2:00PM Water Cooler 12/22/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trump to Create a Manufacturing-Focused White House Trade Office: President-elect Donald Trump will create a new office within the White House to oversee trade and industrial policy, a move that will put an emphasis on “Buy America” policies and promote domestic manufacturing. Trump’s transition team announced Wednesday that the office, called the National Trade Council, will be helmed by Peter Navarro, a longtime critic of China who helped craft Trump’s trade policy during the campaign” [Politico]. “The office will work “collaboratively and synergistically” with other White House councils, the transition team said. A source close to the transition told Morning Trade it will usurp responsibilities from both the National Security Council and National Economic Council to create a new branch that will have “broad and expansive policy oversight” over trade matters.”



“So is there work to be done in the U.S. that produces tangible, visible value? Of course there is. To realize this, just take a one-week trip to Japan. Where American sidewalks are cracked and uneven, Japanese ones are neat and beautiful. Where tables in American Starbucks are littered with crumbs and dirt, Japanese Starbucks tables get wiped down after every customer leaves. Where American cities like Chicago and Detroit are full of broken windows and crumbling facades, Japanese cities are clean and modern, with well-maintained, reliable public transit” [Bloomberg]. Before we start complaining about make-work, let’s make the U.S. look like that.”

“Trump’s SEC may take aim at corporate disclosure” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. “Trump will have the opportunity not just to pick a new chairman but two commissioners (though one will have to be a Democrat) on the five-person panel.”

Trump Transition

“What will the left’s legal resistance to a President Trump’s administration look like?” [Talking Points Memo]. “‘This is the start of the Democrats’ major effort to scale back the Trump administration,’ said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA. ‘The courts are the only possibility for checking Donald Trump. With Republicans in control of Congress, we can’t expect to see Congress checking the President.'” “The only possibility…”? Really?

2016 Post Mortem


“Exclusive: Clinton aides kept tabs on anti-Trump elector gambit” [Politico]. “The absence of any high-profile support left the ragtag group with little horsepower to counter a well-oiled Republican whip effort, led by Trump campaign operative and the Republican National Committee.”

“Old Guard Democrats and New Activists Meet, with a Scuffle, at Party Gathering” [Detroit Democrat]. “The next election of delegates to the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee is at the party convention in Detroit’s Cobo Center on Saturday, February 11, 2017. Voting is open to all party members who attend the convention. To join the party, you can go the party website and make a contribution – if you don’t have $2,500 (!) on hand, you can write in any amount you choose.” (The Observer, which Trump son-in-law Kushner may be trying to sell, and where I found the link, is certainly shit-stirring, but they do know how to provide linky goodness.)

Another way of saying “volatility voters”:

“2009: The year the Democratic Party died” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “The Democratic Party has been obliterated. Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss to Donald Trump was the shock felt ’round the world, but there’s been an even deeper decline in the Democratic Party at the state and local level. The Obama administration has overseen the loss of roughly a tenth of the party’s Senate seats, a fifth of its House and state legislative seats, and a third of its governorships, something which hasn’t been seen since the repeated routs of Republicans in the 1930s.” And:

There are unquestionably many factors behind this result. But I want to focus on the biggest one that was completely under Democrats’ control. It is the same thing that killed the Republicans of Hoover’s generation: gross mishandling of an economic crisis. Democrats had the full run of the federal government from 2009-10, during the worst economic disaster in 80 years, and they did not fully fix mass unemployment, nor the associated foreclosure crisis. That is just about the most guaranteed route to electoral death there is.

The Democrat Party may be dead, but it’s still walking. And you know how to kill a zombie…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why Democrats should just treat the middle class like the extremely poor” [The Week]. “It is important and worthwhile to be concerned about poverty. But it leaves out a big segment of the population — namely, the middle and working class, who see little concrete benefit for themselves in Democratic policy. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution here: Just cut the middle class in on same sort of programs the poor get.” Interesting approach not entirely vitiated by the use of “middle class,” which is nauseatingly flaccid as a concept.

