2:00PM Water Cooler 6/18/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“House approves fast-track 218-208, sending bill to Senate” [The Hill].

“House revives Obama’s trade agenda with passage of fast track bill” [WaPo].

“House Punts Fast Track Problem Back to Senate; Path to Approval Unclear” [Eyes on Trade].

* * *
UPDATE, 2:30: Rather than go through the parliamentary detail, let me expose my personal and editorial biases (which are to be distinguished from an NC position) and comment on the question of “Why We Fight,” primarily so readers are clear, but also as (to be frank) a troll prophylactic.

I’ve been listening to the revolutions podcast before bed, from which I’ve drawn a few lessons. One is that revolutions are not infrequent in human affairs; the podcast has gone through the English revolutions of the 1600s, the American Revolution, and is now at the French Revolution; we just decapitated Robespierre. To come are Haiti and Russia, and perhaps more. Second: Both revolutions themselves, and the build-up to them, are protracted affairs with unknown flash points. That the ancien regime was sclerotic was known by a lot of smart people in the 1750s, and they all tried to fix it; but the revolution itself did not begin until 1789. Third: It’s foolish to romanticize revolutions, because they tend to kill a lot of people. Be careful what you wish for, especially when it’s others who will be doing the dying! Fourth: Accident and happenstance matter a lot. If Louis XVI’s character had been stronger, perhaps he would have kept his head, and France would have ended up with a Constitutional monarchy (and not a cascade that looks like Napoleon -> French Empire -> German nationalism -> German unification -> World War I (millions) -> World War II (millions). Not that causality in history is linear; but I think you can see how the butterfly of Louis’s vacillation could have created a vast, chaotic outcome. Finally: Victory belongs to those with organizational capacity who, when they see power in the street, can pick it up (as the Roundheads, the Jacobins, and the Bolsheviks show). Morality and justice are, I would say, very necessary, but most certainly not sufficient.

It’s the last point on organizational capacity that I want to highlight, because win or lose — caveat: As long as we can avoid the ills of tribalism and bot-like behavior, and retain critical thinking skills — all the effort of the last few years, including the Capital occupations, Occupy proper, #BlackLivesMatter (to name a few), the anti-fracking movements, are about building organizational capacity, not in the institutions or vehicles, but in the people themselves, as they actively participate.

So I am making a sort of Pascal’s wager here. People who choose to be hopeless (or, less judgmentally, quietist) are, of course, free to choose the course of inaction. But that strikes me as very much like lifting weights for a few days, not seeing much result, and then not only giving up, but buttonholing others in the gym, and urging them to give up. The sort of person who, on receiving an invitation to Estates General in 1789, would have said: “Non. It’s just another Lucy and the Football schtick. The whole thing is going to be dominated by aristocrats and bishops anyhow. Pas si bete!” Wise fool. And too bad for them!

And there is a lovely Cardinal in my garden! -030-

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Nine shot, multiple fatalities reported in downtown church shooting” [Post and Courier]. Historical background on the African Methodist Episcopal church where the murders took place. Reminiscent of the “suspicious fires at Southern Black Churches” in the 90s. And much else.

“Survivor says Charleston shooter spared her to ‘tell everyone’ what happened” [News3] (though note sourcing caveat). Apparently, the shooter joined a bible study class at the church, stayed for an hour, then opened fire when the class ended. 

“Police arrest suspected shooter who killed 9 in historic black church ” [Miami Herald].

“Murders in Charleston” [Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker]. 



Polls show Sanders picking up steam [MSN].

“Expecting a large crowd for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ first appearance in Charleston since he announced he was running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, his campaign has moved the Sunday night event to Burke High School” [Post and Courier].

The S.S. Clinton

Axelrove on Clinton and TPP: “The fact is, she was there when this thing was launched and she was extolling it when she left. She’s in an obvious vise, between the work that she endorsed and was part of and the exigencies of a campaign. Obviously, her comments plainly weren’t helpful to moving this forward” [New York Times]. And her comments weren’t strong enough to stop it, either, so Clinton gets the worst of both worlds by shilly-shallying. It will be amusing to see how often Obots yank Clinton’s leash going forward.

I think I finally understand what Benghazi is all about! “Republican members of a special congressional committee spent hours on Tuesday grilling Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal about the inner workings of the Clinton’s philanthropic and political operations” [Politico]. Just…. wow.

“While Hillary Clinton continues to hedge her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the related issue of trade promotion authority, her campaign is partnering with a pro-TPP/TPA law and lobby firm to raise cash” [The Intercept].

Republican Establishment

“Jeb Bush cancels visit in wake of church shooting” [Post and Courier].

“Telling the donors on the call they were ‘killers‘ who he was going to ‘set loose,’ [Mike Murphy, the longtime Jeb Bush confidant and consultant who is heading the Right to Rise super PAC] said the number the SuperPAC would be filing by the next July reporting deadline would give opponents ‘heart attacks’ and discourage their rivals’ donors from opening their wallets” [Buzzfeed]. Indeed!

“The “super PAC” supporting Jeb Bush, now walled off from the candidate because of campaign finance rules, hopes to “weaponize” its fund-raising total for the first six months of the year” [New York Times].

Republican Principled Insurgents

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has created a “testing the waters” committee that allows him to raise money for a presidential campaign. The two-term Republican governor has already been raising unlimited political donations through a tax-exempt group since January. And in April, former senior aides created a super PAC to bring in even more” [AP].

Republican Clown Car

Santorum on Charleson shooting: “we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before” [WaPo]. Attaboy.

CBS fact checkes The Donald [CBS]. I mean, after all, who needs to look at the labor force participation rate, or full vs. part-time jobs, to understand the labor market? Trump and CBS deserve each other.

“Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement” [Hollywood Reporter].

