2:00PM Water Cooler 2/16/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, sorry if you got a blank page for a minute; I got interested reading something and lost track of time… –lambert


“Can New NAFTA End Systematic Wage Repression in Mexico?” [Wolf Street]. “Chronic low salaries in Mexico have become a big bone of contention in the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a talk at the University of Chicago last week, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau reiterated that if the labor standards of NAFTA were improved, companies would have fewer incentives to move factories to Mexico for cheap labor while Mexican workers would get a better deal. But that’s the last thing the Mexican government and global manufacturers with operations in Mexico seem to want.”

“The head of North America’s biggest auto supplier says he’s feeling “a bit more positive” negotiators will clinch a new NAFTA deal after hearing from people in recent discussions” [Industry Week]. “‘They were quite discouraged a couple of months ago but it seems that people are more hopeful that everybody understands how important it is to get this right,’ Don Walker, chief executive officer of Magna International Inc., said in an interview Thursday in Toronto.” But: “‘I have to believe that while the NAFTA discussions are going on, big decisions on heavy investment, specifically by car companies, are probably being put on hold,’ [Walker] said. “People don’t want to make big capital investment decisions and then find out a year down the road that things have changed.'”

“The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war, according to two sources briefed on the report” [Axios]. “The fight over whether to use the Section 232 law to impose tariffs has already become the hottest trade fight inside the Trump White House. Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis have all been fighting against these tariffs on steel and aluminum — arguing they would harm the global economy and damage relationships with allies. The opposition of Mattis is important because these are national security recommendations.”

“Airbus SE said almost a third of its Pratt & Whitney-powered A320neo aircraft are affected by a new engine glitch that has forced the European planemaker to halt some deliveries of the popular narrow-body jet” [Industry Week]. “Of the 113 Pratt-powered aircraft in operation worldwide, about 30% are equipped with either one or two faulty engines, the planemaker said in an emailed statement Monday. The issues are different from faults that have previously afflicted the engine type and are from the most recent batches to come off the engine-maker’s production line. The European manufacturer has been forced to suspend deliveries of A320neos with Pratt engines, according to IndiGo, the Indian low-cost airline that’s the plane’s biggest customer. The disclosure of new problems with the Pratt engines late last week marks a blow for the A320neo, Airbus’s best-selling plane.” Oopsie.



“Here’s what Oprah and her confidants are saying about 2020” [CNN]. “‘I am not running for president of the United States,’ she said in a new interview with CBS News, where she works as a special correspondent for ’60 Minutes.'” Which is not a Sherman Statement. And but: “In recent days, three of Winfrey’s confidants told CNN that she has not explicitly ruled out a presidential bid. But at the same time, two of the sources said she is not encouraging the speculation or taking steps to start a campaign.”


“Romney makes Utah Senate bid official” [The Hill]. “‘The governor is a statesman and has an independent voice he lends to certain issues. When he thinks the president is saying something undermining America’s ideas or principles, he’ll speak out. But he’s with the president on a number of issues — if he had been in the Senate, he would have voted to repeal ObamaCare, supported the tax cuts,’ said Ryan Williams, a GOP strategist who worked on Romney’s presidential campaign.” A statesman. Lock up the spoons.

“Defining the Terms of the Tax Reform Debate” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Earlier this week the Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA released a memo that publicly acknowledged concerns that Democrats had been privately expressing for a couple weeks that Democrats lack a compelling economic narrative for 2018…. [I]mpressions of the economy continue to improve. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 69 percent were satisfied with the economy, the highest it’s been since 2000…. But, with daily economic news mostly positive (despite the latest swings of the stock market), earlier Democratic arguments that this bill would cause an ‘Armageddon’ like disaster on the nation’s economy sounds woefully tone deaf….. For all the happy talk by Democrats about solid fundraising in Congressional and Senate races, that advantage may not matter if they lose the narrative about the economy.” Yep. The Clinton campaign, one remembers, after “solid fundraising,” had over a billion dollars to spend. And spend it they did!

“Is Trump’s Uptick a Blip or a Trend?” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Those of us who obsess about politics and midterm elections are laser-focused on two variables right now—the ‘stickability’ of President Trump’s uptick in approval ratings since the beginning of the year, and the partial closure of the Democratic advantage in the national generic-ballot test….” And… that’s it, basically. 263 days is a long time in politics.

2016 Post Mortem

So long, American exceptionalism:


Matthew 6:5-6 covers this:


New Cold War

“The office of special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday announced indictments against 13 Russian nationals and a trio of Russian entities on charges related to the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election” [Politico]. “Charges in the indictment include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and aggravated identity theft… “Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment said.” Here’s the indictment. Finally we get to look at some evidence? First defendant: The Internet Research Agency. On a very quick read: The theory of the case is that the defendants used social media to “sow discord”; a search on “vot” yields zero hits.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Fake News and Bots May Be Worrisome, but Their Political Power Is Overblown” [New York Times]. “Much more remains to be learned about the effects of these types of online activities, but people should not assume they had huge effects. Previous studies have found, for instance, that the effects of even television advertising (arguably a higher-impact medium) are very small. According to one credible estimate, the net effect of exposure to an additional ad shifts the partisan vote of approximately two people out of 10,000. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of numerous different forms of campaign persuasion, including in-person canvassing and mail, finds that their average effect in general elections is zero.”

“From Where I Sit, The Trump Era Began In 2014” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Numbers can’t prove that 2014 was a pivotal year for the Trumpian political era to come, but they can show it was a year when Americans’ institutional trust bottomed out, something that would come into play in 2016. A few days after the election, I wrote about the erosion of trust in American institutions over the past decade. There was a link, I wrote then, between our loss of trust and electing a man who promised to start a new American order. And in 2014, overall trust in American institutions, which started falling in the mid-2000s, hit 31 percent — its lowest point since Gallup starting tracking the metric in 1993…. Trump’s ultimately brilliant political intuition was to burrow deep into this recess of the American mind and to reflect back the sense of creeping disarray. He capitalized on racial and economic fears, but his campaign kickoff proclamation that “the American dream is dead” didn’t just resonate with the people who might have voted for populist and nativist campaigns of the past. Trump’s appeal was broad, resonating with the relatively well-off and the well-educated.”

UPDATE “A significant minority of Americans say they could support a military takeover of the U.S. government” [WaPo]. “Our research finds that, in fact, substantial numbers of U.S. adults say they would embrace ruptures in the constitutional order [and I thought I was the only one who used this term routinely], which is in keeping with Bright Line Watch findings that experts believe that measures of U.S. democracy have declined under President Trump…. In 2017, about 25 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans said they favored a military intervention if the country faced rampant crime or corruption. The figure below shows the average support for a military coup when there is widespread corruption.” More Third World stuff! Indeed: “U.S. public opinion on these questions resembles that of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, countries with a history of military coups and dictatorships.” Let us not, however, focus only on the military! We have an intelligence community, too!

UPDATE “The President of Nowhere, USA” [Politico]. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who had the temerity to challenge Perez for the DNC leadership. This: “‘The way the campaign for mayor really began was 100 cups of coffee with people who cared about the city, finding out what was on their minds, what they thought was working and what wasn’t,’ [Buttigieg] says. ‘And at the end of every cup of coffee, asking for two or three [more] people who I should have a coffee with, until everybody they named was somebody I’d already met.’ He won the crowded Democratic primary by 34 points and the general election by 20 more. He was 29 years old.” Novel concept: Ask voters what they need. And: “A bitter irony is at play here: At a moment when the faces of the Democratic Party are 67-year-old Chuck Schumer and 77-year-old Nancy Pelosi, when so many novice Democrats are banging at the gate, spurred into action by powerful social currents and opposition to the president, one of the party’s most talented young politicians has nowhere to go. Buttigieg could theoretically lead his party out of the Trump-era wilderness—if only he can find his way out of South Bend.” Sounds like everything’s going according to plan!

“Progressive Democrat Sent Bag of D*cks and “Expelled” from Democratic Party” [Progressive Army]. This does seem to keep happening; and Perez, Obama’s creature, signaled it was OK.

Another rigged election:

“Campaign to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon fizzles” [Los Angeles Times]. “A grassroots effort to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon over his decision last year to shelve a single-payer healthcare measure has sputtered, according to organizers. The Recall Rendon campaign posted on Facebook that their attempt to recall Rendon, a Democrat from Paramount, ‘will not move forward,’ explaining that collecting the required 23,000 signatures was too burdensome.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment (Preliminary), February 2018: “Optimism over tax cuts is easily offsetting concern over the stock market, according to the consumer sentiment index which jumped sharply to 99.9 in preliminary February” [Econoday]. “This report has been much flatter than other confidence readings which underlines today’s strength as confirmation that the consumer, despite soft spending and gyrations in the stock market, is solidly underpinned by the strong jobs market.” And: “The preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for February reached its second-highest level since 2004 in the first half of the month despite the carnage in the equities market that occurred during the same two weeks. Only 6% of consumers event mentioned stock market volatility as a factor in their responses” [247 Wall Street]. “What did influence the results was government policy. More than a third of respondents (35%) favorably cited government policy, the highest level in more than 50 years.”