“In some cases, [resistance to Ellison is based on] a fear about empowering the so-called Bernie wing of the party. But mostly, you hear quotes like this: “We like Keith,” one “longtime Obama political ally” tells Thrush, who he spoke to in November. “But is he really the guy we need right now when we are trying to get all of those disaffected white working-class people to rally around our message of economic equality?” If Trump said something like this, you’d call it a dog whistle. It’s almost baffling that, given anonymity, this longtime Obama political ally didn’t just come out and say that what gives them pause about Ellison is who he is—that white working-class people won’t like a black Muslim in charge of the DNC. But if anyone should be wary of claims like this it’s Obama’s allies, who have had to deal with identity-based attacks like this for the past decade” [The New Republic]. Dear Lord.

“The front row kids (who live in big cities and university towns) primarily find meaning through their careers, and hence through their education. It defines who they are. Their community, and their neighborhoods, are global. They moved towns often for their careers” [Chris Arnader, Medium]. “The back row primarily finds meaning through their local community, and its institutions like church and sports. They live in places they have long lived in, and their families have lived in. They didn’t leave for education, didn’t leave for jobs. This is often by choice, many want to stay close to family, but it also because some have had to. Many had to stay to care for sick family, or because they fell behind early. Some had difficult childhoods. Grew up in a place that offered little chances at an elite education.”

“Every time those snobs laugh at Trump, it reinforces the reason why supporters (some portion of whom are Obama-to-Trump voters) support him. Because they’re tired of elites laughing at them, especially elites with a long history of catastrophic failures” [EmptyWheel]. I agree 100%.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, November 2016: “Weakness in building permits and factory indications offset gains in the rate spread, jobless claims, and stock prices to keep the index of leading economic indicators unchanged in November” [Econoday]. “Today’s results point to flat economic conditions in the first half of next year.” And: “The rate of growth is slowing on this index – and other leading indices are painting mixed views” [Econintersect].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, November 2016: “Business and consumer confidence may have jumped but November proved to be a weak month for the economy based on the national activity index which fell” [Econoday]. “The industrial sector proved weak, falling to minus 0.20 from October’s minus 0.01. Part of this decline reflects warm weather and less utility output but also reflects slippage in manufacturing production. Personal consumption & housing were also weak.”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, December 2016: “Like the Philly Fed report, the manufacturing report from the Kansas City Fed is showing life” [Econoday]. “Nearly all the readings rose further into positive territory including employment.” And: ” The Kansas City region was hit hard by the decline in oil prices, but activity is expanding again” [Calculated Risk].

Personal Income and Outlays, November 2016: “November may have been a cycle high for confidence but it actually proved a weak month for the consumer” [Econoday]. “Personal income was unchanged in November as the wages & salaries component dipped into the negative column at minus 0.1 percent. Consumer spending rose 0.2 percent and reflected specific weakness in vehicles. Not helped by the weakness in income, the consumer had to dip into savings during the month where the rate fell 2 tenths to 5.5 percent.” And: “Not only was there no real income growth, but the previous month was revised downward. Spending, however, was still relatively strong which supports GDP” [Econintersect]. And: “Below expectations (charts) [Calculated Risk].

Durable Goods Orders, November 2016: “Defense came to the rescue of November’s durable goods report though core capital goods orders are another positive. Durable goods fell 4.6 percent in November but were down an even sharper 6.6 percent excluding defense” [Econoday]. “When including defense and excluding transportation (commercial aircraft and vehicles), orders rose a better-than-expected 0.5 percent.” But: “Transport is the usual main driver this month – and it significantly declined. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the three month rolling average which declined but remains in expansion. The real issue here is that inflation is starting to grab in this sector making real growth much less than appears at face value. The trends on this series are not indicating any real economic improvement” [Econintersect].

