Links 5/10/17

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Dingo fence study shows dingo extermination leads to poorer soil PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Oldest evidence of life on land found in 3.48-billion-year-old Australian rocks – PhysOrg

Pope Francis invites scientists to the Vatican after Catholic Church realises the Big Bang is real Independent

Only 36% of Indian engineers can write compilable code: study ITWire

Who’s banking whom in cryptoland? Izabella Kaminska, FT Alphaville. A terse debunking.

Eating cheese does not raise risk of heart attack or stroke, study finds Guardian

People are getting tired of choosing between the ‘lesser of two evils’ failed evolution

Emmanuel Macron’s EU honeymoon: Nice while it lasted Politico

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: «Pour une majorité parlementaire insoumise aux législatives» Defend Democracy


Brussels’ Brexit strategy: Leak early, leak often Politico

Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly refuses to rule out keeping the UK in the EU Telegraph

Emmanuel Macron’s policy to move border controls from Calais would be a ‘nightmare’ and could cause huge delays for travellers, UK shipping chief warns Sun. May is in no position to say anything is “not up for discussion”.

DITCHING EU! Gibraltar commits to Hard Brexit as it drops hope of deal with Brussels Express. I suspect they haven’t worked out what it will be like dealing with border controls. They’ll have to have a customs operation all their own. A lot of government overhead for 10,000 people, and that’s before you get to the loss of business in Euros.

Jeremy Corbyn says elites want to ‘hijack Brexit‘ BBC

100 moderate Labour MPs to form breakaway group if Jeremy Corbyn stays on after a Tory landslide Telegraph

Jeremy Corbyn hoping for Bernie Sanders election endorsement Guardian (martha r)

Tickets to Bernie Sanders’ talk at Cambridge Union sold out in 38 SECONDS Cambridge News (martha r)



U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds battling Islamic State, despite Turkish ire Reuters (UserFriendly)

The Silent Slaughter of the US Air War Consortiumnews (martha r)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Here’s How Easy It Is to Get Trump Officials to Click on a Fake Link in Email Gizmodo (furzy)

Google Project Zero researchers find ‘crazy bad’ Windows RCE flaw Network World. Bill B: “Exposing users to risk under the pretense of protecting them. A recurring theme.”

Wikileaks: Chelsea Manning confirms her release from prison next week BBC (martha r)

Comey Defenestration

Memo from Deputy AG Rosenthal recommending the removal of Director Comey Imgur (Loblolly)

James Comey’s downfall: a timeline of controversy Financial Times

How Comey became tangled in the US election – and why it led to his downfall Guardian (furzy)

Read: Donald Trump’s full letter firing James Comey ABC

Dems ask Justice Dept, FBI to ‘preserve any and all files’ on Comey firing The Hill. As someone in comments pointed out:

What files? Discussions between Sessions and any other DOJ official about Comey and about personnel changes would be deliberative process privilege. Congress will not get one single file about Comey’s firing.

GOP Intelligence chairman troubled by Trump’s firing of FBI director The Hill

Sanders Statement on James Comey. Martha r: “As usual I wish sanders would just shut up about the Russians. i can’t believe he really buys the Russia election interference B.S.”

What’s Next For Ex-FBI Director James Comey National Law Journal (furzy, requires free registration)

Comey falls victim to Trump’s Tuesday night massacre Edward Luce, Financial Times. The wee problem is blaming this all on Trump is Sessions and the deputy AG signed off on Comey’s firing. They should have been able to talk Trump out of this or insist he fire them too if they regarded this move as out of line.

Why Comey was fired: DOJ rips handling of Clinton case in ouster Fox (furzy)

Trump Transition

Donald Trump, Empire, and Globalization: A Reassessment Zero Anthropology. UserFriendly: “Solid, long read.”

First on CNN: Senate Russia investigators ask Treasury for Trump team financial information CNN (furzy)/ The wee problem is that it is banks, not real estate property owners, who are responsible for taking steps to prevent money laundering. Plus Trump licenses his name widely, and in those cases would not be involved in property sales.

How the White House Explains Waiting 18 Days to Fire Michael Flynn New York Times (furzy). I hate sounding like I am defending Trump but this sort of thing drives me nuts. Headline presumes guilt when Trump didn’t want to act on what amounted to one person’s say so and was doing more fact-gathering.

‘Report on alleged Russian hacking is embarrassment to US intelligence profession’ – fmr CIA officer RT (furzy)

U.S. Democratic senators seek probe into Icahn’s biofuel credit dealings Reuters (UserFriendly). This looks pretty desperate. Very few markets are subject to insider trading restrictions. They are mainly an artifact of registered securities markets. As for market manipulation, these RINs are simply legal to be traded. There don’t appear to be any regulations whatsoever regarding how they are traded. So the only rules that would appear to be apply would be ones regarding collusion and price fixing. Put it another way, we’ve been complaining for years about widespread buying of insider information, via firms like Gerson Lerhman (see here and here) yet perilous little has been done about it.


Nurses Have a Message for Congress – We Won’t Accept Lord of the Flies Health Care Huffington Post (martha r)

From Richard Nixon to Donald Trump: America’s Great Leap Backwards James Petras (UserFriendly). Today’s must read. See this, for example:

Nixon proposed a National Health Insurance Program – an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans. This radical proposal (a version of ’single payer’) was attacked and defeated by the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who was backed by ‘Big Pharma’, the AMA and the growing corporate ‘health’ industry.

Doomsday Scenario

Tunnel Collapses at Nuclear Facility Once Called ‘an Underground Chernobyl Waiting to Happen’ Gizmodo

Tunnel collapses at Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state Washington Post (martha r)

U.S. Census director resigns amid turmoil over funding of 2020 count Washington Post. Chuck L: “To paraphrase Stalin, ‘It’s not the voters who count, it’s the people who count the voters.'”

When Asked About DNC Unity Tour, Bernie Sanders Said, ‘I Know What Happened During My Campaign’ Inquisitur

Jimmy Carter Reveals He Voted for Sanders Over Clinton MSN (furzy)

Berniecrats’ roil state Democratic Party leadership fight Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics (martha r)

Meet the tech-savvy activists trying to take over the Democratic Party The Verge (martha r)

IT worker who trained H-1B-holding replacement aims for Congress ComputerWorld. Techies of the world, unite…?

Ohio fines pipeline builder over water, air violations Associated Press (martha r)

IMF Report: U.S. Corporate Debt Could Be Trump’s Waterloo Pam Martens and Russ Martens (Glenn F). Wonder how much of this is due to the increase of private equity relative to total equity. It’s doubled over this time period.

Oil Below $65 Per Barrel…For Years OilPrice

The April 2017 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices Federal Reserve (martha r)

‘Why Should We Worry About the National Debt?’ New York Times. The New York Times hard at work at its official job of making readers stupider. As MF wrote:

Apparently, they have taken to publishing “educational” primers explaining how the world works, or, in this case, how you have to see it the same way as those in power.

You will see that the tone is generally alarmist and emphasizes borrowing as the only realistic way to finance the debt. However, toward the end, they sneak in an acknowledgement of other reality:

What if investors balked? Well, there is an escape hatch. The federal government could repay its debts by printing fresh dollars and giving them to its creditors.

Notice that the article then refuses to explain at all why this is only an “escape hatch,” who gets to decide when we get to use the “escape hatch,” and what the consequences of it would be. It is just presented as an almost unspeakable alternative.

To give you an idea of how much the Grey Lady thinks of its readers, it has also taken to running explainers like this: How to Get Ketchup From a Bottle Without the Wait, Watery Goo and Splatter. I saw a contact yesterday, who pulled out a print copy of the Times (as in the May 8 edition) and showed me a version of this article….on page A2.

Ex-AIG CEO Greenberg loses appeal over 2008 bailout Reuters (UserFriendly)

U.S. Asks Wal-Mart to Pay $300 Million to Settle Probe Wall Street Journal

SEC probes rental home values in private-equity bond deals Bloomberg (DO). Sent this via National Mortgage News so you can see the comment regarding the fact that underpaying for BPOs (broker price opinions) results in them being drivebys or otherwise poorly done. This was endemic with mortgage securitizations and was one of the reasons we’ve been skeptical or rental securitizations: they seemed guaranteed to perpetuate the bad practices of mortgage servicing and add not good wrinkles of their own.

A Dodd-Frank Rewrite That Would Increase the Chance of Bailouts New York Times. A short and clear explanation.

Class Warfare

Chronic pain: Honor above comfort Alamosa News (martha r). Goes here because doctors virtually turn over their prescription pad to well off patients; they’d never be subjected to something so offensive. I’ve been shocked to have MDs offer meds when I wasn’t asking for them. Apparently complaining about pain or tiredness is code for “Dr. Feelgood, what can you do for me?”

“Google Is as Close to a Natural Monopoly as the Bell System Was in 1956″ ProMarket (Scott)

Jimmy Carter and Bernie Sanders Explain How Inequality Breeds Authoritarianism/ Intercept (martha r)

Antidote du jour. Crittermom: “I love Springtime! All the birds are returning, like this Yellow-rumped Warbler (male). What I see out my window is much more entertaining/healthier than I could ever find on TV.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. MoiAussie

        Le dimanche 30 avril 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon était l’invité du 20H de TF1. Il a expliqué que la France insoumise pouvait être majoritaire aux élections législatives et était donc «candidate à gouverner». Jean-Luc Mélenchon a répété qu’il ne voterait pas Front national à l’élection présidentielle et a dit qu’il respectait le choix de celles et ceux qui voteront Macron, blanc, ou s’abstiendront. Il a enfin dénoncé à la fois la duperie de Marine Le Pen, qui vole les mots de notre campagne, et les insultes qu’Emmanuel Macron profère à l’encontre des insoumis.

        On Sunday 30th April 2017, Jean-Luc Mélenchon was the invited guest of 20H on TF1.
        He explained that (his party) could win a majority at the legislative elections and was thus a “candidate to govern”. JLM repeated that he wouldn’t vote (for Le Pen) in the presidential election and said that he respected the choice of those who would vote for Macron, blank vote, or abstain. He finally denounced the deception of Le Pen for stealing the words of his campaign, and the insults that Macron made against (his party).

  1. allan

    Yves writes:

    What files? Discussions between Sessions and any other DOJ official about Comey and about personnel changes would be deliberative process privilege. Congress will not get one single file about Comey’s firing.

    Politico says:

    … The spokesman said Trump did not ask for the letters in advance, and that White House officials had no idea they were coming.

    But several other people familiar with the events said Trump had talked about the firing for over a week, and the letters were written to give him rationale to fire Comey. …

    While shock dominated much of the FBI and the White House, the mood was more elated at Roger Stone’s house in Florida. Several Stone allies and friends said Stone, who has been frequently mentioned in the investigation, encouraged the president to fire Comey in conversations in recent weeks. …

    It looks like plenty of stuff happened that would not be covered by the “deliberative process privilege”.
    The question is whether Trump was smart enough to do it all face to face.
    Even if he had these discussions over the phone, there will still be call records.

    1. fresno dan

      May 10, 2017 at 7:24 am

      This is one of those things where what if Trump asked his DoJ for a justification for firing Comey, what would it look like? Is it against the law for Trump to….trump up charges – phrased that way, I imagine yes.
      But Trump can’t even ask his employees of their views on whether Comey should be fired?

      The problem the dems have is after so, so many cable TVee clips of them screaming about how Comey is unfit, it just seems incongruous for the dems to than b*tch and whine that Trump actually did it.

      Of course, the next point is THE RUSSIANS!!!!!. Russians!!!!! russians…… Now, I think the dems are trying to use repub reflexive anti-Russian paranoia to foster a split between repubs and Trump, but at some point the question of what EXACTLY did the Russians do to AFFECT the election has to be addressed. If the answer is hacking, there is the little matter of why dem servers were never forensically examined by the FBI or a government entity.

