2:00PM Water Cooler 3/26/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


O’Rourke: “Beto O’Rourke is running for president. Now about that environmental record …” [Grist]. “When he traveled to parts of Texas dependant on fossil fuel extraction during his Senate campaign, O’Rourke promoted fracking as fundamental to national security. In the heart of the Permian Basin, for instance, he told the Midland Reporter-Telegram that he didn’t want the United States to be dependent on other countries for energy but that fracking should be done ‘in a responsible, safe way that does not jeopardize the environment.’ At a debate with Cruz, he called the decision between renewables and fossil fuels ‘a false choice.'” • That last is what Obama believed — “all of the above” — so how could it be wrong?

Sanders: “‘Now is the time to complete what we began’: Bernie Sanders fires up crowd at San Francisco rally” [Mercury-News]. “In an issue-packed speech that ranged from a call to arms against climate change to Sanders’ trademark denunciations of Wall Street banks, he poked fun at the perception of his plans as being on the far-left fringe. ‘Want to hear some radical ideas?’ he asked the crowd. ‘Are you prepared? I don’t want you fainting in shock.’ Sanders marveled at how many of his policies — from Medicare for All to free public college to legalizing marijuana — have gone mainstream among Democrats and been adopted by the party’s candidates running for seats ‘from school board to president.’ Still, that trend has also made it harder for Sanders to paint himself as the unequivocal standard-bearer of the left, which he more clearly was in the 2016 race.” • Nothing wrong with opportunism — in fact, you want #MedicareForAll to be bandwageon — but all these ideas are mainstreamed in the discourse, but not at all in the liberal Democrat leadership, which opposes them as fiercely as Republicans do (and installed a great many centrist House freshmen who oppose them too).

Trump: “Hellscape 2021: Why a Second Loss to Trump Could Produce an Existential Crisis for Democrats” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Democrats spent months agonizing over how they lost to Donald Trump in 2016, with theories ranging from Clinton campaign incompetence to media hostility to sexism to James Comey’s unhelpful letters to sheer bad luck based on the distribution of a handful of votes in a few states. But a Democratic Party that manages to lose twice to Donald Trump — the second time after four years of the bizarre national experience of watching him in office — simply has to look at the donkey in the mirror.” • The agony was not especially painful. Not only did the Democrats never produce a post mortem — suggesting that they think they really did nothing wrong — the common thread for all their “theories” was to blame somebody else. I think liberal Democrats have looked in the mirror and like what they see. That won’t change.


I don’t mind using the term “RussiaGate” now that it has imploded and disgraced its advocates. The post mortems start piling in:

Mainstream edges toward a mea culpa. Hilarity ensues:

This really is a must-listen, especially for those who don’t watch TV.

“John Brennan Admits He had ‘Bad Information’ on Mueller Report: ‘I Suspected There Was More'” [Mediate]. “After previously insisting there was collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, former CIA Director John Brennan completed his 180 on the issue today by admitting he ‘suspected there was more than there actually was.’ ‘I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was,’ Brennan told MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today…. Brennan has previously suggested he had special information on the investigation, claiming in a March 5 TV hit that ‘Friday is the day that the grand jury indictments come down,’ and insisted that Trump’s claims of no collusion between his campaign and Russia were ‘hogwash.'” • Lol. I find myself using “lol” a lot, lately. I hope I don’t overdo it. But lol. Crime makes you stupid, I guess.

“Russiagate: The Great Tragic Comedy of Modern Journalism” [Matt Bivens, Medium]. “I was not surprised to see politicians up on their hind legs, panting mindlessly about Russians. But to see journalists at CNN, The New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, competing to be even dumber … hot on the trail of a non-story, recklessly discarding fairness and professionalism … dragging us gleefully down every rabbit hole … applauding the collateral damage to bystanders, as they indulge their collective rage against Donald Trump, their hysterical certainty that he must be a Russian asset … What can I say? It’s been heart-breaking.” • The author is another Moscow Times vet, so his piece is well worth a read. Interestingly, he doesn’t buy “Russian meddling” in the election, either (and see Ferguson, below). Neither do I, because nobody has shown a chain of causality that leads from meddling to votes changed in districts that would have affected the outcome. Readers, is this bar too high?

“We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “Politics since Watergate has been defined by a long string of scandals and pseudo-scandals — Iran-contra, Whitewater*, Valerie Plame**, Benghazi, Solyndra, swift-boating. Politico last year compiled a list of 46 scandals that were at one time or another deemed ‘worse than Watergate.’ The nation’s underlying divides are still ideological, but we rarely fight them honestly as philosophical differences. We just accuse the other side of corruption. Politics is no longer a debate; it’s an attempt to destroy lives through accusation.” • J-LS linked to Brooks this morning, but I just have to say: We live in a world where David Brooks makes sense. How can this be? NOTES * Issikoff is batting .500 (Whitewater was a hit, RussiaGate a swing and a miss), where ** Wheeler is .000; neither of the same two scandals provided the outcomes that thirsting readers sought, and to whom Wheeler pandered.

“The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016” (PDF) [Thomas Ferguson, Benjamin Page, Jacob Rothschild, Arturo Chang, and Jie Chen∗, Institute for New Economic Thinking]. From 2018, still germane:

This paper critically analyzes voting patterns in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Using survey data from the American National Election Survey and aggregate data on Congressional districts, it assesses the roles that economic and social factors played in Donald J. Trump’s “Populist” candidacy. It shows the hollowness of claims that economic issues played little or no role in the campaign and that social factors such as race or gender suffice to explain the outcome. While agreeing that racial resentment and sexism were important influences, the paper shows how various economic considerations helped Trump win the Republican primary and then led significant blocs of voters to shift from supporting Democrats or abstaining in 2012 to vote for him. It also presents striking evidence of the importance of political money and Senators’ “reverse coattails” in the dramatic final result.

Odd. I’m not seeing “Russian meddling” in there. And from the more accessible iNET landing page for the article’s release:

It wasn’t Comey or the Russians. Trump prevailed because his campaign carefully targeted key states with late infusions of big money from private equity, casinos, and other far right contributors, a remarkable wave of donations from small donors, and substantial infusions from the candidate himself.

Skimming these two papers, hoo boy, what a breath of sanity.

Our Famously Free Press

Payback begins and sadly, it’s richly earned:


“Obama cautions freshman House Democrats about the price tag of liberal policies” [WaPo (MA)]. “Former president Barack Obama gently warned a group of freshman House Democrats Monday evening about the costs associated with some liberal ideas popular in their ranks, encouraging members to look at price tags, according to people in the room. Obama didn’t name specific policies [because that wouldn’t have been passive-aggressive –lambert]…. [S]ome people in the room took his words as a cautionary note about Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, two liberal ideas popularized by a few of the more famous House freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).” • Those aren’t liberal ideas.

“Sneering Didn’t Stop Jeremy Corbyn and It Won’t Stop Ocasio-Cortez” [The American Conservative]. Somebody tell Obama. More: “If American conservatives keep up their own heated rhetoric—like comparing the Green New Deal to a “Revamped Communist Manifesto”—they’ll end up damaging their own movement. It’s ludicrous to suggest that Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are calling for the abolition of property rights. Indeed, many socialists say that Sanders’ failure to call for the nationalization of utilities means he isn’t left-wing enough. It’s also ridiculous to say that government-subsidized health care, something almost all developed nations have, is going to lead to the conditions seen in Venezuela. That kind of rhetoric won’t wash with voters.” • Looks like we’re in for an election season with the dominant faction in both parties doing its best to lose. If only they both would!

Pelosi and the Democrat leadership set the table; Mike Pence sits down for a meal:

Luntz tweeted about the DCCC policy of no longer recommending consultants who work for challengers, and AOC responded:

“Our party.” Not right now…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why the Fight About the Electoral College Is About More Than the Electoral College” [Amy Walters, Cook Political Report]. • As for the EC, it ought to be doing what it was designed to do, and causing the Democrats to campaign nationwide. But they’d rather die as a political party — or rather, advocate constitutional changes that are highly unlikely to happen — than appear to the flyover states, so the EC isn’t working as intended. Walters: “[W]hen politicians and voters believe that the system is inherently flawed or rigged — or that the people in charge of enforcing those rules are compromised – well, the whole thing falls apart. Americans don’t trust the political class, the media, the political parties, or almost any institution in this country. As such, even an attempt to discuss reform or change will be met with charges of malfeasance. Republicans accuse Democrats of being sore losers, while Democrats argue that Trump and Republicans are comfortable with a descent into ‘despotism.’ It’s unlikely that the 2020 campaign will do anything but widen distrust of our institutions and each other. The challenge of the 21st century is to understand and anticipate where this distrust and disruption lead. The tipping point has yet to be reached. But, it feels like we sit on its precipice more awkwardly than ever.” • That’s hair-on-fire stuff for the Cook Political Report.

“How activist organizations waste their DC volunteers” [Alice Marshall, Daily Kos]. “Your DC supporters are a powerful resource, if you know how to use them, which, from the looks of things, nobody does. For openers, our home-town newspaper remains one of the most influential in the English language. Why not ask your DC supporters to write a Letter to the Editor? You probably have the power to generate dozens of letters to The Post, at least some of which will be published. Even if none are published, the editors will know there is widespread support for your agenda within the home delivery market. These things matter.” • So why send “contact your Represenative” letters to DC residents who don’t have a voting representative?