GDP, Q3 2016 (final): “The third-quarter lived up to its early expectations, rising with each new revision to an inflation-adjusted 3.5 percent annualized rate for the best showing in two years” [Econoday]. “The fourth-quarter, held down by a reversal for exports and perhaps by less strength in consumer spending, isn’t quite tracking as strongly as the third quarter proved to be.” But: “above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

Jobless Claims, week of December 17, 2016: “In a negative sign for the December employment report, initial jobless claims rose 21,000 in the December 17 week to a much higher-than-expected level of 275,000” Econoday]. “There are no special factors in today’s report, one that raises the question whether the next employment report will extend the long run of solid results.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of December 18, 2016: “Readings on consumer confidence have been very strong following the November 8 election including the consumer comfort index which jumped a sharp 1.2 points in the December 18 week to 46.7 for the best reading in two years” Econoday].

Corporate Profits, Q3 2016 (final): “[R]ose 4.3 percent year-on-year in the third quarter vs a prior estimate of 5.2 percent.” [Econoday].

FHFA House Price Index, October 2016: Softer-than-expected rise [Econoday]. “Home-price appreciation has been less than sensational this year but has been steady and remains much higher than income growth. And low supply in the new and resale markets hints perhaps at stronger appreciation next year.”

Housing: “There has been little discussion in 2016 regarding the volume of all cash buyers. We have grown accustomed to anomalies in the housing market. Rapid dips and jumps in prices are now assumed to be a part of the system. Massive numbers of investors buying single family homes are now assumed to be status quo. And the number of all cash transactions is seen as normal when in fact, all cash buyers were usually a small part of the market. All of this is abnormal in the housing market pre-2000s but we are now living in a very different world” [Doctor Housing Bubble]. “The all cash buying trend continues to signify that investors are a big part of the market. But all of this is contingent on the massive Bull Run we have had since 2009. Of course, some now believe this is a “new normal” and we have reached permanently new plateaus.”

Commodities: “Chinese demand now constitute nearly half the global total for most industrial metals and in iron ore for instance the country is responsible for some 80% of the seaborne trade” [Mining.com]. “Expansion rates may have slowed dramatically and doubts are creeping in about the longer term impact of stimulus measures introduced earlier this year, but in absolute numbers growth in Chinese demand remains eye-watering.”

Commodities: “Cost-saving nanotechnology set to disrupt gold processing industry” [Mining.com]. Reading all the way to the end: “‘Once we have some plants up and running our phone is going to start ringing off the hook,’ [Sixth Wave Innovations President Sherman McGill] predicted. ‘The word will get around pretty quickly on how great this stuff is.'”

Shipping: “In his industry predictions for 2017, Lars Jensen, chief executive and partner at SeaIntelligence, said today, ‘Non-operating vessel owners holding unwanted container tonnage will be hit particularly hard, and it is likely that we might see bankruptcies in this sector'” [The Loadstar].

Shipping: “The year appears to be ending on a positive note for the air cargo industry as November’s airfreight prices climbed above the corresponding period in 2015 for the first time this year” [Air Cargo News].

Rail: “U.S. rail traffic slipped 0.3 percent to 523,949 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending Dec. 17 compared with the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday” [Progressive Railroading].

The Bezzle: “The [new report from global law firm Hogan Lovells] found that 47% of respondents are failing to carry out desktop due diligence, 44% don’t ask third parties to complete a questionnaire, and the same proportion fail to conduct face to face interviews with third parties.” [Corporate Crime Reporter].

The Bezzle, Internet of Shit (!):

The Bezzle, Internet of Shit (II). Clive writes:

Nest got cold feet when its community forum sometimes didn’t act like the corporate drones we were supposed to be, refused to drink every last drop of their Kool-Aid and had the temerity to heap criticism on buggy software and point out when products shipped with advertised features missing. So they suspended their community pending a “relaunch”. Now they have kicked the relaunch into long grass. Nothing too unusual there, I think though indicative perhaps of a trend that’s accelerating — business has always hated labor, but now they increasingly hate their customers too. Especially if they start to make outrageous, unreasonable demands like “please can we have products that work reliably?”

Here’s the note from Nest:


Silicon Valley public relations bullshit is the best public relations bullshit.

