2:00PM Water Cooler 7/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’m going to add some more material, since there wasn’t a full Water Cooler on Friday, because of the NC meetup in Portland. –lambert. 2:40PM All done.

Trade

Important: “TISA: Foul Play” (PDF) [The World of Work]. “TiSA is especially important for two reasons: 1) its main purpose is to clear the path for the 4th Industrial revolution, or the new wild west of capitalism where a globalised economy is driven by digital technology; and 2) TiSA is the ‘last man standing’ since the collapse of the TPP and TTIP. … What to do? The TiSA negotiations were unofficially suspended in late 2016 for three reasons: 1) other countries don’t know or trust what the Trump administration will do; 2) the EU has an internal fight over protecting privacy in the digitised world; and 3) the texts are nowhere near agreed. But governments are still working behind-the-scenes, urged on by Team TiSA. There is a serious risk that negotiations could start up again without warning at any time. Team TiSA is demanding unlimited rights to supply e-commerce, financial, telecom, and delivery services from outside the country. So it is not surprising they are the targets of TiSA’s most potent rules. Very few restrictions currently govern the Internet; Team TiSA wants to keep it that way. TiSA’s rules are designed to serve their needs 20 or 30 years from now by removing governments’ ability to regulate their technologies, services and practices whatever new technologies may evolve, and irrespective of their economic, social, environmental or development impacts. Strategies and policies to support the domestic economy and jobs, and require firms to transfer technology or hold data and have a presence inside the country would be prohibited.” Notice, incidentally, that if you take MAGA seriously as policy, it comprehensively contradicts desires of our TiSA overlords.

“NAFTA NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES EXPECTED TODAY: Nearly one year ago, Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president with a vow to walk away from NAFTA unless Mexico and Canada agree to completely renegotiate the pact in a way that brings jobs back to the United States. By the end of today, we’re expected to get a glimpse of how much he wants to change in the 23-year-old agreement, when the Office of U.S. Trade Representative releases its negotiating objectives” [Politico].

“Techdirt readers will probably recall a long-running saga involving corporate sovereignty, $500 million, the US pharma company Eli Lilly, and drug patents. In its claim against the Canadian government, made using NAFTA’s Chapter 11, Eli Lilly insisted it should have been given some drug patents, despite Canada’s courts finding that they had not met the requirements for patentability — specifically that there was no evidence that the drugs in question provided the benefits in the patent” [TechDirt]. The Canadian courts dismissed Lilly’s claim. “This was a huge win for Canada in particular, and governments in general. At the time, it all felt a little too good to be true. And now… the Supreme Court of Canada has just overturned decades of precedent — and implicitly the Eli Lilly ruling — by making it easier for Big Pharma to gain patents on medicines that don’t really work.”

Politics

New Cold War

Hoo boy (there’s a glitch at the start of the clip, but I double-checked with other sources):

Democrat operative and Clintonite Paul Begala urges that we should be “debating” whether we should “blow up” the KGB “or GRU or whatever,” or “retaliate massively” (“massive retaliation” is, of course, a nuclear strategy).

Lambert here: War with Russia (cold or hot) has, IMNSHO, always been the policy argument driving Putin Derangment Syndrome; here we see it stated openly, and by someone we’re very much entitled to believe is speaking for the Clinton faction of the Democrat Party. More from The Hill.

Health Care

UPDATE “Despite the tough road ahead, strategists say that McConnell’s penchant for cutting deals may be enough to save the BCRA” [Business Insider]. “The best tactic in McConnell’s arsenal may simply be to pressure the remaining hold outs on this side. Perhaps the best summation of the McConnell strategy with this side comes from a GOP aide who told Axios’ Caitlin Owns a few weeks ago simply: ‘Moderates always cave.'”

UPDATE “Don Jr.’s Russia scandal may have one little upside for the White House: Two sources close to the health care negotiations told me they’re pleased it has distracted the ‘resistance’ movement and moved much of the media spotlight away from McConnell & co.’s negotiations” [Axios]. Notice, again, that liberal Democrats are attacking BCRA cuts, but not the cap. Which means they support it. Well played, all.

“The Disturbing Process Behind Trumpcare” [Norm Ornstein, The Atlantic]. “By every past standard, and every logical standard of behavior in a representative democracy, [the BCRA] should be dead. It is not. Why not?… Put it all together, and what emerges is a truly disturbing picture of a failed legislative process built on a deep distortion of representative democracy. A thoroughly partisan, ill-conceived and ill-considered bill, slapped together without the input of experts or stakeholders, done not to improve the health care system but to aid plutocrats, crafted in a fashion that will hurt millions and millions of Americans, by lawmakers doing whatever they can to avoid interacting with their own constituents. Dismaying, even despicable. And worse is that so many senators who should know better, and many who do know better, will actually vote for the monstrosity—and give this illegitimate process their imprimatur.” Well worth a read, despite the chin-stroking.

“Police investigating break-in at Dean Heller’s Las Vegas office” [Las Vegas Review Journal]. Heller being a defector, hmm. Coincidence? Some College Republican out over their skis? Or something more?

“How the White House and Republicans underestimated Obamacare repeal” [Politico]. “In the meantime, neither the White House nor Congress wants to claim responsibility if it doesn’t work out. While lawmakers grumble that Trump should have started with an easier policy goal, White House aides say they assumed congressional Republicans had it under control.” Part of the story is that the Trump White House had a very thin team, thin on policy, thin on Congressional liaison. Just like the campaign. But the policy wonk here was Paul Ryan, who, after eight years of Republican opposition to (a Republican law,) ObamaCare, should have had a replacement bill teed up and ready to go. The reason it looks like Republicans can’t govern is that they can’t. That’s different from undoing governance, at which the Trump administration is doing fine, just fine, aided by the liberal Democrat sturm and drang on Russia (although, to be fair, all this is in aid of policy: War with Russia, cold or hot; see Clinton emissary Begala, supra).

“[The stalled BCRA process] is an example of why legislative success depends on operating as a team. You don’t abandon your team just because you don’t get everything you want (or want left out). You hold your nose and vote for an imperfect measure, sometimes merely because it’s politically beneficial and better than the alternative” [Fred Barnes, Wall Street Journal]. “This is especially true in dumping ObamaCare. The Republican alternative is a more free-market health-care system in which people can buy the insurance they want, not what government requires. Sticking with the team makes that possible. But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting.” That underlined portion is interesting, if true…

“As Republicans struggle to find the needed 50 votes, the minority party has been positioning itself as a willing partner in fixing the existing system — so long as Republicans drop their years-long pledge to repeal the law. Democrats’ unified opposition to the GOP plan has added energy to their base, as health care is often an emotional and contentious campaign issue” [RealClearPolitics]. “But the process has also highlighted their limited resources as the out party in Washington. These lawmakers are challenged with balancing the ideals of their party — a ‘Medicare for all; system has become a recent rallying cry among Democrats around the country — with the political reality at hand.” This is either out-of-touch or obfuscatory: “Medicare for All” is not a (liberal) Democrat “ideal”; in fact, they oppose it, as they are ideologically bound to do, regardless of corruption, because unlike ObamaCare and whatever the Republicans come up with, Medicare for All doesn’t put markets first.

