2:00PM Water Cooler 5/18/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Whoops, I was ten seconds late pressing the submit button! Reading something interesting… –lambert


“The Trump administration is expected to send to Congress this morning a final letter notifying lawmakers that it intends to open trade talks with Canada and Mexico in an attempt to renegotiate NAFTA, according to an administration official and congressional aides” [Politico]. “Sending the letter triggers a 90-day consultation period that must conclude before negotiations can officially begin — a process set out under the 2015 Trade Promotion Authority legislation that gives the White House the ability to fast-track passage of the deal in Congress. The administration is required to submit more detailed negotiating objectives 30 days prior to the start of the talks. An eight-page draft of the notification letter emerged in March, but congressional aides told Morning Trade that a final version circulated this week was only a page long, prompting some lawmakers to request more detail on some points.”

“A Trump administration proposal to add rules barring currency manipulation to future trade deals is generating controversy along familiar fault lines. The currency rules would prevent members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or future U.S. trade partners in Europe and Asia, from nudging the value of their currencies higher or lower for economic gain, the WSJ’s William Mauldin writes. The plan has support from U.S. manufacturers who believe they’ve lost global market share to competitors in countries with artificially weak exchange rates that make their goods more competitive abroad. Multinational corporations fear a new fight over currency will distract from more pressing concerns over tariffs and commercial rules. Allegations of manipulation are common, though proving it is harder” [Wall Street Journal].


“Cuomo’s staff disappoints returning student at OCC forum on ‘free tuition'” [Syracuse.com (Bob)] (as expected). “For many returning students, the scholarship isn’t much help…. Kimberly Stenson, who graduated high school in 1994, was disappointed to learn Wednesday she wouldn’t qualify for the scholarship because she had gotten some state aid more than 20 years ago.” It’s better to be moving in the right direction than otherwise. But here — and I know this will come as a shock to you — we’re seeing a liberal taking a left program and screwing it up royally. The exact same thing would happen with CAP’s Jobs Guarantee, so called.

“Net neutrality goes down in flames as FCC votes to kill Title II rules” [Ars Technica]. “The FCC ‘will not rely on hyperbolic statements about the end of the Internet as we know it, and 140-character argle-bargle, but rather on the data,’ [FCC Deck Chair Ajit] Pai said.”

Obama Legacy

When you’ve lost Atrios:

And speaking of liberals:

New Cold War

Well, this ratchets up the hysteria a notch:

I’m genuinely amazed. The cray cray is an order of magnitude worse than the run-up to the Iraq War. Go ahead and read the article; the thesis is that Russian bots on the Twitter are a bigger threat to the United States than the fake stories the Bush White House planted in the press to start the Iraq War. As always, the scandal is what’s normal. Oh, and when did James “Not Wittingly” Clapper emerge as a Hero of The Republic? Did I not get the memo? Presenting Clapper as a defender of “the very foundation of our democratic political system” (his words) is like presenting Jerry Sandusky as a defender of the value of cold showers.

“More than 10 centrist Republicans over the past 48 hours have criticized Trump for reportedly sharing classified information with Russian officials or allegedly trying to quash an FBI investigation” [Politico].

“Two moderate Senate Republicans suggest the need to consider a special prosecutor” [WaPo]. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). This happened well before the Rosenstein announcement; I’m guessing it was the crack in the dam.

“4 Reasons Why Robert Mueller Is an Ideal Special Counsel” [The Nation]. “[Mueller] was among the individuals in the Justice Department who assembled at Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital bedside in 2004 to block the Bush White House’s attempt to renew a surveillance policy that Mueller and others, including James Comey, deemed to be illegal.” That’s good, but 2017 – 2004 = 13 years. That’s a long time for a halo to stay buffed (as we saw with Comey).

“Unfortunately, while identifying this past week as the proverbial ‘beginning of the end’ for Herr Donald’s presidency isn’t all that hard, untangling precisely why the President won’t be able to weather this storm and will eventually be abandoned by the Republican Party is a little more difficult; especially in light of the fact that partisan mainstream liberals are still shouting objectively insane conspiracy theories about Russiagate even though Trump’s total lack of respect for his job and fat f*cking mouth have all but handed them his political a** on a platter” [Nina Illingworth]. Maybe Nina will “untangle” this in a later post.

The headline: “Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources” [Reuters]. The body: “The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far.” Ah, the sources are “people.” Excellent. We’re making real progress, here. I mean, at least they aren’t dinosaurs or space aliens.


UPDATE “Bold, new proposals were scarce during a recent gathering of high-profile party members, but there was a vigorous competition on who had the best Trump putdown” [Robert Borosage, Common Dreams]. Remember when it was the Republicans who were “the party of stupid”? (And how’d that moniker work out for ya, Dems?) More: “Convened in a basement of Georgetown’s Four Season’s Hotel, the posh watering hole for Washington lobbyists, lawyers and visiting wealth, the conference quickly revealed how hard it is for Democrats to debate the future when Trump is taking all of the air out of the room.” As if the Democrats weren’t operating the air pumps as hard as they could! More: “The most interesting contrast was between Warren and Senator Corry Booker, both given star turns. Warren was full of fire and brimstone, while using her speech to put forth a clear analysis and reform agenda that pushed the limits of the Democratic debate. Booker closed the conference with a passionate address, invoking the progressive movements that have transformed America, concluding that Democrats can’t merely be the “party of resistance,” but must “reaffirm” America’s “impossible dream.” Fittingly, it was a speech brutal on Trump, replete with good values, sound goals and uplifting oratory, and utterly devoid of ideas.” So Neera thinks Booker’s the front runner, then?


“[J]ust looking at the topline approval rating number to assess Trump’s support from the base misses a very important element: the enthusiasm behind that support. And, on that front, there’s been some very clear bleeding for Trump” [Cook Political Report]. “Bottom line: just because the ‘bottom’ hasn’t dropped out on Trump, doesn’t mean he has the deep or enduring support of his party. The upcoming House special elections are going to give us some early clues about whether the enthusiasm gap is translating at the ballot box. But, the real test, of course, is 18 months–and about a million and a half news cycles–from today.” My view is that averages and aggregates conceal: Trump’s “base” is wealthy, suburban, and skews provincial (i.e., not global). If Mr. Market is happy, I’m betting Trump’s base will be happy. But Trump’s base was and is insufficient for victory: Trump’s “marginal voters” gave him the win, especially Obama voters who flipped. These voters are not wealthy, and skew provincial and rural. If Trump delivers for them — jobs, the wall, health care that doesn’t suck — he could pull this one out. Key figure that Cook quotes: “More than one Democrat I’ve spoken with in recent weeks has pointed with dismay to the results of an ABC/Washington Post poll that found that just 28 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party is ‘in touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today.'” 28% is, IMNSHO, high. Americans are a generous people.


“Democrats again fell just short in a closely-watched election as Heath Mello lost the Omaha mayoral race on Tuesday after a fierce debate within the national party over his anti-abortion views” [AP]. Excellent. Remember, it’s critical that Sanders Democrats lose by just enough to declare a moral victory and not gain power!

“The DCCC raised $20 million in online contributions since the start of the year from contributions averaging just $18, according to the group, beating the $19.7 million the committee raised during 2015, the last off-year ahead of an election year” [NBC News]. Why Putin Derangement Syndrome and hysterical gaslighting are useful: They get vulnerable voters to press that “Contribute” Button, all without changing policy or addressing any structural issues in the Democrat Party. A neat trick!

“Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. — a former Goldman Sachs vice president representing Greenwich and the newly elected head of the moderate New Democratic Coalition — is scheduled on Wednesday to be feted at a fundraiser at the Washington home of a “Lou Costantino,” according to an invite obtained by the transparency group Political Party Time. There is a Lou Costantino who is a former Merrill Lynch lobbyist who is now the top lobbyist for the Managed Funds Association — a major trade association for the hedge fund and private equity industries. Himes is one of the most active Wall Street fundraisers in the Democratic caucus, having raked in more than $2.6 million from the industry during his eight-year congressional career” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. Ka-ching.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“When a man as uncouth and reckless as Trump becomes president by running against the nation’s elites, it’s a strong signal that the elites are the problem” [The American Conservative]. “The elites also ran American foreign policy, as they have throughout U.S. history. Over the past 25 years they got their country bogged down in persistent wars with hardly any stated purpose and in many instances no end in sight—Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya. Many elites want further U.S. military action in Ukraine, against Iran, and to thwart China’s rise in Asia.” And most of the soldiers who fight and die in those wars are from the fly-over states. I mean, it’s that or WalMart, right? More: “Now comes the counterrevolution. The elites figure that if they can just get rid of Trump, the country can return to what they consider normalcy—the status quo ante, before the Trumpian challenge to their status as rulers of America. … Ross Douthat, the conservative New York Times columnist, even suggests the elites of Washington should get rid of Trump through the use of the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of the president if a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office; and if a two-thirds vote of Congress confirms that judgment in the face of a presidential challenge. This was written of course for such circumstances of presidential incapacity as ill health or injury, but Douthat’s commitment to the counterrevolution is such that he would advocate its use for mere presidential incompetence.” Of course, there is no counter-revolution because there is no revolution. But Trump does provide an interesting case study in what a revolutionary regime would face, should there be one. For example, suppose even a mild revolutionary like Sanders had won. Does anybody believe that what is happening to Trump would not have happened to Sanders, generated by the same ruling class factions using the same strategies? 2017 continues to be as wonderfully clarifying as 2016.