The Bezzle: “What drives decisions by autonomous vehicles in dire situations?” [Phys.org (lyman alpha blob)]. “A UCI professor and colleagues have created an online survey platform called the Moral Machine to learn what people think a self-driving car should prioritize in the event of a fatal accident – and it’s not necessarily the lives of its occupants.” Morality changes. Will public views drive robot car algorithms, or will the results of this study be hard-coded by programmers? I’m guessing the latter.

Globalization: “Yet many executives here say they aren’t worried by Mr. Trump. The economic forces that transformed this once-poor backwater in Guangdong province into a sea of skyscrapers are too massive to be rolled back, their thinking goes. Even if Mr. Trump imposes tariffs on Chinese-made goods, as he has threatened to do, it’s now so efficient to engineer, produce and ship electronics from this region of southern China that it could still outcompete the U.S., they say” [Wall Street Journal, “Bring Back Jobs From China? In Shenzhen, They Aren’t That Worried”]. “”We are very relaxed about all the talk of tariffs, although the noise it creates is not good,” said a senior executive at a global consumer-electronics firm with operations in Shenzhen, who spoke anonymously to avoid entering the debate over Mr. Trump’s proposals.”

Honey for the Bears: “Detroit auto makers are pulling back on first-quarter production in response to a cooling in retail demand and a shift in consumer tastes, a speed bump for an industry that has laid the foundation for U.S. economic expansion in recent years” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Car Makers Idle Plants Amid Oversupply Concerns”]. “All three domestic car companies this week said they have scheduled down time at some of their factories for as much as three weeks in January. Auto makers typically idle assembly plants for a week or two around the holidays—but shutting factories for multiple weeks in January is unusual. The moves are an attempt to help clear inventory of certain models such as sedans and minivans, which have been stacking up on dealer lots at a rapid pace in recent months. Such cars have attracted paltry interest among buyers more interested in sport-utility vehicles.” Cheap gas….

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 74, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 22 at 11:59am. Still shrinking….

Our Famously Free Press

“Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas” [The Onion].

Dear Old Blighty

Hello, Mrs. Premise!


“G.O.P. Plans to Replace Health Care Law With ‘Universal Access'” [New York Times]. Whatever that means. Of course, single payer is the way to do that. Oddly, or not, the Times doesn’t include any quotes from single payer advocates.

“Eight percent of respondents said they or someone in their household had [illegally] imported a [prescription] drug at some point, a figure that would translate to about 19 million adults in the U.S. based on current Census population estimates” [NPR]. “8 percent is far higher than in surveys conducted by government interviewers, which suggested the number was about 2 percent in 2011 — though the government survey focused only on purchases in the previous 12 months. The Kaiser poll queried a nationally representative sample of 1,202 adults.”

Amanda Mazumder, a 27-year-old graphic designer in St. Paul, Minn., was stressed out by the murky legality of the situation when she tried buying birth control pills while in college five years ago. “That was the most difficult part, trying to be an honest citizen but also getting an affordable prescription,” she said. She couldn’t afford to pay $150 a month for her birth control, but found an online Canadian pharmacy that sold her a three-month supply for $60.

“Trying to be an honest citizen but…” Life under neoliberalism!

“Kaiser Family Foundation research found 11 U.S. states where at least three in 10 adults have a pre-existing condition over which they could have been denied coverage before the Affordable Care Act took effect” [Wall Street Journal, “Preexisting Conditions and Republican Plans to Replace Obamacare”]. West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas: Trump country. Note, however, how carefully this sentence is worded: “30% of U.S. adults younger than 65 have health conditions that would have left them uninsurable in a pre-ACA world.” This does not say that these adults actually purchased insurance and, if they did, whether they actually got care. In other words, Kaiser perpetuates the usual neoliberal conflation of heatlh insurance and health care.

“A consolidated list of all single-payer and Medicare-for-all organizations in the United States. Since health care in the US frequently devolves to the states, many single-payer organizations are working at the state level” [Medium].