      And…did p*ssygate happen because of a Chinese hack???

      1. MoiAussie

        They won’t stop gnawing that russians-did-it bone. While the Grauniad’s Comey explainer piece linked above is not so bad, it’s also running a pants-on-fire opinion piece from Lawrence Douglas, headed By firing James Comey, Trump is continuing the work Putin started

        The Russians need no longer expend their energies trying to subvert the integrity of our political system. Now they have the US president to do that job

        A brazen attack on the rule of law. There is no other way to describe President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Recalling the dismissal of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, rightly called the act “Nixonian.” But it is more than that.

        Russia’s criminal interference in our presidential election represents one of the great scandals in our history. Whether there was actual collusion between the Russians and members of Trump’s election team is, at present, impossible to say.

        […] [the sacking] is nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt to abort an ongoing investigation.

        The third par is particularly good. Douglas accuses the Russians of criminal interference, while admitting there is no evidence of any collusion. And where exactly is the evidence for the criminal interference? It seems it suffices to assert it.

        This kind of ludicrous doubling down needs to be shown up for what it is by Trompe appointing either a well-respected non-partisan FBI head (does a candidate exist?) or a special prosecutor to have carriage of the russian links investigation, and getting the whole thing over in short order.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          […] [the sacking] is nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt to abort an ongoing investigation.

          What a genius. I’m sure no one, including everyone in the Trump administration, could have figured out that this would be the thrust of the criticism of Comey’s firing without the author’s expert help.

          This entire Russian thing has been an evidence-free zone since Comey / the fbi / 17 intelligence agencies declared Crowdstrike’s evaluation of the dnc computer problem as fact. No new “non-partisan” fbi head or “special” prosecutor can change that now. Sally Yates’ recent testimony, backed up by “if I told you I’d have to kill you evidence,” and accepted as gospel should have made that abundantly clear.

          The deep state (or whatever) has not been mollified by Trump’s about face into global belligerence. I almost think the worst thing, as far as they’re concerned, is that Trump managed to blindside them so massively, with no anonymous officials providing a heads-up. Trump’s managing to pull something off that they didn’t know was coming may be his mortalest of mortal sins yet.

          1. MoiAussie

            Sorry, I’m struggling to understand, please help me out. Leaving aside the question of Flynn’s “crimes” or vulnerability to blackmail, are you saying that an FBI investigation under a credible new head, or under an independent prosecutor, cannot expose the absence of evidence of collusion, exonerating the Trump campaign, at least officially, nor can it expose credible evidence of collusion, thus condemning it?

            Surely such an investigation must eventually say “we found no credible evidence” or come up with something concrete that can be judged. You seem to be saying that the intel agencies can continue indefinitely talking it up without putting something up.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              “Russia meddled. We know that. Nobody denies that.”–Rep. Charlie Dent, R-PA, on msnbs this morning.

              What I am saying is that, at this point, it is impossible to do a “credible” investigation, regardless of who conducts it, that will reach conclusions that will be accepted by all parties and settle this issue.

              This Russian connection was ginned up to elect clinton and then to explain her loss, but it has taken on a life of its own, and is now being prolonged to bring down the Trump presidency. I predict it will continue for as long as it takes to accomplish that, even if it means that it lasts four years.

              There was never any evidence for the initial claim of Russian hacking in the first place. How can an “investigation” of a manufactured political excuse possibly “resolve” the issue? It will just morph into a controversy over the “credibility” of the individual conducting it. And where it goes after that is anybody’s guess. It’s already gone on for nearly a year.

              1. MoiAussie

                OK, thanks. I agree that it is impossible to do a “credible” investigation, regardless of who conducts it, that will reach conclusions that will be accepted by all parties and settle this issue.

                But that’s not what the goal of holding a credible investigation would be. It will always be impossible to get acceptance by all. The issue will always remain unsettled for some. But a credible investigation can force the intel agencies to put up solid evidence or lose even more of whatever credibility they may still be hanging on to.

                1. Alex Morfesis

                  Washington does not, can not and never will conduct a “credible” investigation…and quite frankly, why are all these media companies embedded in the white house other than free access to content in between the commercials and advertising…

                  It is all theatre…sometime kabuki…sometimes community dinner…sometimes kindergarten…

                  A la patada…oh look you have spinach in your teeth…yagottago…

                  Trump has always used people and played this fake perfection game to dump folks without fully compensating them…he “encourages” independent thinking to do a zhou enlai is dying routine to see how people will react to his feigned weaknesses…

                  Flynn was useful until he got too pushy…gone

                  lewandowski was useful until he got too pushy…gone…

                  same old stale bread…

                  stuck in never never land

                  And now comey…

                  A la patada…kick people off the ladder who help you on the way up to insure it looks like it was only you…

                  New York City has been full of russian and eastern european mobsters since the 1980’s…and embedded inside those “mobsters” have been russian intelligence operatives…it’s the perfect cover…

                  For me, the notion anyone can blackmail trompe is insanity…to be blackmailed, one has to care about what people think and perceive…or to be foolish enough to handle cash directly…

                  Trump has double and triple crossed so many people along the way…but sadly that is the nature of large real estate developments…it is the nature of the beast…

                  Not outrunning the next bear…just being fast enough to not be the next meal…

                  If the russians were stupid enough to imagine they were buying trump…it is now past the return date policy…

                  anyone foolish enough to imagine trump has an attention span longer than a gnat gets what they deserve…

                2. fresno dan

                  May 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

                  Who is investigated. What is investigated?
                  The vast majority of US investigations are all (I cannot resist the pun) trumped up to support a preordained premise.
                  And all the investigations we don’t see (how many towns and cities’ police departments should be investigated for police conduct in black communities….but crickets).

                  Will there ever be an investigation of US interference in the Ukraine election?
                  And is there ANY DOUBT that an investigation conducted by Americans appointed by Americans would only come to the conclusion that American is pure, sweet, and good???
                  And any international investigation if inimical to American interests would be denounced and ignored?

                  The goal of the Russia influences Trump INVESTIGATION is not to prove any such thing, it is simply to tie Trump to the Russians which in this country, you might as well say Trump associates with pedophiles…..
                  I don’t know how many times I have heard MSM newsreaders ask “why does Trump so like Putin” with the same in flexion as why does Trump go to boy scout camps….

                3. barefoot charley

                  Moi Aussi, I wish this were true. Credibility requires facts. The intelligence community uses ‘assessments,’ as we’ve learned. Assessments have negligable if any relationship to facts, as we’ve also learned, from WMD, Tonkin Gulf etc. But if it is assessed that hookers piddled on Obama’s hotel bed for Cheato’s amusement, that’s fact enough for our postmodern Democrats.

                4. Katniss Everdeen

                  “Credible” is in the eye of the beholder. That’s pretty much the problem.

                5. b1daly

                  Oh come on, it’s obvious that Trump’s enemies are using the “Russia Ties” angle to attack Trump however they can. If Clinton was elected, we would still be having Benghazi hearings.

                  I happen to think it’s very likely, almost certain, that the Russian’s did “influence” our election. Why wouldn’t they? I also think this is a real problem, as evidenced by the disasterous Trump administration. I’m amazed that so many posters here are confident that Trump’s Russian ties are so innocent.

                  My understanding is that there has actually been FBI surveillance at Trump Tower for years. The dark side of Trump’s business ties to Russia are not related to traditional Cold War concerns. Rather, they are emblematic of the unethical and kleptocratic anti-values Trump ascribes to.


                  But the ongoing congressional hearings are largely political theater. That’s just how it’s done these days.

                  Trump continues to demonstrate astonishing political ineptitude, which is not surprising, as he has never been a politician.

                  I think he has been shocked that leadership in a democracy requires skills he simply does not possess. It’s like he actually thought the President was the “Boss” of the government.

                  With the election of Trump, we have managed to get the worst of all worlds. To the extent the Russian’s contributed to his victory, I would like to know. And I think it would be good for everyone to understand, if possible, to minimize their influence on our fragile system of elections.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              It is very difficult to prove a negative. Therefore if an investigation concluded there was no interference, and/or that Trump’s team had some Russian contacts, but none of them had influence, it would be depicted by Team Dem of the investigation being not thorough enough or a coverup.

              1. Tim

                It is very difficult to prove a negative.

                Tis no truer words.

                The last bastion of an idiot trying to win an argument, rather than accept the truth, is to require you to prove a negative to win, or else you lose.

              2. MoiAussie

                I’m replying here as it’s the end of the long vertical thread I stirred up, but it’s a response also to several commenters above. Thanks to you all for your thoughts and explanations. Over here, reasonably credible investigations by government are still observed from time to time. Assessments aren’t credible, unless based on credible evidence. Investigations can expose evidence, or lack of it, and can draw out dissenting insiders.

                I can be as cynical as the next person (for most values of next person) and admit I’m struggling to recall a recent credible US government investigation into anything, but given the choice between doing nothing and letting the SNM accusations fester, or visibly fostering an investigation, I don’t quite grok why the former is really a better choice for Trompe. If there was a smoking gun it would be out by now. He has to put up an acceptable head for the FBI anyway. And an investigation outcome will have some meaning to those USians who aren’t terminally deranged by the state of the nation, and could incidentally turn up revelations about bad actors to his advantage.

                It would also provide talking points for conversations with deranged loved ones. As many of the deranged seem to have flipped from hating to loving the FBI, an investigation depicted as inadequate or a coverup would at least kill off some of that unfortunate sentiment, and add to the cognitive dissonance they must be experiencing. Some may even seek therapy, that’s no bad thing.

          2. Procopius

            Sally Yates’ recent testimony, backed up by “if I told you I’d have to kill you evidence,”

            I normally am skeptical of official refusal to make clear explanations (e.g., the “summary opinion” the Obama administration released which provided no evidence at all), but in this case it is quite plausible to me that revealing what it was Flynn did that made them think he was compromised would reveal “methods and sources.” I’m a firm believer that most classified material is hugely over classified, that much of it should not be classified at all, and that it usually is classified to protect someone from embarrassment, but “methods and sources” is absolutely a legitimate reason. I was appalled when the Brennan announced that he had evidence that Putin was personally involved in the decision to “interfere” in the election — if true, that would surely lead to the death of the individual close to Putin who sent that information to his CIA controller.

    2. Loblolly

      That Politico article reads like West Wing fan fiction.

      But the fallout seemed to take the White House by surprise. Trump made a round of calls around 5 p.m., asking for support from senators. White House officials believed it would be a “win-win” because Republicans and Democrats alike have problems with the FBI director, one person briefed on their deliberations said.

      Instead, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told him he was making a big mistake — and Trump seemed “taken aback,” according to a person familiar with the call.

      A hack from Politico has ‘fly on the wall’ details of Trump’s thought processes and also wants us to believe Trump sought Schumer’s support? Get real.

      Read the memo from the Deputy AG, Comey overstepped his authority and everyone knows it. The only crisis is in the minds of people who have bought into The Mighty Wurlitzer’s siren song.

      Half the country hates the establishment because they are poor, disenfranchised, and sick of the hand wringing hypocrites who will not stop pushing policies that enrich only themselves.

      The base is delighted that Comey was finally fired because they desperately want some law and order instead of the theatrical lite version the beltway loves so much.

      Yesterday they wanted him fired, today they are “..shocked, shocked I tell you!” Give me a break.

      1. allan

        … Rosenstein then runs through a list of former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General who have publicly criticized Comey’s conduct, arguing that his poor assessment of Comey’s behavior reflects “the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials.” The list counts officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations and includes Judge Laurence Silberman, Jamie Gorelick (now the personal lawyer to Ivanka Trump), Larry Thompson, Michael Mukasey, Alberto Gonzalez, Eric Holder, and Donald Ayer. … [Lawfare]

        I have no use for Comey, but Rosenstein citing these people as his ethics purity panel,
        several of whom should have been disbarred for professional misconduct, if not prosecuted,
        makes him look like a hack. There is plenty of hypocrisy on all sides.

