2:00PM Water Cooler 7/10/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I need to add a few UPDATEs to the Politics section; they seem to have gone where the woodbine twineth. Please check back soon [2:25PM: all done]. –lambert

Trade

“Government-funded research produced the nuclear bomb, laser-guided missiles, stealth jets, radar-jamming devices and night-vision goggles. But much of the technology that will define the battlefields of the future is being developed by private companies for sale in the commercial market rather than for use primarily by the military” [Politico]. “Against that backdrop, a confidential Defense Department report says that the U.S. needs to seriously ramp up its screening of Chinese investments in U.S. technology companies in order to protect the economy and national security.”

“World leaders signed off on a joint document that affirmed the “crucial role of the rules-based international trading system.” but the communique that emerged on Saturday from the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, also gave a nod to the Trump administration in ways that last year’s communique did not” [Politico]. Which would not be possible, given that Trump was not President last year. More: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters on Air Force One on the way back to Washington, said the communique had come a long way from the wrangling that occurred over trade language in the G-20 finance minister’s statement in March. Mnuchin said the leaders’ statement built on ‘an incredible consensus’ and the section on trade had ‘enormous substance to it.'” That sounds like the all-important Goldman endorsement, but aren’t Goldman types typically more understated?

“The final statement from the Group of 20 countries meeting in Hamburg over the weekend included a vow to fight protectionism, but the WSJ’s Emre Peker and William Horobin report the G-20 leaders also stepped back from an unequivocal commitment to free trade. Instead, the countries are trying to respond to rising protectionist movements by saying they recognize the need for defensive trade measures. That’s a bow to the defiantly unilateral stance President Donald Trump has taken, but European officials believe it also signals a new international consensus on economic issues can be rebuilt” [Wall Street Journal].

Politics

2018

Katha Pollitt doing some enforcing:

“Lead the resistance…” Where, exactly? Restoration, or revolution?

Health Care

“Republicans’ best play amid health bill chaos is failure” [USA Today]. “The problem McConnell has is that the very tax breaks for the wealthy at the heart of the conservative motivation for repeal of the ACA have left him with little money for goodies.” I’m just not sure that’s true. McConnell has IIRC $200 billion of slack the BCRA itself, and then there are the DoT goodies controlled by his wife, DOT secretary Elaine Chao.

UPDATE “Congress Is Facing a Time Crunch to Repeal Obamacare” [Margaret Sanger-Katz, New York Times]. “The process could drag on past July, but there is tremendous pressure for Congress to act quickly…”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Republican men are better tippers than Democrat women, according to a survey released Monday by CreditCards.com. The survey, based on phone interviews with 1,002 adults in the U.S., found that Republicans, men, people who live in the northeast and people paying with credit and debit cards are the most generous tippers — all of those groups leave a median tip of 20%. Women tip a median of 16% and Democrats, southerners and cash users tip a median of 15%, the survey found” [MarketWatch]. Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal…

UPDATE “Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institution” [Pew Research]. Handy chart:

Easy to see why Trump attacks the press. But the figures on banks show a ginormous opportunity that liberal Democrats blew in 2009. That swing was there to be had….

“What Happened to America’s Elite?” [American Greatness]. “The core idea of common sense realism is that there are self-evident truths. Common sense realists would say it is only because we can know self-evident truths that we can know anything at all. Self-evident truths are the foundation of human understanding, and we know self-evident truths by means of our common sense. The philosophy of common sense realism is all about self-evident truths.” I know that I play this so too often, but then again, I think it’s so great (and there really is a punchline; listen for it):

Once, it was common sense that “you could buy a guy,” as Louis CK puts it; in fact, many defined freedom as freedom to buy slaves. Many of the “Founders” agreed. Now, that’s not “common sense” any more, or “realism.” What is “self-evident” is dynamic, not static.

“The fight for Democrats’ soul has begun” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. Ron Klain: “I think the allure of false promises and false premises will dissipate, and voters will be ripe for straight talk about what really builds economic growth — if also coupled with a new economic and social contract for working families… I emphatically disagree that the ideas and policies of progressives have weakened our party — I think they have strengthened it. I think if we have done anything wrong, it is in having an agenda that is often too wonky, too complex, and doesn’t connect.” Gawd, I hate “working families.” I’m single, so not included, in fact devalued. Families have all kinds of structures, and some are extended. I know “working families” is focus-grouped and liberals like it — whenever you hear it, imagine them using their sincere voice — because it sucks up to winger “family values,” but I urge that “workers” or even “working class” be used.

UPDATE “[Trump’s dire view as expressed in his Warsaw speech] should remind the [small-d] democratic left and the democratic right that while they have disagreed on many aspects of American foreign policy over the last two decades, they share some deep allegiances. These include a largely positive assessment of what the modern world has achieved; a hopeful vision of what could lie before us; a commitment to democratic norms as the basis of our thinking about the kind of world we seek; and a belief that ethnic and religious pluralism are to be celebrated, not feared. They also see alliances with fellow democracies as serving us better than pacts with autocratic regimes that cynically tout their devotion to ‘traditional values’ as cover for old-fashioned repression and expansionism” [E.J. Dionne, Washington Post]. “Democrats have many incentives for opposing Trump. But it’s Republicans who have the power that comes from controlling Congress. Their willingness to stand up to a president of their own party could determine the future of democracy and pluralism. [Trump] is, alas, a man whose commitment to these values we have reason to doubt, and his European jaunt did nothing to calm those fears.” I think Dionne’s brand of “pluralism” has passed its sell-by date. At least Dionne has the honesty to admit that Trump’s removal from office (modulo health issues (and Trump’s food taster (kidding! (I think…))) depends on Republican votes, and the sense to craft an appeal to split their caucus. Somehow, I don’t think that pluralism is that appeal. And Dionne’s liberal self-regard is just a little much: So Trump (presumably, Dionne’s language goes all mushy, here) makes “pacts with autocratic regimes” that “cynically tout their devotion to ‘traditional values’,” meaning (again presumably) the Saudis. Well, didn’t the Clinton Foundation suck down plenty of Saudi money? Let’s get real.

The always-interesting Sally Albright:

Eesh. I’m so old I remember the Neera Tanden contingent getting all bent out of shape at #DemocraticWhores, because they thought it was sexist. I guess Sally Albright disagrees! Anyhow, it’s not sexist; ask Barney Frank. Personally, I deprecate the usage because it’s insulting to Ladies of Negotiable Affection to compare them to the dominant factions of our political class.