The Hill

“Former Rep. Barney Frank Joins Bank Board” [WBUR]. Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, May 2015: “Remarkable strength is being posted by the index of leading economic indicators which surged 0.7 percent for a second month” [Bloomberg]. Building permits, monetary policy. “As an analyst, I keep my eyes on 3 month rate-of-change (red bars) [in graph of leading index]. There is a short term (half year) trend along the zero line. Any recession warning follows months of negative growth of this index. This is why the authors of this index are saying no recession is near” [Econintersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, June 2015: “In the first notable indication of strength of any kind in the manufacturing sector, the Philly Fed index has absolutely surged” [Bloomberg]. “But is this report an outlier? It certainly isn’t confirmed by Monday’s Empire State report which lurched into the negative column to minus 1.98. Today’s report will focus attention on other Fed manufacturing reports to come including the Richmond report on Tuesday and the Kansas City report on Thursday. Both of these reports, and especially the Dallas report, have been very weak so far this year.” “This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, June 2013: “Jobless claims, after trending slightly higher in recent weeks, are back down near historic lows” [Bloomberg].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 14, 2015:  “Bounced back” [Bloomberg]. “Readings on consumer spirits are generally on the climb.”


“The contractor that built the Berkeley apartment complex where a balcony collapsed early Tuesday morning, killing six people, has a history of being sued for construction defects” [KTVU].

“Thomas Hayes, a former trader on trial over charges he manipulated benchmark rates, told prosecutors in 2013 that UBS Group AG distributed “an instruction manual on fixing Libor” to suit their trading positions” [Bloomberg]. So how much you want to bet there’s a manual like this for every market? Or, indeed, that the purpose of creating a so-called free market is to write “the manual” for it? “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices,” as Adam Smith says. And creating a market — in about the most meta example of reflexivity you can find — comes under the heading of “people of the same trade meeting together.” Eh?

“Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals employees broke into a network of the Astros that housed special databases the team had built, law enforcement officials said” [New York Times]. There ain’t no hackin’ in baseball. Oh, wait….

Police State

“On May 26, after a bloody Memorial Day weekend in which nine people were killed, an anonymous Baltimore police officer appeared on Fox News and said, ‘After the protests, it seems like the citizens would appreciate a lack of police presence, and that’s exactly what they’re getting, no proactive policing right now'” [The Intercept]. The argument seems to be that whacking black people with impunity is the very essence of solid police work. How about we take away their cars, take away their guns, and make them walk the beat?

“The District Attorney has dropped the charges against a teen who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground after he refused to give his glasses to school safety agents” [DNA Info]. Apparently, the guards had an issue with the safety pin he’d fixed his glasses with. Moral: Next time, use duct tape!

“The court often sides with police, and frequently at the behest of the Obama Justice Department” [MSNBC]. So the next time you hear “But Supreme Court!” from a Democratic loyalist…

“A former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy has been convicted of selling illegal guns” [San Francisco Chronicle]. I wonder how widespread this is.

“The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police” [New York Times].

Class Warfare

Restuarant sees profits triple after paying a decent wage and abolishing tipping [Yahoo.com]. And perhaps a third of the population says: “But how will I control my server?”

Hope in San Bernadino [The Atlantic]. Great article about what real education looks like, and it’s not “high stakes” tests.

News of the Wired

The interiors of Boeing’s union-busting plastic plane are rapidly deteriorating [Forbes]. What’s worrisome is that the story is about failing headphone jacks. That may sound trivial, but it’s an electrical problem, and the 787 is already known to have electrical problems. 

“Baltimore resident wants to make ‘relentlessly gay’ yard more relentless, gayer” [Baltimore Sun].

“Since 2000, the state of South Carolina has added three times as many background checks as it has new residents. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, it had more than six times as many background checks as new residents” [WaPo].

Court rules Bush officials can be sued for 9/11 detentions [The Hill]. Good. These people should be scared of taking international flights because they’ll be hauled before the Hague.

“Why we are all Cypriots in the new age of bail-ins [Resilience.org].

“Busting Myths: a Practical Guide to Countering Science Denial” [Econintersect].

Software design and addiction [Thoughtworks]. Very important. You can quit using that app any time, right?

* * *
Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) 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:


I hope the exposure on this peony with the fading light from the West is right; the colors are richest at dusk, but dusk…. Is dusk.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And pay the plumber….


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. craazyboy

    Hillary and Her Very Exceptional Press conference

    Hillary is at home in her office, an exact duplicate of the White House Franklin Delano Roosevelt Room. FDR’s shaving mug is in one hand, his shaving brush in the other. Hillary is dabbing generous amounts of green goo on her face, her nose, around the eyes, and forehead.

    A voice says “knock-knock” outside the office door. “Who’s there?”, chimes Hillary. “Bill”, comes the reply. “Bill who?”, Hillary counters, a smile growing on her face. “Bill… the first president of this household!”, brightly delivered by the orator on the other side of the door. “Come in, silly.” cackles Hillary, shaking her head. This knock-knock joke is a daily routine now at the Clinton home. But it never seems to get old.

    “Only five more hours till the press conference, Hill.”, says Bill.

    Five hours later. Caterers and news cameramen move around Hillary’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Room, setting up lighting and laying out a spread of Perrier water bottles and delightful looking finger foods on Hillary’s antique FDR conference table. The press conference begins.

    Hillary: Thank you for coming here to my press conference. I’m sure your trip here was comfortable and enjoyable. I’ll take questions in your assigned numerical order, so lets get started, shall we? Reporter #1?

    Reporter #1: Hillary…or, can I call you Ms. President?

    Hillary: Ah hahaha. No, no, not yet. Hillary is fine.[laughter]… For now. [laughter stops] Reporter #2?

    Reporter #2: Can you tell us more detail about your policy positions? Besides being generally like FDR, I mean.

    Hillary: We’re on national TV here, and time is short, so let me just say my policy positions are what the other candidates in the Democrat primary are running on. Reporter #3?

    Reporter #3: How do your policy positions compare to the Republican primary candidates?

