2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Will the would-be Water Cooler Mini-Fundraiser contributor who gave the address “thesimiandukd@gmail.com” please contact me again? That address bounces. Thank you (and thank you all)!

I got distracted by a visitor just as this was starting, so 2016 links a bit light. I’ll add a few.


“U.S. business leaders emerged from meetings with Lew, Trade Representative Michael Froman and other top administration officials on Thursday with a new determination to push for a vote this year on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a top lobbyist told Morning Trade” [Politico]. “We had a great meeting,” said Bill Miller, a senior vice president for the Business Roundtable. “We’re more committed than ever to pressing for a TPP vote and passage this year. The CEO group includes financial services firms such as Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, which have been unhappy they were excluded from a breakthrough provision of the TPP that would ban governments from requiring companies to store data within their borders. Such ‘data localization’ requirements are a new-generation trade barrier that businesses say reduces efficiency and increases costs.” Somebody should ask Clinton whether she agrees with Obama on TPP, or Sanders, given that so many of her owners contributors are for TPP.

“Stop the government ban on new public bus companies” [We Own It]. “The government wants to ban councils in England from setting up bus companies to run their own services. 12 local authorities already provide excellent bus services across the UK. If we want better buses everywhere, new local authority not-for-dividend bus companies must be allowed as an alternative to private providers.” Same thing happened in this country with public WiFi, and as a result our broadband is Third World-quality outside the Acela Corridor and some California bright spots. And now TPP’s “lost profits” doctrine would enshrine this nonsense.

“For example, Van Harten quotes some recent work showing that 90% of ISDS fines against countries went to corporations with over $1 billion in annual revenue or to individuals with over $100 million in net wealth. Similarly, the success rate among the largest multinationals — those with turnovers of at least $10 billion — was 71% in the 48 cases they initiated, compared with a success rate for everyone else of 42%. So any claim that ISDS is equally useful to all companies, including small and medium-sized businesses, is not borne out by the facts” [Tech Dirt]. Important study from the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

Tim Canova on trade and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (interview) [Daily Dot].



UPDATE “Fracking and the environment are set to be one of the most contentious battlegrounds for allies of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as they seek to craft the Democratic Party’s platform for 2016. Members of the platform committee will meet on Friday in Phoenix to hear testimony from several environmental organizations and activists” [The Hill]. “Clinton and Sanders clashed bitterly over hydraulic fracturing and fossil fuel production during the campaign, and both have appointed officials to the platform committee who share their views. With Clinton now the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, the Sanders camp is determined to win as many concessions in the platform is possible. ‘I think it could be a tension point, but I think it’s a good tension point,’ said Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, who will testify before the committee this week. “Fracking is going to be one of those areas where there’s going to be a robust conversation. … It’s a complex issue. But I think having that discussed in an open and robust manner is good.'” I’ve helpfully underlined the Beltway-ese, but I think a “robust” “conversation” is the equivalent of “a full and frank exchange of views” in diplospeak. (I like “tension point.” See this picture of what you get — in both social and policy terms — when the sycophantic preference for lack of tension wins out in the Clintonite faction of the political class.)

UPDATE “Over 50 U.S. diplomats have signed an internal State Department memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, in which they call for airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Foreign Policy]. Looks like Clinton put her stamp on State. Don’t we have the Pentagon for this, or did the diplomacy portfolio move over there when I wasn’t watching?


UPDATE “Hillary Clinton will hold a fundraiser with the entire House and Senate Democratic leadership next week, the first event of its kind for the presumptive Democratic nominee” [Politico]. Tickets cost $2,700, but $27,000 gets you named as a host, and a photo with Clinton.” Since Clinton is famously detail-oriented, $2,700 and $27,000 can only be regard as a ginormous upraised middle finger to the oft-quoted $27 average donation of the Sanders campaign, to the Sanders funding model, and to those $27 Sanders donors as well. Message: “I don’t care.”

The Voters

“Clinton supporters’ newest delusion about Bernie Sanders” [The Week]. This is a very important takedown of the Achen-Bartels, which (to put this tendentiously) gives academic cover for smearing Sanders supporters as racists and sexists; the Clinton campaign’s successful propagation of #BernieBros, directed to the same end, preceded this study, interestingly enough.

A number of liberals, perhaps unaccustomed to being on the conservative side of an argument, have been busily convincing themselves that the Sanders insurgency is little more than a coincidence, and does not represent any meaningful advance for the American left. Foremost among them are two political scientists, Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels, who used survey data and their theoretical work to argue that Sanders’ ample support resulted from “social identities, symbolic commitments, and partisan loyalties,” not actual left-wing ideology.

Read for the methodological problems with the study. The conclusion:

But on a more fundamental level, it’s important to recognize how profoundly elitist the Achens/Bartels theoretical framework is. In their book, they argue that ordinary voters have basically zero control over government policy, because they have no idea what’s going on, politically speaking. They don’t understand government, they don’t understand policy, and they don’t have a good grasp on what politicians believe. They vote based on identity and partisanship, and, when given the chance in plebiscites, regularly make ignorant and self-damaging choices.

Obviously, those pesky voters need to be guided by credentialed experts, using squillionaire-friendly values (and interests) as a touchstone.

“Clinton and the Democrats want Pennsylvania; Trump and the GOP need it” [Real Clear Politics]. Interesting! Contrast between “socially liberally and fiscally conservative” Philly suburbs (Democrat) and “rust belt” (Pittsburgh). Worth noting that Obama’s supercilious comment on “bitter people” who “cling to their guns and religion” came during the 2008 Pennsylania primary, at a fundraiser, foreshadowing the Democrat Party’s vile and 10%-optimized strategy of forcing a Sophie’s choice on working people: Feed your children by voting your economic interests (say, on TPP) and teach your children by voting for the justice component of identity politics (say, on racial justice as distinct from the business interests of the Black Misleadership Class). Thanks, Obama!

“Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism” [Foreign Policy]. From the clogged arteries at the heart of the establishment:

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Hence the total necessity of Clintonian excrementalism.

Sanders Speech

“In Non-Concession Speech, Sanders Vows to Keep Fighting” [Seven Days]. ” In a 23-minute speech, broadcast live from a television studio in Burlington’s Old North End, Sanders did not say he would continue challenging former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. But neither did he say the words ‘concede,’ ‘suspend’ or ‘endorse.’ Rather, he seemed to be holding out for specific concessions.”

This fallacy is pathetic in more ways than one:

Yeah, it’s actually still cold up here; as readers know, my boiler was going in June!

“Get involved in your area” [Bernie Sanders]. “Fill out this form and we will follow up with more information about how you can get involved in carrying this movement forward in your area.”] I very rarely link directly to candidate sites, but since this is about getting people involved — quelle horreur — at the local level, I’m making an exception.

UPDATE “Sanders’ Long Refusal to Endorse Clinton Hurts His Leverage” [Bloomberg]. Concern trolling. It seems literally impossible for the political class, or the Clinton campaign, to get their heads around the idea that to Sanders, and to his supporters, there is more to life than a (rigged and corrupt) process that ends on November 7. Or that Sanders might not be able to “deliver” the people who voted for him (or even think of his supporters as addressable packages to be tossed in the back of some truck).

UPDATE The transcript [Time].

UPDATE “One sentence from Bernie Sanders’s speech last night that really enrages Democratic leaders” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]. Awesome clickbait headline, even more awesome text:

The aspect of Sanders’s speech that really set them off last night was something entirely different. Not the fact that Sanders said he wanted his supporters to continue to influence the direction of the party but the specific way he characterized this direction:

I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party so that it becomes a party of working people and young people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors: a party that has the courage to take on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry and the other powerful special interests that dominate our political and economic life.

It’s incredibly frustrating for people who’ve been working in mainstream Democratic Party politics to hear their party described as something other than a party for “working people.”

C’mon, Matt. You’re better than that.


Maybe worry about outcomes more, and the amour propre of Democrat wonks less?

The Trail

UPDATE “Trump’s campaign hits a wall” [The Hill]. Everybody who missed Trump’s rise now busily engineering his fall. Life’s little ironies!

UPDATE “Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Thursday that he has no plan to rescind his endorsement of Donald Trump despite repeatedly disavowing some of the presumptive presidential nominee’s controversial comments” [The Hill]. But somehow I think Ryan doesn’t want to run for Vice President twice…

UPDATE “Among those to signal in recent days that they won’t sponsor the convention this year are Wells Fargo & Co., United Parcel Service Inc., Motorola Solutions Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Ford Motor Co., and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. All of those companies sponsored the previous Republican conclave, in Tampa, Florida, in 2012” [Bloomberg] Virtue signaling by good corporate citizens…

Contrasting the Brexit Vote to the 2016 election: “Unfortunately, this vote is a choice between bad and worse — and the question is which is which” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “This vote.” Paulie Peanuts is so droll.

UPDATE “Elizabeth Warren visits Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters” [WaPo].

Voter Suppression and Election Fraud

Board of Elections Returns Purged Brooklyn Voters to Rolls [WNBC]. And two clerks get a nice salary bump. Our work here is done.

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index: “Rent and Gas Raises CPI” [Economic Populist]. And groceries, kinda, but not restaurant food.”The shelter index is comprised of rent, the equivalent cost of owning a home, hotels and motels. Shelter increased 0.4% and is up 3.4% for the year, which is a lot. Rent of a primary residence just keeps increasing and this month by 0.4% and is up 3.8% for the year.” I wonder how much of that goes to private equity. I wonder if there’s even a chart for that… And: “Continues well below the Fed’s target” [Mosler Economics].

Housing Starts, May 2016: “Housing starts are solid but not permits” [Econoday]. “Key strengths in the report are in the central category of single-family homes where starts rose 0.3 percent to a 764,000 rate for a year-on-year gain of 10.1 percent. But here too permits are soft, down 2.0 percent in the month though the year-on-year rate is still positive, at 4.8 percent…. The housing and constructions sectors are showing bursts of strength and in general are trending higher, providing a highlight for what is mostly a modest outlook for the economy.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, June 2016: “Inflation expectations couldn’t hold the prior month’s gain, falling back 1 tenth to 1.8 percent for the 1-year outlook” [Econoday]. ” The headline dip isn’t welcome news for policy makers, especially given similar weakness in inflation expectations on the consumer side.”

Shipping: “Mutiny attempt leads to mass brawl and grounding of bulker off Mauritius” [Splash247]. “Local media in Mauritius is reporting an attempted mutiny, followed by a huge fight among the all Filipino crew of the bulk carrier Benita led to its grounding in the Indian Ocean early this morning…. [E]fforts by the police to survey the ship via helicopter have been hampered by a number of drones flying in the area. Police have asked that all drones be moved from the area.” Hmm.

Shipping: ” May 2016 Import Sea Container Count Trends Are Improving” [Econintersect]. “Only the rolling averages for exports and imports remain in negative territory after two months of soft data. Month-over-month, year-over-year, and year-to-date data are now is in expansion….” “This pulse point [at Ports of LA and Long Beach] is an early indicator of the health of the economy…. As the data is very noisy – the best way to look at this data is the 3 month rolling averages. There is a direct linkage between imports and USA economic activity – and the change in growth in imports foretells real change in economic growth. Export growth is an indicator of competitiveness and global economic growth.”

Shipping: ” Rail Week Ending 11 June 2016: Rail Contraction Continues” [Econintersect]. Still down, even backing out coal and grain.