Import and Export Prices, January 2018: “Underscoring the strength of Wednesday’s core reading for the CPI, import prices surged a far stronger than expected 1.0 percent in January” [Econoday]. “The export side shows very similar strength, up 0.8 percent overall and including even greater traction for finished goods with capital goods up 0.5 percent in the month and consumer and vehicle export prices up 0.3 percent which are outsized gains for these readings…. Year-on-year rates are back near their best readings of the expansion.” And: “The significant growth in this month’s changes were fuel imports whilst food prices moderated” [Econintersect].

Housing Starts, January 2018: “Housing finished last year on the uptrend and is starting the new year very strong” [Econoday]. “A negative in the report is a 1.9 percent decline in completions to a 1.166 million rate that won’t be adding immediate supply to a new-home market that is depleted. But the jump in starts points to supply relief over the next half year with permits pointing to relief through the second half. After the setback in yesterday’s retail sales report, housing once again is clearly a key driver of the economy.” And but: “The backward revisions this month were mmixed.The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month to month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series – and it shows permits rate of growth declined and completions rate of growth declined. We consider this a similar report to last month” [Econintersect]. “Looking at residential construction employment, the year-over-year growth of employment is almost correlating with housing starts.” And: “As I’ve been noting for a couple of years, the growth in multi-family starts is behind us – multi-family starts peaked in June 2015 (at 510 thousand SAAR)” [Calculated Risk]. “[N]ow I expect a few more years of increasing single family starts and completions.”

Quarterly Services Survey, Q4 2017: [Econoday]. “Information revenue rose 8.0 percent to $424.1 billion in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter with the year-on-year rate at plus 6.6 percent. Third-quarter revenue is revised 7 tenths lower to a 1.1 percent quarter-to-quarter gain with the year-on-year rate revised 3 tenths higher to 6.1 percent.”

E-Commerce Retail Sales, Q4 2017: “As a percentage of total retail sales, e-commerce held steady at 9.1 percent for a second straight quarter” [Econoday].

Retail: “Amazon and Target are essentially tied as the second-most-shopped apparel retailers in the United States. Amazon’s private-label apparel are the fourth-most-bought brand on Amazon’s website, and Target is the retailer losing the most shoppers to Amazon. The top-ranked retailer that respondents say they have shopped at is Walmart” [247 Wall Street]. “One of six takeaways from Coresight’s research is that two-thirds of Amazon Prime members surveyed have bought clothing or shoes from Amazon in the past 12 months, making Amazon the most-shopped retailer among Prime members. Among non-Prime consumers, Amazon tumbles to seventh place as a place to shop for apparel. Nearly half of shoppers expect to buy apparel from Amazon in the next 12 months…. Nearly half of Amazon apparel shoppers continue to consider Amazon as an off-price retailer. Nearly half (48%) of Amazon apparel shoppers say they always expect to pay less than full price for apparel at Amazon.”

Retail: “The holiday season is in full swing at logistics operations handling returns, and it’s busier than ever. The secondary retail market is seeing a surge in volume this year, …. a result of the strongest growth in holiday sales in several years and the big gains in the online shopping that often result in returns. That triggers a complicated logistics exercise as retailers try to salvage some value from their sales by pushing clothing, appliances and toys to resellers for pennies on the dollar” [Wall Street Journal]. “The discounts are steep on industrial-scale shipments: On one online auction site, 49 washing machines and dryers recently returned to Best Buy Co. were offered at a 68% discount. January and February are the busiest months for a reverse supply chain that’s exploding in the shadows of e-commerce expansion. Online auction sales have grown 66% since 2008, and some $90 billion in merchandise this year could be headed back through reverse distribution channels.” I suppose the MBAs have factored in the effect on margins….

Shipping: “The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest seaport, said yesterday that January container volumes fell 2.2 percent from January 2017 levels, but that it still reported its second-busiest January activity on record” [DC Velocity]. “Historically, strong January volumes are largely due to retail stores replenishing their inventories after the holidays, and to ships calling ahead of the Lunar New Year, when goods movement from Asia dramatically slows down.”

Shipping: “The climb in trucking prices looks like it’s leveled off, but shippers and carriers alike say it’s only a pause on the way to higher freight rates this year. The strong U.S. economy is still boosting frdeight demand and the spring push by produce growers from Mexico and Southern states to get goods to market is picking up” [Wall Street Journal]. “Truckers are stepping up incentives to drivers, but in the meantime they’re sending freight to railroads. Truck-trailer traffic on the rails is growing at a double-digit pace, which keeps goods moving even if they’re not going as fast as shippers want.”

Tech: “Google removes ‘View Image’ button from image search” [Engadget (EJ)]. “Google announced a few changes to its image search today, one of which being the removal of its option to check out an image without visiting the site that hosts it. It might be a bummer for some, but since it was a stipulation of Google’s settlement with Getty Images, it was only a matter of time before it happened. In a tweet, Google said today that the changes ‘are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.'”

Transportation: “Toyota design chief sees future without mass-market cars” [Automotive News]. “As sharing services change car use and ownership, [Simon Humphries,] Toyota Motor Corp.’s new design chief believes that vehicles will shift towards either generic boxes on wheels for everyday use or ultra-luxury cars, wiping out the need for mass-market models…. ‘On one side we’re going to see this optimized [for whom?] (transport) system, but on the other side you’re going to see a pure race car,’ Humphries, who last month became general manager of Toyota’s advanced r&d and engineering company, told reporters in Nagoya. ‘There will be an emotional solution, and a practical solution. So maybe the story is that the middle ground is increasingly going to disappear.'”

Infrastructure: “Memo to Washington D.C.: Stop talking about raising the gas tax, go do it” [Logistics Management]. “And it is not just the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce looking to raise the tax. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said this week that raising the tax is ‘on the table.’ When one takes into account the staggering financial shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, considering raising the tax had better not fall off the table.”

Tech: “Digitization of multistep organic synthesis in reactionware for on-demand pharmaceuticals” [Science]. The abstract:

Chemical manufacturing is often done at large facilities that require a sizable capital investment and then produce key compounds for a finite period. We present an approach to the manufacturing of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals in a self-contained plastic reactionware device. The device was designed and constructed by using a chemical to computer-automated design (ChemCAD) approach that enables the translation of traditional bench-scale synthesis into a platform-independent digital code. This in turn guides production of a three-dimensional printed device that encloses the entire synthetic route internally via simple operations. We demonstrate the approach for the γ-aminobutyric acid receptor agonist, (±)-baclofen, establishing a concept that paves the way for the local manufacture of drugs outside of specialist facilities.

Short Big Pharma? (And what a righteous pleasure that would be!)

Tech: “According to documents and sources, Apple has run into a problem at Apple Park: Because so much of the interior is made from glass — the walls and doors, for example — people are walking into the panes, sometimes painfully” [MarketWatch]. “While the issue might seem humorous, there are workplace regulations that Apple could be violating. California law requires that “employees shall be protected against the hazard of walking through glass by barriers or by conspicuous durable markings,” but the company has not been subject to citations, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration data.”

Five Horsemen: “Sleepy Alphabet manifests unaccustomed vigor to reclaim third place” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Feb 16 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 15 Extreme Fear (previous close: 11, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 8 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Feb 14 at 7:00pm. Still lagged by two days, WTF!!!I Extreme Fear for a week now….

The 420

“Marijuana Criminal Cases Dropped En Masse by Philadelphia District Attorney” [NBC Philadelphia]. Now, about those still in prison….

Guillotine Watch

“Peter Thiel, retreating from Silicon Valley’s tech scene, is moving to L.A.” [Los Angeles Times]. “Now Thiel is leaving Silicon Valley for Los Angeles — a move his camp describes as a bid to escape the political hegemony of the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Class Warfare

“The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble” [Brain Fuzzies]. “On Monday morning, every single Barnes & Noble location – that’s 781 stores – told their full-time employees to pack up and leave. The eliminated positions were as follows: the head cashiers (those are the people responsible for handling the money), the receiving managers (the people responsible for bringing in product and making sure it goes where it should), the digital leads (the people responsible for solving Nook problems), the newsstand leads (the people responsible for distributing the magazines), and the bargain leads (the people responsible for keeping up the massive discount sections). We’re not talking post-holiday culling of seasonal workers. This was the Red Wedding. Every person laid off was a full-time employee. These were people for whom Barnes & Noble was a career. Most of them had given 5, 10, 20 years to the company. But it gets worse. The people who lost their jobs had been actively assured this would NOT happen for the past several months..” Read it all. Especially the part about managing inventory for the holidays.

“The Political Economy of Anti-Racism” [Nonsite.org]. “What anti-discrimination looks to do, then, is solve both the ethical and the economic problem—to make sure that all groups have equal opportunity to succeed and thus also to help make sure that the jobs are being done by the people who are best at doing them. Which has absolutely nothing to do with eliminating economic inequality.5 In fact, it’s just the opposite: the point of eliminating horizontal inequality is to justify individual inequality. This is why some of us have been arguing that identity politics is not an alternative to class politics but a form of it: it’s the politics of an upper class that has no problem with seeing people left behind as long as they haven’t been left behind because of their race or sex.” Lucid and important.

