Links 5/15/17

Ten years after the crisis, what is happening to the world’s bees? The Conversation

Strapped Pension Funds, and the Hefty Investment Fees They Pay Gretchen Morgenson, NYT

Silicon Valley has too much power FT

Fraud in Silicon Valley: Startups Show Their Unethical Underside Fortune

Silicon Valley: A Reality Check Slate Star Codex

Waymo Forges Driverless Car Tech Tie-Up With Lyft Amid Its Legal Battle With Uber Forbes


Trump considering how move of U.S. Embassy in Israel could affect Mideast peace Reuters. Hoo boy.

CentCom Breaks “Safe Passage” Deal – Making Its Allies Bleed For It Moon of Alabama. Not a reliable negotiating partner.

The return of a Shia-order in the Middle East? Al Jazeera (Re Silc).

Syrian De-Escalation Memorandum a Significant Step New Eastern Outlook. Russian think-tank, but interesting nonetheless.

Saudis to boost US ties with $40bn investment: Report Middle East Eye


May gives all workers new rights to time off The Times. After years of Blairism, Labour’s clothes are so threadbare it’s easy for the Tories to steal them.

The Brexit Election Battleground: The North East Brexit Central

Nicola Sturgeon admits an independent Scotland might not seek immediate membership of the EU The Telegraph

Is Labour’s manifesto living in fantasy land? Quite the opposite Guardian

French Election

Analysis: The six big challenges facing France’s new president Emmanuel Macron The Local

France’s Macron takes power, vows to heal division, restore global status Reuters

Merkel’s conservatives score windfall victory in key regional election Politico. North Rhine-Westphalia.

Germany’s Strategic Frivolousness Handelsblatt. Hmm…


China’s President Xi Casts Country as Guardian of Globalization WSJ

One Belt, One Road — and many questions FT

India slams China’s One Belt One Road initiative, says it violates sovereignty Times of India

China’s economy loses momentum as policymakers clamp down on debt risks Reuters

On the South China Sea, the US and Asean are increasingly on different pages SCMP

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Sinking of HMS ‘Victoria’ Led the Royal Navy Astray War is Boring. It seems that navies have Minsky moments, too.

What Is America’s Goal in the World? Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

New Cold War

Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow WaPo. Clarifying to see James “Not wittingly” Clapper become a liberal icon…

Trump must be impeached. Here’s why. Lawrence Tribe, WaPo. It’s never been clear to me why Democrats think invoking Watergate would be persuasive to Republicans. It would be like Theresa May invoking Waterloo to close a deal with Macron. Na ga happen.

Russian Election Meddling ‘Well Documented,’ Tillerson Says Bloomberg. “‘I don’t think there’s any question that the Russians were playing around in our electoral processes,’ Tillerson said in an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press with Chuck Todd’ on Sunday. He added that the impact of that meddling was ‘nconclusive.'” From “hacking” to “interfering” to “meddling,” with the final term of the declension seeming appropriate for bots propagating RT clips on Facebook. On this topic, The Blob reminds me of an elephant trumpeting and stamping at the sight of a mouse. Not a good look, at least for the elite of a great (“indispensable”) power that wishes to appear confident and competent.

A Special Prosecutor Is Not the Answer David Frum, The Atlantic

How Senators reacted to Comey dismissal FT. A very useful tabulation.

U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to turn over any Comey tapes Reuters. Including Republican Senators Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham.

Analysis: Donald Trump has biggest credibility gap of any president since Nixon Susan Page, USA Today

Being Russian-American Is a Leeettle Awkward Right Now Fusion

Trump Transition

Something Trump and Elizabeth Warren agree on: Bringing back Glass-Steagall to break up big banks Los Angeles Times

Why the road to Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure investment is marked with potholes CNBC

Editorial How the Trump administration has quietly stalled refugee resettlements Los Angeles Times

What do we mean when we talk about sanctuary cities? Nevada Independent

GSA starts translating Trump’s priorities into acquisition policy Federal News Radio

Trump signs long-awaited cyber order, launching hacking defense review Politico

Senate fails to kill Obama methane rule that had looked doomed Los Angeles Times

Is That a Democratic Tsunami Taking Shape for 2018? New York Magazine

The Kennedy Democrats don’t want Politico (DK).

Ex-governor’s ambitions paved way to dam crisis, records say AP. Oroville.

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board American Prospect

Ohio’s sale of prison farms comes despite $8.9 million in upgrades Columbus Dispatch (BC). BC writes: “Governor Kasich’s administration wants to no-bid the sale of State property used by the prison farm system. The concern is that, without an open bid, the land will be sold for a fraction of its value as political favors to Kasich donors. The sale is being rushed without debate as well, so many unintended consequences are coming up too. For example several charities have relied on donated excess food from the prison system to feed disabled or poor people that they serve. The rapid timeframe is also impacting local small businesses that provide services or equipment.” Just in time for the Sanders v. Kasich debate on May 16!

South Carolina consulting firm’s ‘tentacles’ have created an ‘unprecedented’ political power structure Post & Courier

Six Months After The Election, What Does “The Resistance” Mean Now? Esquire. Then as now, it means that Neera Tanden can put “Resist.” in her Twitter profile photo, without irony.

Class Warfare

Signing Away the Right to Get a New Job NYT. “The growth of noncompete agreements is part of a broad shift in which companies assert ownership over work experience as well as work.” Holy moley.

‘They don’t want compassion. They want respect’ FT

Working Class Has the Blues, and Elites Lack Answers Bloomberg

Trickle-Down Economics is Not True Capitalism Evonomics

Why Golfers Overestimate Their Ability WSJ

How real books have trumped ebooks Guardian

Maine’s richest source of maple sugar faces uncertain future Bangor Daily News

Antidote du jour:

Happy post-Mother’s Day….

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. MoiAussie

    Saudis to boost US ties with $40bn investment: Report

    Payoff for past and future US support for Saudi war crimes. Be interesting which corporations get the $$$.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      China can do at least $400 billion, to make America great again, creating jobs for Americans.

      Other big foreign reserves nations like Japan and Taiwan will have to shape up soon.

  2. Bill Smith

    “CentCom Breaks “Safe Passage” Deal – Making Its Allies Bleed For It”

    The local news, in Kurdish Syria and Baghdad (the Baghdad Post for example) have stories saying it was an undeclared agreement with a local Kurdish commander. It covered only about 70 ISIS fighters.
    The US was not part of the agreement.

    One news report says further more:

    “An agreement has been reached, whereby ISIS terrorists shall leave Tabqa after securing a safe passage towards Raqqa. Al-Thawrah city’s remaining terrorists refused to withdraw; the vast majority of them were non-Syrians.”

    So not everyone left?

    1. JTMcPhee

      I hope people read the actual MoA article and the links and comments there. Might help them to judge the wisdom and competence and aims of “our” Highly Respected Warfighters carrying on that undeclared War on Everywhere, including in Syriaqistan. And then ask another question about the aims of the 7:24 comment, which perhaps inadvertently or not supports the Narrative and adds a quantum of fear, uncertainty and doubt to the “story.”

      Ah, yes, we can take comfort that “The US was not part of the agreement.” Except that appears to be a bit of a mischaracterization. The FUD version is based on unlinked “local news,” which I wonder how it would be characterized in an intelligence analysis prepared by an honest analyst working 9 to 5 for “our” government, who happened to be unafraid of the consequences of not doing an honest job… And as noted, this trick does make future tricks a little harder. But nobody over there plays by any kind of “rules” or “laws” anyway. And gee, it’s been “Russia, Russia, Russia” and murder-the-retreating-forces for quite a long time — one telling example, “the disastrous British retreat from Afghanistan:” So of course the “trick” will work, over and over again: see, e.g., “history of warfare.”

      Body count, my dear… it’s all about body count. And the money. And the careers, and retirements from said careers, and opportunities for baksheesh and raw looting, and the fierce excitement, akin to joy, I suspect, that comes from working a successful “operation” of disruption and/or demolition. Especially pleasing if done without exposure to return fire. See Obama watching the Osama police SWAT action in Paki, or HRC “We came. We saw. He died! Cackle cackle cackle!”

      And how, again, did there come to be so many “terrorists” in that part of the world? Are we back to calling them that again, is “insurgent” not a strong enough word? Recalling that “our troops” have engaged in what used to be “unlawful enemy combat” and “legitimate terror” (wedding parties, mosque and hospital bombings, “oopsie” bombings of Syrian national troops, “kill squads” and rapes and protection of opium production, corruption and support of local governments that engage in “:legitimate terror” of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, et perpetual veteran cetera.)

      And the remedy is more idiotic, or plain disingenuous, efforts to force “force structure” discipline on unruly warbands that morph daily, based on “non-objective” loyalties and perceived advantages? And add more weapons to the mix where the most-used words are “Allahu Akhbar!!!”? And stick to the overall plan to compel regime change on those formerly sovereign nations over there, to induce and preserve and maintain chaos, or at least put “our SOBs” at the top of the political structure?

      “Our Rulers can do no wrong, so stay calm and carry on.”

      But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.
      — Dr. Stephen Maturin, ”Master and Commander”
      Live-action TV
      Governments make policy. Soldiers have to accept those policies even when they’re completely contradictory. It’s the very definition of your job. A solider accepts that the face of “truth” changes on a daily basis.
      —Interrogator, Babylon 5 (“Intersections in Real Time”)

      But the lies, we have them always with us: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” – Winston Churchill quotes from, http://www.brainyquote.com

      Got to stay on message, keep the mopes befuddled and bemused. “Mockingbird,” “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War,” with a side of Bernays over warmed-over boollsh!t…

      1. a different chris

        It is amazing. “Words mean just what I say they mean.” Just contemplate this little phrase:

        “Al-Thawrah city’s remaining terrorists refused to withdraw”

        Not long ago at all, that sentence would have made no sense to anyone at all. A “terrorist” was somebody that did something awful to civilians and then disappeared into the night, threatening to appear again in some undisclosed elsewhere. Refusing to withdraw from fortified positions in a city when facing a legitimate (by today’s standards, anyway) army is the literal opposite of that important clause.

        Today the definition of terrorist is simply “people we want you to hate”. They may deserve hating, but during WWI and WWII and Vietnam everybody hated each other but even the Viet Cong weren’t described as “terrorists”, they were just armies with conflicting goals.

        But if they allow that they are an army, a classical political construct, whether a dislikable army or not, us bill-paying/children-sacrificing civilians will start asking about negotiations. “Hey, you tell us they are on their heels, won’t they come to the table?” And can’t have that, can we? — even if they were really in their last throes, which is not clear at all.

        I wish we had a Godwin’s Law for this.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @a different chris – “Today the definition of terrorist is simply “people we want you to hate”.”