“I recently interviewed a dozen people in three small towns near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—a region that went for Trump by wide margins—and found several broad reasons for dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act. Americans have grown too lazy and entitled, some feel, and the Trump administration’s health-care proposals should promote greater personal responsibility. Others are simply confused by the law, what exactly it changed, and where they fit within the new health-care regime. But others liked the idea of universal health insurance and thought the law would help them. When it didn’t, some turned to Trump to tear it all down and start again” [The Atlantic]. “I recently interviewed… ” I like reporting like this. One of the good things — there were good things — about 2016 is that there seems to be more of it.


“Humans and animals set themselves up for sex well before the act will ever take place. At the earliest stages of life, in the embryo, our germ cells begin to develop. These are the cells that will go on to form the sperm and the egg, with half the usual number of chromosomes. In females, eggs are set aside and kept in arrested development until they are needed. After puberty, males produce sperm continuously throughout life, but a specialized germ line is created early on from which sperm are made” [Nature]. “But corals, sponges and plants make no such cellular plans…. Why the difference? According to biochemist Nick Lane of University College London, more complex animals create a devoted germline to preserve the quality of their mitochondria — specialized energy-producing structures in cells that sit outside the nucleus and have their own genes.”

Class Warfare

“Research: Technology Is Only Making Social Skills More Important” [Harvard Business Review]. “The call for social skills, ‘soft’ skills, emotional intelligence, and the like, isn’t something new. Employers are constantly stressing the need for workers who can collaborate and communicate on teams.” I’ve always loathed the “team” ideology because it obscures power relations. My priors tell me that “social skills” are a proxy for credentialing, but I dunno… Readers?

News of the Wired

“Adults who use libraries and visit library websites are often ahead of the crowd when it comes to being learners, engaging with information and embracing technology” [Pew Research]. Libraries often have meeting rooms, so an excellent spot for meet-ups.

“A California startup is betting seniors will ditch canes and walkers for robotic-powered suits that would give them a boost” [Wall Street Journal, “Superflex to Commercialize Powered Suits for Aging Population”]. I hate to be cynical, but I’m picturing your exoskeleton freezing up on you in the midst of a software upgrade — or if you miss a monthly payment.

“The Older You Are, the Better Excuse You Have for Being Late” [New York Magazine]. Damn straight!

* * *

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 (KR):


Looking out at the storm through the window. I know that feeling…

Readers, I’ve gotten many more plant images, but I can always use more; having enough Plantidotes is a great de-stresser. Plants with snow are fine!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, 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.


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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

    The dark side of Trump’s hard-right Israel policy emerges:

    Egyptian officials scrapped a plan to proceed with a United Nations Security Council vote condemning the construction of Israeli settlements, following pushback from Israeli officials and President-elect Trump.

    “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed,” Trump said in a statement. “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.”


    All quite disingenuous: the US backs Israel with $3 billion-plus a year, absolute political protection in the UN, and lavish subsidies from private extremist groups such as ambassador nominee David Friedman’s Beit El. Then it asks the Palestinians to “directly negotiate,” when Israel holds all the cards with the full backing of the world’s largest economy.

    Stealing land from an occupied territory is wrong and illegal. Trump and the 535 KongressKlowns have been paid to turn a blind eye to our American-Israeli version of occupied eastern Europe under the Soviets. Mr Netanyahu, tear down this wall.

    1. Carolinian

      Well it’s no different from what he said in the campaign although there was one point–briefly–when he claimed he would be even handed. Doubtless Clinton would have said the same thing about the veto. It seems that when it comes to certain issues there still is “no alternative.”

      1. Carolinian

        More on Trump and Israel

        But to tell you the truth, Dennis, that’s really where we already are in practice. If you look at the reality of where we are, the Israelis have been building settlements, effectively annexing the West Bank with total impunity. And not just impunity, with the full support of every U.S. administration, and not least the Obama administration, which in September signed off on an unconditional 10 year, $38 billion minimum, guaranteed, military aid package. I mean $38 billion is the minimum. It’s not the total package, because they can still come back for more. That greatly increases the current U.S. aid to Israel.


