2:00PM Water Cooler 12/3/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, my Mac laptop is in the shop for the final stage of its keyboard transplant, so Water Cooler will be shorter than usual as I re-accustom myself to the different keyboard and absence of my usual tools.



“Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday lashed out at Donald Trump’s comments suggesting that Israel should offer ‘sacrifices’ to win a peace deal, telling a prominent Republican Jewish group that conflict is the Middle East amounts to more than “a real estate deal.”” [The Hill]. Trump outflanks Clinton on Israel to the left. Hilarity ensues.

The Voters

Trump: “Think of it. Obama, your African-American youth — 51 percent unemployment, right? You guys our age, they have unemployment that’s double or triple what other people have. What the hell has he done for the African-Americans? He’s done nothing. He’s done nothing. I don’t think he cares about them. He’s done nothing. It’s all talk, it’s all words with this guy” [The Hill]. Sadly, Trump is correct, on both counts. And he forgot to mention the foreclosure crisis, which disproportionately affected Blacks.

“73% of Republican voters say Trump would win the general [Quinippiac]. Rubio: 63%; Cruz: 59%; Carson: 55%. So, not only a gigantic upraised middle finger to their own party establishment and the entire political class, but pragmatic, too.

The Trail

“Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, broke with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday and called for a federal probe of the city police department following the release of a video last week showing the death of a black teen, who was shot by a white police officer” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton Calls for Federal Probe of Chicago Police Department”]. Say, who is this “Rahm” character, anyhow? He just seemed to pop up one day, and now he’s all over the news. What gives? Where the heck did he come from?

“In a seven-page confidential memo that imagines Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump’s tactics, issues and approaches — right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter” [WaPo].

Trump’s two talking points on Clinton [Business Insider].

“One thing with Hillary, she doesn’t have the strength or the stamina to be president. She doesn’t have it,” Trump said at a Wednesday-night campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia.

Trump’s other lines that Clinton shouldn’t even be “allowed” to run for president because of her controversial email practices at the State Department. The FBI has said it is investigating whether any material was mishandled in connection to Clinton’s email account, which was run using a private server in her home.

“Hillary shouldn’t be allowed to run because what she did is illegal. What she did is illegal,” Trump asserted Thursday.

I don’t know if Clinton privatizing her email server is illegal. I do know it’s corrupt to the bone.

“How Hillary Clinton can shake the one charge that sticks to her” [Harold Meyerson, WaPo].

However, the one line of attack that is substantial, and that she’s had the most trouble dispelling, is her closeness to Wall Street.

So is there anything Clinton can do to rid herself of the Wall Street albatross? Of course there is. She should say that if elected president, she’d subject the Wall Streeters to a higher tax rate than anyone else. (I’d exclude venture capitalists from this penalty, since they primarily fund innovation.)

Oh, “innovation.” Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

Chain Store Sales, November 2015: “Chain stores are posting slightly better year-on-year sales rates in November, hinting at improvement for the ex-auto ex-gas core reading of the government’s retail sales report. The results are made more solid by the month’s unseasonably warm weather which held down sales of winter goods.” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of November 27, 2015: “Initial claims, up 9,000, did rise in the November 28 week but, at 269,000, remain near historic lows and continue to point to lack of slack in the jobs market” [Econoday].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, November 2015: “In another indication of labor market strength, Challenger’s count of layoff announcements fell nearly 20,000 in November to 30,953 for the lowest reading since September last year. And this is more than 20,000 below the 2015 monthly average of over 52,000. ” [Econoday]. “Makers of industrial goods announced the most layoffs in November, nearly 7,500, followed by transportation at nearly 4,500. Energy, where layoffs have been very heavy this year, is third at more than 2,500.”

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, November 2015: “Gallup’s measure of underemployment in November was 14.6 percent, up 0.8 points from October. However, this rate is still lower than in any November since Gallup began tracking it daily in 2010” [Econoday].

PMI Services Index, November 2015: “November is the best full-month showing for this index since August and reflects strength across both business and consumer customers. The report describes new orders as “robust” and “accelerating” and the best since July, which is good news for the U.S. economy where manufacturing, which is directly exposed to the global economy, has been weak” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of November 29, 2015: “Consumer confidence seems to be sliding lower going into year end. The latest signal comes from the consumer comfort index which fell a very sharp 1.3 points in the November 29 week to 39.6. This is the fifth decline in the last six weeks” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Cargo theft is one of the most lucrative criminal activities in Canada, but it rarely makes headlines. And yet it’s costing consumers and the economy an estimated $5 billion a year” [CTV]. Even in Canadian dollars, that’s real money. I wonder what the US figures are?

“Oil companies brace for big wave of debt defaults” [CNBC].

The Fed: “To simply provide jobs for those who are newly entering the labor force probably requires under 100,000 jobs a month and there’s a downward trend in the labor force due to aging” [Reuters]. “She added that she does not expect to see the labor force participation rate to increase much in the future.” My $0.02: The Obama administration has successfully thrown millions of workers under the bus. I was screaming that this was the new normal in 2009, and now it has become so. Only Nixon can go to China. Mission accomplished!