On the 25th Amendment:

Read the interviews from AP and the series “How the Mississippi River Valley Turned Red.” Then imagine the “neighbor against neighbor” results. It’s one thing to have your neighbor not vote your way. It’s quite another thing to have your neighbor annul your vote, especially when the guy you voted for won the election under the rules all the candidates knew going in.

UPDATE “The Media Elite Is Indulging Dangerous Fantasies About Removing Trump From Office”
[The Federalist]. I don’t often agree with the Federalist, but I think this is a good perspective. “The country is deeply divided. People have taken to attacking each other in the streets and threatening congressmen when they venture outside Washington. We’re still recovering from a presidential election that actually ended marriages and tore families apart. Trump’s election was, more than anything else, a giant middle finger to the political establishment, which has lost the confidence of the American people. If now seems like the right time for that establishment to launch an unconstitutional coup to remove the president through a specious application of the 25th Amendment, then I respectfully submit that you’re underestimating the precariousness of national life at this moment.” Another way of thinking about this: Who, exactly, makes the case to the American people? That somebody would have to be an elected official trusted by the great majority of the American people (and most definitely not a gaggle of long-faced politicians sitting at a big table). Who would that somebody be? Paul Ryan? Joe Lieberman? Jimmy Carter? Oprah? Walter Cronkite is dead. So is Mr. Rogers. So who, exactly? Some general? Which?

“Leakers From the Deep State Need to Face Criminal Charges” [FOX News] and “Kucinich: ‘Deep State’ Trying to ‘Destroy The Trump Presidency'” [FOX News]. I juxtapose these to show the vacuity of the term “deep state.” Can you imagine FOX saying “ruling class” or “factional conflicts in the ruling class”? No?

Stats Watch

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, May 2017: “Another exceptional Philly Fed report points once again to acceleration for the factory sector” [Econoday]. “Activity is very brisk with shipments exceptionally strong at 39.1 with the workweek moving higher (21.7) and hiring underway (17.3). And order readings point to exceptional activity in the months ahead with new orders at 25.4 and backlogs on the rise at 9.0.” Trump’s marginal voters will read this as Trump performing to expectations (if this survey pans out in real data). But: “The April PMI and ISM reports indicated a slowdown in the manufacturing sector and concerns were heightened following the weaker than expected New York Empire manufacturing report released on Monday. There is some evidence of a slowdown in the latest Philadelphia Fed survey components, although the data overall should provide reassurance over manufacturing trends” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “There is continuing significant strength in this survey from new orders. Note that the New York Fed manufacturing survey (released earlier this week) returned to contraction” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of May 13, 2017: “There’s been no let up in demand for labor, judging by jobless claims which remain right at record lows” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of May 14, 2017: [Econoday]. “The consumer comfort index continues to hold near expansion highs… Strong readings for confidence reflect strong optimism for employment” (as above, with the caveat).

Leading Indicators, April 2017: “The index of leading economic indicators remains very solid, at a 0.3 percent gain in April with March also revised to 0.3 percent” [Econintersect]. “Unemployment claims, consumer expectations and factory hours are strong positives in the report, one that points to solid growth for the nation’s economy in the months ahead” (and as above, with the caveat). But: “The rate of growth may be improving on this index. Because of the significant backward revisions, I do not trust this index” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “To help gauge the possible scenarios, Fitch Ratings maintains 16 stand-alone revenue-backed ratings across 15 U.S. ports and also rates ports where debt is supported by tax revenues. Based on the its most current data, the outlook for U.S. port ratings is ‘stable.’ The ‘A’ category remains the most common rating for stand-alone U.S. ports, reflecting the sector’s relatively low credit risk and the resilience of cash flows despite volume fluctuations during economic downturns” (handy chart) [Logistics Management].

Shipping: “Ports still an attractive proposition for pension funds” [Lloyd’s List]. “[Mercator International partner Steve Rothberg] highlighted that investment in bigger, wider and faster cranes, longer quays, deeper berths and the like to meet the requirements of ultra large containerships has not gone unnoticed by funding schemes, which have invested heavily in the port industry for over a decade on the back of healthy returns… While he expects the current interest in ports and terminals to continue undeterred, infrastructure fund and pension fund executives have raised doubts over whether potential returns from investing in marine terminals are going to be as sure as they used to be.”

Supply Chain: “Germany-Asia rail freight volumes rise 10-fold in a year” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “In total, DHL Global Forwarding offers 15 rail connections, equating to seven weekly door-to-door freight train services between Germany and the Far East. The trains follow the course of the trans-Kazakh western corridor and the trans-Siberian northern corridor with a dense network of rail hubs in all the major economic centres in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.” So, from a low baseline. Nevertheless, a random Google search on “steppe ‘land sea'” turns up this: “In the 1770s a Russian envoy to the Kazakh khan Nuraly plainly stated: ‘The Yaik steppe for you is like a land sea with ports….'” I wonder what Admiral Mahan would think of all this?

Political Risk: “The US currency has come under further pressure during the past 24 hours with the dollar index retreating to six-month lows below the 97.50 level” [Economic Calendar]. “President Trump’s short-term response to a crisis of confidence surrounding the Administration will be crucial for market direction. An aggressive and insular approach would risk further dollar selling.”

Political Risk: “Hard to say which is worse for markets- if Trump remains as President or if he is removed” [Mosler Economics].

Political Risk: “”It always puzzled me a little bit,” [Former Fed Deck Chair Ben] Bernanke said In an onstage interview at the three-day, hedge-fund focused SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, in Las Vegas. Financial markets have long shown a tendency to be ‘blasé’ about political risks until the ‘last moment'” “[MarketWatch]. “Bernanke also said Trump would be served well by renominating Janet Yellen to serve a second term as Fed chief.” Oh, “also.”

Political Risk: “[Trump] did dip his toes into central banking policy last month though, telling the WSJ in an interview that now that he’s president and can be honest, he actually prefers low interest rates. And, oh yeah, he mentioned, he is also willing to consider re-appointing Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term is up in 2018. Trump’s sudden evolution to favoring low rates after attacking them on the campaign should not be surprising, nor should the possibility of a re-appointment for Yellen if she follows her dovish policy instincts in the coming year and a half” [Dealbreaker]. Fun Nixon riffs!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 45, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 18 at 12:10pm. The Mueller Effect?


“Humans have accidentally created a protective bubble around Earth by using very low frequency (VLF) radio transmissions to contact submarines in the ocean. It sounds nuts, but according to recent research published in Space Science Reviews, underwater communication through VLF channels has an outer space dimension” [Vice] (the original study: “Anthropogenic Space Weather.” Only the abstract is available, but it’s cool. Let’s just hope the aliens don’t notice! Unless they’ve quarantined the Solar System already, of course.

Our Famously Free Press

“In the past five trading days, many of America’s largest publicly traded newspaper companies have been under siege on Wall Street. Shares of McClatchy Co. (NYSE: MNI) are off 22% for the period. Shares of Tronc Inc. (NASDAQ: TRNC) are down 14%. Shares of Dallas Morning News publisher A.H. Belo Corp. (NYSE: AHC) are down 7%. Shares of industry leader, based on revenue, Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) are off 8%” [MarketWatch]. “Just as dramatic as the drops are the extent to which they have pushed stocks to or near their 52-week lows. McClatchy hit a new period low yesterday. Gannett traded within 12 cents of its bottom for the period. Tronc shares have dropped back to where they traded in November. Belo shares are the lowest they have been since August.” A ginormous scandal helps them out: Lots of clicks on the revenue side, and access journalism and opinion are low cost content compared to actual reporting.

Health Care

Well, well:

“America’s Long Fight Over Single-Payer Healthcare” [JSTOR Daily]. “The pattern for defeating single-payer schemes was set a century ago when the 1918 California referendum was soundly trounced. The insurance industry opposed it because it threatened their profits. The medical establishment feared price controls, that is, challenges to their profits. The plan was also unpopular because it smacked of German social insurance in an era of intense anti-German feeling. It was also a call for “socialized” medicine at the dawn of the first great Red Scare.” Sounds familiar…

Class Warfare

“Why Harvard Business School is under fire” [The Economist]. “The idea that HBS is responsible for the ills of Western civilisation is far-fetched. The school is better thought of as an aggressive business that has grown fast, cut too many corners and lost its competitive edge. Sales have risen by a compound rate of 8% over the past decade and costs by 7%. It has failed to manage conflicts of interest adequately: for example it gives companies a veto over case studies written about them and academics can be paid by the companies they teach about.” Credentialism and corruption….