    Hillary: I think with 500 plus days of campaigning yet ahead of us, it’s much too soon to talk about Republicans yet. Reporter #4?

    Reporter #4: 500 days is a long time, Hill. Do you foresee any surprises down the road?

    Hillary: My campaign people say I can expect a Nobel Peace Prize sometime around day 250. But other than that, no, nothing. Reporter #5?

    Reporter #5: That’s just great, Hill.

    Hillary: Thank you very much. Reporter #6?

    Reporter #6: Darn. All my questions have been asked already, Hill. I move to wrap this up and let’s hit the buffet table. Those finger foods look delicious and I’m sure you’re ready for a drink of water. Am I right, Hill?

    Hillary: Yes! I am feeling a bit parched. Let’s wrap it up. Cut to the commercial, folks!

    1. ewmayer

      That’s right, using rot-resistant pressure-treated lumber for those joists would have cost several dollars more, which would amount to a flagrant instance of criminal failure to maximize profits! Where would this country be if people thought that way? Sheesh.

      I’m sure the parents’ grief, though profound, will be assuaged to know their loved ones died in the service of the highest calling, free-market (as in, we can skirt any regulations we object to) capitalism. Greater love hath no man, and all that.

  2. Winston Smith

    Guess there will be twenty eight Democrats who won’t be reelected next time around.

    And twenty eight Democrats, along with Obama and the Republicans who voted for this can be charged with sedition. I think they should be reminded of this.

    Paul Ryan was on the TPTB radio, oops I mean NPR saying that ISDS cannot change our laws, which is true, but they can demand payment for “lost profit”. I think he didnt quite get that opponents of the ISDs don’t like this at all!

    With budgets all over the nation tight from local municipalities to the Feds a big payout to some multinational is something we can’t afford and will only raise taxes or bonds to pay these payouts back.

    1. EmilianoZ

      Who cares about reelection when you can get jobs at the most profitable corporations?

  3. Chris in Paris

    Re: news of the wired Dreamliner I can attest to the same deterioration…flight from Paris to Delhi last month. The seat was stuck and wouldn’t go completely back, the video screen in the middle seat was out and the USB port in my seatback meant for recharging and media viewing had been pushed in and was irretrievable. Overhead, the air vents were loose and couldn’t be adjusted. This was a new plane (new = about a year old). #crapification of everything. I was in economy, shame on me.

      1. Chris in Paris

        Shiva was probably protecting me, no sparking. Still, so weird. Who’d expect that in a sparkling new jetliner?

  4. Garrett Pace

    “Busting Myths” about Climate Denial

    Good heavens what a bold display of rhetorical fallacies. Guess scorn and pedantry weren’t working out so well, and now we see this:

    One effective way to reduce the influence of science denial is through “inoculation”: you can build resistance to misinformation by exposing people to a weak form of the misinformation.

    This technique is already popular, it’s called “straw manning”.

    source your information from the most credible source of information available: peer-reviewed scientific research.

    Countering appeal to authority via appeal to higher putative authority. And this is not exactly the golden age of “peer reviewed scientific research”.

    If your science is counter-intuitive, embrace it! Use the unexpectedness to take people by surprise.

    Winning arguments by confusing your opponent with things that don’t make sense also has a name: Chewbacca Defense.

    There’s an aggressiveness in this method that I don’t like at all – the idea that you have to yank defective cogs out of someone’s mental models before you can replace them with what YOU want them to believe. It’s smug and condescending too. And risky! Positioning yourself as the new authority that your victim should appeal to is not going to work every time, and leaves them with an unsteady foundation, vulnerable the next time some new authority borrows the robes of “peer reviewed scientific research” to sell them something.

    It also displays a fundamental insecurity. Do you really think so little of your weighty empiricism that you need to attack before you can propose your ideas? I thought it was your feeble opponents that had to resort to this garbage of tricks and foolery?

    You might be better off accepting it: people are wrong. All the time, about all sorts of things. Denialists are wrong, so what? Denialists are helping destroy the earth. You are too, first-worlder. At least the denialists aren’t hypocrites. Or there are different kinds of hypocrites.

    You’re wrong too. And you’d be better off admitting it. Constructing a firm and immovable edifice of scientific consensus is the silliest thing ever, because of course the main thing ACTUAL scientists do is work to knock that edifice down and destroy its idols.

    Anyway, my rant is winding down. Is this the world we live in? Where the only people who can be trusted to formulate opinions is scientists who get published? Or funding at least? And everyone else should go along?

    That’s not science.

    1. Garrett Pace

      If you asked me the best way to counter denialism, it would be to have people read Thucydides. Or Plutarch. Or Scott Momaday. Or Milton. Or a thousand others.

      Fit more ideas into peoples heads, all kinds. False ideas are as important as true. Their “mental models” will be crippled, disrupted, rethought, reworked. Sometimes for the worse but usually for the better. They will develop critical thinking skills. They will become authorities on all kinds of subjects, in their own right. Despis’d terms like ontology and epistemology will take on a crucial importance.

      I did some of that and became partially sentient.

    2. Gaylord

      The scientific consensus is not based only on peer-reviewed literature, but also on extensive documented observation. The massive changes disrupting the climate are certain evidence of human destabilization of the earth’s habitats to support life. No one need defend the conclusions of that evidence any more because they are widely acknowledged. Deniers are nothing but liars or dupes that need to be refuted and squelched at every turn because they will not listen to reason.

      1. Garrett Pace

        You’re wishing for a world of more obedient sheep without noticing that we’re already living in it.

        Earthicans already, collectively, fall into a trance anytime someone in a while lab coat waves a set of credentials in their eyes. That’s the PROBLEM, not a solution. If we decide we need the permission of a scientist to believe any particular thing about the world or metaphysics, very well, one can always be found that reinforces existing views rather than challenging them.