The Fed: “‘On balance, economic and financial information received since our October meeting has been consistent with our expectations of continued improvement in the labor market,’ Ms. Yellen said in her speech. ‘Continuing improvement in the labor market helps strengthen confidence that inflation will move back to our 2% objective over the medium term'” [Wall Street Journal, “Yellen Signals Fed on Track to Raise Rates in December”]. For some definition of “improvement”; see above.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 (-4); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“Funds of more than $600 million that turned up in Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private bank accounts were donations and not from a troubled state investment company, the government said Thursday in an explanation to parliament” [Blooomberg]. Oh. OK.


“Here’s What We Know About San Bernardino Mass Shooting. The Rest Is Just Noise” [Wonkette]. As of 10:30AM.

Handy chart of mass shootings, since 2013 [WaPo].

“Can someone give me a Gospel argument why weapons that are specifically designed to maim and kill human beings should be allowed to exist?” [Come Together].

“Last year, Tommy Millner, the chief executive of Cabela’s, a retailer that sells guns, boasted at an investor conference in Nebraska that his company made a ‘conscious decision’ to stock additional weapons merchandise before the 2012 election, hoping Obama’s reelection would result in increased sales. After the election, the Newtown mass shooting happened, and ‘the business went vertical … I meant it just went crazy,’ Millner said, according to a transcript of the event. [The Intercept]. “Describing the ‘tailwinds of profitability,’ Millner noted Cabela’s ‘didn’t blink as others did to stop selling AR-15 platform guns,’ and so his company ‘got a lot of new customers.’ The AR-15 is a high-powered assault rifle based on the military’s M-16 model but without the full automatic capacity.” So, nice little self-licking ice cream cone the arms business has there, eh?

“There’s a simple reason why mass shootings have become routine in America — Americans own more guns per-capita than people in literally any other country on earth” [WaPo]. “More guns = more gun deaths. This is true whether you’re comparing countries or states, research from Harvard has shown. If people have easy access to tools that allow them to easily hurt or kill other people, a certain percentage will use them. Simple as that.”

Then again: “National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data” [Pew]. Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007.”

“[Q]uestions over guns are becoming questions of identity. When Mr Obama or the mayor of Charleston says that gun control would be a logical response to Wednesday’s killings, the message triggers a tribal response. The America that believes that guns make the country more dangerous—urban, educated, Democratic America—is proposing to disarm the America that is sure (indeed increasingly sure) that safety lies in keeping firearms close by. As a result, nobody is about to disarm anyone” [Economist]. America is a category error; and there are plenty of well-educated, urban conservatives. Anyhow, let’s throw the floor open to the gun advocates. Is there a public policy solution to mass shootings? Is there any other (putative) public policy solution than arming all citizens?

“Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing” [The Economist]. “This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.”

“Congressional Staffer Arrested After Loaded Gun Found In Bag” [Talking Points Memo].

Many sources have picked up the Los Angeles Times quote that the (alleged) shooter couple were “living the American dream”. Indeed, but typically we chase our pink misty dreams farther away from home. (Oddly, the quote’s in the headline, but I can’t find it in the story.)


“Bill McKibben: Climate Protest Movement, Not COP21, Key to Preventing ‘Uninhabitable World'” [Common Dreams].

“Weather-related disasters such as floods and heatwaves have occurred almost daily in the past decade, almost twice as often as two decades ago, with Asia being the hardest hit region, a U.N. report said on Monday” [Reuters]. “While the report authors could not pin the increase wholly on climate change, they did say that the upward trend was likely to continue as extreme weather events increase.”

Class Warfare

Facebook’s chief did not donate 99% of his shares to charity. He created an investment vehicle [Dealb%k, New York Times, “How Mark Zuckerberg’s Altruism Helps Himself”]. Indeed. Help yourself, Mark!

He created a limited liability company, one that has already reaped enormous benefits as public relations coup for himself. His P.R. return-on-investment dwarfs that of his Facebook stock. Mr. Zuckerberg was depicted in breathless, glowing terms for having, in essence, moved money from one pocket to the other.

An L.L.C. can invest in for-profit companies (perhaps these will be characterized as societally responsible companies, but lots of companies claim the mantle of societal responsibility). An L.L.C. can make political donations. It can lobby for changes in the law. He remains completely free to do as he wishes with his money. That’s what America is all about. But as a society, we don’t generally call these types of activities “charity.”

I should really stop giving my labor to this creep for free. People can send me pictures of cats via mail.

News of the Wired

“VTech Hacker Explains Why He Hacked the Toy Company” [Motherboard].

“Adobe to kill off Flash in January’s Creative Cloud update” [Ars Technica].

“An Anonymous Satire of Silicon Valley Now Has a Publisher” [New York Times]. Not sure if this precious little worklet is a sign of froth, or not.

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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 (OregonCharles):


The tall canna, after the first freeze.