        1. Loblolly

          I see you are quoting Lawfare, my compliments. You could not have picked a more perfect example of the hand wringing hypocrites I am referencing.

          I’m sure they are sore all over from doing backflips to spin this falsely as yet another shocking and unprecedented overreach of executive power.

          Give me a break.

      2. Uahsenaa

        It’s events like these that keep moving the Overton Window further to the right. All of these well-meaning liberals and, I’m shocked to see, leftists going on about the sanctity of the FBI, whose history of unconstitutional actions (warrantless wiretaps and, most recently, the national security letters) and downright Stasi-like activities (COINTELPRO, numerous files on activists and celebrities, infiltration of Latin American governments) should have long ago put the agency on the chopping block, not the pedestal of liberal veneration.

        If the FBI were dissolved in its entirety tomorrow, I would cheer for the cause of liberty and self-determination in this country, regardless of what fool happens to be occupying the Oval Office. The very little good it has done over the years re: white collar crime is vastly outweighed by the harm it’s perpetrated in the US and around the world.

        1. armchair

          Under your logic Deep Throat was incapable of saying anything true, because COINTELPRO was nearly contemporaneous to Deep Throat’s leaks.

          1. a different chris

            ??? Huh ??? I’m not sure how you’re getting that from Ushennaa’s (sp) post.

            But related: Truth is the foundation of all the best lies.

        2. lyman alpha blob


          I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Good riddance. Let me know when he sacks the rest of the spooks and then we’ll be getting somewhere.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      The Rosenthal and Sessions memos regarding Comey were well written and reasonable. Comey shocked the hell out of me when he came out and ‘exonerated’ Hillary in advance of the DoJ. He should have been fired at that time actually, by Obama. There were no reports to indicate that he was even censured for it.

      However, it really sounds like Trump had been stomping around the White House this week, yammering “who will rid me of this troublesome priest!” and that his people made use of his fit of petulance to get something done. In brief: a few palace eminences pulled together written cover to let Trump do what he wanted re Comey, at the wrong time and for some very wrong reasons, because it wasn’t half bad an idea, and because it would further their interests.

      This doesn’t seem new or different; it’s only alarming in that it highlights what was already apparent. It illuminated the way the Trump White House has been operating for months now and the way it will continue to operate – like the court of an aging, spoilt, mentally declining king.

    4. JTMcPhee

      What is the “deliberative process privilege”? Anyone wanting to understand the actual contours might read this (slightly dated) DoJ guidance document: Congress does not rely on FOIA to demand information from other branches of government.

      And here’s some advice from one of those “white shoe” law firms on the scope of Congress’ power to subpoena information:

      Understanding Your Rights in Response to a Congressional Subpoena

      Most Americans understand that the United States Congress is constitutionally vested with the power to make laws.What is often less well understood—but may be just as important to those who are subject to its jurisdiction—is Congress’s power to investigate matters through the issuance of subpoenas and other
      compulsory processes. Put simply, Congress can compel the production of documents and sworn testimony from almost anyone at almost any time. And unlike the judicial process overseen by the courts, the congressional system offers relatively few procedural protections for those individuals or companies who find themselves subject to, what founder and early Supreme Court Justice James Wilson called, “the grand inquest of the state.”1 As an independent and coequal branch of government, [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!] Congress’s investigative power is largely unchecked by the courts, as a matter of constitutional design. Thus, the true limitations upon Congress’s authority are pragmatic and based upon institutional and political power dynamics.

      In this article, we discuss the contours of Congress’s investigative authority and subpoena power. We also provide some general advice regarding the protections available to parties that are subject to a congressional investigation. Although this article is intended to provide a basic primer, it is no substitute for a tailored response strategy. Each congressional investigation is different. The strategies and opportunities that are available to a party in a given investigation will be as varied as the matters that the Congress may seek to investigate. For that reason, it is essential that individuals or companies that learn they are subject to a congressional investigation seek out the advice of experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. In addition to the authors, Mayer Brown has a wide array of lawyers with litigation, regulatory, and government expertise and substantial experience representing individuals and corporations that find themselves the targets of congressional investigations….

      This is the real substance of the Beltway Bandits in action, of course — “let us help you beat the system (for a lot of money per hour of billable time, of course, of which there will be lots.”

      Maybe people are thinking of “executive privilege,” a different thing: “Obama used executive privilege to shield Holder emails,”, and “Obama Rebuffs Democrats On Drone Kill Memos, Asserts Executive Secrecy Prerogative,”

      “Executive secrecy” is just another feature of Imperial Impunity…

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Apples and oranges. Any communications within the government are subject to the deliberative process privilege (the usual carveout is on pending decisions), and separately, the protections regarding personnel matters are usually strong (I’m not expert on Federal, but this is very consistent at the state level). Trump bitching to Stone has nada to do with files and records, which is what Congress was seeking. At the Federal level, deliberative process privilege is pretty much equal to “executive privilege”.

      1. allan

        Any communications within the government are subject to the deliberative process privilege … Trump bitching to Stone has nada to do with files and records …

        The Politico article says that Stone was complaining to Trump, not vice versa:

        Stone … encouraged the president to fire Comey in conversations in recent weeks.

        IANAL, and am maybe naive, but can it really be the case that White House communications with a private citizen (possibly) under criminal investigation about the job security of the director of the agency conducting that investigation counts as “deliberative process”.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Again, you are missing the issue.

          The Dems have asked for physical records, like memos and e-mails.

          If Trump had given records to Stone, that would make confidential information not confidential.

          But talking about stuff, particularly if Stone initiated the conversation, is not germane at all to a request for documents.

      2. JTMcPhee

        A blast from the past on the scope of executive privilege, a legal opinion signed by William French Smith directed to Ronald Reagan, October 13, 1981. Bears a reading.The world is a different place now, of course…

        Assertion of Executive Privilege in Response to a
        Congressional Subpoena

        Executive privilege can and should be asserted to withhold deliberative, predecisional
        documents from Congress, where release of the documents would seriously impair the
        deliberative process and the conduct of foreign policy, and where Congress’ only stated
        interest in obtaining the documents is for general oversight purposes.

        Where Congress has a legitimate need for information that will help it legislate, and the
        Executive Branch has a legitimate constitutionally recognized need to keep information’
        confidential, each branch has an obligation to make a principled effort to accommodate
        the needs of the other.

        Not only withhold those embarrassing documents, but remind the Congress that they must act really nice if they want any ‘cooperation” when they are just “exercising ordinary oversight” versus working on particular legislation.

  2. fresno dan

    Endless yammering about Russian “collusion”
    When Obama endorses Macron is that “collusion” or “interference” in a sovereign’s internal affairs?
    Is talking to a Russian against the law?
    Is talking about sanctions prior to an administration taking office against the law – specifically, which law?
    How many US officials would run afoul of foreign agent laws if they were applied to supporters of Israel?
    How did Putin “affect” the US election? For example, what was so damaging in the Clinton emails – as opposed to why was the leaking of p*ssygate of such little consequence?

      1. marym

        That was a helpful thread – thanks to you and Yves for the comments. Maybe Trump’s initial campaign remarks about how it would be nice to have better relations with Russia were just him and his cronies wanting to do business with Russia with fewer constraints, not any broader foreign policy insight. Then during the transition they were a little too eager and unsophisticated in diplomacy and blundered across some legal or protocol boundaries.

        Clintonistas cling to Russia and tax returns because they just want Trump to go away. If there were anything there maybe it would be impeachable. You can’t impeach someone because they denied Clinton the crown or because you disagree on policy. And as far as policy, their lack of concern about a Pence or Ryan presidency, and willingness to ignore or call a “distraction” other horrible emerging policies are irresponsible

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That maybe is unlikely.

          Beijing was and is the place to do business, not Moscow.

          And many other places for hotel projects…Saudi Arabia, Tel Aviv, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, South China Sea, Venezuela, Taiwan, etc.

          Even more lucrative is to give speeches.

      2. fresno dan

        May 10, 2017 at 8:23 am

        I watched CNN, MSNBC, and FOX for hours yesterday. Of course, it is stated as FACT on MSNBC and CNN that Russia influenced the election (nice word “influenced” – I imagine the moon’s gravity “influenced” the election somehow – you certainly can’t prove it didn’t!!!) – I thought poor Jeffery Toobin might burst….
        So I read a Breitbart Comey article in my newsfeed (I have only read the site maybe 3 or 4 times) but I have to say, their article on Comey’s firing is more in line with NC than either MSNBC or CNN… which is disconcerting…..from the standpoint of how synchronized the MSM and the blob have become – – and its not even the 20th anniversary of Iraqi WMD….

        1. MoiAussie

          Glad it’s you and not me. Last time I watched TV News/current affairs was election night.

          You know, I don’t mind claims that Russia influenced the election, as long as the claimants admit that the US influenced the French election, Brexit, etc, etc, etc.

          What are less palatable are claims that Russia “criminally interfered in” the election. Which laws did they break, I wonder? Russian laws? US laws? International laws? Are these laws that the US strictly abides by, or ignores? If this is about alleged hacking, would it be equally criminal if and when the US does the same?

          There is an awful lot of insanity around right now. But it shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as these people are quite immune to facts and evidence. They need to be sedated.

          1. roxy

            “Glad it’s you and not me.” Absolutely. MSDNC is on in my home every week night. I finally bought noise canceling earmuffs, particularly for the 9pm hour. Now I just put them on and the duckspeak goes away.

            1. Kokuanani

              Roxy, you have my sympathy. I am a fellow sufferer, with a husband who INSISTS on watching MSDNC. [ I too wear earphones.] With the Comey firing, I’m now subject to the blather for additional hours in the daytime.

              I wonder how many future divorce degrees are going to cite “spouse insisted on watching MSDNC ceaselessly and at incredibly high volume” as an “irreconcilable difference”?

                1. barefoot charley

                  When Bush Jr got in, my wife called the cable company to cancel. The gal asked if there had been any problem with the service. “Oh no,” she replied, “Republican administrations are just too stressful for my husband.”

                  Well, the Democrats have come a long way, and we still don’t have cable.

  3. MoiAussie

    It’s great that Chelsea is getting out next week. May she thrive.

    I suppose we should be grudgingly grateful to the O for commuting her sentence, though a pardon would have been more appropriate.

    1. nippersmom

      I offer no gratitude- even begrudgingly- to Obama for commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence. If it weren’t for the Obama administration, she would have no sentence to commute.

      1. MoiAussie

        Surely military justice would have crucified her under any administration. Can you suggest an administration that would have prevented it?

        1. nippersmom

          Of course, there is no precedent for any one “leaking” classified information not getting a severe prison sentence. Just look at what happened to Petreaus.

          Oh, wait…

          1. Tim

            Wow, I thought the punchline was going to be Hillary. Petreaus was the goal post for what Hillary “should have gotten” for her offenses, because she got nothing, not even a revoked clearance.

            It’s all relative I guess.

    2. RabidGandhi

      I’m ambivalent on that issue. I leave it up to Manning to decide if she wants to pardon Obama for unlawfully locking her up in what the UN determined to be torture conditions. Wait, what was the question?

      1. jrs

        Call it: “She resisted”.

        (although that term has been crapified as well, but Manning is the real deal there)

    1. MoiAussie

      Thanks Colonel. This is a strange one – the link has “sub-prime crisis” and “cause-next-financial-collapse” in it, the head is a bit milder, and the piece itself doesn’t predict anything much at all, just an enquiry into rising auto consumer credit and bank exposure to it.

      I suppose combined with the negative economic impact from Brexit uncertainty, there could be a crisis driven by consumer debt levels. Is there a real sense in the UK of vulnerability?

      Over here the main concern is about a housing bubble deflation leaving households underwater on their mortgages, causing a more classic subprime style crisis. All it would take to bring that on is a minor interest rate rise, a sustained commodities price slump, or a scary conflict somewhere that tanks the AUD.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Aussie.