Shipping: “The big three US carriers’ cargo performance continued to diverge in May, with United and American recording demand increases while Delta saw demand slide” [Air Cargo News]. “‘Until now, Delta Cargo has operated on very transactional lines – fill the bellies of the planes we’re flying, move the product from A to B on time and on target. But there is a consumer component that we need to bring to the business,’ said cargo president Gareth Joyce.”

Supply Chain: “New reports show that fast-fashion giant Inditex SA ‘s nimble, low-inventory strategy is helping the company sidestep the headwinds from e-commerce that retailers are facing… [Wall Street Journal]. “The Spanish owner of brands including Zara and Massimo Dutti posted strong first-quarter profit and revenue growth across all its major regions, building on a model in which the company keeps inventories low, supply chains short and products produced quickly on demand.” And keeps lots of Cambodians working for pennies a day! (See Fashion Law on “fast fashion.” Personally, I’d settle for slow clothing that’s not ill-fitting and poorly stitched, and lasts more than one season. Unfortunately, these days one must go to a thrift shop for that. And what to do about the crapification of shoes?) Note the favored elite airplane metaphor: “Headwinds.”

Supply Chain: “Coordinating transport procurement activities, inventory placement, and unpredictable omnichannel fulfillment is a tricky proposition. As fulfilling ‘eaches’ becomes more commonplace, parcel shipping has become the e-commerce mode of choice. But parcel is expensive compared with less-than-truckload (LTL) service, making it more important than ever to consolidate shipments into the more cost-efficient LTL loads where possible but hard to do without aligning procurement and inventory control processes” [DC Velocity]. The article argues for “a single, integrated shipping platform,” that is, for monopoly rents to a single software provider (ka-ching). The minimum requirement is a standard for data interchange, but that’s a public good (no ka-ching) so it’s not even on the table. And so it goes.

Capex: “The Census Bureau measures capex investment in the Durable Goods report in the measure of ‘non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft’, where we see a different pattern emerge. Businesses are investing notably less in their operations, often choosing instead to borrow at low rates to finance share repurchases and dividends, according to numerous anecdotal reports” [Econintersect]. “In fact, new investment in capital projects has dropped sharply year-over-year in each of the past five quarters, something not often seen outside of recessions.” One reason government should not be run like a business is that there are no share buybacks in government, unless you count looting and corruption.

Brexit: “Shares, crude oil and bond yields rose today after a tumultuous week and as campaigning for Britain’s European Union membership referendum next week was suspended after the killing of a pro-“Remain” politician” [Futures]. “‘There was this incredible melt down in risk sentiment (yesterday) where everything seemed to be aligning and then this terrible incident in England seemed to be the root of everything reversing,’ said Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy John Hardy. ‘I think everyone is still in a state of shock as to what this means. Does it tilt the odds on a vote next week? It’s hard to know but it certainly disrupted what the market was doing.'”

“An attack has been found and exploited in the DAO, and the attacker is currently in the process of draining the ether contained in the DAO into a child DAO. The attack is a recursive calling vulnerability, where an attacker called the ‘split’ function, and then calls the split function recursively inside of the split, thereby collecting ether many times over in a single transaction” [Ethereum]. Prosecution futures…

“Time to revisit how we calculate expectations?” [Fresh Ecnomic Thinking]. “For someone who is only going to experience a single path through a non-ergodic process, basing your behaviour on an expectation using the ensemble mean probably won’t be an effective way to navigate economic variations.” Can somebody translate that into English?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51, Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 17 at 11:44am. Decline from angst into fear arrested. Let’s see what Mr. Market does after he stumbles home from the 19th hole on Sunday afternoon.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“FBI says utility pole surveillance cam locations must be kept secret” [Ars Technica].


“We must not let the Orlando nightclub terror further strangle our civil liberties” [Chelsea E Manning, Guardian]. “However, an attack like this is carefully planned and executed to maximize attention by inflaming the passions of a helpless public. Because of this, the response can be more dangerous than the attack. The refrains of “safety and security” have, for many years, been used as a tool by the powerful to justify curtailing civil liberties and emboldening backlash against immigrants, Muslim people and others.” As it turns out, the heroic Democrat filibuster — and I know this will surprise you — was more about enshrining even more lists of bad data as tools of “law enforcement” than gun control.

“Why I Need an AR-15” [Medium]. Gotta admit, the geeky nature of this article sucked me in. As it turns out — and I know this will surprise you, too — the technical nature of the “assault weapons” debate now being carried on by the political class is completely vacuous; the AR-15 is a platform!


“Senator Charles E. Grassley of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees issued a letter on Thursday essentially declaring that the American Red Cross (ARC) is stonewalling his investigation on questions of accountability where its activities and spending in Haiti are concerned. The ARC received approximately $487 million dollars to provide food and shelter in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake” [Nonprofit Quarterly].

Most of the work the ARC did in Haiti under the Haiti Assistance Project (HAP) was in fact subcontracted to other organizations. Still, the Red Cross retained around 25 percent of that money, or $124 million, for its own operations and program costs. The rest, around $367 million, went to contracts with partner agencies, but the whole picture is obscured by a ‘complex yet inaccurate process to track…spending.’ Consequently, the organization has been unable to answer questions about, for instance, how much went to oversight and evaluation activities—an important accountability measure, as far as Grassley is concerned. He writes that the ARC blames its lack of precision on its reliance on ‘nonprofit accounting standards which allow for the use of estimates rather than actual numbers.’

I can’t find any direct connection between the American Red Cross and the Clinton Foundation, which is why I’m filing this under “Corruption” and not “The Trail.” Their mutual presence in Haiti is not enough. Readers?

The Unsettlement

“Full transcript of Lam Wing-kee’s opening statement at his Hong Kong press conference” [South China Morning Post].

“HK learns more about China” [Big Lychee (MsExpat)]. “Many will take Lam Wing-kee’s warnings to heart, and perhaps be inspired by his example. This guy has guts. The top-level Mainland security forces that abducted him are expecting him back with a hard drive full of names. Instead, he has turned the tables and exposed beyond any doubts or uncertainty the thuggishness and lawlessness of the CCP.”

“We were surprised to find that 40% of [online ISIS] followers declared themselves to be female. Women hold an unexpected position in the pro-ISIS networks — they tend to be centres of information-flow between followers, and to increase the lifespan of the communities. They typically do not have similarly prominent roles in comparable networks from the everyday world, such as innovation networks for patents in industry and academia” [Nature]. Interesting if true.

“It’s true that gays and lesbians fought against death with a handful of allies while Ronald Reagan failed, for the first six years of the epidemic, to utter the word AIDS in public. It is also true that the more recent past has brought a level of acceptance of same-sex couples that would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago. But these eras are not sequential chapters of the same story, and treating them as such obscures the fact that the fight against AIDS and the fight for LGBT rights haven’t been the same fight for a long time” [N+1].

Guillotine Watch

“Imagine if you owned a 2,400-square-foot luxury home with the ability to fly you and 39 of your closest friends to anywhere you want in less than 17 hours” [Business Insider]. No. Imagine public transportation that took me to and from the hardware story in less than three hours.

“Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) introduced the Top 1% Accountability Act of 2016, requiring drug testing for all tax filers claiming itemized deductions in any year over $150,000” [Congressoman Gwen Moore].

“Machine Intelligence Will Let Us All Work Like CEOs” [Harvard Business Review]. At last! My life-long dream, fulfilled!

Class Warfare

“How the Gig Economy Could Save Capitalism” [Time]. “It’s crucial that the next iteration of capitalism increase the labor share of the pie, which has been shrinking since the 1950s, in order to provide more stable economic growth (flat wages in a 70% consumer economy eventually means zero growth). What’s interesting is that, as both Sundararajan and Rushkoff point out, platform capitalism isn’t really new. It’s just a high-tech version of the pre-industrial marketplaces of old, in which individual merchants sold their wares directly to buyers in a public square.”

“FedEx Corp. said Thursday it has agreed to pay $240 million to settle lawsuits in 20 states with drivers, possibly ending a yearslong legal dispute over whether they were employees or independent contractors” [Wall Street Journal, “FedEx Agrees to $240 Million Settlement With Drivers in 20 States”]. The judge in the case must approve. “‘We are pleased to put this matter behind us as it relates to a contract that has not been in use for a number of years,’ FedEx said in its statement.” Yeah, because people fought that contract tooth and nail for years.

“Many developed country members of the group of 20 largest economies are cutting back infrastructure spending after boosting it in the aftermath of the recession. All this comes despite frequent and urgent calls from international gatherings of finance officials for more infrastructure spending to jolt economic growth and invigorate productivity” [Wall Street Journal, “The World Needs to Boost Infrastructure Spending, but Many Countries Are Cutting Back”]. Pervasive neoliberal propaganda for (let me break out my calculator: 2016 – 1975) ~40 year against “big government” and systematic weakening of the provision of public goods of all kinds turns out not only to be corrupt, but delusional even in its own terms. And so the political class responds to the incentives that our misrulers created, and still does. And so now the misrulership class wants a Mulligan on the ideology and the system they constructed. “Sorry guys. My bad.” Not.

And then there’s this:

Some you may remember Florida as the coiner of 2008’s meme-of-the-moment “creative class,” the first indications of the 10% power surge that’s coming to such rancid fruition in today’s Democrat Party.

News of the Wired

“ZFS: Apple’s New Filesystem That Wasn’t” [Adam Leventhal’s blog]. How the software sausage is made…

“Alphachat: McDonald’s as community center, the two Americas, and the reputation of Wall Street workers” [Cardiff Garcia, FT Alphaville]. Interesting read, interesting people.

“Introducing the new font, apple-sans-adjectives” (also, posters) [appleadjectiv.es]. From the poster, the stoplist isn’t nearly ruthless enough.

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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 (AW):

woodstock vt

Woodstock, Vermont.

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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. Jim Haygood

    Rent the Oval Office on airbnb:

    0bama hosted youthful Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House today, underscoring his guest’s meteoric rise and increasingly pivotal role in managing strained US-Saudi ties.

    The 30-year-old deputy crown prince — who has become the driving force behind economic reform and a more activist Saudi foreign policy — swept into the West Wing with a band of aides.

    The White House said Prince Mohammed’s meeting with Obama will take place in the Oval Office — a rare honor for a non-head of state, one not afforded to the Dalai Lama earlier in the week.


    As ol’ Bruce Springsteen might have said, “28 pages and nothin’ on ’em.”

    Or as Uncle Joe Stalin might have said, “How many divisions does the Dalai Lama have?”

    In other news, the yield on 0zero has gone negative.

      1. Jim Haygood

        If you knocked all the narcissism out of 0bama, you could bury him in an Altoids tin, with room left over for his cereal-box drone ranger badge.

    1. Elasmo Branch

      I thought the Kingdom of Saud was a gerontocracy, but apparently this millennial has enough clout to sit down with the leader of the free world and play a little Xbox. “Listen, dude: Salafism in Iraq, that’s bad. Salafism in Syria, that’s kosher. Salafist bro commits mass murder in Florida, that’s a no-no. Salafist bro’s friend commits mass murder in Syria, no foul.” Meanwhile, Israel and Russia are strapping in for their first joint military exercise ever. And the US’s counter-terrorism in-house response time is clocking in at three hours, while the FBI can’t be bothered to check in on a known associate of a daesh suicide bomber after he makes a pit stop for body armor. Time for our Pentagon Silver-backs and Langley Soccer Moms to engage in some serious self-reflection.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are two major factions. The crazy faction, versus the thugs who recognize they are two bit shrine operators, currently hold the throne. Whenever there is chatter of a coup or disgruntled royals, it’s the second faction. I’m convinced Saudi aggression in Yemen was about sending the regular army away from Riyadh where they couldn’t cause trouble. In keeping with their succession pattern, the thug faction should be next in line. Given the way the crazies have spent cash, the thugs might bring back some of that old time religion to the clan. With the recent spending habits of some of the princes, do you think they want that?