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If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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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. Anon

    Re: Najib

    Wasn’t it 700 million at several points that went missing? I mean, it’s nice that they’ve put a statement to 600 of that, but what about the remaining $100 million?

      1. Pavel

        More likely an FX adjustment… what used to be USD 700 M in Malaysian is probably now worth 600 M.

        In another worktime I spent a fair amount of time in KL. Wonderful people for the most part but the place reeked of incompetence and corruption. My project (involving government approval and funding) sat in bureaucratic limbo for 2 years and then we just gave up.

        The group we were working with (ostensibly For The Greater Good) turned out to be a complex real estate deal in which the apparent “philanthropist” would get rights to a few hundred acres of prime land plus a fat government contract to build a USD 500M (I think that was the price) ******* ****. (Redacted)

        God forbid anyone insinuate any sort of kickback or graft between the government and the parties involved. God forbid!

        Oh, and bonus 2016 points — there exists a photo of Hillary shaking hands with some of the parties involved. Maybe they were a Clinton Foundation donor!

    1. afisher

      There are no guarantee that Zuck or any of the ubber wealthy will actually do anything that helps anyone but themselves.
      The Gov. is supposed to function “for the people”. Zuck is yet another in the ever growing lists of oligarchs that will replace the government and do whatever they please.

      I’m glad I’m old.

  2. Vatch

    “Can someone give me a Gospel argument why weapons that are specifically designed to maim and kill human beings should be allowed to exist?” [Come Together].

    Admittedly, a bow and arrow isn’t necessarily used to attack humans, but nobody uses swords for hunting animals.

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    The next ones aren’t from the Gospels, so maybe they don’t count:

    Psalms 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
    7:12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
    7:13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

    Jeremiah 50:25 The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.

    The Book of Revelation. There’s a lot of stuff here.

      1. Vatch

        Beats me. It seems that a lot of religious people are able to create their own context when they quote from their holy books.

        1. Bill Frank

          With a little effort one can find a biblical justification for virtually anything and also a contradictory one as well.

          1. polecat

            “With a little effort one can find a ‘religious or secular’ justification for virtually anything and also a contradictory one as well……fify!

            1. hunkerdown

              There is such an animal as a civil religion, the difference being that one pretends to be in control of one’s imaginary authoritarian friend.

      2. Stephanie

        Jesus makes the statement about the swords immediately prior to entering Gethsemane. It can be interpreted as a figurative way to warning the disciples that sh*t was about to get real.

        Later in the chapter one of the disciples uses a sword to cut off a soldier’s ear and Jesus tells him to cut it out and heals the soldier. I often get the sense in the Gospels that the disciples were frequently more literal than Jesus hoped they would be.

  3. Chris in Paris

    Lambert, you should carry out on your threat to leave Zuckerberg behind. It’s a waste of your time. Real friends will email.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      I agree with Chris. Yes, there are abundant opportunities for him and others of his class to game the system, as they have so abundantly demonstrated. Discounting the spin, this was to me just an initial formative step that is possibly in the right direction, and one that I would rather see him take than not. That is all it was.

      Subsequent actions will be the tell regarding his good faith.

    2. jrs

      Yea might be using it as PR for this blog though, many of us who were using it for PR for nothing more than our egos, actually long since left #uckerberg behind. Not worth it for 15 minutes of sleazy feeling fame.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Cabelas–not only is it an ammosexual’s porn palace but the place is full of stuffed hunting trophies. When my brother and I visited a nearby store I swore the lifelike looking critters must be animal mannequins. However a web search indicated that they are in fact stuffed carcasses donated by customers.

    The place is worth a visit just to gawk. Not many superstores feature displays of bullets on an endcap, not to mention the early Teddy Roosevelt decor.

    1. Peter Pan

      My younger brother invited me to go with him to Cabelas so he could purchase some boots specifically for hunting turkey (warm but silent). Afterward we ambled toward the gun area which was totally mobbed by a crowd.

      After passing by the crowded mob my brother says to me, “wow, what a bunch of creepy looking wackos”. I laughed.

    2. jo6pac

      I’ve never been in a store but have bought items from catalogs for years and now online. They own the best boot maker in Amerika. Danner boots are the best I’ve owned ever, in 40yrs in the trades it’s the only boot I put on new and didn’t have to break in. Then few yrs ago I learned they repair their old boots. I hate throwing away pairs because the top is still good but have been resoled 4 times. I sent them 6 pairs and 4 were repairable. They looked like new when returned at 1/2 the price new. They’re not cheap$$$$$.

      I also bought my pellet rifle from them so yes I have a gun living in rural Calli. I see no good reason for the type of weapons in these shooting being sold to the public or police. The late Barry Goldwater was against them. If you couldn’t down a deer in one shot you should be hunting, said the crazy person himself.

  5. allan

    Another disruptive innovation turns out not to work out as advertised.