          That’s the “side of Bernays over boollsh!t” that JTMcphee refers to.

      2. andyb

        In Vietnam, we had to do daily and weekly “body counts”, the higher the better. If a VC got blown into 100 pieces, that was good for at least 25 “confirmed”. Insanity never changes ( and never dies).

    2. Andrew Watts

      I had a stupid moment and accidentally deleted my original response this morning. So hopefully this one goes into moderation at least and not to spam heaven.

      It isn’t likely this situation will prevent any future deals and the important thing is that Tabqa city/dam is liberated from the Islamic State.

      So not everyone left?

      I can only speculate about this. When @CivilWarMap, who is generally a reliable source, reported that a deal took place it was soon denied by SDF. That lends credit to the idea it was a local deal on the tactical level between two commanders. Previous reports indicated that Daesh had at least 120 fighters left in the two districts they held plus a few dozen left in the dam. It could be that the rest decided to flee when that 70 man contingent gave up and that’s who Inherent Resolve attacked. If that’s the case there wasn’t any violation of the agreement.

      There was rumors during the battle that there were disagreements in the ranks of IS between foreigners and native born Syrians about a possible deal. The native fighters who aren’t as bloodthirsty, and have skin in the game, would flee with their families in tow. They would’ve avoided being attacked by the Coalition. But any measure which creates divisions between the native born Syrians from foreign jihadists who joined IS is worth pursuing.

      1. JTMcPhee

        So you don’t know,either, what the ground truths are in this particular episode. And the wise advice is just for the Empire to take “any measure” that increases divisions between the war bands, that that Imperial doctrine and strategy and tactics and dare one say massive incompetence have raised up or helped to do, is cool?

        What could possibly go wrong?

        1. Andrew Watts

          I don’t terribly care for the sanctity of agreements when they weren’t officially endorsed by SDF, or the Coalition, in the first place. It’s particularly irrelevant when the original terms were likely fulfilled with the agreed upon parties.

          And the wise advice is just for the Empire to take “any measure” that increases divisions between the war bands, that that Imperial doctrine and strategy and tactics and dare one say massive incompetence have raised up or helped to do, is cool?

          Has your hatred of American imperialism blinded you to the reality of the situation? For the people living in the territory adjacent to, or directly under, the Islamic State this isn’t a war of choice or imperialism. It’s survival. That’s the reason why the American troops patrolling the Turkey-Syria border were cheered on by all the locals. It’s why Arab teenagers are running away from home to join up with an organization dominated by Kurds. It’s how traditional and sometimes pro-Assad Arab/Kurdish tribes make common cause with former FSA rebels under the leadership of revolutionary socialists.

          And, no. I don’t maintain a lot of sympathy for the Islamic State. Particularly when they have gleefully committed genocide, carried out daily executions, frequently bomb civilian venues, and filled up numerous mass graves. Some of which are composed solely of children. Their failed recruits for their Caliphate Cubs program usually end up there.

          Kick’em when they’re up,
          Kick’em when they’re down,
          Kick’em when they’re up,
          Kick’em when they’re down,
          Kick’em all around

          1. JTMcPhee

            More of the same, with no hope for anything better or even different, except newer weapons and more death and corruption? With multiple proofs, over generations, now, that this stuff does not work to achieve the nominally stated goals?

            You want to impeach me with a charge of hatred of the Empire? That kind of hatred is as effective as hating the moon for causing flood tides. Naturally, I have no use for the people that run the Empire and the ones who play the current Great Game. Nothing I can do about it but protest a little, and witness how I can.

            And maybe you see something “humanitarian” in an R2P vein in all that bathos about Evil ISIS. The other irregulars “we” hire or create by Imperial actions are well within an order of magnitude as bad as ISIS, which there is some agreement that “we” had a hand in creating. You apparently accept the premise that the Empire can do whatever it damn wants, national sovereignty be beggared. Bombing and boots on the ground and Secret Squirrel Special Ops and the rest, along with all the corruption and collateral damage that fills a whole lot of graves, ain’t going to do a dam thing to point all the players in a more decent direction. This is not some Call of Duty or Game of War scenario. Killing jihadis or whatever the “enemy of the day identifier” is, especially in the selectively biased and disingenuous and corrupt and incompetent way the Empire goes about it, ain’t going to end the killing and demolition and destabilization, just the opposite.

            One might be excused for concluding that is the plan, if there’s any big picture plan at all. The Saudis and Likudniks serm to favor the crap we are doing, and many Supra-national corporate interests just LOVE it. I hope your concern for the poor children is sincere, but I think your notion of tactics and strategy might be making many more little dead children and women,as well as “fighting age male wogs.”

            So you and I are, as they say, just going to have to disagree. Fortunately for you, but not so much for the ordinary people you profess concern for, all the money and momentum are on the “side” you align with.

  3. Dita

    Re Is That A Democratic Tsunami Taking Shape – The Dem strategy, predictably, has been merely to hold the line, without actually changing their loser ways. Since we’re trapped in a duopoly, there’s an assumption that voters have nowhere else to turn. There’s another, and I think more likely, possibility the article ignores, which is that former Obama voters who went to Trump will just sit out the midterms and the republicans will maintain their grip. I think voters fed up first by the Dems and then by Trump, may simply give up altogether.

    1. MoiAussie

      The various forces of good trying to remake the Dems into a progressive party should unite under the banner of “The Democratic Tsunami” and create a wave of purification that drowns the current DNC elites and washes away their Wall Street connections.

      Not the tsunami the writer had in mind, but the outcome would be infinitely superior to putting the business-as-usual Dems back in control.

          1. John k

            She would never abandon MIC, MSM or insurance! What kind of Noah do you take her for?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      2010 and 2014 seem like striking examples. The Party of “No”, Birtherism, and Benghazi triumphed despite early predictions that the Democrats could do nothing and win 11ty kajillion seats.

  4. MoiAussie

    Working Class Has the Blues, and Elites Lack Answers

    Starting from the headline, which trivializes the plight of the working class and ignores the responsibility of elites for the sorry state of affairs in which they suffer, this appalling piece seems to be directed solely at elite or aspiring-elite audiences.

    In the previous installment Smith tried to hose down resentment of elites by arguing that those responsible were hard to identify. With out any apparent awareness of the irony, he suggested:

    The problem with populism isn’t that its anger is unjustified — lots of people are really hurting, and the economic and political systems really are deeply unfair in many ways. It’s that the anger is aimed in all directions in a confused jumble of blame and resentment.

    This confused jumble of blame seems to be exactly what he was trying to foster with that article in order to give elites a pass, and it’s more of the same in part 2, where the aim seems to be to sow confusion about who exactly is the suffering working class. Having tried this on, he concludes:

    So there are multiple ways of defining the working class, and each one leads to different policy implications. Should elites assuage the anger of the working class with income redistribution, social insurance and other policies to help the poor? Should they try to make college degrees less important for finding work? Should they try to bring back manufacturing employment and/or routine manual tasks?

    It’s easy to say that elites — whoever they are — should just push for all of the above, but that dodges the question of what the priorities need to be. If the U.S. and the U.K. are really in the midst of dangerous populist revolts, there can be no delay.

    Reading between the lines, this seems to be a call for some elite-funded think tank to do some careful analysis of how dangerous populism can be extinguished at minimal cost by a few well targeted handouts and half measures. FFS, the elites are rich enough that all of the above and a whole lot more could be done without them feeling any meaningful pain, just minor bruising to their sense of entitlement.

    1. Montanamaven

      Thanks for link to the first installment “Populist attacks on Elites are a Dead End.”. So Smith is sticking with this rather stupid thesis that because elites are not a monolith or angry populists are not a monolith, we must continue to scratch our heads about answers. I’m always torn between clueless and conniving when I read something like this that people get paid for. I tend towards thinking he is in great part clueless or gullible since I have liberal friends who become so caught in ideology that they too continually cannot see the forest, but only a tree or two. But my friends are unpaid propagandists and he presumably is paid, so he may be willfully clueless?

      1. MoiAussie

        My vote, rather obviously, is for conniving, although they aren’t mutually exclusive. The bit about deciding “what the priorities need to be” seems to be focused on lowest cost solutions.

        I could however be convinced by clueless. After all, he writes “It’s easy to say that elites — whoever they are — should just push for all of the above” without seeming to realise that the very idea of elites pushing for measures to help their victims is utterly laughable. The pushing for measures to help will always be by others, and against elite resistance.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          As far as journalist go, I point to Jon Stewart as the most trusted man in news and having the most informed audience of any “news” outlet.

          Jon Stewart was a history major from the University of William and Mary; although he might not be an expert on a particular matter, he was definitely exposed to enough historical reference points to have a handle on current events. Admittedly he owed McCain a great deal personally* and was long time friends with Anthony Wiener, his other interviews were interesting compared to the garbage everywhere else. He often listened and posed questions based on new evidence as opposed to reading the pre-written questions on cards.

          Jon Stewart is not a journalism or communications major. He didn’t go to school to be on tv. Its likely he wrote quite a bit at W&M and even made arguments in discussion groups even if he didn’t take a public speaking class. Journalism is an acquired skill, and it is not taught. The idea of trained journalists is an absurdity which attracts glory hounds who are interested in a status as a “truth teller” without telling the truth. Garbage in, garbage out.

          *In 2000, McCain recognized Steve Carrell and Ed Helms (I believe), Daily Show “correspondents”, and invited them onto his bus, changing the nature of the Daily Show radically. Without this, I bet Jon Stewart would have taken over the MTV news updates after a couple of years. His Kilborn-style Daily Show was okay. Kilborn was better at it.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              This. A 1000X this.

              Back in the aughts, Jon Stewart, and to a certain extent Stephen Colbert, kept me sane while I was at LSU studying Poli Sci.

              True Story: one of my professors, Jim Stone IIRC, taught some courses at Glenn Beck University.

          1. Montanamaven

            Stewart was good at first but eventually became mostly a Republican basher. But his interviews were always excellent as he genuinely was curious about the interviewee and he/she’s views. Curiosity is sadly lacking in our pundits and late night comics. Smug arrogance is just not very interesting.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I saw a few minutes of MSNBC, and I was reminded of the criticism that TV would make a Holocaust academic and a Holocaust denier seem like equals. That example seems absurd, but you and I are smart. We (the royal We) should be able to distinguish between a denier and an academic. During the few minutes I watched, what if they are all Holocaust deniers? How would you tell the difference if Holocaust were just yelling at each other?

        I look to the state of journalism as its simply a class of people who are basically Holocaust deniers (some hyperbole) who work for another class interested in the viewership denying the Holocaust.

