Links 6/8/17

Is the Snow Leopard Actually Three Distinct Subspecies? The Wire

Living Large: How Whales Got to Be So Enormous Scientific American

Tech companies invade banks’ territory with customer loans FT

CEO Travis Kalanick has started meditating in Uber’s lactation room, as his company spins in a whirlwind of bad press Business Insider

Weed Startups Will Make Warehouse Rents More Expensive in L.A. and Boston Bloomberg. Re Silc: “[W]hen is the first weed growing REIT?”

Study reveals that green incentives could actually be increasing CO2 emissions Incentives for electric vehicles.

Brazil court split over whether to accept new evidence in campaign Reuters

The European Union Needs a Radical Reinvention George Soros, Medium

UK Election

The Three Scenarios For The U.K. Election FiveThirtyEight

Gaming Out the British Election: What Happens If Nobody Wins? New York Magazine

This is the worst Tory election campaign ever The Spectator

PIERS MORGAN: Theresa May’s savage police cuts and weakness with Islamist extremism have made Britain a dangerous place – I wouldn’t trust her to protect me from an angry wasp, let alone a jihadi terrorist Daily Mail

Labour is best for Brexit, if only it were not Corbyn Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph. “The Laffer Curve would kick in.” Oh?

Crossing Fingers for Corbyn (!) Handelsblatt

Sado-Austerity v. Moderate Social Democracy LRB

From rust belt to mill towns: a tale of two voter revolts Thomas Frank, Guardian


The Saudis Demand Total Surrender But Qatar Will Not Fold Moon of Alabama

Qatar’s Feud With the Gulf States Reaches New Level Stratfor

The Qatar Crisis The American Conservative

Why Saudi Arabia and Its Allies Suddenly Cut Ties to Qatar Counterpunch

Revealed: Secret details of Turkey’s new military pact with Qatar Middle East Eye

Revolutionary Guards blame Saudis for Tehran attack FT

Kurds Finally Set Date for Independence Referendum Foreign Policy

The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news Brookings (Furzy Mouse).

North Korea fires suspected land-to-ship missiles as South Korea delays THAAD Reuters

Pentagon says US now has ability to shoot down ICBMs CNN

New Cold War

Leaked NSA Report Short on Facts, Proves Little in ‘Russiagate’ Case Scott Ritter, TruthDig (OregonCharles). A deep dive into the NSA document that Reality Winner leaked to The Intercept. The title: “Russia/Cybersecurity: Main Intelligence Directorate Actors [Redacted] Target U.S. Companies and Local U.S. Government Officials Using Voter Registration-Themed Emails, Spoof Election-Related Products and Services, Research Absentee Ballot Email Addresses; August to November 2016.” Ritter comments:

The NSA document, both in its title and text, is therefore misleading in the extreme. There is simply no fact-based information provided in the report that confirms that the events reported on were being organized and managed by the Russian GRU [the “Main Intelligence Directorate” Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye], despite the document’s assertions otherwise.

This lack of confirmation of any fact-based linkage between the GRU and the cyberattacks on the 2016 election in the NSA document is striking in another regard. The NSA has always been assumed to be the agency that possessed “smoking gun” evidence when it came to Russian attribution in the cyberattacks on the American electoral process.

Ritter concludes:

After putting so much capital into accusing Russia and the GRU in meddling in American domestic political affairs—and, by extension, accusing the president of colluding with the Russians in this endeavor—the Democrats had better be able to back up their claims with unassailable, fact-based information. Based upon a close examination of the NSA’s latest analysis, courtesy of the leaked Winner document, this intelligence does not exist.

Today’s must-read. Worth the cup of coffee.

Hey Intercept, Something is Very Wrong with Reality Winner and the NSA Leak We Meant Well (JN).

* * *

Full text of James Comey’s statement to Senate USA Today

Ex-FBI Chief James Comey’s Senate Testimony: Live Coverage WSJ

Five takeaways from that explosive Senate Intel hearing CNN

Lawyer: Trump feels ‘completely and totally vindicated’ by Comey’s testimony Boston Globe

Initial Comments on James Comey’s Written Testimony Benjamin Witte, Lawfare

‘Pressure’ Is Not Obstruction Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

Comey Finally Backs Trump’s Account, Too Late to Help Trump Bloomberg

Comey’s testimony kind of proves Trump right. It also damns him entirely. Vox. “The question is no longer whether Trump broke the law with Russia. It’s whether Trump broke the law with Comey.”

Comey’s Political Shrewdness Is on Display in Tussle With Trump NYT

Poll: Trump far less credible than Comey — but majorities don’t trust either CNN

Top intelligence official told associates Trump asked him if he could intervene with Comey on FBI Russia probe WaPo. “According to officials.”

Intelligence Officials Won’t Say If Trump Asked About Russia WSJ. “Won’t say” in the hearing, that is.

Would You Trust These Men With a Massive Surveillance Dragnet? Marcy Wheeler, Motherboard. Section 702 hearing. Wheeler concludes: “But the rest of the hearing showed that these men have been anything but forthright and diligent.” There is likely to be at least some overlap between “these men” and WaPo’s anonymous “officials.” Eh?

Worried About Election Hacking? There’s a Fix for That The Nation. “The SAFE Act reauthorizes the [Election Administration Committee] for a period of 10 years and requires a random audit of precincts/wards in each state to ensure there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.” No. The way to eliminate “discrepancies” between paper and electronic ballots is to eliminate the electronic ballots entirely; “the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren’t there” (Programming Proverbs). Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public is the way to go.

Trump Transition

Trump to Nominate Wray for FBI Director Roll Call

Trump Says U.S. Can No Longer Accept Crumbling Infrastructure Bloomberg

Why Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is Good for Wall Street but Bad for America Bernie Sanders, Medium

Compared to George W. Bush and Obama, Trump doesn’t micromanage the military Los Angeles Times

How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business Forbes

Guillotine Watch

Exponential Finance Singularity University (RB). Happening now!

Class Warfare

Wanted: A Bipartisan New New Deal for American Workers Newsweek. “Congress should establish lifetime career-training loan accounts for all citizens. These accounts could be used for courses at qualified providers of certificate programs, at community colleges or other educational institutions.” More debt. Great.

Is it finally time for a raise for American workers? FT

Race to the Bottom Kimberlé Crenshaw, The Baffler (DK). “Politics is the organization of hatreds.”

Neoliberal Social Justice: From Ed Brooke to Barack Obama SSRC

The Bleak Left n+1

The Thoughts of a Spiderweb Quanta. Fascinating.

Antidote du jour (via):

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

    Things are moving quickly on the Qatar crisis, which has led to a lot of escalation fear and hype, even among the commentariat here. But the crisis may turn out to be more like a thanksgiving argument between relatives, with a lot of noise and a few ugly threats, but over fairly quickly, till next year at least. Qatar has not been abandoned by supporters, particularly Turkey. Kuwait is mediating. In the US it seems pressure has been applied by the adults, and Trompe, having been soundly played by the Saudis, has backed down from his cheerleading.

    Trump reverses course in Qatar call

    In a phone call with the Qatari Emir, Trump extended an olive branch, offering to help the parties resolve their differences by inviting them to a White House meeting if necessary. The outreach came as US officials told CNN they were observing increased Qatari military activity as the country placed its forces on the highest state of alert over fears of an military incursion.

    One of the reasons for the turnaround is evidence that a key trigger was staged.

    Russian hackers to blame for sparking Qatar crisis, FBI inquiry finds

    Two key points in this piece are that these are said to be not Russian state hackers, but freelancers, employed by who knows who, and that the FBI inquiry started before the Saudi boycott and ultimatum, at the request of the Qatari government.

    Robert Fisk has a nice piece on it: The real story behind the economic crisis unfolding in Qatar

    The Qatar crisis proves two things: the continued infantilisation of the Arab states, and the total collapse of the Sunni Muslim unity supposedly created by Donald Trump’s preposterous attendance at the Saudi Muslim summit two weeks ago.

    But if we look a bit further down the road, it’s not difficult to see what really worries the Saudis. For Qatar also maintains quiet links with the Assad regime. It helped secure the release of Syrian Christian nuns in Jabhat al-Nusrah hands and has helped release Lebanese soldiers from Isis hands in western Syria. When the nuns emerged from captivity, they thanked both Bashar al-Assad and Qatar. And there are growing suspicions in the Gulf that Qatar has much larger ambitions: to fund the rebuilding of post-war Syria. Even if Assad remained as president, Syria’s debt to Qatar would place the nation under Qatari economic control.

    Plenty more… well worth a read.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      One issue that seems to have been overlooked by most is the geological position of the largest Qatari gas field. It is shared precisely between Iran and Qatar, and they have a series of apparently quite friendly agreements on sharing it – while Iran does have a lot of other (smaller) fields, it is the only one that is fully developed and producing gas for the domestic economy in any large scale. This is a vital supply of gas for Iran. There is, in other words, no way Iran could accept this falling into the hands of SA, or an SA proxy in Qatar. So the survival of the Qatari regime is a vital national interest for Iran.

      So far, I think MoA is right – the Qatari feel they have not yet reached a stage where they feel they have to make concessions. They may well feel they have enough friends to sit this out. With food coming in from Iran, alternative routes for Qatar Airways, and all their cash reserves, they only need fear a military strike or invasion, and the longer this goes on, the less likely that will be. Surely the Pentagon will make Trump see sense and tell the Saudis they don’t have his support.

      The next question is how much of a humiliation it would be for SA to stand down on this. They will look very foolish indeed if the Qataris make no concession.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Surely the Pentagon…” Really? The Korea Vietnam Grenada Panama Afghanistan Iraq Afagainistan F-35 MAD Full Spectrum Dominance Pentagon? “Hope springs eternal…” And do we actually know why Obama stepped back from that Syria-ous Red Line? There may be “sensible” people in the Great Chain of Command, but there’s a lot of Revelationists andDr. Strange love characters in there too, all talking their books and gaming the Game…

      2. jawbone

        Re: A Saudi invasion/attack against Qatar — I was checking Google maps and it doesn’t look as if the US air base, shared with the what there is of the Qatari airforce, is all that far from Doha.

        Would the Saudis actually invade, even risk air strikes, given the large number of US planes there?

        Would the US air forces take actions to protect Qatar?