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, March 2019: “Sudden doubts over the labor market make for decidedly downbeat reading in the March consumer confidence report” [Econoday]. “Whatever good news there may be, the theme of the report isn’t favorable at all and is captured in a nutshell by a visible 2.5 point increase in those who say simply that the economy right now is “bad”, at 13.6 percent. And the outlook for jobs, like the current assessment, isn’t improving with more saying there will be fewer jobs ahead and fewer saying there will be more jobs ahead. Consumer spending collapsed during the holidays and the outlook for the first quarter, especially given this report, is uncertain.”

Housing Starts, February 2019: “Continued softness is the gist from another mixed starts & permits report that is, however, probably not as weak as the February headlines” [Econoday]. “Single-family permits — perhaps the most important reading in this report for judging the long-term health of housing — were unchanged… Perhaps the most unfavorable news comes from the West which had been in what was arguably an unsustainable boom the last couple of years… erhaps the most unfavorable news comes from the West which had been in what was arguably an unsustainable boom the last couple of years.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, January 2019: “A cross signal is out this morning which is probably good news for home prices given their recent and sharp slowing” [Econoday]. “The good news comes from FHFA’s house price index which jumped… with the downbeat results coming, however, from Case-Shiller’s report where the 20-city adjusted index managed only [an] increase that is at the low end of the consensus range.”

FHFA House Price Index, January 2019: Stronger than expected rise” [Econoday]. “[S]olid and much wanted good news from a sector that was the worst performer in last year’s economy.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2019: “While slightly weaker than consensus expectations, the deceleration is in line with other regional surveys also reporting slowing for the manufacturing sector” [Econoday]. “Today’s Richmond Fed survey adds to mounting evidence of slowing growth in the manufacturing sector, but companies in the fifth district at least are as optimistic as ever that conditions will improve and their hiring activities remain strong.”

Retail: “Tyson Recalls 69,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Metal Fragments Are Found” [New York Times]. • Save it for the UK, I guess…

The Bezzle:


The Bezzle: “China Issues More Rules for Review of Listing on New Tech Board” [Bloomberg]. “Companies should clean up valuation adjustment agreements with private equity and venture capital investors before applying to list on China’s new technology board.” • Lol.

The Bezzle: “WeWork’s Revenue Doubled Last Year. So Did Its Losses” [Bloomberg]. “Co-working company WeWork Cos. is continuing to expand, especially overseas. But its losses are growing in lockstep with its sales, the company said Monday.” • Better expand more!

Tech: “Social media giants face regulation as publishers, not just postmen” [Financial Review]. “The problem is that extremists are good for business. From a revenue point of view, these platforms exist to serve up advertising. Those who choose to engage with conspiracies and other content most would judge to be offensive really, really engage with this stuff, and an engaged audience is easy to sell. Deep engagement is a key pillar of the social media business model.”

Tech: “Google’s Stadia Could Take Video Games Out of Your Hands” [OneZero]. “In the past, when you bought a video game cartridge or disc, you owned that game. You could dig Super Mario World out of storage, plug it into your old Super Nintendo, and play it right now, even though the hardware platform it plays on is more than 25 years old. Platforms like Steam also let you own the game in that you can download digital copies. If Steam were to go out of business, you might not be able to download a game anymore, but as long as you already have it on your computer, you could keep it as long as you wanted. With Stadia’s streaming model, however, you never download a game. The game is installed on Google’s servers, it runs on Google’s servers, and your game progression is stored on Google’s servers…. The most prominent question with a service like Stadia — aside from whether your internet speed can actually support this — is what happens should the game be removed from the server?” • I seem to remember that Amazon also removed books from Kindle; books that you had “bought” and that were on “your” device. Oh, and this is one obvious reason Silicon Valley is for UBI; it will supply a revenue stream of rents from their platform.

Tech: “This Spyware Data Leak Is So Bad We Can’t Even Tell You About It” [Motherboard]. “A company that sells consumer-grade software that lets customers spy on other people’s calls, messages, and anything they do on their cell phones left more than 95,000 images and more than 25,000 audio recordings on a database exposed and publicly accessible to anyone on the internet. The exposed server contains two folders with everything from intimate pictures to recordings of phone calls, given that the app markets itself mostly to parents…. This breach is just the latest in a seemingly endless series of exposures or leaks of incredibly sensitive data collected by companies that promise to provide services for parents to keep children safe, monitor employees, or spy on spouses. In the last two years, there have been 12 stalkerware companies that have either been breached or left data exposed online.” • Testing can prove the presence of bugs, but never their absence…..

Manufacturing: “Pilot: Can pilots trust Boeing again?” [CNN]. “For my fellow pilots, trust has been seriously eroded. Considering that Boeing did not include a detailed description of the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), the flight-control software that has been linked to both crashes, can pilots trust Boeing with any of its other products? They are right to ask, ‘What else is Boeing not telling me?’ Airline pilots are a skeptical bunch, an attribute that often defines our decision-making. It’s a good thing, especially in an emergency.” • The pilot forums, and our pilot commenters here, are impressive.

Manufacturing: “Airbus shares take off after bumper Beijing order” [Reuters]. “Airbus shares rose on Tuesday after the European planemaker won a deal worth tens of billions of dollars to sell 300 aircraft to China.” • For the A320, a direct competitor to the 737.

The Biosphere

“The vanishing point: life on the edge of the melting world” [The Narwhale]. “The Arctic is warming up almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Several factors like thawing permafrost, shorter sea ice season, more severe storms, and rising sea level contribute to the increased rate of erosion along the Arctic coast. Moreover, the process produces massive amounts of sediment that in the long term may have negative impact on marine ecosystems along the coast.” • A moving story of one Arctic village subject to this process.

“The insect apocalypse is not here but there are reasons for concern” [The Economist]. “That species are failing in some places is not in dispute. What is less clear is whether the decline is global. Drs Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys found a mere 73 papers. That is not enough, argues Alex Wild of the University of Texas, Austin, to say much about anything globally. There have been no surveys of wild insect numbers in India, China, Siberia, the Middle East or Australia and only a single study each in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. These areas include almost all the tropics where the majority of insect species are thought to live. Most of the biggest declines have been measured in Europe and the United States, where the human footprint lies heaviest on the landscape and where modern agricultural methods are almost universal.” • Hmm. Readers, those of you who live outside Europe and the United States, can you comment on insect populations? Are you still getting bug splats?

Net Neutrality

“Real Net Neutrality Is More Than a Ban on Blocking, Throttling, and Paid Prioritization” [Electronic Frontier Foundation]. “When we talk about net neutrality protections, we often talk about the explicit bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Those three terms got a lot of play at the hearing in the House. But net neutrality is not just those three things… Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all traffic coming over their networks without discrimination. Violations of that principle include, but are not limited to, blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.” • This is a very good, clarifying article. Let’s nationalize the ISPs as part of the push for rural — heck, national — broadband.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“America’s Corruption Is a National Security Threat” [Foreign Policy]. “But the problem is in fact far more serious than Trump and his entourage. Consider some other recent scandals. Example #1: The 2008 Financial Crisis… Example #2: The Boeing 737 Max… Example #3: The (Latest) College Admissions Scandal…. [O]nce corruption becomes endemic in a society, rooting it out becomes difficult if not impossible.” • Examples could be multiplied. “Every week is screw-your-buddy week and his wife too, if he’s out of town.” –John D. MacDonald, A Tan and Sandy Silence.

Class Warfare

“Crippling debt ‘linked to depression'” [BBC]. n = 7500. “People with mental health issues are three-and-a-half times more likely to be in problem debt than those without such conditions, analysis suggests. This link was even stronger for certain conditions such as bipolar disorder and depression, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said. It said those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) were six times more likely to have serious money troubles…. Someone who had such difficulties was Debbie, from the West Midlands… Eventually she decided the only route out was bankruptcy.” • Which, thanks to Joe Biden, today’s students in America cannot do, and so are doubly condemned. That Uncle Joe. He’s such a nice man.

“The Supermanagerial Reich” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “In Nazi Germany, economic history shows us a rapid change in the distribution of income and the emergence of a managerial elite who obtained an outsized share of national income, not just the now-proverbial one percent, but the top 0.1 percent. These were Nazi Germany’s equivalent to today’s so-called “supermanagers” (to use Thomas Piketty’s now-famous term). This parallel with today’s neoliberal society calls for a closer examination of the place of supermanagers in both regimes, with illuminating and unsettling implications.” • Yikes!

“The Amazon Drama” [Ajay Singh Chaudhary, The Baffler]. “even worse for union leaders who yearn for the post-War compromise or politicians who dream of Germany’s “social market economy” is that they cannot grok that the game is increasingly zero-sum. Twenty-first century capital, desperate to keep up profitability in a “post-growth” world, neither wants or even really can make those kinds of concessions. Wages, for example, might budge up here or there, especially from their hyper-depressed levels, but wage stagnation overall is a key component of profit, structurally necessary to keep growth sputtering along. There’s no more win-win thirty glorious years to be had. The fight with the Amazons of the world is a fight to the finish.” • Grab a cup of coffee, this is well worth a read.