        1. Carolinian

          I increasingly find myself tuning out the MSM altogether. This, of course, is the downside of lying. After awhile nobody believes anything you say. Perhaps Susan Page should make her next essay about the media’s own credibility gap. Given this context it’s really not surprising that many of Trump’s supporters are unmoved by his fibs and misstatements. He fits right in.

          If this hasn’t been linked here’s a good Mike Whitney essay on the current insanity.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “Make America Great” (again?) you know the red trucker hats

            “And its already great”

            This is why Trump can lie with impunity and not be particularly rationale if hes not capable of lying or not lying.

            At the end of the day, the one thing everyone can check is this. Making allowances for partisanship and fear of the GOP for obvious reasons, Trump did tell the truth (or what seems to be the truth; I don’t think he is capable of this kind of discourse) when no one besides Senator Sanders told the truth about the economy stateside.

            America has record high poverty, an unemployment problem, a social mobility problem, and on and on. The rich are doing great.

            The people, especially the media and Democrats too, are going into run into this dilemma. They swore by the stock market and Apple gadgets while people are struggling.

            If Hillary blamed the Jews for the bad economy, people might buy it as terrible as it sounds, but she lied about the bad economy. Trump blamed immigrants, but he didn’t lie about the bad economy in a sense.

            1. fresno dan

              May 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

              “If Hillary blamed the Jews for the bad economy, people might buy it as terrible as it sounds, but she lied about the bad economy. Trump blamed immigrants, but he didn’t lie about the bad economy in a sense.”

              great insight, well said.

          2. Brindle

            “I increasingly find myself tuning out the MSM altogether.”—that pretty much describes me.
            I watched a few minutes of the The Rachel Maddow Show the other day and it consisted of Rachel making smarmy and knowing looks into the camera as she talked and talked and talked about something (not sure what it was) . Anyway I changed the channel as it was obvious she mostly in love with the sound of her own voice. I find I watch RT as much as any MSM news outlet.

          3. BobW

            I watch the local news (and count how often one reporter says “actually”) but turn the tv off as soon as the national news comes on. Got to keep the blood pressure down.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      +100 You and Montanamaven described exactly what I was thinking as I read that article!!!

    3. jrs

      also makes a big deal out of whether people voted for Clinton or Trump. While Trump might be seen as more scary (so with Clinton nothing to worry about as far as populist anger I guess), neither could be said to strongly represent real material benefits for the working class. And with things like the ACHA it’s not hard to see why some suffering economically would see Clinton as the safer bet. It doesn’t mean there isn’t pain, apparently the elites only care if the working class threatens a far right reaction in response, problem is a far right reaction doesn’t benefit the working class much and hurts them in some ways too.

    4. cocomaan

      Thanks for pointing out this line:

      confused jumble of blame and resentment.

      While he asserts that it’s the populists with the confused jumble of negative opinions, it seems to me that it’s the elites that possess a confused jumble, but instead of failed ideas and a limitless well of excuses.

      If you ask working class people why they are pissed, chances are that you’ll get some frighteningly accurate answers about what exactly is wrong with the system as it is. They will tell you, in detail, what’s happened to put them in their position.

      1. Tim

        It’s hard to get a man to understand something that his job depends on him not understanding”

        I’d place my bets that is is the Elites who are most likely to never be able to make sense of their own confusion, while over time the populists will continue to clarify the roots of their troubles.

        My patience still persists for the answer to the question, “Just how democratic are we really?” I’m looking forward to the answer over the next decade or two.

        1. jrs

          maybe otoh a lot of people with BS jobs understand their jobs are BS. So they might UNDERSTAND very well, but what they can DO or SAY out in the open is another matter, that is if they want that paycheck to keep coming.

  5. Montanamaven

    OKay, “The Working Class Has the Blues and Elites Lack the Answers” is another in a series of puzzling, no correct that, stupid essays that should be filed under “Head Scratching Media Propaganda.” Gee, what happened on Nov 8, 2016? Why are people so angry? Put up some charts showing stagnating wages and then conclude that we can’t really do anything about the anger until we figure out how to define or name the angry people. If we define them in different categories, maybe there are different answers for each different group. For Example, If they are uncollegeeducated people, then is college the answer or is making college a requirement for a better job the problem?
    As the first two commenters state, the middle class want the money they are owed! The “Elites” have been taking all the profits and not giving the employees their share. It’s theft. And we need to look at it like this. For the time being under this crappy crony capitalist system, at least we should get what’s coming to us. “We want our money!” In the long term, worker owned businesses/cooperatives seem to be the logical and fair solution along with some sort of cushion for those who are vulnerable. Oh, and good universal health care.
    But instead of some kind of honest commentary, we get this stupid article. At least now these articles have comment sections that call out the b.s.

    1. John Wright

      I recognized the author “Noah Smith” as I had read some of his stuff before:

      Two pieces on his blog are titled:

      “Why Liberals should own guns” from (February 18, 2017)

      “No, we do not need an immigration “pause”” (February 7, 2017)

      Smith has been busy earning his neo-liberal bona fides..

      This piece has a touch of apparent empathy, but as noted, devolves to a lame “It’s easy to say that elites — whoever they are — should just push for all of the above, but that dodges the question of what the priorities need to be.”

      Note his current employment status as he has apparently transitioned from business school academia to the business media industry.:

      “Noah Smith is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.”

      I doubt if the the target audience for Bloomberg is the working class, and this column is more along the lines of “comfort food” for the unconcerned elite.

    2. Chris

      Yep. I’m glad I have NC in my daily feed as an antidote to the BS.

      Who are the Elite? It seems we’ve got a lot of useful markers in that article, plus some descriptors from Peggy Noonan, Thomas Frank, and even Barack Obama. Here us my definition, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy…

      If you and your family are insulated from any damage caused by the policies the people you vote for put in place, you are part of the Elite.

      If you make enough taxable income that Obama actually letting all of the Bush tax cuts sunset would have impacted you, about 250k$/year or 5 times the national average for a family, you are part of the Elite.

      If you have paid vacation, and employer sponsored insurance, which includes reasonable premiums and dental care, you are part of the Elite.

      If you’re more concerned about how to put more money into your 401(k) than how to pay your bills each month, you’re part of the Elite.

      If you actually have discretionary expenses you can give up to save money, you’re part of the Elite.

      And finally, if you really don’t understand why people are angry in this country, because all of your friends are doing fine, you are part of the Elite.

      1. RUKidding

        This! Very good.

        One “problem” with your analysis, however, is that a lot of what you list to define “elite” used to just define the middle class and even the portions of the working class. So citizens, such as myself, who have managed (mainly through luck of the draw) to continue enjoying such “perks,” don’t really consider ourselves Elite. We are, I grant you, but we didn’t used to be… and it wasn’t all that long ago that we weren’t Elites. Not even close.

        So just saying that the preponderance of my family members, friends and acquaintances wouldn’t get it that they’re now part of the Elite. When we think of the Elite, we are thinking mostly about the .001%. Of course, the PTB don’t want us to get it. They want us to remain smug about those “others” mostly in the Heartland/RustBelt/whatever who are barely hanging on by their fingernails, if that. We can be smug and look down on them because they didn’t get out while the getting was good. And we can pretend that it’s still a sort of level playing field and meritocracy in this country, and if you didn’t make it, it’s because you’re lazy or stupid or whatever (I posit that secretly most Democratic voters think that way. Not all, but most). Not even close anymore.

        1. Chris

          I agree. And feel free to add to my list or edit if you think it makes it more clear.

          I too am lucky enough to be in similar circumstances, with family members who were able to help out in many different ways to provide my children and I a safe transition to a better life in a high cost of living area. What’s hard to fathom is as far apart as I am from the 0.1, 0.01, and 0.001%, the poor in this country are from me. That’s tough to wrap my head around but I can understand it. I also understand why people in the professional class don’t want to admit it.

          What I don’t understand is how we came to believe in what is essenilly modern day Calvinsim. That if you are fortunate in your life you are part of the Elect/Elite and you deserve what you get. And if you’re poor you’re not going to get to heaven/retirement and you also deserve what you get. I feel like more people knew things like “The Secret” and the prosperity gospel were BS 20 years ago. Now it’s like everyone with a good job is secretly Joel Osteen. It’s nuts!

          1. RUKidding

            Another good commentary. Yes, most of us don’t get how very wide is the chasm between the remnants of what passes for middle class, plus the tiny bit of what remains of somewhat solid-ish working class, these days v. those who are in true & usually dire poverty.

            Where I get my daily dose of reality is the amount of homeless living in Sacramento CA. They used to estimate it was some lowish figure and how now deterimined (through a different metric) that it’s probably over 15,000! That’s just outrageous, but due to the work I do I see it Every. Single. Day. And I know that these people are desparate and not all are lazy or “enjoy” being on the streets.

            Plus I live close enough to a poverty-stricken area of our county that I see that reality every day.

            But yes, a lot of us on some level have drunk the Joel Osteen Kool Aid of prosperity “Xtianity” that says if you made it, the “heavenly father” smiles upon you bc you are automatically “good.” If you’re poor it’s because you’re not doing it right, so you deserve your fate.

            Well I think it’s a form of denial that some indulge themselves in. They like to believe that they are so liberal/progressive/whatever, and that they really do want to “help” the less fortunate, but they don’t want to have to sacrifice much to do so or help in any really meaningful, sustained way. And stuff like that.

            It’s why so many Democrats – I know a ton of them – don’t want to admit that Obama and the Clintons are no better than most Republicans and often are worse. It’s why they won’t admit what a giant sucking failure Clinton’s campaign was, and why they won’t admit to themselves that Clinton and Obama are both just Republicans in Democratic “drag”… mainly because they coulnd’t have climbed up the ladder in the Republican party because female and black, respectively.

            And finally, we/they just haven’t been hurt or suffered enough from the predations of NeoLiberalism to feel the pain that others feel. So why worry about it when I’m doing ok??

            And so on…

            1. Chris

              Oh my goodness yes. So many people in my group of friends and family suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome that I can barely say anything about politics.

              Me: “Sure would have been nice if the Obama administration actually pushed through all the SEC rules it left open for Trump to trash.”

              Everyone Else: “are you kidding me? How is that relevant? Have you seen the latest pictures of Trump with a dancing bear? Clear russian signal there. And why do you hate babies?”

              I like the idea of a Democrat in drag

        2. jrs

          “One “problem” with your analysis, however, is that a lot of what you list to define “elite” used to just define the middle class and even the portions of the working class. ”

          no kidding. Also mostly used to guilt people that somehow they are lucky to have paid vacation (which they on average don’t even fully use when they have it – because work ethic!) and benefits which are just middle class benefits that their middle class parents and grandparents probably had only they probably had real pensions not 401ks (if we assume a person from middle class background).