“Pallets as social commentary” [DC Velocity]. “A gigantic cave made of pallets plays a starring role in a new art exhibit about the transition from physical labor and production to robotics and the digital economy….. The installation also includes three 20-foot shipping containers. One encloses an exhibit about inventions, while another screens videos, including one of workers walking away and disappearing into fog. On weekends, the third container is inhabited by a former factory machinist, who works with his hands, playing music, building looms, and spinning wool.”

News of the Wired

“Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks” [Quanta Magazine]. “A paper posted online last month has reignited a debate about one of the oldest, most startling claims in the modern era of network science: the proposition that most complex networks in the real world — from the World Wide Web to interacting proteins in a cell — are “scale-free.” Roughly speaking, that means that a few of their nodes should have many more connections than others, following a mathematical formula called a power law, so that there’s no one scale that characterizes the network…. In a statistical analysis of nearly 1,000 networks drawn from biology, the social sciences, technology and other domains, researchers found that only about 4 percent of the networks (such as certain metabolic networks in cells) passed the paper’s strongest tests. And for 67 percent of the networks, including Facebook friendship networks, food webs and water distribution networks, the statistical tests rejected a power law as a plausible description of the network’s structure.”

“Dangerous Bullshit” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “In 1877, the British mathematician and philosopher W. K. Clifford published an essay on “The Ethics of Belief.” In it, he argued that it is always wrong — morally wrong — to believe something on the basis of insufficient evidence. He began with a striking example, imagining a shipowner who convinces himself, without adequate evidence, of the seaworthiness of a passenger vessel, intended for a transoceanic voyage. In the first version of the case, the ship sinks and hundreds of people drown. An alternative scenario has the vessel arriving safely. Clifford’s verdict is that, in both instances, a moral wrong has occurred. In believing beyond the evidence, the shipowner becomes culpably responsible for the deaths of the passengers and crew (first version) or for putting their lives at risk (the alternative). Clifford generalizes from cases like these, concluding that every leap beyond the evidence is a moral error. His readers have often seen him as overgeneralizing. In a response to Clifford, probably the most influential essay ever written by an American philosopher, William James defended the “will to believe.” He pointed out, correctly, that there are occasions when believing beyond the evidence either brings about the truth of what is believed or makes it possible to acquire the evidence to clinch the case. ”

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Steiner Englund):

At first glance, it’s hard to tell whether this was taken from three inches away, or 30,000 feet up.

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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. Rob P

    Don’t see anything about the DNC or Podesta hacks in the indictment. Isn’t that what this whole thing was about? Changing the ‘Russian hacking’ meme to mean social media posts was an amazing feat of goalpost-moving.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And changing “Russian puppet” to “Russian hacking” is also impressive.

      That said, there may be more shoes to drop. People who are smarter about investigations than I am can determine whether this is indicting the small fry to catch the big fish, or not. As a layperson, it’s not clear to me how you do that by indicting Russians, if, as my very quick reading of the Politico story (and not the indictment), witting cooperation by the Trump campaign is ruled out. No doubt there will be a good deal of commentary to come!

      1. voteforno6

        People who are smarter about investigations than I am can determine whether this is indicting the small fry to catch the big fish, or not. As a layperson, it’s not clear to me how you do that by indicting Russians, if, as my very quick reading of the Politico story (and not the indictment), witting cooperation by the Trump campaign is ruled out.

        That assumes that they would actually want to put these Russians on trial. The dark corner of my soul that has less faith in humanity wonders if this is more a P.R. exercise than actual legal proceeding. After all, it’s a lot easier to control the narrative if nobody is pushing back.

          1. Olga

            Yes, forgive the cynicism, but it sure looks like an act of desperation. As if they felt they had to do something to justify their existence… More than one year after accusations were made and still no culprits? Quick, let’s indict some generic russkies – and it’s better if they don’t live in the US, so we cannot actually get to them. Pathetic!

        1. apberusdisvet

          The larger agenda of demonizing Russia so that the MIC can keep the campaign contributions (bribes) flowing is getting really, really old. God forbid we could reach a rapproachement with Russia for the benefit of mankind.

      2. DJG

        Rob P and Lambert Strether: The “vindicated” regular Democrats on my FacetoBook thread are passing around Greg Sargent’s WaPo column. Sargent’s summary of the indictments:

        “Falsely posing as Americans to operate social media to influence voters; employing active efforts to suppress the turnout of minority groups; creating additional fictional U.S. personas to sway public opinion; purchasing large numbers of ads on social media; and much more.”

        Russkies? Uber? Israelis? Saudis? Tell me more. And are those fictional personas swaying our opinions, ohh, say, Apple and other tax avoiders?

        Next up? The Democratic Party praying for a coup, on the assumption that their children won’t be dragged off to jail to be tortured. (Ask South Americans how that worked out.)

            1. WheresOurTeddy

              Paste tense is appropriate. Former CIA chiefs being president is a pretty good indicator you don’t live in anything resembling a republic.

              Eisenhower warned us, or tried to anyway.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Why would the military do that and give up the sweet deal they have now?

            Put themselves in charge and people will start expecting to see results for the money.

        1. Montanamaven

          One of the evil Russkie tactics was to have somebody dressing up like Hilary in an orange jumpsuit and going to a rally. A rally with how many People? Boy did that sway a lot of people away from Hilary into Trump’s camp. Boy did that change things. I’ve heard this since the “indictments “. They “swayed” people. To do what? My head is spinning at this stupidness.

          1. redleg

            I don’t know how many people were at that really, but I’ll bet that it was more than were at 3/4 of Clinton campaign events.

          2. John Wright

            The USA Democratic party leaders should be terminally embarrassed to be arguing that the evil Russkies outdid them in the voter influence game.

            Speechwriting, advertising, and media control are all items the Democrats SHOULD be quite comfortable using to influence/manipulate voters to vote for their selected candidate.

            After all, the USA, via Austrian-American Edward Bernays and Madison Avenue invented public relations about a hundred years ago..

            And the Dems had more than 1 billion to do this voter influencing.

            Maybe the Russians helped elect Trump by influencing the Democratic leadership to promote Hillary Clinton as the chosen one?

        2. Indrid Cold

          People hoping for extra constitutional military intervention in domestic politics is to invite the Praetorians to put the Princeps up for auction- who can shower the most favors on the Generals?

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          IIRC, we calculated how much they bought on Twitter; two-thirds of a minute’s-worth of posts, IIRC.

          I don’t think that what they did was savory, but (a) it seems to me to fall under the heading of great power politics, and we’ve done much worse ouselves and (b) if, as they seem to, the Clintonites intend the indictment to be exculpatory, they need to show votes were changed,* which they have not done. In my wrap-up of the 2016 elections (here; here) I read as many exit polling reports, focus group after-action reports, and quotes from ordinary voters in the press as I could find; and I didn’t find one single anecdote from somebody who said their vote was swayed by social media.

          That’s not to say that such a somebody will not be fabricated be found come forward, even at this late date, but at most we’ve got a chain of events that make an indictment colorable under law, the theory of the case being that 13 Russian hackers took down the $1.4 billion Clinton campaign using dank memes*, and changed one vote. Probably that’s illegal, but this case isn’t about the legalities, it’s about the politics, and I can’t see anybody outside the Clinton bubble being persuaded by it.

          Here’s one of of those dank memes:

          Presumably the Russkis sent their best, and this is what they did…

      3. rd

        I think these indictments are to show credibility of a Russian issue.

        I think the Popadopolous and now potentially Gates roll-ups are the missing links to connect the dots between the campaign and the ongoing operation by the Russians. This really is how organized crime investigations generally work.

        I don’t think the claim was ever that the campaign started the Russians doing things; simply that they were willing to work with them towards a mutual goal. This would be similar to the GOP claims about the Steele dossier; they leave out that it was begun by a conservative GOP group and Clinton only got involved when the conservatives dropped out of the race.

      4. redleg

        Two thoughts:
        1. How is what the Russians allegedly did materially different than what Correct the Record did on a larger scale?
        2. How can apologists for unlimited campaign contributions justify spending such colossal amounts of money on campaigns when the Russians have allegedly influenceda national election on a six-figure budget?

      5. Heliopause

        Since this indictment, to great fanfare, is of miniscule fish in a tiny pond far beyond the reach of the prosecutors the most logical conclusion is that this is an indication of the pathetic weakness of the Russia narrative, not its strength.

        It also sets an interesting precedent. Imagine everybody in the world who has “meddled” in another country’s elections to this alleged degree or worse being indicted by the aggrieved party. Hmm, I wonder where the vast majority of the indicted individuals would come from…

    2. Sid Finster

      Worse, now it is apparently unlawful for a non-US citizen to express in public a preference with regard to a US election.

      This in spite of the fact that UK and other non-US papers do so all the time, and even put their preferences out there ON THE INTERNET where innocent trusting Americans may stumble upon them. Not only that, the the Guardian even organized phone banks for Brits to call Ohio voters in key districts and urge them to vote for Team D.