      3. panurge

        Maybe KSA “misunderstood” and saw a green light where there was none. Saddam in Kuwait 2.0?

    2. tony

      I suspect that blaming Russia for Qatar crisis is about domestic politics. Many of these article include the presupposition that Russian hackers influenced the US election, and even those that don’t provide cover for the story.

    3. justanotherprogressive

      Will Qatar blow over? Most likely. I don’t think Saudi Arabia and Iran are quite willing to engage in all out war just yet. Neither side seems to have its alliances (especially those outside the Middle East) completely firmed up yet.

      But this points to a bigger problem in how American Diplomacy is being done. Apparently Trump is still engaging in the same kind of trash talk he employed as a real estate baron. Certainly the other players in the financial world recognized what it was and mostly ignored it, but in the world of diplomacy that trash talk can be used by those more sophisticated than Trump, just as Saudi Arabia seems to be using it against its enemies in the Middle East. Now Trump is having to backtrack because to him it was all “talk” and nothing more…..and I am sure he is surprised that Saudi Arabia found it useful to further their own aims……

      I don’t think Qatar is going to be the last time we see this happening……

    4. Andrew Watts

      I’m not that worried about it. Qatar has been in a similar position in the past. Saudi Arabia is just bullying any potential rival that could step out of line of it’s Sunni-led bloc of countries. The demands regarding Al Jazeera is probably at Egypt’s insistence given their coverage of the Arab Spring. The dangerous prospect of a regional war remains a struggle for dominance between the Shia Crescent and Sunni powers.

      Speaking of that, the US-led coalition has bombed forces allied with the government in Damascus once again. This is the third attack launched on these forces over al-Tanf.

      1. kgw

        This: al-Tanf, and Raqqa are the real flash points. The Insane Clown Posse, otherwise known as the MIC, appears to be carrying out its plan to partition Syria…The GCC stuff is kabuki, likely a feint, in the ongoing operation against Iran.

  2. Donald

    The Ritter piece was good and definitely worth reading. The wemeantwell piece was not– it was the sort of breathless everyone is in the conspiracy speculation that gives cynicism a bad name.

    But Ritter’s piece was plausible precisely because he doesn’t indulge in the lazy dismissal that people use to ignore things that challenge their beliefs. He knows what he is talking about– in particular, the explanation of what the color code means was very much to the point. Evidently the NSA document doesn’t really prove that much.

    1. Linda

      Reading Ritter’s article makes me disappointed in the way The Intercept reported the story – without skepticism. Emphasis mine:

      The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document:

      Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

      This NSA summary judgment is sharply at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial last week that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: “We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.” Putin, who had previously issued blanket denials that any such Russian meddling occurred, for the first time floated the possibility that freelance Russian hackers with “patriotic leanings” may have been responsible. The NSA report, on the contrary, displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU.

      I think they are having growing pains. They have hired several people recently. At least one of the authors on this story is very new to The Intercept – Ryan Grim. Other authors may be as well, but I am not familiar with them or when they joined.

      If Greenwald had been assigned the story I believe it would have been reported on differently. In fact he tweeted this:

      Greenwald Twitter

      Journalism requires that document be published and reported. Rationality requires it be read skeptically.

      They also have good security people on staff, for example:
      Micah Lee,
      Morgan Marquis-Boire,

      who they should have gotten involved with reviewing and authenticating.

      Hard to believe no mention is even made of the colored lines key to the graphic in The Intercept article.

      1. Roger Smith

        What I thought was strange about the Intercept’s take, or what surprised me, was how they started from the establishment rhetoric and worked to support that. It was biased interpretation instead of objective, which would have involved started from nothing and seeing if the evidence proved the establishment claim. Not what I would have expected from the Intercept.

        1. Linda

          Yes, and on that point, I see a spot I should have made bold in the first sentence of the first blockquote:

          The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood.

          Going into it with an assumption everyone knows it was the Russians already.

          1. zer0

            The CIA wikileaks illustrated that for quite some time, the CIA has been developing hacking software that mimics (probably through zombie IPs) Russian, Chinese, NK, etc. hackers.

            Also, it was completely, utterly fabricated. I believe when they did look into it, the ‘hacks’ originated from the East coast.

        2. ocop

          In light of the blow back I’m not too shocked to see former Gawker writer Sam Biddle on the byline of that article. From the few pieces of his writing I’ve encountered it seems like he is well assimilated into tech-world/liberal 10%er groupthink and probably has some “Resistance” leanings.

          1. Roger Smith

            Wow! A Gawker writer at the Intercept… if anyone deserved a real job it was Noah Hamilton.

            1. clinical wasteman

              Hamilton Nolan?
              If so yes, quite a good writer as far as that style goes, apart from the obsessive loathing of Venezuela. But regular readers of NC comments couldn’t be wholly surprised to see that character quirk coinciding with literary flair and principled hatred of the warfare state. Hamilton (H.N., not Alex. H.) as Son of Haygood?
              Readers probably weren’t overly shocked either by the way the best writing on Gawker was always secreted in the comments, because a lot of it was written by Messrs Finster and (apologies if it was another) Smith.

            2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Here Here!

              Was just coming here to write that Hamilton Nolan would’ve been an excellent choice for the intercept.

              I read gawker every day and the only thing that pops in my mind when I hear Sam Biddle are in depth sports articles lmao

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Can someone please tell me what ” a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations” even means?

        1. Vatch

          Good question. Here’s a definition of spear-phishing, but that isn’t enough to answer your question:

          Phishing attempts directed at specific individuals or companies have been termed spear phishing. Attackers may gather personal information about their target to increase their probability of success. This technique is by far the most successful on the internet today, accounting for 91% of attacks.

          I don’t understand how this would work in the election context. Why would government officials click on voter registration email messages or web sites? Wouldn’t it be the other way around? People who would want to register voters might click on government election web sites.

          Jargon is useless without definitions, unless the intention is to obscure meaning.

          1. Optimader

            Jargon confusion campaign = Geo. Orwell
            The simple solution is identification,paper ballot, purple thumb ink and an extended voting and manual vote counting election, all under supervision.
            I can hear all the automated voting machine contractors and special interests gnashing teeth

            Shift some of the millions spent on purchased campaign propaganda to endurinf fidelity in the actual voting process

              1. optimader

                That would probably be suggested, and would be yet another inappropriate (unconstitutional) use of the US military

          2. WobblyTelomeres

            “Why would government officials click on voter registration email messages or web sites?”

            Why does anyone click on a link in an email? Many have been trained not to, not all, some do anyway. If a few do, out of, say, 100 attempts, access is granted, the user’s computer is compromised via malicious payload, the user’s email contacts are then used to further penetrate via more phishing. For example, say you’re an election official named “Jim” who has friends/colleagues/acquaintances who are election officials in other precincts and they send you an email reading, “Hey, Jim. I’m about to send an email to the voters in our district. Can you look over it for me? I’ve attached my draft (hope you have Word!).”


            So. If you’re an election official, then perhaps you use your (compromised) laptop to read results off a voting machine (via USB, RS-232, RJ-45, et cetera). Perhaps you use your laptop to configure the machine. Perhaps you use your laptop to provide updates to the machine. That election has been compromised. That is why.

            1. Vatch

              Thanks. There’s a lot of stupid in the world, and people take advantage of that. Someone took advantage of John Podesta, for example.

              Paper ballots are absolutely necessary. Even if they’re machine tabulated, which is a bad idea, a recount can be performed by hand.

              1. doug

                “which is a bad idea” Could you show your work on that?

                Machine tabulated is a good idea. The data are there to be recounted by hand if desired. I am unaware of any systemic anomalies ever found in such a system, but perhaps there have been.

                1. katiebird

                  Wasn’t the whole Hanging Chad thing a problem for machine tabulation? Also evaluating Over Votes?

                2. Vatch

                  Recounts are expensive, and there are judicial hoops that must be jumped. Often they are only performed in a few selected precincts, and if those aren’t the precincts where fraud occurred, nothing will be solved. Remember the strangeness when the Greens had to raise millions of dollars for recounts last year?

                  But paper ballots tabulated by machine is a far better process than a purely digital system.

                3. lyman alpha blob

                  Machines cannot determine voter intent if a person fills out the form incorrectly or feeds the form into the machine incorrectly, which they often do.

                  In the hand recount I participated in last fall, we actually counted more votes than the machines did initially. The directions were to fill in the oval completely and if that wasn’t done, the optical scanning machine didn’t count it and the vote was wasted, or would have been had there been no recount.

                  A human being can tell that someone intended to vote for a certain candidate whether it was a check mark or an ‘x’ or a colored-in oval – the machine cannot.

                  I don’t have the exact figures off the top of my head, but IIRC it was about 1-2% of votes that the machine didn’t count which would indicate that a recount is necessary in races where the final total falls within this margin.

                  And in a democracy, everyone deserves to have their vote counted even if it doesn’t affect the overall outcome. Machines can’t guarantee that.

                  1. Vatch

                    The directions were to fill in the oval completely and if that wasn’t done, the optical scanning machine didn’t count it and the vote was wasted, or would have been had there been no recount.

                    So if a person has Parkinson’s disease or is impatient or just sloppy (my handwriting is horrible), his vote won’t be counted by the machine.

            2. pdehaan

              But that’s the thing with Spear phishing and its power compared to just your ‘regular phishing’ where you require volume and if the phishing message is well constructed you hope to get a few hits out of thousands. Unlike regular phishing, anti-spam technology does not stop any of it, or at least it’s far more difficult, due to lack of volume and user feedback samples.

              Spear phishing involves social engineering. It is targeted to specific people within some governmental or corporate entity. Some research is done about who is who within the organization. That’s the easy part. The spear ‘phisher’ then typically puts himself in a line of communication, forging his identity in smart ways.
              For example, Yves could get an email from Lambert, say ‘’ (see how I changed the l for a 1?) In it, Lambert wants to know if he could get an advance on the tip jar, because his plants suffered from some funghi. Or a link is included to some document Yves just needs to see (say the latest Calpers investment mishap) and the landing page contains some malware.
              Silly examples, and the real spammers are much smarter than I am in inventing spear phishing scams, but you catch the drift.
              CEO’s have had to resign because of spear phishing scams. The prejudice can be huge.