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s not just white coats, but any vestments of authority. It’s what Americans are trained to do, and why school apparently needs to start ever earlier in life. Humans fantasize that they have the ability to, or even ought to, sublimate their urges under any authority’s will without any impedance loss. I’m pretty sure they’re wrong but dozens of generations of selective breeding for Homo economicus is a formidable obstacle.

      2. ian

        This idea of ‘scientific consensus’ is one of the things that plays right into deniers hands. Science doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t ) work by ‘9 out of 10 scientists believe …’. It should be about what you can demonstrate in a repeatable experiment. In this regard, climate change _is_ different from electricity, gravity or chemical reactions. History is replete with examples of single individuals who overturned the existing consensus.
        I’m not saying I deny climate change, or that humans are responsible for at least part of it, but it is a conjecture on my part.

    3. James Levy

      Really, Einstein worked to knock the edifice down and destroy the idol of Newton? No, that’s not what he did. He came up with a more general theory of gravity that worked under conditions Newton had not considered because they were largely unknown. Newtonian physics hasn’t been destroyed–it can get you to the moon and back, no problem. It has been updated, corrected, and reformulated within a different matrix or paradigm.

      Science is not a zero sum game. Some things are shown to be in error, but often things hang on for decades, even centuries, without needing significant reformulation. Boyle’s Law still works. Much of 19th century thermodynamics still works. The consensus around these things isn’t foolish–it is shop-worn and tested. A better theory may come along, but that doesn’t mean the ones we have are thereby rendered moot, any more than the atomic model of matter is wrong because we now have solid evidence for quarks.

      1. Garrett Pace

        Einstein knocked down the idea that physics ended with Newton, not Newton himself. Earlier rules provided useful but inaccurate approximations.

        I don’t know what we’re arguing about.

        1. Garrett Pace

          And I should expand on what I am trying to criticize – the current effort to display “scientific consensus” as something immutable and final. It’s dishonest, since we know that all findings are tentative, forever. And it’s also risky because when people come along and improve or disprove “what we know that ain’t so” people will say, “but you told us you were sure”. And they lose faith in your consensual credentialism.

          I get it, that the tentative drunken walk of scientific discovery doesn’t play well against the ideologues, but don’t turn scientific method into another ideology. You’ll do more harm than good.

          Science makes a great servant, and a very bad master.

      2. ian

        Then there was the luminiferous ether, the phlogiston theory, the geocentric universe, the flat earth and the ‘miasma’ that spread diseases (to name a few). New discoveries didn’t just tweak these ideas, they threw them out the window. These were all consensus by respected scientists at the time and were all debunked by observation and experimentation.
        My point earlier was only that making the ‘4 out of 5 doctors recommend’ type argument to climate change deniers simply begs them to come back with ‘ok, then prove it to me’.

    4. Alphonse Elric


      The first sentence of that post is already a sign that something is wrong: “It should go without saying that science should dictate how we respond to science denial.”

      That’s only true if it’s accepted up front that science is some magic oracle giving reliable answers to all human questions. Faith in that sort of thing leads people to ideas like economics and astrology.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Well said, AE. And an interesting exchange, JL and GP. I want to add a couple of things.

        One of my 5 jobs is as a part-time environmental consulting field worker. I help a friend do wetland delineations. The industry is incredibly corrupt. Property owners will come right out and say what they want the report to conclude, before we’ve even started. Mostly they want wetlands to go away. It doesn’t occur to them that we’re there to do a scientific evaluation and report whatever it is we find, that to tell us what the report “needs” to say is like telling a doctor what the diagnosis will be before the exam takes place. (We don’t tell them that doing so ensures the biggest buffers we can justify.)

        The PhD who owns the company (for which we work as “independent contractors” of course) sees his role not as impartial observer, but as the client’s advocate. He’s all too happy to make wetlands go away. As a BA myself, I’m deeply disappointed. I thought I’d find more integrity in a “profession.” He’s gone so far as to suggest not reporting sightings of frogs.

        It reminds me of the Star Trek episode where Picard is captured and tortured by a Cardassian, who tells him the torture will stop and he can lead a life of comfort if he’ll just say there are 5 lights when, in fact, there are 4. One of these days, I’m going to tell a client, “There! are! four! frogs!” To their utter bewilderment, I’m sure, but it’d still be funny.

        The bogus “reports” literally work like charms on the intended targets: county permitting officials. It all looks to me like a ritual. If you can afford to get a dispensation from a priest of the church of science, you’re good to go. So I share the concern that people often put blind faith in what they think is the impartial word of Science but is actually plain old advocacy.

  5. so

    Thank you for the beautiful photo. A moody peony.
    It reminded me of the dutch artist Willem Van Aelst b.1627.
    380+ years ago. It’s nice to have something in common with the past.
    It helps me deal with the present.

  6. optimader

    The interiors of Boeing’s… plane are rapidly deteriorating [Forbes].

    Or when did Boeing (Airbus) start specifying/manufacturing seats and interior appointments for Carriers? Link?

    1. Carolinian

      I was gonna say. Might want to hold off on the “I told you sos” re the union busting Boeing…do a little googling. There was a story the other day–don’t have a link handy–about the problems the seat manufacturer Zodiac was having at their San Diego plant. It said they are overwhelmed with orders–doing work in plant hallways. Apparently lavatories are also built to spec by subcontractors.

        1. Carolinian

          Boeing builds airframes. Optimader is saying–and I believe this is correct–that seats and other appointments are chosen by the airlines themselves. Now if the wheels fall off then you may have a point.

          If you want to bash Boeing a better avenue of attack would be their key position as part of the Military Industrial Complex. Needless to say many of those missiles and bombers are proudly union made. When I lived in Atlanta one of the largest unions shops was the Lockheed plant in Marietta, originally built by the USG during WW2 to turn out B-29s. So unions–and I once belonged to one–have always been a mixed bag when it comes to some of the more humanistic goals of the left.

          Just sayin’: when it comes to aerospace at least it’s complicated….