Stats Watch

Labor Market Conditions Index, June 2017: “Nonfarm payroll growth of 222,000 was strong in the June employment report but not average hourly earnings which inched only 0.2 percent higher, part of the mix that makes for only a moderate 1.5 in the labor market conditions index” [Econoday]. “This report tracks wage growth but weakness here is being offset by solid employment growth.” Not the perspective of a wage-worker, needless to say… And: “After incorporating revisions to headline data, the index has increased for the last 13 months in succession” [Economic Calendar].

Credit: “From bad to worse at the end of q2, increasing odds of a downside surprise for q2 gdp” [Mosler Economics].

Concentration: “Google officials have been open and vocal about the company’s growing interest in the travel booking journey and the search engine’s place in it” [Hotel News]. “Google officials have talked at length recently about the idea of “micromoments,” which is a term they use to describe the various points along the booking journey where consumers will set aside a small portion of time to research or dream about potential destinations. Paulo said this is a natural extension of consumer behaviors. ‘If you think about it, we instinctively turn to our devices to get answers on the fly,’ he said.” Tom Lehrer: “A bomb, which they call a ‘device’ [waggles eyebrows].” Audience: “Yeow!”

Concentraiton: “Thanks, Amazon Prime! Now independent bookstores are booming” [MarketWatch]. “Indies are thriving because of Amazon, not in spite of the internet behemoth. This is a story of two different types of bookstores: one with vast inventory, low prices and algorithm-driven recommendations, and another that lures customers seeking tightly curated collections and a community of bookworms. “I’ve lived my whole life a few blocks from where I want to open,” says Noëlle Santos of the Lit Bar, an upcoming space in the Bronx, who relies on “casual conversation” and a women’s book club she founded for inventory suggestions.” On another note, when did “Prime Day” become a thing? Genius PR.

Concentration: “[S]ix super carriers will be grouped into three shipping alliances that haul about three-quarters of all seaborne trade. Consolidation is hardly over: Japan’s three big shipping lines are still combining their operations, and Cosco would have to buy at least one more carrier if the Chinese company wants to move into the No. 1 position” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Plans for a ‘pioneering’ 175,000 sqm (1.9 million sq ft) underground warehouse near Heathrow airport were approved last week, with the ambitious project potentially serving as a blueprint for other underground warehousing and logistics developments in high-value urban land areas” [Lloyd’s Loading]. Digging, just like Sloane Square. How would have thought that the ultimate signifier of globalization would be an underground bunker?

Shipping: “The crush of e-commerce freight is causing strains on last-mile capacity. Uneven shipping patterns are causing freight forecasts to be wrong as often as correct. Inventory-to-sales ratios are falling as manufacturers abhor keeping excess inventory for very long” [Logistics Management]. “All this is causing uneven shipping patterns and volumes that vary month-to-month. The highly regarded American Trucking Associations’ truck tonnage figures have been gyrating like a yo-yo, back and forth from negative to positive with no apparent trend.”

Shipping: “On Friday, Amazon unveiled the first Boeing 767 of its new fleet of branded cargo planes at Seattle’s Seafair Air Show” [Supply Chain 247]. “Amazon is currently using 11 of the cargo jets, but the company said it plans to roll out more planes in the fleet later this year…

Shipping: “World containership fleet breaks 20m teu barrier” [Lloyd’s List]. “Despite increased scrapping, global containership capacity continues to surge.”

Shipping: “The ‘last mile’ is proving to be the prime spot for hiring in logistics. Package-delivery companies ramped up hiring in June for the third month in a row” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: “Further Global Supply Chain Issues Interrupt iPhone 8 Production” [Supply Chain 247]. Example: [Taiwanese] “Micron Technology-owned plant is reported to have scrapped about half of its supply of DRAM chips due to nitrogen mishandling… [R]esearch firm TrendForce estimates that the accident has affected at least 5.5 percent of the entire global DRAM production capacity for July.” Not sure how much of this is normal supply chain hurly-burly, and how much is fragility from an over-optimized network. Anyhow, as long lithium batteries stay at their current high standard…

The Bezzle: “Demand for Tesla’s Model S sedan and its Model X SUV appears to have peaked, Goldman Sachs analysts said as they downgraded their outlook for the company” [Business Insider]. “”We believe the excess production above deliveries, the discontinued ‘order rate’ metrics, and the company’s 2H17 guidance (Model S and Model X deliveries to likely exceed) in combination with the past four quarters of delivery results point to a plateauing of demand for its current products,’ Tamberrino and his colleagues wrote in a note released Wednesday.”

The Bezzle: “7 startups that were massively funded that died in 2017” [Business Insider]. “… For every billion dollar unicorn, there are endless numbers of start-ups that have passed into the ether — laying off their engineers in matching, branded t-shirts; closing down their game rooms filled with ping-pong tables; and leaving heartfelt goodbye notes for customers on their soon-to-be defunct websites… Beepi, a used car exchange once valued at $560 million [shuttered in February].” Thank heavens we didn’t manage to create a lemon market on the Internet! Oh, wait…. ObamaCare…

Housing: “Black Knight Mortgage Monitor: “Underwater Borrower Population Below Two Million for First Time Since 2006” [Calculated Risk].

Fodder for the Bulls: “The Eurozone recovery likely accelerated in the second quarter, accentuating what has become the surprise economic story of 2017” [Economic Calendar]. “The 19-member currency bloc ‘s second-quarter expansion was the fastest in six years, according to business surveys that have offered a reliable guide to growth in the past. The IHS Markit Eurozone Composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) climbed to 56.3 in June, which was slightly below April and May’s six-year record highs of 56.8.” Ah, surveys. And data?

Zeitgeist Watch: “One more sign that warehouses are becoming part of the cultural landscape: A play set in an e-commerce facility opened off Broadway in New York in June. Ironically titled “Fulfillment Center”—none of the characters’ hopes or plans are fulfilled—the play by Abe Koogler takes place in a giant online retailer’s shipping center in New Mexico” [DC Velocity]. More:

Several reviews, including one (largely negative) review at the Theater Mania website, focus on the play’s missed opportunity to explore “the human cost of our brave new economy of non-union labor and unforgiving metrics,” while the laudatory New York Times review is all about the characters’ personal relationships, hopes and disappointments, and inability to connect with each other.

BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!! Of course it is. (To be fair, intersectionality as distinct from identity politics isn’t easy to practice, involving as it does trying to communicate to people where they are, as opposed to where you are. See here, here, here, and here.)

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 49, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 10 at 12:21pm.

Gaia

“The Uninhabitable Earth” [David Wallace-Wells, The Atlantic]. “It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.” Well, carpe diem, then, right?