      Surely indictments are forthcoming, right? But let’s consider the implications – does Yves need to check the citizenship status of every poster in a political thread? If not, is she aiding and abetting “fraud against the United States”? Is Yves now an unindicted co-conspirator?

      Seriously, the implications of this move are terrifying. If that weren’t enough, the indictment was careful to mention Bernie Sanders’ name at every opportunity. The insinuation being that if you support any candidate outside the mainstream of Team D or Team R, then you are supporting…..


        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          They have a “real people cooking contest” program here in Australia and two of the contestants are Russian women living here in Australia.

          I couldn’t figure out why the show and the people were always siding against the Russian contestants and making them look like bad people.

          Then my son (bless his 22 years) pointed out that the station and the show are of course owned by…ta da Rupert Murdoch.

          Someday, somewhere, someone will completely excoriate our current societal and political leaders for their savage, bloodthirsty quest to make sure World War never dies. Dante would need an entire new level in Hell to be sure all these types get the slowest of roasting and branding techniques applied. People Want Peace. And these Demons want death and war

      1. Swamp Yankee

        The President of France outright endorsed Hillary! Obama sent Austin Goolsbee to the Canadians during the primaries to tell them he was lying to us about being hard on NAFTA.

        Since the ruling element of the Democratic Party are essentially spoiled rich children, they refuse to accept the reality of the conduct of relations among powers. Maggie Thatcher had the Canucks spying on her cabinet. We interfere in Russian elections. Jesus, grow the [family blog[ up!

        One of the many reasons I left Zuckerberg’s Panopticon, i.e., Facebook. The brat-liberalism that rules my “friends” [sic] (I was a scholarship kid at an elite college) was the intellectual equivalent of breathing carbon monoxide. I can only imagine they’ve all wet themselves today.

      2. Xihuitl

        Plus/up gazillion bazillion. Thank you. Been thinking the same thing. Not getting bazillion approvals though.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Inquisitor Mueller indicts thirteen Russians:

    “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Lyin’ Ted Cruz and Little Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

    — page 17 of Mueller’s indictment

    So now we know — Bernie’s candidacy was foisted on us by Russians sending thousands of tainted $27 donations. /snark

    The mountains labored, and brought forth a ridiculous mouse.‘ — Latin proverb

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s interesting only Russians were interfering.

      No other foes, or friends, bothered.

      Why couldn’t the Russians have just sent better-looking cheerleaders from Moscow to this country? Why did they keep their armies of beauties in their Motherland?

        1. Sid Finster

          Hell, UK papers express their preferred outcomes for US elections all the time. And ZOMG! on the INTERNET! where innocent Americans might stumble across them and be “influenced”! ZOMG!

          The Guardian even organized phonebanking campaigns to urge Ohio voters in key districts to vote Team D.

          So when is the indictment coming down?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The “sowing discord” argument makes me crazy, because it’s exactly like “outside agitators” in the segregated South. If only it weren’t for Russian bots, “those damned n*****s voters wouldn’t have gotten uppity.”

      I mean, does anybody really believe there was no discord in American politics before the 2016 elections and social media?

      (This is not a theory of the case; something can be wrong and/or illegal even if there are no ill effects; but to my cynical mind, this is all about creating a casus belli, and that does require ill effects, I would think.)

      1. Carolinian

        Speaking as a Southerner I’d say you are exactly right. The assumption seems to be that simple minded voters are the puppets of rabble rousers rather than intelligent beings able to think for themselves.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        A couple of things,
        Watched a lot of russians in the Olympics over the years and these names look incredibly fake.
        Usually when you drop news on a Friday afternoon of a three day weekend you want it to get buried.


          1. Olga

            The names seems ok, the question is whether they are attached to actual Russians? For interest, they threw in a non-Russian name (DZHEYKHUN NASIMI OGLY ASLANOV,).

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        America was pure as snow. In fact, Russians are responsible for Jim Crow. Bear with me. The Czar, an autocrat if there ever was one, sailed the White Fleet in support of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps, the British and French would have intervened on behalf of the CSA, thus allowing the Southern states to secede. Logic dictates this would have meant no Jim Crow. Yes, slavery would have continued, but it would be in a different country.

      4. Darthbobber

        And the magnitude of the whole thing, given the level of howling hysteria whipped up to a froth by indisputable Americans, was roughly equivalent to the influence pouring an additional Dixie cup of water into Lake Michigan would have on already nasty storm there.

    3. Allegorio

      The whole “Russians hacked the election” meme serves an additional and more insidious purpose. Namely, if and when it is discovered that elections are being stolen using unverifiable electronic voting machines with proprietary software, the powers that be, will be ready with the “Russians” did it smokescreen to hide their culpability.

      After the 2000 elections, Congress spent a fortune distributing these electronic voting machines to make sure that the Supreme Court would not have to steal another election.

  3. diptherio

    It’s 3 inches, right?

    I don’t think I’ve shared this one yet, here. It’s an article about James Boggs, who was an autoworker, activist and social critic in Detroit. He wrote The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker’s Notebook:

    The Hidden History of Solidarity Economy Visions: The Life and Times of James Boggs

    …As an autoworker, Jimmy unequivocally announced “I am a factory worker, but I know more than factory work.” This bold and emphatic declaration was the working man’s emancipation proclamation, declaring to all workers we have value beyond our place in the means of production. We must remove the shackles of work from our minds when thinking about defining our lives. We break these shackles when we see ourselves not as workers, but as humans who have gifts and talents we wish to share with the rest of humanity.

    Lastly, but certainly not least, Solidarity Culture was born through the following declaration:

    “We must create a society of politically conscious, socially responsible individuals, able to use technology for the purpose of liberating and developing humanity.”

  4. Synoia

    In a response to Clifford, probably the most influential essay ever written by an American philosopher, William James defended the “will to believe.” He pointed out, correctly, that there are occasions when believing beyond the evidence either brings about the truth of what is believed or makes it possible to acquire the evidence to clinch the case.

    A known leap pf faith which threatens people is not morally wrong, then?

    The issue is not about proof – the evidence to clinch the case, (which embodies the scientific method and should be applied to belief beyond evidence), it is about risking others without proof, which is morally wrong.

    For example:

    If you have the will to believe climate change is nonsense, please bring froward the data for examination.

    Or if you believe that continuing level of rent extraction is just and proper, please explain the French Revolution. The US war of Independence is no such example, and was driven by moneyed interests in the US, not the US peasantry or the US slaves.

    1. diptherio

      So, just to be clear, are you saying that not believing in climate change is an instance of “risking others without proof, which is morally wrong.”? Because, so far as I can tell, the beliefs of us normal, non-elite-decision-maker types about climate change (or anything else) have no effect on policies or regulations. Climate change may well put us all at risk, but whether your neighbor believes that or not doesn’t change your risks.

        1. diptherio

          Conceivably, but since when do we live in a democracy?

          But even if we did, I still don’t think Synoia’s logic holds water. You say I’m putting us at risk by not believing these scientists about climate change, but I say that you’re putting us at risk by not believing these other scientists, who hold an opposite opinion. It doesn’t do any good to say you’ve got more scientists on your side, because the history of science shows that the majority can be wrong.

          And then, aren’t we assuming that the non-believer has the capacity to understand the data, to discern between a serious scientist and an unscrupulous charlatan? What if they don’t? And aren’t we assuming that we do have that power of discernment? But what if we don’t? At any rate, I don’t see any value in telling somebody that their beliefs (which in any case have no statistical effect on policy) are “putting us all at risk.” It’s just another put-down on somebody you don’t agree with, as far as I can tell.

          FWIW, my landlord is a former geo-physicist who, based on his reading of the data, doesn’t believe in climate change. He also leads an very frugal life and grows much of his own food. And he’s a real asset to our small community, as he’s super helpful to everyone. I fail to see how his belief or disbelief in climate change has any effect at all on our collective risk level.
          I do know that telling him that his disbelief in climate change is putting us all at risk will in no way change his mind about anything.

          1. Paul Cardan

            Clifford and James only muddy the water.

            If I understand Clifford correctly, his claims about the ethics of belief are based on a hypothetical case involving a shipowner who, having been told by relevant experts that the ship is in bad condition and urgently in need of repairs, somehow manages to put his worries aside and believe the vessel good to go. When the ship sinks with all hands lost, he claims he did nothing wrong, since he believed the vessel seaworthy. Clifford will have none of it. The shipowner did do wrong, he claims. He was morally wrong to believe on the basis of insufficient evidence.

            Doubtful. We attribute beliefs to persons on the basis of what they say, other things they do, and the other things they know which have some logical bearing on the belief. Set enough of those other things they know at variance with the belief and it no longer makes sense to attribute that belief to that person. So, it’s not clear that it makes sense to attribute the belief that the ship will be fine to the shipowner under the stated conditions. We are told that he knows a number of things which all point to the ship sinking. He knows nothing that speaks against this. But he believes it will be fine. That’s a bit like saying someone knows that the product of odd numbers is odd, knows that 3 and 5 are odd, but believes their product even.

            James, to the best of my knowledge, just assumes that Clifford’s scenario is intelligible and then proceeds to argue in light of counter-examples that things are more complicated.