News of the Wired


What’s the Japanese word for the mud season kō?

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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 (via):

Probably the last tapestry like this for the year…

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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. WheresOurTeddy

    I will preface this by saying I am no fan of Obama, who I consider a moderate republican, but:

    Imagine for a moment the response had the Obama administration publicly notified news media of reporters they consider hostile to their administration (whether factual or not).

    One of the biggest lies ever sold in this country is that the media is left-wing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As usual:

        The United States has improved its World Press Freedom Index by 8 points from its 2015 low-point mark of 49th. The bad news is America was ranked 20th when Obama took office.

        According to [Reporters without Borders (RWB)], the 2016 ranking improvement is relative and hides broader negative trends. Most troubling is “the current administration’s obsessive control of information, which manifests itself through the war on whistleblowers and journalists’ sources, as well as the lack of government transparency.”

        Who can forget New York Times reporter James Risen, who was subpoenaed twice in the 2010 indictment of Jeffrey Sterling under the Espionage Act of 1917. Refusing to reveal his sources, Risen was subjected to a seven-year nightmare of subpoenas, responses, appeals (one rejected by the Supreme Court), and threats of imprisonment—until it was decided he would not be forced to testify after all….

        No less chilling was the 2013 Associated Press announcement that over a two-month period the Justice Department had seized phone records, without notice, of 20 telephone lines to AP offices and journalists (including cell phones and home phones) affecting more than 100 reporters—a transgression AP president Gary Pruitt deemed “a massive and unprecedented intrusion” for which there was no justification.

        Incredibly, a week following the AP probe, the DOJ ratcheted things up even further when it named Fox News journalist James Rosen a criminal co-conspirator in a leak case involving North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test in response to impending U.N. sanctions. Federal investigators seized Rosen’s email logs, tracked his State Department visits and movements through his security badge, and even targeted the phone records of his parents on Staten Island.

        As usual, the Trump administration is crude and says the quiet part out loud. Also as usual, continuities between administrations are as significant as differences.

    1. Yves Smith

      Um, I don’t mean to sound like I am defending Trump but no one on that list was a reporter. It was four Congresscritters + Tom Perez. All political professionals.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Imagine for a moment the response had the Obama administration publicly notified news media of reporters they consider hostile to their administration (whether factual or not).

      The Obama notified the news media about reporters they considered hostile by indicting them. I agree that the Norms Fairy — had the Norms Fairy not been taken out behind the barn and shot — would be shocked by this memo, but is there any substantive difference, other than the Obama administration being worse? (I can’t recall an instance of the Trump administration indicting a reporter, although that may come.)

      On another note, I just realized that what’s most significant about that list is who is not on it:

      * John Brennan

      * James Clapper

      The intelligence community is notably being left off the hook on this. If you regard #RussiaGate as a soft coup — as I do and did at its, er, inception, though as it became evidently profitable it took on a life of its own — Brennan and Clapper were key players. But nobody’s going after them….

  2. Cal2

    David Brooks does not represent me or anyone I know.
    So, who is this “We” he talks about?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      He usually means the class of people who create the national mythological framework, aka, “The Narrative” and also sets the boundaries for respectable discussion.

    2. zagonostra

      Precisely! Along with “Our,” you can smell the casuistry cacciatore cooking in the psyop kitchen.

    3. sierra7

      Surprising that David Brooks is still employed at the NYT….but, no really. A good example of “reporters” who claim to be “journalists” or “opinion makers” that directly dirtied so many names with his machinations (stories) leading up to Sept. 11, 2001. He is a disgrace and says what quality we get from the, “Newspaper of Record” the NYT.

  3. Carey

    ‘Russiagate Might Be Dead, but Big Tech Censorship Is Here to Stay’:

    “..The simple answer is that all the public concern about “fake news” was just a ruse — the tech giants were just pretending to care about it. The real objective was to appease angry politicians by finding an excuse to erase and de-rank opinions that don’t conform to the dispositions and leanings that dominate the executive suites of the largest tech companies and the power players in establishment Washington D.C…”

    Mission accomplished.


  4. Mark Gisleson

    RE: the bar on Russiagate. From the perspective of one who works on campaigns, I’ll spot you assistance from Russia, China and every other country on earth save Israel. For the life of me, I do not know what any of them could do to move the dial on a U.S. election and believe me, I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how you could use those bots to do anything other than annoy social media users.

    Give me Israel’s disinformation machine, and I will win elections. No one else has this capability because Israel’s not gaming us from Israel, they’re doing it from within the United States. AIPAC has more power than every other nations’ lobbies combined. It’s not even close.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “OMG Russia” is the natural evolution of “OMG Nader” and “OMG Swiftboat/we were outspent.”

      Americans need a visa to travel to Russia, so there is more required than having a passport. Its harder for Americans even “wordly” Americans to check on Russia. I’ve been there, and it was different. You could see why they produce so many videos that seem like they could be from Florida. Because the experience is limited, “Kremlinologists” can get away with “Russia is a land of contrasts” for the general population.

      Nader wasn’t a concern. Money wasn’t a concern, so the usual scapegoats for the failures of the Third Way strategy couldn’t be blamed. Barack Hussein Obama had a commanding win over Saint McCain, so even arguments of the country being too right wing were BS.

      China doesn’t work because the Republicans already tried it, and the racist arguments imported from the UK and used about Russia would be a bit obvious if the nominal left tried it with China.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Mueller declared “he’s not guilty, but he’s also not innocent”.

        No. Prosecutors do not do that. Misconduct of the highest order.

        1. Sanxi

          No not in on the record documents, those would be to othe lawyers and the judge but as to the merits of a prosecution, you are out of your mind. The prosecutor is not in existence to determine anyone’s innocence, rather if they enough data file a charge and maybe take it to trial. Innocent people get charged all the time. The guilty equally are not.

    2. Earl Erland

      Would you agree that this Internet Research Agency Ad (referenced in the DOJ IRA Indictment) is a smart political whacking, an ad, if run on FB, beats any and all politicians?

      “Struggling with the addiction to masturbation?
      Reach out to me and we will beat it together.”

      Somewhere there is a junior staffer in Mueller’s office getting laid off the story on how he/she got this one into the Indictment.

      Pic/text: https://www.google.com/search?q=internet+research+agency+we+will+beat+it+together&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixsaSiz6DhAhVI_4MKHSsTBAYQ_AUIDigB&cshid=1553631322615388&biw=1366&bih=625#imgrc=Yy–fvwVoHOANM:

  5. Ben Wolf

    I don’t know what qualifies Marcy Wheeler as a security expert beyond her own repeated claims to such status. To my knowledge she’s never been right in a significant way and sets course based on where the fleet is already headed. A national security Frances Coppola, if you will.

    1. Darthbobber

      Emptywheel is at its saddest at the moment. She’s still charging ahead with a collection of posts that are even more obvious overreaching than what they were already doing.

      1. ChrisS

        Everyone over there is so emotionally committed to Russiagate they will never be able to let it go. It’s a conspiracy theory site at this point.

        1. polecat

          It’s as though the “committed” have before them a mirror .. as in the one that Harry Potter once stood in front of .. except, instead of warm, loving reflections, all they see is He-Who-Cannot-Be-Maimed !
          And some are now worried that they might eventually be wisked-off to Azkaban .. hence all the mock contrition. It would serve them right to be sharing a cell with some bubbalicious dementors !

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          Perhaps they can do what religious groups that set an End Date do when the date comes and goes and the world is still here.

          When the world made it to 1845, the Millerites blamed it on not following the Hebrew Bible’s dietary laws, so they became Seventh Day Adventists. The doctrine is modified to explain the failed prophecy, there’s a reset and the group continues, perhaps with fewer members. But the Adventists are evidence that things can go on after fulfillment fails to arrive.

    2. voteforno6

      Let’s not forget that she actually outed a source to the FBI during this investigation. So, she’s not exactly a neutral commentator, and certainly not a journalist.

  6. pjay

    Every time I think it cannot get worse… Isikoff explaining why the bullsh*t HE helped start by publishing intelligence oppo was just, well… aw shucks…I guess we were misled. John Brennan — former head of the f**king CIA who was in on this with British intelligence at the beginning — must have got some “bad information”! This is so blatantly in-our-face it’s like they are daring us to do anything about their claim that black is white (freedom is slavery, etc.). Jaded as I am, I am still stunned by this.

    1. polecat

      WHY ISN’T JOHN BRENNAN IN IRONS AWAITING CHARGES OF TREASON ….. along with his twin in fraternity CLAPPER ??

      Seriously ! These two … amongst a big list to be sure … need to be arrested !!!!!!!

    2. Chris Cosmos

      Really, to me this is and has been business as usual for many, many decades. I’m not in the least bit surprised at the people you mentioned who ooze slime everywhere they go. We need to be more discerning about propaganda and propagandists. Nothing on the American mainstream media is true even when it’s true. Having said that this Russiagate saga sure does take the cake.

      1. Henry Moon Pie


        I appreciated your comments yesterday about the ethical standards of the Fourth Estate, especially around DC. Isikoff’s words and demeanor in that video discussion illustrate your point quite well.

  7. annie moose

    I’m sorry but has anyone besides Barr glanced at more than 3 sentences of Mueller’s report? Shoulder shrug.