News of the Wired

“The Case for Free-Range Kids” [The American Conservative]. “If I asked you… to think back on something you loved doing as a kid that you don’t see kids doing today, you would probably talk about getting on your bike and riding around till the streetlights came on while ‘our parents never knew where we were!'” My world, at least, growing up. Hard for me to believe it’s gone….

Put down your coffee before reading this thread:

* * *

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):


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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. diptherio

    Here’s a good primer on the different forms of employee ownership, apropos of the Sanders/Warren bill that was linked to here the other day:


    Their bill, it will be recalled, would offer a loan program and additional support infrastructure for the creation of ESOPs and worker co-ops. Many people are getting super-excited about this, and I have to admit it’s good to see worker co-ops getting a little national play. However….ESOPs are just retirement plans that offer tax-breaks for business owners, and I’m afraid that’s how most/all of the money in the Sanders/Warren bill would be spent — big businesses getting tax-breaks by offering company stock as part of a retirement plan. To quote the article:

    Don’t assume employee ownership means employee control.

    The formal legal framework for Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) was passed in 1974 with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ESOPs were given a big boost in the ’80s with the passage of tax laws that encouraged them.

    In an ESOP, the company grants shares to employees over time; the shares are held in a separate trust until employees retire or leave the company. Some ESOPs transfer a small portion of ownership to employees, while others are 100 percent owned by the trust. (Most ESOPs also offer a separate retirement plan, such as a 401(k)). Employees have no direct ownership or control. […]

    ESOPs are highly regulated and can cost as much as $40,000 or $50,000 to set up. But they provide lucrative tax breaks for both the business owner selling shares and the ESOP itself.

    In summation: ESOPs are not revolutionary…not even a little bit…

    1. MartyH

      In re: “Don’t assume employee ownership means employee control” … substitute “any minority share-holding group” for “employee”. To influence, one needs effective “control” (typically 14% of equity or more). Otherwise, enjoy the ride.

      1. diptherio

        Yup. And another aspect that I hadn’t though of before just now is that the way ESOPs are structured, they end up being a stock buy-back program when the employee exits the firm. How is this any different than the stock re-purchases that get so much flack around these parts?

      2. jrs

        Yes seems to be mostly about how much of the company is owned by employees, wouldn’t you want it to be > 50% of the shares if you want employee control?

        If it’s not giving employees any real say anyway, it seems a risky thing to encourage employers to contribute to as opposed to say just doing matching on a 401k. Because as flawed as 401ks are, it is much safer than employees having all their money in the company stock and thinking that’s a good idea as far as retirement goes. It’s really not.

        I wondered the difference between ESOP and ESPP (not that much as far as employee control it seems):

    2. PKMKII

      Question is, does it make more sense politically to push for more worker control over ESOPs (which, if memory serves, are more numerous, employ more employees, and control a greater share of the market than co-ops), or go whole-hog in promoting co-ops?

      1. Anon

        Co-ops are the better route if you want to see a positive change in both worker prosperity and company success in the market. They would also shift economic power back from Wall Street to Main Street. Piggybacking incentives for co-ops on ESOP expansion sounds like a good idea, until you realize that current ESOP programs are really “fake change”, and mostly a bad investment for workers. Everyone at Enron was heavily invested in the company, but Ken Lay and his management team still ran the show. That was the doom of Enron, and the cause of the collateral damage done to those in and out of the company. Co-ops put decision-making into the hands of workers themselves, whose instincts for economic self-preservation should result in superior benefits for workers than the machinations of executive elites or vanguard party leaders.

        1. Procopius

          .. instincts for economic self-preservation…

          Funny, that sounds like the argument Greenspan used to promote deregulation of the financial markets. I’ll grant that workers have a much bigger stake in preserving the company than management does (IBGYBG).

  2. curlydan

    One other snippet from the “18 Undisclosed Contacts” Reuters article:

    “Those discussions focused on mending U.S.-Russian economic relations strained by sanctions imposed on Moscow, cooperating in fighting Islamic State in Syria and containing a more assertive China, the sources said.” Impeach!!

    Talk about clickbait headlines.

    1. Huey Long

      Next thing you know we’ll be hearing about the hoards of “Russian Agents” being harbored in Brooklyn’s Trump Village.

    2. craazyboy

      Trump personal bit of intel, leaked as The Acing, Tweeting, Prez, was details of ISIS bomb laptops intended for use on airplanes. Prolly said, “Between you and me, Sergey…”, knowing it may be info valuable to the enemy if a planned sting was in progress.

      The other thing that really cracks me up is all our 6 Eyes “people”, [bots have no opinions – they are AIs…] and their terrified pearl clutching. hahaha.

      We’d be in WWW3 in a heartbeat if all the Swiss Bank Account numbers got out.

    3. Byron the Light Bulb

      “Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent”

      Gee, I don’t know. How is this not a manifestation of a corrupted political elite writ large? This is not the imagination of a Russo-phobic media…ooorrr is it? Opening for business the gilded bunkers is nekulturny, even if Flynn was just following orders. I guess just enjoy the democracy on turbo and the dictatorship in drag.

      1. craazyboy

        The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.
        Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months.
        If Flynn explained his answer, that’s not recorded, and it’s not known whether he consulted anyone else on the transition team before rendering his verdict. But his position was consistent with the wishes of Turkey, which had long opposed the United States partnering with the Kurdish forces – and which was his undeclared client.

        Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article151149647.html#storylink=cpy

        Maybe I’m unbiased, but I don’t see much wrong here. In fact, it would comply with NATO Treaty. Other than I don’t believe our MIC should be paid at all. Not with all the fun, red wine and hookers* they get.

        * I’ve become convinced this is a good idea. Hookers lower testosterone. More hookers!

        1. Procopius

          I think it was from the Usenet news group soc.culture.thai a comment that resonated with me: “A good prostitute is as valuable to society as a good plumber.”

  3. Jim Haygood

    Hard to say which is worse for markets- if Trump remains as President or if he is removed

    WORSE? Both outcomes likely are monster raving bullish.

    PPP: Persistent Political Paralysis. It’s a beautiful thing. :-)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not about the person.

      Unless we are talking about cults of personality. “Which cult do you belong to? What is its name? Who is the object of your desire?”

      If he is removed via a coup, some will claim the system is exposed, while others will see it as setting a precedent.

      1. craazyboy

        Going up today. They have already decided this latest episode is BS. The market likes oligarchy above all else. Heil, Mr Market! :)

  4. Knifecatcher

    Good article on an overly complex program designed to help people break out of their student debt, now under duress from the Trump administration:


    It occurs to me that if it had provided material benefits with fewer hoops to jump through it would have made the program more difficult for a hostile administration to attack. Even more interesting, while the law was passed in the waning days of the Bush administration it looks and smells exactly like the kind of program Clinton style “liberals” love. Lots of caveats and restrictions to make sure only the “right” kind of people benefit, with the ultimate result of crippling the program for everyone.

    1. diptherio

      It’s an on-line survey, so the results need to be taken with a grain of salt. No way to know if that’s a representative sample or not. It sounds about right to me, but I hang out in the lower echelons of society so my sample is biased. I was a little surprised by how many people said even a hundred would be a problem. Can it really be half of us that are that broke?

      1. Altandmain

        Here’s the report:

        I think that it is possible that half of the US is broke.

        Living costs have exceeded wages for so long now and the 2% inflation rates are hard to believe.

        Also when 50% cannot afford it, that tells me that it is way more than poor financial management – that is low wages across the board.

      1. Vatch

        Credit cards, I suppose. That’s a real trap for people who can’t afford to pay off the entire balance most months. Even worse are payday loans, which are pure usury.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I must have misread it. Not prepared for a $100 emergency, cash-wise.

          1. Vatch

            I don’t think the article specifically mentioned cash. That’s just how I think most people in the U.S. would pay for a flat tire. Some would have the money to pay the credit card company in full, but others would descend into a financial hole.

      2. Huey Long

        Payday loans at usurious rates or they pawn stuff.

        The more unscrupulous folks steal tires off other cars.

        1. Tvc15

          DWS is a fan of usury and Pay day lenders, always looking out for the people.

          In college, I would have put the tire on a credit card and end up paying twice as much. It’s expensive being poor.