        This princeling is an attempt to create a young Saudi prince for the world who can protect the rule of the the crazy faction by making the princeling the friend of world leaders.

      1. ambrit

        Interesting word usage there. Saudi by itself suggests the entire polity of Arabia Deserta. A more precise phrase would be House of Saud because obviously, not everyone in that country is a member of the ruling clique. How much of the population there is wahabbi islam? The rest will ‘beg to differ.’

  2. diptherio

    It took me awhile, but I finally got around to finishing episode four of the Economics for the Rest of Us podcast. I wanted to make some points about the Monetary system that need to be more widely understood. It’s simplified, of course, but I think I did a decent job of getting the gist across. And entirely did away with the music this time…just birdies in the background :-)


    1. DJG

      I don’t know, diptherio. I’m still contemplating your piece at YouTube on how you went from being an Eagle Scout to a Karma Bum.

      1. diptherio

        Oh, sh*t…that stuff’s still up there. For some reason I thought I had an interesting story to tell at one point…never got around to finishing it…[cringe]

        1. ambrit

          Be of good cheer diptherio. You are still alive and kicking, so, the story is not finished by a long shot.

          1. tegnost

            +1 our stories are as yet unfinished.
            Thought this podcast got too broad, wanted maybe a simpler explanation of macro/micro with real world examples of coops, which I think you have some knowledge about, vs. corps maybe or something. Didn’t get the chance yet to listen a second time as I’d wanted to but that’s what the “first thought” was…looking forward to more, and felt the music serves to break up the speaking as punctuation breaks up writing, but too much music is like all caps text. BTW, Eagle scout to karma bum is an excellent transition for a pathfinder.

  3. frosty zoom

    “For someone who is only going to experience a single path through a non-ergodic process, basing your behaviour on an expectation using the ensemble mean probably won’t be an effective way to navigate economic variations.” Can somebody translate that into English?”


        1. ambrit

          The two classes of ‘being’ have a strong overlap. You can have both, and fries with that.

    1. frosty zoom

      Lîbérஅls; TЊӖy! Jىst. Ƌon”`t¿ Gët. It?

      there, spruced ‘er up fer ya.

  4. Fred

    “Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy.”
    Yeah, no experience in capitalism or anything else. At least the author has the tone of condescension right to fit into (rather remain in) academia after the phd.

  5. allan

    The MSM is generally referring to the killing of Jo Cox as an assassination.
    Given what we know, that seems reasonable.

    Today is the one year anniversary of the killing of 9 people in the Emanuel AME church in Charlestown,
    one of whom, Clementa Pinckney, was a charismatic SC state Senator.
    For some strange reason, the MSM never refer to his killing as an assassination.
    I wonder what’s up with that.

    1. different clue

      Perhaps because so very few people have spoken of thinking about it that way. Certainly every spokesperson for Black Charleston and Black America spoke of it in terms of Racism and Hate and etc.
      Did it even occur to any of the Black Charlestonians in particular or Black Americans in general that this was a political decapitation strike designed to take out Pinckney, and that killing the other eight people in the room was designed to provide “racial cover” and “misdirection” to what was actually a political decapitation strike?

      If this theory were offered to Black America, how would Black America receive it? Well enough to start talking about it? Well enough to march in their thousands with professionally made signs featuring a photo of Dylan Roof with the caption-quotation: ” This miserable Faust! Who is his Mephistopheles?”

      1. Steve C

        My dad says that in Korea the Red Cross would come in and commandeer the unit’s flour and coffee, make donuts and coffee and charge the GIs a nickel for it. He’s disliked the Red Cross ever since.

  6. Kurt Sperry

    Correct link for Apple sans adjectives- http://appleadjectiv.es/
    “I can write for a considerable length of time without using any adjectives at all. In fact I am guessing that given a modicum of effort, many of us will be able to do so.”

    1. clinical wasteman

      “Adjectives = good/bad” (like the “Oxford comma debate”) is a silly question beloved of rule-happy pedants. The important difference is between adjectives/adverbs that merely magnify (mostly redundant) and those that specify, i.e. narrow down the meaning of the noun/verb (often helpful).
      In any case (both senses), the idea of taking lessons from a company whose adbots can’t tell an adverb from an adjective calls forth parts of speech unsuitable for this courteous comments page.
      S(t)ink Different!

  7. Gee

    I dunno, I guess I can understand the ambition and doing what it takes to get ahead and stay relevant, but after all Elizabeth Warren has written about, and after how clearly her thoughts seem to align with a Sanders candidacy, to have her endorse Clinton is just impossible to stomach.

    I guess this just goes to show how DC works. You are in, or you are out, and what is the point of sticking to your principles if you are out.

    Nevertheless, EW is dead to me now.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Same here. And, IMHO, EW will be a one-termer in the Senate. Watch for the primary challenge in 2018.

      But not to worry, she’ll head right back to Hah-vahd Law.

      1. Yves Smith

        Actually, no. Schools at Harvard will give a tenured faculty member a sabbatical of a maximum of 2 years. I believe this is a university rule.

        This is well established; a prof at the Business School, former head of the finance faculty, who had been head of the Brady Commission, ran the RTC on a day to day basis and was later head of the NASD could not come back as a professor. But the Kennedy School made him an adjunct lecturer and he was also a visiting professor at Harvard Law for 2 years, despite never having had a law degree.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Warren was always a one trick pony and now we find out she doesn’t even really believe in her one trick. What remains then?

      1. Pavel

        Her 1/32 Native American heritage?

        Sorry if I sound bitter, Liz. But I thought at the least you’d abstain from endorsing evil, greedy, corrupt Hillary.

      2. optimader

        two trick pony.. the second trick was the pony disappearing. All we’re left with is a whiny voice.

      3. Arizona Slim

        She did some good, original research on the actual causes of consumer bankruptcies. But that’s about the extent of her repertoire.

        @Kurt has it right. She’s a one-trick poiny.

        1. backwardsevolution

          “Thanks to Bernie, Hillary has been faking left for some time now. But, of course, it is all a charade, portending nothing whatsoever about any real change of heart. Once the election is over, she and Bill will revert back to their old neoliberal ways in less time than it will take their entourage to pack up their personal effects for the move back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

          By then too, Warren will be yesterday’s lunch. If she wants to let herself be used now to make Trump, not Hillary, the issue, she can go to hell. If there isn’t already “a special place” there for Hillary-boosters like her, there ought to be.”


    3. pretzelattack

      i wonder if warren asked about all those brooklyn voters that were disenfranchised and then conveniently reenfranchised (if that’s a word) after the primary.

      1. jsn

        It’s what Isaiah Berlin called “positive freedom”: the freedom to do what our rulers know is right for us. Their freedom to vote for Hillary has been restored!

      2. aab

        Of the many outrageous acts this campaign season that’s in the top three. Another is actually flipping votes AFTER THEY WERE REPORTED ON TV in Kentucky. And the news media just shrugged. “Oh, there was a mistake, which just happened to result in thousands of votes reported as Sanders really being Clinton, enough to flip the state? Nothing to see here. Democracy in Action!”

    4. Left in Wisconsin

      I’m no fan of HRC but if every politician who publicly endorses or supports her becomes persona non grata, that is a recipe for being/remaining irrelevant. Warren is way, way better than the typical D, she has shown an ability to grow intellectually, and she has moved to the left as she has gotten older (not that she is a leftist by any means), which is rare in a national politician.

      In a 2-party system, winning means assembling a coalition of disparate interests in order to achieve 50% + 1 (presuming the actual votes are actually the ones that count). It is hard to imagine a scenario in which anti-imperialists or leftists gain power in which the Elizabeth Warrens are not part of the coalition. What Sanders showed is that a social democrat is a viable national candidate, and he did this by attracting the support and votes of a lot of people who are not themselves social democrats. If those who end up supporting HRC in November are considered traitors, that strikes me as extremely short-sighted.

      Politics is a long game, especially when you are far from power.

      1. aab

        I don’t think national resources should be expended on primarying Warren, but I see no problem with targeting all Clinton endorsers. Clinton is a criminal. Endorsing her is endorsing both corruption and criminality. It is unacceptable in any version of a free or democratic society.

        Every one of these cowards taken out not only removes them from power, but scares the rest into thinking twice. We have to make them more afraid of us than of monsters like the Clintons.

    5. BananaBreakfast

      Even by the sad standards of mainstream American Progressivism, Warren was always more Teddy than Franklin Roosevelt. She’s interested in breaking up bank trusts because of their destabilizing economic impact and influence over politicians. If the role of the state under corporatism is in part to select the best firms to manage the economy, she’s merely a corporatist who thinks that big banks are bad managers.

      Not to say I told you so (which of course means I’m gonna), but any credibility she had as a representative of the left within the DP should have gone out the window when she failed to endorse Sanders before Massachusetts. Her support there would have put him outside the window of effective vote rigging, and denied Clinton her narratively important “victory” there. She’s certainly in the, I dunno, 10% of the least objectionable Democrats, but hardly a progressive standard bearer.

      1. aab


        (Sorry. I know that NC comments are supposed to be more information rich than that.)

  8. fresno dan

    “…Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare***.”

    “As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.”

    Oh, I don’t thing the term is radical is used as much as arguments that insinuate reactionary. Why, only people who want to live in Jim Crow America and are xenophobic Luddites want to go back in the past (Sarc) – We must go ever onward and ever forward!!!

    The 1% has been very successful at conflating ANY real economic reform as some sort of regression to a racist past. As first I was amazed, but what major media outfit isn’t part of the conspiracy???
    Average person “I believe in strong unions so that wages can reflect productivity increases”
    Main Stream Media “So you believe Bull Connor was right to release dogs on civil rights demonstrators?”
    Average person “Of course not – What has that (cut off)”
    Main Stream Media “So you don’t believe racism was endemic in the 1960’s in America? Tsk, Tsk, Tsk”

    ***and by rare, we mean non-existent for anyone not in the 1%

    1. jrs

      Average person “I believe in strong unions so that wages can reflect productivity increases … maybe if there aren’t too corrupt, I’ve heard of unions being corrupt and featherbedding and etc. ”

      and well never even mind …

      1. steelhead23

        I witnessed feather-bedding. However, it was an electrical utility which was granted a 15% profit margin by the PUC so had an interest in increasing the cost of production. I suspect featherbedding is uncommon in competitive industries.

      2. jsn

        Corruption is always and everywhere but easer to address the smaller it is.

        Hoffa etc. were corrupt and a few people died for it and small sums of money moved between goons and “good fellas”.

        Compare that to the Clinton Foundation money flow and entire nations obliterated and tell me the labor corruption of my youth was worse than the Capital corruption of my dotage.

  9. Doug

    OK – Here’s my attempt to translate the “Time to revisit how we calculate expectations” in the Stats Watch section. I think what that author is trying to say is that you can’t draw conclusions about a whole population by studying a small subset if the the population is non-homogeneous.