    1. todde

      do you think there is something in there on Trump they are keeping from us?

      When they find something on Trump, we will know it within 3 seconds.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Exactly. If there were anything, it would have been leaked years ago.

        Of course there are all the impeachable offenses committed by Trump in broad daylight, but all the presidents do those, so nothing to see there.

      2. Allegorio

        The real stuff that they have on Trump, we will never know. But whatever it is, it has got him to bomb Syria, arm the Ukrainians, move the Israeli Capital to Jeruselem, recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, sanction Russia to the hilt, amass troops on Russia’s border, abrogate the Iran nuclear deal, sanction Venezuela on behalf of Moisés Naím and Ricardo Hausmann, pressure Germany to abandon the Nord Stream pipeline, abrogate the medium range nuclear missile treaty with Russia, support the genocidal war in Yemen, secretly pass nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, look the other way at Kamal Kashoggi’s brutal murder etc, etc, etc. Not that he probably needed much persuasion.

  8. JohnnyGL

    Re: Brennan

    He’s playing dumb because he’s lying. He’s always lying….every word out of his mouth….

    He pushed to prosecute John Kiriakou. He ran guns for ISIS and Al Qaeda….sick individual. He should be in a prison cell.

    1. prodigalson

      I vote we add Albright, Kissinger, Bush, Cheney, Elliot Abrams, all of the neocons, pompeo, a good chunk of the former generals in charge of GWOT, some media figures, a healthy portion of Congress (past and present), and zombie McCain and Reagan. As a start. Just smoosh them in the same cell. Smoosh.

    2. Summer

      Just more of the daily rejection of taking responsibility for the horrors if empire.
      The only thing I see served more is the establishment providing all the psycho reasons for everybody else to continue to sac rifice for THEIR “progress.”

  9. RopeADope

    Stephen Walt could probably explain it better but one reason “Russiagate” was amplified is because Saudi Arabia does not want to be the swing producer anymore. This put big targets on Iran, Russia and Venezuela as the new candidate.

    A swing producer needs to have a threadbare budget to be able to fluctuate production without destabilizing the country. As such, any leader that gives any signs of putting its citizens first will be targeted. The focus on Deripaska was likely an attempt to remove Putin and install some libertarian crime boss oligarchs in Russia. Similiar to the recent attack on Maduro and the GOP wanting to install a terrorist death cult in Iran. The GOP, Dems, Europe and China all have a different preference as to who the loser oil producer is going to be in this game of musical chairs so that has created chaos in foreign policy.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      That’s certainly part of the global power equation. Though it’s more complicated that that in my view. You would need an AI program to figure in all the diverse interests at play here. Even within the US National Security/Deep State there is considerable disagreement as to what course to follow and that in itself is also complicated by various factions, personal grudges, corruption, and probably even sex.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A swing producer needs to have a threadbare budget to be able to fluctuate production without destabilizing the country.

      Interesting. My first thought was that Venezuela would be useful to the US as a puppet swing producer, but then again I don’t think crude oil is all that fungible….

  10. pjay

    “…he doesn’t buy “Russian meddling” in the election, either… Neither do I, because nobody has shown a chain of causality that leads from meddling to votes changed in districts that would have affected the outcome. Readers, is this bar too high?”

    A: No

    Q: What “meddling” are you referring to here? The IRA click-bait operation? The “hacked” e-mails? RT?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      RT is state media. RT no more “meddles” in our elections than Deutsche Welle or Xinhua. Anybody hyperventilating about RT — IIRC, the original report, the “17 agencies” one (4, actually, because they can’t help lying even when they don’t have to) did a good deal of that — needs to grow a pair.

      For the rest of it, I don’t care. Pick one, show the chain of causality.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t recall proper intelligence officials (even retired) used the 17 agent lines. I believe that line was brought to us by the most qualified candidate ever who sat through part of the introductory slide show for new employees. Her followers carried the line and repeated it for over a year before they realized the Coast Guard and the NRO wouldn’t weigh in.

        To me, it was always a reminder of how lazy, stubborn, and primed to lie Team Clinton is.

  11. Summer

    Re: “Neither do I, because nobody has shown a chain of causality that leads from meddling to votes changed in districts that would have affected the outcome. Readers, is this bar too high?”

    No. They make those claims about all the other foreign money lobbying the government – that it’s not a problem affecting the outcomes of elections.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I assume that our voting systems are so fixed that any foreign interference would be sussed out immediately. Or at least be indicated by a rise in suspicious deaths among county clerks.

  12. a different chris

    The Baffler “well worth a read” — yeah, but grab some really strong coffee as somebody really needs to force a comma limit on the author and further complete prise out his paren keys.

    Or to put it another way:

    The Baffler article (which is an article in the Baffler), is well worth a read, yeah, but (if you have any) grab some really strong coffee, or (if you don’t) tea, or hot chocolate but at least one if not all of the three, and somebody (maybe several somebodies) really needs to force punctuation, especially but maybe not only commas, limits on the author if he can be said to be the author (if not then who is), and further completely prise (or remove in some appropriate manner) his, if it is a he, paren keys.

    1. tokyodamage


      The topic is interesting, but the author does his best to ruin his own article with precious affectations.

      I get the impression that he wrote it while looking at himself in a mirror the whole time, and whispering, “Who’s a smart boy? I’m a smart boy!”

      Then again, the Baffler has always had an overly smug vibe. I only read it when Amber A’lee Frost writes a new rant. . .

      1. Chris Cosmos

        The Baffler has been on a downer lately–smugness seems to be the edgy intellectual thing these days. It’s such a bore.

        1. jrs

          an article with an interesting title seems to have promise, start reading, seems promising … 20 pages later, still reading, even you don’t know why anymore and when will this article ever end, and no it wasn’t promising, and all the points made were wtf. It’s a modern Baffler article! It does seem to be going downhill.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It does seem that the writer wants to cover all the bases.

      Perhaps emotionally damaged, permanently, by excessively harsh critics early on…just guessing here.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I believe the Kirku, is mostly done, if we choose to do so, with commas. Today!


    3. JCC

      Definitely in the style of Gramsci, Hardt, and Negri.

      I had to read Empire by Hardt and Negri for an advanced PolySci course I took years ago. This article was somewhat of a summary example of that book. And it was just as difficult to read.

      But with that said, he did a good job in continuing the political and social observations of the above writers with regards to today’s economic/social/political world.

    4. Summer

      It’s all the things going on in the back of your mind (when you’re writing as you are thinking).

  13. Summer

    The Supermanagerial Reich” [Los Angeles Review of Books].

    “Several of the business elite had to personally petition Hindenburg to appoint Hitler in the first place.”

    Everytime one delves into the details of the rise of fascist dictators, there is less evidence if them ever being “grass roots.”
    You always find massive subsidization amd normalization from the beneficiaries of the status quo.

  14. Summer

    Re:The Supermanagerial Reich” [Los Angeles Review of Books].

    “In this diffuse sovereignty, soaring profits went not simply to the one percent of its day, but to reinforce the power of a nascent class of executives across different economic and social sectors…”

    The internet is being run in ways to “diffuse sovereignity.”

  15. RMO

    “Google’s Stadia Could Take Video Games Out of Your Hands”

    Streaming, if it becomes the main way of distributing games, means exactly that. Google isn’t the only company with aims in that direction. Several large game companies are talking up streaming too. Even without streaming there have already been a lot of games which have this problem because of all the online-only games. In these critical parts of the software is on company servers and if (when really) the company decides to stop running the servers the game you paid for becomes unusable. They can only be kept going if the company releases a patch to allow them to be played offline, releases the source code so the player community can develop their own solution (both of these options being so rare as to be practically nonexistent) or if the community contains a few geniuses who are able to reverse-engineer the server software (which is exceedingly difficult). 99% of the time when the company stops the servers you’re left with the money you paid for the game going down the drain. An excellent source for commentary on this situation is Ross Scott on Youtube. He deals with it in some of his reviews of games, his Q&A sessions and dedicates his Dead Game News channel to it. Even if you’re not really into games he’s worth checking out. He would fit in well here on the NC readership – his review of the old Deus Ex game is quite good when it swings into commentary on the world the MIC and the whole “global war on terror.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      This sounds like that John Deere claim that only corporations can own things. People can only license it. My son used to play SimCity which you installed on your computer. The next version – SimCity (2013) – he did not bother as it had to be played online and there was a debacle when the game launched due to connection problems that were so bad that Amazon had to suspend sales of the game after a few days.
      A game I played was Age of Empires over the course of years. The game was more or less abandoned by the company but a funny thing happened. The best version of the game was Age of Empires 2 and the game returned to Steam with fan-built expansion packs. That’s right – fan built. So now Microsoft is overhauling those games and reintroducing them again as they do not want to miss out on the bucks.

      Another source of older games, by the way, is at https://www.old-games.com/

      1. RMO

        I just flat out will not buy a game which requires an online connection to function. So many of them become unplayable too soon after they have come out for me to be willing to spend money on them. Then there’s the question of what happens if your internet goes out? What if an update breaks the game? What if the company updates it in a way that makes the game worse? All these things have happened frequently in addition to the outright killing of games by taking down the servers they were running on. Streaming makes things even worse in this regard and if the industry goes down this road I’m not following. There are enough older games out there for me if it comes down to that. The same goes for other media. I much prefer to actually possess a copy of a book, film or record of my own and don’t have any interest in streaming any of those things either.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Same here. If I don’t have it on a shelf or on my computer, then I know that I do not really own it.

