2:00PM Water Cooler 8/24/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

TPP/TTIP/TISA

“[T]he Obama administration has been careful not to let the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership fall by the wayside. Instead, an enormous amount of work — including regular, bi-weekly communication between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström — has been ongoing” [Politico]. “While the administration is optimistic about its own ability to work hard as a creative negotiating partner, it remains an open question as to whether the Europeans are ready to go, the official said.” Ouch!

“Why the TPP Deal Won’t Improve Our Security” [Clyde Prestowitz, New York Times]. “If anything, America is too often at the end of those chains, as the global consumer of last resort. It’s not investing in domestic, let alone global, infrastructure. It is the world’s largest debtor, and its role in the world economy is primarily to borrow and consume…. the administration is absolutely right that America needs tools to counter China’s growing influence in Asia and around the world. But until America can come close to matching China’s dynamism, it has no hope of countering its economic and geopolitical influence with old-fashioned trade agreements, no matter how monumental they are said to be.”

CWA staffer and Sanders advisor Larry Cohen: “It was May of 2015. I’d been criticizing TPP at the time and they said, “He’d like to talk to you.” What [Obama] told me was: ‘I am too far down the road to change.’ He repeated it over and over” [Mother Jones]. Terrific interview, well worth reading in full.

“When Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to TPP last fall, Mr. Obama was furious. He believed she was making a political, not substantive, decision that was designed to diminish an advantage her then-primary opponent Bernie Sanders, who opposed the trade deal, had with Democratic voters” [Wall Street Journal]. No. With Obama, it’s about nobody ever making him look bad. Clinton’s “political” “decision” was to issue a statement filled with lawyerly parsing designed to allow her to do the deed if Obama can’t.

2016

Corruption

“Behind the private jet journey of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin” [Yahoo News]. The article explains why wearing one hat from Abedin’s massive collection of headgear makes this all legal. Musical interlude!

“Clinton Foundation: World Class Slacktivists” [Medium]. “I think this could be called a ‘charity bubble’ since at some point, there won’t be any more cash to take. And then what will people do? What will happen when the hospital where future doctors and nurses will work closes due to lack of funds?”

“After Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, Bill Clinton received $17.6 million in payments from a for-profit university. Since that time, another organization with a connection to that university received almost $90 million in grants from an agency that’s part of the State Department” [CNN]. Clinton was paid for “inspiring people.” Oh. OK.

UPDATE “Donald Trump appears to have donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation” [Business Insider]. As Trump said: “I gave to many people before this — before two months ago I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. That’s a broken system.” I hate it when Trump’s right.

Money

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton Continues Fundraising Swing at Home of Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel” [Variety]. “Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, Shonda Rhimes, Tobey Maguire and former HBO programming president Michael Lombardo were among those at the event, according to a source who was there, with tickets priced at $33,400 per person. About 55 people attended…. The Democratic presidential candidate is fundraising in the weeks before her first debate with Republican rival Donald Trump [on September 26].” And definitely not holding press conferences.

UPDATE “Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel & Hillary Clinton Pose for Adorable Photobooth Pics at Star-Studded Fundraiser” [ET]. ” “Look who came over for lunch… 👀 #imwithher,” Biel wrote on Instagram.” Quite a lunch.

The Voters

UPDATE “‘You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn’t end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin,’ Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement” [Washington Post]. That’s our Democrats; gin up a war scare all to win Eastern Europeans in a swing state (Ohio). That’s what this article, read closely, boils down to, read carefully. (I love Mook’s “bromance,” so reminiscent of the Clinton campaign’s vile BernieBro smear.)

UPDATE “Republicans in North Carolina are pulling out all the stops to suppress the state’s reliably Democratic black vote. After the Fourth Circuit court reinstated a week of early voting, GOP-controlled county elections boards are now trying to cut early-voting hours across the state. By virtue of holding the governor’s office, Republicans control a majority of votes on all county election boards and yesterday they voted to cut 238 hours of early voting in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, the largest in the state. ‘I’m not a big fan of early voting,’ said GOP board chair Mary Potter Summa, brazenly disregarding the federal appeals court’s opinion. ‘The more [early voting] sites we have, the more opportunities exist for violations'” [The Nation]. Bad Republicans. On the other hand, if the Democrats treated voter registration like a 365/24/7 party function, including purchasing IDs in ID states for those who can’t afford them, none of this would be happening.

Our Famously Free Press

“But there is another way of thinking about the gaffe: as an inevitable expression of the paradoxes of scrupulously objective political reporting [!], pressures that have held reporters hostage for decades. Until Trump, of all people, set us free” [Charles Homans, New York Times]. “The gaffe, then, is a safety mechanism. It moves a statement from the realm of substance to the realm of performance and strategy — allowing the reporters to critique it without incriminating themselves professionally…. Trump has laid bare journalism’s contradictions — reporters’ desire to be critical of politicians without criticizing anything they stand for — to the point where we have no choice but to examine them. This may be the least expected outcome of 2016: The most flagrantly dishonest candidate in recent memory is forcing us to have the most honest political discussion we’ve had in years.” Homan’s piece seems more than a little self-congratulatory to me; in fact, it’s a subtweet of Matt Taibbi here.

Policy

UPDATE “No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built” [Tom Dispatch]. Wait, wait. Obama’s policy now is what Trump’s would be? And Democrats and Trump are frothing and stamping over nothing? Is the problem that the wall’s not beautiful? What?

Realignment

“Donald Trump’s road show has detoured this month to states with no political value to a Republican nominee in a general election” [RealClearPolitics]. “The celebrity businessman’s schedule has again raised eyebrows this week, with a rally Tuesday in Austin, Texas, and another Wednesday in Mississippi. Both states have favored Republicans consistently for decades and are expected to land in Trump’s column.” Trump looks to win Texas. Bu surely not Austin!

UPDATE “Obama signs order creating North Woods national monument” [Bangor Daily News]. This is not going to make Maine’s Second District happy.

UPDATE “Landslides do not really happen in presidential elections anymore” [New York Times]. “The country is too fragmented and its political temperature too overheated for any single person to emerge as a consensus choice for anything nearing two-thirds of the electorate. And that climate has led the political parties to become far more ideologically uniform than they used to be…. given the polling today, the election is showing certain resemblances to the 1992 race that sent Mr. Clinton to the White House the first time. That year, many voters dissatisfied with President George Bush flocked to the independent Ross Perot, and neither Mr. Bush nor Bill Clinton came close to a majority.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 19: “Mortgage data are increasingly pointing to slowing for home sales” [Econoday]. So yesterday’s spike was a blip?

FHFA House Price Index, June 2016: “Home sales are pivoting higher and appear to be getting a lift from seller discounting” [Econoday]. “Price data in yesterday’s new home sales report were also very soft. Concessions are no doubt a plus for future sales but are also a negative for household wealth especially at a time when wage growth is soft.” Wages and a house aren’t wealth, for pity’s sake.

Existing Home Sales, July 2016: “Prices are coming down but sales aren’t going up, at least not in July” [Econoday]. “Pending home sales have been weak which limits the surprise of today’s report. Yet today’s report does take some shine off yesterday’s sales surge for new homes. Still, lower prices together with higher supply are pluses for existing home sales ahead.” And: “Our analysis of the unadjusted data is much worse than the headlines” [Econintersect]. For example: “Unadjusted sales rate of growth decelerated 8.5 % month-over-month, down 6.7 % year-over-year – sales growth rate trend was rapidly declining using the 3 month moving average.”