    Example. The “ensemble mean” of the population IQ is, by definition, 100. But IQ is “non-ergodic” in that there is a very wide difference in intelligence among humans. So what kind of conclusion about humans can you get by just studying the 100 IQers?

    Well, its a stab at it, but probably way off base.

  10. Steve C

    If freelancers are like medieval merchants, who played the role of Uber, which sets the terms of the market solely to its benefit and the detriment of the freelancers?

    Am I naive to distinguish between free enterprise and capitalism, which I define as rule and control by organized capital, as opposed to labor? What would rule and control by labor look like? Is some sort of middle ground possible or beneficial?

    1. Arizona Slim

      ISTR reading that medieval merchants had guilds. Which functioned like modern-day unions.

      1. ambrit

        Actually, guilds acted like limited monopolies for the benefit of the senior members of the group involved. No all inclusivity practiced there. Low level members of the ‘in group’ struggled along until they could make their way into the upper echelons of the group. I think that the term you are searching for is ‘cartel.’

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Am I naive to distinguish between free enterprise and capitalism

      No. They aren’t the same. “Free enterprise” is a nonsense concept.

  11. L

    The Register has a fun story about CIA Chief Brannan’s Senate Testimony yesterday: Non US Encryption is Theoretical Claims CIA.

    When appearing before the senate intelligence committee, Brennan apparently scoffed at the idea that mandating backdoors would harm U.S. companies on the grounds that no other country supplies encryption systems and therefore the rest of the world would have nowhere else to turn. Senator Wyden, using remarkably polite language under the circumstances, said:

    “It is clearly inaccurate to say that foreign encryption is a ‘theoretical’ capability,”

    Clearly either Brennan is ridiculously misinformed, or he believes that the senators are.

    1. hunkerdown

      Way to write the FOSS movement out of the discussion, but that’s the TPP brigade for you.

  12. Plenue

    “Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip.”

    Just once I wish one of these types had actually read Adam Smith. His ‘invisible hand’ was literally the hand of God, imbuing us with the capacity for moral judgement. Not at all the idea that the market is wise and self-correcting.

    1. bdy

      Smith dovetails perfectly with Ian Welsh’s suggestion that the best economic policies are those that are kindest.

      Try telling the neo-classic on your block that food stamps, parental leave and Social Security are the “invisible hand” at work.

  13. timotheus

    Re: purged Brooklyn voter rolls. There is another aspect to New York State’s demented electoral system: we have THREE SEPARATE primary dates this year before the November elections: the presidential that occurred in April, the federal coming up June 28, then yet another one in September for state and city races. This entails an unnecessary expense of $50 million (according to a candidate standing outside my subway stop this morning) but enables sitting pols to run for higher office and, if they lose, keep their fallback sinecure since that primary vote comes later.

    1. jrs

      Yes the extra expense is probably why the California primary is so late, therefore the election is declared before all the votes are even counted, but money is saved, that’s the important part, not that the states voters here actually have a vote, but money was saved …

      I don’t know the election wasn’t literally called before the New York primary at least.

  14. ProNewerDeal

    fw: interesting editorials on LEV (Lesser Evil Voting or alternatively Less Effective Evil Voting) re a 2016 Pres election of H Clinton v Trump

    Prof Noam. Chomsky & John Halle (blogger?) advise H Clinton in a swing state as a Lesser Evil, advise to “vote your conscience in a non-swing state. IIRC this “D is the Lesser Evil” is the same opinion Chomsky has held in the 2012 if not prior elections.

    Editorialist Andrew Smolski concludes no difference bt H Clinton & Trump, & implies advising to vote Green.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Strategic migration and strategic voting.

      Young people, not tied down with work, in sure states, who are able and mobile, can migrate to swing states.

      That’s one key to victory.

    2. bdy

      Love Noam’s eloquence, but his dog whistle to the PTB is getting a little tired. “Things are better now than they’ve ever been” might or might not have been true in 1966 (wouldn’t know, wasn’t alive). Nowadays not so much. The lesser evilism isn’t surprising, sadly.

      Chomsky for Clinton.

      Adorno for Merkel?

      Arendt for Le Penn?

    3. cwaltz

      I don’t see Hillary Clinton as the Lesser Evil. Different kind of shouldn’t imply lesser particularly when you look at her positions on places like Syria or her lobbying for TPP or support for a grand bargain.

      If I vote principled then I vote for Jill Stein with a clean conscience. If I vote strategic then I vote for Trump in that swing state and I give the corrupt Democratic Party the finger while I do it.

      There will be snowballs in Hades before I vote for Clinton

    4. jrs

      When you get to things like the TPP, that is corporate rule it will be near impossible to reverse, being what the “lesser evil” advocates, “lesser evil” becomes meaningless.

    5. ex-PFC Chuck

      When it comes to averting the danger of nuclear war with Russia and/or China, Clinton is not the lesser evil.

      1. sd

        That’s actually my single biggest concern with this election. 1. Nuclear war. 2. Global warming is second. After that, everything is more or less out to screw the not-1%

        So if Bernie does not make it on to the November ballot, voting tips towards becoming a life or death matter.

    6. Uahsenaa

      As arguments go, it weirdly cherry picks which of Trump’s claims are to be believed and which are to be discounted, boiling down to “any of his claims that support our argument are patently true” (regardless of whether the executive has any authority to implement them) and “any claim that doesn’t support our argument [re: the hand wavey statement about foreign policy] is to be discounted,” even though foreign policy is the one area the president has the most direct control over.

      Have some on the left gotten so bad at parsing ideological struggles that they can no longer deal with a situation where two choices are just as bad in different ways? And if we are to be held responsible for our votes, then I’d like to be able to say I didn’t vote for the one who is likely to foment a war between two nuclear powers.

  15. Unorthodoxmarxist

    $2700 is also the max donation you can give to a federal-level candidate this election cycle. Yes, probably a wink to Sanders but also they’re asking attendees to max out.

    1. Vatch

      Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think one can give $2700 to a candidate for the primary, and one can give the same candidate another $2700 for the general election.

      1. flora

        Yes. It’s $2700 per election, where the primary and general are considered 2 different elections.

    2. Vatch

      The donations from the people who give $27,000 (the “hosts”) will presumably be divided among Clinton and several of her supporters, and maybe also the DNC. Eventually, the portion for the supporters might actually reach them. Meanwhile, Clinton will have the use of the money, very likely contrary to election law. But who knows, maybe there are some giant loopholes.

  16. flora

    re: 2016 – Corruption
    “Hillary Clinton will hold a fundraiser with the entire House and Senate Democratic leadership next week, the first event of its kind for the presumptive Democratic nominee”

    And will Hillary be keeping 99% of the proceeds for herself?

  17. cm

    Regarding “ZFS: Apple’s New Filesystem That Wasn’t” as we see with Google, any company should really question doing business with Oracle. Oracle is toxic.

    1. drexciya

      Originally ZFS was developed by Sun, and used in the Solaris OS. But, just like with lots of nice things which have been bought by Oracle (ZFS, VirtualBox, Virtual Iron, Java, MySQL) it has been crapified or just left behind to wither and die. Oracle has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to IT companies and this is just one of the reasons for that.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Since when do “diplomats” at State declare who America should be bombing, when, and where?
      I thought “diplomacy” was the part where people tried to settle their differences by *talking*.
      Then if every last possible last-ditch effort to talk has been exhausted, as a very sad and very reluctant admission of their utter failure, only then do they hand the keys to the Pentagon.
      Seems that bombs, not words, have become the official default policy action of America.
      As O said “it’s not like being president is just figuring out who to bomb next”. Really? Prove it. “Vladimir Putin on Line 1, do you want to take it”?

  18. DJG

    Aha: Fashion in a larger context: Lambert: “Unfortunately, these days one must go to a thrift shop for that. And what to do about the crapification of shoes?”

    I am noticing three symptoms with men’s clothing. First, the crapification has gone on for years because men can’t afford clothes. Most men wander around in a readable t-shirt and slouchy pants–it isn’t the new informality. It is that a shirt with long sleeves costs money.

    Second, depression. Loose clothes in dark colors with roomy seats give off an aura of depression. Ill-fitting shoes add to the shuffling mental-breakdown look.

    Third, overweight. Dumpy is the new black. Flat-front pants with an overhanging bay window present problems. How does a guy even calculate waist size?

    I buy my clothes mainly at consignment shops. I have some snappy men’s jackets that I got for about ten dollars each. Men’s fleece jackets abound and are a buck apiece. What to do about shoes? Buy them new. Here are a few makers that still produce decent men’s shoes: Stacy Adams, Timberland, Red Wing. Why, they may even be U.S.-owned. Fancy that.

    1. OIFVet

      Red Wings are quality. Pricey for most “consumers” in the age of 0bama growth, but great work boots that last forever pay for themselves in short order…

      1. DJG

        Men have to invest in shoes / boots. I buy about three pairs of shoes a year. I have them repaired by an excellent cobbler on Damen named Theodor or Theodore. (He keeps gaining and losing vowels in this perilous time.)

        Most people seem to buy ten pairs of crappy shoes. Then some flipflops to guarantee those visits to the podiatrist…

        1. OIFVet

          Oh I agree. My late grandfather used to say, “I am too poor to afford to buy cheap crap”. He was very intelligent, perhaps because he only finished the third grade before the family sent him to Hungary to work as a gardener and send the earnings back home to support the family. So when it comes down to it, I buy quality, even if it is pricey. Saves me money in the long run.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Why don’t they teach this kind of stuff in school?

            Instead, they drill about cheap imports helping to keep inflation down.

            I know I would have avoided a few costly mistakes.

        2. Yves Smith

          The trick is have dance rubber put on the bottom of your “investment” shoes when new, both front and heel. You never wear our the original sole. Also lowers repair costs (you put on new dance rubber as it wears down, rather than replacing or trying to repair the soles). I get rid of my good shoes when the uppers finally give out, which is way way longer than normal wear (unless you get them really wet multiple times or get salt on them and don’t clean if off pronto, there are always exceptions).

          1. DJG

            Yes. Salt is the big problem. And when they put it down in layers in Chicago in winter, I end up wiping down my shoes every time I return from going out.

            Your basic point is worth reinforcing: Soles and heels are easy to replace. It is when the uppers go that the shoes have to be discarded. Which is why well-made boots (Frye, Red Wing) will last ten years.

            By the end of this discussion, we will have turned Lambert into a dandy.

  19. Enquiring Mind

    In another sign of the apocalypse, the SEC notified Mortgage Lending’s Agent Orange, Angelo Mozillo, that they were abandoning (!) their civil suit against him.

    In other news, nobody else will ever face consequences of any sort for the 2008 international debacle.

  20. Plenue

    Wow, that AR-15 article is trash. For a whole host of reasons. This one made me laugh hard though:

    “I don’t want the gun to jam because it’s dirty or cold”

    If you want reliability you shouldn’t be using a weapon with Eugene Stoner’s godawful direct gas impingement system. AR-15s frequently jam; it’s one of the things they’re most known for. The internal mechanism is super finicky and fragile. In fact I believe it was the Aurora shooting where the shooter’s rifle jammed, thus very likely significantly reducing the number of people he was able to kill.