            Kitcher could have done without both of them, since his point is simple. People are judged on the basis of what they believe. Believe too readily, and we can rightly call you credulous. Have racist beliefs? Prejudiced, we say. If someone makes an assertion and thereby gives voice to a baseless belief, that person might rightly be called irresponsible, though this depends on circumstances and criticism often has more to do with the asserting than the believing. If someone’s careless assertions of baseless belief factor into decisions about matters of great importance to other people, then ‘irresponsible’ doesn’t go far enough. This is a person of callous indifference to the well-being of others; their act is immoral. Kitcher claims that certain well-known contemporary bullshit artists regularly make such assertions. He thinks they should be called to account. There should be a reckoning. Can’t say I disagree. Just wish he’d left Clifford and James on the shelf.

            1. witters

              Wittgenstein put it this way in PI, Pt. II, Sec. X:

              This is how I think of it: Believing is a state of mind. It has duration; and that independently of the duration of its expression in a sentence,
              for example. So it is a kind of disposition of the believing person. This is shewn me in the case of someone else by his behaviour; and
              by his words. And under this head, by the expression “I believe . . .’as well as by the simple assertion. —What about my own case: how do I
              myself recognize my own disposition?—Here it will have been necessary for me to take notice of myself as others do, to listen to myself talking,to be able to draw conclusions from what I say.

          2. JP

            I’m not aware of any rational justification for belief except for that old fraud that the magic/religion won’t work unless you do. Belief, like possibly various addictions, tends to park ones emotional and intellectual development. That one chooses to believe or not believe in say climate change is just the major form of confirmation bias so prevalent in human cognitive process. I’m not commenting on belief when used as in “I don’t believe in having sex before dinner”. The narrative is that voice in your head constantly establishing your identity. That’s your belief. That’s where you are parked. That’s what keeps you from directly experiencing reality. It is that part of human nature that puts us all at risk.

  5. Synoia

    Every time another one of these mass shootings happen – right when the Republicans start telling us that the answer is more guns, guns for everyone, guns for teachers, guns for students – I think about Chris Kyle.

    I think about the visitors gallery in Congress filled with gun carriers.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Helping that other screwed-up veteran, by going shooting with him. After killing how many wogs, in service to the Empire. Is there anything at all working with that picture, of that great American hero whose skills were killing people from great distances, people who dared to be shooting at US troops who are by all measures in their country totally “illegally,” in a fruitless exercise from any military standpoint other than wealth transfer to arms merchants and dealers and encouragement of corruption and drug manufacture and Hellfiring and 2000-lb bombing of what the troops often smirkingly call “civilians” and more often call “camel jockeys” and “sand n#####rs” and “Hajjis.”

        With helpers like these —- But we has to make heroes of our boys, then, doesn’t we? So we can maintain our internal fictions?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Wouldn’t it be nice if our country valued charity? Not like, value it so much that we apply means testing. I mean valued it so much that the body politic fought each other to be more charitable? Called out scrooges?

    2. Stillfeelinthebern

      Here’s how my Congress described his vote:

      For years, the ADA has played a vital role in protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Unfortunately, over the past several years, some profit-driven lawyers have increasingly exploited a loophole in the bill by using “drive-by lawsuits,” or lawsuits that are initiated by simply driving by a business and noting potential violations and more recently spotting violations in aerial views from Google Earth.

      These frivolous lawsuits are not intended to increase access for disabled individuals, they are initiated to make lawyers rich at the expense of “Mom and Pop” businesses.

      That is why I was proud to vote for H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, which amends the decades-old ADA by allowing a plaintiff, usually a small business owner, to receive a notification detailing their violation of an ADA accommodation, and then provides the plaintiff time to correct the violation before they are sued.

      Most of the business owners in my district want to be compliant with ADA requirements and make sure that individuals with disabilities are comfortable in their stores. Under H.R. 620, instead of lining the pockets of lawyers, business owners can use their money to actually help disabled individuals. That’s not to say that businesses will have the ability to violate the ADA law – they won’t. They’ll just be given a short period of time to fix any violations, resulting in more compliant businesses.

  6. voteforno6

    Re: Mueller Indictments

    As noted by Rob P above, there is no mention of email hacking. Maybe that’s coming later, but I doubt it. Instead, they indicted alleged Russian operators of troll farms. The implication, I guess, is that these people somehow swayed the election in favor of Trump. Some questions I have:

    – What was the volume of their social media posts? How does that compare to the total volume of election-related social media posts?
    – When were these posts actually made? Did they all occur prior to the election?
    – Did these troll farms make any posts in favor of Clinton? Were there other Russians posting items in favor of Clinton?
    – Is there any indication that these posts had any demonstrable impact on the outcome of the election?

    It would be interesting to see these people go on trial. I imagine that a competent defense attorney would have fun with discovery. But, there’s a part of me that suspects that these Russians were indicted, with the expectation that they won’t go on trial. After all, it’s a lot easier to control the narrative, when there’s nobody pushing back against it.

    So, what we’re left with is the impression that the Russians were responsible for all the bullshirt flying around during the election. Bullshirt being, of course, anything that was anti-Hillary, or promoted an opponent of hers. All the pro-Hillary stuff doesn’t count, of course. I guess I’m a Russophile for asking the question, but is this really all that they’ve got?

    1. voteforno6

      Also, I haven’t read the indictment, but is there any allegation that these troll farms were acting in any capacity on behalf of the Russian government?

    2. PKMKII

      The indictment indicates that there was some pro-Hillary posts/activity, but the bulk of it was anti-Hillary/Pro-Trump. Posts were both prior to and after the election. It doesn’t look like the indictment is outright arguing that their activities swayed votes, but just that the activities violated bank/wire fraud laws (including fraud via cryptocurrencies!) and electioneering laws (which does not mean that votes were swayed; handing out flyers too close to a polling site is a violation of electioneering laws).

      Looks less like the ultimate smoking gun, and more like another move, such as with Manafort, to get the small fry to tell on someone higher up.

      1. voteforno6

        That’s the expectation for how a criminal investigation should take place. But, this is not a normal criminal investigation. The small fry in this case are Russians, and I’m not sure if indicting them has the same impact that it would for, say, a similar group of Americans. How does Mueller flip these Russians? Doesn’t he have to get them into custody first?

        1. Darthbobber

          But since these people will never be extradited or go to trial, and the Mueller team know that, it does allow the existence of indictments to be treated as proving something besides the fact that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich. I noticed today that most media was making much less use of “allegedly” than they usually do.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Indeed. The article on this much ado about not much done by the BBC:

        Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said there was no allegation that any American was “a knowing participant in this illegal activity” nor was it alleged that the meddling altered the election outcome.

        Which, of course, doesn’t prevent the brainwashed from dancing with glee and attacking as a Trump supporter anyone who so much as points out the above. The least offensive response I’ve had today was that these things are incremental so this is likely just the starting point. It no longer matters whether the alleged interference had any effect on the election—all sense of logic on this subject has evaporated even among people I know are intelligent enough they should know better.

    3. edmondo

      So Mueller spent 12 months to come up with enough “evidence” to produce one episode of MTV’s Catfish?

      Are they going to indict all those Democratic Party superdelegates who “colluded” to put Trump in the White House by nominating the only person in the world who could lose to him?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why I added the information on how hard it is to actually change opinion. IIRC, most of the contemporary hash tag tracking is coming from the highly dubious Hamilton68 dashboard, which is being treated as an authority even though, last I checked, they hadn’t exposed their data or methods.

      Adding, which is pretty funny, when you think about it; depending on whether the IRA was a contractor for the Russian government, and what its actual mission was*, the Russian government probably has a stronger case for fraud against them then Mueller does.

      * Provoke a Bush-like blundering over-reaction?

      1. PKMKII

        Putin’s government overpaid for a intelligence tech contractor that promised way more than it was capable of delivering? Perhaps the Russians aren’t so different from us after all.

    5. Lee

      I guess I’m a Russophile for asking the question….

      Yeah, you’re sowing discord, which in some countries, other and the U.S., is a crime. Oh, wait….

  7. Katy

    “The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble” [Brain Fuzzies].

    What the family-blog!

    I just went to Barnes & Noble on Monday to buy a book. There were a dozen people ahead of me in line, and by the time I got to the cashier there were a dozen people behind me. (There were two cashiers, so presumably they were the PT leftovers?)

    Barnes & Noble is nearly the only place you can buy books in town anymore. Two indie stores that I sometimes go to are in busy urban neighborhoods, and they don’t have parking.

    1. voteforno6

      I feel the same way…and I live in a major metropolitan area. So, if/when Barnes & Noble goes under, are there any good options that aren’t owned by Jeff Bezos?

        1. nowhere

          +1 They actually have a philosophy section that isn’t packed with Zizek!

          In the Bay Area Books Inc. is another favorite of mine.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I was in a Half Price last night, spent my whole $60 allowance in the philosophy and humanities section(about20 square feet of shelf). I like HPB because it’s like a garage sale, you can’t really enter the place with something in mind, and must let things leap off the shelf at you.
            That’s the only national chain I really like.
            Book People, in Austin is still my favorite bookstore…even in their fancy new(ish) digs at whole foods downtown.