      1. ambrit

        The ‘health’ of streamed ‘products’ is a leading indicator of the Jackpot’s arrival.

  16. clarky90

    Re; “politicians up on their hind legs, panting mindlessly about Russians….”

    IMO, RussiaGate is entirely an Agitprop (“agitation” and “propaganda”) project. Why has it failed so spectacularly?

    “The People” have been educated. The useful, foolish intelligentsia have remained delusional. lol

    Here is a Neo-Agitprop street-theatre troup’s performance, educating the deplorable-proletariat.

    Flair vs. Banks vs. Lynch – WWE Women’s Title Triple Threat Match: WrestleMania 32


    At 23 minutes, Charlotte Flair’s father, (Nature-Boy Rick Flair) illegally restrains Sasha Banks, allowing his daughter Charlotte to force the crowd’s favorite battler, Becky (The Man) Lynch, to submit and tap out.

    The “drama” in WWE is “worked”, just like politics.


    1. (noun): Anything planned to happen, or a “rationalized lie”. The opposite of shoot.
    2. (verb): To methodically attack a single body part, setting up an appropriate finisher.
    3. (verb): To deceive or manipulate an audience in order to elicit a desired response.

    worked shoot
    The phenomenon of a wrestler seemingly going “off script”, often revealing elements of out-of-universe reality, but actually doing so as a fully planned part of the show.”

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Amen, and Amen again. Mostly what goes on in Washington is a work. Why? Because it works.

    2. Hopelb

      Funny, I remember reading Bill and Chelsea liked watching the WWE when Bill was President.
      It seems that Russiagate temper trantum was able to be sustained for so long, was because the msm were absolutely, out of their gourds, enraged that the “dogs had refused to eat the Hillary dog food they were serving” (as Lambert says).Remember all of the Intel/tech guys endorsing her? How could we?

      1. polecat

        I remember the look of barely restrained contempt from Bill and Chelsea, during the 2016 debates the moment that OrangeManBad stated that HER-> needed to be in prison !
        What a Priceless smackdown THAT was !

        1. Hopelb

          It will be most interesting to see a new special investigation convened to uncover the intelligence agencies’s/Obama admin’s subterfuge. It would require epic battles between spooks, could end up informing the public about the extent of their unelected power, and might lead to reform.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It will be most interesting to see a new special investigation convened to uncover the intelligence agencies’s/Obama admin’s subterfuge. I

            I agree. Under the Obama administration, oppo (the Steele dossier) was laundered into a FISA warrant. Really bad* oppo. I would like very much to know how that happened.

            NOTE * Relying on my memory here, but if you believe that the secret appendix to the 17-agency (really 4) report that Clapper showed to Trump (“I really think you should know about this”) after the election but before the inaugural was the Steele dossier — i.e., the horse’s head in the bed — then you might also consider the idea that Trump flipped through it, saw the part about the “piss tape,” knew it for the bullshit it was, and immediately dug in his heels. Somehow, I think Trump (like all billionaires) would not have been unfamiliar with people trying to muscle him on spurious grounds.

  17. EricT

    The article from the Baffler, “The Amazon Drama”. Could the reason why wages and profits stagnate or shrink, be related to the presence of “Vulture Funds”, sitting on corporate boards voting themselves special dividends be the cause? There was a time when they just focused on publicly traded companies, now there reach extends to privately owned corporations( Gymboree and Kaybee come to mind ).

  18. Jason Boxman

    The liberal Democrat class is all about the grift, so having profited from Clinton’s run and profited from Clinton’s loss, it’s hard to see why they would have any reason to deviate from their current approach. As long as the checks keep clearing, why change? The Democrat Party exists to service itself, as WC points out often.

  19. Summer

    Re: American Corruption / National Security

    Not really about anything once you get to the total cop-out, which is the which is the entire the last paragraph, pumping up long dead myths (that “soft-power” in action). The last sentence lays it all at the feet of the current occupant of the White House.

    The current occupant of the White House is over 70 years old and learned everything he does in America.

  20. Clive

    Re: Japan’s micro-seasons

    I was taught that the correct vocabulary was actually a “pentad” within a so-called solar term and I have come across similar throughout Asia. kō is a general purpose counter “word” (lots of things are counted in “kō‘es”).

    But it is a lovely concept. I took time today to look out into the garden, not merely as I usually do busying my head with a list of yard work jobs and to-do lists. Just to appreciate. We don’t do that enough I don’t think. The reasons for that are many and varied. None especially good.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Look at the garden…or work in it.

      Diocletian had the same thought almost 2,000 years ago – “If you could show the cabbage I planted with my own hands to the emperor…”

      (He was an ex-emperor by then).

    2. MsExPat

      In Hong Kong we have a “sleeping insects awake “ day too. It’s pegged to Lunar New Year—40 days after iirc.

    3. Plenue

      I’m going to guess that highly specific micro-seasons like that have generally been completely thrown off by climate change.

  21. Another Scott

    Sorry for continuing the beat this drum, but South Carolina continues its march to sell Santee Cooper, one of the prized assets of the New Deal.


    Remember that all the stuff with Trump and Russia is just for show, much of the hard right-wing action is designed to do exactly this. Privatize government assets to the 1%, while paying consultants, lawyers and advisers (aka the 10%) millions in fees. Everybody wins.

    I wonder if this will get any play in the South Carolina Democratic primary…

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the link – I wish I were surprised but unfortunately this is all too common.

      Santee’s $8 billion debt sounds like exactly the type that should be written off. Otherwise citizens will be paying it off forever in the form of unnecessarily high rates, and it will only get worse if it gets privatized.

      As Jonathan Pie mentioned in a recent video posted here, our governments are breaking the contract they have with citizens. This is the type of thing that simply should not stand, yet it does over and over again. As a nation we obsess over political trivialities while our inheritance is sold out from under us.

      1. Shonde

        Read the link re The Supermanagerial Reich in today’s Water Cooler. Scary article by the way. I wish some of the historians who read NC would comment on this article.

        “The parallel between the Nazi “revolution” in the 1930s and the neoliberal “revolution” in the 1980s and ’90s goes much further. The Nazis were also pioneers in what was then the uncharted economic waters of “privatization.” In the face of the Great Depression, states across the world — including the Social Democratic led Weimar Republic — nationalized key industries and, in some cases, like Germany, nearly the entirety of the financial sector. The Nazis — despite early propaganda indicating otherwise — were the unique exception. Not only did they avoid further nationalization but they innovated a process so idiosyncratic at the time that it required coining a German neologism: Reprivatisierung.”

  22. Wukchumni

    Pink blooms on a peach tree is the last of the early action on summer fruit, and the apple tree buds are waking up and do it in reverse order from stone fruit in that they leaf out first and then blossom, just to be different.

    I’ve thinned out the Loquat tree, earliest summer producer in mid May, and a taste treat although a messy eat. I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere, a forbidden fruit?

    1. Liberal Mole

      They’re sometimes available in asian grocery stores, but they bruise too easily and are very expensive for the amount of fruit you get. I grew up with loquat trees in my backyard in Oakland. Now having returned to California from a long spell on the East Coast, I’m getting one planted soon. Our gardener says once established, it will be drought tolerant and low maintenance. Yay!

  23. Stephen V.

    As others have observed, the pivot away from Russia-Russia now seems to be turning toward OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.
    These guys are the opposite of Trump-derangement but I’ve always found their Mueller cover-up, er, Investigation stuff to be excellent.

    The obstruction angle was always what Team Mueller were working to deliver, in collaboration with their democrat political allies.

    In my opinion it’s almost certain AG Barr saw this coming, which is why he forced DAG Rod Weaselstein to stick around, share in the decision and deflect the politics.

    In summary it is almost certain that Team Mueller knew from the outset there was no Russian collusion/conspiracy because: 1) it’s the same team from 2016 through 2019; and 2) they knew from the outset there was no “there” there.

    So, a reasonable question would be: How long did Mueller investigate conspiracy with Russia before jumping to Obstruction of Justice? I think the answer is that Mueller abandoned the Russia angle around August 2017, when he asked Rosenstein for an updated scope memo.

    Everything from August 2017 through to March 2019 was Robert Mueller and his team trying to prove an obstruction case of a predicate Russian investigation that was non-existent, and based on a false premise.

    1. pjay

      Thanks for posting this. The Last Refuge (Conservative Tree House) has been a very good source on this all along. Conservative Tree House, Judicial Watch, Tucker Carlson — interesting to compare these “right-wing” sources to the liberal MSM. I realize there are partisan motives involved, but a comparison of their relative use of factual evidence and logical analysis is educational.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Obstruction of Justice” . . . . Justice? Justice? What Justice?

      How can you obstruct justice when there is no justice to obstruct?

  24. Lunker Walleye

    “Russian Roulette”

    Isikoff and Corn used to be guest commentators on Al Franken’s Air America radio program. Back then, one of the only places you could hear push back against the W. administration was Air America. And after Al’s program, Rachel had her own. She seemed much more reasonable in those days. My, oh my, what a disappointment these people have become.