    Anyway, the article doesn’t remotely justify its case. It also sets up a straw man right at the beginning. No, I don’t believe 5 million Americans are insane or have fears about tiny penises. They have, however, been taken in hook, line, and sinker by an overzealous, ahistorical interpretation of the second amendment pushed by gun manufacturers to boost their sales. Gun ownership is equated with patriotism. All sense of perspective or rational thought is completely thrown out the window, leading to a culture where giving your preteen daughters pink rifles is seen as not just acceptable, but normal.

    Also the technical fetishism of guns (and weapons in general) is a sick hobby. All talk of mechanisms, calibers, accuracy etc, is all really about “how well can this thing murder human beings”. That’s something that should never, ever be forgotten.

    If for some reason you insist you need to own a firearm, follow Kurt Saxon’s advice and get yourself a revolver and a hunting rifle, perhaps a shotgun as well. That is literally all you need. It’s very doubtful you’re ever going to defend your home from a burglar (far more likely you’ll shoot a relative coming home late night/early morning) and all the tricked out, modded tacticool gunz in the world aren’t going to mean shit should the national guard ever invade your neighborhood. Again I remind people of the Paris Commune; they were an organized military with hundreds of pieces of artillery. It didn’t matter.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s a lot like the gun fetishism in Cryptonomicon, which is a great read for many reasons, but not that reason. Still, you gotta know the territory, as the Music Man says. If the AR15 is a platform, it’s not an “assault weapon,” and that makes huge swatchs of the debate vacuous. (I’m a “license guns like cars and mock the ammosexuals” guy, but neither of those seems like an option in the current debate.

      1. MtnLife

        License guns like cars

        Interesting. As in you get a license to operate with no background check and then no more skill checks required after proficiency licensing, vision exam, state gun registration, some insurance required, and felonies, domestic abuse, or terrorist connections don’t disqualify ownership? Sort of more beaurocracy and less restrictive ownership at the same time. I guessing this is contrary to what you actually meant. ;-)

      2. Alex morfesis

        Well, the silly notion many people have that if you had to register your gun, the govt could take them one day…hmmm but wait…aren’t most nra members also getting hunting licenses…where they declare to the state who they are…cause…maybe it’s just me, but if you get a hunting license…doesn’t that basically tell your home state officials that you have a weapon…and does not the state sell that info…sorry…make that info available for acquisition via foia requests ??…and in fact, doesn’t the nra make its membership list available to advertisers and other parties ?? So…all this noise about not wanting to give up information to the federales is just basically too funny…
        And those warranty cards these gun owners hand into the manufacturers…because the gun companies never sell that info…

        oops sorry..fell off the bar stool…

    2. inode_buddha

      That’s a mighty broad brush you are painting with and I’m fairly offended by that.

    3. MtnLife

      Agree with you on the cold and dirty statement. There is a reason every rebel group uses AKs. ARs are temperamental and need lots of maintenance. I disagree on the ahistorical perspective. My support for gun rights comes from the writings of Washington and Jefferson. They both realized sociopaths have a taste for power and due to that things were probably going to get ugly every once in a while – thankfully not the 20 yr interval Jefferson expected. I get suspicious when our elites tell us we don’t need guns to keep our freedom as they arm rebel group after rebel group to in order ensure their freedom. Sounds extremely contradictory to me. My grandmother was poaching quail and pheasant at 12 to put food on her family’s table. What’s wrong with a young girl learning to shoot? Any worse than teaching rape self defense classes? If shooting equivalates with encouraging killing would those classes encourage randomly punching men in the throat or balls? Why do you only associate guns with killing humans? Lastly, if the national guard “invaded” our town either there is a full on insurrection happening, which requires at least 10% of the population (please compare 10% of the adult population vs. our military size plus possible sympathizers and remember that some of those would defect/not fight their families and fellow citizens – hopefully this in itself would make it nonviolent), or they are mounting an aggressive action against the people and need to be responded to (in which case, why handicap us). Personally I’m a super loving hippie-ish type who lives in the country and keeps guns because it is prudent when it can take law enforcement over and hour to reach you. I view my guns like my bug out bag – I hope I never need to use it but if something horrible happens it’s there.

      1. Carolinian

        The USG has just said it will start making AK-47s here in order to give to their rebel clients in places like Syria. It seems all those regime changers walking around with American weapons are a little too conspicuous (they didn’t say that but it may be the reason).

        And I was under the impression that the M-16 jamming problem–famous in Vietnam–had been fixed. Doesn’t the army still fight using an M-16 variant?

        1. optimader

          m-16 problems were principally unchromed barrels and inferior than specified ball powder(fouling) in cartridges. Not inherent to the design more an issue of an ignorant purchasing dept. No doubt tolerances were loosed as the design collected history.

        2. Plenue

          You can still find plenty of forum posts and the like of people with perfectly clean and well maintained AR-15 family weapons complaining about frequent jamming. The story of the M-16s adoption and its continued use is very much one of politics. Though these days it’s more logistics.

      2. christianSocialist

        this mountain dwelling northern californian seconds everything you just said.

        demonization of the tool of the chaos is a convenient way to avoid fixing the cause of said chaos.

        Let’s address the madness rather than the method?

      3. inode_buddha

        AMEN and thank you. You know, its possible to be a member in the NRA *and* the ACLU at the same time.

        Same here about the “bug out bag” situation, growing up in the sticks, etc… and the fact that some immediate family actually *are* victims, who have told me how much better their lives would have been if only they could have…

        And AMEN regarding power-hungry sociopaths. IMHO the 2nd amendment is ultimately what backs up all the other amendments.

        Regarding gun rights in general, “your right ends where my nose begins.” I have had conversations with those who have said they would rather be a victim than stick up for themselves, because they want to eliminate guns altogether. They feel safer that way.

        I feel a lot *less* safe that way, just based on actual experience. If somebody wants to be the noble victim or something, then be my guest, but I’ll never let them make that choice for me and my family.

        Re Orlando, yes the background checks failed, and something needs to be done about that. Having said that, Florida and the South in general are some of the most lax areas in the country.

        1. Plenue

          Please, enlighten me. When was the last time you forced DC at gunpoint to curb its abuses? Oh, that’s right, never. That is a staggeringly stupid line of argument. And it was stupid even in the 18th century. The crushing of the Whiskey Rebellion showed that definitively. Hell, our own rebellion only succeeded because France lent us serious military aid aid. The much heralded Minutemen militia were in fact infamously crap; it took a Prussian officer to hammer the colonists into something bearing a resemblance to a real army. And even with all that we mostly just scraped by because the American Colonies weren’t deemed worth the effort, and the British put an utter moron in charge of their military operations there.

          1. DJG

            Plenue: Thanks for the reminder to the gun people about how ineffective “armed resistance” has been. The exception? Southern plantation owners were remarkably good at killing defenseless slaves. (Which may have been the point of the second amendment, but I’d rather not hypothesize.)

            1. BananaBreakfast

              It has quite effectively defeated larger, better equipped traditional forces in Afghanistan (twice), Iraq, Vietnam, Algeria, China (again, twice), etc. just in the post WW2 period. The difference between those examples and the failures are threefold: one, the Paris Commune and Whiskey rebellion took place in dramatically different technological periods; two, degree of popular support (both for the rebels and those rebelled against; and three, and perhaps most important: the major successful armed insurrections of the 20th century, excepting the Oktober Revolution, were post Mao guerilla campaigns. The 2nd Paris Commune tried to fight the French Army on its terms and was predictably crushed.

              I’m not really arguing against gun control per se, but to suggest that an armed population cannot successfully resist occupation is ahistorical and absurd.

        2. Praedor

          Not just the background checks failed. Law enforcement, local and federal, failed BIG. This Mateen guy had a LOT of red flags in his past. Reported red flags.

          He was rejected for prison guard due to odd jokes about bringing a gun to class. He asked one fun dealer is questions about weapons, ammo, and body armor. That dealer refused to sell to him AND REPORTED IT.

          His GSA coworkers reported him for threatening things he said about blacks, Jews, and gays.

          Nothing stuck. No one reported to did squat. Background check be damned, law enforcement failed big on multiple levels.

      4. Plenue

        The second amendment lovers have done exactly nothing in the last 15 years to combat creeping tyranny. In fact it seems to me that letting them keep their guns is a sop that elites are willing to concede in exchange for them being complacent about all their other rights being eroded. So forgive me if I don’t take the idea of keeping The Man in check with the threat of citizen violence seriously. As far as I can tell The Man is doing whatever he wants, and the only people opposing him (often with surprising success) are doing so through non-violent means via the courts and protest.

        Guns are in large part a hobby of people who will talk about the Constitution (they may even own a pamphlet version of it, which almost invariably they’ve never actually read) and how they and their bros are armed and ready to defend FREEDOM at a moments notice, all while clearly having no intention of ever doing anything of the sort. Sometimes you’ll get some idiot ranchers who do take action, and the only reason they aren’t promptly massacred is because the US government is hesitant of the optics of gunning down a bunch of white boys.

    4. jgordon

      Some of the things you’ve said make sense. In fact, my experiences with M-16s/AR-15s led me to absolutely loathe the damned things. Finicky and unreliable are absolutely accurate adjectives for them, and that is not what you need when they have to work. Kalashnikovs are a better choice in just about any situation.

      Note: I think that government is great, and it’ll really suck when it disintegrates. However I’ve never let my wishful thinking desire for everyone to have a pleasant and pain-free life interfere with my ability to coldly analyze reality.

      With that said, there is this. Fact: a small group of lightly armed cavemen defeated the largest and most powerful empire on earth in Afghanistan. You only choose to focus on the monolithic and powerful appearance of government and pretend that they are without vulnerability. But this is a misunderstanding of the situation. In truth government, like money, is only powerful to the extent that people believe in it, and when the belief fades everything can change in a moment.

      There is a normalcy bias at work here that government will always be here to protect and help people–but realistically speaking that’s false. There has never been an instance in the entire history of humanity where a government has lasted indefinitely, and the current regime is showing all the classic signs that it’s near the end. Chaos and horror will almost inevitably follow. Disarming people today is tantamount to throwing people to the onrushing wolves without any means of defending themselves. It’s cruel and shortsighted.

      1. Plenue

        Afghanistan isn’t the United States. And it’s not that the terrain, the culture and hardiness of the people is entirely different. Afghanis live a hard life as a simple matter of course, things there aren’t great even when there isn’t a bunch of fighting. And they’re going on four decades of near constant warfare. The entire population is far more hardy than here in the US. Americans are soft; few would have the willingness to fight in or support an insurgency. And need I remind you that it was foreign support that gave the Mujaheddin the heavy weapons they needed to fight the Soviets? Rifles were ubiquitous and of limited use against an enemy with tanks and aircraft.

        As for a post-collapse scenario; that would be a nightmare in the US precisely because we’ve flooded the country with guns.

        1. jgordon

          We are only ever three square meals away from anarchy. People are not going crazy just now because their bellies are full. Take that away and even the most flaccid, deluded and irresolute individuals will suddenly discover that they have a backbone. Or they’ll starve to death. But either at the end of the day you’ll have your hardened and determined population who’s ready to fight.

          Also, firearms make things dangerous? That may be your perception, but near as I can tell automobiles are even more deadly and dangerous than firearms, yet you aren’t raging about banning those. I simply don’t understand how this makes any sense.

          1. Yves Smith

            Wrong wrong wrong. More people died from guns in 2015 in the US than cars.