    Democratizing education? Examining access and usage patterns in massive open online courses [Science]

    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are often characterized as remedies to educational disparities related to social class. Using data from 68 MOOCs offered by Harvard and MIT between 2012 and 2014, we found that course participants from the United States tended to live in more-affluent and better-educated neighborhoods than the average U.S. resident. Among those who did register for courses, students with greater socioeconomic resources were more likely to earn a certificate. Furthermore, these differences in MOOC access and completion were larger for adolescents and young adults, the traditional ages where people find on-ramps into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) coursework and careers. Our findings raise concerns that MOOCs and similar approaches to online learning can exacerbate rather than reduce disparities in educational outcomes related to socioeconomic status.

    1. jrs

      Well that’s pretty much the same charge that could be leveled against most higher education. It makes disparities worse, maybe less so community colleges, I don’t know.

    2. cwaltz

      I wonder how much of that is due to inability to access the web in neighborhoods that are less affluent?

      An online course isn’t going to help me if mom or dad can’t afford to pay for internet.

    3. Bob Haugen

      Most education in the world now, whether in classrooms or MOOCs, is oriented toward improving the personal capital of the upwardly striving. There is no “make yourself a better citizen” or “improve your community” curriculum.

      1. likbez

        “Most education in the world now, whether in classrooms or MOOCs, is oriented toward improving the personal capital of the upwardly striving.”

        Very true. Thank you !

        This is the essence of neoliberal transformation of the university education.

  6. Paul Tioxon

    235,000 MURDERS in the USA since Jan 1, 2000. Most by guns. That’s 15,700/yr on average. Total murders in France in 2014… 694!
    The Homeland Security scam and NSA spying to catch threats before they happen, does not take into account the numbers of dead killed by anyone else other than their bogeyman of the week!

    Better off dead than red, it’s just not an extremist slogan, it’s a lifestyle of choice! Better to fight them over there than on our soil? We are soaking our soil in our own blood by our own bloody hands everyday. 132 dead in Paris from terrorists, that’s just what we call the week end here in the Wasteland of The Free.

    If you had to kill 14 people with your bare hands, you would still be working on the first one when the other 13 started to beat you down. People kill people with guns like farmers grow food with tractors, the machine increases the yield.


    1. fresno dan

      Extremely good use of reality, facts, logic and rationality….
      Uh, you do know your in “Merica – so its completely wasted….

      I read a book once called “Innumeracy”
      You can bet your donkey that the people manipulating us understand the numbers perfectly….and that the number of people who don’t understand the numbers is far, far greater.

    2. hunkerdown

      Oh, so neoliberalism and debt slavery are okay as long as the livestock don’t go killing each other. Got it. Maybe you should stop pretending the civil war isn’t still hot.

      I only wish these hotheads would aim up. That they don’t leads me to believe that “up” put them up to it toward unacknowledged ends.

      1. Skippy

        Its sorta like Knott’s Berry Farm on Halloween, where smudge pots give the ambiance of a 1800s London [lighting is greatly reduced] and staff are professionally costumed, then someone drops acid in the beverages.

        Staff hide in shadows and foliage only to erupt from behind unsuspecting patrons, whilst shaking cans filled with rocks or marbles. Some would be amazed at the distance the chase can span or when cornered, the persistent uncontrollable fear victims display. It should also be noted the pleasure the staff display in carrying out their duty’s, the more fear the victims exhibit the more energetic the responce from the staff….

        Skippy… conversely you can go to Anaheim Disney during a warm summers day and watch for pumpkin heads get on Mister Toads Wilde Ride…. its sorta like a trainspotting thingy,,,,

      2. jsn

        Universal 2 year conscription for public service or military. In either case, full training in the use, maintenance and dangers of fire arms.

        Followed by a gun insurance requirement with rates that covered the costs, short of murder (uncountable), of guns.

        Exception to insurance requirement for members in good standing of 2nd Amendment Militias who’s charge would be to monitor health, physical and mental of gun owners, log their armaments and provide an unyielding venue for Constitutionally protected rights like privacy or free speech.

        1. cwaltz

          Uh…….I hate to break this to you but that isn’t going to improve mass shootings. As a matter of fact a soldier with training that has gone off the reservation because we broke him is pretty dangerous. Ask sniper Chris Kyle and his buddy……oh wait, we can’t. They’re dead, shot by another former soldier who they were hoping to help with “gun therapy.”

          There was an article less than a month a go on a soldier who decided his suicide was going to be “death by cop.” He went and shot a church up so that law enforcement could come and end it for him. The suicide rate for veterans is 50% higher for veterans than it is for non veterans. This should not be a group we are using to model gun ownership on.

          1. jsn

            Soldiers now are a self selecting lot, like cops. All our current pathologies are not set in stone and largely got that way after the draft was abolished. And the draft, like our tax code, allowed all kinds of cheating. Everyone in, in randomized groups, meeting people unlike themselves and coping with that for two years.

            Your point about trained crazies, yes, we have trained boat loads of them. Now what? Lets sit them in trailers, isolated in Colorado, that’s worked pretty well… No, lets take anyone who feels the need for a gun and integrate them into a community. I come from a long line of “these people” and isolating them is a disaster even though their prickly as hell.