Then again:

“Wall Street Sours on $9 Billion Mechanism for Green Projects” [Bloomberg]. “Wall Street investors have gone cold on one of the main mechanisms banks invented to fund the green-energy revolution. The business structure, known as the yieldco, feeds dividends from operating solar and wind farms to investors…. The shift is further fallout from the collapse of yieldco promoter SunEdison Inc. and has changed the way clean-energy developers finance themselves. In years past, they started yieldcos to buy projects once they were operating, recycling the capital into new installations. Now, they’re turning to a large and deepening pool of buyers — insurance companies and pension funds — to provide funding and sometimes take control of income-producing assets.” Pension funds.

“Nationwide study of U.S. seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death” [Harvard School of Public Heatlh].

The 420

I haven’t verified this…

Dear Old Blighty

British political invective is the best political invective:

Class Warfare

“How both middle-class and wealthy American families are sliding inexorably into the red” [MarketWatch]. “‘There’s no doubt that living in New York can be about as expensive as it can get in the U.S., but it is worth remembering that for every aspiring or would-be millionaire in the city, there are others who are part of the supporting cast working in restaurants and elsewhere making significantly less than hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” [said Mark Hamrick, the Washington bureau chief for personal finance site Bankrate.com]. ‘Some of these people, in fact, are probably better at being thrifty than those with significantly higher incomes. They even take their lunches to work.'” I like “supporting cast.” “Thrifty” is good, too.

News of the Wired

“Greenlight – The Debit Card for Kids” [ITunes Preview]. Read the reviews…

“How Can You Tell a Good Drummer from a Bad Drummer?: Ringo Starr as Case Study” [OpenCulture]. Two terrific videos!

“Science and Culture: Armed with a knack for patterns and symmetry, mathematical sculptors create compelling forms” [PNAS]. Hopefully Wall Street doesn’t hire them all away.

“How to See What the Internet Knows About You (And How to Stop It)” [New York Times]. You’d think there’d be a market for an OS that just handled all this.

A look at the power curve on the Twitter:

RTs as tribute is clever. It may even be true.

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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 allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (via):

Poppies seem to be very hard to photograph; they catch the slightest breeze.

NOTE Readers, if you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. Thank you!

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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.

111 comments

  1. Arizona Slim

    Count me as another singleton who doesn’t care for the “working family” rhetoric.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go outside and play for a while. Because working is something that singletons don’t do.

    Reply
    1. clinical wasteman

      Yeah, my skin doesn’t so much crawl as go into all-over grand mal convulsion mode whenever I see that. In continental European media The Family is so normative that “families” is routinely used in place of “households” or “occupants” (of an apartment/room/trailer/whatever), yielding the monstrous sociological category “one-person families”.
      But it was in the UK under the focus-grouped Blair-Brown Labour cohort that it was really weaponized: once they came up with “Hardworking Families” neither they nor their Tory successors ever stopped using it to vilify the “selfishness” of the childless and intermittently employed. Eventually they came up with a catch-all name for unfecund idlers: “Benefit Thieves“. This wins some sort of a lifetime achievement award for gall, coming from an administration which at that very moment was busy taking tens of thousands of people’s sub-subsistence-level welfare away.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      oh it’s just a feature of society and what it’s values are pretty much, that you won’t get if you don’t subscribe to it, but having kids has always been seen as more valuable than not (with a global population of 7.5 billion? Yes even so … and even though this doesn’t really make all that much sense at that point).

      It’s why we’re more likely to get paid family leave than paid vacation or for that matter paid time to get an education in the U.S. (although all of them are probably a ways off).

      Being that they actually do the breeding, I might wish women’s lives were also valued, the way breeding is, at least they would have safer pregnancies. But not so much so …

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        As Lambert indicates above, this is not at all about actually valuing children, or even families, which I would argue our hyper-individualized modern worldview is intensely ambivalent about (children as consumers: yes. True work-life balance: not so much).

        It is all about political consultants and focus-group-tested memes. “Working families” apparently polls tests even better than “folks.”

        Lambert: Can I suggest “working people”? It passes the plain language test (in a way that perhaps “working class” does not).

        Reply
      2. Massinissa

        “Being that they actually do the breeding, I might wish women’s lives were also valued, the way breeding is, at least they would have safer pregnancies. But not so much so …”

        Or, you know, we could at least give them better access to birth control and/or abortion. But apparently family planning is bad for families, or something.

        Reply
    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Well, you can’t really appeal to people’s identification with their civic clubs, fraternal orders, communities, etc. without sounding really corny, since they’re all gone now.

      So we haven’t quite alienated ‘families’ into ironic nonexistence.

      Reply
    4. dcrane

      I certainly understand the annoyance at “working family” rhetoric, but at least the term does tend to bring childrearing spouses at home into the picture. When most people hear the word “workers” they probably don’t think housewives or househusbands.

      Reply
  2. Vatch

    Indies are thriving because of Amazon, not in spite of the internet behemoth.

    If independent bookstores are thriving, it’s because the majority of them have already gone out of business, not because of Amazon. Sure, some people like me hate Amazon, but there aren’t enough of us to support a large number of independent bookstores. Now that the number of such stores has been drastically reduced, the few survivors have a chance to succeed. This really isn’t good news.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The number of independent bookstores has been increasing steadily for the last 8 years. Those that closed down, on review, mostly did so for reasons that had nothing to do with Amazon. Indeed, excluding those that closed because the owners retired and no one stepped up to buy them, the most common reason they closed was that they rented their storefront and the rent went through the stratosphere. Another big contributor was that the neighborhood changed in such a way that the foot traffic that led to people stopping by disappeared.

      In other words, many if not most of the bookstores that closed in the early part of the century did so because they were destroyed by FIRE, not Amazon.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Don’t forget Barnes and Noble. Nora Ephron once made a movie about how big chain bookstores were destroying independents. The cast of villains has changed.

        Not that the publishing business didn’t deserve a shakeup. It’s Bezos zeal for conquering the rest of the business world we should be worried about

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I have a lot of anger at the publishing business. It really was not necessary to change the process so that a history textbook now costs $300 and includes so many “features” that it’s really hard to get any information out of it. Then again, I’m so old I remember that a paperback book used to cost 25¢, and the binding lasted a lot better than whatever it is they use today.

          Reply
      2. Vatch

        Can you provide a source that corroborates your claim that the number of independent bookstores is increasing? Thanks.

        Reply
      3. EricT

        They seem to attribute way too much to Amazon in regards to retail stores. We have a small mall in our town, it has a Sears for now, JC Penney closed and Macy’s closed. The mall is virtually dead except for a Target and the movie theater. Funny thing though, if you travel about a mile away, there are 6 strip malls filled with stores, with various large retailers, local retailers and retail chains. The parking lots are quite busy and there are few vacancies. I don’t think our big box retailers have gone out of business due to Amazon, I think many of our older big box retailers and malls have been financially engineered out of existence, constant aggressive take overs by hedge funds, mall properties where rents are exorbitant and keep going up, and investment analysts from wall street who keep on telling them that they aren’t making enough of a return.