            And people have to be licensed and pay insurance to drive a car. And a car is not a device designed for the sole purpose of killing things.

            1. BananaBreakfast

              Only if you count suicides, which strikes me as disingenuous. The US suicide rate is unremarkable – neither higher nor lower than comparably wealthy Western nations with fewer guns. It seems likely, then, that those suicides would have happened with or without guns. The suicide rate has been increasing rapidly post 2000 and especially post 2008, but the rate of gun suicides is increasing a bit slower than the overall rate IIRC.

              I also can’t find a good source for the general claim – the Violence Policy Center, for example, hardly a pro gun source, has motor vehicle deaths exceeding gun deaths at least through 2014, though there are a lot of articles citing the downward trend in vehicle deaths and upward trend in gun deaths as likely to converge in 2016 or 2015.

              You’re right that it’s a fundamentally flawed comparison because cars aren’t (exclusively) weapons, though. The fact is that you’re far more likely to be murdered with a gun than a car, which seems significant from a policy perspective even if it’s not much comfort to the deceased. I even agree with your perspective on licensing and insurance – but I think those measures are likely to have only a very small impact on gun homicides. If you really want to take knockout punches at gun violence in the US, ending the prohibition on recreational drug use and sex work and a federal jobs program and minimum wage increase are drastically better bets.

              1. tegnost

                not disingenuous, a gun death is a gun death. it’s non ergotic
                involves transitory states which are unique,
                i.e. , you can’t know if a suicide would happen without a gun present, and averages or comparisons to other populations are invalid.
                (as per recent NC discussion)

        2. Praedor

          Exactly. The US isn’t Afghanistan. The US military would be expected to fight their own people. Their neighbors. People just like them. You wouldn’t see anywhere near the willingness to fight and kill their own the way they would a foreign other, especially one as alien as those in the ME or SW Asia. Big difference. Plus the territory is MUCH larger here and for things to get to that point in the first place it would have to be REALLY bad here. End of the country bad. It’s all falling apart bad.

          A number of those who are currently in the “militia movement” or related are veterans of the recent ME wars too. They TRAIN their compatriots.

          1. VietnamVet

            The dumb-ass insanity of our neo-con/neo-liberal technocrats is that poor rural whites are the last population in the USA that you want to disenfranchise. They are the ones who volunteered for their endless wars. They are trained and have a history of running circles around revenuers. They’ve latched onto Donald Trump. Denying him the nomination in Cleveland is playing with fire.

    5. MT_Bill

      I think ARs used to jam a lot, and issues may persist with self-assembled rifles with uppers and lowers from different manufactures.

      My only experience was with a work issued AR for feral animal control. An AR was chosen because many of the high end optics (thermal and IR) are designed specifically for rail mounting on a platform like an AR.

      The rifle performed flawlessly, and I was using it in a riverine/swamp that was in the middle of a desert. Water, mud, sand, 115 degrees. Never jammed, never misfired. And was more accurate than many of my personal bolt guns.

      And at $1000, really about the price of a decent bolt action rifle.

    6. Praedor

      I’ll take exception here. I own an assault rifle. It’s not an AR-15 nor one of its many clones or brethren. It is a type that has NEVER in US history been used in a mass shooting or even any crimes (of which I am aware). It is 2-3x more expensive than ARs, CAN actually be used for deer hunting but I have no interest in hunting, but I enjoy using it for target shooting. Believe it or not but this IS a legitimate sport requiring skill and patience. It is something that not everyone can do (hit an 8 inch target at 500 yds or more). I bought it, plus my pistol, while still on active duty to serve as my personal weapons. I retired from the military and kept MY weapons. I don’t need a reason beyond, “I enjoy shooting them, I like them”. The rifle is heavier than most common assault rifles with a stiffer kick than any AR so it isn’t for the soft or out of shape. It has no replacement penis aspect, no “buying a lie”. It’s an exceptional weapon, a true classic (literally), reliable as hell and I will keep it. Weapons are not a “sick hobby”, especially when you are comfortable with them, grew up with them, have spent 20 yrs in the military training with them. They are no more “sick” than katanas or shurikens or kamas or sais etc in martial arts (brutal cutty-stabby weapons). I don’t get hobbies like growing hipster beards or collecting Star Wars toys. To each his own.

      I take this attitude about firearms to be a sign of a soft city life or lack of military service because that’s the only way I can understand such a disdainful and insulting view about those who are truly comfortable with firearms. Out here in the country they are the norm and there isn’t a big issue with mass shootings. I hear gunshots here or there just about every third evening. My neighbor may be out shooting targets or skeet (he’s a hunter), or I’ll hear someone’s AR or pistol rattling off in rapid fire as someone in the distance fires at targets in his back 100. No biggie. I do the same in MY back 100 from time to time though I prefer the range. No one craps their pants, no one calls police and hides under their beds, hell, the sheriff probably wouldn’t show because WTF, or we’d ask if he wants to take a few shots too.

      1. Carolinian

        I take this attitude about firearms to be a sign of a soft city life or lack of military service because that’s the only way I can understand such a disdainful and insulting view about those who are truly comfortable with firearms.

        And why exactly should your neighbors be forced to become “comfortable with firearms” just because you are? When I say my brother lives out in the country his neighbor is actually only about a 100 yards away. Because it’s county not city the neighbor is legally entitled to fire his gun as much as he wants. This may be legal but I’d also say it is “disdainful and insulting” to the neighbors who get to share the noise (often at night).

        Of course if you have plenty of property, know your neighbors well, know for a fact nobody objects then that’s different.

        My point is simply that gun owners’ belligerence about their “rights” show all too little consideration for other people’s rights. I live in a city where a mother with a small child complained about a neighbor target shooting in his backyard. The city’s common sense move to pass an ordinance brought the NRA supporters down on them like a ton of bricks. When guns take precedence over common sense then it is indeed a fetish object.

        1. Praedor

          Didn’t you read? My neighbors out here ARE comfortable. They have guns too. It’s normal to us.

          If someone is not out in the sticks and shooting in too tight a space that is a problem and the shooter is wrong. It’s unsafe. Hell, I wouldn’t shoot with anyone or any structure only 100 yds away. THAT’S nuts and grounds for valid complaint (and cops). No way bullets don’t stray.

          I’m was responding to the comment that “guns are just a sick hobby”. Nonsense. Insulting, ignorant nonsense.

          1. Carolinian

            But you are speaking on behalf of responsible gun owners when the problem is the many irresponsible gun owners. The fact that you get along with your neighbors really has nothing to do with it.

            If the non wacko part of the gun community want to prove their bona fides then perhaps it’s time they spoke out in favor of reasonable gun regulation. Going to the mat on every issue is what leads people to believe that it’s all about power, not about the guns.

            1. Praedor

              I don’t go to the mat on gun regs unless it gets into the territory of attempting to take what I own.

              I’m not in the market for a new or second assault rifle so a ban wouldn’t directly affect me except it would make my rifle jump in value 4 or 5 fold. Same for all the current rifles or there. I wouldn’t mind seeing my rifle become worth $6000 but I prefer to have the option to shop or swap for another someday.

              I can give you an ironclad prediction: IF the Dems managed to barely retake the Senate AND somehow took a majority in the House AND got a ban past A GOP filibuster, then the midterm elections will be a massacre for Dems. They will lose the full congress again and the ban would be reversed.

    7. jawbone

      I wonder why the AR-15 is getting all the free publicity from the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) when it’s now reported that Mateen did not use one.

      From USA Today, Mateen used the following:

      The Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle’s magazine capacity is 30 rounds. The weapon is a semi-automatic rifle, which means each shot requires a separate pull of the trigger. The Sig Sauer MCX rifle takes an AR-15 style magazine and ammunition.

      The Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds. It is “the most widely used law enforcement pistol worldwide,” according to the manufacturer. Mateen worked as a security guard for years before the shooting.

      It’s unclear how many rounds Mateen had with him, and authorities are investigating whether some of those killed were hit by friendly fire.


      1. Praedor

        At 49 killed I would not be at surprised if some of them were friendly fire victims. 49 seems high for one guy to manage with one or two people returning fire. You don’t ignore fire coming in, you HAVE to respond to it and it is REALLY distracting. He wasn’t the Terminator.

    8. ian

      Speaking as an engineer and gun owner – there are some characteristics of the AR-15 that make it unique for Orlando-type horror shows.

      The gun is very light and there is almost no recoil – it is incredibly easy to control and shoot. The M1A in the article cited is a beast by comparison.

      .223 remingon ammo is ubiquitous and cheap (compared with .308 for the M1A) – there is tons of military surplus ammo for it floating around.

      The high velocity of the round gives a big energy dump when it hits something – big hydrostatic shock causing lots of damage.

      The round isn’t much good at long ranges and deflects easily. I certainly wouldn’t go deer hunting with it.

      Put all of this together – the AR-15 and the round it fires is about optimal for handling by fairly inexperienced shooters, shooting people, at close distances. We should thank our lucky stars that the military versions aren’t available – with 3 round burst select fire, or full auto.

      I’m not normally for gun control, but the AR-15 and it’s variants give me pause.

      1. Praedor

        I almost agree on this. My rifle is 308 (7.62 NATO), is heavy like an M1A (a rifle I’d love to have), IS usable for hunting deer sized game if desired, is not so easy to pump out rounds die to the enhanced recoil. It is always some lightweight AR-15 variant that’s used in such mad shootings, NEVER a FAL or M1A likely for the reasons you state.

    1. Jeff W

      Matt Yglesias

      It’s incredibly frustrating for people who’ve been working in mainstream Democratic Party politics to hear their party described as something other than a party for “working people.”

      Politico on Hillary Clinton fundraiser

      Tickets cost $2,700, but $27,000 gets you named as a host, and a photo with Clinton.

      1. Anne

        I got a solicitation from the Hillary Victory *cough* Slush *cough* Fund today; I’m sending it back, envelope and all, in the postage-paid envelope I’m supposed to use for my donation. This is something I rather enjoy doing, but after reading about the in-your-face appropriation of Sanders’ $27 average donation stat, I enjoyed it even more.

        My favorite part was writing, next to the little blurb on the envelope telling me that using my own stamp would help them save money, “hahaha. you’re joking, right? Think again.”

        We little people can’t always be expected to rise above; sometimes we just have to act like the small people we keep being treated as. Sometimes, I am happy to oblige.

        1. Archie

          Add some weight to the envelope Anne. The postage on the return envelope is charged by weight.

          1. Anne

            Ha! That’s why I send it all back – the solicitation letter, the little read-this-before-you-say-no sheet, whatever other propaganda is in there. Then I fold up the envelope it came in and put that in, too. For sure, it’s more weight than the check they are hoping to get, and I enjoy thinking about the people who have to open them and report yet another envelope full of their own promotional materials, and no check. Maybe next time, I will recycle some cardboard with it – that will add more weight!

            1. Archie

              I have done that with the TBTF Bank solicitations and lo and behold, I haven’t received any in months! Oh, and I always enclose a personal FU note as well :)

            2. Kokuanani

              You can go to the hardware store & buy large [1″] washers & put them in the envelope. Or you can rummage any nearby construction site for some.

              Use your imagination.

        2. Stephen Gardner

          I did exactly the same thing. My dad, a postman taught me that trick. It gave me great satisfaction.

      2. Plenue

        “No, you don’t understand! Stop, listen to me! I’m one of your supporters! Why are you lining me up against this wall!? What’s with all the pitchforks? I’ve always been a friend of the Average Joe!”