              I work for an anti-spam/abuse company and when trying to build a solution, they tested it through a 3rd party company that was hired to try and get through the defenses. I’ve seen colleagues with more than 15 years in email and spam who fell for the spear phishing test. Training helps but is not the only answer.

        2. EricT

          It means that the hackers sent phishing attack emails to specific targets, in this case select election officials to see if someone would bite. Not entirely benign, but dangerous to those who are ignorant to standard hacking attacks. Government officials can’t really know for certain who performed these attacks, as competent hackers would cover their tracks or make the tracks appear to come from somewhere else.

      3. vidimi

        i agree that the intercept fumbled in reporting this. bigly. the document is a whole lot of nothing, missing any details to corroborate its conclusions. it’s as if the NSA drafted an editorial and classified it top secret. furthermore, it looks like the intercept did throw their source under the bus. van buren is right to be skeptical.

      4. Mike

        In all this, what has Mssr. Omidyar to say regarding the “sloppy” handling of this “exposé”? He should have final airing so that the gravitas of his publication is upheld/recovered/pulled from the tank…

    2. justanotherprogressive

      This “Reality” story smells to high heaven, and nope, not even good journalists seem to get that. I don’t know what it is all about, but it certainly isn’t about what’s being published…..

      Let’s wait and see….

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I agree. It surely is smelly. Given Trump’s Manichaean worldview of winners and losers, if the next “treasonous coward” turns out to be named, “Champ Leakey”, I’m going to hop off the wagon, go buy some scotch, and look for my cache of blue pills (vs red).

      2. LT

        What’s that old saying: “When you don’t know who the mark is, it’s probably you.”
        Or something like that.

    3. Linda


      NBC News

      The intelligence industry contractor who is accused of giving journalists a highly classified report about Russian interference in the U.S. election will plead not guilty, her lawyer told NBC News on Wednesday.

      Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a government contractor who worked with the National Security Agency, has been charged with providing the “top secret” document to online news outlet The Intercept.

      “My client is innocent until proven guilty and we plan to enter a plea of not guilty,” attorney Titus Nichols told NBC News Wednesday afternoon.

      The Department of Justice has said Winner admitted to the accusations against her, but Nichols, told the Associated Press “if there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me.”

      1. Whine Country

        James Comey is going to represent her. He is going to argue that she really didn’t mean to do anything wrong and was just foolish so there is no crime.

      2. Optimader

        Please clarify interference for me. Hacking no doubt, hacking is a ubiquitous phenomena. Interference needs a factual link.

    4. DJG

      Donald: It is a long and detailed piece in which Ritter makes his way through the current swamp of charges: Scott Ritter has an excellent record and exposed much of the diddling that went on in Iraq.

      I am sure you noted the guest appearances of the human-rights luminaries Clapper and Comey about half way through the piece. Ritter is not impressed.

      The last eight paragraphs, in which Ritter orders and recaps his conclusions, are particularly damning. His diagnosis: Panic will diminish the republic. The current reaction from the rage-filled slice of the U.S. public: But, oh well, who cares? We can deal with Pence.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The rage filled portion of the population largely represents the portion of the population who sent up a candidate who lost to Donald Trump. At the end of the day, they can’t win the White House or a House in Congress. Even yesterday, the Resistance Senators voted to undermine one of Obama’s only decent accomplishments including the likes of Elizabeth “delete your account” Warren. Pence will only become President if Trump goes to three servings of burnt steak and ketchup per day.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            If Iran is sanctioned, how will Feinstein’s defense contractor hubby make his squillions?

            Not as surprising if you look at it that way.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the Resistance Senators voted to undermine one of Obama’s only decent accomplishments

          Oh, for pity’s sake. They didn’t. But they did. (I don’t hold much of a brief for Obama, as readers know, but the Iran deal was a genuine accomplishment and good for him for getting it done.)

          1. gepay

            That, of course forgets, that the whole Iran sanctions were falsely implemented in the first place – there should never have been a reason for the Iran deal in the first place. But agree – the deal was better than Obama not making the deal. sort of like Obama care was somewhat better than what was there before as noted when the Repubs halfway there in doing away with it.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hell has no fury like a spook spurned.

        (Not sure if there was ever love toward Trump, so we can probably safely skip the hatred in Heaven part).

    5. JN

      WeMeantWell names specific names and they are ones with history relevant to the argument being made. Small conspiracies between individuals is the main channel through which our secret government propagandizes our mass media.

      Timing, content, veracity are all questionable here.

      I’m not interested in vast conspiracy theories but powerful people do conspire and this reeks of it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m not interested in vast conspiracy theories but powerful people do conspire and this reeks of it.

        At this level, the powerful all know each other’s moves. They all know who owns who, and they all know who’s sleeping with who (mostly). Occasionally, they do lunch, or go to the right cocktail party. They also take great care (as Comey shows) to preserve the appearance of propriety. It’s better to think of the reek as coming from office politics played for very high stakes, rather than as conspiracy.

        I’m an Occam’s Razor guy on CT. There’s no need for it, and the term clutters the argument and turns people off; people don’t put on masks and sit round a table in a basement room, like in an Agatha Christie novel.

        1. jsn

          Generally I agree with your “Occam’s Razor” position, but in this particular instance I like “conspiracy theory” because our intelligence agencies invented the term as a fig leaf to live under, and the whole Reality Winner situation smells like exactly what one expects to find beneath such a leaf.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          I’m of the opinion that our elites basically do everything out in the open. You can see what they do plain as day.

          Every time they fuck over labor and poor people.

  3. dontknowitall

    I seems to me the plan to trap Trump in a cover-up was always evident since the Putin hacking fiction was just baloney as confirmed by Scott Ritter. If Trump knew he did not conspire with Putin, so no evidence was possible to exist, then the end game was always to try to trap him into using his power unwisely out of frustration. Did he do that ? Not sure but the tenor of the headlines tells me they are again stretching the ‘evidence’ to get another few days of frustration in the White House after which some new claim will be manufactured.

    Ritter’s article also makes me think NSA’s little Miss Manners, Reality so-and-so, is a propaganda op hatched in time for Comey’s testimony to cause further havock in the White House just as they ready for a fight. Thanks Obama for making it legal for intelligence agencies to propagandize in the US.

    1. Carolinian

      A couple of key grafs from the Ritter story

      The consequences of the dearth of fact-based intelligence linking the GRU to meddling in the 2016 election are many. It exposes the decision by President Obama to single out the GRU for sanctions last December as fraudulent in nature and politically motivated, since it sustained an attribution by CrowdStrike that was not founded in hard fact, but rather paid for by DNC dollars.

      It also reveals the CIA-FBI-NSA joint assessment as being fundamentally flawed, calling into question the credibility of James Clapper (the former director of national intelligence), John Brennan (the former director of the CIA), Mike Rogers (the current director of NSA) and James Comey (the former director of the FBI) when it comes to the investigation into the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. All four men have testified extensively before various congressional committees, and will more than likely be called upon to testify again and again, in what has become an endless inquisition, the premise of which has at least partially been exposed as lacking a factual basis.

      So did Obama and Brennan (they are supposedly tight) plot to take down Trump or at least his proposed Russia policy “Chicago style”? If nothing else the intelligence agencies turning their guns on a US political candidate shows that the traditional defense of our spy complex–that it only acts overseas–is now out the window. Here’s an interesting Tomdispatch saying that having defeated the old Soviet Union the US is now turning into it.

      And as some of us said back during the campaign the danger may be not so much the bumbling Trump as the all too entrenched powers that be.

    2. Eureka Springs

      The consequences of the dearth of fact-based intelligence linking the GRU to meddling in the 2016 election are many. It exposes the decision by President Obama to single out the GRU for sanctions last December as fraudulent in nature and politically motivated, since it sustained an attribution by CrowdStrike that was not founded in hard fact, but rather paid for by DNC dollars


      It’s not the cover up, it’s the lie.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        For all the fevered speculation on and “investigation” of the Russian “connections” of Trump and company, the connections most studiously ignored are those of crowdstrike–ground zero for the hysteria–itself.

        dimitri alperovitch, crowdstrike founder, was born in Moscow fer chrissakes. Interestingly, if you google “where was dimitri alperovitch born,” you have to go all the way to the second page and a Breitbart article to find that out. In his thumbnail bio on google, neither his birthplace nor parents’ names are listed, and the only education is Georgia Institute of Technology.

        crowdstrike was also the recipient of a $100 million investment led by GoogleCapital, the financing arm of eric schmidt’s little company. schmidt was a staunch clinton supporter and campaign advisor. Then there’s alperovitch’s membership in the atlantic council. Having a “cyber-attribution expert” in one’s debt looks like a pretty astute investment in this day and age.

        Just once I would like to hear the heroic comey asked what he knows about crowdstrike, and why he was so confident in its conclusions that he adopted them as the fbi’s own with such “high confidence.”

        And as far as I’m concerned, if Mueller’s “independent” investigation does not include an exhaustive dissection of crowdstrike’s involvement in this pathetic chaos, it will be as “independent” and thorough as the investigation of the Kennedy assassination or 9/11. Which is to say not worth the paper it’s printed on.

        1. ChrisPacific

          CrowdStrike is a private company, so you need to ask who their customer was and what they were being paid to deliver. In this case, their customer was the DNC. Anybody who paid attention to what Hillary Clinton was saying during the campaign would have been in no doubt about the “product” that they were expected to deliver in this case. I am not at all surprised that the DNC denied the FBI access to the servers after they had received the result they wanted from CrowdStrike. Ritter also notes that a previous CrowdStrike analysis on Ukraine had been discredited.

          It would be nice to see that piece carried by one of the mainstream outlets, although I’m not holding my breath.

      2. dontknowitall

        The one good thing about all this is some of the people inventing this whole business have testified under oath and will do so again, probably repeatedly, and as the dearth of facts becomes obvious their exposure to consequences will increase. They are just as much at (collateral) risk during the FBI investigations as the targets. If there are no facts and Trump is innocent, then they lied under oath. Hopefully republican congress-people will grow some spine and consider it is not good for the institution to be openly lied to with impunity.