    2. alex morfesis

      hijacker jim ?? Egyptian political theatre…neither los occupados nor the 250 million surrounding yierosalyma have any interest in peace nor a UN sanctioned and acknowledged country. There is no money in peace…the never faction of gaza and the weightwatchers crew from the west bank would actually have to run a country instead of skimming the charity money that is sent in the name of the poor victims…

      if los occupados seriously wanted an actual country they would have to reject having one, reject controlling the temple and surrounding city and area, and quit claim all rights and remove all objections to any new developments in territories…declare a big, we surrender…

      instead, they would all simply ask 4 a voting card 4 the next election 4 the knesset…

      within 12 hours bobo frikinyahoo would fire up an f-16…would demand refueling over the atlantic, would demand an immediate emergency general assembly, would take to the floor of the UN criticizing the lack of movement towards helping the poor defenseless palestinians and would declare an immediate palestinian state…

      it’s all a really big shoe…

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        There are a lot of confident assertions here. The following might be an accurate summary of the underlying thesis:

        “The Palestinians could unilaterally impose a solution to the decades-long impasse by force of will. All they would have to do is (1) give in to Israel on everything, (2) however, simultaneously insist on a one-state solution. At that point, Netanyahu would be so horrified that he would immediately push through a two-state solution.”

        1. alex morfesis

          Outis…that is a correct summary…no question Netanyahu would cry it was a trick…so it would require a full surrender…all weapons…confessions of any acts or crimes, known and unknown…

          a complete take away…

          maybe not in the first 12 hours…but 12 hours after Netanyahu realized it was a real submittal and surrender, he would be on that f-16 on his way to the UN…he would have no choice…

          a continued current status quo one state solution is something he acts as if he wants, but knows it would be demographic suicide if los occupados wake up and ask for a voting card…

          But…peace is not profitable…the charity skims would have to stop…

          so all sides will keep spinning the plates on the sticks…

          And the children wonder if it will ever be safe to go out and play

          1. John Merryman

            There is another way. Examine the basic premise of monotheism. A spiritual absolute would be that raw essence of sentience from which consciousness rises, not an ideal of knowledge and wisdom from which humanity fell. The new born babe, not the wise old man. Now that would throw a stone through their window, on both sides.

          2. Massinissa

            Heres the main problem with the plan:

            Palestinians are not a monolith. In fact, the majority of them have nothing to do with resistance to the Israelis. And theres not really a way for them to stop the violence committed by a small minority.

            And quite frankly, even if there was no violence against the Israelis at all, Netanyahu could (and would) probably manufacture it.

            1. alex morfesis

              Why should we germans continue to suffer for the 12 year dictatorship we couldn’t(wouldnt) stop…is that the excuse of los occupados too ???

              that a small percentage of los occupados are causing the “troubles” should make it easier to do a complete take away/surrender…

              and like my feeble human host keeps repeating…nuttiyahoo and his opposites will keep playing the kayfabe except with real things that go booms and brings pink mist…

              The only road to peace is total submission, forcing the other side to show their true colors…I would suggest going as far as taking down all palestinian flags and replace them with israeli flags…all in…call the one nation solution bluff…

              but too many blue pills…

              Crazy tired old men…the incontinent, impotent and incompetent making life impossible for the children…

    3. polecat

      and just how many CONgress folk of import are of dual-citizenry, and Zionist sympathizers ?? .. not Jewish, but Zionist ?

    4. lambert strether

      My picture of a President’s first day includes:

      1) A visit from a quiet grey man from the intelligence community bearing a severed head in a box;

      2) A message from Bibi or equivalent explaining where Israel’s nukes are really aimed.

  2. HotFlash

    “The call for social skills, ‘soft’ skills, emotional intelligence, and the like, isn’t something new. Employers are constantly stressing the need for workers who can collaborate and communicate on teams.”