          1. optimader

            Boeing builds airframes…If you want to bash Boeing a better avenue of attack would be their key position as part of the Military Industrial Complex. Needless to say many of those missiles and bombers are proudly union made

            yes, yes and yes. If the carriers could get away w/it there would be no interiors in coach.

            Actually the reliability of Commercial aircraft amazes me when considering the operating requirements, availability and abuse they are subject to, and Boeing remains the best manufacturer management and unions aside.

            The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is at least as messed up as Boeing management, and has its own rich history of discriminatory practices which included an oath banning blacks from membership which ultimately require Federal action ( an executive order — Roosevelt) to ban discriminatory practices fro all federal contractors.

            It would in fact be interesting to see a comparative compensation schedule of Union vs non-Union Aerospace workers.

        2. optimader

          And the reason Boeing would be subcontracting everything would be

          It would be an impossible business model to vertically integrate.

        1. hunkerdown

          There was a saying around the auto-industry injection molding shop where I once worked, often used by some of the more jocular foremen when an operator would ask whether a particular defect was passable: “Are you gonna afford one of these things any time soon?” If not, then pack that part.

  7. Gaylord

    Human history henceforth will be influenced primarily by the forces of nature. It is one thing to be educated in history, sociology and politics, but yet another level of awareness to understand science and to recognize how the forces of nature immeasurably dwarf the affairs of humans. Science gives us overwhelming evidence that humans have colonized the planet beyond its carrying capacity and have befouled the biosphere irreparably. The ecosystem’s built-in tolerance gave us a window of opportunity to correct our ways, but the basic fault of our egocentricity has fostered the belief that we humans control nature, and now that window is closing as nature is proceeding to extinguish our species along with most of the rest of life on this planet. Any discussion of revolution must therefore begin with nature’s revolt against all the helpless beings that will be fighting to the end for the last scrap of food and drop of water.

  8. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Re: TPA

    I still think the best shot to kill this zombie is Harry Reid. He is Senate Minority leader and can hold the Dems together as a coherent block if he wants too.

    Your point on organizational capacity and it taking time to overcome corrupt institutions is a good one, though it is still discouraging to win a battle and then have the rules changed post facto. It seems that this only happens on issues that matter to the rats that infest both parties (Chamber of Commerce, bank lobbyists and Soros types.) Any kind of populist legislation (Buffett rule, campaign finance limits) only gets one chance. This is in of itself a form of corruption that the original American revolutionaries would have probably considered worthy of adding to their list of grievances.

    Hopefully one good thing to come out of this episode is a few more people waking up to the reality that there is no real difference between the two parties on economic issues. Both will push the neo-liberal agenda once they have governing power, and only give lip service to the progressive and populist causes when they are out of power and have nothing to lose. Watching John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Obama become BFF’s has been quite instructive.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Harry Reid? Are you kidding? The guy is the leader of Senators. The only way he would act is if he was deflecting personal embarrassment. The sob is happy being a pig.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Actually, both parties are split, and (if you think of TPP as an economic issue) along both economic lines.

      I really think “both parties are the same” is a thought paralyzer. You wouldn’t say “all battlefields are the same,” right?

      1. Gerard Pierce

        Saying that both parties are the same IS a thought paralyzer. Noticing that both parties are subject o the same economic interests is a start.

        IIrc when the New Democrats were forming, there were people who wanted to get money out of politics. As I remember, Hillary fought strongly against this because she believed (per her own statements) that this would have a serious negative impact on the Democrats.

        1. jrs

          I think “both parties are the same” is often used as a shorthand for “both parties are equally evil”. I don’t really disagree with the second statement. But things can be equally bad and yet have unique features. And yes both parties do serve the same class interest but at times somewhat different segments of the plutes.

  9. jrs

    I think some of those “pessimists” may just have given up or don’t have much hope for working within the system (ie calling congress, voting at all, or if not voting at all at least voting for *ANYONE* DUOPOLY including Bernie Sanders – I was almost going to abbreviate his name and just realized what abbreviation it made ….).

    But fracking blockades and #BlackLivesMatter aren’t exactly working within the system so might still have support.

    They just sold out our sovereignty (or will when it passes the Senate and with the trade agreements themselves). This accumulated on top of so much horrible (they threw out rights dating back to the Magna Carta with the 2012 NDAA! That’s how bad it all is) for so many years now … and people can hardly be blamed. The case against the illegitimacy of our rulers is overwhelming.

    I don’t call for a real revolution, people die, but there is also the fact the existing system is killing more and more of us each year.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I explicitly list Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter as examples of building capacity. I think “working within the system” is another phrase that paralyzes. We’re all working within the world system, right?

    2. participant-observer-observed

      ” and people can hardly be blamed. The case against the illegitimacy of our rulers is overwhelming.”

      People are entirely to be blamed, in a so-called democracy. In other countries, the people would be on general strike and out in the streets. Americans cannot even be bothered to pay attention to what is going on. The people get the nanny corporate state they enable.

      We have to face the fact that the majority of Americans in fact LOVE fascism and authoritarianism, so long as it can be paraded around on a stick with the American flag on it.

      1. jrs

        They’d have to first be willing to break the law. General strikes are illegal in the U.S.. I’m not sure they are in some of those countries, we may not be comparing apples to apples. But breaking the law is kind of part of undermining …. (civil or not even civil disobedience).

        My opinion of most Americans views on politics is not high. They are just so brainwashed in a way that’s difficult to describe as it goes far beyond terms like “right” and “left”.

      2. jrs

        Although I was trying to argue “people can hardly be blamed” for giving up on the system and on working within it given how bad things really are. But I never meant what some majority of Americans think, I meant about the “pessimistic” people who despair at it all.

  10. steviefinn

    Thanks for the balcony post Lambert. I have shared it with my Irish FB friends by way of this page & by copying & pasting the main text – as it seems that it will not link outside of the US. It is already flying about.