2020

“Q poll: New Yorkers still say no to Cuomo for president” [Albany Times Union]. “A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows that 55 percent of voters say the Democrat should not run for president in 2020. Upstate, 65 percent say he shouldn’t run, the largest percentage of any region or subdivision of those polled.”

UPDATE “Cuomo scoops up Obama staffers” [Crain’s New York]. I hope Cuomo brought a baggie…

UPDATE “The Democrats’ ‘Great Freshman Hope,’ Sen. Kamala Harris, is heading to the Hamptons to meet with Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers” [New York Post].”The California senator is being fêted in Bridgehampton on Saturday at the home of MWWPR guru Michael Kempner, a staunch Clinton supporter who was one of her national-finance co-chairs and a led fund-raiser for her 2008 bid for the presidency. He was also listed as one of the top ‘bundlers’ for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, having raised $3 million.”

“Inquiry Into Bernie Sanders’s Wife May Tarnish His Liberal Luster” [Yamiche Alcindor, New York Times]. So the Times sends out a reliable hatchetperson. I could wish they weren’t so transparent.

UPDATE Timesperson Maggie Haberman piles on, repeating the words Alcindor put in Sanders’ mouth:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Democrats’ biggest donor says the party is blowing it and should get behind Bernie’s platform” [Mic]. “‘[STEYER:] ‘When people say Bernie is crazy, no. Bernie is talking about inequality. That is the burning issue in the United States.’ That is a message that progressives, and particularly Bernie Sanders supporters, have been trying to drive home with the leadership of the Democratic party since Hillary Clinton’s brutal loss in the 2016 presidential race — often, some have felt, to little avail. But it’s no longer a message coming from outside the establishment: it’s now the opinion of Tom Steyer, the largest donor to the Democratic party.” Best thing Steyer could do is cut off all funding to the Democrat Party, and convince his fellow squillionaires to do the same. Let the battle for the $27 dollar voter begin!

“Is Anybody Really Listening: Pizza with Perez in Youngstown” [New Geography]. Hilarity ensues:

In what has become a familiar practice following a series of defeats in recent state-wide elections, the ODP sponsored a “Listening Tour.” On June 12, 2017, the tour came to Youngstown with National Democratic Party Chairperson Tom Perez, who reiterated that Youngstown was a political ‘bellwether.’

The event was held at a local pizzeria, Wedgewood Pizza, and billed as “Pizza with Perez.” Approximately 75 attendees, mostly loyal Democratic Party supporters, including a number of local and state politicians, paid $25 to attend the midday event. I paid my $25 to find out whether Party leaders were seriously listening to the concerns of voters and to see how they would react.

What I saw was a typical campaign event, with the audience doing the listening while Democratic operatives touted their positions…. When someone asked about why Democrats had lost the election, Perez criticized Republican social and economic policy, but he also acknowledged several mistakes that the Democratic Party had made during the last campaign. ‘We could have done a better job of speaking more directly to the pocketbook issues that bring people to the ballot,’ he said. Among other things, the Party should have recognized that NAFTA hurt working people and acknowledged its role in that trade bill.

Perez noted that the Party’s ‘message got muddled,’ but he quickly turned to typical campaign trail rhetoric: ‘I’m here to say very clearly that the Democratic Party is the party that’s fighting for the labor movement. The Democratic Party is the party fighting for quality public education and access to health care and the issues that matter most to the people in the Valley.’ But there were very few questions and much of the time devoted to meet and greet. Clearly, no one identified themselves as crossover voters or first time Republican registrants. So much for this being a listening tour.

The ODP’s misstep of charging admission for a fake listening tour was not lost on local Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman, Mark Munroe, who called it a “strange” event and organized a parallel gathering where he invited crossover voters to explain their positions.

Ha ha. Betteridge’s Law.

UPDATE “Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez transferred $22,270 to key backer Jaime Harrison in March, a month after Harrison dropped out of the race for DNC chair and threw his support to Perez two days ahead of the vote” [Politico]. Ka-ching. And I don’t care if it’s business as usual.

“Don’t Let Our Democracy Collapse” [New York Times]. “The next urgent area of cooperation must be election cybersecurity.” No. It’s “urgent” to replace electronic voting with hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. More: “Faced with a serious, imminent threat, Democrats and Republicans should have every reason to work together. Unfortunately, Pew has announced plans to cease its work in election administration at this crucial time, and it is not clear who can step up to take its place. The future is scary. Public confidence in the fairness of the election process is already largely driven by who wins and who loses.”

Lambert here: First, liberal Democrats didn’t give a tinker’s curse about any of this until they lost all three branches of goverment in 2016; so this is all about power, nothing more. Second, the reflexive dependence of liberal Democrats on the national security community (“cybersecurity“) is what’s really scary; since that tells you where liberal Democrats think true power lies. Third, I’ve been scared since Jebbie manipulated the Florida voter’s list in 2000, followed shortly by Bush v. Gore. Why haven’t Democrats?

UPDATE (long, but Foreign Policy is from the heart of The Blob): “Are we living through an era that resembles the 1930s, when authoritarian leaders were on the march, democratic leaders failed to stand up to them, the international system buckled, and the world was dragged into war? Or are we living through something more like the late 1970s, when America, recovering from its long engagement in a losing war and pulling itself out of a prolonged economic slump, began to take the course corrections that allowed it to embark on a period of national recovery and reassert its international ascendancy?” [Foreign Policy]. “So what is the better analogy? Comparing the two periods, in both their similarities and differences, suggests that America — and the world — is closer today to the 1970s than to the 1930s. The international order is not yet crumbling; there are still more reasons for optimism than despair. But the 1930s analogy also yields a critical insight. If the United States and other defenders of the international order lose the willpower to take decisive action in support of the global arrangements that they have worked to construct — as happened during the 1930s — things could go downhill in a hurry. We could end up slipping back, all too rapidly, toward a darker past after all.” And here we go: “Yet if the 1970s are far from the perfect analogy, the period does nonetheless illuminate important aspects of the contemporary moment. It reminds us that, today as in the past, America’s competitors face long-term challenges that make ours look relatively modest by comparison. Russia is, after all, a declining economic power and a demographic basket case; its military power thus rests on extremely precarious foundations. China is already dealing with slowing economic growth, a rapidly aging population, and a massive debt bubble, and its sense of geopolitical self-confidence hardly conceals its leadership’s transparent nervousness about growing social unrest and other signs of dissatisfaction with a corrupt and ruthlessly authoritarian political system.”

Lambert here: Foreign Policy’s demographic logic is remarkably similar to the liberal Democrat’s “coalition of the ascendant.” How’s that workin’ out for ya? The flaw in the latter was to assume that parties do not display adaptive behavior; the flaw in the former might turn out to be the same error, but for states. Foreign Policy is usually pretty suave, so here the warmongering comes out only in tl;dr mode: We can and should muscle Russia and China because they’re weak. Will Thucydides pick up the white courtesy phone?

UPDATE “Protests No Longer Work in Today’s USA: Change Will Come But We’re Losing Control Over How” [The Writings of John Laurits (MR)]. Important. “Though observations by past protesters appeared to support the hypothesis that elected officials can be forced to change policies by organizing a protest big enough to prove the public wants it — the results they achieved have rarely been repeated since the ’60s. And when results are not repeatable, either the experiments are flawed — or the hypothesis is flawed. … Demonstrations which result in partial change to public policy 14 – 23 years later cannot be called viable protests for the same reason food which takes a year to cook is not a viable option for tonight’s dinner.”

Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, July 2017: “A little less strength is probably welcome in the New York Fed’s manufacturing sample where gains at times have been unsustainable” (below consensus) [Econoday]. “This report has been very strong this year and well above actual strength in the nation’s factory sector.” Another survey that doesn’t pan out in the data. Is there a reason this divergence is not an open scandal? And: “[T]he second successive positive reading and the fourth-strongest reading of the past two years with the data still indicating firm growth” [Economic Calendar]. But: “I am not a fan of surveys – and this survey jumps around erratically” [Econintersect].

Consumer Price Index (Friday): “In what is one of the very weakest 4-month stretch in 60 years of records, core consumer prices could manage only a 0.1 percent increase in June” [Mosler Economics]. “The Fed continues to fail to meet it’s target. They just need a little more time… ;) And coincidentally this is inline with the credit deceleration as previously discussed.”

Credit: “Still decelerating, and data releases seem to confirm that the credit deceleration is reflecting something similar in the macro economy” [Mosler Economics]. Handy chart:

Commodities: “World Still Knee-Deep in Crude Oil Despite Cuts” [Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas]. “In an effort to erode global inventories and support higher prices, 11 OPEC members, along with several non-OPEC nations, in May 2017 extended an agreement to reduce global crude output by as much as 1.8 million barrels per day (mb/d) through March 2018. However, rising output from the U.S, Libya and Nigeria will likely replace most, if not all, of those barrels before the end of 2017. This has led many analysts to conclude that global crude markets will find themselves in surplus again by early next year.”

Shipping: “Heavy truck sales really collapsed during the great recession, falling to a low of 181 thousand in April and May 2009, on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR [seasonally adjusted annual sales rate]). Then sales increased more than 2 1/2 times, and hit 479 thousand SAAR in June 2015” [Calculated Risk]. “With the increase in oil prices over the last year, heavy truck sales have been increasing too.”

Shipping: “New reports like one last week from DAT Solutions LLC suggest demand is outstripping capacity in the truckload sector, livening up that market and likely triggering changes in shipping volumes and profitability in businesses from freight brokers to intermodal operations. The big question for truckload and less-than-truckload carriers is whether an apparent upturn in the second quarter means that business really is moving into the fast lane through the rest of the year” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “The [forklift] industry’s economic contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) was $25.7 billion in 2015” [Supply Chain 247]. “The industry’s activity supports a total of 209,000 U.S. jobs. Each job within the industry supports 2.5 additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.”

Shipping: “FedEx Struggles to Bounce Back From Cyberattack” [Wall Street Journal]. “Customers waiting for packages abroad are experiencing significant delays as FedEx Corp. continues to reel from the effects of a June 27 cyberattack.” FIrst Maersk, now FedEx. (Read the material on TISA in “Trade,” above, and imagine what the response might be…

Real estate: “In its research, [industrial real estate firm] CBRE tracked newly-opened (within the past two years) distribution centers smaller than 200,000 square-feet in the top 15 United States population centers” [Supply Chain 247]. “Its chief finding was that these centers are typically between 6-to-9 miles from the population centers they serve, with denser cities more likely to have shorter average distances like San Francisco and Philadelphia at averages of 6 miles and 6.3 miles, respectively…. CBRE Global Head of Industrial & Logistics Research David Egan: ‘E-commerce is a big part of it, but it also has to do with the connection we all have through our computers and phones and, broadly speaking, the impatience we all have as people right now. We want our packages delivered as quickly as possible. We have all changed so much in that we want and expect things to happen so quickly more so now than we ever have.'” The slow food people really did get their values right. Polemecists (if I have this right) reconceptualizing full communism (!) as “the weekend” would do well to look at the slow food movement for values.

Rail: “Precision railroading leaves no time for sleeping on the job, as far as Hunter Harrison is concerned. The CSX Corp. chief executive who took over in March promising to quickly jolt the company’s culture has taken one high-profile step by dropping a longtime policy that allowed train conductors and engineers to nap for up to 45 minutes. That puts CSX on a freight rail fault line between scheduling and safety” [Wall Street Journal]. Short CSX, go long methampetamines?

The Bezzle: “Every time it occurs to us that Blue Apron might be the worst stock of all time, it somehow gets worse” [DealBreaker]. “It was hardly a secret that Amazon was intrigued with the “Recipe in a box” model, and that it had the infrastructure all ready to go with millions of Prime subscribers, monsoons of revenue and now Whole Foods, but registering a trademark for a legit foray into that space is tantamount to slapping a death warrant on Blue Apron’s already hobbled stock price. Why Amazon would decide to twist the knife in Blue Apron now is unclear. Perhaps Bezos is shorting the stock….” But Blue Apron, like Uber, doesn’t make money. So how does going into the “recipe in a box” business affect Amazon’s valuation? Will they destroy all local restaurants?

The Bezzle: WeWork is now worth more than real estate investment trusts like Boston Properties and Vornado Realty Trust following the latest funding round that pegged its valuation at $20 billion, according to Forbes” [The Real Deal] (hoisted from comments, and I should have given a hat tip…)

Concentration: “The container shipping hunger games” [Splash 247]. “Splash contributor was predicting there would be just six to eight global carriers by the mid-2020s. Back then there were still 20 global liners in what was a very fragmented industry. Still, even Jensen, the founder of Seaintelligence Consulting, could not have predicted the speed with which the sector consolidated after the logjam that was Hanjin Shipping was taken out of the picture last year.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 2 on The Antichrist. “Emmanuel Macron has become a man to watch” [Rapture Index]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 64, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 17 at 12:07pm. Big swing. McCain’s hospital trip?

Guillotine Watch

“#SoCalSoCurious: Who are the cash buyers in SoCal real estate?” [KPCC (EB)]. The answer:

Back then many of those people came from China, but they’re just about 5 percent of the cash buyers right now according to the association’s research.

Deep pocketed American investors used to buy in all cash, too. But that was mostly right after the housing collapse in 2008 when they lapped up whatever cheap homes they could hoping to turn a profit once the market picked up..

Cash buys are still a thing, though..

Last month, he says 20 percent of all real estate transactions in Southern California were paid for in cash..

So who’s outbidding Lauren with cash?.

People with rich parents..

“They’re going to mom and dad and saying, ‘We really want to buy something and would love it if you give us the money,'” says [Geoff McIntosh, president of the California Association of Realtors]..

Other experts agree.

Class Warfare

“What links Portugal’s deadliest wildfire to Grenfell Tower? Economics and neglect” [The Conversation]. “In this event, hot dry weather, scattered villages with a dwindling population insufficiently prepared for fire, surrounded by steep terrain with extensive monocultures of highly-flammable trees and insufficient communication, combined into a tragic loss of life. Yet, as with London’s Grenfell Tower fire, the high fire risk was far from unforeseeable. There is much that can be done to reduce the threat from, or even eliminate, highly flammable materials – be it insulation around buildings, or dense forest plantations surrounding villages. In both cases, importants lessons must be learned.”