    In the old days we called this “smart enough to do the job, dumb enough to take the pay”. Perhaps there is a market opportunity here? “Biddability is important to your career! Here at Yessir U we can teach you how to be a highly employable doormat!”

    1. jrs

      I have certainly NEVER read social skills as proxy for credentialing. No way. The shyest nerdiest person may in fact do very well and go far school. I’ve read it as code for EXTROVERSION though. Introverts need not apply :(.

      American culture values extroversion strongly though, the ideal American type is an extrovert among other things, this is not Scandinavia in terms of valuing introverts (or anything else obviously).

      1. jsn

        I see “social skills” in this usage as a patch for “credentialing” that hasn’t recognized the underlying bug: the credentialed believe being so entitles them to tell everyone else what to do while neither understanding everyone else, nor how to communicate, nor the task to be done.

        “Social skill” is the ability to actually get meaningful stuff done in spite of the “credentialed” without causing them to recognize they are the problem and retaliate against you. Infighting, sabotage, misdirection, appropriation and politicking are after all how one gets credentialed.

        When I wholly owned my own business I only discounted the negative value of “credentials” against demonstrated experience or personal references from people I knew who actually did real stuff.

      2. FriarTuck

        I’ve hired both extroverts and introverts.

        Introverts typically have a harder time selling themselves, especially during the first phone interview. My thinking is that it is largely because they haven’t had a lot of practice and feel very uncomfortable in such situations.

        As an introvert myself, being on the hiring side of the equation has certainly altered my worldview slightly. While I’d agree with you that American culture typically emphasizes the value of extroverts, a lot of the hiring process is dependent on the social cues going back and forth in the interview. If you’re not getting information via social interaction from someone, it’s hard to gauge if they’re a good hire.

        Credentialing only goes so far. I’ve run into people who have credentials out the yingyang and couldn’t perform the tasks for which we were hiring.

        That said, the easiest way to knock out the BSers is to give them a practical skill assessment. I’ve found this typically makes the people with skills shine on through even if they’re a bit more introverted. This also has the side effect of giving less-credentialed people shine through if they’ve gained skills on-the-job.

        Ethics note: An effective practical skill assessment for a job should be a number of smallish tasks that is usual fare for the job they’re going to be asked to do, simulated or in a work/workstation environment. Also, the tasks should not be something that will NOT be used as part of production. You’re not using this for slave labor.

      3. neo-realist

        A heck of a lot of successful IT introverts in the Seattle area. And in general, culturally, reserve from a potential employee around here is highly valued as one who can fit into the dynamics of the office.

        Then again, in this part of the country, you’ve got a Scandinavian foundation for the critical mass and the power structure.

        1. Katharine

          I think which is “better” depends on the nature of the job. For a front-desk person who’s also supposed to be productive, you do better with an extrovert, who’s less apt to stress out with distractions. For a job requiring a lot of sustained thought, especially in an environment where others are also supposed to be thinking, an introvert may do better. It helps if both boss and worker understand what they need.

    2. Paid Minion

      “Social Skills” = The ability to sell the company’s line of BS and look like you are telling the truth.

      Management seems to be filled with people who can shovel out truckloads of BS, and maintain a sincere facade.

      I remember a Q&A session at a conference, where the VP of our division was asked a straight question by an irate customer. His reply consisted was a 10 minute monologue, in which he said exactly nothing.

      Sometimes you sit back and ask “Is this guy a bald-faced liar? Or is he totally out of touch, and does he really believe this BS?

      Many a high-paid career has been built on that dilemma.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Where I used to work employees were either billable of unemployed. To be billable we were encouraged to be fungible. And the social “soft” skills, emotional intelligence and able to work on a team was all code for must not question the management and always agree to the ease of accomplishing the impossible ahead of any reasonable expectation.