Shipping: “U.S. companies are stepping up raises to more of the nation’s lowest-paid workers, an action that could echo across hiring in transportation. The gains look to be driven by more competition for workers, minimum-wage increases and initiatives by big-name companies to trumpet the higher pay as a recruiting tool. The raises coincide with a decline in available workers for what are often less desirable jobs… something the trucking industry has already coped with in the past two years as many companies boosted pay to get and keep drivers behind the wheel. The renewed growth in national wages could boost driver pay again even as carriers face slack shipping demand. That’s because the number of available workers per job opening is hovering near a 15-year low” [Wall Street Journal]. Time for J-Yel to take away that thimble-sized punchbowl?

Supply Chain: “But with our ever increasing reliance on technology, it was only a matter of time before humans were taken out of the [warehousing] equation” [Business Insider]. “[InVia] this week unveiled what it calls the first ‘goods-to-box’ robotics solution, one that requires no human intervention at all. Robots do all the sorting, ‘picking,’ and even packaging for shipment.’ … [E]ach robot is leased rather than sold. This means a warehouse owner could ramp up its robotic fleet of workers around the holidays to meet the demands of its business, and reduce its fleet during down times to save on costs.”

The Bezzle: “There’s some financial turbulence in the high-flying world of digital freight booking startups. Cargomatic Inc., which arranges fright transportation near big U.S. ports, has shaken up its C-suite over the last two months, WSJ Logistics Report’s Robbie Whelan reports, amid signs of financial trouble at the business. The company’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer have left, and there are reports that the company’s cash position has dwindled to the point where it can only cover two months of operating costs. It’s a step back for the logistics industry’s ambitious clutch of new tech-driving operators, including makers of apps that match truckers with cargo loads. At least 27 young companies in the field have raise $180 million in venture capital backing since 2011. Cargomatic’s main investor, Canaan Partners, is pledging to infuse the company with cash, and it new chairman wants to bring in staff with more expertise in the transportation industry” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: ” Truth in Advertising Organization Threatens to Report Kardashian/Jenners to FTC” [The Fashion Law]. They’re doing product endorsements without calling them ads.

The Fed: “The Cliff’s Notes version is this: Despite the very real struggles that some parts of the country, including Alaska, are facing, the broader national economy is in good shape: We’re at full employment, and inflation is well within sight of, and on track to reach, our target. Under these conditions, it makes sense for the Fed to gradually move interest rates toward more normal levels” [John C. Williams, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco].

“Exacerbating this problem is the recent trend in trades of selling volatility. Put (extremely) simply, investors are selling ‘insurance’ on movements in the VIX through a series of options. So if there were a sudden uptick in the VIX, this ‘insurance’ would be called in by the buyers, losing the sellers of the options money. (If you want to dive into the nitty gritty of this trade, here’s a deeper dive.)” [Business Insider]. “According to Vamvakidis, Sinha, and Chen, the number of people selling volatility in this way has reached an all-time record.” Is this the kind of insurance where everybody needs it at once?

“Modern Monetary Theory – what is new about it?” [Bill Mitchell]. Part one.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 23 at 12:07pm. Back to mere greed again. Get it together, people!

Class Warfare

“[R]esults provide robust evidence that overall inequality lowers an individual’s sense of trust in others in the United States as well as in other advanced economies. These effects mainly stem from residual inequality, which may be more closely associated with the notion of fairness, as well as inequality in the bottom of the distribution. Since trust has been linked to economic growth and development in the existing literature, these findings suggest an important, indirect way through which inequality affects macro-economic performance” [IMF (!)] (original Working Paper).

It’s a start:

“Big data and hidden cameras are emerging as dangerous weapons in the gentrification wars” [Quartz]. “Many low-income people living in housing projects already know that surveillance can control their access to housing. Now, renters everywhere should be prepared to be subject to such treatment as gentrification continues to increase.”

News of the Wired

“Unix: An Oral History” [Princeton]. A salutary reminder that the giants of the field — now, mostly, gone — could also write clear, lucid prose that the common reader could understand.

“I Want to Know What Code Is Running Inside My Body” [Back Channel]. Pacemaker bugs!

“It Seems the Cigarette Industry Helped Create the Type-A Personality” [New York Magazine]. “It’s a self-concept that was, at least in part, created by the cigarette industry.”

“Airlander 10: Longest aircraft damaged during flight” [BBC]. “A spokesman said: ‘The flight went really well and the only issue was when it landed.'” I don’t want to mock this too heavily, since the Airlander is pretty cool, but shouldn’t somebody enter the spokesman’s statement into competition for a Hirohito Award?

“As computers became more and more powerful and datasets larger and larger, it became more practical to leave the computers to figure out the right feature space to use. That is what seems magical about software like [Go champion] DeepMind’s: computers are abstracting from experience something which can then be applied in reasoning about a problem. It seems right to say that the computer has learned a concept” [London Review of Books]. How we maintain code that we don’t undertand? Then again, perhaps that’s what we’re already doing…

“The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions” [Abraham Lincoln, Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838].

* * *

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 (MK):

bee_balm

My hummingbirds love bee balm!

* * *

Readers, I know it’s the dead days of August, but if you can, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

Donate

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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.

137 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    High crimes and misdemeanors:

    The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice have all rebuffed a congressional probe into the circumstances surrounding the $1.3 billion payment to Iran, which is part of an additional $400 million cash payout that occurred just prior to the release of several U.S. hostages.

    The administration is also withholding key details about the payment from leading members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), who launched an inquiry into the matter earlier this month.

    investigative reporter Claudia Rosett recently disclosed that the Treasury Department transferred just under $1.3 billion to the State Department in 13 “large identical sums.”

    In 13 individual payments of $99,999,999.99, the Treasury Department moved a total of 1,299,999,999.87, which roughly amounts to the remaining money owed to Iran.

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/obama-admin-wont-tell-congress-paid-iran-1-3-billion-taxpayer-funds/

    This is a prima facie example of a federal felony called structuring. It’s the offense Dan Rostenkowski got nailed on, when he took two $6,000 cash withdrawals instead of one $12,000 withdrawal which would have triggered a CTR (Cash Transaction Report).

    To anyone with AML (Anti Money Laundering) training, 13 wire transfers of $99.999 million each are a SCREAMING red flag. This was almost certainly done to evade a higher level of internal review, approval, oversight and auditing of Treasury payments exceeding $100 million.

    Now the financial crime is being compounded by a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Quite aside from the policy of rapprochement with Iran (which I generally support), the manner in which this payment was structured to evade internal controls and oversight is openly criminal. If 0bama weren’t a short-timer, it would be grounds for impeachment.

    Even so, it’s going to cloud the rest of his term, ensuring that — like the Clintons before him — 0bama leaves office mired in scandal, controversy, and possible criminal prosecution.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The stores do that all the time.

      Instead of a price of $100.00, they mark it as $99.99.

      And you go, oh, that’s not so expensive, and when I get a job, I might just buy that.

      1. Jim Haygood

        From Claudia Rosett’s report:

        The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

        In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.

        http://www.nysun.com/foreign/riddle-of-13-billion-for-iran-might-be-solved-by/89692/

        This would be a constitutional crisis between the legislature and the executive branch … if we still had a constitution.

        1. ilporcupine

          Cool. When you finish, maybe you could have a go at the mililtary/Spy agency/covert ops BlackBudget as well…

          1. Jim Haygood

            Unlike the Judgment Fund, which at least leaves a public record, the much larger black budget produces no audit trail.

            This is why the Defense Department has been “struggling” for a couple of decades to achieve a clean audit.