    1. hunkerdown

      You mean those several hundred dollars in refundable credits I’ve been giving W credit for all this time were based on a Sanders proposal?! That’s important!

  11. hunkerdown

    Thanks for the tangential direction over to Slashdot (which should just call itself Techstate). It’s where I heard the excellent news that ECMA-262, version 6, has at last been approved by its General Assembly, which brings us a few steps closer to throwing away all our tools as ppk exhorted us to do recently. I’m so glad they’ve decided to diverge further from the boilerplate-loving Java/C++ community and make the language suitably terse, even without significant whitespace.

    Also, Firefox continues their valiant super-ichthyological aerobatics, now leveraging their installed base into a profitable social network (i.e. jumping the shark) by shipping proprietary third-party add-ons with the browser. The value of Firefox as an implementation of W3C standards continues to decline. Let’s just call the thing Netscape Navigator again and be done with it.

  12. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Lambert I’m glad to see you are writing and thinking about revolution. It’s time. In my day (late 60’s) we stopped a war, threw a crook president out of office, and completely changed the society. But the hippies’ first step you’ll recall was to “raise consciousness”, that worm turns slowly but it does seem to be turning. It would be great if we could break the link between war and revolution…but I fear we can’t. Everybody should be clear however which side of the barricade they should be on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I think things are much less binary, which if you read the post carefully, you’ll see. I disagree that “it’s time,” because of the role of chance. And there are many barricades with many sides. Of course, “in a crisis, things correlate,” but we are very far from that. If anything, I’m a radical reformer.

      1. Rex

        Saw a Bullock’s Oriole male in my yard the other day, lifted the mood with those bright colors. Then, back to revolutionary thoughts.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        For me the nuances disappear and things do become pretty binary when enough is at stake. Once the issues are “does the rule of law apply any more?” and “am I dying from lack of access to medical care?” and “will there be a world war?”, then the choice for me becomes clear.
        I used to believe that reform from inside was still possible, up until approximately November 2008 when Obomba said he was selecting Little Timmy Geithner. The Death of a Thousand Cuts (from the grassy knoll to Diebold voting machines to missile holes in the Pentagon) tipped over the top for me at that point. Everything I’ve seen recently, from the TPP to Hilary and Jeb to that awful fake tan fascist at the IMF, the demonization of Russia and the Long March to WW III, just reinforces my beliefs.
        And as far as a game of chance, when the dealer has rigged the deck your choice is to play and lose, not play (non participation), or smash the table and grab any remaining chips. Hunter Thompson told a story of being pulled over by the cops one time, if he produced his driver’s license he knew they would bust him; if he didn’t produce it, he would be busted too. He realized he had a third option: blow his nose on his license and then hand it over to the cop. The citizen had de jure complied, but…

        1. jrs

          sounds like a radical under-miner there. Try to slowly saw the legs off from under the table while in play, not that I’m always sure what that entails.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      I think a peaceful revolution has to begin by acknowledgement that US Govt is no longer legitimate. It does not represent the people in any way (economy, personal rights, war, justice…). Here in the midst of the greatest income inequality since before the 1929 Wall St Collapse and Great Depression, they have passed a monstrosity that further rigs the system against workers and consumers (worldwide). Gandhi succeeded by non-participation in the British system. Maybe that is the approach to take.

      1. Vatch

        There were many factions in the Indian independence movement besides Gandhi, and they embraced a wide variety of ideologies and actions. By itself, I don’t think that non-participation can be very effective. In combination with other strategies, it can be very useful.

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          Agreed. And I think most people have no idea why their circumstances are crumbling before their eyes. Most americans are oblivious to the underhanded betrayals going on in DC. The term Blissfully Ignorant about covers it.

    3. Titus Pullo

      we stopped a war

      Was that around the time Nixon and Kissinger started bombing Cambodia and Laos? You guys didn’t stop the war. You delegitimatized it in the American consciousness, but the war went on, and kept on going after Saigon fell.

      In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, I went to SF to participate in the anti-war demo. They had a speaker, an anti-war guy from your time who laid in front of a train carrying tanks to whereever. They didn’t stop the train, so he didn’t have legs. I didn’t understand at the time, his existence was metonymy for American empire.

      > But the hippies’ first step you’ll recall was to “raise consciousness”

      Something pioneered by the likes of Montaigne, Thoreau, Emma Goldman, or even literary characters like Yossarian from Catch-22. Hippies are also good at self-mythologizing. Raising consciousness has been the part of the program for most democratic projects. One could make a strong argument it is a core part of the Enlightenment.

      I’m personally afraid more of us will be fighting for survival than rebelling in the next couple of decades.

  13. Jim

    Lambert raises and extremely important issue in his discussion of organizational capacity. He states it is also “….. about building organizational capacity not in the institutions or vehicles but in the people themselves as they actively participate.”

    There needs to be much more concrete discussion about this dimension of organizational capacity.

    What types of political self-activity are most conducive to forming a social/emotional bonds among participants that can result at an individual level in a new sense of self and on the collective level in the creation of a political self-confidence ready to take on an undemocratic social system?

    Perhaps closely related to this question is the proposition that while revolutions may not be that uncommon democratic revolutions are extremely rare. For example, the type of analysis that Nathan Tankus has recently focused on, developing the organizational capacity for setting up a new monetary system, seems to assume the Syriza has an internal democratic organizational structure. which could take on this technical task, with enough preparation time.

    Is this in fact the case? Are the internal lines of communication within that party conducive to democracy, even if they come up with the technical expertise to set up a new monetary system.

    Is it possible to organize for democracy? If so, how?

    1. HotFlash

      Me, I figured this to be the case many decades ago, and this is, FWIW, what I have done and have been doing.