            The points about the decay of “white privilege” in Ehrenreich’s the other day strikes me, in the context of the poor whites I know and grew up around, a very real issue. Holding them in contempt helps neither them nor anyone else.

            Universal conscription is what has kept Switzerland a republic: those who vote fight, those who fight vote. We don’t need everyone to be in the military, but if everyone learned what guns physically are, how they work, how to maintain them and use them safely, everyone would have a frame of reference to judge just how “crazy” the idiot with the gun really is. And a universal, no exceptions, no excuses program would force tribe blue to talk to tribe red and vice versa.

            This proposal wildly changes the demographic “veterans” who have largely been screwed since the draft ended as, once out of the service such an insignificant constituency as to be ignored but for Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders.

        2. Massinissa

          Wouldn’t universal conscription lead to, among other things, a universal increase in suicide? Because we all know vets have higher suicide rates.

          And who runs these ‘militias’? We have something called militias right now, but im not sure theyre like the kind youre talking about. Theyre mostly armed white men who hate black people…

          1. hunkerdown

            You might look to the compulsory military service systems of European countries in the latter half of the 20th century. Particularly, Switzerland, which apparently had a well-armed citizenry for a long while, perhaps until elites didn’t want the risk.

            A citizen army such as they have is, by nature, nationalist. A “volunteer”, i.e. mercenary army like the US has is, by nature, elitist. Which one of these, ceteris paribus, is going to foment the more toxic power relations in the society it purports to serve? Consider also the risk-spreading effects of compulsory service. How many soft doughy bourgies, more than willing to cheapen (usually) brown life by “selling [their] neighbor’s car for $20” as Ian Welsh put it, are going to do so if it puts their own shiny whiny heinies on the line?

            1. cwaltz

              We had compulsory service at one time and those shiny whiny heinies were for the most part able to get deferments and cush job appointments that set them up to the good ol boy network. The idea that making service compulsory again would change that is kinda laughable.

              1. hunkerdown

                For everyone, to a man (and woman)? I don’t believe we’ve ever had that, and certainly not since the volunteer National Guard was created.

                I’m supposing that when citizens have a less Hollywood sense of what playing for keeps involves and how to credibly take part in war — not season playoffs of some sport — and perhaps get to see life and death in action, they might be less afraid and more confident to engage in it (I hope by less-than-lethal means!) against their anointed authorities a little more often. And, more importantly, they would learn to function in various sized groups as non-special non-snowflakes.

                On consideration, maybe that is worth a chuckle.

                1. cwaltz

                  Women were not drafted however, Rush Limbaugh- deferred Dick Cheney- deferred Ted Nugent- deferred Donald Trump- deferred Mitt Romney- deferred and I’d argue that back then money was less influential than it is today. If money keeps one from going to jail (affluenza) you can be assured it will keep one from having to serve where they might actually be shot at.

            2. Massinissa

              We have had conscription before, and elites ALWAYS get out of it in wartime. Theres info on this in numerous wars including the civil war in Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States.

                1. jsn

                  I did to, Peoples History was the first real rupture I was exposed to from the propaganda I was bored with in Texas high schools.

                  Zinn served in the army and was in favor of universal conscription for the same reason I am: it forces everyone to know what the cross section of the citizenry really is and to engage with radically different experiences.

          1. jsn

            That’s the point of the 2nd Amendment Militias proposal: if you don’t want to pay the costs or can’t afford to, you have to participate in a community.

      3. Wyoming

        “Is there a public policy solution to mass shootings?”

        Of course not. It was a rhetorical question perhaps?

        The common response (or desire) is that the solution is wrapped around the elimination of guns. Ignoring for just a second that this is impossible in the US (this should need no explanation) it still misses the point that eliminating guns is like taking antibiotics to deal with the flu.

        American culture has strong leanings towards violence. In all respects we are a violent people. Especially when compared to most other cultures. Our media celebrates violence in our very popular mass produced tv and movie shows. Our children are taught from the beginning about how we used various forms of violence to create the country, found it and fight how many dozens of wars. We raise being a soldier to an exalted level while ignoring that most of what we order them to do is not justified or necessary. Our leaders (such as they are) talk incessantly about the need to use more force and spend more on our “hero’s” to enable them to do their work better (in case this raises your hackles a bit I served for 21 years). In a significant percentage of America young men do not consider themselves to be on the way to becoming men unless they have dealt and endured some level of violence (I had been on both sides of a gun, the pointy end of a knife and about 30 fist fights by the time I got out of HS) – this was not exceptional where I grew up. We have no national sense of honor, ethics, morality or civilized behavior to learn from or aspire too – we worship the almighty dollar instead. I could go on I suppose…but why?

        As bad as this problem is there is still no sense in spending huge efforts and resources on it. To try and do what the anti-gun lobby wants to do would result in civil war. And they would lose.