            It can’t. By design. The black budget is mafia protection money, sucking $60 billion out of every line item of defense spending, so no one can trace where it came from or where it went.

            This is pure, Third World, Nigerian-style corruption which funds the national security state shadow government, in a manner which is immune to Congressional oversight.

            1. different clue

              Early in the Cheney/bush Administration, there was a bunch of civilian-employee type forensic auditors all working in a particular side of the Pentagon . . . working to trace several missing trillion dollars. Their particular side of the Pentagon is the side which was hit by the plane. Jeff Wells wrote a blogpost about that.
              http://rigint.blogspot.com/2006/06/flight-of-capital.html

        2. ilporcupine

          Also from Ms.Rosett:
          “The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

          So, it is at once an appropriation, and not an appropriation?
          Under what administration was this originally appropriated?

          1. ilporcupine

            So 1956 originally! Under Eisenhower. Amounts payable from this fund increased in 1977 ACT of congress.
            You can definitely argue about who should pay what to who, but no Constitutional crisis here, as defined above.

            1. Jim Haygood

              That’s why Ike warned us about the military-industrial complex in 1960 — our shadow-gov phlebotomists had already performed the venipuncture.

              Feeling faint? Have a glass of orange juice, kid. You did well.

          2. ilporcupine

            Google is your friend, appropriation by act of congress 1956, revised by acts of congress 1977 and 1977. So no subversion of Constitution in the way you presented above.
            That is not to say that it is not highly irregular (or would seem to anyone outside of D.C.!

      2. afisher

        Yep, TX has a Week-end shopping excursion process when there are no sales tax on items under $100 and prices drop, because sales. It works much better than the monthly excuses that big business uses for the routine – great discount for X day.

    2. ilporcupine

      Sorry, but “Anti Money Laundering” training gives me the giggles. Take “anti” away and it’s the same training!

      1. Synoia

        Not true. Anti Money Laundering includes the Suspicious Activity Report step.

        Bank need to “Know Their Customers” so I suppose the plea for large drug related activity would be “We Knew Our Customer Was a Drug baron” or equivalent.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Hillary Milhous Clinton is not a “guy,” son.

            Except when she and Huma engage in fantasy role play. ;-)

    3. fajensen

      The simple explanation could also be that these transfers go through EBCDIC-compatible software running on dinosaur mainframes that can only handle 10 digit integers because back in the late 1960’s “99 million is plenty enough money for anyone”.

    1. ian

      I’ll say one thing about Farage – I wish our members of congress could give speeches that were half as entertaining as some of his are. He has some absolute classics on youtube, including the ‘who the hell are you?’ speech in the European Parliament.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    Nice one from Jamie Galbraith on problems in Greece and the EU here.

    Evidently Varoufakis is trying to start a movement similar to Sanders’ effort which I hadn’t heard about before (apologies if someone has already posted about this). Fighting words from Galbraith (or at least as Yosemite Sam-esque as an economist gets).

    “…Europe needs the Democracy in Europe Movement. DiEM25, started by Varoufakis, is a new transnational European progressive movement. It is just getting underway, and it may go nowhere. But it presents a last, slim hope of holding the European Union together on terms that the peoples of Europe might accept.

    Democracy would come by small steps at first. Transparency and accountability for Europe’s opaque governing institutions would come first. After that, an economic policy focused on jobs, investment, and sustainability. Ultimately there would have to be big changes, as revolutionary as the 2015 Athens Spring. The old oligarchies, the Brussels cabals, the self-serving technocrats, and the economic ideologues who now dominate European economic policy would have to yield.

    Bring it on.”

    1. John k

      Just as hopeful as all his other ideas of saving Europe without ditching euro. Not a single elite will let go of their entitlements.
      Over the cliff they go, in slow mo…

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yeah he doesn’t sound particularly sanguine about Varoufakis’ latest efforts but you never know…

      1. Katharine

        But if she left five years ago, it is difficult to see how she could be blamed for this specific problem. Whatever her role in the financial problems may have been (and I admit I don’t understand that well), her successors were responsible for what was done subsequently, and if they knew they might have to close down should have taken steps to protect student records and ensure their future accessibility.

    1. Anne

      This was a comment left on that article by someone named Sandy Baird:

      Thank you for this reporting. The demise of Burlington College was not caused by Jane Sanders. The Board of trustees and the then President Jane Sanders bought the property from the Catholic diocese. President Sanders was an ambitious President and sought to increase the enrollment by creating substantial, innovative and effective programs, which included the Burlington College/Cuba Semester abroad and by increasing the profile of the school in the community and state. Jane’s plan always was to create a thriving campus for a growing student body and for a unique college which had as its mission the “building of sustainable, just, humane and beautiful communities.” However, President Sanders was not to last long at BC and she left for still unknown circumstances soon after the purchase of the property.

      The next Presidents, Cjristine Plunkett, Mike Smith and Carol Moore then sold off large portions of the property to real estate developers and then, when the ship finally sank under increasingly hopeless and clueless leadership, all of whom could not increase enrollment or or raise any funds (in fact we were eventually told that the school had given up fund raising), Burlington College went into a relentless downward spiral which tragically and painfully closed its doors in May, 20016. The school, the property and the beach will now be picked up by the developer, Eric Farrell and the beach goes to the City. In a final irony, Eric Farrell was awarded an honorary doctorate degree at the final graduation of the school in May when its founder,Stu Lacase gave the graduation address.

      For what it’s worth, here’s another article from The Atlantic.

      Burlington College was always a fragile concern. Its website notes that in the early days, it “had no financial backing, paid its bills when they came due, and paid its President when it could.” Jane Sanders’s plan to place a big bet on expansion in order to put the school on a more solid long-term footing was similar to decisions made by other college presidents, and sometimes those bets simply don’t work out.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        On the last quote, that’s how I read it. Owning real estate on the Lake Champlain waterfront is not, ipso facto, a crazy thing to do. It sounds like the college just couldn’t outrun trouble.

        I still don’t think it’s a good look, though.

        1. Anne

          It may ultimately have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, and it looks terrible that Jane Sanders was at the helm and instrumental in making the decision, but it also sounds like it was a bold effort – that the Board of Directors signed off on – to change the school’s fortunes, and one that unfortunately could not overcome years of struggle and financial instability.

          The college should have provided the transcripts before it locked the doors, but it looks to me like they wouldn’t have been able to do it even then without the state’s financial assistance.

          If Jane had only known, she could have gotten the Board to approve a donation to the Clinton Foundation, right?

          1. Katharine

            Looks terrible? Seriously? I’m sorry, but I can’t raise my pulse at all because someone took a rational chance her successors were unable to carry through successfully.

            As for providing the transcripts before locking the doors, that would have been problematic, as so many places want original transcripts from the institution and won’t accept something that has come through the hands of the student. Those alumni are going to be dogged by that as long as they need transcripts unless the state or somebody funds permanent access.

            1. afisher

              Amen, did anyone hear the screaming about this same scenario when small college had Ben Sasse as President of College? He left, others followed and undid some of his actions and eventually the small college suffered.
              Apparently it is fine for some people to have these behaviors overlooked and not so for others. I believe there is a word for that – hmmm, I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

  3. Fred

    “On the other hand, if the Democrats treated voter registration like a 365/24/7 party function, including purchasing IDs in ID states for those who can’t afford them, none of this would be happening.”

    If the Republicans did this they would empty the Democratic demagoguery war-chest and win some black votes.

    1. ilporcupine

      I give the “black voter” more credit. They know who pushed for the ID laws in the first place. A repubican “solution” would be a wonderful example of self-jperpetuating crime against the populace.