        What happened to the powerful speakers of the house that ruled decades ago and demanded respect for their institution. The Congress is now run by gangs and no one has any institutional pride. The President is left to fend for himself with barely any loyalty from his party in Congress. Forinstance, he asked that healthcare reform not be undertaken until 2018 and, sure enough, a gang of [family blog] politicians with Trump-defeated Paul Ryan decide they know best and now is the time. Paralysis and giant mess ensues. It is all a buffett of hate management and payback. If you want to preview what a presidency by an independent would look like this is it.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        We don’t need Russian “meddling” (hacking, interference, influence) any more, especially if Reality Winner’s material is the best the NSA can do. Because now we have Comey’s handwritten notes. So it’s all good!

  4. jefemt

    Bernie on Trump’s infrastructure. Brought a few things to mind from my little world of ideas:
    I somehow manage to pay my State and Federal taxes.
    However, with hidden inflation (real property taxes, increased food and utility costs, and a stagnant (actually declining) wage base — I am a victim of too many workers chasing too few jobs in a college town with a deep young talent pool an employers wet dream.
    I have little to no discretionary income. Assuming my state and federal taxes would not go down—I would struggle to find the money to cross the bridge, get on the interstate, pay to go for a hike on former federal and state land.
    Pay-go does not work for those of us at the bottom, on the margin, perched on the ragged edge of the insolvency brink.
    Arguments against funding and finance of the ‘public utility’- bridges, highways, fire and police, etc are BS upon closer scrutiny. It is far worse more expensive under a privatized system. Unregulated profits, exorbitant salaries, declining service in the name of cost cutting.
    When we privatized our local utility in the 80’s Reagan de-regulation boom, the first thing they did was sell all of the hydroelectric generation and dams. Then, the job losses. Then 25 years later we buy back the dams for hundreds of millions, and again try to start to regulate to a higher degree. School of hard knocks.
    A local larger municipality (Missoula, MT) privatized their water supply, Carlyle Group (Baker, Bush, Saudis et al ) bought it. A couple decades later and a lot of litigation, Missoula is buying it back. School of hard knocks.
    As my friend says, ‘we used to, and that’s why we don’t anymore…’
    Privatization failure, fog of ‘because markets’, and a lot of money into the pockets of the slick professional class, or the heirs apparent in DC, Wall Street, and beyond.
    I miss our old power company. A proscribed profit level, good paying jobs for my neighbors, and a reliable service. All openly regulated by the collective we for our own collective benefit. Localism writ large. Greatest good for the greatest number in the greatest nation. As Jackson Browne lamented,
    “Oh, it’s so far the other way my country’s gone…” (Our Lady of the Well)
    We need to get back to collectively defining, accepting, and defending what are true public utilities, and manage them under the clear bright light of public discourse. Proscribe and regulate reasonable but not insane inflationary profits, salaries, etc.
    As usual, Bernie is calling it straight, and from my perspective he is once again right on the money.
    Where are the Bernie Bros in 2018? Candidates and voters alike?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Where are the Bernie Bros?

      In regards to candidates, people do have day jobs. Running for office is a serious time commitment where you will most likely wind up with campaign debt and not work for six months minimum. Wealth inequality has repercussions. All those waiters are trying to get shifts not glad hand voters.

      As for voters, DemExit is a real thing. Plenty of voters voted for their last time in November and the toxic environments of local Democratic committees have made organizing difficult. The Democratic Party has been poisoned by Clinton and Obama for a generation.

      The Democratic elites are screaming “OMG Russia” non stop to distract.

      1. juliania

        Yes, they won’t even let us deplorables watch snippets of the French Open tennis matches. We have to watch a rerun of Comey instead, staging it as a Watergate hearing. Count me unimpressed.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Yeah, tell me about it. I’m at work and the teevees are glued to the Comey Channel.

          Gimme some TENNIS!

      2. Knot Galt

        IMHO, & experience, when you run, fully expect the IRS to audit your #ss.* It is almost a guarantee they will.

        *Especially if you are running against establishment democrats for non-political positions like city mayor or councilor. The parties have their favorites!

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      They offer some hope but you ask too much of Bernie and Bros. Every Christmas I watch the old “Miracle on 34th Street” and marvel at the terrible change which has afflicted our body politic. Watch the courtroom scene where Kris Kringle’s attorney sings the praises of the U.S. Post Office. What impact would those glowing words have on a jury of today? Many people I discuss politics with are firmly convinced the U.S. government — indeed any government entity — Federal, State or Local is incapable of handling anything efficiently or well. They are just as firmly convinced — actually take as a matter of deep faith — that a Market is the only viable solution to any problem. How did this change in beliefs become so entrenched in belief — in spite of the Market failing time-after-time to the profit of few and the cost of many?

      We use Market terminology to discuss issues — quickly reducing topics once matters of a rich, deep and ancient complexity and philosophical importance to matters of efficiency, price-point, and constructing a well-formed Market. We want to construct a market for carbon-trading to achieve an economic “good” like avoiding an epochal Global Warming disaster. We have Markets for education (job-related), Markets for labor — since we’re all just commodities, little me-Incs — Markets for medical services for government services — and now why not for other essentials like our food and drinking water and nice to haves like light and warmth.

      And actually — whether “we” believe or buy into any of this Market nonsense the Market for Government has already held its auction and “we” weren’t even in the bidding.

      1. Vatch

        How did this change in beliefs become so entrenched in belief — in spite of the Market failing time-after-time to the profit of few and the cost of many?

        Very rich right wingers and their foundations spent vast sums of money over the past 50 years on direct and indirect propaganda. The textbooks used in schools and colleges have been tailored to conform to conservative doctrine, and hundreds of college professors depend on financial assistance from right wing foundations. There’s a lot of information in Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money, and I posted a short quote from it here about two weeks ago:

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I appreciate the link and will follow up on it.

          However — my question was rhetorical. I’ve been following Phillip Mirowski’s description of the Mt. Perlerins Society and his concept of the Neoliberal Thought Collective — which I think might have some relationship with the Dark Money people. I was trying to avoid getting labeled as a conspiracy theorist by being too plain in what I write. — But if it quacks like a duck …

    3. oh

      Public-Private Partnerships are a way to loot the publicly owned assets and rake off millions. Maggie Thatcher and her ilk showed the way.

  5. MoiAussie

    Labour is best for Brexit, if only it were not Corbyn. It seems Ambrose’s hit piece has been retitled as Victory for neo-Marxist Jeremy Corbyn would mean a hard Brexit and doom for the economy

    A bit of panic at the station apparently.

    1. a different chris

      I can’t see behind the paywall, and intellectually don’t care but I have to admit some curiosity about how Corbyn, who was ambivalent at best about Brexit, who has been accused of apparently loving foreigners (especially the most foreign of all, the Irish! Gasp!) more than good Britons, a Socialist Weirdo being as far from a man of the people as you can get… now gets pinned as the guy that would bring “hard” Brexit.

      Poor Ms May gets no respect.

      Basically nowadays it seems you find something your readership doesn’t like and write a column about a person they don’t like wherein you smear them by association with it regardless of facts. Pays the bills, I guess.

  6. bsg

    The biggest obstacle to hand counted paper ballots wont be the obvious debated issue of speed, it will be the hidden issue, putting the power of the count into the hands of poll workers AKA (insert your favorite derogatory term for non-professional people here). Poll workers work two days a year, and are expected to learn a heap of procedures that have accumulated over the years, and while these individual procedures and rules may have positive intentions, this accumulation has made the job far too complex for part time volunteers to handle. This allows for the accredited professionals to save the day and run the show.

    1. fajensen

      while these individual procedures and rules may have positive intentions,

      That is a big “May” that. I think it is obvious that quite a lot of the complex procedures and rules are there specifically to enable various forms of “nudging” the election process and especially to make sure that “The Experts” alone run the show – fewer people to pay off for the same result, basically.

      We use paper based voting in Denmark. We do not have a complex set of rules and procedures about registration, disallowing categories of voters and perpetual moving of voting district boundaries (which doesn’t make much sense anyway since we use proportional voting).

      If one is registered at least as a resident via the CPR-registry, an invitation to vote is automatically mailed for the occasions that merit it (citizens can vote for parliament, residents can only vote for the EU and local elections). This form is simply changed into a voting form at the polling station, they make a tick on a paper-based list to count the “used” election cards..

      The complex bit is the assignment of votes on the margins, they do recounts if a few tens of votes will make a difference and there are also discussions about invalid votes in the marginal cases. One can go to the polling stations and see the whole process, from beginning to end, should one wish to do so.

      We still manage to get plenty of idiots and neoliberals elected though, I blame that on the pre-selection of candidates done by the political parties; so despite having a quite robust election process, the possible outcomes are instead managed by cronies inside the political process.

      Outing these people should be a priority, IF we actually had a free press (or free will).

      1. JTMcPhee

        fajensen, thanks for so much in such a succinct package. Lays out pretty neatly the fraud and hypocrisy and disingenuousness of the entire lie that there is “democracy” in America — or apparently (per your observation on parties pre-selecting candidates) in Denmark and most of the rest of the world.

        “We” know all this stuff, but the momentum of “the system” carries “us” ever closer to the cliff edge… “What is to be done?” (Thoughtful pause…) “Nothing. Or not much. Or very little that is effective to produce outcomes that are beneficial to the larger notion of the General Welfare. Or little that can’t be co-opted and perverted to private benefit by those who ‘legally’ own, and thus are ‘entitled’ to despoil, almost everything already.”

      2. bsg

        Another blockade are elections in the US are not party based. In a typical November general election, there are dozens of offices on the slate for election on one ballot, whereas in the upcoming election in the UK, there will simply be one question to answer on the ballot, thus the counting process is kept simple and virtually anyone can keep their focus on the single count during tabulation. The majority of Americans proudly consider themselves to be non-partisan and even hardcore straight ticket voters would not accept going back to the old days of limiting the vote to straight party line tickets just to make counting more transparent.

        But frankly, at the end of the day, any system can and will be gamed. The key component for any complex system to run is basic trust. There has to be trust in the people operating the system, and our current system is run by the technocrats, and they do not realize non-technocrats are losing their trust in the professionals.

    2. Eureka Springs

      Then streamline the procedures. In my experience working polls at the end of the all paper era (80’s and early 90’s in San Fran), complexity was not a problem. And I say that as one who can’t stand needless complexity. Also in most cases there are at least a few people who work the same voting station for years running, if not decades running. Almost always some experienced folk around.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There is a very simple solution to that – do what most countries which count paper ballots do and requisition public sector administrative workers to do the counting.