      3. Timmy

        It depends on when pay day is and they bridge to that. Wal-Mart has an internal index of the amount of their total sales that occur on/near the bi-weekly pay dates of the 1st and 15th of the month. The amount of their sales that clusters around those dates is frightening and it demonstrates the reality of most folk’s financial situations.

        1. A1

          Tire stores like Les Scwab fix flats for free. You guys too old or too young to drive?

          1. Huey Long

            Tire stores like Les Scwab fix flats for free. You guys too old or too young to drive?

            Sidewall punctures and catastrophic blowouts aren’t repairable, and real po’ folk don’t waste gas driving to Les Scwab; they patch their own holes with the patch kit they bought at Dollar General.

            1. A1

              You have never been to a Les Schwab or repaired a car tire from your statement. A car ture is not a bike tire. You should not comment on things you know nothing about.

          2. Yves Smith

            Tell me how someone with one car, no money, and a flat gets their tire to a tire store without driving on the rim and doing even more damage. Yes, they should have a spare that is in good shape, but theory and practice are often different things.

            It’s really easy for people who have some financial headroom to preach to those who don’t.

              1. loblolly

                Except they don’t have a hundred dollars. They have the hundred dollar partial payment they negotiated with the utility provider to keep the lights on.

                They call a family member to help out. If that person is at work, or they can’t find someone else they wait by the side of the road. If they need to be at work, they abandon the car for the time being, and walk or hitch to work.

                Used tires, thousand dollar cars, pay as you go insurance and a constantly screeching fan belt.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            Deray, is that you?

            Oh wait, sorry. Deray is product placement for Taco Bell, not Les Schwab. My bad.

            * * *

            Adding, unless “Les Scwab” is a French acronym with which I am unfamiliar?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Wal-Mart has an internal index of the amount of their total sales that occur on/near the bi-weekly pay dates of the 1st and 15th of the month

          That is a great data point!

      4. Randy

        Here in flyover territory we remove the flat and replace it with the spare tire. Then we go home, inflate the flat tire and look for the leak. If the leak is slow and not evident we rub soapy water over the tire and look for the bubbles. Then we use the tire plugging kit (purchased at MalWart for $10) to fix the leak. We fill and reinstall the tire and we are on our way. If the tire is un-repairable we go to the local tire shop and buy a used tire for about $20 and have it installed on the rim and balanced for $10. As above, we put it back on the car. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, both sexes handle this task. Most of us have tools or know somebody who does.

        1. A1

          Sure. Another person who has never worked on a car. You do realize we are not talking bicycles here?

          1. craazyboy

            I know, I know! Pick me!!

            I worked at a “corner” gas station in high school.

            You roll the tire there!

            After locating the leak with soapy water, we advise if the tire is repairable. Ok if the hole is in the tread, and altho we could plug it, we break the tire down in the tire machine and use a internal patch because it’s more reliable. Then we balance it.

            If it’s a sidewall puncture, we advise the tire is unrepairable. Either a patch or plug will eventually work loose and leak. Maybe even blow out at the worst time. We refused to do it. [liability being the monetary reason]

            We also refused to sell re-treads. If you wonder why, make note of all the tire rubber you see next to the freeways.

            And what have you got against air pressure monitoring? It pays for itself in improved gas mileage, not to mention tire life and less crap in the dump.

        1. Anon

          And Gov’ts answer is to mandate tire pressure sensors for all new cars (which at least provide a reason for continuing to carry around coins: to feed all those broken down gas station air pumps).

          1. Procopius

            That sounds more like a startup in Silicon Valley rather than government. Oh, and the sensors have to be connected to the Internet of Things. Big profits. Wait for the IPO.

  5. flora

    ““The Case for Free-Range Kids” [The American Conservative]. “If I asked you… to think back on something you loved doing as a kid that you don’t see kids doing today, you would probably talk about getting on your bike and riding around till the streetlights came on while ‘our parents never knew where we were!’” My world, at least, growing up. Hard for me to believe it’s gone…. ”

    Yet somehow we were always within calling (voice calling) distance of our parents “time to come home” evening call. That call, every parent used it, had a sing-song melodic quality. “CHI-ld, time to come HO-ome.” At least for the first 2 or 3 tries. After that the call got shorter and sharper. I don’t remember any kid not hearing their parent’s call. You’d here a parent calling in the evening and the group would stop and listen. ‘Is that my parent? No, that’s your parent. See you tomorrow.’

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Free-Range workers also taste better…I mean, their work tastes better (literally in some cases, but also metaphorically in others)

      1. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

        re Free-Range workers

        Are we talking Soylent Green? Now you’ve upgraded t free-range Soylent Green? Things are certainly moving on apace. Charlton Heston’s take on the future is certainly coming along nicely. Wasn’t there some mention of the green-house effect in that movie?

        After Ronald and now Donald, I’m look at those old apocalyptic movies with rebooted eyes.

        Lock and Load, Duck and Cover!

        Pip pip
        (Confused Limey/Pom, Australia)

    2. Judith

      That was the time of evening to be catching lightning bugs in an empty Skippy peanut butter jar with some holes punched in the top with a church key.

          1. Tvc15

            Yes, at least the peanut butter and junk food in the 70’s was food.
            Yet, Bayer – Monsanto says GMO’s are safe and I totally believe them.

            Crapification of everything including childhood.

            1. polecat

              Yes, the sociopathic control freaks (be they individuals, government and it’s nannies, or corporate ‘persons’ ) are crapifying EVERYTHING they can touch, see, and smell !! I feel like we’re close to a tipping point.

    3. Enquiring Mind

      Some would read The Dangerous Book for Boys, or similar publications, as an instruction manual, and others as a memoir.

      When recalling adventures and then juxtaposing those against the bro blurbs that No Coffee Zone Bacholerette article, I was tempted to refill my coffee just so I could spit it out. That wouldn’t help unsee the items, but would make me go take a shower after cleaning my monitor, so there was some little good in it. I wonder if any of those vapidettes has ever changed a tire or mowed a lawn, let alone volunteered to help another human?

    4. garden breads

      Some parents in my village used the singing call but my parents turned on and off the porch light – even in summer when it was still bright. If I didn’t see it some other kid would come up to me to tell me our lights had blinked and I’d better get home.

    5. LT

      And weekends when the parents were off you got to watch Sat morning cartoons indoors then your parents pretty much ejected you from the house…at least that’s what I remember.

      1. sleepy

        Yes, wandering around the neighborhood playing and critiquing the latest “Mighty Mouse”.

        1. craazyboy

          Then there were the panty raids on the neighborhood cloths lines. They went for more than baseball cards! Laundry machines really screwed up our fun…and our income.

          1. Huey Long

            We used to steal chrome air valve covers off of car tires and throw rocks at the trains.

            We weren’t a very economically oriented bunch and much preferred general mayhem to lemonade stands.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              This is a heartbreaking thread, because I recall all of the above: bikes, lightning bugs, porch lights, singsong calls to dinner, panty raids, shoplifting, injury sports, heroic tree climbing, throwing rocks at trains, lemonade stands, skinny dipping, paying Nancy Barta a quarter to see hers while hiding in a pile of leaves, general mayhem. How lucky I’ve been.

    6. From Cold Mountain

      Parents are more knowledgeable, but nit wiser, and as a result they are more fearful. And so all the joy is gone. Joy is the absence of fear, the absence of the self.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        That’s not the problem. The problem is that parents who do seek to allow their children sufficient freedom to learn and develop are “attacked” by busybodies who consider any unaccompanied child under the age of 15 to be “neglected” and will report same to child protection services and/or police. It’s the real “Nanny Government,” in which that village required to raise a child has the power to declare the parent(s) of that child abusers for daring to encourage independence and self-reliance.

        1. Huey Long

          True story.


          People tell me I’m crazy for wanting to raise kids in Brooklyn, but I think they’re crazy for raising them in the suburbs.

          I mean at least kids out here can get together for a game of cricket or handball in the park without the cops getting involved. Out in the Suburbs the busybodies you mentioned ruin stuff like that.

    7. Jim A.

      What gets me is the people who say “It’s not as safe as when we were kids.” Sure it is. Locally the disappearance of the Lyon sisters was HUGE news back in 1975 when it happened. But it wasn’t that big nationally. We just didn’t HEAR about kidnappings as much as we do. It’s was just as dangerous then, which is saying that it’s just as safe now.

      1. Huey Long

        Its safer now than when I grew up in the NYC metro area according to the crime stats and my layman’s eyes. Far fewer places around here resemble downtown Beirut circa 1985 these days.

        I agree with you 100% on us hearing more about kidnappings more now. The difference between now and then is that the media hysteria and fear mongering is out of control.

        I think 9/11 plays a huge role in terms of cultivating fear among the populace. Prior to the towers coming down, nobody ever told me to “have a safe day,” and the subways weren’t covered in propaganda ads imploring me to inform on my neighbors to the police.