        Reply
      4. Carla

        @Elizabeth Burton: Amazon is the FIRE of the 21st century, all tied up with a bow in one, neat monopoly, run by one, neat megalomaniac. Everything you need to know is right there in PRIME. (barf)

        Reply
    1. Jeotsu

      The greatest danger is not venus-like conditions.

      History has shown that humans are not the best at cooperation in times of stress, we form tighter and tighter circles of “us” against the enemy “them.”

      The pressures of climate change is just going to help humans express that inherent ugliness. Mass migrations and wars will cause the megadeath, climate change will merely be the trigger.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        More doom and gloom. Hardship brings out the extremes, both good and bad.

        That is where the cooperative impulse develops its maximum power over the competitive impulse: in duress the rewards of cooperation become exponential and maximal cooperators tend to prevail. Not always, but enough that, despite its innumerable down sides, civilization has grown along with quality of life and life expectancy.

        We have a number of new communicative, educational, health care, transportation and manufacturing break throughs that as yet are managed as private monopoly toll booths. Cementing these into democratically, publicly managed utilities will be necessary to preserve civilization. Existential conflict between competing political entities will likely force this outcome as the alternative will be a universal collapse rather than a specific one.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > That is where the cooperative impulse develops its maximum power

          That’s what I feel. And I also feel that the constant fear-mongering works against the cooperative impulse.

          Others take bad news differently, but if I’m in the hospital (heaven forfend) waiting for a diagnosis, the very last thing I want is the doctors and nurses running around, yelling: “Be afraid! It’s gonna be terrible! It’s gonna be the worst ever!” That doesn’t give me confidence that the hospital (and I) will work together for the best outcome (or something different from “heroic measures” should it come to that).

          Of course, I’m becoming increasingly counter-suggestible these days.

          Reply
          1. John k

            Dunno about WWIII, but climate change won’t kill off mankind, we’re too adaptable, unlike other animals near the top of the food chain. OTOH, my guess is we’re way past the planets carrying capacity, fish stocks are crashing, man has been causing desertification in North Africa for at least centuries, desperate people compete with their goats for the last tree and blade of grass… next is Brazil… rain forests bring rain, deserts push rain away…
            so imo even without rising temps skyrocketing, birth rate in Africa will crash against the rocks of falling food production. Exodus north is just beginning. How long will Europe accept refugees from war, poverty and famine?
            Losing Florida and substantial bits of southern red states is a given, only question is timing. Course, it will turn blue before it all goes under… the deniers are paid to deny by Koch bros etc, but coal is dying anyway… soon enough locals will stop reelecting deniers.

            Reply
            1. Old Jake

              birth rate in Africa will crash against the rocks of falling food production

              “survival rate in Africa will crash against the rocks of falling food production” there, fixed that for ya.

              There will be blood.

              Reply
            2. Code Name D

              Humans will likly survive. Our modern sosioty however, is another story. We could colaps all the way to a new primitive dark age. The global infrastructure is suprisingly labor intensive. A mass die off could criple out ability to keep all sector running. And the system is fragile enugh that if one sector colapses, and could cascade though the whole of the infrastruture.

              Reply
          2. jsn

            I don’t know if you’ve read Peter Turchin’s “Ultra Society” but it outlines and historically situates a process of “Cultural Selection” that forms the basis of my claim above.

            At your suggestion, I got “Lean Logic” and found it to be wonderfully optimistic without being unrealistic! Taken together, the two books gave me a window into an alternate future where Cultural Selection could optimize for ecological sustainability.

            Jeotsu is certainly right that there will be plenty of pain and suffering, and far less of that for those who’ve really earned it. But competition between collectives has historically resulted in all of the expansions of trust that have made industrial civilization possible. Turchin’s argument makes sense of the Pollyanna-ish realities Steven Pinker catalogued in “Our Better Angles” but includes a description of how and why the bills were paid to get there and anticipates the charges coming due. It won’t be easy, but it’s unlikely to be the apocalypse either!

            Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        Yes, but:
        Adversity frequently drives people together. Blackouts and hurricanes provide examples. Of course, there are always a few looters, as well.

        Are there studies on what factors increase solidarity in adversity, and which maximize conflict? Obviously, solidarity depends on a feeling that “we’re all in it together” – no available villains or profiteers. And both can occur: bonded groups fighting each other for what’s left. “Torches and pitchforks:” peasant solidarity against the aristos. But that depends on the peasants not blaming each other.

        A real problem is that climate degradation is gradual, not a sudden, easily seen natural disaster; and it divides interest groups, those that benefit vs. those that pay the penalty.

        Reply
        1. visitor

          Adversity frequently drives people together. Blackouts and hurricanes provide examples.

          Yes, but these are temporary events, for which there is a reasonable expectation of a foreseeable return to normalcy.

          The effects of climate change will be irreversible (e.g. extinctions), so long-lasting as to be considered eternal (desertification and lands submersed by the seas take geological times to revert), and will get ever stronger as time goes on.

          The continuous, never-ending, ever-strengthening stress will probably erode and then crush any large-scale attempt at solidarity. Large-scale structures are complex, and are not infinitely resilient to massive ecological and social disruptions. I believe we will see our complex (and fragile) civilization disaggregate into factions desperately warring for survival, and ultimately breaking down to smaller tribe-like units fending for themselves. That will also mean the end of large, complex organizations capable of launching large, complex projects to mitigate or counter-act climate change.

          Humans adapted well to the last glaciation — a climate change of extremely long duration and extreme consequences — but there were only bands of hunters-gatherers then, no agriculture, cities, and all the complication and fragility of advanced civilizations.

          In related news, I just read an article that the extinction rate of vertebrates has been vastly underestimated according to recent research. Even species that were healthy and in no danger of extinction whatsoever 20 years ago are rapidly collapsing.

          So that article in the Atlantic is no fear-mongering. Every time scientists look into the state of things, their pronouncement seems to be “it is even worse than we realized”. As a consequence, it is unfortunately reasonable to expect the worst to come.

          Reply
        2. Andrew Watts

          Are there studies on what factors increase solidarity in adversity, and which maximize conflict?

          I call’em people from California. It’s an ongoing anthropological study of Californians in the hostile environment of Oregon. My scientific model predicts anti-Californian pogroms by 2024.

          Don’t worry even if you’re not a native from Oregon. Anybody who has to overcompensate by putting OREGON in their screen name is probably going to be fine. Probably.

          Reply
        3. Mo's Bike Shop

          Visigoths, et al.? You don’t move a whole nation back and forth through other nations without a lot of family support. Otherwise you run out of volks. Not much documentation, but they seemed to have been pretty good managers by the time they got to Spain.