      I can’t comment on other countries, but in the UK and Ireland its simply built into the system that public sector administrators can volunteer for the work and are entitled to the time off that it takes (rarely more than 2-3 days a year) and are paid a small bonus plus overtime to do it. Most public sector admin workers will have the skills to do it, they are covered by existing employment conditions and will have already signed off on relevant disclosure requirements.

      Senior administrators will have built up the skills over the years to do any of the more complex tasks required.

    4. River

      You learn how to do it in about 3 hours. This was the first and only time I’ve worked in the polls.

      I did it for a Federal Election (one before last when Harper got a majority).

      It is very easy to learn and the procedure for counting is quick, and is checked over by us at the poll stations twice. Two people per station, we each count separately. Then once again in front of another party. At which point the votes are sealed and taken away, where they are again counted twice or more.

      Also, the poll station tally and the votes themselves are transported separately by different parties. I.E those that watch us poll workers count don’t travel with the boxes with the tally.

      You’d be surprised how fast it takes. I know I was.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Counting ballots really is not that difficult. I participated in a local recount last fall as a ballot counter. I had never done it before and it was administered by a city clerk who was also doing it for the first time. We were only looking at one race but it was a fairly complicated one – seven candidates with the top two being the winners.

      We counted several thousand ballots in just a few hours and it went off without a hitch. No ‘professionals’ needed. You are probably right to suspect some kind of attempt by ‘professionals’ to take over the process if we ever do go to purely paper ballots, but we don’t have to let it happen.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I think hand counting frightens management professionals far more than the technically skilled. I’ve washed dishes and collated printouts while feeling smug about getting paid for something so easy to organize. I’ve also watched Directors turn a survey of a few dozen people into a 6-month ‘initiative’.

  7. Adrian H

    I am skeptical Russian hacking decisively influenced the election, but two questions:

    * If Russia-based hackers were not working for the Russian government, who were they working for? Trump gangster-business partners completely independent of the Russian government?

    * If you are worried about the security holes in electronic voting, and know someone was trying to hack, why shouldn’t this remain a really big deal?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      There is no concrete evidence that any hackers were Russian. Period.

      The insecurity of our voting should remain a big deal. But it won’t. It has been a problem for many years and no one in government gives a damn. Any correctives (HAVA) have only made the problem worse. I wonder why?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This on “the attribution problem”:

        AFTER MONTHS OF news about Russian meddling in this year’s US presidential election you’re probably sick of speculation and ready for answers: What exactly did Russia do and why? It sounds simple enough, but a fundamental concept in cybersecurity and digital forensics is the fact that it is sometimes extremely difficult after a cyberattack to definitively name a perpetrator. Hackers have a lot of technical tools at their disposal to cover their tracks. And even when analysts figure out which computer a hacker used, going from there to who used it is very difficult. This is known as the attribution problem.

        The attribution problem is exactly that—a problem. But it is not an irreconcilable barrier. “You can identify hackers even if you do not catch them in the act,” Rid says. “Digital forensics as a profession is exactly there to solve that problem and it can be solved. Sometimes it can’t, but often it can.”

        Ah, professionals.

        The difficulty in the present case is that the stakes are so enormous both politically and financially. In essence, how many points to the right does the decimal point on the check have to move before bad faith overwhelms professionalism? It’s not clear to me why I should trust the authority of the “intelligence community” on this at all. They’re players in the game, not referees.

    2. dontknowitall

      There’s always someone, somewhere trying to hack in. It is just a fact of life on the internet. It does not have to be the russkies. Honeypot experiments have shown that a new IP number will not remain unprobed by a hacker for more than 15 minutes. One time I setup a new computer and I had not even cleaned up the desk and already a script kiddie from Turkey (that is where the track ended) was trying to get in. I pulled the cable right off the socket.

      Paper ballots, hand-counted, that is the way to go.

    3. Carolinian

      Russia is apparently full of hackers. Lots of open source software seems to come from there. Ukraine as well.

      1. dontknowitall

        Ukraine is actually a bigger problem because they have built an infrastructure perfect for hacking with poorly regulated ISPs, corrupt police and politicians, shady silicon valley Americans and literally the world’s fastest internet. What could go wrong. There are a lot of Ukraine connections in this hacking story that make me suspicious.

        1. sid_finster

          I don’t remember Ukrainian internet being all that when I lived there.

          I do agree that Ukrainian politicians are unmitigated scum, and they owe their continued existence to being able to manipulate their way into the good graces of the US.

      2. Andrew Watts

        The Eastern bloc countries produced a lot of superb “hobbyists” back in the 90s. They were probably as good if not better than their counterparts in the West.

  8. dbk

    Today’s news cycle will inevitably be taken up by Comey’s testimony; thus most Americans’ attention will be diverted from the election in Britain. Thomas Frank’s Guardian piece is excellent, with plenty of on-site reporting and reflections on how neoliberalism – austerity has played out similarly, though with significant social differences – in the U.S. and GB. Highly recommended, especially for those who have read Frank’s recent books on U.S. politics.

    1. kurtismayfield

      The Frank piece was great, and there were a few spot on paragraphs.

      I hope Britain can hold on to that sensibility. But as the country travels the Road to Zero, I predict this saving dream will eventually fade away, that what has dawned on millions of American workers in the last few decades will eventually dawn here as well. People will look out over those mine-scarred Yorkshire hills, those first world war monuments, those rows of crumbling terraced homes, and realise that the distant people who rule them simply do not give a damn.

      It is the same everywhere, but here in the US it has been so much more acute because of the lack of connection. The “everyone for themselves” BS that we are sold is all fine and dandy, until we are asked to unite against the terrist. The perpetual war that is sold to us, and forcing us to suck up every sacrifice of our privacy for not one smidgen of proof of an increase in security, is insulting after we are pitched the “bootstraps” line.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, DBK and Kurtis.

      Having travelled widely around the Rust Belt, just off the Acela Corridor and off the beaten track in the South, I can attest to the similarities with the UK, not just the northern areas visited by the admirable Thomas Frank, but the forgotten areas of the Home Counties (London commuter belt) and the capital itself.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And, let me guess: The Queen is not amused about the lack of attention to Her Majesty.

  9. flora

    Important news from Kansas. The GOP controlled KS legislature has voted to roll back Gov. Brownback’s tax cut “real time experiment.” Brownback vetoed the rollback legisation. The legislators then voted to override Brownback’s’s veto. This is a very big deal.

  10. Jim Haygood

    [W]hen is the first weed growing REIT?

    Dunno, but I wouldn’t buy it. Cannabis presents the same headache as any ag product, but in spades: virtually unlimited supply.

    In Colorado, the first cannabis free market, competition has pushed quality up and prices down. Strains with THC content in the mid to high twenties — in the same ballpark as the purple exotics delivered to your door in NYC for $500 an ounce — can be had for as little as $200 an ounce with early bird special or happy hour (4:20 pm) discounts. And that’s including state taxes (!).

    Rest assured that some wise billionaires are studying how to transform this popular free-for-all into something that resembles the tobacco oligopoly fashioned by the Clinton administration antitrust lawyer Joel Klein, featuring unlimited pricing power and 20 percent returns forevermore for cartel members.

    You’ll know we’ve arrived at that nirvana when the airhead MSM posts paeans like these:

    “He warrants the nation’s gratitude,” gushed a New York Times editorial. “He will depart government with the kind of halo that most lawyers only dream about,” eulogized David Ignatius in the WaPo, adding that Klein “helped reinvent antitrust law for the 21st century.”

    1. freedeomny

      I think the real “excitement” re cannabis is not with the high THC strains but with those high in CBD. Those strains offer great anti-inflammatory properties (and other benefits) without getting the user high/stoned. Unfortunately I agree that the powers that be will find a way to screw things up.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Also most of these legalization efforts have provisions allowing people to grow their own which is why I don’t understand all the reefer madness hang wringing among many officials in states like Maine which just recently legalized it.

      According to some of our local officials, if we allow it to be sold in stores, there will be so much jibbah flooding the streets that kindergarteners will be toking up before they eat their paste. Somehow Budweiser is available on every street corner alread yand the kiddies aren’t pouring that over their frosted flakes. I tried to explain to them that as much as anybody wants is already here – the only difference will be that it’s out in the open. That and now they’ll be able to increase the town’s annual revenue without having to collude with corrupt developers to build stuff nobody wants in order to ‘increase the tax base’.

      I’m sure one or two companies will manage to create the Budweiser equivalent of weed but my feeling is that a lot of people who think they’re going to get rich now that it’s legal are going to be sorely disappointed. Pretty much any idiot can grow this stuff on their own – it’s a lot easier than trying to brew your own beer or distill your own whiskey with little initial investment needed.

  11. PKMKII

    Is the Snow Leopard Actually Three Distinct Subspecies?

    Does this mean we need to triple our tip jar donations?

  12. allan

    The rise of political apathy in two charts [Nature]

    In a year of pivotal elections across Europe — in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Germany — voters are being urged to turn up to the ballot box. Yet long-term data suggest that political apathy has risen steadily in Europe’s citizens, says Simon Hix, a political scientist at the London School of Economics.

    Voter turnout across Europe is at its lowest point since suffrage rights were extended to the broader population, says Hix — a trend he illustrated this year in a series of charts that show how voting patterns have changed across the continent for the past 100 years. From the Second World War to the early 1980s, around 80–85% of the electorate turned out to vote. But since then, participation in national elections has fallen steadily to just under 65%. …

    In the United Kingdom … the generational voting divide is particularly stark. The 1990s saw a huge decline in youth turnout there and the country “now leads the world with its gap in voter turnout between older generations and young people”, says Abhinay Muthoo, an economist at the University of Warwick, UK. The difference in voting rates between UK people aged over 55 and those under 35 is about 35 percentage points — triple the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to preliminary work by Muthoo.

    One argument described by Muthoo suggests that the trend goes back to the mid-1980s, when a lot of people who traditionally voted one way or another stopped voting altogether because of disillusionment with the politics of the time, among other reasons. When these people stopped engaging, it’s possible that their children didn’t go out to vote either. …

    Iron Lady, mission accomplished.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Weed Startups Will Make Warehouse Rents More Expensive in L.A. and Boston Bloomberg. Re Silc: “[W]hen is the first weed growing REIT?”