        1. Jim A.

          I associate the phrase “Have a safe day.” as being the last thing that a policeman says after writing you a ticket.

    8. Oregoncharles

      My mother had a bell – and 5 kids. It meant dinner, so we came quick enough.

      Now I have one like it, for calling me in out of the field (at least, before cell phones.)

    9. Damson

      And free-ranging was ALWAYS in packs -minimum of two.

      Never a child was alone, as per the article.

      1. Hana M

        Not true at all. Growing up in the 1960s I spent hours alone up in my favorite maple tree reading or sitting on a jetty at the Jersey shore just watching the critters in the rocks. And it wasn’t for lack of siblings–we were eight in a large extended family that summered together at my grandparents home in New Jersey.

        1. katiebird

          Me too …. 7 siblings and I went off by myself every chance I got (not much; as the oldest I did a lot of ‘watching the kids’) I lived in a suburb in a valley that was surrounded by protected hills — they will never be developed. And all of us who grew up there have lovely memories of both group play (particularly sliding down the hills on cardboard) and alone.

          1. Hana M

            Haha, katiebird. I was the oldest, as well, and when I got in trouble for my tree-top disappearing acts it was because I was shirking my turn at ‘watching the kids’. Unlike today, no one ever thought a nine or ten year old was too young to be in charge–and when I actually was ‘on duty’ I was pretty conscientious about it and not a single kid in my charge ever drowned or fell out of a tree. (Plenty of scraped knees, though.)

            I suspect family size might be playing a role in the over-protectiveness and over-scheduling. In my orthodox Jewish world families are large and kids have a lot of real family duties, but they also have plenty of unstructured play time particularly on the Sabbath. Neighborhoods tend to have real neighbors who know each other and keep an eye out for the groups of children playing in the streets and local parks.

            1. Procopius

              I think you point out an important factor. Too often nowadays kids have no economic function. They have no chores to do every day. The family’s welfare doesn’t depend on them chopping weeds in the corn.

    10. Procopius

      Within calling distance? I wasn’t. Although around dinner time I’d probably be, except there wasn’t any reason to ride around that close to home. My bike was one of those really heavy Schwinns with the fat tires. Good for my leg muscles, though. Wonder how many kids nowadays could ride a bike five miles, or walk a mile.

  6. oho

    so Russia, Russia, Russia! has netted Democrats 4 victories out of 4 special elections.

    Hooray! oh wait.

    1. Scott

      When I read the Reuters story about Trump, I just assumed the Russians were cocktails and was both impressed and disturbed. Then I read the article.

    2. jo6pac

      But they raked in $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and that’s a win in the eyes of demodogs party. The next email or mailer will say We were this close to winning, donate today for a win tomorrow;)

      1. CB

        Not “next,” now. What’s the song, “Always and forever…” (Luther Vandross)

        I realized the dems are dying, dead if you consider policy, sometime in the last couple of years; and I remember the 2008 crowing about the death of the repubs for “at least a generation.” I watched the repub national convention right after that premature report of the repub demise and was fascinated by the attendance: there was hardly any, Steele was elected national chair, all the establishment bigwigs stayed away.

        And here we are.

  7. Carolinian

    Lambert we who continue to remain sane–that dwindling band–salute you.

    Other thought: Susan Collins seems to have a finger in every controversy pie. You Mainers must be proud.

    1. Huey Long

      Sue has to be embroiled in all those controversies so she can bank favors for later.

      Bath Iron Works demands it!

      Ditto on the Lambert salute.

    2. craazyboy

      Maine doesn’t have many Bernie Bros. Just Hillbots. It’s because the cold weather – they are all macho manly pychos up there. They don’t ever change their underwear either. Plus they wear the scratchy wool kind. They claim it builds character. Next thing ya know you get a character in a Steven King novel.

      Oh wait. I got that backwards.

  8. Catullus

    Re: The Chris Arnade tweet…

    Just wow – I follow Chris Arnade in Twitter and that tweet does not show up for me! I checked by going to his twitter page directly and the tweets doesn’t show up there! I only see it here in Naked Capitalism. Clicking on the tweets here does bring me to Twitter and I can see that it’s real. But as soon I click on Chris Arnade’s name, the tweets disappear for me. Perhaps he deleted the tweets but if he did, the link from the tweet here in NC to Twitter would be broken. It’s not. Chris Arnade’s tweets are being censored so I do not see them!

    I thought Scott Adams was losing it a little when he said he was being censored but not anymore after seeing this with Chris Arnade.

    Yes, we are in the midst of a Cold Civil War right now. No doubt about it.

    Trump… he is a virus for the Establishment. So they will do anything to get rid of him so to go back to “normalcy”. But Trump has a history of never backing down so when he goes down, he will delight into taking the Establishment into the grave along with himself – I am quite certain Trump has a good idea where all of the skeletons are at. That may be the true “Swamp Draining” – the real thing, not the thing Trump intended to do. Ironic, that.

    This may be a very hot summer in an unpleasant way. I’m not talking about the weather. The Elites have truly gone nuts after 9/11 and especially after 2008 after they got so much richer without much consequences. The actions after 9/11 and 2008 will have a consquence. I refrain from speculating publicly what the price tag will become because doing makes me feel ill.

    One last thing: Way past time Amazon be broken up. Bezos have gotten drunk on power, especially after buying WaPo.

    1. Huey Long

      I thought Scott Adams was losing it a little when he said he was being censored but not anymore after seeing this with Chris Arnade.

      I have no doubt they censor. It’d be so easy to do it and not have to face any consequences to the point of being irresistible.

      Yes, we are in the midst of a Cold Civil War right now. No doubt about it.

      That we are! Unfortunately, its been going on for a very long time, and most folks are just realizing it now.

      Trump… he is a virus for the Establishment. So they will do anything to get rid of him so to go back to “normalcy”.

      Trump IS establishment, just not of the CIA/Media approved variety. I’m sure MIC and oil types think he’s grand.

      I don’t see an attempt to 25th amendment the Trumpster going well, unless CIA is able to clandestinely incapacitate him somehow. If they can figure out how to get him to have a stroke or something I think they could pull it off. Rest assured, there’s somebody down in Camp Peary working on it.

      One last thing: Way past time Amazon be broken up. Bezos have gotten drunk on power, especially after buying WaPo.

      Give’em the Ma Bell treatment!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think Trump is the type that thinks, “If I am going down, I will release classified information on everything, even stuff about aliens in Area 51.”

      1. reslez

        He could just release everything to Wikileaks. And pardon Assange for the cherry on top. /fantasy

        1. Catullus

          I have to make an apology – turns out the Chris Arnade comments was from yesterday, not today as I thought.

          However, I did read his comments yesterday and never saw that tweet so it threw me off.

          So disregard my earlier comments about Twitter but I do question my sanity now – need to stay off for sure.

      1. craazyboy

        Yes. Airbelly and Monkey Dude, With or without his pink, wooly, Monkey Hat.

        I’ll keep everyone updated as things progress.

        P.S. Airbelly going to Guitar Universe is BS, methinks. Too convenient. The crime scene is so faked. I thinks he’s Oxford comma drunk as a skunk on Red Squirrel Nut Ale .Yellow Crime Scene 3M Sticky Notes….c’mon. It’s got CrowdStrike footprints all over it. Really. Ukraine, too. Only 3 toes, there.

        Like if Monkey Dude is distracted by a $2 Ho-ho in a Bay Area Walmart! Monkey Dude has been eyeing his Wooly Pink Monkey Hat lately. I should have some real news to report soon!

        Monkey Dude is a Bitch when he gets is Pink Cat Bone on!


        Also, Trump.

        P.S. If this sounds rather bent, it’s because I just finished a Cory Doctorow novel.
        That dude knows his shit!

      2. Hana M

        What is happening is selection of tweets that show up in my timeline. Also I see alot of tweets & retweets that show as “This Tweet is Unavailable” making it look like it was deleted but if you click on the link the tweet is still there. Zero Hedge almost always gets this treatment when his tweets are retweeted, also Glen Greenwald and Pedro de Costa.

    3. Mark P.

      Catullus wrote: ‘ The actions after 9/11 and 2008 will have a consquence. I refrain from speculating publicly what the price tag will become because doing makes me feel ill.’

      Yes. I have felt the same for a number of years.

      1. Catullus

        Yes, you are correct NotTimothyGeithner –

        I question my sanity now. I guess that is the purpose. I follow Chris Arnade extensively because I think he has an excellent feel on the pulse of America. He’s spot on.

        I rarely miss tweets at all from Chris Arnade. So how did that tweet somehow not show up in the timeline yesterday ? I read all of his tweets dating from Monday to late yesterday last night. Yet the tweets highlighted today was earlier than the last tweets from yesterday that I know I read. So you can imagine my reaction and wondering about censorship. Also wondered about whether I was losing it.