          Reply
      3. Summer

        Yes, you see that in shows like “Fear the Walking Dead.”
        The slow-moving dead did not end civilization, it was the fear, greed, and quests for control that were the end of it.

        Reply
  3. cocomaan

    The Common Sense article from American Greatness was indeed frustrating.

    Kwame Anthony Appiah has a fantastic little book about moral revolutions called The Honor Code. He delves into a few moral revolutions, including slavery, but I think the other smaller victories were much more interesting to read about. They certainly stuck better in memory.

    The first he covers was the duel. For awhile, dueling was self-evidently the right of one gentleman to challenge another. The second is foot binding in China, where women of a certain class did what was appropriate to their class.

    One of the themes that kept coming up was class, challenges to class, and the fashions of class. He doesn’t as neatly attack class as I’d have liked him to, but the book is fantastic anyway.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sounds like I should add that to me (already extensive) reading list.

      In a way, the discourse about “norms” could fit into this frame. (For example, it’s completely beyond me why torturers, perjurers, and entrapment artists can be regarded as honorable, but apparently both liberals and conservatives think they are, since they take their word on important matters like impeachment, not to mention war and peace.)

      Reply
      1. cocomaan

        I think you’ll like it, then. What Appiah puzzles over is how quickly everyone abandons certain positions as reprehensible, but how slowly those reversals happen (if that makes any sense). Also how it’s linked to particular events and people.

        Amusingly, and if I recall correctly, what he sees as one of reasons for the death of the duel was less about the violence of the act than the embarrassment of saying, “Lord Stevens got killed yesterday afternoon and now we have to find someone else to head up that subcommittee”. Embarrassment as a method of moral change shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s why I think we should bring back the pillory and the stocks for certain crimes, like those you mentioned. We almost need that personal attention to people doing bad stuff.

        Also, Appiah is a gem. His book Cosmopolitanism is also a fun read. He has neat perspectives.

        Reply
      2. kgc

        The pre-English Irish (and probably other Celts) had the concept of honor price. The price was established by your rank in society (which also, BTW, required you to honor norms of generosity and hospitality). Interesting in this context is that you couldn’t swear to matters of higher value than your honor price, possibly because you could simply sell your honor for its value to the highest bidder and pocket the difference. (More likely, however, given the honor-focused nature of pre-feudal and even feudal society, having a higher honor price was itself an honor and therefore restricted to the higher classes.)

        Also, of course, the difference in material possessions between a king (tribal chieftain) and commoner wasn’t very substantial, compared to today. This persisted in rural areas into the 20th century; see, for example, Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years a-Growing (written in Irish in about 1932, about growing up in the Blasket Islands).

        The honor price – or should it be price of dishonor? – of current elites is relatively lower. They don’t care about honor except among their peers, where it’s defined only as the amount of money you have. Perhaps we could adapt the concept to require them to pay their net worth as a penalty?

        Reply
  4. gepay

    Climate catastrophe porn – the Mew York mag article – The Uninhabitable Earth – some it drivel – Venus was once inhabitable but runaway greenhouse warmimg…… That’s science fiction from the 20s of the last century. or ” At 11 or 12 degrees of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat” or “That the sea will become a killer is a given.” etc The article is not even good science fiction. .

    Reply
  5. EGrise

    As a putative member of the Supporting Cast, I too wonder when “Prime Day” became a thing. I was just sitting here, minding my own business, and suddenly I start seeing ads everywhere for Amazon’s Xmas-in-July, and blog/social media posts about how to get the best deals. Did anyone get the number of that truck?

    The genius of Americans when it comes to getting other people to buy stuff never ceases to amaze me; if only we could harness that talent for other purposes.

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      As a putative member of the Supporting Cast

      I fix the NYC squillionaire’s high rise office towers. I think this would make me a stage hand rather than a member of the supporting cast, no?

      Can any AFTRA or Actor’s Equity types give me a hand here?

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        Stagehands have their own union —  the IATSE, or the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts. (No Oxford comma in that name.)

        Reply
    2. Arizona Slim

      Buy stuff? No, thanks. I’m downsizing my possessions.

      BTW, guess what I’m learning. I’m learning that used stuff isn’t worth that much. Which doesn’t exactly motivate me to go out and buy more …

      … stuff.

      Reply
    3. Timmy

      I’m a middle manager in private banking on Wall Street. In the mixed metaphor taxonomy of the Supporting Cast, I’m a “getaway driver”.

      In the context of this newly invented “holiday”, I note that today is among the slowest sports days of the year. No games today for Major League baseball (just the home run derby), Women’s professional basketball or men’s professional soccer (in the US). Such a vacuum begs to be filled.

      Reply
    1. Alex Morfesis

      Macron begs for new bailout of French banks…if my useless tourist french serves me well he’s let his inner vichy run wild in asking for a “Marshall” plan for the french African nations screwed up by the incompetence of the French treasuries mismanagement of the French franc in Africa…

      Guessing we are never going to get a real “truth” commission on the 100 days in Rwanda and how the economy was allowed to function while one or two not so white folks stopped breathing due to some ?”vague”? Circumstances…

      and definitely never going to get a straight answer on what (now) german central banker jens weidmann was doing for and at the french operations in Rwanda around the 100 days…

      Such a leader…such a man…

      get him a taller milk crate…

      Reply
  6. Spring Texan

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for that rant about “working families”. I hate hate HATE that too, and have since the 90s. And yes it devalues single adults. Including LGBT. Including single parents. Including as you say extended families. It’s incredibly narrow.

    You know, single adults are people too (though excluded from Medicaid in my state if under 65 and they don’t have children, sigh).

    Reply
    1. Darius

      Democrats just have a wet dream over the perception of attacking Republicans from the right. That’s why they desperately cling to Russiagate.it also explains the “working families” framing.

      Reply
  7. different clue

    The #TheResistance are all Clintonite scum. Nothing more.

    Katha Pollitt is Clintonite scum. Nothing more.

    #NotOneMoreClinton
    #NeverEver
    #NotMyResistance

    Reply
  8. skippy

    Lambert – ref: UPDATE “[Trump’s dire view as expressed in his Warsaw speech]

    Malcolm Turnbull’s swipe at critics: ‘Menzies named us the Liberals, not the conservatives’

    Take that Tony Abbott!

    Malcolm Turnbull is claiming the mantle of Menzies for the right to define Liberals as “progressives” standing between left and right.

    “That is where it must remain,” he said in a major speech in the UK.

    That might seem rather unexceptional language and history except in the current febrile nature of Australian Liberal politics.

    The current generation of Liberal conservatives consider themselves guardians of the party’s traditions and believe the term “progressive” has effectively been taken over by the left of politics.