“Group augmentation, collective action, and territorial boundary patrols by male chimpanzees” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. “We show that group augmentation theory helps explain one of the most striking examples of collective action in nonhuman primates, territorial boundary patrolling by male chimpanzees: Males bear the short-term costs of patrolling even when they have little to gain immediately because patrolling enhances group size, increasing the male’s chances of future reproduction.”

News of the Wired

“The cognitive trick that elite athletes use to achieve seemingly impossible goals” [Quartz]. “A wide body of research suggests that minimizing our focus on the self increases our motivation in less heroic, mundane activities as well. An earlier study published in The Academy of Management Review found that hospital janitors who cleaned bedpans and mopped floors derived more meaning from their work when it was framed as helping patients heal.” That’s a little more than a cognitive trick, eh? And values seems to be the emergent theme for today, oddly. Even though it’s all crazy. The janitors are rational actors, atomistically motivated solely by money. It is known.

“CRISPR–Cas encoding of a digital movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria” (PDF) [Nature]. Yes, scientists spliced a GIF into a gene.

Moderation in all things:

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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. Today’s plant (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Hope this counts! Lichen on volcanic rock on the beach at Heceta Lighthouse, OR. Just spent a week there and still feeling that Pacific NW vibe.”

Lichen, like fungi, are honorary plants!

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.

104 comments

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, Stewart cannot have “destroyed” Begala — that Kos-like rhetoric is really shopworn, even if it constantly shows up in my Inbox in subject lines for Democrat fundraising spam — since here Begala is, on national TV, stoking war fever. Eh?

      Reply
      1. cocomaan

        I think the argument is that John Stewart ruined Crosstalk or whatever it was called, not necessarily Begala.

        I actually thought Crosstalk was what everyone wants, though. Two people, different political ideas (however shallow), sparring verbally, but still cordially. I didn’t like either of them, but I did watch the show sometimes as a teenager and at least there was discussion. You got the feeling the men were friends.

        Then everyone celebrated when John Stewart got on and trashed them. Years later, everyone is complaining about the lack of friendly conversation.

        Fortunately, the ridicule-comedy-news-show seems to be going out of style. I think Stewart and Colbert knew it when they dropped out of the game. Years and years of poking fun with nothing to show for it but Donald Trump. A real shame.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Stewart’s critique of Crossfire was dead on. The basic problem was the idea there are equal sides capable of being decided by awarding points in debate fashion. The other flaw was the idea peeps such as Carville and his wife, Mary Matalin, represented different sides.

          For the most part, the show was slogans being bounced back and forth.

          Reply
        2. Richard

          “Fortunately, the ridicule-comedy-news-show seems to be going out of style”

          One can only hope, Stewart seemed like a nice, funny guy, but the whole exercise seemed way too cozy with the folks they were supposedly satirizing (the interview segment being a prime culprit). I found it tiresome most of the time; who needs another hip, urban liberal yucking it up about the backward, comic-book evil republicans.
          When inspired by a little moral outrage, as with his takedown of Jim Kramer over dishonest investment advice, Stewart was better, imho.

          Reply
      2. different clue

        Well . . . actually NotTimothyGeithner did say “destroyed Paul Begala’s show”. Which Stewart did.

        Reply
  1. roxy

    “New Yorkers still say no to Cuomo for president” It will be surprising if he doesn’t run. Also, what was DeBlasio’s trip to Hamburg about? Signaling that he is oval office material, no? I look forward to these two duking it out in the primaries. Talk about hilarity ensuing.

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      It would be amusing if Cuomo ran but was unable to carry New York. He’s reviled here, perhaps even more so than DeBlasio.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        When he ran for re-election he got a mere 55% of the vote — in the primary. Against an absolute unknown.

        One would think numbers like that sufficient to disqualify a candidate. Then again — his book didn’t do so well, either.

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Cuomo won’t get past Iowa. He might hold on officially to New Hampshire as its in his “back yard” which won’t go over well with New Hampshire types.

        Reply
        1. Jen

          I beg to differ. There are no contiguous borders between NH and NY. That distinction belongs to VT, and good luck with that.

          He and Zuck will be duking it out for last place.

          Reply
        2. Code Name D

          I also beg to differ. Iowa, or the Democratic Party in general, dosn’t represent the will of the rank-n-file, but the will of the establishment. If Cuomo is the golden-child, it’s he primarie’s role to give that decision he orua of popular consent.

          The only thing that could unseat Cuomo as the golden chils is if Hillay decides to run again. Eather way, we get Trump again,

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Hillary Clinton was the “greatest most experiencedest candidate in the history of EVAH!”

            She was the queen. Her numbers out of precincts with retirement homes were amazing. If Hillary or some other legitimate leader of Team Blue (there isn’t one right now) wasn’t on the ballot, many of her people aren’t going to cross over for some tool like Cuomo. They were emotionally attached to Hillary, hence why they have all seemed to lost their minds. They have no intellectual basis for how Hillary could have lost because their support was always based in belief.

            Sanders barely lost in Iowa and crushed in NH. That was against the Queen with the whole establishment against him. Cuomo is Hillary without the long term loyalty. Cuomo isn’t going to set the youth vote on fire. Two, he isn’t going to do well with black voters in the South. The “establishment” cant transfer Hillary’s aging and dying voters to some random Democrat.

            Cuomo and Booker are two guys who are going nowhere.

            Reply
            1. roxy

              “Cuomo is Hillary without the long term loyalty.” thank you. there’s nothing more therapeutic than an honest belly laugh.

              Reply
          2. Richard

            If Hillary runs again? Could the Clinton Dems keep reality locked in the cellar for that long? The neighbors are bound to suspect something.

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Exit polls demonstrated Hillary primary voters dropped off if they weren’t 18 in 1996 and approached virtually 0 if they weren’t 18 in 2000. 17 year olds last year wouldn’t have voted for Hillary in the primaries either. Short of a major event such as 9/11 or the Iraq War, its likely the 16, 15, and 14 year olds will share sentiments similar to the kids who voted for Bernie when they come of age whereas Hillary’s nursing home brigades will be older and deader, along with what I imagine would be a significantly smaller war chest.

              A candidate who isn’t Hillary but tries to be Hillary is doomed for similar reasons. They will be Hillary with less name recognition, celebrity followers, and money as well as willing field organizers. When the candidate is unknown, field work is much harder.

              Reply
          3. different clue

            Well . . . if the DemParty nominates something like Cuomo or McCaulliffe or Booker or other such, I will vote for Trump again.

            The Clintobamacrat Group really does have to be exterminated from existence and wiped off the face of the earth. And if electing Trump after Trump after Trump is the only way to achieve that, then that is what I will vote for.

            Reply
          4. Jason

            I think you’re right (on Cuomo losing to Trump).

            I thought voting for Hillary against Trump was an easy if unpleasant decision. But if the Democrats are so clueless as to try to shoehorn in Cuomo, they can shove off and I’ll vote for someone else.

            Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Because having a choice between two sociopathic .01%ers from New York worked out so well in the 2016 general election.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Cuomo is a tool who’s whole career is owed to his daddy, and of course, Spitzer had his issues opening up room for Cuomo to advance.

        Shrub does spring to mind, but Shrub did beat Ann Richards, she was pretty much what Hillary devotees pretend Hillary is, despite being something of a black sheep and an after thought behind the family’s shining star, Jeb who joined Ollie North as Republican losers in 1994.