          I guess one could say government workers are the elite of the elite as they still have pensions. And of course everyone should have at least 4-6 weeks mandated paid vacation period as an absolute minimum. Any country that’s actually a modern industrialized country and not a 3rd world country already has this (all of the EU). The problem is the U.S. is a 3rd world country, and in a 3rd world country, middle class is considered an elite position.

          If what was formally middle class was really to consider themselves elite rather than one unlucky job loss away from ruin, they would probably, wait for it … vote Republican, afterall that is the party that represents pure class interest.

          1. Chris

            One note on your thoughts about vacation. I’m pretty sure the numbers on how much time off professionals take are accurate, but they’re probably misunderstood.

            A big difference between a knowledge worker or professional class person and a working class laborer is that it is possible for a professional to take their work with them on vacation so they don’t have to use their paid time off. Or not use all of it in a year so that they can bank it for emergencies or surgeries or an eventual payout when they leave the company. If you have a lap top, a cell phone, and your boss’s permission, you can take it all with you to do work poolside. It’s impossible for a line cook, a fireman, a UPS delivery person, a machinist, etc. to do that. I have a lot of friends who do that and take twice the amount of vacation they would be able to take in a year this way.

            I guess it’s kind of like how the Germans think the Greeks are lazy but you never see the Greeks on holiday at DisneyWorld ;)

            1. hunkerdown

              Down the scale a bit, some knowledge workers and professionals are strongly discouraged from going incommunicado even during their designated “vacation” intervals, especially in smaller shops. Such workers have become not only their own clerks but their own managers, with little ability to organize relief coverage, even at their own expense. The leash works both ways.

        3. jrs

          possibly a more useful way of looking at things than trying to classify people as elite or not which tends to break down (is someone with a college degree more or less elite than someone without? what if the person without the degree actually makes significantly more money? Is owning a home rather than renting elite? Does it matter where in the country we are talking about?) is to just classify people by roles. And it’s not as way of saying income doesn’t matter, it matters enough especially if it’s not sufficient, but it adds additional information.

          If someone must work for the vast majority of their income, ie must SELL THEIR LABOR to live, they are working class. However if this income they work for is performing a managerial role even if it’s in a blue collar environment, they still need to sell their labor for income, but they ALSO perform a very specific role for the ownership (capitalist) class. If they are law enforcement they do as well only more so. So they are both working class (must sell labor to live) and aligned with the capitalist class as well to a degree in their role (their intellectual sympathies are another matter, but not to even get into that, as it may not even matter, but to deal more concretely with the very specific and definable work role).

          Even if they are a small business owner with a few employees, which is most certainly ownership and not working class, they have a great deal of power over their employees then, and can be as brutal or more so than any large corporation where they have power, which is over their employees. But political and market power, not so much so.

          1. nowhere

            This is what I was largely going to say in a comment, as well.

            Making $250,000 a year in some parts of the country still poses a number of financial challenges, and I don’t mean making the choice of Aspen or Veil. The cost of housing, daycare, student loans, health insurance, etc. quickly mount up. And it’s still pretty easy to see homeless people and working people that barely scrape by on subsistence wages and to realize that your fortune clearly puts you in the hanging on to the lower (but not the lowest) rung of the American Dream, but doesn’t afford you the benefit of being elite (in any sense of true power to set policy or opinion), when one job loss can send you cratering.

            Rather than calling this elite, I think this is what should be the floor for all people. And the biggest hesitation I would make in calling this a floor, is trying to figure out the fairest way to bring everyone into security without materially destroying the environment.

            To steal a line from the Slate Star Codex article, this makes you an “average well-off person”.

            1. Chris

              I agree that 250k$/year, while being a nice chunk of change, is no ticket to a stress free financially independent life. In places like San Jose, it practically makes you working poor! Making that kind of money where I live wouldn’t put me in the upper 50% of earners in my neighborhood.

              But it is a choice to live in a place like that and spend your income on those things in a high cost of living metro area. You don’t have to do it. And if we’re not willing to say that someone making 5x the average isn’t well-off and bumping into the higher strata of our society…then those words have no meaning and we have to remove income from any consideration of class. Which is clearly bonkers.

              It’s good to think about how to give everyone a measure of security and humanity though. I hope we can do it.

              1. nowhere

                I largely agree with you, but would like to make note that for a large number of people that graduate in science and engineering some of the only jobs available are in those high price areas. Tack on the required student loan payments and that is more incentive to live where jobs are more plentiful (in case of the arbitrary firing or layoff). This pressure combined with the effects of R&D reductions posted on this site a few days ago, and there is a lot of pressure reside on these areas.

                I think it should be reworded to being 5x the average in that area, not a national average.

      2. aletheia33

        how about this one–?

        if you live in such a place or way that you never have to look at poor/unemployed/homeless people, you are part of the Elite.

        1. Chris

          That’s good too!

          It’s all kind of squishy. Like the classic “I know it when I see it” definition of pornography. I just choked on the article’s author saying “the elites – whoever they are” because clearly there are some useful markers we can discuss. And equally clear, as another commenter mentioned above, the author’s bosses know who the elite are because they make up their target demographic.

  6. From Cold Mountain

    Wondering what you all think of this, seems to be from people who got things right in the past and Claude Taylor worked on Bill Clinton’s staff:

    Separate sources with links to the intelligence and justice communities have stated that a sealed indictment has been granted against Donald Trump.

    See the following Twitter feeds:

    Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor

    A lot of stupid is surrounding it all, so have some coffee first…

    1. MoiAussie

      Ah yes, Mensch and Taylor, those rabid conspiracy theorists and propangandists for the liberal cause.
      Last week it was President Orrin Hatch they were pushing.

      For Yves’ opinion, see here.

      1. From Cold Mountain

        I hate the internet…thanks.

        To see the energy people are putting in to this is disturbing and disheartening. Hours on Twitter back and forth with each other over a rumor? And the time I spent on it as well. I need to go out and give money to the homeless to repent for my sins…

        1. Pat

          A lot of people have this delusional thought. Admittedly a celebrity, but was at something with Robert Deniro where he disparaged Trump, interviewer followed up with what can we do. Deniro’s answer was, of course, “impeach him”. Beyond the lack of thought of the consequences of a President Pence, the idea that anyone in the auditorium where he was saying this had the ability to impeach any President was head shaking. (This was particularly blinders on statement if you consider it was at something promoting his telemovie on Bernie Madoff, about the only financial guy who went to jail And that wouldn’t have happened if he could have kept the ponzi scheme together.
          There is a part of me that wonders anymore if most of those who blithely go on about impeachment believe that will lead to President Hillary. The outrage is so outsized even beyond the media hype. Lots of hurt feefees out there.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Psychologically, many people need the Catholic equivalent of annulment, and not that of divorce.

            “He was never president one day.”

            So, an impeachment is not enough.

            “The nightmare never happened.”

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            There is a part of me that wonders anymore if most of those who blithely go on about impeachment believe that will lead to President Hillary.

            I actually think there’s more to this than initially meets the eye.

            Delegitimizing Trump’s election as the result of Russian interference–hillary won the popular vote by millions, threat to the bedrock of our republic, and “act of war”–delegitimizes Pence as well.

            It’s not hard to see those, still nursing a massive grudge, making the case that a do-over is the only logical remedy in an exceptional democracy such as ours. An example for the planet. And this time she wouldn’t lose.

          3. RabidGandhi

            The president is the father of the nation, who issues all policy and is responsible for everything that happens in the land: a glorious leader if you will, embodying whom the people of the nation strive to be. If the Glorious Leader is bad, then s/he needs to be replaced with someone good. The best thing to do is to have the right person (s)elected as Glorious Leader, because then everything will be better. It is thus every citizen’s highest duty to ensure the right Glorious Leader is chosen.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          How did the national security apparatus with unlimited access to private information through the NSA miss so much damaging data back in early 2015?

          1. From Cold Mountain

            I would not make the assumption that they would not keep something private for personal gain rather than make it public for public gain. (This is not an endorsement!)

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Snowden demonstrated they have little control over or understanding who has access. Don’t forget the Congressional hearings which revolved around NSA employees pre-Snowden using the NSA to spy on family and friends.

              What was Obama’s personal gain?

              1. From Cold Mountain

                I did not mean Obama specifically. Just about anyone who wants to exert control or pressure over people in power might have an interest in having information.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  How do they exert control over the next Snowden? Obama crushed whistle blowers, and Obama couldn’t stop it.

                  All it takes is one person to reject the discourse with access. How many people have access to the Trump dossier? Did they agree? Did they pinky swear? Was it sent out a memo? What is the process for making sure everyone is on the same page?

                  The allegations are about collusion with a foreign government. This would make anyone sitting on “this” effectively guilty of treason. If there was evidence it would have already come out.

                  Trump just beat the wife of a former President and the son of a former President and former CIA chief. His defeated opponents had connections and could have easily protected and celebrated a leaker. Even with a self selective and screened group, there isn’t a single person who might have worried about a light case of treason.

                  Besides the lack of evidence and even a coherent argument for what Trump might have done, the narrative for how it might have slipped through the cracks doesn’t make sense.

    2. RabidGandhi

      I’m way out of my league here, but in most systems I know of, the head of state needs to be impeached before she/he can be indicted. Is this not true in the US? I remember some debate around this back in the 90s, but at the time it just seemed the answer just depended on whether you asked a D (“no!”) or an R (“yes!”).

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Isn’t their an indictment in Texas for Pope Benedict? It didn’t matter when he was Head of State, but hes retired now. I believe there was discussion about him staying in the Vatican because he would be open to prosecution elsewhere.

        My mom’s hometown did put out arrest warrants for then President Shrub and VP Cheney, but they had no power to arrest them.

        One would think the phrase “indictment” in any story focusing on the President as a target of an indictment from the DoJ would be a sign it was false. The prosecution of the President falls to Congress under the Constitution. Part of the reason, the Starr Report cost so much money was he was “independent” of the DoJ and had to functionally start from scratch as Congress let its own investigate abilities go to rot.

        It would appear there was an indictment issued against Charles Taylor when he was still head of state. A second set of indictments was issued later after he was head of state, and he was prosecuted under those.

        1. Katharine

          Strictly speaking, the impeachment, not the prosecution, of the President falls to Congress. Congress has no power to prosecute crimes in the usual sense. Conviction following impeachment has very limited penalties but may be followed by ordinary indictment and prosecution.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Congress has the power to prosecute crimes they handle. They just usually farm it out to the DoJ. The Starr Report was unique and cost because they had to start from scratch.

            The Master at Arms has the power to arrest people. He even has a mace or baton. Isn’t the congressional jail part of a tour now? I believe the building is still standing?