    1. GeoCrackr

      I was a big fan of Rachel’s AA show, and tried to catch every episode (along w/ Marc Maron’s/Mark Riley’s Morning Sedition, which was way more fun than it had any right to be). I was initially happy that she landed the MSNBC gig, which partially redeemed them in my eyes after their disgraceful firing of Donahue; she would get the exposure I thought she deserved, while I hoped at the same time that she would be able to weather the corrupting influence the jump to the big leagues would inevitably impose. I can’t tell you how sad I was to watch her act as apologist for the Obama admin, then completely jump the rails during the ’16 election only to double-down and continue barreling into the crevasse after Clinton’s disgrace.

    2. Plenue

      I’m not convinced any of these former liberal stalwarts have actually fallen from grace; I think they were always like this. Being critical of Bush was a very, very low bar. People like this, and Stewart, Colbert, etc, didn’t actually have to try too hard to be better than Mister “destroyed an entire country based on lies”. They were never leftists, they were always liberals. Current events are just bringing that into sharp relief.

      Stewart, at least, revealed his vapid centrism back in 2010 with the Rally to Restore Sanity nonsense.

      The only person in this crowd I have any sympathy at all for is Chris Hayes, where you can sometimes see a bit of actual principle shining through. He’s visibly a man who has been subsumed into the elite rich ranks and knows it’s bad.

  25. Earl Erland

    Jeff Zucker admits what we all know: it’s stenography, not journalism:

    “We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did,” Zucker said in light of the fact that the Robert Mueller investigation which CNN had harped on for the last two years found no evidence that Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.


    1. Carey

      “..I’m comfortable with our coverage,” said Dean Baquet, the New York Times’s top editor. “It is never our job to determine illegality, but to expose the actions of people in power. And that’s what we and others have done and will continue to do.”

      I’m sure he *is* comfortable.

      for now

      1. RMO

        Ah! So how does this fit with their decision to withhold publishing the story that the Bush administration was running a huge, unconstitutional surveillance operation until after the election because they “didn’t want to influence the election”?

        As for Zucker, the quantity of complete rubbish he manages to concentrate in those two sentences of the quote are amazing. Genius level really. The average sleazy hack wouldn’t be able to begin to say so much that was so stupid in less than a thousand words!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “I’m comfortable with our coverage”

        Because that’s why we have the First Amendment, to keep people Dean Baquet comfortable.

        Deano is an inspiration to us all.

  26. JohnnyGL

    Cause for hope?


    “I’m surprised by how many Dem insider types I’m hearing from who are kind of happy with the Mueller fiasco. For lack of a better way to put it, there’s a lot of below the surface anger in middle management at the top Dem leadership.” – Matt Stoller

    There’s more in that little thread.

    Also, more cause for hope….*blink*….this….in…..the NYT….


  27. Donald

    ” Wheeler is .000; neither of the same two scandals provided the outcomes that thirsting readers sought, and to whom Wheeler pandered.”

    That went over my head–what was Wheeler’s other failed attempt at scandal pandering?

  28. Cal2

    First Avenetti, et al, now this.

    Harris and Booker promote ‘their’ anti-lynching law to great fanfare. The Democrats have been fighting the Dyer Bill since 1918, but just before the primary, it finally happens.

    Spectacular victim, “They were wearing MAGA hats!” comes forward.
    Michelle Obama, “Give it to the FBI!”
    Oops, victim gets caught lying his pants off and may roll over on them that helped set the whole thing up.

    Then all 16 counts are “mysteriously” dropped against him.

    Chicago PD Commander Ed Wodnicki calls dismissal decision a “punch in the gut,” says they were prepared for trial and had a “rock solid case.” Rahm Emmanuel and the police chief are livid about the Smollet’s walking.
    “For states attorney at this point to dismiss charges without discussing this with us at all is just shocking,” he said. https://t.co/4bipE0mpEK

    Watch their video.
    Prediction: Smollet has an accident.

    1. Cal2

      Judge Steven G. Watkins accepted the agreement on Tuesday and granted a defense request to seal the case. Watkins received his undergraduate degree from Howard University [Harris’ homie], and his J.D. from DePaul University School of Law.


      Andrew Weisberg, a Chicago defense attorney and former prosecutor, was in court when the announcement was made. “My jaw hit the ground when I heard it,” he said. “I was stunned.
      Nobody gets this type of treatment. I’ve never seen such a thing.”


      1. cnchal

        It was amusing to watch Rham complain, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Smolett got off scott free and he is still dissing us. Does he not have the decency to shut up”?

      2. neo-realist

        Hey Andrew, don’t privileged white aristocrats, as well as their sons and daughters, get similar treatment?

    2. Craig H.

      Rahm Emmanuel and the police chief are play acting.

      Somebody up in the food chain ordered this stopped and it’s stopped. Forget it Jake Chinatown.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Chicago police union calls for federal probe into ‘highly, highly suspicious’ conduct of prosecutor who ‘intervened in the Jussie Smollett case on behalf of Michelle Obama’s ex-aide and texted the Empire star’s family’ Daily Mail (often an excellent aggregator, amazingly enough).

        The Brothers Who Allegedly Helped Stage the Attack on Jussie Smollett Issue Apology People. Looks more than “alleged” to me.

        Not saying that the CPD are the good guys. In fact, I’m not sure there are good guys to be found, unless it’s the alleged attackers, two Nigerian brothers who were also Smollett’s “personal trainers” (!).

    3. Rhondda

      Yup. Jusse better shut his pie hole.

      Rahm: ‘Without a doubt this is a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you are in a position of influence and power, you’ll be treated one way. It is wrong.’ He went on to condemn Smollett for speaking out after the court hearing and protesting his innocence.

      Them that helped set the whole thing up” — the real “Empire” — are angry and fearful for their own sleazy rotten political skins. Rahm’s covering as best he can with Distraction Veil #2 – Blame it on “Two-tiered Justice Due to Celebrity.” Everyone can believe that one and no one (important) gets hurt. But then that damn Jusse has the gall to keep maintaining his innocence. Any day now that teary-eyed fool’s gonna out with some highly inconvenient talk about who set him up for this op! The real story is political/media spectacle and cuts too close to the Obama/black misleadership bone.

  29. Humour me me

    “Payback begins and sadly, it’s richly earned”

    You have to love the humour of Trump.

      1. ambrit

        Mayhaps this utilizes the archaic usage of the word “humour.” As in, the statement is meant as a snarky ‘medical’ diagnosis?
        Sadly, I have to agree with Trump here. It is ‘payback’ time. (Now, there is a thread of thought that considers the phenomenon of ‘Trump’ as a form of “Pay Forward.”)

        1. polecat

          So is this where the giant orange meteor comes into play .. laying to waste and flattening every towering blue NPC ideologue of standing .. for smiles around in all directions .. ??

    1. Cal2

      Then get yourself down to your local hardware and or gardening store and pressure them to stop selling Roundup. Take a few printouts of articles linking it to cancer.
      Positive action is cathartic.

      1. Carey

        I’m already doing similar things, and the instant, fierce pushback is really something.

        Friends in high places

        1. Cal2

          My approach:

          “Hi, I’d like to buy some asbestos powder. Where is it?”

          “We can’t sell that, it causes cancer”.

          Picks up jug of Roundup, “Then why are you selling this? It does too.”

          “Here’s a printout and a list of articles. If you guys really care about your community, you’ll stop ordering this.”

          I suspect that National Headquarters for chains dictates what is ordered, so I would concentrate on locally owned stores, if you are fortunate enough to still have any.

          Get your municipality to ban the sale of it if the store resists. Here’s an example:


  30. BillS

    Regarding Nazis and neoliberalism: readers of Primo Levi’s “If This is a Man” (Se questo e’ un uomo) and “The Drowned and the Saved” (I sommersi e i salvati) will recognize a neoliberal paradise in the concentration camps of the Reich. Everything was carefully rationed to maximise efficiency, i.e. squeeze something marginally useful out of the victims while forcing them to fight over the few scraps that were tossed to them..until they were no longer useful. I found the imagery chilling for its relevance about where we might be heading again.

  31. 737 Pilot

    re Les Abend’s “Can Pilots Trust Boeing Again?”

    First, I want to be fair to Boeing and observe that, in general, they make good aircraft. I have flown various Boeing models practically my entire 30+ year aviation career. However, aviation is one of those fields in which a lack of diligence in a relative small piece of the entire product can have unforeseen and deadly consequences.

    That being said, the problem as I see it is not only Boeing, but the entire ecosystem. We got to this point when an otherwise competent company tried to revitalize an old product line by making it different enough from the previous generation in terms of operating economics to attract buyers while keeping it similar enough to keep the FAA from imposing very expensive training requirements. Boeing pushed too hard, the FAA assumed too much, and the operators weren’t going to ask any uncomfortable questions lest it upset their delivery schedules or created unwanted costs. As to the specific accident aircraft, it appears likely that there were also airline-specific issues with maintenance and training.

    Going forward, it really won’t be a matter of pilots trusting this or that manufacturer. We’re a pretty skeptical lot as it is, but in the end it is our job to fly whatever equipment our employer provides. Aviation still remains an incredibly safe (though sometimes annoying and frustrating) mode of travel. We depend on multiple layers of standards, procedures, training, and oversight to keep it that way. This whole tragic affair, however, has been stark reminder to the pilot corp that we are often the last line of defense.