        I think that the UK is more likely to be floored by mortgage and credit card, often used to pay for necessities, debt than car loans – plus a fall in the value of sterling, sending the cost of living sky rocketing, as “the kindness of strangers” evaporates, something Carney warned about last year.

        1. Synoia

          The intersection between “the kindness of strangers” and the UK Tory party is as close to a null set as I can imagine.

          Sydney St riots comes to mind. Not to mention to odd peasants’ revolts against the landowning class over the last millennia.

      2. diptherio

        Thanks Colonel.

        I’ve been waiting for that :-) Looking forward to the day when all NC comments start with “Thank you…”

        1. a different chris

          I am always careful to start with a “thank you” in any thread the Colonel is active in. I feel like a better person when I do it!

        2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Yes….it adds a smile to the proceedings.

          In terms of debt, I wonder if there is anyone out there in terms of Western countries, who is not increasing it’s debt load. Perhaps it would be no surprise to those hereabouts, but I was taken aback at discovering that the Germans are now it seems blowing their own housing bubble.

          As a rather silly aside….I finally realised yesterday evening who Mr. Comey reminded me of…….Clarence Beeks from Trading Places.

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Further to Macron’s election, the France 2 evening news yesterday had a profile of the empty suit accompanied by a series of photos. The photos were of him at school, at universities and in government. His short stint at Rothschilds was not mentioned. Considering that his private sector experience was part of his USP and Macron reckons that politicians should have private sector experience, Rothschilds seemed an odd omission. One wonders why. Instead of the usual ascension fulgurante, the presenter (David Pujadas) and narrator talked of une ascension rapide and something else I can’t recall. The French Obama’s rise at the firm was certainly meteoric and puts the scions of the family to shame. The Rothschilds had better pull their socks up.

    1. RabidGandhi

      In case your curious about the perspective from a distance, the day after the election the news channels here in Argentina were all aflutter about the election of Macron. Since my knowledge is purely based on their coverage, it seems the main question on the French ballot was whether it is proper to elect someone who married his significantly older schoolteacher. So no, his experience, Rothschild links, austerity proposals… are not news the public needs to know.

    2. David

      The media here has fallen in love with Macron across the political spectrum, even though they’re not really are why, or indeed what they now expect him to do.
      The debate, I think, is going to turn into the question of who is using whom.
      The assumption until now was that Macron was just Finance’s man in government, and that he could be relied upon to do the bidding of his masters. If so, then the honeymoon with the public could be quite short.
      But the alternative is that he’s using them, or at least trying to. Now that he’s in power, he’s starting to show a Napoleon complex, and quite a bit of ruthlessness as well. For example, Valls, who betrayed Hollande (whose Prime Minister he had been) and offered his services to Macron was rebuffed this morning, and told he would have to sign what amounts to a kind of loyalty oath like everybody else. Valls, who had real hopes of becoming President, appears to have screwed it up entirely.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, David.

        I watched the Valls scheming yesterday, but have not kept up with today’s developments. The rebuff could not have happened to a nicer fellow.

  5. TiPs

    Re the rise in corporate debt, it looks more like an issue with the oil sector than anything else. There has been a general rise in debt due to the return of private equity in the era of low interest rates after the crisis (as you note), and many corporations were pushed by investors to buy back equity and simultaneously issue debt (Apple e.g.). If one views this as a single sector issue, then the fact that the risk measure is low makes sense.

    The fact that Wall Street banks have significant exposure to oil lending also explains why they have been touting stable and higher oil prices. Unfortunately (for them), the Hedge Funds stopped listening last week…

  6. Deadl E Cheese

    At this point I’m hoping that Trump drags down the entire Democratic Party and GOP and deep state with him. He already has a very good trump card (sorry) to play: Comey fudged the investigation for Clinton’s emails and that’s why he had to go.

    God, how awesome would it be if Trump’s DoJ managed to bring the goods on Pelosi, Ryan, Schumer, McConnell, Obama, and especially the Clintons while he was staring down the barrel?

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        May 10, 2017 at 9:55 am

        Good catch! However, I still like the plain, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors”

  7. cocomaan

    The article on Nixon’s domestic programs was awesome. I knew about the creation of the EPA but had no idea about union membership, OSHA, and the rest. But this part is instrumental:

    The decline of the social movements and militant labor unions, as well as the retreat to electoral politics among the African American and anti-war movements, ended the independent popular pressure and facilitated the rising power of the pro-war, Wall Street-controlled parties linked to money and speculation.

    Also, Nixon wasn’t exactly thrilled that he was getting pressure from these groups. His paranoia about Jews, gays, and Commies bled into his drug policy, for instance.

    But that article really just goes to show you that it’s all dialectical, that the president is not a king, and even a scumbag can do the right thing when the pressure is on.

    1. Carla

      Yes, even a scumbag will respond to popular pressure. We have allowed the institutions of democracy (public education, unions, the peace movement, as just a few examples) to degrade and wither away to our enormous peril.Therefore, we are bereft of the infrastructure needed to build the grassroots movements essential to creating that pressure. The “common good” is a phrase seen and heard, if at all, only on Naked Capitalism and other renegade blogs.

      Even Bernie Sanders insists it is impossible to work outside the utterly corrupt Democrat party. And he has, to my knowledge, never advanced a foreign policy fundamentally different from that of the deep state.

      We’ve got a lot of work to do.

      1. John k

        Hasn’t ruled out third party. Probably depressed as dems keep telling him they can’t be reformed.
        And maybe taking on the blob plus Israel too tough given existing dem and corp enemies.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Um, yeah, and today the missing ingredient you cite is “popular pressure”. I was conscious during the Nixon presidency and I recall hundreds of thousands of people in the streets and getting their heads bashed because they really gave a sh*t

    2. georgieboy2

      fascinating essay. sadly the 3rd-to-last paragraph makes one wonder about everything else the author asserts:

      “Twice in recent years, significant majorities voted for jobs, justice and peace (Obama and Trump) and instead got charlatans bringing greater inequality, injustice and endless wars.”

      Significant majority? Trump? Could be my OCD acting up, but this is shaky…

    3. Susan the other

      after the Kennedy assassination/Vietnam debacle Nixon had an awakening of sorts – when he succeeded in winning the 68 election he had become a realist.

    4. Katharine

      And how, exactly, was Nixon responsible for union membership? Or OSHA, if it comes to that, which he merely signed into law after Congress wrote the legislation. Petras appears to give Nixon personal credit for almost everything that happened during his presidency except Woodstock, while brushing aside southeast Asia and Chile as insignificant blemishes that shouldn’t be allowed to mar his hagiography.

      I don’t question that Nixon had some good policy positions, or that many things have gotten worse since that era, but I think representing Nixon as the source of all the good of that time is remarkably dishonest and counterproductive. Ralph Nader had more to do with the creation of OSHA and the EPA than Nixon did.

      1. cocomaan

        Oh yeah, I agree, it should stop short of being devil’s advocate and doesn’t quite, A couple of people, like nowhere below, georgeiboy above, have called other things about the article into question. That’s also why I put the “drug war” bit in my response, since it’s one of Nixon’s enduring legacies, if not the biggest.

        Always appreciate your critical look at things Katharine!

        1. Katharine

          Thanks, cocomaan!

          I appreciated your comment about the president not being a king. I think this tendency to see things in terms of presidents instead of looking at all the other people who influence history is too apt to weaken people now. Even the Bernie supporters who said it was about him, when he kept saying, no, it’s about you, worried me a bit. I’m glad to see how many are becoming more active in their own ways. As citizens, we can’t afford to discount our own importance.

    5. nowhere

      It seems the claim that he was proposing Medicare for all is a bit off base. It seems he was, essentially, proposing Obamacare, before the Heritage Foundation proposed it.


      –Employee Health Insurance, covering most Americans and offered at their place of employment, with the cost to be shared by the employer and employee on a basis which would prevent excessive burdens on either;

      –Assisted Health Insurance, covering low-income persons, and persons who would be ineligible for the other two programs, with Federal and State government paying those costs beyond the means of the individual who is insured; and,

      –An improved Medicare Plan, covering those 65 and over and offered through a Medicare system that is modified to include additional, needed benefits.

      One of these three plans would be available to every American, but for everyone, participation in the program would be voluntary.

      I guess he didn’t like the individual mandate.

    6. Nakatomi Plaza

      The blurb posted here about Nixon’s “single-payer” plan is ridiculously misleading. Kennedy’s plan was closer to the sort of single-payer system we’re after today, and he capitulated only after it was obvious his plan would fail. What’s to be gained by telling such a slanted version of history?

  8. LT

    Re: Nixon

    Nothing about Watergate made sense as an impeachable scandal.
    Keeping on that Kissinger was more criminal.

    1. LT

      And from the details of the “break-in,” that entire plot, whoever thought of it, made no sense.

        1. Roger Smith

          This looks very interesting. Is Russ Baker someone who is typically deemed “good” or trustworthy?

          1. MoiAussie

            Other may know, I don’t have any evidence to judge Mr Baker one way or another. It’s a long read (3 parts), seriously written, that offers a different perspective which informed readers should be able to make their own judgements about it. It’s taken from his book

            Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last 50 Years

            which apparently is well footnoted. You can also read the excerpts in Business Insider from 2012, here for part 1. A quick search also turned it up at,, reddit and other sites, but I haven’t yet found much interesting commentary on it.

            1. Olga

              Reading it as we speak. Looks like a good book; in fact, likely essential reading if one wants to understand “the blob.”

            2. duck1

              Colodny, Silent Coup
              Is one of the seminal works in Watergate revisionism. He works up Woodward’s Navy Intelligence link and JCS antagonism over Nixon using high level communication systems that the government had to operate his foreign policy in secrecy.

          2. Susan the other

            not long after Nixon resigned, Chomsky said he was railroaded with Watergate because he was stepping on some very powerful toes… that would prolly be the MIC as subsequent events listed by Petras show them back in “control”, and that would include the big banks. Interesting that Hillary’s first job after leaving Yale was investigating Nixon for the Watergate committee…

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                I believe Bill recommended his then girlfriend, Hillary, for the job after passing on it himself.

          3. MartyH

            Baker’s book: “Family of Secrets” is quite good and well footnoted. His “speculations” are well identified as such and the logic for each is clearly spelled out … form your own opinions, of course.

            Understanding the Bush family and relevant history is key to “The Blob” IMHO.

        2. LT

          Yeah, I’m familiar with Baker’s “Family of Secrets” about the Bush family.
          His thesis on Watergate was one subject in the book that I would feel comfortable referencing. Raised some valid questions.
          Some chapters were too much assumption.

          1. Olga

            Assumptions are inevitable when one deals with such a secretive clan as the bushies. On Kennedy assassination, Baker’s take does not contradict the excellent “JFK and the Unspeakable.”

      1. Carolinian

        The Trump/Nixon comparisons are interesting. Of course Trump is a boob whereas Nixon was one of the more intelligent people to take the office. But the context of an elitist media versus a “Silent Majority” promoting president is largely similar. There are some who say Nixon’s downfall was because he didn’t go to the right schools and there may be at least a grain of truth to that. But an equally persuasive view is that NIxon was being punished for not stopping the war. In any case it was never about the break in.

      2. Sutter Cane

        Robert Parry has stated that the real motive for the break in was to cover up evidence that Nixon sabotaged the peace talks that could have ended the Vietnam war in order to get elected. There’s a document in the LBJ presidential library that was finally declassified to that effect. It made a lot more sense than the traditionally-accepted reasons given for the break in.

    2. RabidGandhi

      I’ve mentioned this before, but in my view the fact that Nixon was impeached over Watergate and not the Cambodia bombing warcrimes (inter alias) says all we need to know about power in the US.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes foreign policy wise he was a monster. But then so were his predecessors. Truman may be the ultimate villain for kicking the Cold War into high gear.

