  9. Kronos

    Facts do not equal highly classified info. However, why wouldn’t Trump himself clarify things in his tweets? Sorry, but given the context Trump is either admitting the WAPO story is true or he is, once again, being incredibly obtuse. That in itself is worthy of attention.

    My hunch is that laptops are not carrying bombs but that that they may contain guidance systems for drone attacks. Just get a drone close enough to latch onto the laptop’s signal and you can basically guide a drone missile right to the plane.

    1. Huey Long

      My hunch is that laptops are not carrying bombs but that that they may contain guidance systems for drone attacks. Just get a drone close enough to latch onto the laptop’s signal and you can basically guide a drone missile right to the plane.

      I’m fairly certain that if the laptop was in the luggage compartment, it would still function as a fine homing beacon for a drone. Commentariat?

      My hunch is that the “laptop ban” is simply an exercise in security theater to demonstrate that our massive intel gathering operations are producing actionable intelligence that positively impacts the safety of the general public.

      If al-whoever was really interested in bringing down a commercial airliner, it’d be far easier to stick some guy at the end of the runway with an SA-7 and give him orders to launch as soon as the landing gear retracts. A MANPAD wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world so sneak in via shipping container, especially considering the US receives over 17.6 million TEU’s worth of them per year.

      1. hunkerdown

        Not with a big piece of aluminum in the way. Due to the relatively low strength of unlicensed 2.4GHz ISM-band transmissions, it might be difficult to get a legible, distinguishable signal very far out of the walls of the plane, certainly not far enough to call a drone out of visual range. A mobile phone would be a much better choice, due to the order of magnitude greater transmit power available, the aperture in the shielding, and the undeniable plausibility of a passenger holding a phone up to the window. Note also the Axis of Self-Righteousness uses mobile phone transmissions rather than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth as targeting beacons.

        > the “laptop ban” is simply an exercise in security theater

        Got it in one. Pure fantasism.

        1. craazyboy

          Seeing as how no drone is going to 30,000ft anyway, use a Manpad near airports. The Chinese make ’em for 10K on the black market. Back in the 90s they had pics on the news of them after a gang banger weapons stash got raided by LA SWAT.

      2. subgenius

        Planes have transponders giving position, etc info…why do you need a laptop?

        They also have nice hot engines for ir detection.

        Ships do, too.

        Why reinvent the wheel….?

        1. RMO

          The current Mode-S transponders give more accurate information that the older ones, they include the aircraft’s unique ICAO code and ADS-B 1090ES-out is becoming more and more common. The ADS-B info is even received by the PowerFLARM collision warning system that my glider club has installed on all of our gliders (the system got its start in Europe where glider traffic is denser and it is a purely voluntary, non-government mandated system). Aircraft transmitting ADS-B are displayed on the PowerFLARM with position, altitude and vertical speed data. There’s no need whatsoever to dream up some sort of kludged laptop carried onboard the aircraft in order to target it.

      3. Code Name D

        Unlikely. The Army already has a cell phone protocol in place lest they be used as homing beacons for rocket propelled grenades. But it dose demand an active call from the phone to work. Such a system could be quite effective in attacking an aircraft making a landing or take off maneuver, which is reportedly where most of these attacks took place.

        But I doubt it would work at altitude as cell phones still do not have that long a broadcast range for a SAM missile to find it at altitude and speed.

        I could see a phone or tablet collecting GPS data and reporting that information to a hostile force. That might world. And what would make it insidious is that any phone or tablet not properly secured could be used. And as I have a hard time even keeping that feature turned off…

        However, I suspect this is less a credible threat and more of your typical fear-mongering from the deep state, trying to build up terrorists to be a greater threat than they actually are.

    2. Hobbs

      The Somalian who blew himself up and out and put a hole in the Daallo airline flight last February was supposedly handed a laptop with a bomb inside. The plane wasn’t at very high altitude — just 15 minutes after take off. Could have been catastrophic at 33,000 ft. The terrorist was allegedly scheduled to take a Turkish airline flight.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks. Don’t wanna say anything to give it away but yes, topical and poignant.

    2. Annotherone

      Thank you for that link – any chance to be deflected from current Trumpish news is a boon!
      The story is a very good, if rather disquieting, read.

  10. Vatch

    I just learned that Ajit Pai, the primary opponent of net neutrality on the FCC, is up for reappointment for another term. I guess I should have been aware of this, but there’s too much to know, and some of it slips through the cracks in my mind.