    1. Senator-Elect

      Thank you for your considered comment. Your description of the incentives all lining up to lead everyone to look the other way on the MAX certification is troubling.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Simple explanation: old management were mechanical and electrical and structural engineers, new management are financial engineers

    3. Ook

      This documentary
      on the development of the Boeing 747 documents the riskiness of the venture, both in terms of finance and in potential loss of life. It makes the 737 MAX problems look mild in comparison. Especially part 3 of that youtube that had engines blowing up and failing on the runway, but they still went ahead with the maiden commercial flight.
      Boeing’s been lucky in some ways.

    4. Sanxi

      737, well first thank you. Points well made. Thing is, I was was taught to walk around outside any plane I was going to fly as it was my license, not something the company gave me. Anyone, well almost, can tell that plane is going to pitch down, so there is no normal ‘trim’ setting, so I’m not going to fly it. Have walked away before. Have deboarded a plane before. First do not harm kinda thing. Not looking to be a hero.

    1. Cal2

      The cops have bad reports against them? Are there any police in Chicago who do not?

      No mention of the two Nigerians Smollett hired to attack him.




      This has “false flag” or whatever the personal adjective of that would be all over it. I can just imagine the frantic calls from the DNC to the judge, who is running for reelection, “shut this down now! Before he talks about who is behind this..”

    2. Rhondda

      Hoo boy, that Chelli Stanley ‘piece’ is cringe-worthy. Such times — when even the attorney-funded propaganda is crapified! My gorge was rising up. That dog-food just won’t stay down. She wrote a companion piece that is even worse.

  32. barrisj

    Enjoying a lovely, sunny afternoon here in the North Puget Sound, and ruminating over the loss of the s/s RussiaGate, which foundered and sank a few nautical miles short of its harbour at Cape Collusion, with a substantial loss of those aboard. A few crew and passengers did manage to survive the tragedy by a timely launching of lifeboats, while the bulk of those aboard refused the assistance of rescue craft to get them off before the vessel capsized, and went down with the ship. According to survivors, the captain and his officers were given erroneous charts, and what was expected to be a facile and noncritical passage through the Straits of Mueller did not account for dangerous shoals unmarked on the ship’s charts. Maritime investigators are now collecting testimony from crew survivors in order to understand how such poor navigation charts were put into service, and if any liabilities can be directed to the registered owners, whose identity cannot be immediately ascertained.

  33. chuck roast

    “As for the EC, it ought to be doing what it was designed to do, and causing the Democrats to campaign nationwide.”

    I guess I was out smokin’ in the boys room when they discussed this. All this time I have been thinking that the EC was a contrivance to allow the cracker slave-holders to exercise virtual veto power over any actual democratic executive and legislative reform. When the treasonous slave-holders were finally crushed militarily the so-called “electoral college” should have lost it’s accreditation.

    But discussing the damned anachronism is really all slight of hand. And who would have guessed that it would save us her majesty.

  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    What to call the foam-rubber scandal-replica now that it is collapsing?

    A couple offhand ideas . . .

    Hillaran Russiamok.

  35. Yikes

    Tyson: Metal in the meat / or is it meat in the metal?
    Tyson is owned by COFCO (China), but their USA chicken still can’t meet China’s import regulations. Funny that Trump is going to bat for China owned firm exporting hormones, fungicides, and antibiotics wrapped in chicken skin to UK.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      From Wikipedia, Huangpu Park (the legend, true or not true, relating to the sign, No Dogs or Chinese Allowed):

      The Public Garden was closed to Chinese people between 1890 and 1928 (although, as the photo above of the 1917 park sign suggests, at least Chinese amahs were permitted) , according to a popular myth, a sign at the park’s gate read No dogs or Chinese allowed.[1] However, period photographs show a sign listing ten regulations, the first of which was “The Gardens are reserved for the Foreign Community”, with the fourth being “Dogs and bicycles are not admitted”.[2] In any case, the banning of Chinese from Huangpu Park and other parks in China has remained in Chinese public mind as one of the many examples of the country’s humiliation by the Western powers in the 19th and early 20th century.[2] For instance, the legend is manifested in the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, where a scene taking place at Huangpu Park gate features a (fictitious) “No dogs and Chinese allowed” (狗與華人不得入內) sign.

      Now, it has come full circle and it’s ‘What is good for Americans may not be good enough for importing into China.”

      1. Cal2

        “Metal shavings, plastic, contaminants in Tyson chicken.” How can anybody tell?

        The Chinese love their pork and, sadly, their dog meat in China.

        “Pork Bao Wow”.

        1. ambrit

          “Meow Goo Gai Pan.”
          See also a scene from an early Alfred Hitchcock film, “Rich and Strange.” A scene on a trading junk.

  36. G3

    There is/will be NO existential crisis for Democrats. I mean the party apparatchiks. They will be absolutely fine going into lobbying/non-profit industrial complex/stink tanks and blathering about centrism etc. The party is performing as per its original goal. Perfectly.

    Here is a review of Lance Selfa’s book “Democrats: A critical history” :


    The parties are not simply interchangeable, however. It is the Democrats’ job to police and define the leftmost parameters of acceptable political debate. For the last century it has been the Democrats’ special assignment to play “the role of shock absorber, trying to head off and co-opt restive [and potentially Left, P.S.] segments of the electorate” by posing as “the party of the people.” The Democrats performed this critical system-preserving, change-maintaining function in relation to the agrarian populist insurgency of the 1890s, the working-class rebellion of the 1930s and 1940s, and the antiwar, civil rights, anti-poverty, ecology, and feminist movements during and since the 1960s and early 1970s (including the gay rights movement today).

    Besides preventing social movements from undertaking independent political activity to their left, the Democrats have been adept at killing social movements altogether. They have done – and continue to do – this in four key ways: (i) inducing “progressive” movement activists (e.g. Medea Benjamin of Code Pink and the leaders of Moveon.org and United for Peace and Justice today) to focus scarce resources on electing and defending capitalist politicians who are certain to betray peaceful- and populist-sounding campaign promises upon the attainment of power; (ii) pressuring activists to “rein in their movements, thereby undercutting the potential for struggle from below;” (iii) using material and social (status) incentives to buy off social movement leaders; (iv) feeding a pervasive sense of futility regarding activity against the dominant social and political order, with its business party duopoly.

    1. Summer

      True…it’s not an existential crisis for them.
      They would just get in touch with that inner conservative that’s always burned inside of them after a 2020 loss.
      No way they make a left turn.

  37. BoulderMike

    Glad to see the end of Russiagate. I confess to not following it much as it was clear it was a nothingburger from the start. However, today I saw the following article in the NYT: “Democrats See Opening as Trump Moves to Strike Down Obamacare”. Very distressing. I can see the playbook going forward now. The Democratic Party will be rallying the neoliberal, top 10% troops to fight to save Obamacare. This will of course take the wind out of the sails, and provide them cover to say we can’t fight for M4A now as we have a more immediate fight to save Obamacare from Trump/Republicans. Obamacare, speaking as someone covered under it, has been so hollowed out that it really is incorrect to even call it insurance. I would have been better off last year being uninsured as my insurance company actually didn’t negotiate any “covered” claims down 1 penny. If I was uninsured I could have at least gotten a cash discount.
    So, between now and the election, or put another way, between now and when Trump is re-elected (sigh) we will hear nothing but we must fight to protect the ACA, and how irresponsible it is to fight for M4A when the ACA is under attack.
    I am curious if anyone else thinks I am reading this correctly.

    1. notabanker

      I’m a little more simple minded. I wait for them to name the legislation and figure it’s going to do exactly the opposite. The same applies when House Leadership explains it to the public.

      Here’s a random search example:
      “The CISA Act passing Congress represents real progress in the national effort to improve our collective efforts in cybersecurity,” said NPPD Under Secretary Christopher Krebs. “Elevating the cybersecurity mission within the Department of Homeland Security, streamlining our operations, and giving NPPD a name that reflects what it actually does will help better secure the nation’s critical infrastructure and cyber platforms. The changes will also improve the Department’s ability to engage with industry and government stakeholders and recruit top cybersecurity talent.”

      You can pretty much assume cybersecurity has just gotten much worse, that the National Protections and Programs Directorate will neither protect nor direct programs, more bureaucracy will be created, critical infrastructure is further compromised and that industry will send their unwanted schleps into the Government.

      Bonus: In 5-10 years when some catastrophe hits, NYT will do some lame editorial about how maybe we kinda shoulda maybe have been a little more critical of some of its components.

    2. Brindle

      Yes, killing M4A is the Dems main policy goal for the 2020 election cycle. Defending ACA is a prop to defeat M4A. Expect the Dems to equate support for M4A with slandering Obama’s legacy.

  38. VietnamVet

    Michael Isikioff’s “mea culpa” that the Steele Dossier was all that supports the claims of Russian Collusion is shocking. The Dossier was obviously dodgy from the get-go by anyone with a middling grasp of reality. Repetition in the end was its sole support. There was no top-secret intelligence. Fake news is really fake.