    And the consumption will make LA more smoggy.

    When I first heard of legalizing marijuana, I thought it was about the legal rights of marijuana.

    “No humans can deprive you, a sacred herbal plant, of your life, by burning you at the stake, in his or her pursuit of happiness recreationally without your consent.”

  14. Jim Haygood

    Seems like just yesterday in Water Cooler we were talking about Yahoo’s 15 percent stake in Alibaba, and how emerging market funds loaded up with BABA have beaten the pants off those that aren’t. Apparently this mild discussion drove the lads into a frenzy:

    The surge in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s stock (BABA, +10.90%) Thursday is on track to be the biggest one-day price gain since the China-based e-commerce giant went public in Sep 2014.

    With 2.57 billion shares outstanding as of March 31, the price gain would add about $41.35 billion to Alibaba’s market capitalization.

    Alibaba Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said overnight at the company’s investor day that fiscal 2018 revenue is expected to rise 45% to 49% over 2017 results.

    $42 billion a day in added market cap — sounds legit. We’re poppin’ like 1999 now, in what Baudelaire might have called Les Fleurs de la Manie Mal.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Heh. Let me know when despoitc anguish sticks the black flag in Bezos’ coconut.

      1. Jim Haygood

        A straw in the wind:

        Amazon is attempting to lure low-income shoppers from Walmart by offering a discount on its pay-by-month Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.

        The giant online retailer said in a statement Tuesday that people who have a valid EBT [electronic benefits transfer] card — used for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or food stamps — will pay $5.99 per month for a year.

        “We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime,” Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime, said in the statement.

        Amazin’ … Bezos is shaking the last nickels out of the couch cushions. Nothing like surfing Amazon on your 60-inch monitor to find a sub-$3,000 75-inch monitor.

        The main point isn’t serving those of limited purchasing power, but rather juicing revenue growth by hook or crook to goose the stock higher and make Bezos the richest man on the planet.

        In standard late-cycle fashion, credit bureaux are easing up on derogatory info to boost FICO scores, as lenders step up their outreach to subprime borrowers.

        What could go wrong?

  15. DJG

    Antidote of the day: The photograph shows us how foxes earned their reputation is wily and intelligent. I am waiting for this fox to spring into action.

    The Twitter account that posted the photo, Haggard Hawks, says that the white patch at the end of the tail is called a chape. Just one more reminder of how exquisite evolution has made all of the canids (except, well, pugs).

      1. PKMKII

        It’s still random mutation + selection. It’s just that instead of the overall environment doing the selecting, it’s humanity’s weird taste for dogs with flat faces.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        It would only result in the rise of a new species if the selectively bred animals were separated from the progenitors natural offspring long enough to become a new species through genetic drift.

        Of course, Darwin noted those wacky pigeons people bred would be classified as different species if discovered in the wild, but then again, he didn’t know anything about genetics.

  16. Uahsenaa

    Pedantic point: it’s Kimberlé Crenshaw not Kimberly Crenshaw.

    I read the piece yesterday. It’s very good, though I’m not entirely fond of the dance that black academics so often have to perform, when criticizing Obama, always doing so by implication rather than simple assertion. I realize Obama’s election held out great hope (and thus great disappointment) for the African-American community, but sometimes it’s best to acknowledge when someone wasn’t really your friend and just make a clean break.

    Also, I can understand the desire not to make too many waves. Cornel West was clear in his critique of Obama, and look where that got him…

    1. Gaianne

      Race to the Bottom

      A good title, but no substance beneath. Yes, we can now say in retrospect that liberalism was always about electing token oreos to high office, while changing nothing for everybody else. This was “progress.”

      But our author notices this without considering the effects on the “everybody else.”


  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    PIERS MORGAN: Theresa May’s savage police cuts and weakness with Islamist extremism have made Britain a dangerous place – I wouldn’t trust her to protect me from an angry wasp, let alone a jihadi terrorist Daily Mail

    Over here on this side of the pond, police is a two-edged sword.

    Unless it’s radically different, Mr. Morgan will do well to know when it comes to police, it’s quality, not quantity. Police should not beat up peaceful protesters. More low-quality cops will just lead to more beating incidents.

    In another part of the article, the author says something interesting:

    When I interviewed London Mayor Sadiq Khan for Good Morning Britain yesterday, he didn’t seem to have a clue about the movement of any of the jihadist suspects.

    In particular, he didn’t know where the 200 or so fighters known to have returned from Syria to London might be lurking or what they were doing.
    Mr Khan, who keeps assuring us London is the safest city on earth, even as more bodies are being found in the river Thames four days after the latest attack, is very quick to abuse US President Donald Trump and call for HIM to be banned from Britain.

    Applying his too-much-work-for-public-workers thesis, perhaps we need two lord mayors of London, just as the current number of cops in the UK was apparently not enough to track someone who, according to the same article, was seen on TV last year as a potential jihadist.

    Is Piers going with incompetence or not enough mayors/cops?

  18. Lynne

    The Neoliberal Social Justice piece lost me by the second paragraph:

    Obama’s commitment to reform wasn’t about revolution; it was—and still is—about pragmatically and practically reforming institutions from within and playing by the existing rules.

    After that howler, how can I possibly take the author seriously?

    Compare that with the (unintentionally) damning comment in the lawfare piece. The author asked if they could picture the president in their administration making the statements Trump made to Comey about Flynn.

    Mukasey (AG office under GWBush) said:

    “One word answer: No.” He later said he was aware of no such White House involvement in criminal cases or investigations during his tenure

    Contrast with the wiggle room from Obama’s White House counsel (*generally* adhered to a “policy”?):

    Eggleston said Obama’s White House had and generally adhered to a policy of not discussing investigations with people at the Justice Department.

    “It would not have happened while I was in the White House,” the former White House counsel said. “We would not have been talking to the FBI director or attorney general about a specific investigative matter… That just would not happen.”

    Remind me again: which administration actually prosecuted white collar crime? Or indeed, much of any crime other than going after putative whistle blowers?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It would help if there was at least one witness in the room.

      The other question is, why did he make memos post Trump meetings, but not post-Obama meetings?

      1. Linda

        This came up in Comey’s testimony this morning. He said he took notes in the Trump case because of the nature of the conversations, because he was alone with Trump, and because of Trump’s particular personality. He believed Trump might lie about it in the future and that he’d better have a record.

          1. Linda

            Yes, apparently so. Additionally, the nature of conversations, with Obama, for example were very different. There was no discomfort or strange comments, requests, etc. So I would guess it didn’t occur to him that Obama might have reason to lie about the conversations. Also, another guess, Trump seems to have a reputation for not speaking truthfully, so that may have influenced Comey. (He only met twice with Obama. One of the times was to say goodbye.)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think taking notes was even more urgent with a famous 11 dimensional chess grand master, even if it was only one meeting.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            No. He believed Trump might tell easily falsifiable lies. Trying to nail Obama with handwritten meeting notes would be a self-defeating waste of time. Also, Obama would not casually backstab a player as high up as Comey, unlike the ever-feckless, possibly memory-impaired, 70 year old Trump.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          There were notes, CNN:

          Hillary Clinton repeatedly told the FBI she couldn’t recall key details and events related to classified information procedures, according to notes the bureau released Friday of its July interview with the Democratic presidential nominee, along with a report on its investigation into her private email server.

          There was no recording:

          Comey told the House Oversight Committee last month that the FBI did not record its interview with Clinton or require her to take a sworn oath before making her statements before investigators.

  19. s.n.

    dunno if this one got linked to yet. From a few days back, on the recently thwarted IS plot to attack an Alevi center, and Alevi perceptions of Erdogan’s perhaps less-than-benign intentions towards them:

    Turkey’s Alevi community fears more than just IS

    “…We fear Turkey is under the threat of a civil war.” Kaplan warned that tensions are already so high between Sunnis and Alevis that any attack could set off further conflict. IS could provoke such a situation by creating the appearance that Sunnis and Alevis have attacked each other. Kaplan said, “Just bombing a cemevi would not instigate a civil war, but [IS] attacking a mosque after a cemevi would present a risk…

    “…IS isn’t the only threat. For nearly 15 years, Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments have instigated anti-Alevi policies and rhetoric and fanned the flames of enmity toward Alevis. Alevis have been resisting state-sponsored efforts at Sunnification and therefore face increasing discrimination at all levels of public life….”

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is Good for Wall Street but Bad for America Bernie Sanders, Medium

    Unless Sanders introduces MMT to the voters, how does he realistically counter Trump’s plan?

    Get the money from the generals? He is not going to say or do that.

    Tax the wealthy more? In fact, that destroys money on the hand, while infrastructure spending creates money. Is he preparing the public to understand the MMT concept?

    Has he even once mentioned it publicly?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The only people who care about the “national debt” are people who want to say something other than that they despise poor people.

      There is no need to discuss MMT with voters. They already know concepts such as “the cost of war.” They don’t really care where the money comes from. Localities and states have issues with simply spending money because they need dollars. No one wants California Kroners.

      Sanders problem against Hillary besides one of time and resources was a belief in a secret Hillary who believed all the same stuff as Bernie.

      Where is Trump going to get money for all those new ships. No one knows or cares.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          None. Voters don’t care. MMT matters at an academic level and for why we can actually do stuff, but its like the line in “Independence Day” when the President asks how they paid for Area 51. The father in law says, “you don’t really believe $20 for a hammer, $50 for a toilet seat” do you. The idea the government has money to spend on good things is out there. If you spend it on good things, people don’t notice the bad things you spend it on.

          Obama promised all kinds of good policies which would cost money. He only became President with unprecedented majorities. Now if your goal is to win the votes of dyed in the wool Republicans who hate the poors and the poors, then you need a scam such as the national debt, but the poors will vote if a candidate promises to help them.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I thought the best response to dyed-in-the-wool national debt politicians was MMT-aware voters?

              1. Mel

                If you start, make sure you have the time to do it right, and they walk away convinced. Else you run the risk of making them think you’re bullshitting them, like everybody else does.
                There was an impressive, extended, discussion in Wolf Street comments a couple of weeks ago, when somebody named Kent hit all the right MMT points without once mentioning the letters M, M, or T. I think it prepared some ground really well.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Dyed in the wool “national debt” voters do not care.