      1. Elizabeth

        Powell’s bookstore in Portland, OR is one of the last independent bookstores in the country. The demise of B&N seems to be totally self-inflicted, and very sad. Powell’s seems to have had some labor issues in the past, but I’m not sure how it is these days. Try Powell’s.com.

        1. Tvc15

          Powell’s is awesome. I lived in Portland for a few years.

          From the Barnes & Noble link.
          “The company saved $40m by firing 1,800 employees.
          After paying out $14,500,000 to two executives.”

          I think this also could have been filed under “guillotine watch” in addition to “class warfare” or a twofer as Lambert says.

        2. Lost in OR

          Locals have a love-hate relationship with Powells (management). It’s a regular stop for me when I’m in the big city. I really like it for its flavoring of used books predating our modern insanity.

        3. nowhere

          I always liked the Powell’s in Chicago, so it was interesting to read bout the relationship between to the two on Wikipedia.

          Which lead to this:

          “Powell’s Books was a key opponent of Oregon’s Measure 97, which would have raised corporate taxes to fund schools, healthcare and senior services. Michael Powell contributed $25,000 to the opposition campaign. Powell’s Books was featured in television ads for the No campaign, and Emily Powell signed a statement opposing the measure in the voter’s pamphlet.”

        4. Elizabeth Burton

          Please stop spreading the misinformation that independent bookstores are dying. Their number has increased steadily—and successfully—since 2009.

          As for the staff cuts, it’s hardly surprising a company that’s been on the skids for a decade or more would opt for the standard solution of replacing full-time staff with part-timers. It’s the capitalist way.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        I like Powell’s and Warwick’s. Powell’s is online with at least one retail store. Warwick’s (in La Jolla) has a fantastic and knowledgeable staff. I don’t anything about their online services, but I have called them looking for books on particular subjects or for a couple of voracious readers that read so much that it is hard to find them something they haven’t already read.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      They wiped out well over a dozen multi-generation bookstores in our burg. Hopefully this will open up space. Maybe we can start again.

      “Non-volatile storage medium”

  8. Craig H.

    “Google removes ‘View Image’ button from image search”

    Thank you very much for this information. It now takes two clicks instead of one click to get to the image file itself since any browser lets you open an image in a new tab but I suppose this mollifies their legal team. I wonder how much making this change contributed to the GDP.

    1. paul

      I think ‘it’s’ an ‘affirmation of ‘it’s’ ‘feelings’ for it”s’ ‘stakeholders’

      Why does every 2nd word need to be parenthesised these days?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        You mean like “legal” and “capitalist” and “market” and “legitimate” and “representative” and “democracy”?

        Your comment, like all the best comments, is extremely concise and also deeply profound

    1. grayslady

      Just as interesting to me in that article was finding out that the DCCC doesn’t want its candidates to have an Issues page on their websites. Other than a couple of candidates who appear to have thumbed their noses at the DCCC on that point, it seems as though whether or not a candidate has an Issues section might be a useful indicator for which primary contender wants to represent the Dem establishment and which candidate wants to represent the district’s constituents.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Not where you can see them. If you are in the inner circle, however, like a lobbyist or legislator, you know the secret password…

  9. jsba

    i’m *extremely* skeptical of Pete Buttigieg. he worked for The Cohen Group and McKinsey.

    a very weird bit of trivia about him: his dad is the main english translator of gramsci

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > McKinsey

      As did our host…

      Perhaps I did give me more props than he deserved for running against Perez. OTOH, South Bend isn’t on the Acela Corridor at all, unlike Cory Booker’s Newark.

      1. jsba

        no offense meant to yves!

        i just meant his trajectory of harvard>cohen group>oxford ppe>mckinsey is hardly outsider-y

        1. a different chris

          I *think* the trajectory of South Bend -> harvard -> ….->mckinsey-> South Bend is what makes people stop and gawk.

          1. jsba


            i mean, he’s *very* obviously got larger ambitions, which is why he’s enjoying politico coverage and going on nationally-syndicated npr programs. call me a cynic, but you think that just happens independent of his wielding his own elite connections?

            he just ran for dnc chair. on a platform that doesn’t mention superdelegates but does mention developing “top-level cybersecurity measures.”

  10. Daryl

    > “Peter Thiel, retreating from Silicon Valley’s tech scene, is moving to L.A.”

    I had a hearty chuckle at this. So his solution to the “stifling” political correctness of San Francisco is to move to Hollywood. OK.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If Peter Thiel wants to move to a place with people that thinks like him perhaps he should consider moving to Chicago – right next door to the Chicago School of Economics. I’ve read that he stated what really wants is his own country to rule. Kinda like a kid that never grew up. He can’t run for President as he was born in Germany so that option is out.
      Here he is retreating from Silicon Valley because he couldn’t make them think just like him, even with all his money. I doubt that he will come to like Hollywood either. Too many Lefties. Maybe Hollywood can get together and make a movie about his life to make him feel better?

  11. grayslady

    ” if he had been in the Senate, he would have voted to repeal ObamaCare, supported the tax cuts, “

    So the guy who gave Massachusetts ObamaCare, Jr. (a/k/a RomneyCare) thinks it was a bad idea? Romney spins faster than a top. I’d like to believe that the good citizens of Utah are too smart to vote for such a smarmy carpetbagger.

    1. edmondo

      I’d like to believe that the good citizens of Utah are too smart to vote for such a smarmy carpetbagger.

      You do realize that this seat is presently held by Orrin Hatch? The “good citizens of Utah” ain’t that good at rejecting smarmy.

        1. Edward E

          Mitt Romney’s running for the Senate.

          For goodness sake, when is Hillary going to realize it’s time to move on?!!!

      1. Steve from CT

        Having grown up in Utah I can confirm there is a religious aspect to Romney’s running. The “good citizens of Utah” voted for Trump by a large margin despite the Mitster’s then argument that he did not have the proper Mormon values. Utah is now so Repub that the Dems where I grew up could meet in a phone booth. Of course they would have to find one.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I recall an article pointing out that Utah residents are, per capita, the heaviest consumers of Porn on the internet…

            1. ambrit

              Oh. Orthodox Porn. Can’t be having us no deviancy, can we? My question is, how to justify restricting coitus to the ‘Missionary Position’ in a sect that eschews evangelization?

    2. Kurtismayfield

      He is a true believer.. he is one of them. He can flip flop like a blueffish and bleed all over the deck and they would still vote for him

  12. taunger

    I visited the exhibit in the DC Velocity article recently. Massive in scale and detail, it encompasses an entire narrative about multiple industrial mechanisms, consumer pathways, and design sensibilities. The workshop of the former factory worker is a heart-wrenching (pun intended) experience of cognitive and emotional dissonance cause by its pathetic appearance (its simple design and limited scope are hugely overshadowed by the overall exhibit) contrasted with the nostalgia incited by its components and the empathy wrought (again, intended) by its inhabitant.

  13. Tom Stone

    Spree killers are choosing schools because they are full of unarmed, helpless victims.
    Oddly enough, insane killers are not law abiding folks.
    And there’s a big black market in guns, you can get pretty much whatever you want if you have the money…Australia banned slide action and semi auto rifles back in 1997, the penalty is the same as for full auto’s.
    It is estimated that only 30% of those guns were surrendered, creating lots of new felons.
    The current favorite gun of Aussie criminals is the 9 MM submachine gun, often with a suppressor.
    That cat is out of the bag, it is not possible to “Get guns out of the hands of criminals”.
    Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by 10 years in Prison…most of the time those charges are dropped or the result is a few month in the County Jail.
    The local paper mentioned last week that someone arrested for a recent Murder was charged as a felon in possession in October 2017…
    Enforcing current laws seems like a good idea, YMMV.

    1. rd

      Many of the school shootings are not random. Often the shooter has a strong link to that school or district and has an intense dislike for it. A primary reason why the recent shooter was picked up relatively quickly is because some of the students knew him and recognized him while he was shooting.

      Bullying and ostracizing has a lot to do with the motivation. The ready access to guns means the bullied and ostracized have an effective means of getting back at their perceived tormentors.

      In other developed countries, these types of shootings are generally only possible by organized terrorist groups because they need access to the arms black market. Here people can simply go to their local sporting goods store and buy guns along with running shoes.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Working as a college student in Orlando the summer of 1988, I recall a store — a shack, really — on Orange Blossom Trail. Big sign on top of it:

        Guns n’ Beer

        Get loaded, and get loaded, indeed. As far as I know, that store is still there.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I can top that. When I was in the high desert country of California (Antelope Valley), the gun store was next to the liquor store was next to the pawnshop. Financing thoughtfully provided!

    2. a different chris

      >That cat is out of the bag, it is not possible to “Get guns out of the hands of criminals”.

      Oh yeah it sure is possible. And the “current favorite of Aussie criminals”… m’kay, Yeah one was just used in that Australian slaughter on, on… hmmm, oh wait there hasn’t been an incident like that in Australia since they got serious about gun laws.