        Cuomo like Gore, Bayh, Jeb, and a host of other children of politicians and monarchs, even Hillary (before she ran for President, she shopped around for a safe Senate seat, a truly stunning political record) has no real concept of how to win but expect to succeed because they’ve more or less peddled their father’s name as far as they could. Along the way, they never developed political skills. Name recognition is important when running for office which is how these famous names advanced along with the loyalty of a machine, but the President is a different ball game. Ive found early state voters are fairly responsible. Cuomo will be starting at 0 in these states, but I doubt he considers his success to be a result of his famous last name and believes hes a self made man or some other nonsense.

        Reply
    3. Christopher Fay

      DeBlahsio’s trip was an exercise in higher level global warming. There is no benefit to NY citiers for him to grandstand in Hamburg. He left the greatest city on earth to go to Hamburg? But it beats staying in the city and try to fix the subway system.

      Reply
  2. Altandmain

    Michigan librarians win struggle vs. union busting
    http://www.workers.org/2017/07/17/michigan-librarians-win-struggle-vs-union-busting/

    Paul Ryan Doesn’t Love Free-Market Healthcare; He Loves Giving Money to Rich People
    http://fair.org/home/paul-ryan-doesnt-love-free-market-healthcare-he-loves-giving-money-to-rich-people/


    How bosses are (literally) like dictators: Americans think they live in a democracy. But their workplaces are small tyrannies.

    https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/7/17/15973478/bosses-dictators-workplace-rights-free-markets-unions

    Sometimes even Vox can get some of it right. Not a very high standard though.

    Student debt and homes for Gen Y
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-17/student-debt-is-hurting-millennial-homeownership

    Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-10/working-past-70-americans-can-t-seem-to-retire?cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_content=business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

    Many cannot afford to retire.

    U.S. birthrate hits historic low, and millennials get blamed
    http://www.startribune.com/u-s-birthrate-hits-historic-low-blame-the-millennials/431899533/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dkw&kwp_0=458477&kwp_4=1677141&kwp_1=720103

    So where were the conservatives who complained about people having kids they cannot afford?

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      RE: How bosses are (literally) like dictators: Americans think they live in a democracy. But their workplaces are small tyrannies.

      This is a very “dog bites man” article, but some of the links there are killer vomit-inducing material. At any rate, I’m just glad there’s some reporting going on regarding job crapification as opposed to blatant propaganda about historic low unemployment rates.

      RE: Student debt and homes for Gen Y

      This a Bloomberg article so I’m not surprised that they only address the student loan factor. Student loan debt only effects the portion of the millennial population that enrolled and college and took out loans. The remainder of the millennials can’t buy houses because they’re either unemployed or working at a crapified job that doesn’t pay enough to afford a house (see above boss article).

      Michigan librarians win struggle vs. union busting

      HOORAY!!! My favorite part of the Q & A:

      WW: How do you think the Westland librarian struggle ties into the broader working-class struggle?

      KC: I think it shows how often and easily the work people do is undervalued and treated as disposable, even when everyone who actually knows what they are doing would agree they are doing a good job.

      I think it also says a lot about how little [the library administration] cared about the library’s patrons. When the librarians were terminated, several programs aimed at older or more vulnerable members of the population had to be immediately canceled, including the homebound delivery program, the adult literacy program, the job-seekers lab, all teen programs, all computer classes and the writing groups.

      It also showed how little the Democratic Party actually cares about labor issues. Westland is run by Democrats and only two people from the Westland Democrat Club actually got involved to help us.

      Alt, thanks for sharing these great links!

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        And this:

        KC: I was already a socialist when this struggle began, but I would say the experience further radicalized me. I realized that working within the system was terribly inefficient, and I have now taken on a harder-line, anti-authoritarian position. Myself and several of the librarians involved have also been talking about how to decrease hierarchy in public library administrations and increase accountability.

        Awesome. I think librarians have a key role to play in reordering contemporary society.

        Reply
    2. Sue

      “Tyson prevents its poultry workers from using the bathroom. Some have been forced to urinate on themselves while their supervisors mock them.”
      Tyson tyrannic practices on employees have been well documented. Tyson went as far as incorporate to its organizational structure its own medical offices. You perfectly know why

      Reply
  3. Code Name D

    Re E-commece: If only there was a way we could pick up our goods at the same place where we make the purchus. Oh wait…

    Reply
  4. allan

    Democrats See Conservative Blue Dogs as Key to Winning House [Bloomberg]

    Since Republicans took control of the U.S. House seven years ago, Democratic campaign officials have shown little interest in working with a small group of fiscal conservatives in their party to gain more seats.

    But with Democrats clawing to reclaim the majority, that’s starting to change. The party’s House campaign arm is now building close ties with the previously ignored Blue Dog Coalition — which boasts that it’s not afraid to buck Democratic leadership — to prepare for next year’s elections, when all 435 seats in the chamber are up for grabs.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and party leaders are coordinating candidate recruiting and mentoring with the Blue Dogs. Both sides say there is a shared understanding that winning as many seats as possible in 2018 is more important than any Democratic purity test for potential candidates. …

    We are now 1/3 of the way from the 2016 election to the midterms.
    File under 2018 Trainwreck.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Buck the leadership”

      LEADERSHIP TO BLUE DOGS: “Please don’t buck my leadership by voting against #MedicareForAll.”

      “Learned nothing, forgotten nothing” (vs. “The North remembers,” I suppose). I remember when the Dems defenestarted Dean and Rahm did just the same thing in 2006. After which the Dems proceeded to win the Presidency twice and then lose everything else.

      Reply
  5. Huey Long

    RE: Being a “Team Player”

    This is especially true in dumping ObamaCare. The Republican alternative is a more free-market health-care system in which people can buy the insurance they want, not what government requires. Sticking with the team makes that possible. But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting

    I cannot stand the use of the phrase “Team Player.” Taken at face value, it conjures up mental images of folks working together, collaborating, getting along, etc. All happy stuff.

    What I’ve come to realize, and what this article basically comes out and says is that being a “team player” means that you’re the sort of person that shuts up goes along with whatever no matter the doubts, reservations, ethical considerations, etc.

    In the workplace, whenever anybody puts their arm around me and says “Huey, we need you to be a team player on this one…” I immediately start looking for the screw job. Does this person want me to screw over somebody else, am I getting screwed, are we screwing a customer, are their legal/regulatory/ethical screwjobs they want me to cover for, etc?

    Reply
      1. Alfred

        I believe “teamwork” in this sense is a metaphor drawn not from games in general but from American football specifically. I think “being a team player” is (a) to accept one’s assigned role [in the game, one always subordinate to that of the quarterback] and (b) to execute the tasks called by the boss [quarterback] on every ‘play’. Only when and if each “team player” on the field does as he is told does the quarterback maximize his personal freedom to maneuver (to adjust or abort a play, etc.). In other words, to be a “team player” is to be an organization man of the most consistently submissive, even automatic kind. Under full-blown neoliberalism the metaphor may be shifting in favor of basketball, where the pace is much faster than in football, where individual players [like multi-taskers] are required to be ‘flexible’ in shifting from offensive to defensive roles, and where they are more often expected to make personal ‘sacrifices’. Still I am convinced that the more rigid system of role assignment and executive compliance typical of football is what governs the sense of the term in almost all of current usage.