        1. RabidGandhi

          Agreed. Add being the only leader to order nuclear bombing and it’s a record that’s hard to top.

    3. VietnamVet

      Since Dick Nixon used dirty tricks to scuttle the LBJ’s Peace Talks to get elected in 1968, it was natural that he tasked the Plumbers in 1972 to keep track of the Democrats to counter any of their sinister plots. They were caught. It escalated into Watergate Crisis due to his need to cover it up and the intelligence community leaks in revenge for his ending the Vietnam War.

      Donald Trump’s first months seem very similar to Watergate due to intelligence community leaks, They were successful again and the Imperial Presidency was restored.

  9. allan

    Reporter arrested at WV Capitol after trying to ask U.S. health secretary questions [WV Metro News]

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia reporter was arrested Tuesday at the State Capitol after trying to ask Tom Price, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, questions about the American Health Care Act.

    Dan Heyman of Charleston is a reporter with Public News Service and has been in the journalism industry for 30 years. He said he was at the Capitol to speak to Price about the effects of the legislation passed on May 4 by the U.S. House of Representatives. …

    Kellyanne Conway, counsel to President Donald Trump, was also with Price at the time.

    Heyman, who was using his cellphone as a recorder, said he reached out his arm and asked Price the question “repeatedly” with no answer.

    “At some point, I think (the Capitol Police) decided I was too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job, so they arrested me,” he said. “I asked if I was under arrest, and they said yes. And I said, ‘If I’m under arrest, how come I haven’t had my Miranda rights read to me?’”

    “They said, ‘Well, we’re not asking you any questions right now.” …

    Heyman was released Tuesday evening on a $5,000 bond, which his lawyer, Tim DiPiero, said was paid for by someone associated with Public News Service.

    “Normally, I would make no comment on a criminal case and recommend to my client that he make no comment,” DiPiero said. “I’ve never had a client arrested for talking too loud or anything similar to that.” …

    Sorry, Mr. DiPiero. Times have changed.
    You need to start warning your clients not to talk too loudly or laugh at administration officials.
    And while you’re at it, show me your papers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if the W.Virginia Capital Police officers doing the arresting were Democrats and they wanted to send a message to Price and Conway?

      “Don’t come to West Virginia.”

    2. JTMcPhee

      On the subject of cops in WVa, there’s this:

      West Virginia police officer sues after being fired for not shooting black man

      In the aftermath of the May 2016 police shooting that left 23-year-old RJ Williams dead in Weirton, West Virginia, police officer Stephen Mader was shocked, nervous and scared.

      “I was at a loss for what to do,” he told the Guardian.

      Mader’s reaction was not to the shooting itself, which he feels he handled with poise and calm. In fact, he did not fire his weapon. It was a fellow officer’s gun that ended Williams’ life.

      Mader was dumbstruck to have been handed a notice of termination, which indicated that his failure to shoot Williams, a young black father who was mentally ill, represented grounds for dismissal.

      “It was just a right hook out of nowhere, right to the face,” said Mader, who grew up in the small town of Weirton before becoming an officer there.

      “Essentially they fired [Mader] for respecting RJ Williams’ constitutional rights,” said Joseph Cohen of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.

      The notice of termination accused Mader of “negligence”. “[Patrolman] Mader’s failure to react left himself and those around him in grave danger,” it read.

      On Wednesday, Mader filed a lawsuit against the city for wrongful termination. “When a police [officer] exercises restraint – and sometimes we don’t see that as much as we like to – that’s something that should be praised rather than punished,” said Mader’s attorney, Tim O’Brien.

      The suit alleges that the city, “in a flawed effort to buttress the other officer’s use of deadly force, wrongfully terminated Mr Mader’s employment. When that termination came to light in the local press, the city then engaged in a pattern of retaliation designed to destroy Mr Mader’s reputation.”

      As police responded to a disturbance at Williams’ home early on the morning of 6 May 2016, Mader was the first officer on the scene. When he arrived and confronted Williams, he said, the man was keeping his hands behind his back. Mader commanded Williams to show his hands and when they came down to his sides Mader saw he was holding a pistol.

      Mader drew his weapon. Williams allegedly screamed: “Just shoot me!”

      “I said, ‘I don’t wanna shoot you, brother, just put down the gun,’” Mader recalled. “About that time two more cruisers arrived. At this point he starts to wave his gun at me and the other officers, and within seconds of the other officers getting out of their cruisers there were four shots fired.”

      Williams’ gun, investigators would later learn, was not loaded.

      In the termination letter, Mader’s superiors argued that he failed to respond to the threat. “The unfortunate reality of police work is that making any decision is better than making no decision at all,” it says.

      Mader counters that he did make a decision – that he decided, based on Williams’ body language and apparent mental state, that he did not present a threat and that de-escalation was the best way to proceed.

      Mader had a degree of familiarity with life-and-death situations. A former US marine who saw service in Afghanistan, he said he brought some of that mettle to his job as an officer.

      “He wasn’t angry,” he said of Williams, “he wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t seem in position to want to use a gun against anybody. He never pointed it at me. I didn’t perceive him as an imminent threat.”

      Mader’s commanding officers essentially argued that such an evaluation was not his to make. “No officer was ever trained to deduce the intention of a suspect,” the termination notice reads.

      O’Brien disagrees. “If the emphasis is, ‘You must use deadly force if you can use deadly force’,” he said, “then you are taking away that critical discretion that every police officer must have.”

      Despite the fact that the termination letter focuses most of its attention on the decision not to shoot Williams, department officials subsequently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the incident was “not a primary factor in his termination”.

      Officials cited two other incidents involving Mader. Only one is mentioned in the letter, in just two sentences.

      By contrast, on the Williams shooting the letter reads that Mader “should be dismissed from employment … due to to negligence on his part during the incident that occurred on 6 May 2016, in which a fellow officer had to react and unfortunately take the life of the suspect”.

      After Mader’s termination, officials said Mader “froze” during the incident. They also called him a “disgruntled employee” and a “bad cop”.

      According to the suit, Mader is seeking damages in excess of $75,000. The city of Weirton and the Weirton police department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

      Humans. Quite a species, aren’t we?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That was my first reaction, times have not changed.

        Still about police misconduct.

      2. a different chris

        >is that making any decision is better than making no decision at all

        I can’t imagine making a harder decision than holding your fire….and you notice that the story itself can’t help calling it a decision: “focuses most of its attention on the decision not to shoot Williams”.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I’d suggest spending a little time on youtube watching videos in the “we love Russia” series. Lots of documentation of lots of incidents where the local cops in Russia, despite provocations and “incidents” and presentations in the field that would have resulted in dead people of color, use de-escalation and talking down and tackling rather than “shoot first.”

          Russia is a big place, there are of course shootings and beat-downs by cops there, and corruption galore. But I was struck by the contrast in so many of the situations captured by the ubiquitous automobile dash cams and posted to youtube where deadly force is avoided by that fearful ‘decision not to shoot” that most of us would not expect “our” serve-and-protect-property troopers to take.

          One also observes that Russians, many of them, are just as loony as USians, and also maybe a little kinder and gentler (based on the selected bits that make it to YT) than us…

  10. giantsquid

    Re: From Richard Nixon to Donald Trump: America’s Great Leap Backwards

    A very different take on the health insurance plans of Richard Nixon and Ted Kennedy:

    “Ted Kennedy, whom Nixon assumed would be his rival in the next election, made universal health care his signature issue. Kennedy proposed a single-payer, tax-based system. Nixon strongly opposed that on the grounds that it was un-American and would put all health care “under the heavy hand of the federal government.”

    Instead, Nixon proposed a plan that required employers to buy private health insurance for their employees and gave subsidies to those who could not afford insurance. Nixon argued that this market-based approach would build on the strengths of the private system.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Could Nixon’s plan still have worked, all the way to today – subsidies to those who could not afford insurance?

      Would Nixon, somewhere along the time line, say, during the last 10 or 20 years, have to update this Whip Inflation Now(WIN) to include Whip Healthcare Inflation Pronto (WHIP)?

      And would Medicare-for-all have had the same healthcare inflation problem now? Would drug prices have been still higher here than, say, Canada?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        ACA’s political problem is the people who don’t use ACA but have medicare or employer based coverage represent the bloc that likes ACA the most which means no one is motivated to defend ACA, Its like gun control. Gun owners care, and non gun owners don’t really care that much.

        The U.S. government has produced an array of needs based programs which fell victim to either disinterest by a future Congress or bureaucratic incompetence or a lack of legislative imagination and proper funding as the needs of the serviced group change. This was the argument the architect of Social Security made to FDR when he asked about subsidies to the needy instead of what would be Social Security

        Social Security still works because everyone has “skin in the game” to borrow from Shrub, so whenever its attacked, it destroys Presidencies. Shrub and Obama both became lame ducks effectively when they moved on Social Security despite the close proximity to their reelections.

        A system that works and can be relied on applies to everyone. Public schools and roads are popular because everyone uses them. If its a subsidized approach (ACA for example), it will have inevitable problems. As you note in your question, would Nixon have to update in 10 or 20 years after a theoretical passage of legislation? Nixon was dead 20 years after he resigned. He certainly wouldn’t make any decisions about the future of his program if he hypothetically signed it the last day of his Presidency. Programs dependent on “wise and benevolent technocrats” are doomed to failure. Look at ACA again as a fine example. Premium increases were pushed back to help Democrats in 2010 and 2012 to avoid price hikes before the elections. They couldn’t delay the price hikes past 2016, but don’t worry demographics would solve all of the Democrats problems especially with the roarin’ stock market. Then they would be able to fix the problem! The best laid plans of mice and men…or as Mike Tyson noted, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

        The only strategies that work are simple ones that can be carried out by the decision makers on the ground. Any strategy that ignores this is FUBAR. ACA would work if the Republican governors would approve the Medicare expansion! Why on earth would you ever design a program dependent on Republican governors? Its insane.

        Going back to our healthcare system, the problems are shortage of primary care personal, for profit monopolies, and insane patent protections which allow drug prices to remain high. A subsidy will work until the next round of price increases.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Going back to our healthcare system, the problems are shortage of primary care personal, for profit monopolies, and insane patent protections which allow drug prices to remain high. A subsidy will work until the next round of price increases.

          The greedy trinity of Big Pharma, AMA and corporate health care industry, (or drug companies, doctors…specially specialists…and hospitals). We go back to cost containment, basic to whatever scheme is adopted.

  11. rich

    Obama Pockets $3.2 Million For Speaking Gig In Milan

    But, according to the Express, the $400,000 fee from Cantor is nothing compared to the $3.2 million that President Obama got for his speech in Milan at the Seeds and Chips gathering in Milan today, a conference on the impact that technology, innovation and climate change will have on food availability and production worldwide.

    “Thanks this edition of Seeds&Chips and thanks to President Barack H. Obama’s extraordinary participation in the Global Food Innovation Summit, the city of Milano – and Italy – are once again the world hub of food and food innovation, a journey that began with Expo 2015,” stated Marco Gualtieri, founder and Chairman of Seeds&Chips. “New technologies can offer us the solutions to tackle some of the major global challenges: food security, nutrition, combatting waste, sustainability and climate change. I believe that Italy can be a key player in this sector by joining innovation and our long-standing tradition of excellence in food. There are hundreds of startups, businesses and companies who are active in this field and at Seeds & Chips our overall goal is to gather them all under one roof with a synergistic action that will enable Milano and Italy to become an international reference point for innovation in food and food-tech”.

    So why is this possible? Can Obama really drop $3.2mm worth of knowledge in 1.5 hours? Of course not. Dilbert creator Scott Adams describes the post-presidency speaking circuit best as a “Pre-bribe”:

    It is illegal to bribe a president. But it is totally legal to pre-bribe one.

    Here’s how a pre-bribe works.