            1. Katharine

              That’s not a constitutional power, i.e. enumerated in Article I Section 8. Do you know its basis?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner



                I misspoke that it was meant for criminal activities but violating the rules and actions of the respective House. Also its the “sergeant at arms” not master.

                This is a case of common law. Congress has to be able to function. Without this power, it can’t function. As its such an obvious need, there would be no reason to enumerate it as the various parliaments existence already had a similar practice. Any Congress would have this power by virtue of being a congress or parliament.

      2. RabidGandhi

        Also, not that Mensch/Taylor’s drivel really needs to be rebutted, but Taylor’s tweet claims that

        @LouiseMensch and I are reporting that a sealed indictment has been issued against Trump by FISA court to serve as the basis of Impeachment.

        but since when do FISA courts issue indictments instead of a grand jury?

        1. From Cold Mountain

          Taylor later said he misquoted, and the original article never says the FISA court issued an indictment. But it seems stupid of Taylor to tweet that and it brings the credibility way down in my eyes.

          But just looking at those twitter threads, they sound as braggadocios and immature as Trump, so no matter who wins, we all lose.

            1. Andrew Watts

              I’m sure the British appreciate being able to export their third-rate intellectuals and commentators to the ‘States. I’m beginning to suspect this is a nasty joke at Uncle Samuel’s expense!

        2. MoiAussie

          @LouiseMensch and I are reporting …

          Twitter’s got a lot to answer for. Every effin’ jerk with delusions of grandeur and functional thumbs is now a reporter.

    1. katiebird

      This sounds like extortion to me. Especially (and I don’t actually feel like granting exceptions to that statement) since I’m pretty sure the companies demanding it don’t promise a lifetime job….

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Most of these agreements will not hold up, however that is not the point of them. As the examples in the article are presented, you realize that the point of the agreement is to bankrupt you in court fighting them. Fear is a wonderful motivation.

      1. katiebird

        Yeah. … The out is you have to give all your cash (and more) to lawyers or even the old company … then they will generously let you go back to work at your chosen career. I can’t stand thinking about this.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          The example presented where the person was laid off, and they still attempted to enforced the non compete, is especially galling. If you are let go it should null and void the agreement.

          1. a different chris

            I was once, after I thought all was said and done, handed a legal agreement to sign stating just what is being discussed here. I took my pen and added in ink that it did not apply if I was laid off. I expected pushback but nobody said anything.

            That was back when I was hot sh*t, whether that had something to do with it or not I do not know. Since I’m still somehow at the same place (:p) I do not know what would have happened if I had left for a competitor/tried to start a company in a related field. And of interest, said company was bought by a world-straddling behemoth and I literally do not know where I could go that wouldn’t be in competition.

            I do know that our co-workers in CA do not have to put up with that crap.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            That one needs advertising. As in, the perpetrating company should have been identified in the article. By forcing her to keep to the non-compete, they connived at bankrupting a past-middle aged woman after laying her off.

            Companies that do things like this should be in real danger of losing their incorporation or limited liability status. They should face the same degree of hindrance as their former employees.

    3. RabidGandhi

      Can’t have non-compete provisions if you have a collective bargaining agreement.
      Can’t have a collective bargaining agreement if you don’t have unions.
      Can’t have unions if you don’t have worker solidarity.

    4. justanotherprogressive

      What was old is new again. This is just feudalism, only now it is corporate feudalism……

        1. ambrit

          More civilized for the upper classes, yes, for the peasants, no. Stories of egregious abuse abound. There was that French Nobleman who hunted his own land tenants, to death for “sport.” There were good reasons why the French commonality rose up against their aristocratic class, and pretty much wiped it out.
          For an idea of the extremes that any aristocracy, whether of wealth, “merit” or birth will go to, I submit the works of the Marquis de Sade for consideration. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is basically a reboot of de Sade’s “Justine,” or maybe it’s “Juliette,” or both.

          1. Katharine

            I was thinking of England, know much less about France. Villeins didn’t have much in the way of rights (except for what they could wangle under the custom of the manor), but other feudal relationships did have some defined rights and remedies.

            1. ambrit

              The scope of those “defined rights and remedies” make a difference. I’ve seen it argued that King John signing the Magna Carta saved the English monarchy by spreading out the responsibility for blame when things went wrong for the “common” folk. (King John is arguably the most intelligent person to ever sit the Throne.)

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                They furthered the spreading out of responsibility by including the parliament, and the people.

                “You voted for Brexit.”

    5. jrs

      leaving for a similar job is of course the usual way out of a job, I’ve seen employment contracts that bar more unusual ways employees might have of earning income, like all patents and copyrights an employee might take out while employees of the company even if they have absolutely NOTHING to do with the employers line of business.

      So imagine one actually was a struggling artist or inventor or something that somehow achieves the unlikely America dream and made it via patents, copyrights, writing a book, or whatever while working an unrelated day job, now everything they have achieved without any employer help now belongs to their employer. It’s equivalent to slavery (they don’t just own the hours you are there – that is wage slavery, they own the person in entirety – it’s indistinguishable from regular old slavery). Talk about discouraging innovation and entrepreneurship (but isn’t it funny that those who are always worried about such things being discouraged by taxes or something never mention actual clauses like this that actually would directly punish). These contracts are illegal some places (although very few places as this might just be in the state of California which has it’s own laws barring these things. Don’t wonder why California doesn’t want to join crappy federal laws on everything and plans to fight doing so).

      1. MoiAussie

        The university I attended tried to make the same claim over any intellectual property produced by grad students, with no compensation. In this case, not only were we not employees, most of us were paying them to be there. They justified this on the grounds that they were providing “the research facilities”, and tried to include the claim in the fine print of the re-enrolment paperwork we had to sign at the start of each year. We fought hard against it, refused to sign, and eventually they backed down and dropped it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have since succeeded in bringing it in.

        1. zer0

          They backed down? I doubt it. Every single university I’ve attended, seen, or visited has the same clauses on patents created using ANY sort of university equipment, building, even for breathing the air (joke).

          America is a land of gatekeepers: you need a test score & diploma to allow you to apply to get a degree to take another test to get a certificate to get a job, a bank to get a credit card to cycle debt to get a credit score to get a house, a license to drive a car to get a car to get insurance to drive the car to work to make income to pay taxes and receive affordable health insurance to visit a specific hospital to visit a doctor to get a note to go to pharmacy to get a pill that will surely do nothing more than alleviate your symptoms while getting you addicted to the latest opioid craze.

          Another lost generation, except instead of war this time its the endgame of a capitalist society disintegrating into an oligarchy.

    6. Chris

      I have seen this where it makes sense in a few specific instances.

      For example, if you are being hired to go into a training program. It makes sense to have something like this if the company is paying you to learn a set of specific skills and doesn’t want you to quit and become their competition once you have mastered those skills.

      But those cases are rare. I remember last year even Amazon was inclusing non-compete clauses in their employee contracts for warehouse workers!

    7. Arizona Slim

      Long-time freelancer here.

      Last year, one of my clients came to me with one of these contracts. Her company had just been sold to a new owner, and the new owner wanted my signature.

      Well, I had to sit down and read the thing, and what a contradictory bunch of garbage it was. The contract kept insisting that I was an independent contractor, but I was not to get into any sort of work arrangement with the company’s direct competitors. Who were not listed.

      I showed the hot mess to my lawyer, who urged me not to sign it. So I didn’t. End of business relationship with that client.

  7. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

    Re Bloomberg and Working class blues..

    If Bloomberg isn’t able to define the elite, its marketing department is due for more than a severe dressing down.

    This is one of those articles that invites the key readership engage in self-delusion like those who hear the police officer shouting “Nothing to see here, move on!” and actually believe that there is nothing to goggle at.

    On reflection, perhaps they just want to be reassuring: “! Not you! The angry mob with flaming torches and pitchforks are after some other market segment entirely.”

    Pip Pip

      1. CanCyn

        Educational institutes such as the one where I work like to survey their students about their perceptions of the college, their classes, what they’re learning, etc. I have long argued that just because they perceive themselves to be doing well and learning, doesn’t mean they actually are … confident does not necessarily equal competent. Confidence is not a bad thing in and of itself, but too many folks are under or over confident. Other measures required. As I type, I’m reminded that there is research out there that says even when we have data or new information, it doesn’t necessarily change our minds (will see if I can supply some links).
        This article caught my eye because my husband is an amateur golfer and he’s recently been asking folks how many really good shots they think they hit in a round. A realistic answer would be 1-3 …. many folks are telling him they hit 20 or more really good shots in a round! I wonder if the arccos gadget would change their minds?

  8. Montanamaven

    I still do not understand why anybody can’t talk to an Ambassador of a foreign country including Russia, China, Israel, etc? Isn’t that what an ambassador is for? It’s hardly clandestine. Meeting under a bridge or in a parking garage is clandestine. Having a picture of slipping the guy a Rolex might be clandestine. But sitting down and having a Pow Wow is the very essence of negotiating/diplomacy. And what would be wrong with an Ambassador whining about sanctions? That’s his job. The sanctions are causing economic hardship for Russian people so he wants to get them lifted. Duh! It’s like going to a movie premiere and having some writer pitch his latest script to a producer over cocktail weenies. Annoying for the producer, but not unusual.

    1. katiebird

      I wonder about that and whether it is really illegal to do business with/in Russia.My brother in law thinks Trumps business interests there is some kind of smoking gun. And was shocked that I said I didn’t care. Also, (I asked) do you want President Pence? .. (answer) Oh no, he must be impeached first. I was silenced. (Luckily one of my brothers took it up praising the current state of mostly gridlock)

      1. Yves Smith


        The only business interest he had there was officiating at a pageant in 2012 (IIRC), setting up a some legal vehicles for licensing deals that never got done, maybe getting some Soho Millennium investment from Russia, but he doesn’t own any of that now (the Brighton Beach mafia guy, Felix Sater was involved in that but it’s not clear what if anything he did). He almost certainly has sold condo units to Russians, just like everyone who has developed high end residential buildings in NYC in the last 15 years, but money laundering checks are the banks’ responsibility.

        1. katiebird

          Thank you for this (I am sorry to make you sigh). Yesterday happened to be the one day all week I didn’t bring my tablet to my mom’s hospital room (she is in rehab) so I couldn’t get my hands on these facts.

          And I can’t seem to keep up with all the accusations and necessary rebuttals. I thought we were talking about “hacking the election” so I was a step behind them.

          Tump-Russia can go about anywhere in any conversation.

        2. JohnnyGL

          Also, if anyone wants to complain about selling condos to Russian oligarchs….he’s done a lot more business with the Persian Gulf countries. And there, the ties are with oil sheikhs that are directly involved in, or connected to, their governments, whereas the oligarch connections to Russian government are mostly holdovers from their Yeltsin days.