        Reply
      2. Marco

        In my experience on highly “collaborative” IT projects where mgmt incessently touts “Team Spirit” it usually devolves into a cross between Lord of the Flies and junior high dodge-ball. And I think this is exactly what mgmt wants.

        Reply
    1. sierra7

      Ah yes! Reminds me of another great line from a movie I can’t recall: “Are you the ‘screwer’, or the ‘screwee'”? Which would you rather be?

      Reply
    2. neo-realist

      Oh come on, Team Player looks good on the resume, particularly if you add on with examples in the CV. The powers that be that have the power over your paycheck are too big to challenge and not worth the trouble (I know it sounds jaded, does it?) The important thing is you’re not screwing yourself and you’ve got good health insurance.

      Reply
    3. flora

      ” But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting.”

      Dems are also better at losing. Why, they’re masters at losing. They could hold seminars on the art of losing.

      Reply
  6. Huey Long

    RE: Learned/Learnt

    Those tweets remind me of the trope I often hear about how those who don’t vote have no right to criticize the government. I usually reply that in my gerrymandered district my vote doesn’t count and that I’m not putting forth the effort to vote just so I can win their approval or the George Carlin line about not wanting to be responsible for the lousy leaders we elect.

    Reply
    1. Crestwing

      The right to vote also includes the right to not vote. If it didn’t then voting wouldn’t be a right, but an obligation.

      If you chose to not vote, then your effect is the same as spoiling your ballot or leaving the ballot blank. (Not being an American, is it even possible to do such a thing with a voting machine?)

      Criticism of government policy or action is part of the day-to-day workings of democracy. Citizen engagement with how government works is a fundamental feature of a properly-functioning democracy. Democracy doesn’t happen only every four years in a voting booth.

      One could turn the trope on its head: “If you aren’t routinely engaged with politics, why should you be allowed to vote every four years?”

      Reply
      1. sierra7

        Yes, the specter of the 80 million plus that did not vote in the last pres election…..a true time bomb!
        When all the “percentages” are tallied in the voting system we really have (had), “tyranny of the minority” for decades. The one thing we used to use vehemently during the “official” Cold War. “See, see, see!” “How Evil they are?”

        Reply
      2. Vatch

        Periodic criticism of government policies is hollow unless it is backed up by the threat of voting against the incumbent office holders. Despite widespread dissatisfaction, the voter turnout in 2014 was below 40%.

        Even if one lives in a highly gerrymandered Congressional or state legislative district, there are several other levels of government. There’s often at least one political race in which a person has a chance to make a difference. And if there is no such race in a particular location, that’s often because of poor voter turnout in the primary elections.

        Reply
    2. justanotherprogressive

      I’m with you, but I’m going to take it a bit farther. When a large percentage of the people don’t vote, the candidates should be thrown out and a new election should be run with new candidates.

      In essence, not voting means that you could find nothing in either candidate worth electing….

      Reply
  7. Huey Long

    RE: Guillotine Watch

    People with rich parents..

    “They’re going to mom and dad and saying, ‘We really want to buy something and would love it if you give us the money,’” says [Geoff McIntosh, president of the California Association of Realtors]..

    I remember feeling like such a loser about 10 years back when I got out of the military, got a civilian job, and found myself living in a crappy basement apartment in suburbia while many of my peers fresh out of college were living in tony Hoboken, NJ.

    Then I started dating a young lady who worked for a hedge fund who was living at home. I found out how much she was making and how inadequate it was in terms of paying for a Hoboken apartment, but still I wondered how my peers were paying for their apartments in Hoboken. Maybe she was just low man on the totem pole and these youngsters were all finance Wunderkinds?

    Years later I found out that these kids were all living the Hoboken dream on mom and dad’s dime and that financially subsidizing adult children in their 20’s is a “thing” amongst upper class professional families. It never occurred to me that parents did this for their grown children as nobody I know ever received that kind of largess, but I guess you live and you learn.

    Reply
    1. Sutter Cane

      I had this realization before the last housing bust. I wondered how the people making the same lowly salary that I made could afford to become homeowners. Turns out that the “buy now or be priced out forever” types who weren’t getting no-doc loans were all getting down payments from the bank of Mom and Dad.

      Reply
      1. Altandmain

        Those less well off have zero chance then of ever advancing into the middle class.

        The less well off have struggling parents too.

        Reply
    2. PKMKII

      The wealthy have done this for generations. Help preserve wealth by avoiding all those pesky interests payments on mortgages. But I’d be curious to see how prevalent the transgenerational assistance has become outside of the well to do. More evidence of decline if working class boomers and gen X are having to sacrifice their retirements in order to help their kids and grandkids obtain a fraction of the living standard they had at the same age.

      Reply
  8. JohnnyGL

    How about that headline from NYT “Inquiry into Bernie Sanders’s Wife May Tarnish His Liberal Luster”

    Hey, NYT, she’s got a name. It’s Jane Sanders!!! Let’s rework this tactic….

    “Email scandal dogs presidential campaign of wife of former President Clinton” — OH THE MISOGYNY!!!

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      “WMDs in Iraq” NYT rehashing a discredited republican who admits he made it up.

      Byline should be changed from “All The News That’s Fit To Print” to

      “All the smears that fit the narrative”

      Reply
    2. Jean

      Maybe headline should have read, “Corporate Media Booking Tractor-Trailers Now for 2020 Strategy: MSDNC emails refer to ‘Bernie Baggage’

      Reply
    3. ekstase

      Gosh, I searched this article for the in-depth reporting that would clarify just what the real deal was with this “scandal.” But all I found were a couple of quotes from someone, “who owns a media strategy firm,” and who doesn’t seem to like Mr. Sanders at all. Almost as if the article itself were designed to make readers give up support for Sanders. All the news that fits in.

      Reply
  9. Huey Long

    RE: Hat Tip

    The Bezzle: WeWork is now worth more than real estate investment trusts like Boston Properties and Vornado Realty Trust following the latest funding round that pegged its valuation at $20 billion, according to Forbes” [The Real Deal] (hoisted from comments, and I should have given a hat tip…)

    Lambert, that quote was my handiwork. In lieu of a hat tip I will take a small bow.

    ;-)

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      And I will keep you posted on the reality of coworking spaces vs. the hype.

      Hint: Most of us coworkers are not that innovative or disruptive. We’re working in fields that have existed for a long time.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        wow for that kind of intellectual and moral clarity now, when things get more F-ed up by the day, on all sides, and every which way. I mean the clarity of the critics and their political criticism, heaven knows there is and was nothing to praise about the Bush era otherwise.

        Reply
      2. different clue

        Isn’t Mr. Bill Montgomery still alive? Isn’t it only his Whiskey Bar blog which is long dead?

        Reply
    1. Ancient 1

      RE; New D.C Policy Group.
      I read this article and I thought, what in the world are these Democrats thinking? Tru Democrats don’t do this. Being war mongers is completely what “old fashion democrats” deplored. Why? Those who fight these wars are mostly the sons and daughters of the “deplorables”. The join the military because they have few or no other options for their future, living in those states that have been hollowed out by the neoliberal corporations and politicians. When those bodies come home, who really cares in this country, not the 10%. Their children do not fight our wars nor do the 1% either. How long will the “deplorables” continue to support this system? How long will average Americans tolerate what this country has become? May someone arise to lead us to a better future.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “Being war mongers is completely what “old fashion democrats” deplored.”