      1. Fred

        Yes, because “black voter”s have no agency. Having an id is a ” self-jperpetuating crime against the populace.” kind of like happens on every college campus; or at any government agency. How dare the Obama administration inflict such crimes against government employees. I wonder how the poor victimized members of the Congressional Black Congress can overcome their victimhood having to have all those government issued ids.

        1. ilporcupine

          Yeah, it is strange how all the “sovereign citizens” and small government guys have suddenly become enamored with government issued identification. Maybe we could just issue one federally to everyone born in this country, at birth, never expires!

          In 3…2…1…

      2. TedWa

        Look at the dem solution and see it’s not any better. Look what they did to Bernie. Changing voter registrations, not allowing independents to vote and all kinds of shenanigans at the DNC. What the Republicans do up front and in your face, the Democrats do it behind your back and in secrecy. Who do you respect more? They’re both vile but at least with the Repubs you know the element you’re dealing with.

        1. ilporcupine

          TedWa:
          Fred suggested R party should do what D party hasn’t, and provide funding to get ID for the less fortunate, in order to shut down a D talking point, and just mebbe score some AA votes.
          Like you just said, R’s do it right in your face, so AA population knows who did it to them…
          That was my point.

          1. abynormal

            the horror…“A lot of those people that was challenged probably didn’t vote, even though they weren’t proven to be wrong,” Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official, told the Times. “People just do not understand why a sheriff is coming to their house to bring them a subpoena, especially if they haven’t committed any crime.” http://countercurrentnews.com/2016/08/georgia-town-sending-police-black-residents-homes-challenge-voting-rights/

            …i hear subpoena and immediately freak bc i have no money!

    2. afisher

      Perhaps not all States do that, blame them. In TX, there are Voter Registration events every year, most consistently on MLK day, at least in my city. Speak to what you know, please.
      The bogus idea of purchasing ID – is a tad more complicated that what you are saying. Unless you have attempted to get a Birth Certificate from another State, then you may be blowing a bit of smoke. You are also ignoring that many older citizens that were never issued Birth Certificates because they were born in “the middle of nowhere” and never documented that birth. Somehow they managed to go to school and do all the normal things like work and pay taxes without this one (GOP mandated) document.
      Money is nice and helpful, but it is not always the only obstacle.

      1. Fred

        I think you are the one with smoke screen. How many residents of Texas are (relatively) new residents who did not have a birth certificate from their state of birth to begin with? Older citizens “born in the middle of no where”? Would that be a log cabin just like honest Abe or just more smoke? Just how many people is that and just how many decades have they been alive in which they could have done something about that? They managed to work, pay taxes – which presumes a social security or tax i.d. number – for year, after year but now, just time time for the 2016 election, “they” of unknown number and age have no documents and can’t figure out how to obtain them? Right. I suggest we start now and by election 2020 this little problem will be solved.

        1. Joe Hunter

          Neither of my grandparents has birth certificates or marriage license. These documents were not available or else the county courthouse burnedand all the records with it. This is in rural Tennessee where my family roots go back to the Virginia Territory, These records of my grandparents birth and marriage were recorded in family bibles. In their later years they worked at “public works” jobs and became eligible for social security retirement benefits. They had a difficult time proving their birthdates, but the bible records were eventually accepted by SS. Don’t take for granted that public records are readily available. They are not, even in this day and age

        2. ilporcupine

          Having the SS number will not get you the mandated documents. I have been thru this with a friend. Try to have your BC sent and they want a faxed copy of… your drivers licence! Which you cannot get without…your birth certificate! But you could walk three states away and get it in person with other documents!

        3. Ché Pasa

          Always appropriate to blame the victim. Always.

          Millions of Americans cannot produce the mandated documents to secure the franchise, even if they had the money to go on the required goose chase. The documents do not exist in many cases, or if they do exist, the records do not match the name/spelling of the individual in question. This happens over and over and over again. It is by design not by accident. Those who make these identity rules know exactly what will happen and have no doubt gamed out just how many unfortunates will be denied the vote thereby.

          But it is obviously and fully the fault of the individual, and it’s just too bad for them if they therefore cannot vote.

          It’s only one strategy for reducing and controlling who can vote. There are many others. Both major parties are complicit. Their arguments over it may go on for generations, but in the end, ta-da, the electorate will be shrunk.

          (We have been through this before. The mechanics are well-known.)

  4. Jim Haygood

    Oy vey …

    For your safety, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, and if you are there, leave as soon as you are able.

    https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/israel-travel-warning.html

    Israel is expert at synchronizing its military ops to the US electoral cycle, as in Operation Cast Lead (27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009) which occurred during the interregnum between Bush and 0bama.

    In today’s context of brazen criminality, Israel probably no longer feels compelled to wait till November. Extracting another 435-0 resolution of support from the House should be a piece of cake.

    As others have commented, “They’re getting ready to Old Testament those poor folks … another State Department funded BBQ?”

    1. JTMcPhee

      The Israelites call the serial devastations of Gaza and the West Bank and residual Arab populations they colonize, “Mowing the lawn.” Have to do it every so often to keep the grass from seeding or getting too tall. Snort, snicker…

      May they eventually reap what they sow,,, though as with other sets of pseudo-national racketeers, the Yahoos and Liebermans will not feel the sting…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Demographics are what will get them, the birth rate among Palestinians is far above Israelis, what’s the breaking point, 20:1? 50:1?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it was in a recent dream that the local police department issued the same (in that dream) – all colored people to avoid going out, and if you were out, return home as soon as you were able.

      Luckily, I woke up not long after that nightmare.

  5. Marcum

    RE NYT Prestowitz link

    “…the administration is absolutely right that America needs tools to counter China’s growing influence in Asia and around the world…”

    So US industry with tacit blessing of US industrial policy spends 2 decades transferring our manufacturing capabilities to a communist state…so…now we need “tools” to cage the dragon we created? Not saying I would ever vote for Trump but this circular bullshit boggles the mind and sends me screaming into the night.

    1. ilporcupine

      This needs more play. I am a blue-collar refugee, and most of my circle are same. They all seem to be captive to the messaging of the business press, and Trump, that we have lost some “competition” with China, India, etc. for the manufacturing business. The corporations and their minions in gov. are guilty of the real “un-patriotic” acts. I don’t know that “communist” really is a qualifier, though. If an ostensibly “commie” country is “winning” at capitalism, what does that say about capitalism as a belief system? If a person thinks that a free market sorts all these issues, they would have to be willing to just not buy the goods produced in the cheap labor/dirty environment country, in order to make “losers” out of them…how feasible is this?
      Sorry, rambling, mine is not an organized mind…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The entire logic of how great globalization is is flawed at its heart.
        A. We have a much higher standard of living than other countries; so
        B. Let’s “level the playing field” with those other countries.
        So A + B = a reversion of our country’s standard of living to the global mean.

        Quick question: who thinks that is a good idea (pick one):

        1. The owners of the means of production since they get to dramatically lower their costs;
        or
        2. The citizens of the country.

        (Cue globalists who insist the citizens benefit anyway because they get to buy cheap stuff…now that they’re unemployed. Oops.)

      2. afisher

        Ask why Trump has his some clothing line manufactured in China. I don’t believe that Trump could bully the Chinese Government in trade negotiations. We need them a whole lot more that they need us. Also of note: Trump tried to get into the mortgage business. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-22/donald-trump-the-mortgage-broker-was-in-trouble-from-moment-one

        From the Financial Times article 8/14/16, “during the first decade of this century” Trump worked with Bayrock. That was a shift away from his Real Estate business, the last? being his Trump Soho that failed. The point being that he hasn’t been active in real estate for nearly a decade and his ‘Trump labeling” may be enhancing his wealth, but it certainly isn’t a sign of good business acumen.