          Since NO ONE is moaning about Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia, I guess no one really cares about REAL conflicts of interest.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it’s OK to be seen with the British ambassador.

      The relationship between them and us is special. It’s not a big deal they burned down the White House nearly 200 years ago. We look forward.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well, they were provoked after all; U.S. forces had burnt down the Canadian equivalent in an earlier invasion, a fact often glossed over.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is not quite accurate.

          The Americans burnt down villages full of people. The British burnt empty government buildings and stopped their advance when they assumed they had made their point about any further barbarism from the Americans.

          1. aletheia33

            and before they became americans, they were british who burnt down villages full of people, weren’t they?

      2. subgenius

        Did you know that Capt. John Paul Jones raided the Cumbrian (north west England on the Irish sea) port of Whitehaven in 1778?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting bit of history. Thanks.

          A precursor of the Doolittle Raid. “You have to pay a price for messing with me.”

  9. Bunk McNulty

    Re: The Kennedy Democrats don’t want

    Not a word about policies Kennedy or Pritzker might pursue. I guess you have to get your donors lined up first, so you know what it is they want you to deliver.

    1. RabidGandhi

      My reaction exactly: zero policy substance. This says more about Politico and those it caters to than it does about Kennedy or Pritzker. But I guess with the Political Class’s tank of ideas well past E, even the few remaining Kennedy brand fumes look enticing.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        What Kennedy Democrats? Teddy is neither of his brothers, so I wouldn’t count him.

        A thirteen year old in 1968 is what I will consider to be the Kennedy Democrats as Watergate became the new generational moment the end limit of Kennedy Democrats which makes the youngest Kennedy Democrat 61 years old. Its not exactly a growing in influence demographic.

        1. RabidGandhi

          Huh? I said “Kennedy brand fumes”. How did that get turned into “Kennedy Democrats”?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I had met to put it in the reply above but was inspired by your “Kennedy brand fumes.”

    2. Pat

      My guess is because at that point it becomes a case of sociopathic oligarch or one who might actually throw a bone or two to the masses, and the source knows who buys their advertisement space.

      Pritzker being able to fund his own is probably a plus, but if anyone seriously believes that Rahm Emanuel is backing anyone who isn’t part of the steal the common blind and leave what is left of the working class with any bills contingent they cannot been paying attention to Emanuel and his selected candidates for two decades. No policy papers necessary.

    3. John k

      Click bait. I thought I would find out what he and opponents propose to do about the bits that aren’t as great as others… The writer clearly thinks the only thing of interest is the funding.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s President Xi Casts Country as Guardian of Globalization WSJ

    Step 1: Guard money from leaking from China that is creating housing bubbles in many cities around the world.

    The Guardian can thus make globalization just a bit less menacing, if not by much. That’s one way of guarding it.

    Step 2: Guard the Chinese economy from swinging from hot and cold too rapidly. No more of loosening and tightening Chinese monetary policy every few months.

  11. amousie

    Anyone else hearing that Obamacare was Obama’s canny 12-dimensional chess way of getting us single payer?


    and Obama was very canny about was creating an unsustainable healthcare system that nevertheless insured 22 million uninsured people who then when that system ran up against the limits of the compromises he had to make with the insurers to get it through would instead of saying all right then I guess we’ll go back to the old bad ways would would then pump for single-payer, ya know.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      ACA is a disaster mostly because it ignores the actual healthcare crisis and cause of the problems.

      Since ACA was predictably bad policy and the politics of healthcare premium spikes the month before an election were so predictable, the Democrat delayed the price increases on at least one occasion, many Democratic supporters need to rationalize this reality with their perception of the friend Barack Obama.

      11th dimensional chess that hasn’t paid off is the only way for those two realities to coexist.

      “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” -Barack Obama, November 2013

      This Obama does not exist for his devoted followers or most Democrats who simply need to divert attention from their own complicity in the disaster.

      Prices are spiking, and the Democrats are going “OMG RUSSIA ARBLE GARBLE”

    2. jrs

      ok, but if you are going to argue Obama is so brilliant, you have to add another level of brilliance, to do all this, to somehow get us to single payer, and to cash out for himself as well. He perfectly set up the conditions for single payer and managed to please the insurance industry who stupidly don’t realize this and thus will happily line his pocket as well. Wow not only rich but smart, no wonder he’s so rich, it’s because he’s so smart.

      I’ll believe “he got us single payer” maybe if and when we actually have single payer. Maybe people mostly want single payer at this point not because they got a taste of benefits (almost a conservative argument there), but just because the see the existing system growing more and more unaffordable, and while there are a few non-single payer systems that seem to work some places, they aren’t what the U.S. has for sure. What the U.S. has simply does not work.

      1. aletheia33

        >He perfectly set up the conditions for single payer and managed to please the insurance industry who stupidly don’t realize this and thus will happily line his pocket as well. Wow not only rich but smart, no wonder he’s so rich, it’s because he’s so smart.<
        nicely put!

        as i recall, the majority of americans preferred single payer BEFORE obamacare was "crafted". wasn't that the purpose of the elusive, never-actually-sighted "public option"–to to divert the attention of that majority while a bait-and-switch was performed?

        fortunately here at NC we are keeping our eyes on their hands…as another shell game or two are surely afoot as we speak.

    3. jrs

      If Obama was strategically planning for single payer, it’s the elites he needs to win over, as it’s very unlikely that any amount of poor masses clamoring for something will get it unless they are rioting in the streets. However I do think it is near the point where even the rich (as long as they aren’t health industry CEOs) want single payer or something similar as even they are disgusted with U.S. healthcare costs at this point. So we might be at that point, where even the rich turn on this healthcare system and not for the ACHA either, but they also know at this point that healthcare is cheaper and better most other places than the U.S.

    4. FluffytheObeseCat

      You do realize that was bitter irony in Doctorow’s statement? It’s unclear from your post whether you got that.

      1. amousie

        I asked the question if anyone else was hearing what Doctorow was saying because I was curious, given Doctorow’s cult, dare I say almost godlike, status and ability to talk directly to the global 1% and the credential classes (IT & publishing / authors, etc.) whether or not this was a revisionist history thing that was making the rounds and I was only hearing about by accident.

        I should’ve added more context but when I tried typing in the his entire comment (which was about Net Neutrality during a Q & A during a Talks at Google book tour event), it was too long. And then I started to get too bogged down because there were so many other seemingly off-the-cuff (but scripted) economic and political comments made during the discussion about his book as well as Scalzi book. I just couldn’t decide where I should draw the line because I found many things problematic, especially because it was such a casual setting. Many people aren’t prepared to put on their wait a sec, did he just say what I think he said filters. Plus they both talked very fast so a lot of jumping around on ideas.

        So here’s what I was really after: Is this a real thing beyond Cory? Or is he leading the charge on this particular revisionist history? Is this part of the playbook on how Obamacare and the Democratic party gets redeemed? A call for the return to business as usual because the people in the know are playing deeper games than the plebs can even imagine?

        As far as Obamacare, I’ve read Lambert’s pieces and many others, I completely disagree with Doctorow. No 12-dimensional chess being played unless it’s on the plebs.

    5. Eleanor Rigby

      Peg Lusik, conservative who did well in a run for Governor of Pennsylvania, read most/all of the Obamacare legislation at the time it was passed. She did a video I watched on Youtube where she analyzed that it would lead to Single Payer within 5 years or so. I don’t recall how I heard about it; but it seemed like a solid prognosis at the time. As I recall, she felt the fatal flaw was the expansion of Medicaid and financial pressures on states thereafter, but my memory is fuzzy.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Silicon Valley has too much power FT

    If Trump and Warren want to break up big banks, they should break up big tech firms as well.

    AT&T was too big. Then came the regional Bells….1982, that was when Reagan was president.

  13. Carolinian

    The Guardian article on “real” books versus ebooks doesn’t necessarily persuade and the author doesn’t seem all that sure himself.

    Whether the physical book goes the way of the hand-illuminated manuscript, an object of merely historical interest for all its beauty, or whether this ancient piece of technology is here to stay, we should all be celebrating the work of the designers and publishers who have responded to the gauntlet thrown down by ebooks with such aplomb.

    One could just as well argue that the resurgence of eye candy is designed to make books more like the web with its many visual distractions (something some of us go out of our way to avoid by reading offline, using format simplifiers etc). Books have always been about good gray text and whether this comes via paper or pixels may just be a matter of what you are used to. A more likely reason for the ebook fade is, as some around here have pointed out, that the pricing model for ebooks makes them a poor choice in that you can often get a physical object book for the same price. Publishers have a lot to do with this and have been very reluctant to give up their role as information gatekeepers.

    1. Katharine

      Books are not only about good gray text (I actually prefer black) but about the feel of what you are handling, the ease of marking a place with one finger while looking back for something else read earlier, and (in the case of dictionaries and other reference books) the serendipitous pleasure of running across something wholly extraneous to what you were originally looking up.

      1. Carolinian

        Been reading them all my life and guess I don’t think of it that way. My brother is the book cultist who keeps a collection whereas for me once a book is read I’m done with it. This could have something to do with growing up in libraries.

        And BTW good gray text is of course a feeble reference to the “good gray Times” as they used to speak of it. Now it’s the bad not so gray misinformation.

        1. Katharine

          I have friends who think as you do, but I am like Emerson and want my books where I can get at them. Just one of those personal differences, like liking pepper, or not.

          1. Carolinian

            These days Emerson might have his favorite books in “the Cloud.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with nostalgia for old tech but I do sometimes find complaints about our current cornucopia to be odd. For example not that long ago in order to view famous “art” films from the past you would have to live in a city with revival houses or join the college film committee and plead for your interests. Now the entire collection of the classic film distributor, The Criterion Collection, has been put onto a streaming service that can be accessed for a few dollars a month.

            And a vast array of the world’s past literature is available for free download via sites like Project Gutenberg. Someone from the past, when books were precious because rare and expensive, might very well think we live in an age of miracles. Electronic reading has its problems but the benefits shouldn’t be sneered at.

            1. Katharine

              You say, “The Criterion Collection, has been put onto a streaming service that can be accessed for a few dollars a month.” That is dandy if you have the high-speed connection. Since Comcast has a virtual monopoly in this area and prices accordingly, I don’t. If you do, enjoy!

              I don’t sneer at the benefits of the downloads, without which I would not have Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar or a few other things I find useful. But reading a screen produces far more eye strain than reading a well-lit page and will never be my first choice.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of good gray text, it costs a lot more to publish a printed book packed with color photos and illustrations, compared to plain old black type.