    When a president leaves office, you offer the ex-president an enormous speaking fee. Let’s say $400,000. The ex-president does the speech and banks the money. The ex-president has no power at that point, so the speaking fee can’t be seen as a bribe because there is no quid pro quo.

    CBS Hosts Mock Bernie Sanders For Not Taking Wall Street Money

    Being corrupt is the American way.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Wouldn’t campaign contributions be pre-bribes? The cash Obama is getting for doing next to nothing is mostly ex post facto, so I can’t see how it would be characterized as pre-anything?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its bribing the next set of politicians. If Obama wasn’t paid off, Obama will look like a mark, and the kind of people who run for President don’t want to look like marks.

  12. Tom Stone

    I know several agents who survived the downturn by doing BPO’s at $50 a pop.
    There was no driveby, it wasn’t required and couldn’t be done at that price, which was all the lenders were willing to pay.

  13. financial matters

    From Richard Nixon to Donald Trump: America’s Great Leap Backwards James Petras (UserFriendly)

    Wow, great stuff! I think it’s important for these policies of the last 40 years to be better understood for what they are. There is so much false narrative that it’s hard to put it all into some sort of social-political-economic context.

  14. Alex

    Interesting piece on Nixon, I was astonished to learn that it was a Republicas who proposed a universal health insurance.

    What was quite weird is describing the Yom Kippur war as an “Israeli invasion”. Whatever you think about Israel, this is just plainly wrong.

  15. taunger

    Yves, the difference between a percocet script or two and years of heavy opioids for chronic pain management is significant. The woman in this article is foolish; equating a private contract to a government 4th amendment violation does not help her position.

    Nor does the inability to recognize the lots of legitimate doctors unthinkingly have contributed to the opioid addiction crisis, and that these policies are in place to restrain doctors that generally have the instinct to comfort.

    The lack of context in your presentation for this article is surprising given nakedcapitalisms general awareness of how economic distress and big pharmaceuticals have largely been responsible for an epidemic of addiction.

    1. Juneau

      I agree with you. I am also surprised that the regulators and JCAHO is being let off the hook here.
      The opioid epidemic coincides nicely with the Federal (JCAHO) mandate to make pain management a patient right which meant all doctors and nurses receiving medicaid/medicare funds had to do routine pain assessments and treatments plans on patients in ALL settings even drug abuse clinics.

      Presumably well intentioned on the part of JCAHO but tell me why not hold them accountable?

      Pill counts are done to protect the patient and the doctors/NP/PA staff. They are routine and should not require a contract. If your doctor is a drug pusher find another one. Just remember that physicians were mandated to address this issue, ironically the same time a big marketing push was made for Oxycontin. Ironic no?

  16. Jim Haygood

    They’ll [Gibraltar] have to have a customs operation all their own.

    Back in bantustan days, the Transkei had a customs post on its western “border” with ZA, approaching by road from East London. A Danish woman ahead of me in the queue was rather vocally mocking the officious scrutiny and ostentatious rubber-stamping of foreign passports, a near-perfect example of unproductive economic value subtraction.

    The punch line came when exiting Transkei eastward into Natal, where no border post existed at all. Apparently the Transkei’s partial network of controls was just for governmental prestige, and to create “jobs.”

    Nothing prohibits Gibraltar from going “unilateral Schengen,” even if the Spanish choose to erect a border post on the opposite side. Statism is a self-imposed debility. :-(

    1. Marco

      Finally put up a thistle / nyjer seed feeder for my mother and it took 2 weeks for her to see a red finch. The little birds are the best. I love the way they feed upside down.

  17. From Cold Mountain

    On “Eating Cheese does not Raise Risk of Heart Attack”:

    Here is the “study” that was funded by the dairy industry of studies that were probably funded by the dairy industry.

    This meta-analysis was partly funded by an unrestricted grant from the Global Dairy Platform, Dairy Research Institute and Dairy Australia. The Ph.D. scholarship of JG was supported by the Barham Benevolent Trust. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis and results interpretation, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the article for publication.

    But note, the study also included things like low fat dairy lowered mortality among the overwieght, which the news seems to not talk about:

    In the sub-group analysis for CVD (Supplemental Table 5) on subjects whose BMI > 25 kg/m2, low-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with the risk of CVD (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.94–1.00, 6 populations).

    Dairy is a cheap, high calorie food, and it might be the rich will likely suffer less than the poor becasue they can vary their diet more, as they kind of point out here:

    The background diet should be taken into account in the statistical analyses as major confounders, which was done in 15 out of 29 cohort studies. Comparisons of dairy products with other foods in replacement models were not possible from the available data. The neutral risks of dairy products with mortality and CVD risk could be because of replacement by other foods, for example, those with high intake of dairy products may consume less sugar sweetened beverages which could lead to lower CVD mortality [66] or consume more processed meat which could lead to higher CVD risks.

    I hate these studies becasue they treat humanity as one genotype and one income level, when they know full well both will determine how we react to diet in a large way.

    1. Vatch

      I’m suspicious of this study, yet I also suspect that there’s some truth in what they are saying. Some types of cheese are rich in vitamin K-2, and that could be what helps to protect people from cardiovascular disease. Here’s an example article abstract (about rabbits, not people):

      “These results indicate that the pharmacological dose of vitamin K2 prevents both the progression of atherosclerosis and the coagulative tendency by reducing the total-cholesterol, lipid peroxidation and factor X activity in plasma, and the ester-cholesterol deposition in the aorta in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.”

      Okay, that’s not very readable. Maybe this one instead:

      “Later, it was discovered that vitamin K2 activates another protein called matrix gla protein (MGP), which is primarily found in blood vessels. Active MGP has a powerful ability to prevent atherosclerosis. If a person lacks vitamin K2 or tends to inactivate MGP, the arteries (the blood vessels carrying blood from the heart) end up calcifying. That is why vitamin K2 is so important for the cardiovascular system. In fact, evidence suggests that the vitamin may reduce already existing atherosclerosis.”

      That’s a little more readable.

      I’m not going to switch from fat-free skim milk to whole milk, but I will continue eating cheese, especially gouda, edam, brie, and other aged cheeses. They taste good and they have vitamin K-2.

      1. Synoia

        Everything in moderation is a key part of eating. If you woof down 2 lb of cheese every day you will have problems.

        Portions of food in the US are too large. That’s rude, because in the UK culture you load your own plate, and it is rude not to eat what you load. Over-serving guests is rude.

        Large US portions possibly are a relic of the settlers in the north east having to survive winter with poorly insulated homes, or just greed.

      2. Katharine

        Personally, I don’t much care about studies of this sort, though I might point to them as mock justification for what I am going to do anyway. I have always drunk whole milk and eaten cheese because I like them, and shall continue to as long as I like them. Forty years ago when doctors were dithering about eggs (wrongly, as they now admit) I ignored them, because I also like eggs. I haven’t died yet. I shall someday. So will all the people who tell me I shouldn’t eat what I eat, and my bet is they will die younger because they worry too much. (This of course assumes I’m not run over by a bus or brained by someone I exasperated beyond all bearing.)

    2. jrs

      supposedly more than ANY dietary influence, the strongest correlation with CVD is to socioeconomic class.

      But of course as far as studies go, any good study tries to adjust for confounders. I will continue to eat cheese in moderation and add cream to tea (without those your life only SEEMS longer).

  18. leftover

    RE: Petras on Nixon’s healthcare reformism
    Nixon’s Plan For Health Reform, In His Own Words.
    This is not “a National Health Insurance Program – an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans.” Nor is it “a version of single payer” by any reasonable definition found anywhere.

    Petras provides no verification of his claims to Ted Kennedy’s political entanglements with special interests in The 70s, however, even a cursory view of healthcare reformism in the 70s reveals a much more complex, and bipartisan, approach than the Dickie versus Teddy caricature provided. And, apparently, a bipartisan recognition that healthcare should be rationed based on need, not affordability, through government intervention, regulation and oversight. Something sorely lacking in the contemporary reformist dialectic.

    “The dialectic of discontent and resentment can lead to progressive or reactionary political and social alignments, even, or especially, in the face of….” inaccurate or misleading representations of historical fact.

      1. leftover

        In 1973, Teddy was big on HMOs, this is true. (Mostly because, I think, Nixon was against them.) But this came after it became clear his 1970 Single Payer proposal, The Kennedy-Griffiths Health Security Act, wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Teddy was amazingly enough able to pass hideous policy, but good policy couldn’t be passed because of the political environment preventing good legislation but not bad legislation. Its like Democrats were Obots long before Obama.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        HMOs are singularly responsible for what is wrong with US heatlhcare. They are the genesis of the ‘even if you have insurance, if the ambulance takes you to the wrong emergency room, you will go bankrupt” and the insertion of out of network doctors into operations to goose what hospitals get paid.

        I have an old-fahioned indemnity plan. I can see any MD in the world. No gatekeeping. I can go directly to a specialist. HMOs are a crime.

  19. Jim Haygood

    “Notice that the [NYT] article [Why Should We Worry About the National Debt?] then refuses to explain at all why [printing dollars] is only an “escape hatch,” who gets to decide when we get to use the “escape hatch,” and what the consequences of it would be. It is just presented as an almost unspeakable alternative.

    When countries liberally print dollars, or pesos, or quetzales to service debt, their currencies tend to collapse.

    What is going to happen if you buy a limited edition print, numbered 6/10, and then you learn that the artist actually printed a thousand of them all numbered the same way?

    This ain’t rocket science. And currencies are just limited edition prints, in larger quantities.

    1. shargash

      When countries liberally print dollars, or pesos, or quetzales to service debt, their currencies tend to collapse.

      Can you come up with an example of a country that liberally printed dollars and had its currency collapse? It is true that, if you borrow in a currency other than your own, and then over-print your own currency to service the debt, your currency may collapse. However, there is a dearth of evidence that borrowing in your sovereign currency ever leads to currency collapse. In any case, borrowing is not necessary to fund governments (though it is desirable for other reasons).

      1. Beniamino

        Re: countries that experienced currency collapse. (1) Ancient Rome. (2) Ancien Regime France. As Alan Partridge said, “there are others.”

      2. Jim Haygood

        It’s happening right now in Venezuela.

        “However, there is a dearth of evidence that borrowing in your sovereign currency ever leads to currency collapse.”

        The subject we were discussing, from the NYT article, is printing currency to service debt, as an alternative to borrowing it.

        Econ 101 says when the supply of something increases [supply curve shifts rightward], its value at the intersection with the demand curve goes down. Currencies are not exempt from this principle, the pomp and majesty of governmental decrees notwithstanding.

      3. Benedict@Large

        Too much currency printing will make a currency collapse. This is true. What you never get with statements such as this is a quantification of how much is too much. And in fact, the how much is way more than any first world economy is currently doing or even considering. — For anyone who doubts this, could you please explain to me how the US quickly printed up about $7 trillion dollars right after the 2008 Crash without having the needle on the inflation gauge even wiggle? This completely defied every bit of currency collapse folklore, and yet no one in the mainstream of macro even bothered to mention it.

      4. John k

        Inflation/hyper inflation always begins with shortages of real goods, usually food.
        Currency collapse may follow such a shortage when rulers print to provide insiders the means to purchase a dwindling supply of food, e.g. Zimbabwe and venezuela, among others… (sometimes a food shortage comes about due to war or drought, but in these cases it was gross mismanagement by the rulers, capital looting/ flight by insiders plus farm mismanagement.
        Weimar is the story of a war torn country short of everything, that tried to use its currency in foreign markets to buy gold needed for warvreparations; foreigners had no use for the currency because Germany had nothing to sell, the opposite of what happened in the us when we went off the gold standard in 1933, and foreigners rushed to exchange their gold for our dollars, which they used to purchase our suddenly discounted grain. A Marshall plan would have kept Hitler’s from power, but that woulhave to wait…

        Certainly it is possible to create inflation with too much money printing, but first there must be a real shortage of goods or labor… so we must first get to full employment, a situation that many in the country would see as desirable. It seems unlikely the money printing itself would lead to a food shortage, though perhaps, briefly, a shortage of 75″ tv’s… and bear in mind that just the printing does nothing, the new money must get into the hands of spenders, unlike QE, which went to savers.