              They can’t say they like starving people in the street and workhouses for orphans, so they say the “national debt.” Anyone who cares about the national debt would start with MIC spending and low taxes on the rentier class, and yet, the villain of government spending run amok stories is always someone double dipping on food stamps.

              The non voter trying to figure out how he is going to pay the activity fee for his kid’s highschool sports team doesn’t care about MMT or where the money is coming from. He really doesn’t. He is aware of gross miscarriages of justice. That non-voter understands why its good his kid can a free musical instrument through the school or why its bad if he has to figure out while blood is gushing out of a wound how he is going to pay for an ambulance.

              The last election came down to margins where one candidate told a story that sounds more accurate than the other candidate. “Make America Great” versus “I’m with her. Shut up you lousy deplorables I make $250k an appearance to those people who stole your house.”

              When Sanders discusses healthcare and education, those are sensible things that people like and make a good deal of sense to simply have the government pay for them in exchange for a tax increase. Its an investment in the future after all.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

                Lots of dyed-in-the-wool national debt politicians.

                But not all voters are. At some point, they will ask about funding.

    2. Benedict@Large

      According to Mosler, Sanders thinks MMT is crazy. In fact, it was members of Sanders’ staff that pushed for Kelton’s appointment by Sanders as the minority economist to the banking committee. As far as I could see, Sanders never made much use of Kelton’s MMT expertise there.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If he thinks MMT is crazy, does he think infrastructure spending needs to paid for with taxes?

        Has he actually proposed how we fund it – by reducing the cost of war, for example?

        1. Massinissa

          I don’t know about proposals on funding, but I’m sure hes never really talked about reducing the cost of war. Among other things, hes been very supportive of the F-35. Ugh…

    3. Adam Eran

      In interviews I’ve heard, Sanders has declined to make any MMT points even when he had the opportunity, even though he hired Stephanie Kelton as an economic advisor.

  21. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the fun and games in the Middle East and my comment about France’s Qatar conundrum, yesterday the justice minister and close ally of Emmanuel Macron, Francois Bayrou, has announced a review of Qatar’s special treatment,

    Yesterday evening, France 2 news reported that the sovereign immunity from tax etc. was granted, by Sarko and extended by Hollande, in the expectation that Qatar would buy a lot more arms and invest more in France. That has not proven to be the case. France is trading more with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, so appears to be f’ing and chucking Qatar. Just how much did France expect “300 people and a TV station”, in the words of single malt connoisseur Bandar Bush, to buy? Il me semble que Marianne est une maitresse capricieuse, perfide comme Albion outre Manche.

    1. Frenchguy

      Well, there were close to 2bn€ of French exports to Qatar in 2016. Not huge but given the population differential it’s not bad compared to the 4bn€ sent to Saudi Arabia. (this is excluding military contracts so the picture is far from complete). As for the end of the qataris’ special treatment, I’ll believe it when I see it, Bayrou is not quite the heavyweight he thinks he is…

      But on a more snarky note, I would argue that the only thing Sarko cared about was the investment the qataris promised to make in the PSG. Soccer rules everything :)

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m surprised at the French being so quick off the mark to abandon the Qataris, as this rolls out there may be all sorts of unexpected alignments, especially if the Iranians decide to support them. I thought they’d hedge their bets for a few weeks until they know who they can sell more to. Maybe they’ve been leaned on to make a quick call.

      Perhaps more important to the French than SA is the UAE. The UAE has a huge order for Rafale jets (so has Qatar, but the UAE want 60 to the Qatari order of 24 or so). And the UAE is the only big purchaser of the Leclerc tank (every time I see that name I imagine ordering a few of them from a Leclerc Hypermarket). Apparently the Leclerc is doing better than the US Abrams in Yemen (i.e. its not been featured in as many Houthi youtube clips getting the bbq treatment), so the French have high hopes of selling more of them in the region. All good news for the French arms industry.

  22. Susan the other

    Study reveals green incentives could be causing more CO2 emissions. Because we are conflicted politically and economically. The CAFE rules are neutralized because electric car manufacturers are allowed to sell combustion engine manufacturers carbon credits. And of course, there is always Volks Wagen et. al. I’ve been wondering why we can’t get our act together and this morning I stumbled on an old, 1958 Betty Friedan article in Harpers about “The Coming Ice Age – a true detective story.” The article is beautifully written and could explain a lot. 1958 – that is before Exxon produced its global warming evidence about 10 years later. 1958 was perhaps a more objective time. But who knows. I recommend this article and would like to hear opinions.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      When and where have Market solutions for crucial social problems been effective …
      the Market for medical care? … the Market for education? … the Market for labor? … So why should we expect the Market to help deal with Global Warming?

      I’m not sure about the 1958 Betty Friedan article in Harpers. You don’t have to dig that far back to find concerns about a coming ice age — or at least a possible cooling of some areas which results from Global Warming.


      “A new model simulation of the Gulf Stream System shows a breakdown of the gigantic overturning circulating in the Atlantic after a CO2 doubling.” [Jan. 2017]
      Note this is Page 1 of 3 — also look

      step to Page 2 for:
      “The underestimated danger of a breakdown of the Gulf Stream System”

      We were — emphasize “were” — enjoying a kind of Goldilocks climate which had remained relatively stable. Now things will be different.

      1. Susan the other

        But this analysis by Donn and Ewing, the researchers who came up with the theory, is what surprised me: The arctic was open (not frozen) during the last ice age when the northern hemispheres were under 2 miles of glacier, then something happened – the interruption of the warm gulf stream circulation, they say, by so much glaciation in the Atlantic that the exchange stopped, this froze the ice cap and the freezing of the ice cap actually made the planet warmer, the gulf stream returned and the glaciers melted. This happened because when the arctic ocean was open it provided the moisture for the snowfall needed to accumulate across the northern hemisphere, creating the massive glaciation. I realize this sounds crazy – but the researchers put it together in a very logical way. And we all know that the arctic has melted and we’re getting some horrendous snow storms these days. Apparently the Antarctic has nothing to do with this circulation thermostat.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The Earth is warming, a trend most measurable in the oceans. But that warming does not nicely translate into warming of local climate or local weather. The Earth’s climate seems to be a remarkably complex highly non-linear system. The links I offered present a recent (2017) confirmation of science which tends to agree with your concerns about cooling.

          The links assert little beyond a suggestion of greater than expected sea level rise on the East Coast of the U.S. But I believe the links support much more — the possibility of relatively rapid [decades/centuries] cooling in North America and Northern Europe followed by who knows what.

          In a world where scientists are attacked for discovering unpleasant truths and where scientists sell their “truths” for gain — here I am thinking of the “scientists” supporting big Pharma, big Agriculture and the relatively few “scientists” supporting big Oil it should be no surprise to find the scientific community exceedingly canny about what they assert. My reading of the links I offered is that there is evidence for a roughly 15%+ slowing of the AMOC heat transfer engine. Greater than expected sea level rise was the only impact the authors were willing to speculate on. I believe the disaster movie “the Day After” has had lasting impact in keeping scientists circumspect in what they write for the journals. But you don’t need to be a climate scientist or run fancy models to reasonably wonder whether a slowing or shutdown of the AMOC might result in some significant cooling in the North Atlantic.

          Further — the added heat in our oceans, the changes in our poles … mean we no longer live in a world with a relatively stable “Goldilocks” climate. In past eras the Earth cycled through varied geologically rapid changes in climate. Not only have we changed the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, tipping our climate away from its Goldilocks stability of the pre-Anthropocene era — we have made that change at a rate unprecedented in past eras. Hot and cold … high and low sea levels … here today and gone tomorrow .. get ready for a rough ride.

          [And No — what your article describes does not sound crazy.]

  23. XXYY

    Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public is the way to go.

    This. A thousand times this.

    Aside from the grift, I have no idea how electronic voting machines ever got any traction at all. As a SW engineer I can tell you, anything with software in it is by definition a black box. Software based systems are inherently opaque, and even experts with time, tools, and equipment will have a hard time convincing themselves that a piece of software is carrying out its stated mission. This is the exact opposite of what is needed for a system like allocating political power that requires maximum trust and transparency.

    I would add the point that ballot collection and storage until counting should also be public, ideally in a transparent box. The entire chain of ballot custody needs to be explicitly visible.

    1. footnote4

      Poll work I’ve observed involved manual recounting of the machine printout. Not sure what the logic is there.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The logic is to preserve the voting machine, which is as important to preserve as the health insurance industry, and for much the same reasons.

        1. bsg

          Most of the electronic voting machines purchased in the mid 00’s with HAVA money are falling apart, like computers tend to do after 10-15 years. There is no money windfall of HAVA II in the works and the paper trail requirements for next gen voting machines has increased to the point where many systems offered are now electronic/paper hybrids which begs the question “Why not just go with paper?”

  24. ChiGal in Carolina

    Lawfare seems like a good site, but boy is Benjamin Witte stirring the pot on Comey. Maybe cuz he is friends with Comey and doesn’t want any fallout to land on him?

    From reading the statement, this seems unlikely to me. Comey felt pressured, yeah, but like the NR article points out, pressure is not obstruction. And Comey clearly states he did tell Trump he was not being investigated.

    Doesn’t seem like Comey is going after Trump, so why is Witte? So Trump is inappropriate and doesn’t respect conventional boundaries – what else is new?

  25. Optimader

    About 30 seconds of prechewed live comey coverage on NPR while hitching a ride to the train. Instead of a live fed ala cspan, the branded sanctimoniou voiceover NPR propagadists are known for.

    “…you are listening to the senate investigation of Russian involvement in the presidential election…”
    Now doesnt that presuppose what they are allegedly probing Comey about?

    Need a periodic voice over/banner on tv that quickly provides a definition of terms, start with the word “involvement”
    That would force some fidelity to the wishwashy use of the english language as these people pander to public perceptions

  26. LT

    Re: The Bleak Left (n+1)

    No matter the era, paternalism always lurks within these types of intellectual debates and decontructions. That is what makes the left so bleak.

    1. Uahsenaa

      I don’t know, I appreciate just this sort of pessimism, perhaps because I’m a bit of a curmudgeon myself. So much of what has been on offer over the years from progressives/leftists/socialists/etc. is just reheated New Deal managed capitalism with some anti-racism thrown in for good measure. Someone has to think about actually reorganizing economic relationships, because a genuinely new, positive vision of how society can be restructured has yet to emerge. Most is just tinkering around the edges.