        In the mean time we have much larger problems getting ready to make the gun problem look trivial. Climate change, over population, far exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity, our budding Christian-Muslim religious war to name a few examples.

        1. jgordon

          I’m in absolute agreement. Trying to stop violence (or really preventable deaths) in America by banning guns is a simplistic solution to a complex problem, not to mention a waste of energy and resource that directly works against the campaign’s stated goals.

          Honestly I used to be worried whenever I saw such incidents as is in the news now that the American people would be convinced by the fallacious reasoning of the gun control advocates to restrict our Second Amendment rights–but I’ve been reassured that that’s simply not going to happen. Rather all the efforts of the ostensible anti-gun people only result in more access to guns and looser restrictions on them. I almost have to wonder if these efforts are secretly funded, or at least encouraged, by the NRA.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It won’t happen. Gun advocates won the culture war. We could no more confiscate them then we could send ten million immigrants home. What to do about the mass shootings? Not, apparently, a concern?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Adding, once more, that the putative Second Amendment rights depend on (a) Scalia selecting Bush in Bush v. Gore so he had judges congenial to his views, and (b) Scalia not understanding, deliberately or not, the gerund as a grammatical form. Personally, I don’t accept any Supreme Court decision after the first post-Bush v. Gore judge was chosen for the bench (and rolling all those decisions back would have a great many advantages, including the restoration of a functioning Fourth Amendment).

            1. jgordon

              Saying that you disagree with the Supreme Court, for whatever reason, is tantamount to saying that you disagree with the structure of the United States and its government.

              Now I’m not unsympathetic to that, but just to be clear it is a revolutionary idea.

          3. JCC

            There are a lot of takes on the Gun Control issue, some rational, some irrational. In my opinion, Gun Advocates have not necessarily won the culture wars and there is definitely room for improvement.

            I happen to be somewhat of a Gun Ownership Advocate having learned to handle guns through the BSA (Boy Scouts of America), the USA (United States Army), and CCC (Corning Community College, NY) Pistol Training Course. I happen to believe that it is possible to be a responsible owner of firearms.

            Also, because of the above and living in rural areas for many years, I also appreciate this comment from WallStreetOnParade.com:

            We do want to offer a cautionary word, however. Americans who have only lived in urban or suburban areas where police can respond to a 911 call in a matter of minutes need to understand how different it is for people living in rural areas. Typically, there is no local police in rural areas and it can take state or county police 30 minutes to an hour to get to a farmhouse on a long, unlighted dirt road. Owning a gun can mean the difference between protecting your family from an intruder or allowing some deranged stranger to murder, maim or kidnap your helpless family.

            Thus, we certainly do not advocate outlawing guns. But having lived in both suburban and rural areas, we don’t believe Americans need assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

            There is no doubt that there are a lot of nuts “out there”, and I think many would not be surprised to hear that at work today, everyone, literally, that I heard discussing the San Berdoo situation (about 140 miles south of my area) said the same thing… “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

            So what’s the solution? An outright ban of all firearms? I sincerely believe that is not a viable solution in the near or far term. The vast majority of responsible owners will give up their guns, the rest won’t. And it seems to be that the rest that won’t, those pharma-saturated, and/or religious nut cases, societal deprived, military PTSD victims, and general outlaws are primarily those that are killing people.

            A realistic definition of assault weapons and the banning of public sales of those weapons, the banning of the public sale of high-capacity mags as well as certain types of ammo, and the enforcement of those bans, required insurance – along the lines of auto insurance – not to mention a national re-assessment of prescribed drugs and the implications of those drugs relative to gun ownership, would go a long way towards a rational firearms policy in this country, a country that has, rightly or wrongly, put gun ownership in a special category of it’s own through its Constitution.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          So you are with the Economist, then. It’s like pollution in Chinese cities.

          Sort of amazed that people getting whacked by lunatics in public spaces is a priori dismissed as not a matter for public policy. We’ve certainly been able to improve the number of people dying from automobile crashes, or cigarettes, so it’s unclear to me why guns are put in a special category all their own.

          Am I to believe that we should not even study guns as a public health matter? That potential lives saved don’t matter?

          As for civil war, if this is correct, than Lincoln got slavery right, but the union part wrong. The Archdruid is perhaps correct.

          And as for more important problems… You’re sure starting from a premise of a threatened civil war is the way to begin? Because sure as shooting, that concept might start with the issue of guns and public policy, but once out of the bag, it won’t end there.

        3. Solar Sam

          When we were short of soldiers during Iraq 2 I saw a lot of young conservative men driving around in their big trucks with NRA stickers. They didn’t have the stones to serve, they are not a real threat. As long as the professional military is getting paid and benefits they’ll do the bidding of the commander in Chief. Hoover hunted Klansmen for Johnson. The largely southern 82nd Airborne got control of Oxford Mississippi. Federal troops who are NRA members will put down insurrections because they want to remain soldiers and get the pay and benefits.