        As time goes by I really do come to understand the loathing Marx had for the bourgeoisie.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I know he’s not. I have never encountered a use case of “You’re better than that” that did not mean, “No, you are not better than that.” Just a little pushback in the nicest possible, highly passive-aggressive mode that Beltway norms of “civility” require.

    3. Jake

      It’s incredibly frustrating for people who’ve been working in mainstream Democratic Party politics to hear their party described as something other than a party for “working people.”

      As a practical critique: it can’t be for the working people unless it’s of the working people.

  21. Carolinian

    So cops and civilians “need” an AR-15 because that one gun can be adapted to an infinite variety of sporting, hunting, and use-of-force scenarios by an amateur with a few simple tools. An AR-15 owner doesn’t have to buy and maintain a separate gun for each application, nor does she need a professional gunsmith to make modifications and customizations. In this respect, the AR-15 is basically a giant lego kit for grownups.

    Really? That’s his argument?

    I don’t have the energy to look it up but i suspect the cost of one ar-15 (not cheap) plus all those nifty accessories would run well north of three or four regular guns configured to do various tasks. But then you won’t get the “lego kit” where you can play James Bond and indulge your arrested development fantasies. I wrote a comment this morning suggesting liberals shouldn’t call people stupid but exceptions must be made.

    My brother lives out in the country and has a neighbor–a truck driver–who comes home from work and likes to go out in his yard and blast away with his ar-15. This man doesn’t seem to be bothered by the disturbance to his neighbors or the fact that spent bullets occasionally turn up in their yards. Here in the town where I live there was a big row over an ordinance that would prevent gun owners from conducting target practice in the city. Seems it’s not just the Wallstreeters who are into sociopathy.

    There may in fact be no political solution on the horizon to America’s gun problem but the gun nuts–the ammosexuals as Lambert calls them–can at least spare us their ridiculous arguments.

    1. Synoia

      I’d call that F35 thinking, ot the Swiss Army knife of guns.


      We have one hammer for all tasks, Nailing pins, Nailing Nails, beating metal or demolition. To switch from one use to another we have snap on heads, and handle reinforcements. A complete kit or the “single hammer for all purposes” costs $565.75.

      These is no truth to the rumors that the snap on head fly off under heavy use. If used carefully the heads do no fly off. To ensures careful used of you hammer, please hit things gently.

      Our new Product:

      The Crescent Wench for nuts and bolts both left and right (especially those with Vitter Threads).

      1. Carolinian

        I’ve had to do a little amateur carpentry and concluded that what you need is the right tool for the job. Do-it-all tools are the stuff of marketing gimmicks by tool companies, aerospace giants.

        And I’m sure there are millions of responsible gun owners and a few may even own ar-15s. It’s the whole gun as toy idea I find offensive. NRA defenders like Pat Lang should denounce these man children who use rational gun defenders for political cover. It seems hard to believe that the NRA was once in favor of responsible gun ownership and supported gun laws that passed after the Kennedy assassination. As with so many other things, an issue that should reflect social consensus has been made into a political football.

    2. jgordon

      I don’t even have a gun, nor do I have plans to get one at the moment. But I’m an “ammosexual” because I support the Second Amendment and the Constitution. Just because I support the rule of law and the contract that America has between the government and its citizens people now make up dumb names about me and snidely calling me stupid. Well OK then–perfect demonstration of why liberals are so well-liked and respected in America.

      1. Carolinian

        The gun fetishists like the author of the linked article are the ‘ammosexuals.’ Please admit that for some guns are purely an ‘in your face’ gesture. The open carry nuts come to mind.

        1. DJG

          Agreed: Too many of the fringe-y gun types think that the Second Amendment means implied threats. Why can’t I walk into that Applebee’s with my rifle across my back? (Try asking some hunters about that.) What’s wrong with concealed carry in church? (Ask Saint Francis of Assisi about that.) What’s wrong with showing up at political rallies packing my favorate pistol?

          And the guns made for kids smack of child abuse. Or of parental neglect.

          Sometimes, I think of the source as the plantation overseer’s mindset, which seems to underlie U.S. life as an undercurrent of threats of violence. Solomon Northup, in his book (never did get to the film) Ten Years a Slave, draws a detailed portrait of that violent mentality.

        2. Praedor

          I don’t get the open carry clowns. I would never carry my rifle around like that, nor my pistol. I carry it to my back yard to shoot sometimes or out to my car to drive to the range. I even carried it into a gun shop recently to have a little work done. Carrying it around a grocery store or into a coffee shop strikes me as bonkers.

          Hell, I have a concealed carry permit but I rarely use that either (just now and again to keep accustomed to the feel of a sidearm – if you are not used to it you will telegraph that you are carrying like crazy). No need to use it. Yet.

          1. RMO

            In my experience, in the U.S. you are much likelier as a firearms enthusiast to find yourself encountering other enthusiasts who are frightening than is the case in other countries. There seem to be a huge amount of people apparently obsessed with concealed carry, open carry, primary defense weapons, secondary defense weapons, how big a hole their guns can make in someone and people who appear to be rooting for the breakdown of society so they can go out and kill people. I’ve not found this to be the case in much of Europe or the “Commonwealth” nations such as my home Canada. We’ve actually got a lot of privately owned guns up here too. If you were “grandfathered” in you can even still buy fully automatic guns if you like. Despite being pretty left wing and pacifist leaning though, I’ve very seldom felt like an alien while on a range here or had to deal with anyone who seemed obsessed with killing (it’s happened, just not very often). Personally all I’m interested in is target shooting. I’ve never yet been in a situation where the idea of carrying a gun for defense seemed like a good idea even if it were a legal primary use for one here and I intensely dislike killing anything so I’m never going to hunt. The only gun I own at the moment is an older FWB air rifle of the type used in the Olympic 10 meter competition.

            The only thing I can say about the constitutional angle is that I really wish that the rest of that document got Americans as riled up as the second amendment seems to. I have trouble taking the people who predict the rise of totalitarianism if the second amendment is weakened seriously since so few of them seem to have given a damn about much of the rest of the constitution and bill of rights having become dead letters since 2001. One aspect I can’t really figure out is that the firearms homicide rate in the U.S. isn’t increasing and has been dropping for years (since 1993 if I recall correctly) but the type of horrifying mass murders of the sort that just occurred have been accounting for more and more of those deaths over the years. I’ve read a lot of pontificating about that trend but no solid conclusions about it.

    3. Archie

      I prefer to hold out until RPG’s and Stinger Missiles are available. WMDs for thee and me.

  22. NeqNeq

    “Clinton supporters’ newest delusion about Bernie Sanders”

    I am unsure why many people are shocked/ having a hissy over this.

    The Libs do it to the Left.
    The Left does it to the Liberals.
    Both do it to the ‘Right’.

    ‘Expert’ testimony which denigrates and dehumanizes opposition is an effective organizing tactic. And we are targets for organizing efforts.

  23. Elizabeth Burton

    What saddens me is the reaction of a fair number of Sanders supporters to his speech, because apparently their brains shut down after the words “work with Secretary Clinton” and the actual intelligent information that followed never got heard. And one of those was someone who claims to be an experienced campaign worker.

    If these people determined to launch a progressive third party had paid attention to the wise man with the 30+ years of experience, as opposed to theirs of three months, they would have heard him explain the ONLY way to do so with reasonable likelihood of success—start local. Phone-banking and such are great, but if there are no committed progressives running for office from the ground up, we’ll have an endless cycle of “independent” parties achieving zip.

    That’s one of the biggest obstacles the new progressive movement has to overcome, and ironically the pundit who mentioned ignorance of how the government, and more especially politics, works had more than a grain of truth. Too many of the avid new voters are totally clueless, and worse, seem unwilling to admit it and start learning how to correct their lack of education. They talk a lot about starting a third party, but way too much of their mindset is anti-Clinton with nothing beyond that. I don’t say that as a criticism, because I’m too aware of how badly their education has been gutted. I’m just glad there are enough of us saying “Patience wins battles” to maybe keep the entire movement from falling into chaos.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When could you leave your job for six months to run for office? It’s a full time job. This is the difference between winning and losing. Did your politics match your employer’s? Can you close your business for six months if you are self employed? When was this practical in your life?

        What if you get sick? Most of these Sanders supporters simply can’t run for office. It’s a childish argument to tell people to run for office. It’s the same argument Hillary made to a critic.

        The GOP does actively support its down ticket candidates, but Lambert is correct in the need for a stand alone organization to do what the DNC should be doing.

        I know a former state legislator because she simply didn’t treat running like a full time job. She didn’t even have a job. She was the wife of a doctor. How does a person in the gig economy run full time?

        Spare me this instant gratification garbage.

        1. OIFVet

          So what do you propose? Force the Democrat Party to move to the left by running a Sanders clone every four years?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            An effort to build a stand alone organization, but whining about the kids who came this far is a bit of an excuse. Telling people to run for office without providing resources is simply childish.

            Still the problem with taking over local government is its often doing the best it can with its resources, even the Republicans. States and locals don’t collect taxes. They piggy back off the federal and rely on voluntary payments which they do monitor. Occasionally, popular restaurants mysteriously close for not paying taxes and being caught. State and localities couldn’t enforce a tax revolt.

            Charter school advocates are certainly potential targets. Outside of that, the guy who doesn’t get the pothole fixed is a problem, and local governments fix those if they have money because they hate potholes too.

        2. jrs

          Yea phone banking is considerably less commitment, one could do that and hold down a job (for some jobs, others are too demanding to do anything else). Becoming a politician is a full time job. A few idealists may be inspired (we can only hope so!!!), but that is not a pitch for the masses. Actually I think that is evident from the prior job descriptions of the down ticket race, there’s only a few backgrounds represented much of the time.

          When we get a BIG then maybe … haha.

      2. JE

        Desperate to survive another 4 years of the status quo might be a better way of saying “instant gratification”.

        Still, a path exists to force the DNC into revamping its platform quickly – it’s called voting the other ticket. Agreed, it’s a scorched-earth policy — but there may not be a lot of time left on the clock. Leave HRC off the leash to attack Syria, things’ll get hot right quick.

        1. Praedor

          While I like the scorched earth policy myself, I fear the Democraps would learn the wrong lesson. The one they seem to “learn” everytime they lose an election is, “I guess we aren’t Republican enough”, so in the next cycle the move further right.

          Wash, rinse, repeat.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So in the current economy, how are they going to run? The economy was better when Bernie ran. Can you take six months off to run? Is your boss going to rehire you? Is local government that bad to justify running? Often times, it’s not, even the GOP. All this local stuff is garbage since the rise of devolution and unfunded mandates. States and localities are extremely limited and don’t have collection agencies to raise money.

      Even crooks such as Terry Mac and Taliban Bob aren’t terrible governors. Mark Warner is a monster as a Senator but was a good governor. Tim Kaine was a mess. 3 of 4 is decent.

      Even your local school board is decent. I know it was on the West Wing once, but the demands for change from local government simply don’t exist.

      1. grayslady

        Many local govt. jobs are part-time only–and the pay is commensurate. I can’t remember how many years ago it was now, but, in my village, a group of people ran together on a change slate and won. It can be done. The real problem is running as a Dem or Repub. Once you identify as part of the duopoly, the party poobahs get their claws into you and insist you do their bidding. As for school boards, they are usually devious enough to have only part of the board rotating off at any one time, so it’s difficult to get in a slate for change. If there is one place where I would love to see change, it’s the school boards.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Nailed it, Elizabeth!