        He is relying on people forgetting when he got out of the business that made him wealthy. Relying on him, IMO is risky business.

        1. ilporcupine

          We need China more than they need us? Why? For what purpose? We are the customer.
          They are a provider of labor. We have unutilized labor here. ???
          I really am curious as to why you said that.

          1. fajensen

            Well, if China should put a kink in those 12000 km JIT logistics lines, we will have “People of Wallmart” killing each other in the aisles in about 2 weeks time. Double-plus-gross, that!

            Sure, there is underutilized labor and lots of other unused resources “here”. Problem is: Can we scale up and scale out fast enough?

            Training, Transport, Supplies are needed. Which means resources. In case of China checking out, these resources cannot be provided by “The Markets”, the markets being in the process of unwinding. Someone like the government emergency response or more likely the military, because the military is “permanent” and does logistics, will have to step up and get localized supplies running. While suppressing the WallMart Riots.

            We haven’t done anything large scale here … in maybe 10 – 15 years, the experience on large scale logistics and manufacturing basically has to be rebuilt before we can in-source the production from China.

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-07-01/andy-grove-how-america-can-create-jobs

    2. Mark

      on the other hand

      “China National Chemical Corp. received approval from U.S. national security officials for its takeover of Swiss agrochemical and seeds company Syngenta AG, seen as the biggest regulatory hurdle that the $43 billion acquisition faces.

      The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has cleared the transaction, the companies said in a statement Monday. The deal, expected to be completed by the end of the year, is still subject to antitrust review by regulators worldwide, according to the statement.”

      Bloomberg. August 22.

  6. C Dubbs

    Wonder if anyone inside the bubble has any appreciation for how blatantly homophobic this whole hatred of bros and bromances actually sounds. It’s as if they’d have you believe that the only love between men that counts is the kind that involves sex. Nevermind that the overwhelming amount of male homoerotic love takes place between men who don’t have sex with other. Guess they don’t count.

    How long til we see the inevitable BroPride movement?

    1. hunkerdown

      Obviously, if you let the Black white men get together and talk, they’ll inevitably form a gang and rape all the wimmins. It’s just the usual “how dare you form attachments without a receipt” anti-lateralism that animates liberalism.

      When I get a few months on the bench, er, beach, I think it would be enjoyable and interesting to look for Conway’s Law ramifications in open source projects that adopt diversity codes.

    2. jgordon

      Oh no, it’s totally cool. It’s only bad when it’s the Republicans who are hateful and small minded.

  7. hunkerdown

    Deep learning is a data-driven application. The code remains the same; only the coefficients in the model change. Just as there is likely no single neuron that can be located and electrically stimulated in order to cause someone to speak the phrase “free trade”, or contrariwise to be destroyed such as to cause the speaker to be incapable of speaking that phrase, the “knowledge” — that particular big matrix the trainer app happened to find out of uncountably many possible correct matrices that, when computed according to a fixed algorithm, converts complex input stimuli into a correct output response — isn’t really amenable to fine editing.

    1. ian

      It’s a fascinating subject. A while earlier this year I got to wondering how the google image search worked. I tried a few images of well known places and people at different scales, rotated them a bit, cropped them differently, etc.. and it worked most of the time. This is a difficult problem so I got curious how they did it and found that it’s a multi-layer neural net that is constantly being re-trained. The point is, part of what the neural net discovers in it’s layers is which features are relevant.

  8. L

    “When Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to TPP last fall, Mr. Obama was furious. He believed she was making a political, not substantive, decision that was designed to diminish an advantage her then-primary opponent Bernie Sanders, who opposed the trade deal, had with Democratic voters” [Wall Street Journal]. No. With Obama, it’s about nobody ever making him look bad. Clinton’s “political” “decision” was to issue a statement filled with lawyerly parsing designed to allow her to do the deed if Obama can’t

    While that personal view may be possible, Mr. Cool did seem to cool on her after that, I suspect that there may be truth in the initial statement. In my experience with many elected officials I am often struck by how distorted their view of the electorate is. When you spend your life surrounded by people like Froman, and you are constantly inundated with well-funded lobbyists you can find that your understanding of the outside world is warped.

    I for one can very much believe that at this point he truly, genuinely believes that the TPP is a political winner and that supporting it would confer an electoral advantage. Lest we forget he is so out of touch on this issue that he chose to use Nike as a place to stump for and end to offshoring.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Let the voters have more brioche (imported from somewhere east of the Land of Rising Sun…maybe North Korea or some such places).”

    2. no

      Obama is so smart he can’t possibly be wrong. We talk about Trump’s ego, but Obama loves Obama more than anything.

      I’m reminded of Shrub’s belief in history vindication him. Obama has been a clown all along. He’s been awful. If he looked back at his actions from day one (ex. Hiring Rahm Emmanuel), do you really think he could conclude he’s been a worthwhile President? No. The only way to salvage his legacy is to put faith that everything will magically come around and be hailed as a hero and can be blamed on an incompetent, monster such as Hillary. As for TPP, he doesn’t have any legislation ready to go. He is too busy golfing.

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    On Clinton not already having put Trump away:

    Hillary Clinton enjoys about a five-point polling lead over Donald Trump. One way to look at this is that it’s a margin, at this stage of a presidential race, that is rarely reversed.

    Here’s another way. The Democrats had a successful convention, the Republicans didn’t. Clinton’s campaign has been smooth; Trump’s has careened between disasters. She has reached out to independents and Republicans; he has insulted the family of a soldier killed in Iraq, along with people with disabilities, Latinos and women. Clinton has outspent him 3 to 1.

    And she’s only ahead by five percentage points.

    I keep saying the Clinton campaign is like a hot air balloon with a tear in it. They have to keep frantically pumping more hot air into it, simply to stay aloft.

    Trump hasn’t spent a dime on TV, either. (I’m sure that he isn’t filling up Republican consultants’ rice bowls is one reason they hate him.)

    1. NYPaul

      “….he has insulted…… people with disabilities.”

      In polls that I’ve seen this is the insult that offended the most. Personally, I don’t believe he knew the gentleman had a disability when he made that stupid comment & gesture. I even saw Trump state that later in an unpublicized, off-the-cuff comment. My question is, where are his advisors in getting him to try and ameliorate that hurtful incident? He’s helped himself recently, made himself appear more human, by stating he “regrets” some of his past hurtful statements.

      Why not do it again, personally, and publicly, “apologize” to the reporter in question, Serge Kovaleski? Americans love to forgive those who have been knocked down. The Clinton campaign uses that incident in many of her commercials. Counter punching now can’t but help The Donald pick himself up for these crucial next couple of months.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You’re right.

        Winning or not, triangulating or otherwise, whether 4 dimensional space-time or 11, I hope he apologizes when he’s wrong…and we should all act like that, for a better world.

    2. voteforno6

      “Yet Clintonland continues to rationalize.”

      It’s remarkable to me just how much of this is going on. I suspect that, if it all came out at once, a lot of her ersatz supporters just might turn on her. However, the slow drip – drip – drip nature of this is actually acclimating them to the corruption. It seems to me that most of the defenses of her actions are offered as if they occurred in isolation. They only see the trees, and not the forest. Or, more accurately, a few discarded soda cans, and not the landfill that surrounds them.