      Often awkward compromises are made, such as inserting one or more sets of glossy-paper pages with color photos in between the printed pages. Unavoidably, most of them are out of sequence with the text.

      E-books make it possible for low-volume, low-budget titles to offer full color illustrations at the near-zero marginal cost of pixels. For type without pictures, paper is still a fine medium.

      1. Carolinian

        There are kaolin mines in Georgia that produce the clay for all those glossy pages. It’s the reason art and photo books weigh so much. You are lugging around a big pile of dirt!

    3. Andrew Watts

      I don’t know about anybody else but I never got into ebooks. Except for a handful of rare books that are out of print and copyright. Nor did I ever buy an e-reader. I hate the thought of wasting batteries on a hobby like reading. Plus I spend way too much time staring at a screen as it is.

      The aesthetics of book covers and all that pish posh have nothing to do with.

      1. aletheia33

        yes, after working all day on a computer, reading a book is a relief and a respite from that physical and mental stress.

        just noticing “i am not sitting at the computer right now” is relaxing and destressing in itself.

        this is partly why i’ve given up netflix, as seductive as it is. i have to take care of my body, am highly susceptible to the strain and exhaustion that any kind of screen can induce. yet after 2 hours working nonstop in my garden, i feel just fine! now why is that? …i know i’m not “normal”.

        we are so much more than brains in jars with cute pictures projected on the front… some of us still remember…

        1. Andrew Watts

          Woohoo! Somebody else gets it. I also feel kinda guilty for kinda lying. I wouldn’t buy any tablet computer that wasn’t unlocked for porn because if it can do porn it can do anything.

          Mostly just porn though.

  14. Katharine

    Note this statement by David Frum:

    Few now disagree that the integrity of the 2016 election was polluted by clandestine foreign intervention.

    I thought the purpose of the investigation was to determine whether that was so. It is remarkable if most people know the answer before the investigation is complete. Who knew clairvoyance was so widespread?

    I admit Trump’s recent behavior suggests that he is hiding something, but we still do not know what that may be. I would hate to serve on a jury with any of these people who are convinced before they hear the evidence.

    1. jrs

      These seems to be a trend now: neocons clamoring about Russian intervention, Max Boot was off on this again as well. Of course even if they happened to be right, neocons lost all credibility back when W was president, that is if they ever had any to begin with.

      1. John k

        No, no. Dem elites have joined rep neocons. Trump not so bad when he fires missiles into ME, and or confronts Russia. Finally presidential!
        Neocons stronger than ever, just now sizing up NK and china. One at a time, or both at once? Decisions, decisions.
        Does anybody remember how bush became so very presidential following 9/11?
        Wars rock.

    2. JCC

      As MoiAussie mentions below, the essence of propaganda is repetition. I would also add that the essence of propaganda is dependence on the Memory Hole as in, “We’ve always been at war with East Asia”.

      Foreign intervention into U.S. election politics has been going on since the U.S. became the U.S. As John Wright mentioned above, Romney campaigned in Israel. And Bill Clinton was more than happy to accept campaign contributions from Asia (particularly China) back in ’96.

      If I had the time I’m sure I could come up with tens of more examples stretching back to Adams or Jefferson. For example, GB was surely involved back in the years leading up to, during, and after the Civil War considering that they greatly depended on our cotton production.

      1. ambrit

        Then the Egyptian cotton fields started to produce abundantly, and the mill owners could hedge their bets concerning the “American Question.”

    3. Gareth

      I think Trump is afraid, as well he should be, that the investigation will turn into a wide-ranging fishing expedition that is plied with various bits of concocted evidence such as the dodgy Christopher Steele dossier.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Beyond the lack of thought of the consequences of a President Pence…

      And therein lies a serious problem that needs to be addressed everywhere and often. The number of people who are convinced everything will be fine once the [insert snarky nickname for Trump here] is gone is appalling. Nor will they be swayed from their belief. Whether these are Clinton Cultists or just clueless “I’ve got mine” people who have no contact with anyone outside their comfortable middle-class bubble (or both) I haven’t time to determine, but they are adamant that the destruction of the republic is all on Trump, and that once we have reasonable Republicans in charge they’ll see sense.

      Meanwhile, as they obsess over Comey and foam at the mouth about Russia, I’m willing to bet their state legislatures are already enacting laws to undermine the Constitution, and doing so with impunity while the “resist” crowd are all staring at the White House.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            So Hatch has to watch out for Tillerson.

            Kind of like buying bulk, you impeach bulk and you can get a discount.

    5. Elizabeth Burton

      I admit Trump’s recent behavior suggests that he is hiding something…

      Or is symptomatic of a standard narcissist’s breakdown when there are two many people calling him on his BS at one time. He has to work harder to maintain his hold on his reality, so the more distractions, the less he can cling to whatever justifications and fictions keep that reality afloat.

  15. MoiAussie

    (Reply to Katharine at 10:32)

    As others have said repeatedly, the essence of propaganda is repetition: keep asserting the lie until it’s common knowledge – not only does everyone know it’s true, everyone knows that everyone knows it’s true. Thus the meta-lie to wrap the lie: “Few now disagree that …”

    1. Katharine

      Obviously. But I think more may be accomplished by pointing out the folly than by merely saying that it is propaganda.

      1. ambrit

        The trick is to stigmatize all propaganda. NC appears to do this with it’s aim of “promoting critical thinking.” Now, to expand the “good work” to the public at large. (Which would make commenteriats everywhere “the public at small?”)

        1. Katharine

          Whereas the Tao Te Ching does it with the aim (if one could call it so) of teaching the way.

          When everyone knows beauty is beauty,
          this is bad.
          When everyone knows good is good,
          this is not good.

          And so forth.

          1. ambrit

            Reminds me of the claim that the best goal of education was to teach someone how to learn.
            That quote though disturbs me. It appears to promote an exclusiveness doctrine, as in, “When all know our Truth, it becomes common, and of no worth.” Thus, a dualist theology arises; the “enlightened” versus the “unenlightened.” The next step in this progression would be for the “enlightened” to become “the virtuous,” and the “unenlightened” to become “the damned.”
            Dualism can be seen at work and at play everywhere in our society.

            1. Katharine

              Note subgenius’s comment below.

              As I understand it, the point of that line I quoted is not about exclusiveness but about people ceasing to think, or experience, for themselves, only “knowing” what is beautiful or good because they have been told and did not bother to find out what they themselves found to be beautiful or good. Total agreement means a lack of openness to new ideas or experience.

            2. subgenius

              Most (all?) English renditions of the dao de jing translate the title as the way of virtue classic…where de translates as virtue.

              Interestingly the character for de is a (much simplified) picture of a shaman’s mask, and while it is generally given a simple translation of virtue, and generally read by a western audience as meaning ‘high moral standards’, it is a complex of virtue, wisdom, understanding/knowledge (specifically hidden/unusual/mystic/subtle knowledge) and the power that is held by one that wields such knowledge…a VERY different thing…

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I did’t know about the shaman’s mask root of the word, de.

                From Wikipedia:

                De “power; virtue” is written with the Chinese character 德 in both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. This character 德 combines the chi 彳 “footstep; go” radical (recurring graphic elements that suggest meaning) with zhi 直 “straight; vertical” and xin 心 “heart; mind”. De 德 has rare variant characters of 徳 (without the horizontal 一 line) and 悳 or 惪 (without the 彳 “footstep” radical).
                The earliest written forms of de 德 are oracle script from the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600-1046 BCE) and bronzeware script and seal script from the Zhou Dynasty (1045-256 BCE). Oracle characters wrote de 德 with 彳”footstep; go” and 直 “straight”, later bronze characters added the 心 “heart; mind” element. The oracle script for zhi 直 “straight; vertical” ideographically depicted shu 丨”vertical line (in a character)” above mu 目 “eye”, the bronze script elaborated the line into shi 十 “ten”‘, and the seal script separated the eye and heart with a horizontal line.

                That’s the more traditional interpretation.

                Footstep, i.e. to go, to journey, on a straight path…the eyes vertical, not leaning to the right or the left.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  From the same article, this interesting Proto-Indo-European etymology of de:

                  Te was pronounced approximately dugh during the early Chou period (about 1100 to 600 B.C.). The meanings it conveys in texts from that era are “character,” “[good or bad] intentions,” “quality,” “disposition,” “personality,” “personhood,” “personal strength,” and “worth.” There is a very close correlation between these meanings and words deriving from Proto-Indo-European dugh (to be fit, of use, proper; acceptable; achieve). And there is a whole series of words derived from the related Teutonic verbal root dugan. There are Old High German tugan, Middle High German tugen, and modern German taugen, all of which mean “to be good, fit, of use.” There is another cognate group of words relating to modern English “doughty” (meaning worthy, valiant, stouthearted) that also contribute to our understanding of te. They are Middle English douhti, dohti, of dühti (“valiant”). (1990:134)

                  Maybe Proto-Indo-Europeans brought virtue to China?

                  1. subgenius

                    I was told about the de thing by a scholar working with ancient Chinese…

                    As regards your comment re.proto-indo-europeans I suspect there is a much more complex history to all of it – the oldest records of acupuncture date to over 2000 years ago (Mawangdui scrolls), but there was a 4000+ year old set of human remains found in a melting European glacier (Otzi the iceman) with tattoos matching acupuncture points that related to arthiritis treatments…the remains are about 5300 years old.

                    1. subgenius

                      From Wikipedia:

                      Translating de into English is problematic and controversial. Arthur Waley believed that de was better translated “power” than “virtue”, and explained with a “bank of fortune” metaphor.

                      It is usually translated ‘virtue’, and this often seems to work quite well; though where the word occurs in early, pre-moralistic texts such a translation is in reality quite false. But if we study the usage of the word carefully we find that de can be bad as well as good. What is a ‘bad virtue’? Clearly ‘virtue’ is not a satisfactory equivalent. Indeed on examining the history of the word we find that it means something much more like the Indian karma, save that the fruits of te are generally manifested here and now; whereas karma is bound up with a theory of transmigration, and its effects are usually not seen in this life, but in a subsequent incarnation. Te is anything that happens to one or that one does of a kind indicating that, as a consequence, one is going to meet with good or bad luck. It means, so to speak, the stock of credit (or the deficit) that at any given moment a man has at the bank of fortune. Such a stock is of course built up partly by the correct carrying out of ritual; but primarily by securing favourable omens; for unless the omens are favourable, no rite can be carried out at all. (1958:31)

                      Based on the cognate relation between de and zhi “to plant”, Waley further noted the early Chinese regarded planting seeds as a de, hence it “means a latent power, a ‘virtue’ inherent in something.”

                      There is more at the above link, not covering the way it was explained to me, but definitely on something of the same arc

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      By the time, the book Dao De Jing was written down, we assume De meant good virtue, and not bad virtue, fpr it to be associated with Dao (the Way).