    Tony Abbott’s passion will only be further aroused by his successor’s championing of a “progressive” Liberal Party for the future rather than anything that could be considered “reactionary”.

    Them’s fightin’ words to the current generation of Liberal conservatives who consider themselves guardians of the party’s traditions and believe the term “progressive” has effectively been taken over by the left of politics.

    Led by Abbott, they are suggesting the only way to change the party’s lack of momentum is to do a lot more to demonstrate the differences between Labor and the Liberals.

    According to this particular political Venn diagram, that means moving further to the right. That is despite the fact that the popular mood seems to be moving further to the left. – snip

    http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/take-that-tony-abbott-malcolm-turnbull-claims-robert-menzies-mantle-20170710-gx8d35

    Disheveled…. seems the choice is slave owners vs. noblesse oblige, either way it will be branded as “progress” – “moving forward” – “setting the ship right”…. *** We’ve come a long way baby*** chortle~~~

    PS. currently working on two 2M houses on subdivided lot in exclusive river side suburb. Materials are what would been considered sub seconds not that long ago, everything is spaghettified through endless subcontracting, apprentices do the majority of work with journeymen and the rare master craftsman fixing [attempting] all the sub par work. Best bit is…. structurally its a barn with some partition walls and architectural geometric shape added to the outside…. BTW don’t look at the 2.5M oversized doors too long… it might cause them to bow… sigh~~~~~~~~

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That sound like crapification!

      I still remember the styrofoam, stucco-covered pediments in the run-up to the foreclosure crisis.

      “You can even get stucco. Oh boy, can you get stucco.” –Groucho Marx

      Reply
    2. Carl

      Here in San Antonio, we don’t have journeymen or master craftsmen. We do have a lot of cheap undocumented Mexican construction labor. Keeps the costs down. I was in Southern Cali last week, and amazed my friend there with the cost of a new roof ($3500 US or so) compared to $18-20k in North San Diego County.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Just cuz it’s expensive, don’t expect it to be of high craftsmanship. I work with architects, contractors, subs, homeowners all day…here in the SF Bay Area, so much of the remodel/flipping biz seems to be “Get it done and sell it fast.” It’s the West Coast version of IBGYBG…

        “Caulk and paint makes a carpenter what he ain’t, eh?”
        Grandpa used that one to teach me to do it right.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          Then you will love episodes of Flipping Houses Las Vegas….

          9 day window to turn a 200K [500k med hood] house on golf course [after previous owners stripped the inside of everything but the walls] and after principles wife [audi driving designer] and site foreman end up in tears, but after all is said and done the house sells on the first opening day for 499K.

          My favorite part was when the principle was first looking at the house after buying and someone chipped a golf ball through a window. Then took off in their golf cart as the principle started walking over.

          disheveled….. wait for it…. a cool 139K profit…. in 9 days….

          Reply
  9. PKMKII

    On drummers: I saw a professional drummer giving a demo/workshop once, and he said the first thing he does when taking on a new student who is in the “above beginner but not great” category, is gives them a simple beat pattern, and tells them to keep playing it until he tells them to stop. Invariably, they can’t make it more than 8 or 12 bars in before they throw a fill or little flourish in there.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Watts

      How do you expect the ADHD plagued generation of drummers (under the age of 35) to get laid? I’m not going to insult Ringo or anything because he obviously had a great impact on the craft but…


      LET ME SHOW OFF MY PEACOCK FEATHERS GOSHDARNIT!!!@!

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        One takes up the bass to get laid, packing time allows for much more spontaneity for instance. One becomes a lead singer to show off their etchings :)

        Reply
        1. skippy

          I always thought the bass was the leader of the band… or so the sticker on my mates old car said….

          Reply
    2. g

      Almost every musician has a tendency to either lag or speed up over time. Even non-musicians hear a rhythm mistake. I have had a drummer in my band say, “I’m not interested in being a time keeper.” As the video showed,”Less is more” is true of drumming. Unfortunately, subtlety is a rare attribute among drummers.

      Reply
  10. Pat

    On tips, I’m not sure that they know how people tip or do not tip. Well, unless I am unique.

    See most of the time when I am in a situation where the employee is paid less than they should be because there are tips I tend to tip in cash even when paying with a debit card. It is not 100% of the time, but I do do it most of the time. And yes it is so the wages of these workers cannot be tracked. Not by their employers, not by the banks, not by the IRS. Since you really do have to report most of your tips or trigger an audit, I expect the person I am tipping will end up reporting some if not all of the tip I leave in cash. But I am also aware that so called justification for the lower wage involves a calculation of how much people tip, which does not get revisited. So if someone unknowingly stiffs them, or under tips them they are screwed. Some may get more than that, but most will not. And the extra 30 cents or so they get from a two dollar cash tip can help make that up.

    But if the people doing that study looked at my records they would think that I really do not tip, when I tip like a Republican male. ;-) (Even if I am not in the position to tip as much as they might be.)

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      I nearly always tip in cash, as well, so the “study” is flawed. Sounds like a big suck up, to me.

      Having been a waitperson in my distant past, I’m typically an above-average tipper. That’s because I know what it’s like to scrounge by.

      Reply
  11. Elizabeth Burton

    Republican men are better tippers than Democrat women

    Noticeably missing from the list of categories polled: people who once worked or are now employed in a service industry. It’s been shown over and over that lower-income people give a higher percentage of their income to charity. I’d like to see the results of a study on whether those who work tables or drive a cab tip more generously than upper-class types.

    Reply
  12. Byron the Light Bulb

    When asked in court to where ill-gotten funds disappeared, robber baron, Diamond Jim Fisk replied, “[…] where the woodbine twineth”. Woodbine was known to wrap itself around drain spouts. The charismatic Fisk, otherwise not known for poetic phrases, was saying the missing money went up the spout, in other less decorous words, up his ass. Today, more relevant words could not be uttered.

    Sporting a NY-FU attitude and brazen full-tilt gilded-age corruption, Diamond Jim Fisk was later shot to death by an angry creditor, who also was attempting to extort Fisk over past crimes.

    Reply
  13. Carolinian

    Paul Craig Roberts on my favorite ex-governor.

    On the same day that President Donald Trump said “it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia,” and the day after he said “I had a tremendous meeting yesterday with President Putin,” the ignorant, stupid, Nikki Haley, who Trump appointed as US UN Ambassador, publicly contracted her president, forcefully stating: “we can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.” https://www.rt.com/usa/395814-us-trust-russia-haley/?utm_source=spotim&utm_medium=spotim_recirculation&spotim_referrer=recirculation&spot_im_comment_id=sp_6phY2k0C_395814_c_rDCXsj

    The ignorant stupid Haley is still in office, a perfect demonstration of Trump’s powerlessness.