      That said, these high theoretical musings can be obnoxious, because they almost take for granted that you can just shut things down. Except, on the environmental front, that won’t work. You can’t just turn off a nuclear reactor and hope its waste doesn’t start bleeding off radiation into the local environment or, as has been seen already with Fukushima, into the ocean currents. All of this infrastructure developed for fossil fuels has to be actively decommissioned and cleaned up, lest it cause even more environmental degradation than it does now. We’re at a tipping point, where a massively mobilized society is needed to deal with all the [family blog] we’ve created. Simply reverting to a localized economy won’t work.

      1. LT

        “Someone has to think about actually reorganizing economic relationships…”

        All fine and dandy, except that people can not be “standardized” like economic theory can be “standardized.”

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I tend toward bleak myself (the old “pessimism of the intellect…). But you raise a good point, Uah: Those nuclear plants might all NEED to be actively decommissioned and cleaned up but that is not proof that they will be. The shuttered plants here in Wisconsin are just sitting there with piles of rods above ground on site. And I know Cuomo in NYS (Oswego) just bribed one operator to take over another’s failing plants allegedly because the state needs the power (which it doesn’t) but perhaps simply because of need to delay day of reckoning with previous operator going bust and all.

        As energy prices fall (more solar and wind, lower demand and oversupply of fossil fuels by producers desperate for cash), continuing to subsidize nuclear is going to get harder and harder to justify. Just as the costs of maintaining imperialist ambitions are going to be harder to justify.

        It’s not that things need to get worse in order to get better. (I’m generally of the view that when things get worse, things get worse.) But I do think it is impossible to make real progress toward a better future if it is impossible to envision such a future. And I do think there is no vision as yet, left or otherwise, of a future society that is not in some sense “industrial.”

        1. LT

          “And I do think there is no vision as yet, left or otherwise, of a future society that is not in some sense “industrial.”

          And that is the conflict. Industry thrives on standardization, and people can not be standardized.

        2. Uahsenaa

          Imperialism is another good example. What exactly is to be done with all this military hardware that we’ve stockpiled over the years? Most large naval vessels (carriers, surface ships, and subs) have nuclear power plants. You can’t just let that sit in the ocean. Plus bases overseas, aircraft, etc. And that’s just the US military…

  27. Butch In Waukegan

    Liberals Rally For ‘Truth’ On Trump and Russia

    Watch Max Blumenthal’s 10 minute video of the rally on the National Mall. The interviewed protestors are articulate, read the NY Times & the Washington Post & watch CNN, and wear t-shirts with “Physicist” or “MIT” on them. Yet none of them can cite any evidence that the Democratic Party claim of Russian control of the election is true. They become tongue-tied and inarticulate when questioned. The Democratic hack Jamie Raskin is an ignorant buffoon. 90% + of NC readers could answer Blumenthal’s question that flummoxed him.

    How is this different from the Tea Party?

    1. Massinissa

      Obviously its that they have credentials and the tea party deplorables do not! Clearly they understand what they are talking about, look at how many degrees they have! /s

    2. sid_finster

      People who want to believe are going to believe.

      If the narrative were that the Easter Bunny hacked the election, HRC loyalists would profess, and with near religious fervor, that all the troubles of the republic can be laid at the feet of an imaginary rabbit, if that were the best story available.

      And they would seize on the flimsiest possible evidence as if it were iron clad philosophical proof of the nefarious deeds of the Easter Bunny.

      Cognitive dissonance. The struggle is real.

    3. pricklyone

      Link goes to “the bible hub”, not to a video or any news site. ???
      as of 6 pm.

    1. craazyboy

      Hahaha. Shorter – Trump was tweeting correctly all along.

      “I knew there was no case there.” – Well, that be it, then?

      Interesting question about Loretta meetup. Maybe old trap doors can open.

      So, bad news for “Snowflakes In The Know”.

      I have one more (at least) dark and foreboding political reporting song. But at this point, I think everyone is ready for a bright and cheery song. whew. We deserve it!

      Kinda like an upbeat Republican song – like maybe a pharma commercial ditty? Or the National Anthem and it’s uplifting omission of any reference to Federal Taxes??

      But not yet. Soon. I promise.

      “In My Slime Is How We Roll!”
      [TBD – write music]

      [Baptist Choir Girls]
      Rock&Roll Toe
      That’s how I Roll!

      I’m the Big Toe, dontcha know.
      Black Escalada, around we go.
      In yo neighborhood we drive by slow
      In my slime we revel an’ blow!

      [Baptist Choir Girls]
      Me and my an’ my Big Toe
      That’s how we Roll!
      Me an’ the Big Toe Dude… Authoritah!!
      We’ll be watching – Don’t be blah!

      Ha! McCain is burning the midnite brain cell trying to lasso the scope of the single investigation – at this point in time! hahahaha.

      One of the numerous leakers, the drips hit the megaphone and splattered everywhere! Even fake news sites (one being his…) Oh Nos. Are we looking for the Political Correct evidence? Please! Treason is a nasty penalty!

    2. diptherio

      This video autoplays when I load this page…which is rather disconcerting as it’s not immediately apparent where the audio is coming from. Just sayin’.

      1. craazyboy

        It’s The Investigation Whisperers – very much like the Inquisition of Olde.

    3. Kim Kaufman

      Oh, that’s where the sound is coming from! It started automatically playing once I got on the page and it was weird, especially since I’m also listening to the radio.

    1. Dead Dog

      Yes, thanks Qrys.

      I continue to fail to see why Keen, Mitchell, Kelton and many others can’t get traction with this. I mean see how many here want to comment – but perhaps that’s because we already know that taxes don’t fund government spending. I don’t know….

      We have little trust in our politicians already. We like the idea that they are constrained in what they are able to do with money (ie we don’t think they spend our taxes wisely anyway). A government with virtually unlimited funds…oh the horror.

      Maybe it’s because economics. You know, a bit on the nose and you know what happened last time we listened to their wisdom

  28. Lee

    Guillotine Watch

    Exponential Finance Singularity University (RB). Happening now!

    Has anyone clicked this link and been directed to their own email account? What’s up with that?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yes I was. I was afraid everyone who clicked was somehow being directed to my email account. Glad that’s not the case.

      1. Lee

        My firs thought as well. Contacted my ISP and asked a friend to try it and was thus relieved of my concern.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Wanted: A Bipartisan New New Deal for American Workers Newsweek. “Congress should establish lifetime career-training loan accounts for all citizens. These accounts could be used for courses at qualified providers of certificate programs, at community colleges or other educational institutions.” More debt. Great.

    Career training?

    “How To Pass Off As A Robot, 101?”

    “Honey, I passed the Reverse-Turing-Test! They think I’m a robot and I start work tomorrow!”

    Thanks to free career training at his local community college, Joe here is able to take at least one robot jobs back from China. He’s a patriot.

    1. craazyboy

      Dada, the community college is offering a course on arc welding press releases together.

      Can I enroll? 2 years, and no free lunch in community college yet.

      They are charging money for it, and they gave Sanders the kabash…

    2. Massinissa

      Gosh, this is so ridiculous. The political class is being all “No jobs? Let them eat loans!!”.

      I wonder if these loans are going to be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy as well…

      1. Optimader

        There are fabrication jobs in the Chicago area. Available to anyone that isnt stupid and has a work ethic

  30. Andrew Watts

    RE: Study reveals that green incentives could actually be increasing CO2 emissions

    The conclusion to this study shouldn’t come as a surprise to any socialist. When the logic of your ideology is “production for production’s sake” (Marx, Karl) or for a modern interpretation “consumption for consumption’s sake” (Bookchin, Murray) then the degradation of the environment is baked into the cake. It’s also a reason why America lacks an organized anti-capitalist left. When liberals/progressives pursue their goals they usually end up embracing the logic of capitalism and reinforcing it.

    It’s impossible to be both a capitalist and an environmentalist. Pick one.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Our classrooms are organized a lot like the free, open market.

      Those with disability are set aside, and various degrees of help are offered, depending on the country they are in.

      The rest are expected to compete individually, with no special help during an exam, a contest (for market share, the equivalent), from the government or teacher.

      Some lucky ones inherit extra IQ from their parents (un-taxed).

      They get to show it off.

      Then, they get to go prestigious colleges to accumulate more intellectual wealth (and you can’t go, though not because you have the same IQ but was too lazy – they like to blame that on you, but don’t let them).

  31. ChrisPacific

    I don’t share Huffington’s confidence that getting more sleep will improve Kalanick. He’ll still be a weasel, just a well-rested one.

  32. Jeff W

    That spider web article. Ugh. The embodied cognitivists manage to make everything over-complicated as usual.

    Spiders are not “outsourc[ing] information processing to objects outside of their bodies — their webs”—they have evolved to use their webs in very specific ways to catch prey and some of those ways make catching prey more likely. A spider that is tightening its web’s radial threads doesn’t do so so that it can “filter information that is coming to her brain.” It does so because, as the article points out, a tighter string is better at passing vibrations and, therefore, the stimulus arising from potential prey landing on those threads is more likely to be discriminated and responded to by the spider. We could say, in an equally meaningless way, that when we bring binoculars into focus, we are “filtering the information coming into our brains”; we’re not—it’s just that greater visual acuity usually makes stimuli easier to discriminate and respond to.

    Spiders respond differentially when building their webs if pieces are cut out of them (that is an interesting finding, i.e., spiders are not on “autopilot” when building their webs) but the already-built portions of silk are not “chunks of external memory” any more than, if a portion of your house collapsed, the parts that remain are “chunks of external memory” “reminding” you to rebuild the missing portions. The entire thing—the existing and missing portions—is a stimulus prompting the spider (or you) to fill in what’s missing.

    Sure, it’s interesting that spiders actually manipulate their webs in these very specific ways but the whole “embodied cognition” view of the “extended mind” is really a mess.

    1. vidimi

      i especially despised that use of the feminine pronoun “her” in the selection you quoted. since when is the neutral pronoun “it” no longer good enough for invertebrates?

      1. Optimader

        Extending that concept of misappropriation of the feminine, should “it” be applied to transsexuals.

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