      4. alex morfesis

        guns don’t kill, bullets kill…the right to bear arms does not mean the right to cheap bullets…nothing in the 2nd about cheap bullets…tax the living hell out of bullets…if you are serious about protecting yourself, then paying 125 bux per bullet means nothing…

        if you are a lunatic yahoo…then a thousand rounds means 125 grand…

        well…that might be just too expensive for the garden variety catcher in the rye nutjob…

        and requiring registration of anything more than 100 bullets…

        cars must be registered…

        how exactly can someone demand to have an armory in their basement…

        the right to bear arms…not the right to bear an arsenal…

          1. jsn

            There’s an idea: put Martin Shkreli’s talents to use!
            Tax incentives for Hedgies to profiteer the amo business.
            ‘Course that won’t help with my ammosexual big brother.

    1. Carla

      Contiguous headlines on Huffpost:

      “Senate Republicans Just Blocked A Bunch Of Gun Control Measures”

      “After Years Of Attempts, Republicans Pass Bill To Repeal Obamacare”

      And the perfect plan was revealed to me:

      Repeal Obamacare. Give every man, woman and child in the country a gun with one round of ammunition. All our problems solved and the world gets a little more time to deal with climate change.

  7. grizziz

    Mark Rubio got caught pandering to the RJC in Trumpworld while trying to stand a little higher in his shoes. Claiming that the conflict in and around Israel is “more than a real estate deal,” might play well in the livesmatter world, but not with this crowd. It was pleased with Trump’s performance and laughed when they were trolled by Trump who would not take their money.
    The RJC’s are republicans and generally put property above persons and they know it is a real estate deal being negotiated. The Arabs and the Israelis are merely using direct violence as opposed to coercive violence to establish borders.
    The RJC members probably would prefer the territory of Ersatz Israel rather than the 1967 borders. Trump knows that if there is to be an agreement in his lifetime that a border will have to be between those two lines. Once an agreement is reached, Trump will be ready to help build another wall.

  8. cwaltz

    The Old Testament is usually where folks go to justify things like war, so I’d imagine that would be where most people would go to rationalize their reason for owning a weapon.

    1. optimader

      The Old Testament is usually where folks go to justify things like war
      unless their Muslim, then it would be the Koran.
      I think its just the Buddhist and the Hindus who’s religious fiction isn’t soaked in violence, but maybe that is just my relative lack of familiarity?

        1. optimader

          I defer, realistically, probably no successful religion hasn’t clubbed non believers into enlightenment.
          In my own childhood experience, the notion of consuming the body and blood of someone struck me as oddly gruesome and I never did receive a satisfactory explanation for the sensibility surrounding why I ever I would want to do that. Pretty damn violent imagery for kids IMO

          1. Massinissa

            I defer, realistically, probably no successful religion hasn’t clubbed non believers into enlightenment.

            Youre right to say SUCCESSFUL religion. Jainism, among others, did not do those things, but that’s why theres only a few million Jainists left when thousands of years ago there were far many more. And even then at those points the Jainists were probably clubbing people too, maybe the reason there are so few of them is because they stopped doing it before they went into decline a thousand years ago.

          2. cwaltz

            I actually liked the custom of receiving sacrament- what I never understood was bowing our head to pray. If God’s up there than why am I talking to the floor?

            It’s funny the little things that make you question stuff.

  9. ewmayer

    Re. “How Hillary Clinton can shake the one charge that sticks to her” — she’s had the most trouble dispelling the “line of attack” re. her closeness to Wall Street because it’s not merely a line of attack, it’s the truth, backed up by mountains of “deeds, not words” evidence over at least 2 decades.

    Myerson’s clever idea for the dispelling? “So is there anything Clinton can do to rid herself of the Wall Street albatross? Of course there is. She should say that if elected president…” — ooh, she should *say*. Unlike candidate Obama, though, her track record of being beholden to Big Money is far too long and distinguished for a mere apropos-of-nothing bout of word-windage about “taxing fat cat bankers” to be credible even with the most propagandized, American-Idol-addled exemplar of Boobus Americanus Voterus. At least HillBillary appears smart enough to realize this herself, hence the still-shameful but eminently more credible tactic of invoking 9/11 in re. to “standing in solidarity with our Wall Street patriots in opposing terrorism.”

  10. Pavel

    re: Rahm (whom I despise with a passion BTW)… yet another ticking time bomb for Hillary.

    From Politico:

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s struggles are reverberating in Washington, where he’s causing headaches for his most powerful of close friends and former bosses, the Obamas and the Clintons.

    Republicans are eager to make Emanuel, who worked in both the most recent Democratic administrations, a political liability for President Barack Obama and the campaign of Hillary Clinton, both of whom have resisted calling for his resignation over the handling of a video showing a police officer shooting a retreating black teen. And even among the president’s allies, the famously profane Emanuel is a polarizing figure after playing a key role in the tough-on-crime legislation of the mid-1990s that Obama has made his mission to undo.

    A top GOP strategist predicted that Emanuel would become a “massive liability” for Hillary Clinton.