      Here’s my recommended approach to the next phase of the political revolution: Chose something that interests you and work to make it happen.

      Might be universal health care, aka single payer. If you’re in Colorado, there’s an organized effort that’s backing it. Get involved. Or get an effort rolling in your state.

      Want to run for office? Well, the world is waiting for you to toss that hat into the proverbial ring. Or if you’re not the politician we’ve all been yearning for, go volunteer for a campaign.

      In short, there’s plenty of work to do!

    3. Pookah Harvey

      “All politics is local” Something progressives need to relearn. The Koch brothers and Tea Party have taken it to heart.

      1. jrs

        they kind of do (there’s a lot of “local” ideology among many leftists) and they ban plastic bags and so on. It’s all good but it’s limited. Of course some local governments are as a corrupt as anything federal, owned by developers and so on, corrupt with a capital C.

    4. Archie

      Thanks for setting us straight Betty. What saddens me is that there are so many “progressives” who actually believe that a “progressive movement” is even possible (let alone achievable) within the Democrat party. And speaking as a grandfather, I don’t think it’s useful to tell the avid new voters that they are clueless and lack the intelligence or education to understand how politics works. It just reminds me too much of Spiro Agnew who was the epitome of condescension in my lifetime.

    5. nippersdad

      A former boss of mine ran for the County Commission chair out here in the sticks about ten years ago. He owned his own business and had retired from a fairly lucrative job, but still didn’t have the spare cash to run a campaign so he sold the trees off of an inherited farm to come up with it. Not many of us with either inherited farms or a spare fifty grand lying around; we are still looking for the fairly lucrative job that there is some potential for retiring from.

      In the meantime, sending in a few hundred bucks to a new Party dedicated to issues dear to us looks pretty good, as it would seem that any fundage sent in to such as a Party dedicated to heaving a Clinton over the line again would be better spent on shoes for pounding the pavements looking for the jobs they have offshored over the years.

  24. Steve C

    How about the Post Office running a single integrated shipping platform. Except Obama has stacked the board with privatizers/privateers.

    1. ambrit

      The Post Office was screwed way back in Nixons’ day when ‘Private’ package delivery was approved. Obama is just the latest in a long line of mail degenerators.

  25. steelhead23

    The Dem platform. Having participated in a number of difficult negotiations, I believe it would be better to work on platform items of little controversy before they tackle the issues on which the two candidates are far apart. That approach develops momentum toward overall agreement and a sense that the other side is amenable and reasonable. But, come to think of it, Sanders has undoubtedly been in more scraps than have I, so I’ll assume he knows what he’s doing.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There is a time limit on the platform. The Team Blue types will demand unity in the name of haste if you take too long. They do this in the Virginia legislature. They agree to a hard dead line for the part time legislature (remember in Virginia it’s a part time job that demands full time attention) and then fail to do anything or pass horrendous stuff under the banner of accomplishment. No one wants to go back in June. The Per Diem isn’t worth missing another month at work.

      The Team Blue types will try to duck negotiations because they are nominally for many of Sanders positions. “I’d support single payer but we just have to deal with a few of those Southern Senators” was a common phrase. “There goes that Joe Liberman again.” You might remember part of the call for “more and better” Democrats was to end this excuse. 51 Senators might be problem, a ticket due to local electorates. Killing coal is great but suicidal for WV Senators, so you need 55+ to avoid this problem. Obviously, Team Blue had no interest in progressive legislation, but it’s important to put them on the hook.

      They just don’t want them in the platform where they can be collectively held accountable.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      LOL have a read of the platform Obama ran on and then try and find ANY positions that he then pursued.

  26. Synoia


    From the Red Flag:

    The working class can kiss my arse
    I’ve got the foreman’s job at last

  27. Synoia

    Elizabeth Warren visits Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters

    Did she kiss the ring?

    Or some body part?

  28. Synoia

    “Time to revisit how we calculate expectations?” [Fresh Ecnomic Thinking]. “For someone who is only going to experience a single path through a non-ergodic process, basing your behaviour on an expectation using the ensemble mean probably won’t be an effective way to navigate economic variations.”

    Don’t expect following the crowd with your only bet to make money.
    your = Someone
    only = single path through a non-ergodic process
    don’t = probably won’t be an effective way to navigate
    bet = basing your behaviour on an expectation… economic variations
    following the crowd = ensemble mean

    Phew, that was hard.

  29. Paper Mac

    “Why I Need an AR-15” [Medium]. Gotta admit, the geeky nature of this article sucked me in. As it turns out — and I know this will surprise you, too — the technical nature of the “assault weapons” debate now being carried on by the political class is completely vacuous; the AR-15 is a platform!

    Do people have any idea how many 80% AR-pattern lowers have been sold onto the open market, sans any kind of registration, in North America over the last 10 years alone? Aluminum CNC machinist may be about to become a very lucrative profession, but ARs won’t stop getting made or sold.

    1. ambrit

      I know someone with a CNC mill who knows how to use it. He flat out declares that he wants nothing whatsoever to do with “lowers.” “I get a request every once in a while. The implied reason for me making a lower for someone is no serial number or registration,” he mentioned. “I am not messing with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Period.”

  30. Jessica

    “For someone who is only going to experience a single path through a non-ergodic process, basing your behaviour on an expectation using the ensemble mean probably won’t be an effective way to navigate economic variations.” Can somebody translate that into English?”
    If you are dealing with something that cannot be predicted accurately from a small sample, just looking at things on-average may mislead you. Even more simply, for some decisions, samples and past averages mean nothing. Some examples: the national economy on average is expanding at a nice rate, but the big plant that is the core of the economy in your town leaves for China or Candidate A has beat Candidate B by an average of 5% in states similar to the one where the primary is being held tomorrow, but Candidate A was just indicted yesterday. Most extremely, someone jumps out of a 20th-story window. As they pass the second floor, they think, “well this is working fine”. And on average so far, they are right. But won’t be for long.
    By the way, the methodology used by the website Fivethirtyeight works very well for the cases in which the past averages are meaningful, poorly for the cases in which it does not, and has not been able to tell the difference between the two cases.

  31. bob

    ” It’s incredibly frustrating for people who’ve been working in mainstream Democratic Party politics to hear their party described as something other than a party for “working people.”

    C’mon, Matt. You’re better than that.”

    First, no he isn’t “better than that”. Second, he isn’t a democrat. He’s a right wing paid schill. Has been for going on a decade now.

    What the fuck is going on? He’s all of the sudden a gate keeper on the left? And you’re letting him keep his self appointed, but very well paid for gate?

    He can go ahead an call himself anything he wants, but you, Lambert, “are better than that….”

    He’s a tool of the oligarchy. His politics completely suck.

    1. Archie

      Yes bob, I agree wholeheartedly. I think we all get too caught up in the narrative of the times and can become too clever by half. Reminds me of the boy who stopped short and picked up the pile from the sidewalk. “Looks like shit”! “Smells like shit”! he said.

      (Casting it aside) “Damn good thing I didn’t step in it”!

    2. Lambert Strether

      > better than that

      Perhaps I need to make my deadpan expression slightly less deadpan.

  32. Fool

    Lambert — wasn’t the Clinton Foundation’s work in Haiti done in partnership with USAID? I think Al Jazeera and/or ProPublica had done some reporting on them and Red Cross.

      1. Fool

        Yves — That’s the million dollar question which I assume the pending FOIA on USAID-Clinton emails is meant to answer. (And remember, there were emails between HRC and USAID that she wanted deleted.)

        The whole thing was sordid from the start. From the GAO report,

        In July 2010, Congress appropriated more than $1.14 billion in supplemental funds for reconstruction assistance, most of which was provided to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State (State). In April 2010, the Haitian government created the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), a joint Haitian-international entity, for an 18-month term to coordinate donors, conduct strategic planning, approve reconstruction projects, and provide accountability.

        IHRC, lol, was chaired by Bill. And as I understood the ProPublica story, the GAO report is probably understating the amount of appropriations under IHRC’s purview since the story implies USAID had a pretty decisive hand in Red Cross’s earmarks (I can only imagine it’s similar with other NGOs).

        As far as “direct connections” go, there never is one. The Clinton Foundation exists for this very purpose: like a bank, it conceals risk — only its depositors’ claims are on political capital instead of money. On that note, I guess we just have to get lucky and hope that the drunkenness on power has gotten to these people’s heads and, as is the tendency of dumb arrogant drunks, someone said something stupid in an email.

  33. MichaelC

    Re the TPP


    That was Obamas price for endorsing Hillary. She delivers the lame duck session deal once she’s coronated.

    Yet Bernie is having none of it :(

    She needs Beenie to cave to deliver on her pledge re TPP, else O unleashes. DOJ on her.

    Bernie’s going to leave her to twist while he focuses on the Senate/house elections.

    Who says Bernie has no leverage?

    1. jawbone

      Also re: TPP

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership, aka The Pee-Pee.

      Which means we down here in the lower income quintiles are really gonna get hosed….

    1. tegnost

      Thanks, those provisional ballots are probably heavy towards bernie, very glad he hasn’t conceded,
      down about 460,000 which is a big barrier. They certainly didn’t suppress hillary voters, and I bet they tried to get bernie to cave, but he hasn’t…

  34. Buttinsky

    “By the pricking of my thumbs…”

    Earlier today on Twitter, Wikileaks invited the public to download an 88 Gb encrypted .torrent file as their insurance, to:

    “Protect our coming publications.”

    Finally, the fruit from the Russians’ hack of Clinton’s basement server? More DNC documents from Guccifer 2.0?

    1. jawbone

      But…can’t the high speed traders just keep using their faster connections and still make quite a bit of profit?

      Or, since I know next to nothing other than the obvious, what is the real difference for users?


      1. inode_buddha

        Sure, they can, but customers (traders) are starting to switch over because its more money for them. The HFT guys are becoming unpopular basically.

  35. Stephen Gardner

    Message: “I don’t care.”

    My message: What are you going to do Hillary Antoinette when you hear the the tumbril cart rolling? From the Shah to Somoza they are all arrogant until the end.

  36. Elliot

    @ Plenue: this, with bells on.

    I live very, very rurally, where most people are hunters, and large carnivores can be a common danger. Nobody needs automatic weapons, neither for defense nor hunting, and those who think they do, and get off on the technical munitions details, and who try to convince others that they are defending Freedom with their guns, then hyperventilate at the thought of any restrictions on such ownership, are the kind of idiots who shoot their balls off at the local bar while showing off their quick-draw skills with concealed carry.

    A person wanting to have big weapons that make big noises doesn’t make it smart for them to have them.

    When I was a kid, local farmers ‘shot’ stumps with dynamite, instead of grubbing them out with heavy equipment, but that’s now no longer legal (because, hello, stupid and wildly dangerous to others), and the Republic has not fallen, nor have the Commies, the UN or Obama destroyed Capitalism or Freedom.

    I saw that movie in the 1960’s when it was Preventing The Commies Invading the US, and again in 1999 when it was Y2K: the City Hordes are Coming for our Food, and now when it’s Coming Collapse/Agenda 21 & Those People Will Be Rioting And Coming For Our Money, and it’s as misguided (and often racist & xenophobic) fantasy today as it was then.

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