    People who care about net neutrality ought to contact their Senators, and ask them to vote against the reappointment of Ajit Pai to the FCC. Senators’ contact information is here:


  11. Kim Kaufman

    Family of slain Seth Rich says reports he fed WikiLeaks DNC info are untrue


    “The Rich family spokesman, Brad Bauman, also said Wheeler had not been hired by the family but by a “third-party” who Bauman says has a political agenda. He declined to identify the person citing legal concerns. He said Wheeler offered his services to the family “claiming he wanted to help.” Bauman said Wheeler and the family had an agreement that Wheeler not talk to the media.”

  12. Jim Haygood

    As the Depublicrat soap opera brings the crowd to its feet, behind the scenes the Nasdaq Composite and its more exclusive subset, the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index, quietly set fresh records today.

    Mr Market just don’t care about DC drama.

    Cheer up sleepy Jean
    Oh what can it mean
    To a Bubble Believer
    And a homecoming queen?

    — The Monkees

  13. Andrew Watts

    For all the outrage about Trump leaking intelligence nobody seemed to notice in the recent WSJ article about Inherent Resolve bombing retreating IS fighters in al-Tabqa it was mentioned that IS used the dams as command and control centers. With high ranking members using them as shelters from air strikes.

    Whatever happened to loose lips sinking ships…huh?

    1. fred

      The “Trump leaked to the Russians can’t indict Hilary now” fake news deflects attention from the story that wikileaks got their DNC info from Seth Rich not from Russian hackers.

      1. craazyboy

        There was another high placed intermediary-observer-introduction maker too. The trail is almost not in contention. Just needs a subpoena or two.

  14. Huey Long

    Moon of Alabama chimes in on the latest “fake news” pedalded by WaPo and others:


    …Trump was elected with the support of the U.S. military. Clinton was supported by the corporate and intelligence sides of the power triangle. Trump won. Now the deep-state intelligence side, together with the moneyed part of the Democratic party, is out to impeach him. The constant sensationalized dribble of false or irrelevant claims against him prepares the ground for that…

    1. kimsarah

      They’d better hope they get rid of Trump before he starts cranking out the goods on the Clintonites.

    2. lambert strether

      So I’m picturing the spook-media-Democrat complex on the threshold of getting Trump out of office, and the military steps in and says “Not on your Nellie.”

      In terms of outcomes for the Late American Republic, I’m not sure whether having military as the Praetorian Guard instead of the intelligence community counts as a win.

      1. craazyboy

        Doubt they will be our saviors either. But at this point, if Trump wants to be around, he needs saving.

        I see it as a “soft” coup. Neither side wants to pop the American Apple Pie Image the gullible may still hold. Reason being, they want that “intel” apparatus. Too valuable for “governing” [mostly of the “enemy”], too dangerous to let it be. Too messy for a wholescale purge.

        They have already defined the preferred battlefield. It’s Real News Vs. Fake News. Spectator sport for the little folk. Your opinion, vote, and hard work supporting the economy still matter.

        All that’s required is a little Swamp draining and supportive Real Media. We can get back on track towards the American Dream!

        We did it during the Watergate threat, we can do it again! Chin up!!

        1. craazyboy

          Remember “officer target practice” in Vietnam days. Boots on the ground are real, spooks are not!

  15. Garanjeet

    @J-LN and other NC staff – Have a recommendation for you for India. Strongly suggest you have a look at the works of a journalist here by the name of Hartosh Singh Bal. His strong unfearful but principaled stand reminds me of matt taibi but their writing styles are quite different. Here’s a link to his writings with Open Magazine before he left it – http://www.openthemagazine.com/author/hartosh-singh-bal

    And here’s a link to his writings at his current place, Caravan Magazine – http://www.caravanmagazine.in/profile/307/
    A link on Caravan’s profile on the current finance minister – http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/talk-town

    And here’s a short talk by him on the cult that the current prime minister is from – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j03w0Lw8TkM

    And lastly a talk on the Indian journalistic media landscape – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clw9Rnyd-ps

    If appropriate you should ask him to write for you

  16. Jim Haygood

    On Apple’s new Ring headquarters in Cupertino:

    Though he always professed to loathe nostalgia, Jobs based many of his ideas on his favorite features of the Bay Area of his youth. “His briefing was all about California—his idealized California,” says Stefan Behling, a Norman Foster partner.

    He could be scary when he swooped down on a detail he demanded. Jobs discussed the walls he had in mind for the offices: “He knew exactly what timber he wanted, but not just ‘I like oak’ or ‘I like maple.’ He knew it had to be quarter-­cut. It had to be cut in the winter, ideally in January, to have the least amount of sap and sugar content. We were all sitting there, architects with gray hair, going, ‘Holy shit!’”