      And BTW, the Florida kid wasn’t exactly a hardened criminal. Criminals do things to make them money, shooting up a school does not exactly accomplish that, does it?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Can I just tell you how great it is to go to the movies or the mall here in Australia and know that the chances of meeting someone who has a firearm with them are vanishingly low.

          But it’s beyond mission-critical for gun lovers to try and paint the Australian reality somehow differently. Yes, similar to how single-payer works here, which is great, and which is also why we hear the agitprop about how bad the NHS in the UK is or how long the wait for a transplant is in Canada.

          This nation came to its senses after a mass slaughter and paid hundreds of millions of $ to buy back guns and destroy them and tighten the laws around their sale. All America has to do is come to its senses. 26 kids in CT didn’t do it, 69 in Vegas didn’t, now 17 in FL didn’t. There is probably a threshold somewhere, could be 100 or 200, or maybe even 500 in a single horrible event. But I think it will be reached.

          As Churchill said “Americans can be counted on to do the right thing…after exhausting all other possible options”

          1. Pat

            I’m pretty sure it is going to be something like 200+ in DC mostly on the floor of the House of Representatives after they are forced to show their bonafides by allowing guns.
            Mind you the change will come after the elections to replace 1/3 to 1/2 of the House, even with the survivors waking up often in a cold sweat remembering themselves trying to survive.

            Even when the country reaches 70 or 80 percent of the population supporting sensible and strong laws, the gun lobby money will be too sweet and they will use the rabid supporters to deflect the popularity of restriction. Think anti- Medicare for All on steroids. I hope the tide will turn without the political elite being forced to recognize they are just as much ducks in the shooting gallery as the rest of us, but it could come to that.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Other places, what these mass killers have done is referred to as “amok,” as in “running amok.” It’s a well established pattern of behaviors, and has or had its own entry in the DSM:

      Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok or gone amok,[1] also spelled amuk, from the Malay[2] and Indonesian languages,[3] is “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malay culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior”.[4] The syndrome of “Amok” is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR).[5]

      Wiki is no totally trustworthy authority, but if one reads the article on running amok, one ought to notice some massively telling pattterns: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok
      Look especially to the observed roots of the behavior, as it is so blandly called by psych professionals…

      There sure seems to be a surfeit of the preconditions and initiators as described in the literature on “amok” and “beramok,” and there’s this explanatory article for some more context: “Amok and mass murres,” https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/amok-and-mass-murders. Note there are suggestions for palliation and interception in this article…

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        As a longtime expat resident of the unlicensed gun-infested former US colony of the Philippines (from which “running amok” was first appropriated by US Marines, then popularized into our own language by #fakenews yellow journos of the Randoph Hearst school)….

        I must report that there are *no* berserkergang mass shootings of schoolkids here. Terror bombings? Occasional (touch wood), but tend to backfire badly on the perpetrators. Political hits from motorbikes? Daily, part of the process! Vigilante killings? Yawn, barely rate news. Grisly bolo murder-suicides of estranged family? Sadly yes, but also occur elsewhere in Asean EMs and infrequent enough to hit page 1.

        …. Ruined gambler opens fire in casino? Once in 5 years, and more died in fire from padlocked exits than by shooter (1 guard shot, nonfatal).

        Bonus fun factoid: numerous suicide vests were found in the shattered ruins of Marawi, unused. It seems the local Islamist fanatics preferred to go out in a blaze of glory with swords and bullets, but not as coldly premeditated human bombs. Very few VBIEDs either (there were also practical reasons preventing that). So the plans of the leaders and foreign backers to enact a Mosul-style Götterdamerung in that town went badly amiss, for cultural reasons.

        Make of all that what you will, folks. Unscientific benchmark from another sadly short-fused, violent society. But no evident desire here to cross to Valhalla across rainbow bridge of skulls of murdered innocents…

        So while America faces a tough choice between

        (1) enacting reasonable restrictions on potential weapons of mass murder (and who says this does not include all hunting rifles? hey, what about Uhaul vans?) or

        (2) ‘precrime’ detention via algorithm of high school misfits and all other wrongthinkers (pointing the cannon at you, NC wrongthinkers!),

        …there is also something sadly broken in our underlying social contract. Cultural time bomb from our Scotch-Irish or Wild West past? now fully democratized by cheap 30 mag clips + #altwackjob screentime? I dunno.

        With outrage fatigue long set in, do my muscular left trade unionists and off-grid anarcho-syndicalist comrades here find themselves ‘bellyfeeling’ more in common with:

        (a) (Baltimore Catholic / mobbed up thug / my father in law once punched him in the nose) Pat Buchanan? or;

        (b) flag-on-lawn treadmilled “flyover” voters who flipped from Hope to MAGA? than with;

        (c) ‘Ban them all NOW! Save us, O adequately authentic muliticulti JFK-like feel-good saviour, of- by- and for the coastal dot.com/ dot.gov/ dot.edu 20% trough-feeders?

        [sorry, loaded question here…]

  14. will_f

    “Progressive Democrat Sent Bag of D*cks and “Expelled” from Democratic Party” [Progressive Army]. This does seem to keep happening; and Perez, Obama’s creature, signaled it was OK.

    Did Perez send this signal when he purged Sanders’ supporters from the DNC Rules and Bylaws committees? Or was there another signal that I missed?

  15. nowhere

    Re: “Digitization of multistep organic synthesis in reactionware for on-demand pharmaceuticals”

    I think this applies to off label drugs and FDA validation for EVERY compound that can be manufactured using this process.

  16. HopeLB

    I cannot find it now, but there was an article in the links about brain damage in children without friends, children who were bullied. As a Friday recess school volunteer for 5 years, I have seen this first hand. There was one boy who walked on a low wall back and forth if recess was outdoors and who sat doing puzzles alone when it was indoors. I would save him a ball to try to play with him, try to talk to him. Then I found out he liked musicals and we’d talk about them.This went on for three years then finally late in his 7th grade year he began to join in with other kids and seemed like a changed person. In eigth, however, things changed again and he was back to pacing on the wall alone. I convinced him to join a school club to try and get him interacting again but then he started making violent, graphic threats to other students and was expelled. I always wonder when these shooting occur if it is one of these kids, and there were a few at that school, who were always alone. There is a lot of meaness and socio-economic awarenes/competition manifesting itself at a very young age in our youth. Perhaps, there could be a program designed for these kids? They are certainly easy to spot.





    1. a different chris

      Your first link??… yeah he lost his parents but I don’t think he was living in anything like poverty at any point.

      Could be wrong.

      1. HopeLB

        Sorry, did not mean to conflate his (the student to whom I was referring) economic status to his ostracization. That happened to other kids. It’ is a private school. He was well off, as they say. And I failed to mention the big question of what comes first, the odd behavior or the ostracism? (Could be based on some pheromones alone, who knows?) Some of the ‘loners’ where so by choice, either they found physical play boring/deemed themselves unatheletic and/or competitive or because there were great books to be read so why waste time. One had self-promoted himself to a position of authority and would be constantly telling his peers what was not allowed, (he, a 6th grader had his co-busrider, a Third grader, in a constant state of terror and he got all dances canceled because he oddly discovered expensive gym shoes in the toliet during a dance. He was a snitch to the Old Nun Principal.) but there was this other group of loners, sometimes very fat, sometimes very small, sometimes wearing unwashed clothes, to this private, but least expensive of all private schools in the city, who were simply rejected. Believe me, because this school was Catholic, I did not refrain from reminding the kids to make more of an effort to include these kids. Maybe, it was always this way,and I just didn’t notice having a twin and a younger sister or maybe our society is bat shit crazy mean now. Who am I to say? The loners are easily identified and I am sure we have enough expertise in this country to attempt some program that could help, at least, some of them, in time.

    2. The Rev Kev

      After the Columbine massacre, law enforcement put a profile together of a young person that could become a shooter. Things like having different opinions, a bit of a loner, etc. The schools immediately put together outreach programs to help these kids adjust to school life and integrate them into the school community. Naaah! Just kidding. What they actually did was to pile on the pressure on these kids and did everything to isolate them and to eject these kids from the schools. If it put a lodestone on their future lives well that was their own problem for being different then, wasn’t it?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        At my high school in the 80s, the bullies were the Baker Street Irregulars for the Vice Principals. Seemed to tie in with the Admins’ commitment to Football.

  17. Steely Glint

    Happy to see you mention Pete Buttigieg. I looked him up after listening to NPR, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, last weekend. He was just so personable, smart, and cordial. He’s a commissioned Naval Intelligence officer, 1st elected mayor in 2011 & again in 2015, and a member of the in the National Guard. While in office he was deployed to Afghanistan. He came out as gay in 2015, and got engaged 12/2017. Like Mark Pocan, Rep. Wisconsin, who I find smart & of progressive persuasion, I just have to wonder when this country will be fine with electing a president with a same sex FLOTUS. I personally hope soon.

    1. makedoanmend

      So, he’s smart, personable, has a military background, progressive, and is gay. That’s nice.

      But does he support any policies that you actually like, and do these policies benefit you and your neighbors?