    “At some point, she’s going to have to come out—I think the pressure’s going to build on her—on where she stands on her longtime family adviser,” the strategist said.

    Rahm’s troubles ripple toward Obama, Clinton

    Obama must be so thrilled to be getting back to the golf course (on a permanent basis) as the house of cards he’s constructed for the last 2 terms starts to crumble. And I suspect he doesn’t give a shit if Hillary takes the fall.

    It was precisely when Obama appointed Rahm as his Chief of Staff at the start of his term that I felt betrayal sink in. And that was just the start of it!

    1. optimader

      a political liability for President Barack Obama
      huh? Isnt BHO fully poached politically at this point? What does he care? Hillary can blame BHO.

  11. ewmayer

    Re. Chain store sales: Well, speaking from the Left Coast, heavier-than-in-recent-years November and early-December rains mean more snow in the Sierra, so lots of folks buying chains. Highly seasonal, though, and why this tiny specialty sector is seen as a barometer for the overall retail economy puzzles me. Thanks for the ‘link’, though, ha ha.

  12. fresno dan

    “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday lashed out at Donald Trump’s comments suggesting that Israel should offer ‘sacrifices’ to win a peace deal, telling a prominent Republican Jewish group that conflict is the Middle East amounts to more than “a real estate deal.”” [The Hill]. Trump outflanks Clinton on Israel to the left. Hilarity ensues.

    I am soooo old (How old are you?) that I can remember when it was republicans who were prejudiced against Jews…..

    1. Massinissa

      Um. You realize that being critical of the State of Israel, which is a country, is different than being ‘prejudiced’ about Jews, which is an ethno-religious group spread across the world that are usually not directly related to Israel?

      Im tired of people shielding Israel from criticism any other nation state would receive simply because of the religion of the people who govern said country.

      1. optimader

        and countries don’t have friends. Only interests
        And that should be the most basic tenant of all foreign policy. Many people in the US do not get this basic concept.

        If National interest is treated as the constant in the equation, foreign relations should all be the perpetually mercurial variables.
        A classic example that is down the memory hole …This stands in stark contrast to Rabin’s view of Iran at the height of Iran’s export of Islamic fundamentalism in 1987, when he said “Iran is Israel’s best friend and we do not intend to change our position in relation to Tehran” (Agence France-presse, 28 October 1987).

        Rabin at one time argued (logically) that Iran is Israel’s “Natural ally”. How that worm turned.

    1. Massinissa

      I would really respect this move…

      If a couple of days ago he didn’t say that to stop terrorism you need to kill terrorists families…

      Im 23, and Im willing to bet I will never see a candidate quite like him in my life. His comments are going every which way, from having some of the most abhorrent views to having some of the most on point.

      I don’t know what to think of him at all.

  13. allan

    22 U. of California students arrested rallying for contract workers’ rights

    The protesters, some of whom were from the campus Student Labor Committee, allege that contract workers are being unfairly treated by not being offered direct employment.

    The University of California recently implemented a systemwide $15 minimum wage plan, which applies to all employees, including contract workers, hired to work at least 20 hours a week. Many contract workers maintain that salary is not the only issue at stake.

    Consuelo Barrera, a UC Berkeley contract worker who works as a custodian, said that if they were to become direct employees of the campus, contract workers would be able to receive greater benefits, such as health care and sick leave.

  14. Solar Sam

    Class 3 extension with federalist Firewall and a social cohort twist.
    In the United States one can own a machine gun under the class 3 system. That is full auto rat-a-tat-tat…….. until your out of ammo. The last person to get in trouble under the system was Al Capone, from what I heard. This is an existing system that can be extended to all Cartridge Weapon systems. Black powder weapons would be exempt. Counties would be in charge inventory of weapons which could not be placed on computer records that had an internet connection. If the Feds needed a search of a weapon a query would be issued.The counties would check their record. The Counties would have to lodge a protest and go through a public hearing if they did refuse. A gun owner would be required to get three other people to sign off. If a shooting were to occur the signers would have to go on TV and give an explanation and answer questions in front of the State legislature.

    1. ilporcupine

      So, when lower income whites come face to face with this reality, they denigrate the Mexican workers, and support Trump (who is no doubt doing same at his hotel properties) in his “Wall”. Attack the symptom, not the disease. The businesses are of course, just responding to the market, competing in a free market system… How can anyone buy that crap any longer? I have been out of work for a long time, myself. I can vouch for the lack of unskilled job postings at gov’t offices. You can look at Monster or Indeed and see for yourself, what qualifications are required for simple labor positions. Then you can go see who was actually hired at these places. No secret, there. We are being systematically replaced, and it is not the low wage worker who is doing it to us!
      OK , I’ll give it up now… Sorry.

  15. ilporcupine

    One more thing, if I may… These Mexican farm workers must be evil geniuses, to engineer this takeover of the American job market! Without any help from corporate entities, they have managed to undermine all of our jobs, ruin our economy, orchestrate vast terrorist plots, and get that commie elected to the White House! ( snark tag implied??)

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