        1. Hana M

          You are probably not imagining it. Not every tweet from someone you follow will show up in your timeline. That’s particularly true with someone who tweets abundantly. Twitter uses an algorithm to selectively show tweets in your timeline. For example I always get all of my birding tweets that I often “like” and tweets from people I’ve had discussions with or retweeted. Tweets from people I’ve rarely retweet or like are selectively shown. If I want to double check on someone like, say, Michael Tracey, I have to click through to his page to check up on his twitter feed.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New Cold War

    Well, this ratchets up the hysteria a notch:

    The most impressive thing is that, everyday, you get a better movie or a novel. The drama, the hysteria gets more and more mesmerizing.

    It’s as a genius TV series writer is behind all this. You can’t wait for tomorrow night’s episode.

    “Same time, same (propaganda) channel.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That horrible human being, Frank Rich, was a theatre critic before he became a pundit. From an interview with Rich:

      But beyond the fibs and fallacies of the Bush administration, or singing the praises of Barack Obama’s inexperience, Rich works hard on what he calls a “self-imposed mandate” to create a cultural narrative for the politics he writes about.

      “To a certain extent,” he says, “that’s what I’m going to be talking about in San Diego. In essence, I believe in the well-made play and that there’s a story beneath the story that’s interesting to tell.”

      So what are the features of the well-made play? Encyclopedia Brittanica:

      The technical formula of the well-made play, developed around 1825 by the French playwright Eugène Scribe, called for complex and highly artificial plotting, a build-up of suspense, a climactic scene in which all problems are resolved, and a happy ending. Conventional romantic conflicts were a staple subject of such plays (for example, the problem of a pretty girl who must choose between a wealthy, unscrupulous suitor and a poor but honest young man). Suspense was created by misunderstandings between characters, mistaken identities, secret information (the poor young man is really of noble birth), lost or stolen documents, and similar contrivances. Later critics, such as Émile Zola and George Bernard Shaw, denounced Scribe’s work and that of his successor, Victorien Sardou, for exalting the mechanics of playmaking at the expense of honest characterizations and serious content, but both playwrights were enormously popular in their day. Scribe, with the aid of assistants, wrote literally hundreds of plays and librettos that were translated, adapted, and imitated all over Europe.

      (An example of the “lost documents” plot device is Miss Prism’s self-penned three-volume novel in The Importances of Being Earnest.)

      So, if Rich’s view of the world is correct, and Russian hysteria/gaslighting/what you will (not using “-Gate”!) is like a well-made play, then we can expect to see an instance of the “lost or stolen documents” plot device. In fact, we’re seeing it already with Comey’s notes*, but perhaps there are more documents to be discovered — or “discovered,” as the case may be. See Whitaker Chambers v. Alger Hiss, from our previous McCarthyite period….

      NOTE Gwendolyn’s “something sensational to read on the train.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can see why I am so hooked on this stuff.

        Thanks. This may be the first step to emancipation.

      2. flora

        Oh, please let any lost Russian documents be found in a handbag. (Que Lady Bracknell)

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I’m still waiting for the act where the protagonist amazingly finds the microfilm in the pumpkin patch. Followed in due course by the “Have you no decency, sir?” line. (We may have a very long wait however until that final one makes its appearance).

  10. From Cold Mountain

    If you ever want to see a full scientific paper you can put the DOI in sci-hub.cc

    It works 99% of the time.

    Knowledge should be free.

      1. MoiAussie

        You’re on the net but you can’t search?
        [types “doi” into google, hits return, voila, top link:]
        What is a digital object identifier, or DOI?

  11. diptherio

    Re: Time cover

    So I guess this is what a the beginning of a color revolution looks like, eh? If we end up in a civil war, I’m gonna be so pissed….

      1. Oregoncharles

        That would be very, very short. Let’s hope our “leaders” are still basically sane, despite the theater.

  12. Vatch

    They get vulnerable voters to press that “Contribute” Button, all without changing policy or addressing any structural issues in the Democrat Party. A neat trick!

    This year I donated directly to James Thompson of Kansas and Rob Quist of Montana. Does that mean that Tom Perez will be mad at me?

    1. Aumua

      If we could just get a 3 sec. clip of the actual exploding heads.. I can’t seem to sit through the rest. Thanks.

      1. Vatch

        You could watch the movie “Scanners” and pretend that you’re watching the news!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only one clip I know is the last scene in Godard’s Pierrot le Fou.

  13. MikeW_CA

    “Untangling precisely why the President won’t be able to weather this storm and will eventually be abandoned by the Republican Party is a little more difficult”. But only a little. Trump will be abandoned by the Republican Party as soon as Republicans in Congress come to the conclusion that while Trump has the power to sign bills into law to do everything they and their clients ever wanted, Pence could and would do the same, and would be easier to work with.

    1. Carolinian

      Sounds easy peasey. Of course the Repubs may also realize they will be crucified by their own voters if they vote to remove Trump. Obviously the hope is that Trump will go quietly, not make a fuss.

      Mish today puts impeachment odds at zero but chaos odds for the next four years at near 100 percent. For those of us with dreary memories of Monica-gate–the closest parallel–it could be time to leave the country or at least toss our televisions. Nobody on the Dem side seems to give a rip whether all this would be good for the country which could be one reason the Dems have an even lower approval rating than Trump.

      1. Toolate

        Seems to me like that might in fact be far preferable to impeachment.
        Wish we could get the pols to battle Mano et mano but…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner


      The GOP electeds aren’t getting rid of Trump. They’ve tried repeatedly and failed.

  14. Huey Long

    RE: Supply Chain: “Germany-Asia rail freight volumes rise 10-fold in a year”

    I wonder what Admiral Mahan would think of all this?

    He’d conspire with the the USAF and put out a joint USAF/USN press release pointing out that land transport is infrastructure dependent and hence vulnerable to airstrikes.

    The press release would then go on to extol the virtues of the F-35, and how we need a ton of them to blow up railroads in Kazakhstan and to tighten our steely grip on the world’s sea lanes.

    He’d then go on to a cushy consulting gig at Lockheed-Martin post-retirement.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He would probably recommend putting the entire route underground, as deep as the Moscow Metro.

      “We need to re-do the whole thing. That will also stimulate our economies.”

  15. Jim Haygood

    Trouble in the Middle Kingdom:

    One of China’s largest insurers has warned of mass defaults and social unrest unless the regulator lifts a ban on its issuance of new products, the latest sign of stress in the industry caused by a crackdown on financial risk.

    In a letter to China’s insurance regulator seen by the Financial Times, Foresea Life Insurance warns that the company expects Rmb60bn ($8.7bn) in redemptions this year and might be unable to meet payouts unless it is able to sell new products. 

    In December, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission banned Foresea for three months from applying to sell new products. In February, the agency banned Foresea chairman Yao Zhenhua, China’s fourth-richest man, from the industry for 10 years.

    In the letter dated April 28, Foresea asks the CIRC to resume new product approvals “in order to avoid inciting mass incidents by clients and localised and systemic risks, producing greater damage to the industry”. The term “mass incidents” is commonly used in China to describe demonstrations, protests and riots. 


    Well, this sounds bad. Far from scaring the authorities, Foresea’s veiled threats seem more likely to scare their victims policy holders.


    As if J-Yel didn’t have enough to worry about …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Foresea should first liquidate their Yuan dynasty blue & white collection (I believe they must have one).

      Sell those old products first.

      Then we can talk about selling new products later.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Ah but Foresea signalled the easiest solution: just let them sell more of the product.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The Navy wanted to do the same thing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Yoopers — and the residents of the Mitten — strongly objected.

    2. John

      Just monkeys in the zoo banging on the iron bars of the galactic prison. We are the aliens, the galactic normals will keep us quarantined until we know how to behave in galactic civilization. It is sort of like what the Scandinavians do to their criminals….isolate them on a nice island until they learn to behave. Sometimes it takes a while. 10,000 lifetimes?

  16. Huey Long

    RE: Free Range Kids

    I don’t have kids, but I’m absolutely horrified to hear that kids don’t get on their bikes anymore and cruise around until dark. That was a favorite activity of mine as a kid.

    Commentariat, what do kids do these days if they’re not outside playing?

    In my neighborhood in Brooklyn I see lots of kids out playing, but most folks here are foreign born and NYC is a bit of an aberration kid-wise. I mean I see kids taking the subway to school by themselves, walking to school, and roaming around the neighborhood sans adult supervision which I understand is uncommon these days.

    1. cocomaan

      Huey, I’ve lived in three neighborhoods since I started working. One was extremely well off suburban, the other working class suburban, the last, where I am now, very rural. Only in the first did the kids cruise around on bikes and play. It was a “walkable suburb” with good urban planning and few cars.