  10. fresno dan

    UPDATE “No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built” [Tom Dispatch]. Wait, wait. Obama’s policy now is what Trump’s would be? And Democrats and Trump are frothing and stamping over nothing? Is the problem that the wall’s not beautiful? What?

    ======================================
    The dems brand themselves as old time liberal to some constituencies. The repubs brand themselves as conservative to some constituencies. This works for dems and it works for repubs. The straw man arguments fill the boob tube and pass for democracy and self government.

    But it makes for a politics that is completely and totally irrelevant to most people. It is designed not to address issues, and reality is its enemy.

    But this year, after so many years, standard baloney like “Bush kept us safe” did not placate the repub base, which is in a serious world of hurt (death rates of poorer middle aged white people are going up!). And the dems faced the most ground shaking challenge to the orthodoxy since Gene McCarthy, as millennials working 2 or 3 jobs saw that the “highest standard of living in the world” had the same relation to reality as pancake syrup has to …maple trees.

    We’re at the beginning of the beginning – where the 99% is catching on that the vampire squid’s gain is our loss. Its gonna be a bumpy ride…

  11. Kurt Sperry

    [London Review of Books]. How we maintain code that we don’t understand? Then again, perhaps that’s what we’re already doing…

    Maybe for AI to turn the corner we may have to turn the writing of the code over to a highly iterative algorithm like a so-called genetic code, set some quantifiable precepts or performance goals and tell the program to iteratively favor code that empirically improves progress towards one or more of those goals. And then just let it run, hands off. The code that is developed may well be completely opaque and indecipherable to humans–and beyond any pretense of human hacking or maintaining or auditing being credible. The need to understand the code at any granular level may be something we will have to just give up to get the intriguing potential upsides of machine intelligence. We let machines make all sorts of important decisions for us already and have for a long time. Look at the hydraulic logic gates in what is called the ‘valve body’ in an old, old automatic transmission. It’s just a non-electronic hydraulic computer.

    Hypothetical: Clinton vs. Trump vs. tested decision making algorithm- hmmmmm. Or instead of voting for a person, you vote for the best control algorithm. Or better yet, use an algorithm to choose which to vote for. But how do you choose *that* algorithm?

    1. Synoia

      Yes, you can use evolution and evolutionary pressures to write code.

      Lose Control – Expect surprises.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Look at the hydraulic logic gates in what is called the ‘valve body’ in an old, old automatic transmission. It’s just a non-electronic hydraulic computer.’

      Now that cars are all chip-controlled, a third-party industry of “tuners” has sprung up to hot rod your ride (though manufacturers already have pushed output nearly as high as they can).

      Harley Davidson just got nailed for $15 million for making tuners themselves (as opposed to letting judgment-proof, Ebay-outlet garage operations peddle them).

      Hack your ride … but don’t get caught.

    3. fajensen

      Computer code is too brittle to evolve. The difference between “working” or “not working at all” is literally flipping one bit out of millions possible. People get around this by using more robust codes where segments of code is changed or parameters used to generate code or determine behavior are “evolved”.

      Stuart Kauffman did a lot of work on what kinds of systems can be evolved and why.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_life
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Kauffman

      For machine intelligence to work, actually work, and not just make a simulation of intelligent behavior, I think that noise is very important. Because noise are partly created by quantum fluctuations of the “vacuum”, the stuff that makes up the universe, the noise links our creation to the world and introduce the kind of indeterminate behavior that we recognize as “intelligent”.

      Building with computer code and modern chips, we engineer hard to eliminate noise and uncertainty; now, the trend is to get more MIPS/J and we go analogue, unclocked – with memristors and/or spiking artificial neurons.

      http://researchweb.watson.ibm.com/cognitive-computing/neurosynaptic-chips.shtml
      http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-neural-network-that-remembers
      http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/artificial-intelligence/moneta-a-mind-made-from-memristors

      The biggest worry is perhaps with DARPA running the show that the new Machine God will be a True American Patriot ;-)

  12. hemeantwell

    [E]ach robot is leased rather than sold. This means a warehouse owner could ramp up its robotic fleet of workers around the holidays to meet the demands of its business, and reduce its fleet during down times to save on costs.”

    I apologize for repeating the point, either in this instance or in the future, but this, absent the contradictions of capitalism and the demand that everyone turn themselves into labor power vendors, should be a cause for celebration. Hard work gone, free time increased! Not.

    1. ilporcupine

      So, what’s a valid business model for the leasing companies? Costs of holding robot assets during slack times still exists, just transferred to the leasing company. The “amazons” own the leasing companies, and some kind of tax scam to write off the costs to govt? Or does the consumer pay for the cost (again)?

      1. ilporcupine

        If these companies currently rely on employees being subsidized by government programs for survival, and given the cost to buy and maintain the robotics, where is the incentive to implement ever more complicated tech solutions? I think we may be subject to a propaganda campaign. Everytime I see one of these articles, it looks like Bezos has a stake in the source (and no doubt his Walton counterparts). Scare tactic to try to head off minimum wage/living wage movements? I know I am not the first to postulate this here, but I am disturbed by the lack of financial analysis in all the rah-rah articles praising the technology.

        NOTICE: To small time criminals: Given the cost saving proclivities of the Bezos types, these employee-free warehouses will likely be guarded by one or two $7.50/hr security guards, who will be receptive to bribes, as they have families relying on their pittance. OPEN SEASON!

      2. hunkerdown

        ilporcupine, setup, support, and maybe patent rents. Unlike humans, it doesn’t appear that this army of robo-ottomans (Mechanical Turks?) can just walk into any old dusty back room and start filling orders out of a mixed bin. So the warehouse, as a system, will be adapted extensively to meet the capacities of the robo-pickers. Ka-ching! And on an ongoing basis, no less, including updates (like custom end-of-arm tooling) to adapt to business and product/packaging changes. Ka-ching! All this works together, as a system, into which other vendors may not be able to legally sell components thanks to IP maximalism… ka-ching!

        Costs of holding robot assets during slack times still exists, just transferred to the leasing company. The “amazons” own the leasing companies

        That’s Amazon Web Services’ business model, in a nutshell: do something billable with all these Amazon servers sitting around depreciating ten months of the year. inVia’s robots appear to be quite fungible between facilities, modulo end-of-arm tooling, and also very simple from a hardware perspective, not much more than an iPod on wheels with WiFi and a lift. So I don’t expect there’s a whole lot of cash tied up in each one, and not much maintenance to do with idle bots aside from keeping the batteries at the recommended charge level.

        1. ilporcupine

          If everyones slack season coincides (not at holiday peak), you still got robot capacity unused for most of the year, right? You would have to have captive customers tied to your system, who would use the machines during slow times. ?

          1. ilporcupine

            hunkerdown, thanks for reply..
            Add up all those “Ka-chings”. Again, what’s in it for warehouses? If costs are so low, why the addl layer? I have worked repairing mobile lifts, and the “Ipod with wheels with Wifi and a lift” may be the wrong view. The expensive part is not the computer control, a $3 micro can do that job, with wifi integrated. The propulsion, and hydraulics, and tires, weld fractures, etc. will be the big cost, here. And very expensive batteries and charging systems. This is not new tech, this has been tried before. As near as I can tell, the only thing that has changed over the last decade is the willingness to screw their fellow man.

          2. hunkerdown

            ilporcupine, yes, but any business that lends out non-consumable rival goods on a seasonal basis has about the same problem. An equipment rental shop’s rototillers might lay idle for over half the year, too. Likewise, on shorter scales, telephone trunk lines (but that’s somewhat a solved problem in that space).