    The ignorant stupid Haley has gone far beyond Obama’s crazed UN Ambassador, neocon Smantha Power in doing everything in her power to ruin the prospect of normal relations between the two major nuclear powers. Why does Nikki Haley work in favor of a confrontation between nuclear powers that would destroy all life on earth? What is wrong with Nikki Haley? Is she demented? Has she lost her mind, assuming she ever had one?

    Haley also said that “everybody knows” that Putin meddled in the election and therefore presumably was to blame for putting someone in office who could choose the likes of Nikki Haley to be UN ambassador. Haley v Haley. She’s like the Trump version of the Veep character Jonah Ryan–last seen denouncing Daylight Savings Time. Trump must indeed be powerless to put up with her. But perhaps she’s just biding her time waiting for President Pence. When it comes time for him to pick a running mate who better than one Nikki Haley.

    https://www.unz.com/proberts/trump-cannot-improve-relations-with-russia-when-trumps-government-and-the-us-media-oppose-improved-relations/

    Reply
    1. jsn

      After decades of the MIC “self licking ice cream cone”, now, with a previously unimaginable mix of Twitter and President Trump, we see introduced the “self s**ting fan”: Nikki is amongst the copious spray of aromatic excreta its flinging!

      With everyone in DC simultaneously dodging, diving and weaving to avoid the splatter, it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s really happening, and the closer to the Administration, the darker and more pungent it gets.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        To quote from a scene in ‘I CLAUDIUS’ … with minor alterations :

        ‘The Empire is going through a change, a … how shall I say, a ‘meta-morpho-sis’, however …. it is still the same happy shiny Empire that we all love and admire’ …

        Reply
    2. RUKidding

      Samantha Power was pretty much a disgusting villain.

      Nikki Haley is another Indian-descent version of the Half-Term Half-wit governor Palin. Haley certainly lets her mouth run on and on and often contradicts her boss, Trump.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Why is it that with all the capable, competent women out there – and there are a ton of them – most of the women that go into public life are ones like Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina, Bronwyn Bishop, Margaret Thatcher and the like.
        The only descent one that comes to mind is Tulsi Gabbard and she has spent half her time fighting back against her own party. Then again, maybe that is why. Still, America chose it wiser to go with Trump rather than Clinton and her band of Valkyries so perhaps people are saying it is not what sex you are that counts but what you you are all about that is important… maybe.

        Reply
    3. different clue

      And given that the Democratic Officeholders would prefer that Pence be President instead of Trump, that sounds like a real if distant threat.

      Reply
  14. Lambert Strether Post author

    Federal prosecutors step up probe of land deal pushed by wife of Bernie Sanders WaPo

    A reminder that WaPo hates Sanders just as much as they hate Trump. “Land deal” is good, because it implies that Jane Sanders was in it for personal gain, as opposed to acting on behalf of the college.

    And I’ll be waiting for feminists like Neera Tanden or Amanda Marcotte to go nuts over “wife of Bernie Sanders.” I mean, WaPo might just as well have written OfBernie, right?

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      If Jane Sanders is guilty of anything, it’s administrative incompetence. And, sad to say, this malady is quite common throughout academia.

      Slim still remembers Mom coming home from work and launching into tirades about the buffoon administrators in her school and the district’s central office.

      I made the mistake of asking her if she wanted to go into administration. After all, she was so much smarter than those idiots.

      Wrong question. Oh, was it ever. Because Mom was a *teacher* through and through.

      Reply
      1. BoycottAmazon

        She was guilty of trying to salvage an already sunk ship, which appeared to be afloat only because it was resting on a sandbar of debt that was being washed out from under it’s keel by neo-liberal market forces.

        Reply
    2. Jean

      Why is WaPo printing this old story now? Vermont Digger has been writing about it from the beginning – like over a year. So long I can’t remember. FBI wasn’t involved til about 2 months ago or less. So it wasn’t ripe enough for that super-Bernie-hater Bump and WaPo? Or what?

      Something else? Is WaPo actually afraid the status quo might change because of Bernie?

      I’ve been waiting for this to go national, so would really appreciate anyone’s theory.

      Reply
  15. allan

    SUNY charter schools committee considers their own teacher certification [WRVO]

    The State University of New York (SUNY) is considering letting its charter schools create their own teacher certification programs, a proposal that teachers unions and education advocacy groups say endangers students and the teaching profession.

    New York’s public schools are grappling with a teacher shortage which many blame on the stringent requirements to become certified in the state. Joe Belluck, chair of the SUNY Charter Schools Committee, says it’s the same for many of the 167 charter schools he oversees.

    “They are not able to fill the spots in their schools with certified teachers,” Belluck said.

    If approved, SUNY’s charter schools could hire applicants with a bachelors degree and only 30 credit hours of study in education. Public school teachers must have a graduate degree in education. …

    I know several of un- or under-employed teachers. Including ones with masters degrees.
    Charter school operators apparently believe in the magic of the marketplace,
    but not in market-clearing prices wages.

    File under Classroom Warfare.

    Reply
  16. Livius Drusus

    Re: negative attitudes toward single people, my sense is that single adults are seen as immature and flaky hence the emphasis on “working families” and not just “workers.” Politically it makes sense to emphasize working families because people tend to associate families with strong values and morals so I understand why politicians like to use that terminology. I should note that I don’t think that single people are immature and flaky but I do sense that many Americans think this way, unfortunately.

    One thing I have noticed is that compared to the 1990s it is not considered “cool” to be single anymore. You used to have shows like Seinfeld where the main characters seemed to prefer being single in the sense of not being married or living with a person in a relationship. Now single people often seem to be depicted in the media as desperate losers. I wonder if 9/11 and the Great Recession caused people to lionize traditional families again since I have noticed that 1950s-style households are now seen as a mark of status among those who can afford that sort of arrangement.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      This never-married singleton doesn’t give a [family blog] whether being single is cool or not.

      Trust me, you do not want to live with me. That’s a big part of the reason why I’ve never been married.

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I didn’t know that being single is now “uncool” again, but I’m of a certain age – that age where no one (thankfully) really gives much of a stuff about you anymore.

      I agree that the ’90s marked something of golden age of being single with shows, as discussed, like Seinfeld making seem, if not cool, at least just “normal.” It gave one breathing space away from the specious “concern” that somehow a singleton must be flawed or otherwise unacceptable if they hadn’t coupled up by about their mid-30s or so.

      Too bad we reversed course on that, as I feel the planet is way over-populated, and given our unstable times with declining job prospects, the notion of starting families seems a bit, uh, well something to think long and hard about.

      I don’t know where the pressure comes from and who benefits from this.