      The kids are on devices, or, as they get older, in organized sports. The parents drive them from place to place. Activity is regimented and controlled. There is no “play” except in your own yard. A neighborhood is no longer a domain, it’s all private property.

    2. sleepy

      “Commentariat, what do kids do these days if they’re not outside playing?”

      Indoors playing video games mostly. Or attending some structured activity like organized sports.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Kids and adults alike: Sort kind of meditation (or so it appears from afar).

        “Infinity in the palm of your hand.”

        That is, staring into a smartphone. If the posture is right, it looks like you’re meditating.

    3. perpetualWAR

      I live in a very walkable neighborhood in Seattle…..extremely safe. Yet every day at 3:00, the cars line up at the local Catholic school to bring the children home. I never see kids out playing in the neighborhood. No bike trips. Just Momma’s car waiting for them to drive them the 6 blocks home.

      It’s insane.

    4. nowhere

      I think a lot of the people above mainly covered it, but I really want to emphasize how different sports are these days, as compared to decades past. The traveling team sports are often times year round commitments (and you can imagine if the kid plays multiple sports), and the amount of homework has greatly increased.

      So, between those two activities, that is a large portion of unstructured free play time that has been allocated.

  17. cocomaan

    So who, exactly? Some general? Which?

    Military rule is definitely a possibility. Not permanently, just long enough for them to run an “election” and put in someone else.

    I lived in Egypt for a summer under Mubarak. People didn’t like it, but life went on. Americans would be okay with the military installing someone, I think.

    1. Huey Long

      Our armed forces are the most credible institutions in all the land, so I can see that happening. When I tell people that I’m in favor of slashing the DoD budget I usually receive a horrified look from both Dems and GOPers alike and I still get the fawning “Thank you for your service!” whenever people find out I’m a vet.

      Success would be dependent on the military’s ability to keep the lights on and the trains running on time without an excess of brutality and Argentine dirty war antics.

      The problem with going this route is it would be a propaganda disaster. How are we going to “spread democracy” and be “exceptional” following a coup?

      1. Synoia

        Don’t do what we do, do what we say!

        We are an Empire now, and make our own realty.

        Since when has the US supported democracy, especially where there is a right wing dictator in the wings…

      2. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

        re Huey Long: Our armed forces…

        Where do people get the idea that military rule is not the default form of government? They are the final (if usually somewhat messy) arbiters. I just hope that they are trained in governing, and collectively have the mental abilities required for the complexity of the (potential) task ahead.

        Perhaps the decorations gained for passing “MilGov” courses are worn under the lapels of the generals’ uniform coats (I’ve always wondered what’s under there).

        Pip Pip

        1. Huey Long

          I just hope that they are trained in governing, and collectively have the mental abilities required for the complexity of the (potential) task ahead

          There are plenty of good capable folks in the O-6 and below pay grades. The flag officers are suspect as most are in cahoots with the defense contractors to one degree or another.

          I think how good a gov’t we’d get following a coup would be entirely dependent on whose in charge of the tanks rolling into Washington. Some rogue colonel from Quantico would ultimately be preferable to the head of the joint chiefs IMHO.

          We might luck out with a Nassar or Ghadaffi that way.

          NCO led coups generally have a poor track record, producing leaders such as Idi Amin and Samuel Doe, so lets hope the enlisted boys don’t topple the gov’t.

          1. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

            Tank rolling into Washington? That would signal a certain lack of sophistication. Nowadays a finely worded Tweet from the new commander-in-chief should do it.

            Pip Pip

        2. Oregoncharles

          Mao: “Political power comes out of the mouth of a gun.”

          The incipient democracies all depended on citizen militias.

    2. polecat

      I’d be good with a benevolent dictator, seeing as our current .. uh ..’democratic’ institutions seem to be totally dis-functional and suck big time !

    3. voteforno6

      I’m sorry, but people fantasizing about some sort of military coup in this country have never actually dealt with the American military.

      1. Huey Long

        Yeah, I don’t see a coup going all that well. Our military is capable of some amazing feats such as the ability to drop HE anywhere on the globe at a moment’s notice, but the day to day grind in any of those outfits is generally petty and miserable.

        Imagine the Army in charge and mandating all pedestrians nationwide to wear their PT belts, gloves, and goggles at all times, lest they be NJP’d. Scary stuff, right?

        1. sierra7

          Military rule for the US (or anywhere else for that matter) necessitates some form of martial law. That’s the only way the military can remain “in control”.
          Expecting some form of “military government” a solution for what ails US is having dreams (nightmares).
          We have less democratic processes (within this republic) with more than one level of justice protecting the upper monied classes from too much prosecution or persecution; now endless warfare against those who defy us; a crumbling education system; swindle system of higher education; “nobody wants to pay any taxes” without which we cant support anything in the name of society; and on, and on, and on.
          This country right now is thoroughly phuked.
          I also believe we are not too far distant from a civil war. Too much hatred; no respect for genuine dissent; genuflecting to money and military airs……..I stopped wearing my service cap for Korean War; got sick and tired of people smarmying up to me and “thanking me for my service”. War is about killing; nothing noble about that.

          1. tony

            Maybe, but the intelligence community could keep grabbing power. With outward structure of the republic intact they can influence policy and who gets elected in a way similar to the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Empire. The Senate survived for a long time, although they became increasingly corrupt and powerless.

  18. DJG

    Let’s not congratulate ourselves too much on our sanity. Joe Lieberman’s name has come up twice in two days, giving me a bout of post-joementum stress disorder.

    But Holy Joe has been sighted! Lo! (Stealing from Wikipedia):

    Bolgia Five: Grafters (peculators, extortionists, blackmailers and unscrupulous businessmen: sinners who used their positions in life to gain personal wealth or other advantages for themselves) are punished by being thrown into a river of boiling pitch and tar. In addition, should any of the grafters try to escape the pitch, a horde of demons (“Malebranche”, meaning “evil claws”) armed with grappling hooks and barbs stands guard over them, ready to tear them to pieces.

  19. ira

    That somebody would have to be an elected official trusted by the great majority of the American people.

    That’s easy — Homer Simpson

  20. LT

    RE: Nina Illingworth on Trump…

    Gridlock is your friend right now. Trump causes gridlock. You better hope he’s not gone by 2018.
    And I agree if it happens it’s not going to be impeachment.
    But you have to wonder what kind of business dealings would be nefarious enough to ouster him that so many other big donors to both parties and other elected officials may be doing as well.

  21. Ed

    As this whole train of madness continues down the tracks I think the one thing “our government” has shown is they have absolutely no desire to change anything and anyone who comes in trying to do so will be destroyed no matter if what they are doing is good, bad, or neutral.

    You see it with everything, the budget, healthcare, foreign policy, SURPRISE! They all agree that everything is as it should be and only say differently when they have a camera or a microphone in their face.

  22. Andrew Watts


    The US-led coalition just bombed SAA & friends as they were closing in on al-Tanf on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

    Here’s Inherent Resolve’s tweets:

    May 18 #Coalition struck #Syrian pro-regime forces advancing in a de-confliction zone near At Tanf posing a threat to #US partner forces1/3

    This was despite #Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement towards At Tanf, #Coalition aircraft show of force, & warning shots 2/3

    #Coalition forces have operated in the At Tanf area for many months training & advising vetted partner forces who are fighting #ISIS.3/3

    The whole part about Russia is interesting because it means this was an Iranian move. It looks like they’re hoping to control a path from Tehran – Baghdad – Damascus. This means controlling the Syrian-Iraqi border area which includes the border crossing at al-Tanf. They can’t rely on using any supply/transport routes through Iraqi Kurdistan / Northern Syria Federation.

    Meanwhile SAA & friends have been bulldozing through the Southern Front which is nothing more than an auxiliary force for Jordan’s border police. The Jordanians probably don’t want Shia militias whom they consider to be jihadists anywhere near their border. Some social media sources of so-so reliability are saying that it was the Jordanian air force who carried out the actual attack.

    Regardless, this attack hasn’t deterred the SAA & friends from their advance and they’ll have air cover from the Syrian Air Force.

    1. Bill Smith

      I saw the part about SAAF going to provide air cover 24/7. Doubt they have the airframes to provide that kind of cover, nor much ACM practice. I noticed that one SAAF aircraft that went down recently in the north was due supposedly due to inexperience on the part of the pilot.

      What happens really depends on the Russians. If they were really against the SAA / Iranian advance in that area then nothing will happen in response to the attack on the SAA column.

  23. Huey Long

    Horizon leader: ‘I’m not a greedy health care CEO’ as Christie claims, report says

    TRENTON — The CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Thursday defended himself against Gov. Chris Christie’s recent accusations that he earns too much money, as well as the governor’s call for the insurance company to donate $300 million of its reserves to address the state’s opioid addiction problem.