            Ballparking, the bill of materials cost for a thousand robots is probably on the order of $300-$600 each. Idle robots at the depot might cost the company the space they consume plus a bit of grease and a battery conditioning cycle every several weeks, which could be attended to by the bots themselves. In other words, the lessor may carry a lot of bots, but once they’re bought and commissioned they’re super cheap to bank when idle and they pay for themselves quickly when in service.

            As to how they keep the lights on, it’s telling that the article doesn’t talk about fixed costs, only the ability to dial one’s working fleet up or down like a compute cloud (this on-demand stuff seems to be a core Bezos value — no doubt if he had his way we’d just go into cryostasis between jobs). Those robots aren’t going to boot up in the middle of any warehouse floor and pull missions for themselves. Something’s got to translate orders from the order app through the floor plan and ERP system into routes and missions for bots, and this piece is surely bespoke or requires heavy configuration. In that way, getting ready for picker-bots is exactly equivalent to integrating two IT systems while building a third new system touching both — ka-ching! (See also healthcare.gov)

            1. ilporcupine

              Rental shop also has snowblowers and ski racks, as well as non seasonal.
              I have done purchasing as well as maint, and I can’t see building those bots for anything like that cost.
              You have given me food for thought, though, thanks.

  13. DrBob

    Re: The Voters

    The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters

    — Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump’s advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

    “When Donald Trump claimed, ‘the election’s going to be rigged,’ he wasn’t entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of ‘voting many, many times.’ What’s far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.

    “The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters. According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Rs are being too paranoid, perhaps.

      Until someone is shown to have done it, it’s just too ingenious, too incredible brazen, to systematically, in an organized manner, to have lots of people vote in one state 8AM in the morning and in a nearby state 5PM in the afternoon.

      I suppose it could be done, especially in small and densely populated states back East.

      (Maybe it’s possible for one travelling salesman to journey through 3, 4, 5 or more states in 8, 10 hours – is that a math problem?).

    2. Benedict@Large

      I’m sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for the Democratic Party and its complaints about GOP voter/election fraud. If fact, I raise my hands and clap.

      For years, going back to the original efforts by Bev Harris (of which I was a part), we have complained and complained to the Democratic Party about the hack-ability of the vote and other serious problems with the election processes. For years, all we got told was to be quiet, if we scared the people about election problems, they would respond by voting even less. It was a stupid answer until I realized what they were really saying was that one day THEY might want to hack an election, and if they made elections more secure, they wouldn’t be able to.

      Sure enough, along comes the Sanders contest, and the whole of the party machinery hops up and tries to make Florida 2000 look like the new Fifty State Strategy. And now they want to complain that the GOP is back at it?

      Good. Good for the GOP. I hope it works. Because nothing is going to get these right wing DINOs working on election fraud before they get beaten out on a head-to-head contest of traud on an election the Democrats knew ahead of time was a shoe-in.

    3. afisher

      As the comments regarding Gregg Palast piece prove that the commenters didn’t bother to read the article. It is an excellent article and he has been writing about this for years. Sadly, too many are too busy to read and think before typing a sane response, but instead just whine and complain.
      Yeah, I am a huge fan of Mr. Palast.

  14. clarky90

    Re, “Donald Trump’s road show has detoured this month to states with no political value to a Republican nominee in a general election.”

    Donald Trump keeps saying, “I think we have a movement here” to his audiences. At the Akron speech, he said “I am fighting for a peaceful regime change in our own country.”

    I suspect that Donald Trump has awoken from The Great Slumber.

    (Māyā means illusion, fraud, deception, magic that misleads and creates disorder)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In Zen, there are 2 schools on satori – sudden and gradual.

      It might have been a long time, but suddenly, there it is – it all makes sense.

      You slumber no more.

    2. afisher

      LOL – he is planning to spend big in New York state. Last poll (8/15) he was ONLY behind by 25 points (4 way polling) – but his campaign manager says it is because of all the undercover voters.

  15. Lambert Strether Post author

    Horrified by Trump, Democrats getting nostalgic about Romney Yahoo News

    Boy, I’m so old I remember… Well, let me just collect some of the better headlines at Kos from campaign 2012:

    UPDATE: Mitt Romney Pals Around with Child Molesters

    Romney ignores request from mother of Navy SEAL killed in Benghazi to stop using son in stump speech

    Romney mansplains to lady editor what ladies really care about

    For Mitt Romney, Billy Graham ‘Sells Out’ His Faith & Jesus for Political Advantage

    Breaking: Did Romney Pay Zero Taxes From 1996 To 2009?

    Mitt Romney’s Driving Killed Leola Anderson. His Cover-Up Tale is Proved Dishonest

    Romney Took $77,000 Tax Deduction For His Dancing Horse

    The re-emergence of dick Romney

    A Devastating Expose of Mitt Romney’s Mistreatment of Mormon Women Emerges

    (I’m not going to link to Kos, but you can always search on the headlines.)

    Good times, eh? And now, “Come back, Mitt! All is forgiven!”

    It’s almost like how the Clinton campaign got themselves all in a lather about Trump’s fascism, but now that talking point is gone where the woodbine twineth. Silly me. I actually took them seriously!

    1. nippersmom

      The Clinton campaign had to dial back on the Trump is a fascist rhetoric when they realized they were drawing attention to the fact that the actual fascist in the race is Clinton.

    2. jrs

      Eh well I never thought Romney was any worse than Obama in 2012 and could see people going either way between two bad choices and who was I to judge as bad choices were all there were (of course the choices have since gotten even worse!!). And of course I voted neither and marked the ballot for Jill Stein. But I was mostly indifferent between Romney and Obama because I was sick of Obama and his drones, and his indefinite detention, and his war on whistleblowers and etc. by that point. Almost viscerally physically sick of the horror show the Obama administration had become (waking up from that American dream yo).

      It’s not that I didn’t think Romney wouldn’t do the same thing, there was evidence he would based on what he said, it’s just Obama was the devil we knew who had already done all those things and it made me ill to even think about it.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I didn’t see much to choose between Romney and Obama, either pretty much interchangeable on policy. I think however that having a Republican executive promoting corporate neoliberal economic policy and neocon foreign policy is probably slightly preferable to a Democrat doing the same. A couple of years ago I assumed the 2016 contest would be between Hillary and Jeb!, which again would have been a “choice” between two of essentially the same thing in a different wrapper. I will react to the current match-up the same way I reacted to the last one, by voting for Stein. Trump is frankly a pleasant surprise from that perspective, at least the script has been edited this time.

  16. ChiGal

    re plantidote

    aww, that’s the bee balm pic i sent you ages ago, Lambert!

    relocation from Chicago to North Carolina complicated by the contractor from hell AND a so-called friend who came to help pack and brought in bed bugs BUT hopefully soon the nightmare I have been living will be over – I do always check in and appreciate the wit and wisdom of the commentariat.

    damn, these are not good times…

    1. DJG

      ChiGal: I thought that those were Chicago bee balm. I like the blue phase, too. But I’m not seeing enough bees in the blossoms these days.

      Bed bugs. Hmmm. Are they named Rahm and the TIFs?

  17. DJG

    Clinton Foundation Slactivism. Amy Sterling Casil is masterful. The details. The contrast with the Carter Foundation. The visuals. It is like reading a novel by Sinclair Lewis, which provokes genuine laughter, rueful laughter, and shaking of one’s head at the waste, the squandering.

    1. afisher

      Try reading the 990 form on Clinton Foundation and you may learn that someone doesn’t know or bother to figure out exactly what the mean.
      Medium is a weird place – it takes zero cred to publish there and you are left to your own devices to know if they have an ulterior motive. As a staffer in KY – perhaps.