      Reply
    3. Jen

      Maybe it’s the age. Maybe it’s the demographic. I find very few of my friends, family or acquaintances lionizing tradition families. In fact, a common thread of discussion is that marriage isn’t necessary anymore.

      I have my own home. I pay my own bills. I do what I want.
      I’m open to the idea that marriage to the right person could be even better than what I have now, but my starting point is that I’m happy where I am. I have friends who have never married, who are divorced, who are in relationships and have no intention of ever marrying. Maybe it’s that we’re all in our mid 40s and up that we don’t give a flying family blog.

      Reply
    4. optimader

      Politically it makes sense to emphasize working families because people tend to associate families with strong values and morals so I understand why politicians like to use that terminology.

      Families mean more inculcated political Brand loyalists. Why piss around with single people? No geometric series.

      Reply
  17. Bugs Bunny

    Thanks for the Ringo links Lambert. Good to know I’m not the only one who believes he was key to the Beatles’ sound. And his solo stuff rocks.

    I think Paul would rather he just fade away but it ain’t gonna happen.

    Reply
  18. ewmayer

    o “The fight for Democrats’ soul has begun” [Chris Cilizza, CNN] — Assumes facts not in evidence. And a “you have got to be fvcking kidding me” quote: “I think if we have done anything wrong, it is in having an agenda that is often too wonky, too complex, and doesn’t connect.” No mention of “an agenda which unambiguously is about serving the kleptocapitalist class and as such, is immaterially different from the Republican agenda, except in the sense of being more hypocritical in our pretending to be ‘for the working man’.”

    o “Housing: “Black Knight Mortgage Monitor: “Underwater Borrower Population Below Two Million for First Time Since 2006” [Calculated Risk].” — At least till Global MegaBubble 3.0 pops. Not that it ever will – this time is different, permanently high plateau, this time all that private debt racking-up will be transformed seamlessly into durable wealth via the magic of sustainable groaf, &c.

    o “How Can You Tell a Good Drummer from a Bad Drummer?: Ringo Starr as Case Study” [OpenCulture]. Two terrific videos! — I was gonna guess ‘by the size of the little green globule – more of a a stain, really – left on the drum seat after the drummer’s demise by spontaneous human combustion accompanied by a flash of green light’, but that begs the question, did they analyze any Spinal Tap drummers?

    Reply
  19. montanamaven

    I see that the comments on Bill Sher’s Twitter feed are also evenly split between disgust at Pollitt and with Vanden Heuvel and Cohen. These continue to be very strange times when someone like Stephen Cohen is demonized by “liberals”. What do we gain by not having Russia as a partner? I just can’t see an up side to all this fearmongering. I am reading Dimitry Orlov’s new book “Shrinking the Technosphere”. His 5th Chapter is called “Naturelike Technologies” and it comes from an original concept and term by Vladimir Putin in his speech to the UN in 2015. I mean the guy has said that the environment and climate change should be our number one priority. What do you say to that Katha? He wants to change not just some way of lessening carbon emissions, but change the way we live. As Orlov interprets his speech, to be in more balance with nature “and with the uninterrupted flow of human generations which preserves local languages and cultures, along with their intimate knowledge of complex, diverse natural environments.” By technologies we mean the practical know-how, passed from generation to generation, which one needs in order to survive – not fancy gadgets or machinery, not the “internet of things”, …
    Russia went from having to import most of their grain and food to now being almost self sufficient and now the largest exporter of wheat. Putin has guided this agricultural revival with his vision for a more balanced relationship and not a domineering one with nature. So, Katha, go take a long hike.

    Reply
    1. witters

      “Vladimir Putin in his speech to the UN in 2015. I mean the guy has said that the environment and climate change should be our number one priority.”

      What? Many commenters here disagree! Its catastrophe porn, doncha know. And the only disaster is the DNC! So take that Putin!

      Reply
  20. Wendy G

    Bummer about Katha Pollitt. I first got to know here during the W years, and appreciated her writings in The Nation. I’ve had to stop reading The Nation in recent years, and now apparently Pollitt too. It’s a loss.

    On the plus side, that’s when/where I got to know people like Alex Cockburn and through him Counterpunch, Naomi Klein, David Corn and others like them who are only getting better. Guess they can’t all be winners.

    Reply
  21. flora

    re:
    ‘“Government-funded research produced the nuclear bomb, laser-guided missiles, stealth jets, radar-jamming devices and night-vision goggles. But much of the technology that will define the battlefields of the future is being developed by private companies for sale in the commercial market rather than for use primarily by the military” [Politico]. “Against that backdrop, a confidential Defense Department report says that the U.S. needs to seriously ramp up its screening of Chinese investments in U.S. technology companies in order to protect the economy and national security.’

    Considering that most of the sources for the current PC/Mainframe/hardware/software technology is an outgrowth of the US govt’s DARPA projects and the NSF, it would make more sense for the Defense Department to ramp up its own in-house research and development projects again. They can create hardware and software not available to the public. Long term, that seems a sounder, though not easier approach than trying make the market a subsidiary of the Defense Department. Yes, that might mean raising taxes, or admitting the govt can do important things right. (The notion that govt can do important things right is anathema to neoliberals .)

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    1. flora

      adding: there’s a long history of the US blocking sales of certain technology equipment to other countries. I don’t oppose this policy. If the US wants to block China from buying Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman that seems sensible. However, considering how much manufacturing has been outsourced to China already, including military software/hardware parts, it would seem China only has to reverse engineer the technologies they’re interesting in. Maybe the Defense Dept needs to consider blocking the offshoring and the repatriation of Defense related manufacturing.

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  22. Geophrian

    You know Democrats can’t say the words “working class” without affixing “white” to the front of it. To Beltway Democrats white people and families work, single and non-white people live on government assistance. That is how they see their constituents and “get out the vote”. Until they can see a pluralistic “working class” they will continue seeing identity politics as completely separate from labor issues – thus, their lack of support for living wages, single payer, unions, non-intervention foreign policy, fair trade, dominate green energy policy, an end to drug prohibition, and all those other commie/leftist unicorns that us Purity-Bros harp about.

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  23. Propertius

    Once, it was common sense that “you could buy a guy,” as Louis CK puts it; in fact, many defined freedom as freedom to buy slaves. Many of the “Founders” agreed. Now, that’s not “common sense” any more, or “realism.” What is “self-evident” is dynamic, not static.

    I think you’re letting them off too easy. A lot of them knew, from Day One, that slavery was an evil and immoral system but they “compromised” to achieve “consensus” on the Constitution. Consider the words of Founding Father (and slaveholder) Thomas Jefferson in 1781:

    The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. And with what execration should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labour for another: in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavours to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.

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