        Que? JFK, Harry, Lyndon, Woodrow, and Jimmy might be surprised by this claim. The neocons started out as Democrats.

        One event is the Neocons also read “The Emerging Democratic Majority” and recognized the GOP was a dead end party without serious help. To keep their agenda going, they needed to seize Team Blue, and there was a time where it seemed like any Dem could win every Kerry state plus Ohio against the Republicans. After the neocon embrace of Hillary, my suspicion is Republican voters outside of Versailles aren’t as hot for the neocons anymore as Republicans do hate Democrats and anyone who joins them. Republican rank and file see the neocons as effectively blood traitors. The Democratic Party elites largely being a mix of grifters, non-entities, and “old fashioned war mongers” were only too happy to embrace the neocons in an effort to stomp on the left until “the emerging Democratic majority” finally arrives to save Democratic elites from their voters.

        Reply
  10. jsba

    This story about the former dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine is a must-read. Of all the recent stories on egregious misconduct in academia, I thought the John Searle scandal was barfiest. But this is absolutely bonkers!

    One, Sarah Warren, was the woman who overdosed in the Pasadena hotel room. She told The Times she met Puliafito in early 2015 while working as a prostitute. She said they were constant companions for more than a year and a half, and that Puliafito used drugs with her and sometimes brought her and other members of their circle to the USC campus after hours to party.

    “He would say, ‘They love me around here. The medical students think I am God,’” Warren said.

    Puliafito resigned as dean suddenly in March 2016 (!) but he is still on the faculty and spoke at an official Keck event as recently as this Saturday (!) at one of the swanky hotels he frequented with his meth-buddies (!!)

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-usc-doctor-20170717-htmlstory.html

    Reply
    1. neighbor7

      I don’t usually get sucked in to “bad behavior” news stories, but this one seems on an entirely different level. Can’t wait for the eight-part Netflix doc.

      Reply
  11. skippy

    Oil exposure disrupts early life-history stages of coral reef fishes via behavioural impairments

    Abstract

    Global demand for energy and oil-based products is progressively introducing petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into sensitive marine environments, primarily from fossil-fuel exploration, transport, and urban and industrial runoff. These toxic pollutants are found worldwide, yet the long-term ecological effects on coral reef ecosystems are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that oil exposure spanning PAH concentrations that are environmentally relevant for many coastal marine ecosystems (≤5.7 μg l−1), including parts of the Great Barrier Reef, Red Sea, Asia and the Caribbean, causes elevated mortality and stunted growth rates in six species of pre-settlement coral reef fishes, spanning two evolutionarily distinct families (Pomacentridae and Lethrinidae). Furthermore, oil exposure alters habitat settlement and antipredator behaviours, causing reduced sheltering, shoaling and increased risk taking, all of which exacerbate predator-induced mortality during recruitment. These results suggest a previously unknown path, whereby oil and PAH exposure impair higher-order cognitive processing and behaviours necessary for the successful settlement and survival of larval fishes. This emphasizes the risks associated with industrial activities within at-risk ecosystems.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0232-5

    disheveled… reminiscent of the behavioral studies wrt high schools in Calif circa late 80s and early 90s with budget offsets from C-corp food suppliers. In a curious observation its the predator that – profits – from both examples.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      reminiscent of the behavioral studies wrt high schools in Calif circa late 80s and early 90s with budget offsets from C-corp food suppliers.

      For those of us who cam in late, or from another country, can you give us a link or two?

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Budget cuts or efficiency policies drove schools to seek revenue from the private sector in the form of vending machines originally and ultimately allowing fast food franchises under the roof of public Ed institutions. This is compounded by the location of fast food next to public school facilities in order to capture the traffic flow too and from school.

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2002.tb06519.x/abstract

        I was much more aware of conditions when living in Calif during the 80s and kept an eye on it into the 90s having moved to Boulder CO. With that I would suggest that searching via the web is replete with examples, including advances in neurosciences et al, backing up the behavioral aspect as well as the physical health aspects.

        disheveled…. without engaging in seeming hyperbole, I would liken the state to that of lead in the water supply or something on the order of what Yves has mentioned wrt lead being removed from petrol and crime rates.

        PS. If memory serves I believe that Front Line did a episode on it back in the day.

        Reply
  12. allan

    One largely overlooked trend in US inequality could be the most alarming [BusinessInsider]

    Better than the horrible click-baity headline:

    … A startling decline in the ability of Americans to climb up the social ladder is documented in a new study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

    The report, entitled ” The Decline in Intergenerational Mobility After 1980″ finds “mobility declined sharply for cohorts born between 1957 and 1964 compared to those born between 1942 and 1953.”

    Why the distinction? “The former entered the labor market largely after the large rise in inequality that occurred around 1980 while the latter entered the labor market before this inflection point,” write Jonathan Davis of the University of Chicago and Bhashkar Mazumder, a Chicago Fed economist.

    They find that “share of children whose income exceeds that of their parents fell by about 3 percentage points” in the period staring in 1980.

    Their findings echo a study from the St. Louis Fed in March that showed US social mobility is much lower than its rich-country peers’. …

    However, definite demerit points for the accompanying chart, whose different scales on left and right
    make the incomes of the top 1% and the top 10% appear to have grown at about the same rate,
    while the top 1% actually grew 3 times faster.

    Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      TL;DR version:

      The baby boomers had it easier than any other generation in history as it relates to the job market and the cost of higher education, and they pulled the ladder up behind them.

      The vast majority are insufferably selfish, and most with large fortunes have earned nothing in their life but my contempt.

      Reply
      1. allan

        …they pulled the ladder up behind them …

        The oldest babyboomers were 36 years old in 1980,
        when the income share of the 1% began to soar.
        The youngest were 16.

        Pretty young to be changing the course of the US economy.

        Hmmm … 1980, 1980 … something else happened in that year … what was it …
        … on the tip of my tongue …

        Reply
        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Whoever runs in 2020 should call the Trickle-Down Theft Era “40 Years Of Failure”.

          I was born in 1983. I’d kill a kitten in front of a kindergarten class to get to participate in an economy like existed in 1980. I live under the Iron Heel, or as it is most commonly known, The Oligarchy. I realize the readership of this blog skews older, but own your legacy:

          The planet will be uninhabitable, nobody under 35 can afford a house, and you spent our entire future on wars of conquest while letting the less fortunate die in squalor by the millions at home and the tens of millions abroad because you’re “guided by the beauty of our weapons” as warmongering puppet Brian Williams cooed in ecstasy.

          Save your deflections. You have failed. Please get out of the way.

          Reply
          1. Fiery Hunt

            I hear ya, WOT (I’m 46 and still paying student loans and will NEVER be able to buy a home)…

            But there are no shortages of Millennials who not only are enjoying this rigged system but are further corrupting and consolidating their grip on power and money.

            It’s not the age or generation of the perpetrator…it’s the economic elite class, both young and old, that truly deserves your scorn.

            Reply
          2. Ancient 1

            You forgot the dead and the maimed from those wars and the class of citizens who fought in them and for what?