    Jobs was adamant that the new campus house indigenous flora, and in particular he wanted fruit trees from the orchards he remembered from growing up in Northern California. Jobs’ aims were not just aesthetic. He did his best thinking during walks and was especially inspired by ambling in nature, so he envisioned how Apple workers would do that too.

    “Can you imagine doing your work in a national park?” says Tim Cook, who succeeded Jobs as CEO in 2011. “When I really need to think about something I’m struggling with, I get out in nature. We can do that now! It won’t feel like Silicon Valley at all.”


    Apple trees! You’re not allowed to take just one bite, though. It’s trademarked. :-(

      1. ambrit

        Definitely Jimson Weed. Apples past behaviour compels one to assume the ingestion of some form of psychotropic by company management.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More IQ than heart, relatively speaking.

      That’s the super hero of our time

      “Turn the corporation into a co-op?”

      Mother Teresa was amazed at his knowledge of the details of workers suffering in China making smartphones….

      “I wish I was a genius like him,” many regret it’s an unobtainable dream – their parents have not gifted them so.

      It should be said, though, that in Japan, Paulownia has been popular, and often, traditionally, logs used to be kept for decades, over several generations by the carpenter’s family, before they were used to make furniture. I wonder if the sap content would have made any difference after all that time.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Quarter-sawn lumber looks quite different from flat-sawn, depending on the species. It’s also a lot more expensive. I’ve never heard of the season making a difference, though. He might be wrong about January – that’s when the sap runs in (indigenous) Big Leaf Maples, and quite likely many trees local to Cali.

      Apples are not indigenous to the New World; very few of our fruit trees are. Strawberries and blueberries are.

  17. Anonymous

    can anyone verify this?

    reports that Comey says Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation

    1. lambert strether

      According to Comey’s personal notes after the meeting. (He “memorializes” significant conversations in writing on paper. That’s what he did with the famous episode with Ashcroft in his hospital bed, so it’s a signature move.)

  18. ewmayer

    Re. latest MSM hair-on-fire-ness, in the MSN version of the story (cf. today’s Links), among all the ‘unnamed officials expressed shock and worry!’ alarmism, note the non sequitur:

    ‘For most anyone in government discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.

    Russia and the United States both regard the Islamic State as an enemy and share limited information about terrorist threats. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    So we’re frenemies with the MSM-deemed “adversary” Rooskies w.r.to fighting the US-created ISIS threat, but our ‘competing agenda’ in Syria involves palling around with our Al Qaeda ‘allies’ whose ongoing anti-regime campaign allows ISIS to operate and enjoy a steady supply of recruits and weapons, as well as ensuring a steady supply of refugees to our EU allies. Gotcha.

    This would be merely laughably bad ‘journalism’ except for the fact that it is now beyond doubt – to use phrasing the MSM and the establishment shills apply to the completely evidence-free Russian election-hacking claims – that it is part of a concerted campaign by the spook community to discredit Trump, if not to bring him down. (I am more and more inclined to believe the latter.) Lambert’s ‘grave damage to the constitutional order’ is likely an understatement. To the so-called liberal goodthinkers cheering this slow-motion coup on, I say: enjoy your president Pence! The only possible upside is that said coup, should it succeed, will hopefully dispense with the pretense of democracy USians have long been living under and reveal beyond a shadow of a doubt the underlying tyranny. But even there I have grave doubts, given the evident power of the MSM propaganda machine to define a Narrative Under Which We All Shall Live. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet – truly frightening times ahead, I fear.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner


      The “OMG Russia” meme hasn’t hurt the Republican Party. The Democrats have had their image take a hit. The GOP should be unpopular for obvious reasons. So why might the Democrats be taking a hit? The answer is Team Blue elites want to talk about “OMG Russia” and voters want to discuss healthcare and so forth. The Democratic voters (not the elites) who want to discuss “OMG Russia” are the same voters who follow their tribal leaders with no questions asked.

      You (not you) say, “but the latest revelation will sink Trump!” No, it won’t. The electors won’t refuse to vote for Trump, throwing the election to the House. Hillary will win 40 states including Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Israel. Trump won’t be forced to step down before the GOP convention. Kasich won’t stop Trump through an alliance with Cruz and Rufio. Trump won’t win South Carolina because its Bush country with a respect for the military like John McCain! Trump won’t fizzle out by October when they start holding debates (I confess to this one). Trump won’t hold a lead over Jeb, the smart* Bush brother over the Summer.