      Step one: Join every local group that looks even slightly compatible. I mean it — ratepayers assoc, residents assoc, food coop, horticultural society, iris club, volunteer for school garden mtce, fruit-tree-pickers, green ward/precinct, program to help high-schoolers build their own bikes from donated parts, bike safety checks on school field day, save the ash trees. Lambert was out t’other day at a dump hearing and he is active in his local watershed project. This is how you meet your neighbours. I cannot stress how important it is when dealing with people to have a track record for yourself and to know theirs. The more years the better. Food is an especially good way to connect. I mean, we all eat, don’t we?

      Step two: Once you have some contacts, you can start organizing. For instance, arrange screenings of provocative videos such as Transition 2.0, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Owned and Operated, Ellen Brown – Web of Debt, How To Divide And Re-Plant Irises, yada yada. I am sure you have your own list of what would resonate with people in your community. If not, go back to step one.

      Then you have a group of people who can — well, can what? Can start a Transition Streets initiative. Or fight the Cancer Trains. Or be ready to buy out their own apartment building when it goes up for sale. Or make an Ongoing Street Potluck, wherein neighbours grow food in their own backyards and share/swap out the produce. Or a joint daycare coop, chicken coop, beehive, senior-care program and, if/when required, a local house that can become a senior-home.

      Step three: I dunno, haven’t thought/worked that far ahead. You tell me? I believe that if we all know one another, and help one another, we can save one another.

  14. vegasmike

    I think Trotsky once wrote that the three prerequisites for a revolution are 1. mass discontent 2. a revolutionary group that can organize the discontented. 3. an incompetent ruling class. I’m not a fan of revolutions, because they almost always end tragically for both the original leaders of revolt and for the masses who participate in the movement. If anyone can provide examples of successful revolutions, please provide them.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, that’s why I’m more a radical reformer. What do you mean by “successful”?

      1. vegasmike

        In the 20th Century and still today, many people not only revolutionaries, believe that if you take your politics seriously you must be willing to get your hands dirty. Stalinist would often say you can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg. My definition of success is this: your revolution reduces human suffering and in the process very few people get their hands dirty and very few eggs are broken. I think our times call for radical reform, but not a dictatorship of the proletariat, a Jacobin reign of terror or a Chinese style cultural revolution. Of course, that only a miniscule number of people desire these kinds of revolutions, so the whole question is basically academic. A bigger problem is the crackpot realism of what’s called the political center.

        1. vidimi

          the french and russian revolutions generally improved life for the masses within the heartlands considerably. that they started off a chain of events that had regrettable consequences for others doesn’t make them unsuccesful.

    2. HotFlash

      Yeah, I don’t like revolutions b/c people inevitably get dead. Often the wrong ones. I, for one, am not ready to kill for the cause. I am ready to die for it, but would really rather not. So.

      My Plan A is the end run, just re-organize locally so that We don’t need Them. My Plan B is to die before the s hits the f. Sorry, it is just that I am old. I will work Plan A as long as I can. Oh, and plant fruit trees.

    3. armchair

      The Glorious Revolution? In the initial phase of the French Revolution, there were expressions of hope that a king could be bloodlessly deposed, just like that Glorious Revolution of 1688 (no links, but I recall this from reading Schama’s Citizens)

    4. dalepues

      The U.S.A., I believe should be considered a successful revolution. It had your three requirements, 1, 2, and 3. It has lasted 240 years, thereabouts. And there is a good possibility it will endure much longer.

  15. ProNewerDeal

    China or their BRICS blocks could do a huge soft-power win against the US, its junior clients like Japan, and its TPP, while simultaneously helping all of humanity, by declaring that “Intellectual Property Rights” are obsolete for several categories of products, including software, ebook & video educational resources, & pharmaceutical compounds (Dean Baker’s policy where the pharma compound is open source, private & public orgs can free-market compete on the manufacture & sale of this open sourced pharma), and support on a massive scale existing open source projects in these categories.

    Have any geopolitics gurus discussed this idea? Wouldn’t this prevent a portion of the damage to actual people the TPP is designed to inflict?

  16. nycTerrierist

    Not sure whether this link has already appeared on this site.

    NYers please sign the petition to get Bernie Sanders on the Dem. presidential primary ballot in NY.


    “Why? Meet Wilson-Pakula, a very obscure state law. The Wilson-Pakula act, which passed in New York State back in 1947, bars any candidate from running for the nomination of a political party that he or she is not officially affiliated with. Unless, that is, he or she manages to get permission from that party’s committee leaders.”

    nb: BS is an independent on paper.

    1. HotFlash

      Hi Terrierist,
      Do you know who can sign this petition? Does one have to be from NY state? From the US?

      1. nycTerrierist

        Hi HT,

        Not sure. I quickly re-read the link and couldn’t find out.
        When I scanned the signatures, some specified U.S., some did not.
        So I’d say it wouldn’t hurt for anyone to sign? whether from NY/US or not?
        just my two cents!

        Anyone else here care to weigh in?

      1. Chris

        My hotmail account sends all emails from Bernie’s campaign to my junk folder. Three times I have marked his emails as “not junk”- which should, and has always in the past, sent future emails from a particular sender to my inbox. Someone doesn’t like him.

  17. todde

    Donald hires actors to cheer him on.

    The Dood ain’t even elected yet and he is already putting Americans to work!

  18. HotFlash

    Excellent catch! I wil be so happy to send my righty-wing relatives (many!) and friends (few) this link. Heh.

  19. MikeNY

    Very much agree with you wrt revolutions and engagement — brought to mind MLK’s dictum that “evolution is better than revolution”. Once social conditions get bad enough that the “R” word is a possibility, the distribution of outcomes is very fat-tailed. No one should hope that events take us in that direction. Indeed, we all probably have a moral responsibility to do what we can to ensure that events don’t

    1. Ulysses

      I don’t think we have a moral obligation to defend the status quo, so as to avoid the dangerous uncertainties of revolutionary change. What I feel morally compelled to do is to urge everyone to demand changes– that will move the current system towards being less oppressive to humanity, and more respectful of all parts of the fragile ecosystem that sustains human life.