        Friedman’ statement ‘inflation is always and ever a monetary phenomenom’ is patently false, simply consider the drought/famine that preceded the French Revolution… price rose to allocate food to the wealthy even as the gold money supply was fixed. ‘Price varies with supply and demand’ is correct.

    2. Benedict@Large

      When I first started to study macroeconomics, my first question was why we borrowed to fund federal spending instead of printing it. There was some sort of thing about losing money to inflation, but how was that different to losing money to interest payments, but mainly, it simply was not discussed. I mean EVER. I went almost two years reading macro, and I simply couldn’t even find the question being asked, must less discussed. The answer (to borrow) was simply assumed, and that was that.

      One day, I ran into Bill Mitchell’s BillyBlog, and there. clear, right out in the open after almost two years was the answer: Always “print”; never borrow. I’ve got to read this guy, I thought, and proceded to do so, every day. (And that’s how I learned MMT. “Easy enough for a 7th grader; too difficult for a PhD.”)

      1. Uahsenaa

        Saying printing is inherently good or bad misses a number of contextualizing factors. If Mr. Haygood were unequivocally correct, then the trillions we printed in QE in the aftermath of the financial crisis should have destabilized our currency or, at least, manifested a steep increase in prices. Nothing of the sort happened. Why? Because the cash was used to recapitalize banks by buying up their toxic (read: worthless) assets. All that printed money just moved the assets from one set of books to another, where the toxic assets could be realized for what they were, worthless.

        Also missing from this discussion is the political power inherent in the function of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The fact that the US controls the value of the currency most widely represented in forex reserves is a very big gun to a lot of heads. Thankfully for most, members of Congress don’t really understand how finance works, so no finger has ever been put on that trigger.

    3. Susan the other

      but with sovereign debt it’s 6s because the fresh dollars extinguish the debt

    4. vidimi

      the US, with its reserve currency status, is in an unparalleled position to print currency. no other country can get away in doing so quite as much as the US could because even if you doubled the dollar supply, you would still have crazy demand for it. other sovereign countries can get away with it to a much lesser extent

  20. stefan

    Comey’s dismissal seems merited. However, Rosenstein’s rationale may be more of a pretext for Trump’s getting his own man in there than the reason for firing Comey. Since Rosenstein is supervising the DOJ inquiry into Russian election meddling (AG Sessions having recused himself), the appointment of an independent prosecutor or select committee to look into the matter seems increasingly merited.

    As to Comey’s replacement, my guess is Trump will promote a proven Trump loyalist from within the FBI, from the New York field office most likely.

    1. nowhere

      Yeah, if he wants his own guy in there, why didn’t he do this months ago? Especially using the Clinton e-mail debacle as a smoke screen; this has been an issue since last July. Why wait until a random Tuesday night?

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tickets to Bernie Sanders’ talk at Cambridge Union sold out in 38 SECONDS Cambridge News (martha r)

    Months after ‘it’s all up to you,’ still no one can attract like Sanders.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sanders Statement on James Comey. Martha r: “As usual I wish sanders would just shut up about the Russians. i can’t believe he really buys the Russia election interference B.S.”

      At this point, do we have to wonder if anyone has the access to tell him otherwise?

      And will he listen?

      Does he a system in place to hear other viewpoints?

      Combined the overlooking of his Russian meme with the rock star treatment, the parrhesia phrase, ‘It’s all up to you,’ and the amnesia over his Hillary endorsement, are we seeing a little bit of cult here?

      1. Benedict@Large

        Sanders is generally a pretty smart guy, but every now and again, something will come along that he just closes his ears (and brain) to. This Russian business has now apparently become one of them. MMT is another.

        I think Sanders has a sense of issues you just can’t bring up if you want to be listened to in Congress. Whether this is a conscious thing or not, I have no idea. Whether it is a good thing or not, I have no idea of that either. You get what you get with him, and decades later, he’s still in Congress being listened to after many who have ridiculed him have long seen their terms run out.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He is and he is not…all the time.

          There was the unity at the convention. He endorsed Hillary. And now, we see the unity tour.

          So, there was no unity then?

          And no unity now? Thus, the need for unity tour.

          Then, tomorrow, he will be with the Democrats, on any number of issues…Russia, maybe.

          So, there is unity.

          Yes and No.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          His performance when asked about the anti-BDS letter he signed at the Carter Center would have been hilarious if it didn’t involve people suffering. He stammered and whined about not being the author of the hideous letter he signed.

  22. jfleni

    RE:Oil Below $65 Per Barrel…For Years.

    It’s about time; the grease monkeys and Princelings are about to get their well-deserved and fairly fast come-uppance. Economics and galloping solar and wind development are completely against them.

    Can anybody spare any sympathy for these clowns? I hope not! They never did for anybody else!

  23. dcblogger

    I am beginning to think there IS something fishy going on between Trump and Putin. IF that is the case, then it represents a yuge intelligence fail and raises the question of why we even have a NSA and CIA if they cannot prevent something like this. It also reflects very poorly on Obama.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe even something fishy between Obama and Putin, if things should be worse, but are not (and waiting for Trump to take us to that worse state, though he seems to be not too reliable).

    2. witters

      Goethe, Faust: “I am beginning to think there IS something fishy going on between the Devil and Putin. IF that is the case, then it represents a yuge intelligence fail and raises the question of why we even have a NSA and CIA if they cannot prevent something like this. It also reflects very poorly on Obama.”

    1. Susan the other

      Hanford is very frightening. It is decaying and falling apart just like Chernobyl. Bechtel analyzed it to see how best to dispose of the toxins and said there wasn’t really a way. So that leaves vitrification and storage for 100,000+ years – hence the construction of a vitrification plant on site. We will be working on Hanford for the next century it is such a mess. When leaks into ground water and rivers are a concern, a big dome like the one they just did over Chernobyl (very impressive) won’t work very efficiently. But I’d like to hear how they are going to prevent air pollution from vitrification smokestacks. Or maybe there is some clever chemical way to vitrify plutonium without furnaces. I hope they know what they are doing. And makes me wonder why Fukushima doesn’t vitrify – prolly because they haven’t yet retrieved the melted cores. These disasters are simply too expensive in every way.

      1. MoiAussie

        These disasters are simply too expensive in every way. Exactly. Unquantifiably so. Yet there are endless idiots arguing that nuclear is a cost-effective energy source, better than renewables. They don’t even factor in the cost of decommissioning and waste storage, let alone disasters.

    2. perpetualWAR

      The fact that there is literally no reporting of what’s going on is extremely troubling. Being in Seattle right now, is also troubling. A local news station has said no radiation leak detected, but that defies what I read about the staff to workers, “Do not eat or drink.”

      I talked to one scientist who said Tokyo should have been evacuated after Fukishima. Should Seattle?

      1. MoiAussie

        I think the problems at Hanford are chronic rather than acute. There’s contamination and leaks aplenty, and the tunnel collapse, whenever it actually happened, probably put some very dangerous dust into the air (breathing in hot particles is a recipe for a slow and painful death from cancer), but that will be very localized and will subside fast enough. There’ll be some extra jobs for fully suited workers for a while, but I suspect Seattle’s got little to worry about. From recent reports:

        After officials confirmed that the contamination had not spread, sheltered employees and non-essential employees of the facility’s 9,000 worker labor force were sent home, according to AP. An employee advisory is still in effect for workers today as crews prepare to fill the hole with new soil.

        The Energy Department also confirmed that no action was required for the nearly 300,000 residents in the surrounding Benton and Franklin communities, according to AP.

        Somewhat embarrassingly for Hanford management:

        A public tour was in progress when the breach in the tunnel was discovered. According to Hanford officials, the tour was cut short for precautionary reasons and no one was reported injured.

        Hanford tours, which started about two weeks ago, are open to the public and occur on most weekdays.

        That’s not a tour I’d sign up for.

  24. sid_finster

    By firing Comey, Trump has injected new life into Russiagate.

    Even though there is just as much evidence to suggest that Mickey Mouse murdered George Washington as there is to support Russiagate, those who want to find something will insist that Comey’s firiing proves that there *must* be something there. The fact that a few months ago, Democrats themselves insisted that Comey *must* be a Russian spy has already been forgotten. He is now their New Best Friend and an Official Martyr to Troof.

    Expect the Truimp Administration, now and for the foreseeable future, to be consumed with endless hearings, fishing expeditions, blocked appointments and witchhunts. Anyone who ever talked to a Russian person ever will be held up breathlessly as “proof” that Trump must be a Russian tool. Those who want to believe will profess to do so.

    Of course, Trump’s erstwhile friends and their Deep State allies will helpfully suggest that Trump start a war or two so that he can “prove” that he is in fact his own man.

    Trump has already shown himself to be succeptible to such suggestions. Do the math.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump won’t get away with forewarning the Russians before a missile strike again.

      Fool them once or fool them twice…

      “Very naughty, Donald.”

    2. Plenue

      The Clinton crowd has spent the last half a year whining about “Comey, Comey, Comey”. Now Trump has gone and fired that same Comey. I look forward to seeing how the Clinton’s try to twist things around and present the removal of this figure they’ve kept complaining about as a bad thing.

  25. freedeomny

    “Armstrong said without her medication she is suffering terribly. She said she qualified for medical marijuana but is not allowed to consume it where she lives, which is government housing.”

    WT…why is the government so strict about the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain? Here in NY they just allowed it for chronic pain in March and I suspect it was because so many of the dispensaries are losing money because of the small amount of people who can qualify for the program. It is just crazy to me – it’s not addictive, doesn’t promote violence and yet there is a liquor store on practically every corner….

    1. Bob

      “Armstrong said without her medication she is suffering terribly. She said she qualified for medical marijuana but is not allowed to consume it where she lives, which is government housing.”

      What a strange statement. All medical marijuana is illegal at the federal level; it matters not where you live. So far Jeff Sessions hasn’t followed through on his promise to enforce the federal marijuana laws, so she may as well try it. And if it works, problem solved. If not, then she should sign the form and get her prescribed medication. There is no reason for her to force herself to suffer. She has erected her own wall between herself and appropriate therapy.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Signing off on the opiates documents will not get her access to medical cannabis. Her refusal to sign is grounded in her reasonable belief that it is an abrogation of her constitutional rights to demand it of her.

  26. bob

    Humorless Prig Outrage Wallow

    “Reporter: Does the Comey firing cast a shadow over your talks?

    Lavrov: “Was he fired? You’re kidding.””

    The tweets that follow are horribly wonderful. An example-

    “Literal mocking. To our faces. WHILE standing inside the White House. This is so humiliating.”

    To OUR faces. The shame!

    1. JohnnyGL

      Huh, thanks for that one. That looked like a genuine expression of surprise from Lavrov.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    IT worker who trained H-1B-holding replacement aims for Congress ComputerWorld. Techies of the world, unite…?

    I hope he doesn’t propose the same idea as Sanders’ – let’s pay H1B workers more.

    For it’s more than the pay. It’s also about the prospect of an American permanent residence and later citizenship…yes, that externality…it lures men and women to accept more harshness at work.

    1. Synoia

      Yes, the Ds introduce legislation when it has no chance of passing, and is a symbolic act.

      When in power? Not so much.

      1. Vatch

        In 2013, Sen. Tom Harkin introduced S.410 – the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act:

        In 2011, he had introduced an identical or similar bill, S.1787 – the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act

        In 2013, Rep. DeFazio introduced the same bill as Sen. Harkin’s, H.R.880 – the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act:

        And before that, in 2011:

        Some Democrats introduce good bills, whether they are in the majority or not. How many Republicans do that?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Republicans do the rejecting part well.