  18. Synoia

    [E]ach robot is leased rather than sold. This means a warehouse owner could ramp up its robotic fleet of workers around the holidays to meet the demands of its business, and reduce its fleet during down times to save on costs.

    Depends on the penalty clauses in the lease. Someone has to pay the amortization on the Robots.

    Amortization on humans is a combination of “find a job” and unemployment benefits.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The next step in our technological revolution is to design and manufacture (not by hand – no manu in manufacturing) virile male robots, fertile female robots, and fast-maturing baby robots.

      That will address the seasonal demand problem.

    2. grizziz

      Here is a post by Frances Coppola from three years ago on the Financialization of Labor I reject the premises because it ties labor inextricably to capital, but the logic clearly reflects a rational take of the owners thinking.

  19. dk

    How we maintain code that we don’t undertand? Then again, perhaps that’s what we’re already doing…

    Ties in to credentialism. The problem of how to pass intellectually abstract technology has been a problem for our species for thousands of years. Language and writing don’t work as well as they’re touted.

  20. timbers

    Obamacare in Tennessee where premiums are going up about 62% and the state commissioner is warming Obamacare might collapse

    Governor Bill Haslam said that Tennessee had concerns about the Obamacare exchanges from the start noting that the federal government can’t force insurers to cover people at a loss.

    So if it’s OK to fine people for not buying crappy overpriced insurance then how come no one ever suggests fining insurance companies for not offering insurance?

  21. clarky90

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h53xa4Ai4U

    Coverage of Donald Trump Rally in Jackson, Mississsippi with Nigel Farage (The Brexit Guy)!

    It is happening today

    I am am right at the beginning. The interviewer is interviewing people waiting in line. It is very entertaining. Very nice people!!!

    Rather than read what the Paid Media Minions SAY and WRITE about “The People”, let them speak for themselves! They are so eloquent!

    1. clarky90

      “The People” (as in We The People), standing in line, want Hillary Clinton charged and tried by a USA Court of Law.

      The population, as a whole, is realizing that the Grifters have been lying to us about almost everything.

      It is that moment when it suddenly dawns on a person (they grok) that their wife/husband/boss/friend/mother/father…… is a sociopath. Suddenly ALL the chaos in their lives makes perfect sense. The light goes on!

    2. Jim Haygood

      Anathema:

      Former leader of the UK Independent Party Nigel Farage, credited for Brexit, addressed the audience at a Trump campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi on Wednesday night.

      “You can beat the pollsters, you can beat the commentators, you can beat Washington,” Farage said to cheers. “If you want change, you better get your walking boots on.”

      “Anything is possible if enough decent people want to fight the establishment,” Farage said.

      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/08/24/nigel_farage_at_trump_rally_anything_is_possible_if_enough_decent_people_fight_the_establishment.html

      Pure, populist poison, from the Depublicrat point of view.

      We have drone fleets to take out threats like this.

      How did Farage even get a visa to enter USA, USA!

  22. allan

    Shorter NYPD: the dog hurricane ate my homework:

    City blames Hurricane Sandy for missing NYPD file that kept two innocent men behind bars for 22 years on murder convictions

    [New York City] claims it cannot locate the NYPD’s original homicide file for a 1992 triple murder case that resulted in the wrongful convictions of two men, the Daily News has learned.

    Lawyers for Anthony Yarbough, who served nearly 22 years behind bars before he was cleared by DNA evidence, have been trying to obtain the file, which contains information crucial to their suit alleging he was framed by detectives in the fatal stabbings of his mother, his 12-year-old half sister and her 12-year-old friend.

    It now appears the file was either washed out to sea or thrown out with the waterlogged debris from the flooded 60th Precinct stationhouse in Coney Island after Hurricane Sandy. …

    1. abynormal

      Do you impersonate DT purposely?

      One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside. John Lennon

    2. cm

      I don’t understand your message, especially after reading your link.

      Do you believe that politicians should not be held to account for their assertions?

  23. flora

    re: “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions” Abraham Lincoln

    Thanks for the link. Very good read.

  24. allan

    Soldier who killed 5 Dallas officers showed PTSD symptoms [AP]

    The Army reservist who killed five Dallas police officers last month showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from Afghanistan in 2014, but doctors concluded that he presented no serious risk to himself or others, according to newly released documents from the Veterans Health Administration.

    Micah Johnson had sought treatment for anxiety, depression and hallucinations, telling doctors that he experienced nightmares after witnessing fellow soldiers getting blown in half. He also said he heard voices and mortars exploding, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. …

    Doctors eventually decided that Johnson presented a low risk for suicide or for hurting anyone else.

    Johnson was “not acutely at risk for harm to self or others,” according to a medical record from a visit on Aug. 15, 2014. The patient was “not felt to be psychotic by presentation or by observation.” …

    We’ll never know whether he might have received the help he needed if the resources had been available, rather than being turned into a political football.

    File this under Radicalized by Mitch McConnell.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just looking at the quoted portion, I think the lawyers will want to talk to the doctors first, and not Mitch McConnell (not that I agree with his politics).

  25. inode_buddha

    Just got done watching Sanders kick off the Revolution. I’m back on board with it again, after the very discouraging times. Will be paying attention to that particular space.

  26. Kurt Sperry

    I’ll probably always like, respect, and support Sanders no matter what. Nobody’s perfect but what he accomplished in the face of incredible adversity still gives me chills thinking about. He came oh so close to pulling off the completely impossible and if he’d gotten just a few more percentage points, he’d have beat Clinton and then beat Trump even worse. Nobody–and I mean *nobody* could ever have predicted that two years ago. Respect.

  27. optimader

    http://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2016/08/24/icelandic_companies_experiencing_shortage_of_worker/
    Almost half of all Icelandic companies are experiencing workforce shortages, with unemployment in Iceland very low, according to new figures.

    According to the Central Bank of Iceland, seasonally corrected unemployment in Iceland is now 2.7% – its lowest level since the second quarter of 2008, before the financial crash.

    MORE: Iceland facing “serious shortage” of skilled craftsmen

    MORE: GUIDE: Relocating to and working in Iceland

    Economic growth in 2007 is expected to be just over 4% – the third year in a row Iceland will have posted a +4% figure.

    Over 40% of the companies surveyed by the Bank say that they lack sufficient workers. This rate has been increasing quickly recently and is at its highest level since late 2007.

    MORE: 2,600 new jobs in Iceland over the next six months

    http://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2016/04/03/guide_relocating_to_and_working_in_iceland/

  28. Propertius

    Obviously we should outsource Trump’s wall to China. I hear they have some experience with such projects.

  29. Synoia

    “It was May of 2015. I’d been criticizing TPP at the time and they said, “He’d like to talk to you.” What [Obama] told me was: ‘I am too far down the road to change.’ He repeated it over and over”

    He’d made agreement of too many bribes.

  30. cm

    Anyone remember the hilarious NC post where Portland was promoted as some sort of utopia?

    Well, here in the utopia, drunk cops are ok.

    1. PhilU

      I would absolutely love a “Best of NC” section. Every now and then someone links to a great old post but I don’t have the time to go through the whole back catalog.

  31. twonine

    RE: National Monument in Maine. “This is not going to make Maine’s Second District happy.”

    A pole from May notes that 67% would be happy.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Commissioned by leading park proponent Lucas St. Clair”….

      That said, it is true that the opposition comes from a vociferous minority (many of whom also hate landfills, I would add). I should have been more precise, and written: “It’s not clear how this will help the Democrats claim the Second District.”

Comments are closed.