    Adam Schiff and the corporate Democrats jumped the Shark. The meme that the USA is in a run up to a second Civil War gains creed. Super-managers will defend to death their neo-liberal ideology and their drive to diffuse national sovereignty. When Democrats controlled the national government from 1852 until 1860 they were friendly to Southern interests. An alternative economic system that preserves the planet faces a bloody fight since it will end the oligarchs’ exploitation of humans and the environment. But Mid-America won’t remain a globalist colony forever. The failure to deal with this reality dooms the current system as it did with slavery a century and half ago. It is not a coincidence that the corporate managers who brought forth the 737 Max also control the American government.

    The incompetence continues to astonish. Russia by landing missiles and troops in Venezuela has just slapped the Trump Administration for attempting regime change once again. Interesting times just doubled down.

    1. Shonde

      Nice use of super managers. Is this your own creation or the result of reading The Supermanagerial Reich which I found to be scary since it seemed to make sense of many things that in the past did not make sense for me.

      1. VietnamVet

        Lambert cited the LARB review of “The Supermanagerial Reich” above. The parallels between now and the 1930s are eerie.

    2. notabanker

      You are spot on. China is lobbying the EU while Brexit continues to run amok. The same day the Senate is busy printing up posters of Aquaman and Reagan riding dinosaurs to present in mockery of climate change on the floor of Congress. These people are out of control. And those aren’t corporate managers running the Government, it’s worse, they’re lobbyists.

      I saw this same stuff when the banks were going under. The acting and denial was surreal. The people in charge literally had no idea what to do and just doubled down on the same strategic rhetoric even after it was proven to be wrong. ‘Our portfolio can withstand 25% housing price downturns.’ Uh, it’s down 40% in our key markets. ‘Our capital and liquidity is strong.’ Uh, have you seen the CDS spreads? The stock is down to $5 from $55? It was an excruciating countdown to implosion. And it imploded spectacularly.

      This is like a Black Mirror episode where the actors in a sci-fi show wake up in real life on a real spaceship have no idea what to do so they just repeat the same script over and over while they hurtle towards the sun. The gig is up.

  39. Adam Eran

    My nomination for the most pervasive corruption in the U.S.: Land speculation.

    It works like this: The speculator buys (or options) some outlying agricultural land, then persuades (or bribes) the local government to authorize development there. Sprawl increases, commutes and utilities are longer and more difficult to maintain…but the speculators often get 50 – 100 times what they paid for that ag land when they sell it to builders. If they exchange their newly profitable land for income-producing properties like apartments or shopping centers, they defer even income tax on that 5,000% to 10,000% profit indefinitely.

    If you don’t think that motivates an awful lot of development proposals, especially on the (cheapest) least-suitable land for development (e.g. floodplain surrounded by weak levees)…well, you haven’t been paying attention.

    Most frustrating: even the “environmentalists” want to deregulate, and are reluctant to do what works to stop this scam. Germany has the nicest solution: the developers have to sell the ag land to the local government at the ag land price, then buy it back at the upzoned price. That means all of the “unearned increment” (i.e. monopoly rents) accrues to the public realm. The Germans currently offer free college tuition even to foreigners, and have single-payer health care. The arts budget for the City of Berlin exceeds the National Endowment for the Arts for the U.S. of A.

    Unfortunately, this country was founded on land speculation. Both Washington and Jefferson engaged in it. But heck, Jefferson had a mistress who was his late wife’s half sister (fathered by his father-in-law on a slave, one guesses the child of rape)…so few, if any inhibitions about exploiting things…

  40. The Rev Kev

    I have to admit to a serious flaw of judgement. After 2016 I thought that it would be the Clintons who would put the muscle in and shape the Democrats to stay true to how they wanted government to be – a neoliberal cash machine. But I was wrong. It will be Obama. After reading that ” Obama cautions freshman House Democrats about the price tag of liberal policies” at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-cautions-freshman-house-democrats-about-the-price-tag-of-liberal-policies/2019/03/26/b3ad5492-4f7d-11e9-af35-1fb9615010d7_story.html? I see that it will be him.
    It was not enough that he helped the DNC purge themselves of progressives and put in Tom Perez but now he wants to do the same to future democrats. He ask how to pay for policies that might be popular? Really? How about the same way the Pentagon is funded. And what is his idea of pursuing “bold ideas” about? Going for the “Grand Bargain”? And saying that “voters care about the costs associated with policies”? How about they care more about the larger costs of going without. And his idea of “making voters feel seen and heard” I note the word “feel” rather than “know” instead. Again, I was wrong. It won’t be the Clintons but Obama who will be the Hamlet’s ghost of the Democrats.

    1. Big River Bandido

      It actually makes sense that it’s Obama and not the Clintons. When a party is out of the White House, its central committee and other apparatus is almost always controlled by the last-elected President of that party. There’s probably no better example of that than the 1912 election, in which William Howard Taft was able to deny the GOP nomination to the much more popular Theodore Roosevelt, who had put Taft in that position only 4 years previously.

      The reason it’s so easy to mistake the Democrats for being the Clintons’ party as opposed to Obama’s is that there’s virtually no policy difference between the two.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m sure Obama will give it his usual effort, but he strikes me as more motivated over pettiness. AOC is stealing his his thunder and exposing his legacy.

  41. Plenue

    >Sneering Didn’t Stop Jeremy Corbyn and It Won’t Stop Ocasio-Cortez

    “Her ideas might be bad, but conservatives should engage them instead of mocking her clothes and credit score.”

    If you honestly engaged with her ideas, you wouldn’t be a conservative.

  42. BobWhite

    In recall news…

    “USA LESS, is voluntarily recalling all lots of LEOPARD Miracle Honey, to the consumer level. FDA analysis has found LEOPARD Miracle Honey to be tainted with sildenafil. Sildenafil is an FDA approved drug for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction.” (AKA Viagra)

    This product is marketed as a natural, non-chemical way to treat ED…
    I guess they took some shortcuts, cannot imagine that stuff is in there by accident.

    Read more:

  43. flora

    I’m starting to think NC is carefully read by various PTB, though they’d never admit it. The coincidences are just too, uh, coincidental?

    For instance: a couple of days ago a great post and commentarial discussion about Medicare and Medicare Advantage, pros and cons. And wouldn’t you know, today there’s a pro Medicare Advantage email sent out to various email subscribers, (and too late in the Jan-Mar sign up window to have much effect on this year’s enrollees).


    Or, again, and Clive will appreciate this one, a recent NC article about banking and payments systems is soon followed by a ZDNet article about Apple declaring itself a bank, or at least a near-bank payments portal:

    “You’re kind of a middle man and you take a lot of fees…”



  44. Jeremy Grimm

    “Readers, those of you who live outside Europe and the United States, can you comment on insect populations? Are you still getting bug splats?”

    Anyone have an answer? I’m curious how insects are doing outside Europe and the United States. Here in the U.S. where I live the insect population does indeed seem sparser than in the past. I haven’t had a single bugsplat on my windshield for years and the glow of summer fireflies has dimmed with their declining numbers.

    1. flora

      Windshield bug splats aren’t a good indication of bug populations anymore. When gas prices rose in the 70’s car manufacturers tried to find ways to make cars more aero dynamic. Bugs that would have splatted on the windshield then now are air hoisted over the car in a slip stream, mostly.

      Not saying there’s a decline in bug population, only saying that windshield splats aren’t any more a good marker of bug populations.

      1. Sanxi

        Nice reasoning, but false, bugs do not act in anyway like free air flowing in a slipstream. Aero design just kills them differently. But kills them all the same. In addition semis have no such design and there a million more of them since the 70s traveling a million more miles. Other factors more consumer trucks, suvs, buses, Rvs. etc.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps a way to test this hypothesis would be to drive un-streamlined legacy cars from the 1950s and 60s around through various areas and see if they get more bug splats on their windshields than modern streamlined cars get on theirs.

        i don’t believe bug-splatting was ever considered in itself to be a cause of decline in insect numbers.
        Rather, it was a folk-measurement of the numbers that were there in the air being driven through.

    2. Greg

      Have been doing a fair bit of back and forth cross-country in NZ the last few months, and there is definitely less bug splat than there used to be. Once upon a time, any long drive resulted in a splattered front hood and windscreen. Now you only get that when you drive at night and the beams draw them in.

      However, NZ is also a heavy agri-business country, even if a different mix of chemicals from what is used in most other places because of our grass instead of grain approach.

      This response to the Japanese micro climate tweet mentioned the same in Japan, so that’s two non-EU/non-US references for you/lambert.

  45. Summer

    I may have just found the Brexit article that says it all:

    The government has bought a $15.9m (£12m) seven bedroom luxury New York apartment for a senior British civil servant charged with signing fresh trade deals in a post-Brexit world, the Guardian can reveal.

    The foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt oversaw the purchase of a 5,893 sq ft (574 sq metre) apartment as the official residence for Antony Phillipson, the UK trade commissioner for North America and consul general in New York. The apartment occupies the whole of the 38th floor of 50 United Nations Plaza, a 42-storey luxury tower near the UN headquarters in Manhattan.

    The 167 metre tower, designed by the firm of celebrated British architect Norman Foster is described as “the ultimate global address”, and was also home to Nikki Haley when she served as the US ambassador to the UN until December 2018.

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