    In an interview with NJBIZ, Robert Marino said he didn’t know why the governor has personally targeted him, but believes his 40-year reputation in the business would help him survive Christie’s attacks.

    “If I could leave you with anything, it’s that I’m not a greedy health care CEO,” Marino told NJBIZ. “And to be unfairly attacked, I find that difficult. I spent literally my entire career here, I’m very passionate about what this company does, I’m a Jersey guy, I was born right here just up the street in Newark. I take great pride in what this organization does.”

    Read the rest:

    I am by no means a Chris Christie fanboi, but I’ll take any stick to beat a dog when it comes to health insurance companies and their managers.

    I’m not sure where Horizon BCBS ranks on the crappiness scale amongst NJ insurers, but from what I can tell they’re into the same grift and games that just about every other insurer is into:


    I really wish I could ask this CEO Marino what exactly he takes pride in, why he deserves his multimillion dollar pay package (https://aishealth.com/archive/nblu1015-01), and why we shouldn’t just dump his expensive a** and go with single payer.

    1. Emorej a Hong Kong

      Campaigning against big Pharma could be ticket for:

      1. Christie to belatedly become Pres. Trump’s Chief of Staff;

      2. Trump to drive a stake through heart of Democratic establishment by endorsing Sanders healthcare policies;

      3. Trump to realize that more cruise missile launches won’t be enough to win loyalty from pro-war elites will, but there is still a chance to realign politics in his favor by picking fights in which he acts as a substantive “traitor to his class”.

      Of course this would be a complete reversal of the direction of Trump’s cabinet nominations, and health finance proposals to date, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

  24. ewmayer

    Vignettes from the Imperium: Just overheard one of the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed überachieving Silicon Valley quasi-regulars at the local-community-college-crowd-dominated cafe I frequent saying brightly – literally with a smile and a tone of hubristic optimism – to one of the South Korean CC students, “I think we should bomb all the North Korean military installations and let the South Koreans take it over!!” This is a 50-something somewhat-Jürgen-Prochnow-resembling dude (no foreign accent, tho) with a late-life Asian trophy wife and young child, wearing too-tight blue jeans and a form-fitting Ralph Lauren Polo short to show off his 24-Hour-Fitness upper bod, with a pair of modish sunglasses tucked into the Vee above the last-buttoned button. Time for me to pack up and head home for the day.

  25. marym

    So Chris Hayes has Sanders on, and sent out a kind of interesting tweet about possible tension with the Dems.

    The angry twitter reaction from his Dem viewers is insufferable – don’t have him on, I change the channel when I see him, he’s not a Dem…not a Dem…not a Dem…, talks about the same old stuff (policy) when real Dems should be united against “treason..” Some good pushback though.

    1. Huey Long

      real Dems should be united against “treason..”

      …Says the same bunch of clowns busy rehabilitating shrub. You’re right, they really are insufferable.

    2. Massinissa

      “not a Dem…not a Dem…not a Dem…, ”

      Reads as

      “Not part of the tribe! Not part of the tribe! Not part of the tribe!”

  26. Emorej a Hong Kong

    >”what is happening to Trump would not have happened to Sanders, generated by the same ruling class factions using the same strategies?”

    But Sanders wouldn’t give them ammunition — like John Kerry’s cowardly sailing of Swift Boats into Vietnamese jungles./s

  27. Oregoncharles

    ““When a man as uncouth and reckless as Trump becomes president by running against the nation’s elites, it’s a strong signal that the elites are the problem” [The American Conservative]. ”

    That’s a VERY strange sort of conservative. I take it the publication has morphed a bit, along with the liberals?

    Of course, Paul Craig Roberts used to be a conservative, too. Now he sounds like Chris Hedges.

    1. Massinissa

      Theyre not liberal or leftist. Theyre paleoconservatives mostly, with some libertarians and civil libertarians thrown in. For the most part they just critique the conservative mainstream rather than critiquing the left. I wouldn’t really call them leftists though. Theyre simply a kind of conservative that has just died out and been replaced with neoconservatives/neoliberals.

      Lol, reading on its history on wikipedia, in 2006 they urged readers to vote for Democrats in the midterms to protest the Bush presidency… Theyre an unusual bunch to be sure.

        1. craazyboy

          Which wasn’t all a bad thing either. BG was generally anti-war and saw the USG as the biggest threat to peace, freedom, and democracy.

          Unusual for a pol with national ambitions, but he did voice his opinions from his fallout shelter in the small flyover town called “Phoenix”.

          He was one of the first to warn of the Trilateralist “conspiracy”. Then we found out everything is a conspiracy – and we’re cuckoo for it.

        1. jrs

          which is often a very useful exercise, at least where there is a money trail. And then the question becomes why the players with the money to play, are promoting that particular line of thought? But I don’t know what the money trail is to The American Conservative, I’m not sure there is one. Evaluate the message AND the messenger, not one or the other.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Sometimes, you privilege the messenger over the message.

            Other times, it’s message over messenger.

            But you don’t want to rule out considering both.

            If a person is not trustworthy, you look at the messenger…you dwell on it.

            If the messenger has been reliable up to now, though frequently on the other side previously, you don’t dwell on the messenger as much, but on the message. It’s worthy the effort to think over the likely genuine signal.

    2. tony

      The Left, at least the economic left, seems to me a lot like reactionaries. They, or perhaps we, want to go back to the times of managed trade, strong labour, environmental protections, the ‘Peace Divident’ as a real possibility, financial regulation, high marginal taxes, habeas corpus at least for the citizens, when calling people racist meant something (I’ve been called racist for quoting the Black Agenda Report), water that is drinkable, affordable universities, non-toxic diet, people not being imprisoned in huge masses etc.

      There is some idpol stuff the left wants different, but even that is built on the old dying ideals of equality and liberty.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Left…I hope the term means the same to everyone.

        If the economic left is full of reactionaries, then, the non-economic left is too, if you could be called racist for quoting the BAR.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Does anybody believe that what is happening to Trump would not have happened to Sanders, generated by the same ruling class factions using the same strategies?”

    It takes considerable courage for someone like that to run, let alone a Jill Stein, as they would be in great danger were they to win. Not sure about Sanders, but if a Green won, I don’t think they’d survive. The Secret Service would probably be in on it – Trump brought along private security people.

    1. loblolly

      Thanks for this, you’ve put it quite plainly. Donald Trump ran on an anti-corruption platform, however inarticulately. What we are seeing everyday now is entrenched corruption fighting back. Which to my mind means he is a legitimate treat to them and implies that there is hope for us.

      What is astounding to me is that the perception on the Right is that the Left is obsessed with identity politics and that is confirmed here everyday. Donald Trump is perceived as a boor and that ends any consideration of his message and I see this everywhere. There are many examples in this post’s comment tread. Statements and articles are not examined, but scorn and derision are lavished on the source.

      The Dems are despised by their constituents, yet every time the establishment rings the bell, you guys start salivating and go bark at Trump some more. Thank god he brought his own security, thank god he doesn’t go along to get along. That’s how we get “democrats” like Pelosi and Schiff who will take money from anyone, all the while paying lip service or actually scolding their constituents for calling them on it.

      Bernie got contained and co-opted by the establishment before the actual convention. What a grand delusion to believe he could have done anything but give stirring speeches as the same old agenda ruled every aspect of public policy. Oh wait, that’s what Barrack Obama did for 8 years. Our next champions are sure to be cut from the same cloth, if not Hillary again then who, Biden? Give me a break.

      If Trump fails, democracy fails and everyone here will be complicit.

  29. Oregoncharles

    That’s Kousa (Chinese) Dogwood. Flowering (American) Dogwood has notches at the end of the petals, rather than point. Kousas have edible fruits. I’ve tasted them: not exciting.

    1. HotFlash

      They’ve never been bred for taste, which varies from tree to tree. Two Kousa’s in my ‘hood, one produces quite tasty fruit, the other is like eating an eraser.

  30. Bugs Bunny

    Taking that Time cover literally, the Russian Orthodox Church has taken over the White House. I guess an image of the Kremlin would have been simply confusing to most US’ians?

  31. tony

    “The Case for Free-Range Kids” [The American Conservative]. “If I asked you… to think back on something you loved doing as a kid that you don’t see kids doing today, you would probably talk about getting on your bike and riding around till the streetlights came on while ‘our parents never knew where we were!’” My world, at least, growing up. Hard for me to believe it’s gone….

    This is not just about kids getting to have fun outside. It’s a lot more important than that. The way you learn moral behaviour, is by playing wiht other kids. You learn to negotiate your with the other kids and your behaviour starts to embody certain moral principles. Without it, you are weak and without a moral basis.

    Jordan Peterson: Why This Generation Is Weak

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