                      And if one was empowered by being virtuous, then we can also see why Waley saw it that way.

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The oracle script shown in the Wikipedia article shows, on the right side of the word, a symbol for ‘eye’ plus a vertical bar.

                The oracle script dates to the Shang dynasty, when divination by burning bones was popular, almost done daily by the elites. Shang people are known for their shamanic beliefs.

                If you look at the oracle script for ‘eye’ in that article, and if you look at enough Shang bronzes with dragon or taotie decoration, you will note that is the same eye used to portray dragon and taotie eyes.

                (That eye is very distinct, and one can almost date a bronze piece by that. Han dynasty dragon eyes would be more almond shape).

                They all connected: oracle script, shamans and the Shang dynasty.

                Perhaps that is what the scholar was alluding to.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Also it is mentioned in the Wikipedia article that the vertical bar above the eye was replaced later with a cross on the bronze script.

                  Presumbly during the same Shang dynasty that this change evolved, for this reason:

                  In many Shang dynasty ritual bronzes, cross-shaped holes were purposely incorporated into the design, always near the bottom of a piece.

                  Why? No one seems to know.

                  And I wonder if that was connected to the cross on the bronze ‘de’ script.

                  I don’t know if it’s easy to find, but here is the link to the Wikipedia article. One can’t google ‘de Wikipedia,’ but needs to do ‘de_(Chinese) Wikipedia,’ to get to the article.


                2. subgenius

                  I think so – the mask concept was made referencing the eye, for sure – this is going back 10-15 years in my memory, so I am hazy on the full explanation (somewhere I have it in a note book, I must try to track it down..)

          2. subgenius

            Note the dao de ching also doesn’t teach in the modern manner – there are no generic ‘right’ answers (but that doesn’t mean you can’t be wrong – it is very easy to miss, or lose, the way…)…it opens with:

            ‘the dao that can be spoken is not the true dao’

            It guides, but the experience is unique – and must be experienced, as it is inexplicable…


            ‘there are ten thousand ways to the dao’

            actually carries the meaning of infinite (ie every path is unique), thus doubling down on the first statement.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It seems to say one’s savior is not necessarily another person’s.

            What is good for A may not be good for B. A’s good perhaps is not B’s good.

            And it also seems to imply a question of those of us living in the 21st century: What is a Dao (or Tao) robot? Can we procreate Tao robots, so that each is unique?

            1. subgenius

              A robot is non-biological, would we even recognize their dao? Look how long it took for other mammalian intelligences to be recognized…

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                That is the hope – artificial intelligence and artificial compassion. With the latter, the Force or Dao can be cultivated.

                (I can just see it in a future sci fi movie)

  16. Nick

    “The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley”
    is spreading into other places, mental spaces and throughout the economy.

    There is an expectation of fraud in everything now. From doctors, dentists, retail clerks, marketing calls, your bank–especially Wells Fargo, everything seems tinged by hustle, con, slick operators and doubt.

    Example, I started getting the New Yorker in the mail. I never ordered it. Months of issues that I leave at the laundrymat for people to read. “A free sample” I thought.

    Then I got the “Second Notice” bill, threatening to cut off my “subscription” if I didn’t pay and hinting at ruining my credit rating. I called the 800 number, great,now they have our phone number to combine with our street address to sell to marketers. I talked to the guy. “No problem, we’ll ‘delete your bill’.

    I noticed he sounded college educated and was very articulate. Probably the best job he could get in the Iowa economy.

  17. EmilianoZ

    RE: French election

    So, Macron nominated his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, a guy from Les Republicains, the traditional right. That shows he intends to govern with the right. Contrary to what some people might think, he’s gonna have a strong majority in the parliament. A majority composed of his new party, the right and what’s left of the socialist party (imagine the Dems and the Reps explicitly uniting). It’s unlikely Melenchon and Le Pen can top that. And Melenchon and Le Pen can never unite.

    This a profile (in French) of the new prime minister:

    It shows how incestuous the French elite is. Edouard Philippe went from Rocard to Juppe, reads Liberation, worked for Areva, etc.

  18. Jim Haygood

    Brett Arends on Yanis V’s new book, Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment:

    The new capital of Europe is not Brussels — let alone Strasbourg, the home of the European Parliament — but Berlin. The ultimate power of the EU is not the president of the European Commission, but the chancellor of Germany.

    It was late March 2015. Greece was on the rack. It had just days left before literally running out of money and shutting the banks. And then, miraculously, Beijing stepped in with the offer of help. The Chinese wanted to get their exports to the heart of Europe faster. So they were offering to make major investments in the Athenian Port of Piraeus, and in Greek railways, as part of a “new Silk Road.”

    Along with the deal, they were willing to buy short-term Greek paper to keep the country afloat. But days after agreeing to the deal, they suddenly, and mysteriously, pulled back. Varoufakis was shocked when [China] virtually sat out two auctions of short-term Greek government debt. He then discovered that the Chinese ambassador was also surprised, and this was a decision taken secretly at the highest levels in Beijing.

    Varoufakis recalls: “I told Alexis [Tsipras, the prime minister] what had happened and suggested strongly that he contact the Chinese prime minister. “The next day Alexis relayed the news from Beijing. Someone had apparently called Beijing from Berlin with a blunt message: Stay out of any deals with the Greeks until we are finished with them.

    Reminds one of a story back in the bad old days of the Irish Republican Army. They were kneecapping some lads to cripple them, as was their practice. Ambulances showed up, but the medics were told, “Hold off; we’re not finished with them yet.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Greece could have joined the PRC, becoming their first European province.

      That would really have gotten Berlin ballistic…maybe even Washington.

      1. Anonymous2

        Such are international relations. All smiles in front of the cameras; often brutal once the doors close.

  19. Tim

    Signing Away the Right to Get a New Job NYT. “The growth of noncompete agreements is part of a broad shift in which companies assert ownership over work experience as well as work.” Holy moley.

    Holy moley is right!

    Let the job taker beware, although, once it becomes standardized we will all be slaves. I wonder what level of technicality is required to get around it. (get hired as a 150k per year janitor instead of a senior engineer).

    1. ambrit

      The present trend is the other way. 30k senior engineers is more likely, and 15k janitors.

      1. Tim

        If the new company is trying to take you away from the old company with the non-compete, there is motivation for cat and mouse by the new company if they really want you.

        1. ambrit

          That depends on how “tight” the companies view the job market. If you are exceptional in any way, no “average” system of compensation will fit. So, we’re reduced to investigating how the “average” worker, or even manager, is treated. If “headhunters” contact anyone, then the “average” rules go out the window. Now, if you were suggesting that a senior engineer be hired for 150k in the “official” category of janitor, then your obvious countermove is to categorize all hires based on remuneration in toto.

  20. jfleni

    RE: Signing Away the Right to Get a New Job.

    Nobody can be forced to work; time to get yourself fired. Easier to do before any unpleasantness.

  21. optimader

    It’s never been clear to me why Democrats think invoking Watergate would be persuasive to Republicans.

    On Watergate.. a non sequitur comparison. Nixon was not impeached because he fired Special Prosecutor Cox (who incidentally was replaced by Leon Jaworski).

    WRT Comey–He may have considered himself to have the discretionary powers of Special Prosecutor, particularly with his fast and loose treatment of Evidence and his oddly whimsical notions of “intent”.

    Ironically these were accounted for more than enough justifications to fire him. I still don’t get the lamentations of those concerned that Comey shouldn’t have been told to not let the door hit him in the ass.

    BTW..I thought the fact that he departed in a private jet was a nice optics final touch for a civil servant that just got offed.
    Nicely illustrating the bureaucracies equal vs more equal classes.

  22. optimader

    can anyone give a cogent summary of what the actual contention is regarding a Trump Russian conspiracy re: the election?

    1.) The Russians conspired to manipulate election in how many States that all have independent and unique voting systems?

    2.) The Russians influenced US media to provide a bias of positive media impressions on behalf of Trump (which was IMO wholly in the bag for HRC)??

    3.)The Russian planted inaccurate email content lifted from DNC/HRC servers online in the hopes it will throw a positive impression in Tump’s favor?


    Is it conceded that HRC’s $1BB Slam Dunk was so fragile that any/all of the above would have possibly been effective in thwarting her coronation?

    After a justifiably humiliating loss, she is Politics worst sport in modern times that I can think of.

    1. Carolinian

      See the great Counterpunch rant I linked upthread.

      What do the lawyers say? When you can’t pound the facts pound the table?

      1. aletheia33

        i can’t find the counterpunch rant, would really like to read it.

      2. optimader

        Could have stopped here,
        So far, no one in any of the 17 US intelligence agencies has stepped forward and verified the claims of Russian meddling or produced a scintilla of hard evidence that Russia was in anyway involved in the 2016 elections.

        Those 17 agencies not taking a formal public position are taking a public position. They should all be forced to make a deposition on what they claim.

        As a minimum, I wish this would rise to the legal standard of a libel suit

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The intelligence agencies are not monolithic actors. The public face of the agencies both past and present when they have been in front of a Congressional committee prefer to us

          Here is Clapper, a man who has lied to Congress in the past, so why he being treated as an authority is baffling. Yet, here we are.

          “At the time I left office I had no evidence available to me that there was collusion. But that’s not necessarily exculpatory since I did not know the state of the investigation or the content.”

          The obvious problem is proving a negative. You can’t do it. Chris Murphy’s panicked tweet about Trump using a law firm that won an award in Russia is a sign of how deranged these people are. At no point did the person in charge of the Senator’s twitter account ever bother to check into the law firm. Its also the law firm that “vetted” Hillary’s VP candidate list. People who demand a negative can’t be reasoned with.

          Oh yeah, prove to me God doesn’t exist. It can’t be done.

          1. optimader

            Oh yeah, prove to me God doesn’t exist. It can’t be done.

            Iraq Wars I & II?

            I hear ya, but just say’in

    2. Peter Pan

      The person that decides whether or not to appoint a special counsel (SC) to investigate “Russia-gate” is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He’s the same person that crafted the three page memo that excoriated FBI Director Comey. Given that, I doubt that he will appoint a SC for “Russia-gate”. But on the off-chance he does so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do the following:

      First, appoint a SC to investigate Killery’s “private email server-gate” when she was SecState.

      Second, appoint a SC to investigate the “Clinton Foundation-gate” while Killery was SecState (bribery, corruption, money laundering, etc).

      Lastly, appoint a SC to investigate (sigh) “Benghazi-gate” (which would cover the State Dept, Defense Dept & the Intelligence Community).

      The democrats should be very careful about what they ask for because they may just get it with whipped-cream & a cherry on top.

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