            Reply
          3. different clue

            I spent the 6 years from 1980 to 1986 making $3,500/year as a part-time security guard or dishwasher or etc. From 1986 to 1989 I added weekend pharmacy technicianing to my worklife and started making $12,000 per year.

            So tell me about all the big money I made in the economy that existed in 1980.

            I never did vote for Reagan. I voted for the con-Man Clinton the first time and for some not-Clinton the second time. I never did vote for any Bush. I voted for Trump . . . to defeat Clinton.

            And now we get to Obama. Obama isn’t a Boomer. Obama is a Younger. Obama is one of YOU. And YOU are the people who voted for Obama in the primaries. So OWN YOUR Obama yourSELF.

            Reply
            1. WheresOurTeddy

              I know people living on $12K RIGHT NOW. In 2017.

              Obama was born in the early 60s, over 20 years before me. And I never voted for him once.

              Reply
              1. different clue

                No? But you Youngers-in-general did . . . all through the primaries. So as long as you wish to deal in generational cohort-load generalities, Obama was YOUR-ALL’S gift to the nation.

                Reply
        2. WheresOurTeddy

          So the youngest baby boomer was 16 in 1980…which means he only got to vote for Reagan once…in the LANDSLIDE of 1984.

          Since you’ve reached adulthood, you’ve elected Reagan, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Obama, Trump. 40. YEARS. OF. FAILURE.

          Hell of an electoral legacy you got there. Not a progressive in the lot of them. 2 pretty good republican con men that made a lot of people think they gave a damn whether the little people lived or died though. And 5 unabashed GOP top-down class warriors.

          BRA-VO.

          Reply
          1. WheresOurTeddy

            moderator: feel free to delete either this or the 5:33 reply. This one disappeared so I re-phrased.

            Reply
        3. WheresOurTeddy

          Please read my comments understanding that I make Bernie Sanders look like a moderate republican.

          Every human being should have food, housing, healthcare, education and employment if they want them. If your community does not provide those 5 things to everyone who wants them, you live in a *failed* state. If it fails to provide those 5 things to everyone who wants them while some live in opulent decadence, you live in an *immoral* state.

          Thus, America is not just a *failed* but also *immoral* state, and I reserve the right to cast aspersions on the people who have been nodding their head as the incessant rightward march goes on year after year.

          If you’re an activist, you’re obviously not one of the ones I’m talking about, and shouldn’t be offended. If you’re not, you’re just part of the problem.

          Reply
          1. Fiery Hunt

            Just to play devil’s advocate….

            What if you don’t want any of those things, WOT? What should society do with the huge homeless population that only wants drugs/alcohol and the easy panhandle life? The reason I ask is….How do you govern according to your principles (which I don’t necessarily disagree with)? What are the responsibilities of citizens? What are the reasonable requirements /limits of free health care? Of housing? One windowless room or condo? 3 bedroom McMansion? Etc, etc…

            Ranting for “Every thing for all!” Is pointless.

            Reply
            1. sandra l lawrence

              Fiery Hunt, I cry fie, foul and weak, weak argument to go to the most extreme segment of a population for your argument against WOT’s basics-for-all demand for equity. A majority of the homeless and/or addicted have special medical care needs not being met – physical, mental or both. How is it that you possess psychic insight that even one of those in the streets “don’t want any of those things,” life’s basic needs? Particularly, I’d like to hear how theirs is the “easy life.” Or is that merely obvious to you because, otherwise they’d just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps? Devil’s advocate, indeed.

              Reply
  13. todde

    Regarding local gov’t pensions that was discussed two days ago:

    I checked all my government audits and they all use the ‘blended rate’, called the Single Discount Rate.

    However I do notice that the long term expected rate of return on investments are all between 7.5% and 8.25%

    Reply
  14. Livius Drusus

    Re: rail and the ending of naps for train conductors and engineers, this is another example of the dehumanization of the workplace. Notice how these kinds of changes are always made under the guise of changing company “culture” which is just another way of saying that workers have it too easy and need to be more firmly and harshly controlled.

    The change in American management technique from the relatively benign forms of management in the post-World War II era to today’s draconian management style is one of the those things that is understood by many people but not discussed openly because it is assumed to be necessary to force the naturally lazy American worker to perform.

    Movies like Gung Ho painted American workers as lazy and coddled, reflecting a cultural belief that American corporate competitiveness was declining relative to the Japanese and others because of lazy, overpaid workers who were usually unionized. You still hear plenty of people blaming the decline of Detroit on the United Auto Workers but curiously never the executives or the engineers who designed the cars.

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      You still hear plenty of people blaming the decline of Detroit on the United Auto Workers but curiously never the executives or the engineers who designed the cars.

      BINGO!

      Whenever I get into it with an anti-Union leaning person and the “UAW killed GM/Ford/Chysler” trope pops up I mention the c-suite and engineers. Usually they backpedal and change topics shortly thereafter.

      I mean who can defend the poor engineering of the Pinto?

      There’s nobody I can’t stand more than right-to-workers. These jokers think that it’s OK for the bosses to organize (LLC, LP, Corpration, etc) but not OK for the guys on the shop floor to do the same.

      It’s all about “big me, little you,” “(familyblog) you I got mine” and being king of the dung heap.

      Reply
  15. ewmayer

    Headline of one of Mish’s pieces today: “Growing Number of Companies Complain About Inability to Find Workers: So Why is Wage Growth So Low?”

    Didn’t bother to read the article, but just by way of throwing this out there as a possible answer to the headline question — because companies refusing to pay living wages is a poor way to attract workers? Crazy notion, I know!

    Reply
  16. Chromex

    ]. “The next urgent area of cooperation must be election cybersecurity.”
    Well no. IF we do not want our “Democracy” to die howzabout changing the electoral college? So, you know, the majority of Americans can elect a president? ( I hate Hillary so I say this with some trepidation but , hey , the majority of eligible American voters voted for her to be president).
    I will not hold my breath but really until then we do not got a democracy, Times. And some of the reasons this is never brought up or demanded… are excellent object lessons in WHY we don’t got a democracy. So I do not care that bad ol Russia tried to influence people to vote for Trump. It would not have worked if we HAD a democracy.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “the majority of eligible American voters voted for her to be president).”

      Actually, the majority of eligible Americans didn’t vote for her to be President. The number is supposedly 200,000 million. 90 million registered voters didn’t even vote.

      Reply
    2. different clue

      That majority of voters who voted for Clinton is almost entirely a majority of Californians. You are calling for a system where a few coastal states own and run 40 non coastal states as their very own colonial province.

      Reply
      1. CitizenSissy

        I’d take that over the outsized politcal power wielded by rural states way out of proportion to their population.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          “Outsized political power”? Roughly 75 percent of the electorate said no to either Clinton or Trump! Seems like Money is the outsized power as well as the lock-out conducted by the two majors and the media in re multiple other parties. The super majority in primary, super plurality in generals who did not vote should have been the deciding factor.

          Here’s your honest results.
          http://brilliantmaps.com/did-not-vote/

          We don’t live in a representative democracy… I would like to, but it’s going to take far more than a few minor adjustments to get there from here.

          Reply
  17. Dirk77

    “The tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others, it finally imposed on itself”.

    – A quote from either Thucydides or William Francis Butler.

    Reply

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