      If he propagated policies that helped you and your neighbors but was instead of average intelligence, a curmudgeon, didn’t like war, was conservative, and of unknown sexual orientation would you then not support him?

  18. ewmayer

    o “Fake News and Bots May Be Worrisome, but Their Political Power Is Overblown” [New York Times] — Oh, I dunno, methinks the Grey lady is being far too pessimistic here. After all, the NYT’s own fake-news project re. Saddam’s WMDs 15 years back led to an actual large-scale hot war, $trillions in juicy defense contracts for US and foreign mercenary/logistics firms and upwards of a million dead Iraqis whose ‘sacrifice’, as former SoS and heroic liberal R2P goddess Madeleine Albright reminded us, was “worth it”. So maybe the high-profile-ness and political connections of the fake news source might play a crucial role in its impact?

    1. will_f

      Madeleine Albright made that comment in response to a publishing of a study which found that the US economic sanctions against Iraq resulted in the deaths of more than 500,000 children.


      Otherwise your point is valid. As Yves herself has mentioned regarding Judith Miller, the NYT did indeed publish a lot of “fake news” (also known as “propaganda”) in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

  19. Altandmain

    As far as NAFTA goes, Mexicans are working for very little money.

    Here is an example:


    Some Japanese automaker plants start workers at 90 to 150 pesos per day, or $6 to $10, Juarez says. Others, such as Volkswagen, have paid more than double that. Juarez says Mexico’s auto-making wages are now below China, but better than Mexico’s minimum wage of $4.50 per day.

    There is pressure to improve working conditions at Mexican factories. Last week, three former Mazda factory workers publicly complained of injuries and of being worked longer than legally allowed. A union official announced protests in support.

    Let me tell you something as an industry insider. The Mexican workers there often work very long shifts – and we are talking 12 hours or more.

    Keep in mind that factory work is not like office work. Working long hours and fatigue significantly increases the amount of risk of injury. Plus it wears down your body a lot more.

    A whole back I got into a heated discussion with some Clinton-type Liberals. Is that the type of society that you want?

    Our factories here closed and the communities devastated while the rich pocket all the profits and pay the workers in the developing world a pittance under conditions fit for a Charles Dickens novel?

    1. cnchal

      Our factories here closed and the communities devastated while the rich pocket all the profits and pay the workers in the developing world a pittance under conditions fit for a Charles Dickens novel?

      It’s a fact. Why the question mark?

      When NAFTA was reworked to include Mexico, the sales pitch was that it would enable the Mexicans to earn their way out of poverty. Nobody with a brain believed that.

      It’s comical that Justin Trudeau went there a few days ago when talking about NAFTA, and immediately had a sock stuffed in his mouth.

  20. Karl Kolchak

    Just tried to e-mail Barnes and Nobel to let them know I would not ever be shopping there again. Turns out you can’t do that without creating an online account (surprise! surprise!). I’d call them, but why hassle some poor call center representative whose powerless to do anything just to make them feel bad?

  21. Alex Morfesis

    What if, as secret ancient alien technologists suggest, trump and putin were colluding to help $hillary win and they were so inept and incompetent that it failed…

    Just sayin…

    What better way than to have the klownkar kandidate hug the prudistanis who insist only religious freaks who never divorce and never cheat and who hate non whites…him having started a fake football league and kissed Herschel walker…

    Trump was to have been the only candidate $hillary could have beaten…and she loses to him…

    The more the ouzo kicks in, the more it seems obvious…the fix was in…Trump was to run the uncola campaign…putang and company, having given the clin-tonedeffz all those rooobulls for the yellowcake was not looking to see her lose…

    Two more shots of ouzo and I will have figured it all out…

  22. Jim Haygood

    governor [Romney] is a statesman

    Isn’t the gender-neutral version of statesman ‘statist’?

    1. ambrit

      Good try Comrade, but the PC locution would be “statesbeing.” It would be appropriate to group Romney in with, (as a result of his exhortations for and political machinations in behalf of ‘Heritage Care,’) the statists because of the essentially “statist-ical” nature of that bureaucratic behemoth. Parse it as you may, anything having to do with government (State) programs is ‘appropriate’ insofar as it’s all about the ‘appropriations.’ And what could be a more ‘appropriable’ asset than the polities medical expenses? I have to stop now. I feel an attack of appropriplexy coming on. Will that be cash or card?

  23. fresno dan

    Whoo Hoo
    another obscure little thing I now know how to do in my medicare volunteer job (HICAP). Another web link in my folder of web links, which will soon number the same as the number of fundamental particles in the universe…..

    OTC removal….(other health care). In the health care system, sometimes when people change health care everyone but the computers know. This generates endless screw ups. So people come to us, we log on, fill out forms, that say this person no longer has that health insurance!

    Than we sent that to the Department of Health Care Services. (at least in CA – results in your state may vary) Maybe a few days later the errant health care plan has been removed…maybe not. Than we do it again.

    1. Duck1

      well I bought a Windows 10 machine, very cheap laptop, but within a month requested an update which apparently was a whole new W10. Anyway, even though it seems to have a huge drive, not enough for both systems, so can’t install update. gigabytes away from freedom, I guess

      1. ambrit

        Poor Duck. See if someone you know can change your operating system for you, or you do it yourself. Windows 10 is something like having a wedding and when you lift the veil, a Demon leers forth at you. I have refused multiple blandishments designed to lure me away from my Windows 8 OP. I should take the time to regress to Windows 7, but I’m a bit tech non savvy. Linux sounds enticing, but there are only so many new tricks that old dogs can learn.

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

          Re; Those who are Windoze adverse:

          Try Puppy LInux (I use Slacko). You can run it from a CD or DVD. It ain’t so hard to set up, and you can leave your Windoze OS alone. If it is a bit beyond you, join a local Linux group so as to pick the brains of someone who knows, or can guide you.

          Pip Pip!

  24. Andrew Watts

    RE: “From Where I Sit, The Trump Era Began In 2014”

    It’s ironic that the author chose the year 2014. In May of that year Obama gave a commencement speech at West Point where he proudly stated his belief in American exceptionalism. I had fun ridiculing the following quote from his speech shortly thereafter.

    In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.

    Attempting to choose a date for an event like that is going to be a matter of debate. The Western Roman Empire ended in 476 AD when Romulus Augustus was deposed from power but the WRE was basically a fiction at that point. Beyond any conclusive and/or explosive finale it will likely remain so in America’s case.

    (edited) /w links

    1. HopeLB

      Kudos to you for finding your most salient and prescient comment from the wayback machine! (Digitization might just be worth a damn in the short term.) I am afraid (a’feared?) the Rooskis must certainly have read it and commenced their twiiter mind manipulation at that point. Whatever you do, do not let the Hilbots on Reddit know of this!

  25. Ted

    I decided that Robert Müller is an American hero. His capacity to remind us that the political class in the national government is so delightfully clueless and useless is truly without peer. I mean, remember the time Papapapapapados was the small fry that would lead to the Big Kahuna. And let’s not forget Flynn … that dear, dear Mikie Flynn’s lyin’ to the FBI was going to be the key to prooving Trump’s follies in well surveiled Russian peepee hotels? (actually I can’t remember what the point of Flynn was … but I so enjoy the fact that adults are debating peepee hotels in Russia that I don’t care to remember.) Now we have Müller’s 13 … actual Russians!!! (we are told) whose crime, apparently, is that they used the internet the way folks use the internet. I just love Bob for keeping it real. Thanks Bob.

    1. HopeLB

      Yes, Bob has made absolutely clear that he, along with NPR/the MSM/the BBC, believe US citizens to be largely addled, feeble minded idiots who cannot parse truth from falsehood and whose Red, White and Blue, common-cored brains can not handle discernment, who will vote based upon the cognitive dissonce/discord bouncing about, Brownian motion-like, in their dendrite deficient grey matter and will always vote according to how their more intelligent, twittering Russians direct them. What makes us exceptional is not our worldwide bases, our nukes,our outsized armament spending, our regime changes or even our newly miniaturized, ‘usable’Nukes,our ability to proclam freedoms we’ve shredded in our country, our exceptionalism rests our ability to enact agnotology and more importantly, to make our people crave it like sugar. Until it all inevitably collapses ,of course, at which point the elites will have flown of to New Zealand or to their South American bunkers.

    2. integer

      Looks like TPTB have put their impeachment plans on the shelf and settled for reinforcing the “election meddling” narrative, thus poisoning any future efforts at détente with Russia during the Trump presidency. In other words, a salvage operation. It will be very interesting to see what Russia comes up with during their upcoming election in terms of US interference, as it seems the US have painted themselves into a corner on this issue. I expect that those in the CIA who specialize in this sort of thing aren’t too happy about the attention their tradecraft has received of late.

      1. integer

        This development will also mean we will see increasingly dysfunctional discourse in comment sections of corporate news media websites, as anyone who disagrees with the establishment position on Russia any issue will automatically be labeled a Russian troll, although this is already the case to a large extent.

        “Having been invited by the legitimate government of Syria, Russia’s presence in Syria is legal under international law. This is not the case for the US military.”

        “Say hi to Putin and your coworkers at the Internet Reasearch Agency for me!”

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