          Once, they even rejected bank-bailout, when it first came up.

        1. Vatch

          Not true in this case, as my comment at 12:37 PM proves. Maybe my comment was still in moderation when you agreed with Synoia.

          But yes, it’s sometimes true, as we have seen with the phenomenon of villain rotation.

        1. cnchal

          Lloyd was channeling the ‘god helps those who help themselves’ to your money meme.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes that’s the main point of it. It’s not to collect revenue, but to limit speculation by making it unprofitable. All of these HFT people making tiny amounts on millions of transactions (aka frontrunning which is supposed to be illegal) will be put out of business by this kind of tax.

        Pretty sure the world will not end without the ‘liquidity’ they are supposedly providing.

        1. Sue

          Good luck on that one. Goldman Sachs & Co had been governing by proxy before. Now they have directly taken Washington over

          1. Vatch

            You’re quite correct; it won’t pass in the current Congress. However, due to the strangeness of the 2016 Presidential election, a lot of people have started paying attention to politics for the first time in their lives (or for the first time after years of avoidance). Spreading the word about bills like HR2306 (and other good bills like HR676 and HR790, and bad bills like HR1313), and we increase the chance that the good bills will pass in the next Congress.

            People can look up those bill numbers at

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the Carter-Sanders link:

    “I think the root of it is something that I haven’t heard discussed much,” Carter replied. “I believe the root of the downturn in human rights preceded 2016, it began earlier than that, and I think the reason was disparity in income which has been translated into the average person, you know good, decent, hard-working middle class people feeling that they are getting cheated by the government and by society and they don’t get the same element of health care, they don’t get the same quality education, they don’t get the same political rights.”

    Which came first: Inequality or Authoritarianism?

    Carter and Sanders say inequality came first.

    I wonder though.

    Something must have come before inequality to cause it.

    1. Vatch

      Something must have come before inequality to cause it.

      Differences in luck, talent, and hard work. Especially luck.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        All those and more.

        More, as in, a not caring government, or a captured government, for example.

        And a captured government can easily be authoritarian, in many ways.

  29. Anon

    Re: Doomsday Scenario

    A link that should be added to the above category is the article in Rolling Stone Magazine by Jeff Goodell, “Doomsday Glacier”.

    This a well-written, general audience, discussion of the mechanism of glacier melting and the near-impending, catastrophic rise of the oceans by 13 feet.

    Yes, the climate catastrophe could happen in YOUR lifetime. (No hyperbole required.)

  30. Pookah Harvey

    I think Trump is nervous that any investigations concerning the Russians will open a can of worms about his financial condition. Greg Palast who has covered Trump for many years seems convinced he is essentially bankrupt.

    Donald Trump plays a billionaire on television. There’s no evidence at all that he’s a billionaire that’s credible. He’s got properties worth billions of dollars, but they’re mortgaged up to the hilt, okay, like, 40 Wall Street, the Trump Towers. They’re mortgaged through the eyeballs, as they’ve always been. That’s why Trump’s gone bankrupt four times, because he’s just always on the financial edge.

    And the recent story that Eric Trump told a journalist that Trump was getting all his funding from Russian oligarchs for his golf resorts seems to add to the financial connections between Russia and Trump.

    “So when I got in the cart with Eric,” Dodson says, “as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks—because of the recession, the Great Recession—have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”

    Trump’s reluctance to show any financial info would indicate that Palast might be right and Trump’s base would rapidly disappear as his big selling feature is his supposed financial acumen.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another one to worry about as well is this – will politicians make money giving speeches in, say, China or Russia?

      That’s for post-retirement.

      Before a candidate runs, we have this question: More than demanding scripts, in case of giving speeches to Wall Street bankers before running, should we ask for an investigation, based on the assumption that when you have money connection with some entity or some person, it’s independent investigation time?

      Actually, base on inductive evidence, the likelihood is high for any commander-in-chief to profit from post-presidency paid speeches. So, might as well be proactive, and investigate every president while still in office.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Palast should stick to vote fraud.

      Trump’s major real estate holdings are UNDERLEVERAGED by over $1 billion. He could easily pull out more cash if he wanted to.

    3. witters

      “Trump’s base would rapidly disappear as his big selling feature is his supposed financial acumen.”

      are you serious?

  31. optimader

    The Vatican.. rushing willy-nilly into the 20th century

    The vonference honours Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science.

    In 1927, Lemaitre was the first to explain that the receding of distant galaxies was the result of the expansion of the universe, a result he obtained by solving equations of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

  32. juliania

    As an Orthodox Christian, I am disappointed in John Helmer’s diatribe against the Russian Orthodox Church’s acquisition of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

    But rather than tangle in church vs. state complexities and their application in Russian law, I’ll simply take issue with the claim of the headline and first telling of the story of the genesis of the Biblical Isaac. For the text does not claim that Isaac’s father Abraham laughed. It was his mother, Sarah, who did so. As follows:

    ‘They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” He said, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”‘ [Revised Standard Version translation]

    One might expect an article dealing with such sensitive issues would take care from the very first paragraph to present a fair and accurate report. I did read the entire article; I do not think this has been the case here.

    It is Sarah who laughs, and is afraid to admit it. Not Abraham. Not Isaac. And apparently her laugh is forgiven her; that’s the message I get from the text, not one of ‘having the last laugh’ at all.

  33. Kim Kaufman

    From Democracy Now this morning, speaking with Glenn Greenwald:

    GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is what we were getting at earlier, which is, if you’re the Trump administration and you really believe that Jim Comey has access to incriminating evidence, on some level, the last thing you would want to do is so publicly fire him, especially in the most humiliating manner possible, not notify him—

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, he didn’t tell him. He didn’t tell his—yeah.

    GLENN GREENWALD: Not tell him, right.

    AMY GOODMAN: He was briefing people in the L.A. office. I think he—it was on TV.

    GLENN GREENWALD: He learned it from TV. So they fired him in the most humiliating, vindictive manner possible. You could not have converted somebody into an enemy more reliably than what they did. And I think a lot of people would agree in Washington, Comey is a very shrewd operator. He knows how to stick knives into people’s backs without his fingerprint. The last person you want as an enemy freelancing against you is Jim Comey. So I think there’s going to be all kinds of really fascinating developments, now that Comey is freed from what had been this kind of stifling role as FBI director, where he really couldn’t speak publicly about much of anything.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And why, do you think—why didn’t Trump tell even senior White House officials that he was intending to do this?

    GLENN GREENWALD: So I think one of the most difficult tasks, literally, on the planet is to try and divine the thinking of the Trump White House. You never know the ratio of malice versus ineptitude. They’re so inept as a staff. It could just be they have no idea how to do anything, or it could be the way they did it to Mitt Romney: They wanted to humiliate him in as public of a manner as possible.

    Pass the popcorn…

  34. Kim Kaufman

    Jeff Sessions Recused Himself From Russia Inquiry But Was Working On Firing James Comey Anyway

    The New York Times reported that senior White House and Justice Department officials “had been working on building a case against Mr. Comey since at least last week, according to administration officials. Mr. Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire him, the officials said.”

    Did anyone really think Sessions had actually recused himself?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He recused himself from the Russia investigation. That didn’t mean he wasn’t still, as Attorney General, still effectively Comey’s boss. And the Russia investigation was being run at a much lower level at the FBI.

  35. Alex Morfesis

    Google is as close to a natural monopoly as….”the german whisper”…before the great electronic library and information display platform know as the internet came to life from arpanet…the physical net was in fact the vast public libraries across america…”the german whisper”…100 years ago there was a “fake news” attack and it was rather successful…

    “the german whisper”…

    mister citizen You are on the firing line. Imperial Germany is not merely attacking on the western front. She is attacking in every community in the United States…

    Sound familiar ??

    Thus began a booklet put out by the “National Council on Defense” by…drum roll please…the federal government…

    There was a national attack on all things german and anything that might offend “our allies”…

    The “country council of defense” worked a boycott of Hearst publications and many librarians emptied shelves of books deemed pro german and seditious…

    Hearst had a movie…”patria”…which was effectively destroyed from rewrites and govt persuasion against theaters that were to show it…the movie showed america dealing with an invasion from japan and mexico…mexico having just dealt with its own mini civil war…

    Robert Goldstein had his “spirit of 76” buried by attacks and censorship…

    Berzelius…it can’t happen here…

    Mister sinclair lewis…it did happen here…

  36. Hope beyond the lesser evils

    This article adds to the “tired of choosing between lesser evils”. It is a systematic thing throughout Europe to have the right neoliberals vs the left-hand fraction of the right neoliberals.

    Combine that with these stats: Would you join a large-scale uprising against the government?”

    One of the few lights in the tunnel is that no power in the world can resist the will of the people once it really sets in motion no matter how oppressive.

  37. Daryl

    Re: only 36% of Indian engineers write compilable code

    I would like to see this redone with American engineers.

    Methodology would also be nice. I will happily admit that a lot of my code doesn’t run properly the first time I write it.

    1. MoiAussie

      Almost noone codes without typos which prevent initial compilation, except on trivial tasks, unless the IDE is doing all the work for them. What matters is how long it takes to eliminate them, and whether code that does compile is free of logic rather than spelling errors, and is well designed. A more interesting statistic was that

      “… only 2.21% [of] engineers possess the skillset to write logically correct code with best efficiency and least time-space complexity.”

        1. MoiAussie

          I went back and read the actual report which is a 20 page ppt. It didn’t give any examples of the programming tasks, so it’s hard to judge their complexity. The following points are interesting, and possibly controversial.

          The 36,800 candidates assessed were about 60% male, 40% female, from 500 colleges. The college ranking stats don’t add up, but claim to be 28.7% Tier 1 colleges, 22.7% Tier 2, 31.3% Tier 3.

          Overall, 6.64% of males and 1.81% of females were able to produce logically correct code or code with minor logic errors that compiled and ran.
          Considering only Tier 1 colleges, 11% were able to do this (males and females combined). Tier 2 was less than 2%, Tier 3 less than 1%.
          Considering only “Top 100” colleges, about 15% were able to do this.

          For the Top 100 colleges, these stats seem roughly comparable with what I’d expect for US students still in college, and I wouldn’t expect a high gender differential. NOTE, the by-gender breakdown was not given for Top 100 or Tier 1, only overall.

          Executive summary: Don’t hire software engineers from Tier 2 and 3 Indian colleges, unless they were in the top 1% of their class.

          1. craazyboy

            The benchmark is meaningless and totally without merit. It’s a throwback to ancient days when programmers “bench coded”, then typed up a big stack of punch cards, then hauled the big box to the nice man on xanex at the window to the mainframe room. Turnaround time for a compile and run with successful output was 2 hours to never.

            Nowadays, actually since the eighties, we have “dev environments” which work like fancy word processers. It’s more like scribbling on a chalkboard to focus on and refine your design ideas. Then go from there. I’d use my compile button like a stress reliving squeeze toy. Besides, if enlightened management saw you scribbling around with pencil and eraser on a legal pad for hours, they’d assume you were screwing off. Better to cruise the internet and claim you are looking for proven code to cut and paste!

  38. Kim Kaufman

    The White House Just Used a Brazen Backdoor Move to Bypass the Senate

    A loophole allowed the Trump administration to install a Wall Street lawyer to take over one of the nation’s most powerful regulators without a hearing or confirmation.

    “In a week in which Donald Trump fired the person investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia, it will surely come as a shock to learn that the circumstances under which financial services lawyer Keith Noreika became the head of a powerful Wall Street regulator were not totally above board.”

    1. MoiAussie

      Vanity Fair screeching, barf. While criticizing Trompe appointments is absolutely reasonable, this is way over the top. The suit gets to take the wheel for 4.3 months tops. Someone approved will have to take over. I doubt a similar process has never been followed done before.

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