      The media besides driven corporate masters is fundamentally shallow. Politicos salivated over an Alf Landon Dinner of Jeb and Hillary doing a bit where they joked about how they would always get confused when the mail was just marked President Bush/Clinton. Who does it belong to? It would have been hysterical! Trump destroyed the media’s friends. Policies have been ignored because it would require thinking and might paint John McCain in a bad light.

      *I wonder if Neil makes fun of Jeb.

      1. ewmayer

        Seems to depend which poll you look at – top of my daily Reuters newsblast today is

        More Americans want ‘independent’ investigation of Trump: Reuters/Ipsos poll

        NEW YORK (Reuters) – A majority of Americans, including a growing number of Republicans, want to see an “independent investigation” sort out any connections between Russia and President Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

  19. calsa

    The article in the New York Times here:

    if you read it, claimed Trump revealed specifics of the plot that could lead to the unmasking of the source. But read this bit carefully:

    Among the details the president shared was the city in Syria where the ally picked up information about the plot, though Mr. Trump is not believed to have disclosed that the intelligence came from a Middle Eastern ally or precisely how it was gathered.

    Notice the source of this article appears to have revealed way more than Trump did. It appears Trump spilled a small detail( the city), this was passed onto the CIA and the NSA, the leaker to the Post or the NYT then appears to have added what they knew about the plot including the source of the info, which is now in the public domain and blamed on Trump by the NYT and Post!

    To complete the circle of crazy we now get this story in the Times revealing the source of the intel as Israel!:

    and of course blaming it on Trump.

    Not sure if the links worked. Didn’t display in preview mode.

  20. christy

    “Hillary Clinton launches political action group Onward Together”…the TuRD that won’t flush…

  21. Daryl

    > McConnell Calls for ‘Apolitical’ FBI Director,

    I’d like to nominate Snuffaluffagus for the made-up role of apolitical FBI director

  22. ChiGal in Carolina

    For chrissakes CNN has apparently bumped Bernie’s debate for more Trump Russia crap.

    “Breaking News” indeed @#$&?!

    1. Mel

      “Politically Correct”: way back when, we used to use it to mock Marxist-Leninists. They operated under Party discipline, and everything they thought, said, or did had to conform with the Line handed down from on high. So every time they were faced with a realistic, cogent argument for some or other line of action, they had to go on to ask, “OK, it’s correct, but is it Politically correct?”

      Running Bernie’s debate would have been correct …

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope Bernie does call for an independent investigation of Russia interference after the debate.

      That will distract from the real issues we face.

      “Lesson learned.”

  23. thoughtfulperson

    Exactly – OMG Russia stories are a distraction from the real issues people want to talk about (some of which might have come up in a Sanders – Kaisch debate). Substance dies in the MSM! It’s all about distortion and manipulation…

  24. NotTimothyGeithner

    In a bit of good news, Larry Krasner won the Democratic primary for Philly DA.

  25. darthbobber

    Krasner has comfortably won the primary here. Under ordinary circumstances, we could now take his eventual election as a given. BUT…the howls of outrage from the FOP and the Abraham cronies is going to be very loud.
    The character assassination campaign started a coule of days ago with an open letter from 12 ex-employees of the DA’s office about what an evil criminal-coddlin’ guy Krasner is. He’ll need to be very focused and on top of his game to survive the next several months of no-holds-barred mudslinging. Much of which will come from nominal Democrats.

    Big + of this campaign. There was no gap or controversy between economic agenda Berniecrats and DSAers and the Social Justice warriors. Who are, for all practical purposes, on the same sheet of music in races like this.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What’s Neera’s take on Taco Bell menus? Or is that product placement too downscale for her?

      (“A Discussion” is wonderfully pompous. Kudos to the headline writer for coming up with such a chin-stroker.)

  26. Procopius

    We’re seeing many, many figures in the press using “any stick to beat a dog tactics”; and we’re seeing the “intelligence community” emerging as a Praetorian Guard.

    Yes, and I’m horrified. The lies from the Democratic Career Elite have been bad enough. The daily distortion of what was said has been even worse. The corporate press is hysterical. The infotainment channels are totally dedicated to maximizing profit. This is not going to end well.

  27. Michael C

    ““Hillary Clinton launches political action group Onward Together” [Guardian]. Please kill me now.”
    My thoughts exactly. Also, when she was describing why she lost the election, she put these to words together, which offended the truth as well as my ears, “Russian Wikileaks.” Gawd, she thinks we are all stupid. Unfortunately, a sizeable bunch of liberals are equally so as is their countrerparts, the right-wing nutjobs.

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