      I think it is highly immoral to ask people who are the victims of state violence to not defend themselves. It is of course foolish to provoke state violence for no good reason. Yet some circumstances demand that we step out of the veal pen, and openly confront violent enforcers of an oppressive regime. This is risky, but also necessary! If you have to hold up a trash can lid to ward off rubber bullets when you try to exercise your first amendment rights that shows how afraid the authoritarians are of what you have to say. What you have to say today is precious, don’t wait for a “safer” tomorrow that may never come.

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.

      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.

      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

      –Martin Niemöller

      1. MikeNY

        I think we agree. I meant what I wrote as an endorsement of (non-violent) engagement in the pursuit of justice, so that most citizens never see revolution as a good option. I do not mean to suggest supine acceptance of the status quo.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, it all comes down to the implied definition of “defend themselves,” doesn’t it? Most violence advocates have a very clear view of what that means, and (for whatever reasons) confuse violence with force. Non-violence advocates aren’t confused about that, but unfortunately are also misrepresented (at least in #BlackLivesMatter) by the Black Misleadership Class.

        At the limit case, “defend oneself” boils down to biting a dog on the *** because they bit you on the ***.

        Of course, I’m not proffering advice, since I’m not on the ground; just clarifying the language.

        1. Ulysses

          “confuse violence with force?!!?” Color me confused, then, even though I am a staunch pacifist and would never advocate violence.

          When four unarmed civilians were shot dead at Kent State, was that violence, or the regrettable consequence of a legitimate (albeit morally wrong) decision by “duly constituted authorities” to use “lethal force” to “quell a disturbance to public order?”

          Violence used by the state may be “legal,” in some sense, but it is still violence. Replacing the unambiguous word violence with the authoritarian-affirming “use of force,” is as Orwellian as replacing the plain English phrase “murder of innocent civilians” with the NYT-approved “unfortunate collateral damage resulting from a drone strike against dangerous terrorists gone astray.”

  20. kimsarah

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House dramatically rescued President Barack Obama’s trade agenda from near oblivion Thursday, and supporters urged the Senate to finish the job and give him a signature achievement in his final years in office.
    The turnabout gave a much-needed lift to a president recently rebuffed by his own party after years of fighting Republicans.
    The same 28 House Democrats who previously backed Obama’s bid for “fast track” negotiating authority held firm, despite withering criticism from unions and liberal groups.

    Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.) – 202-225-5716
    Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.) – (202) 225-3341
    Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.) – (202) 225-2040
    Rep. Sam Farr (Calif.) – (202) 225-2861
    Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.) – (202) 225-2161
    Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.) – (202) 225-4061
    Rep. John Delaney (Md.) – (202) 225-2721
    Rep. Brad Ashford (Neb.) – (202) 225-4155
    Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) – (202) 225-3461
    Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) – (202) 225-4811
    Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.) – (202) 225-0855
    Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) – (202) 225-5711
    Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.) – (202) 225-4311
    Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) – (202) 225-1640
    Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) – (202) 225-8885
    Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) – (202) 225-4376
    Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) – (202) 225-1492
    Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.) – (202) 225-2605
    Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.) – (202) 225-5916
    Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.) – (202) 225-5506
    Rep. Suzan DelBene (Wash.) – (202) 225-6311
    Rep. Jim Himes (Ct.) – (202) 225-5541
    Rep. Hinojosa (Tex.) – (202) 225-2531
    Rep. O’Rourke (Tex.) – (202) 225-4831
    Rep. Peters (Calif.) – (202) 225-0508
    Rep. Rice (N.Y.) – (202) 225-5516
    Rep. Sewell (Ala.) – (202) 225-2665

  21. Oldeguy

    Yves, I could sense the stress, weariness, and discouragement in the Update post above. Priority Number One is Taking Good Care of Yves- you are far too valuable to risk burnout.
    Slow down, enjoy the garden and whatever else gives you peace and rest.

  22. tegnost

    The greatest thing i get from n c is constructive engagement, it’s a powerful conversation and it gives me strength…as to the tpp i think it’s true that a sense of resignation wears you out “they’ll get it cause they always do” may be true but they can’t currently control this conversation, and it’s a generally positive conversation here, and it works. They can send their cowboys out to try and turn us but we don’t have to turn. Another, possibly one of the greatest n c lessons from richard smith i believe, “you lose and you lose and you lose and they give up”…. eventually. Which brings me to oldeguys point above you have to be healthy and strong to fight. Be that, eat good food, the people you are fighting don’t want you to, don’t like the polar explorer? take the bus, alot of them are electric, and when when you take the bus, feel good about yourself because the people you’re fighting don’t want you to take the bus. Sleep regularly and dream.

  23. PQS

    Re: balcony collapse.

    Very sad.

    I looked at the photos online. The members do appear to be quite deteriorated, but I also read that the building had been renovated, so it may not be a brand new building. Water damage can do a great deal of havoc in a short amount of time, but eight years seems short to me, especially for a drier climate like CA. That would be record time, even up here in the PNW, where we get LOTS of rain and moisture that ruins building exteriors.

    The more likely culprit is poor design. I didn’t see very large members for the cantilever that would be required to hold up such a balcony. Lack of proper structural engineering, and an unsophisticated contractor could easily cause this tragedy.

    Unfortunately, the fact that the contractor has been sued for construction defects is an all too common occurrence in the construction industry, often for Owner/Developer types to recover some of their cost overruns. The OSHA violations, however, are inexcusable. OSHA almost never shows up on a jobsite, so if you’ve managed to rack up their attention, you get what you deserve.

    ALso, please don’t assume that most contractors are just looking for ways to cut corners to save money. Materials are typically less than 40% of the cost of the job. Now, unsafe ways to cut labor costs are far more common, which is probably where the OSHA violations come in for this contractor.

  24. juliania

    Um, there is a substantial economic forum occurring in Saint Petersburg. The US apparently doesn’t want people to be there, but they are. Sort of reminds me of Woodstock without the drugs. Quite uplifting.

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