    4. cocomaan

      I’m going to go against the general pessimism about organizations desiring “good communicators” and say that nobody, from corporate to government to startup to unemployed, wants to work with a trogdolyte. I used to work in the welfare system, now I work in higher ed, and I have seen everything from McDonalds to think tankers to faculty positions ask for that kind of soft skill.

      jrs is right, this definitely doesn’t mean credentialing (that’s “qualifications” or “training” in my experience). It does mean that you have to be able to speak to others, not take things too seriously, and try and make things work no matter how many idiots are in your organization.

      Maybe that’s bowing down to the Man, but it’s also just being a person who operates well in a society that isn’t at all efficient or sensical. If I’m at the DMV, I want someone who isn’t a lump.

      1. Tircuit

        Sure, we all want pleasant coworkers.

        But capitalism and inequality creates “lumps”. Many of us don’t control whether we have an enjoyable and meaningful job, let alone if it pays well. It isn’t just simply inefficient and nonsensical labor system . . . it’s a deadly serious one that overdetermines the quality of our lives.

        (And I’m a Stanford grad with Rock Star Social Skilz! I have it relatively easy and even I can’t stand the faux-peppy Taylorism of the modern workplace. “Be better every day! Write a thank you note every week!”. Yuck

        1. Vatch

          But capitalism and inequality creates “lumps”.

          Other “isms” create lumps, too. In any hierarchical system, whether communistic, capitalistic, bureaucratic, or theocratic, the leaders will insist on conformity.

          1. Tircuit

            I’m not convinced that this is true.

            But at any rate it sounds like you agree that capitalism creates disgruntled workers.

            Right on comrade! ; )

    5. Tircuit

      At the firm I’m at soft skills means always being “on” and pleasant and “team orientented” except towards your manager (who does little work), who is to be obeyed in all things and can be as cruel and as intrusive as they want.

      One example: I was out sick and my manager required that I not only provide a doctor’s note (rare in white collar jobs such as mine), but have the Dr specify the illness. Probably illegal, but protesting is not a “soft skill” and I can’t afford to lose a job.

      Capitalism is immoral. Going to work is getting “owned” 40 hours a week.

      1. Katharine

        Outrageous. Doc should have written a stiff professional note confirming you were sick and telling your manager where to get off. Then it wouldn’t have been you protesting but a professional holding his/her turf against an impertinent intruder–probably a little fun for both of you.

      2. Optimader

        You cant be sick and not see a doctor??
        Who goes to see doctor when they have the flu?
        Frankly, other than socially I havent “seen a Doctor” probably in 10 years? And that was for a MERSA infection.

        It would never occur to me to ho to the Dr when I sm just “sick”.
        In lieu of a doctors note (a waste of professional time), I would bring in a one quart Ball jar w/evidence sample to the HR dept

  3. marym

    “Universal access”

    Conyers should rename the bill: “HR 676 – Universal Access to Healthcare: Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”

  4. Portia

    yeah, vote for us, but for God’s sake, don’t feel empowered by it

    a fear about empowering the so-called Bernie wing of the party

    Dear Lord indeed

    1. Waldenpond

      What is this Bernie wing? Ellison is linking/whining that if you think Clinton is corrupt, you’ve bought into RW smears…. today.

      ‘If You’re Liberal, You Think Clinton Is Corrupt, You’re Rewarding 25 Years of GOP Smears’

      1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

        It’s not about Bernie, and it is about Bernie.

        I think it’s still through Bernie, though I am not sure we agree if he made mistakes, and which mistakes, during the campaign. Was it a perfect campaign, but the opposition too underhanded?

      2. lambert strether

        Politics ain’t beanbag. If all Ellison is, is a symbolic proxy for a victory by the Sanders faction over the Clintonites and sticking a thumb in the eye of big donor Saban, I’m content.

  5. Steve H.

    FHFA House Price Index: “… and remains much higher than income growth.”

    That’s supposed to be a good thing?

  6. polecat

    Re. robotic-powered suits …

    Oh Great ! …geriatric Iron geezers ….

    I can imagine all sorts of ‘interesting’ .. uh .. ‘down-time for non/late payment’ scenarios …. especially when it comes to ‘older’ folk ….. or CONgress members ….. or the Supremes ….
    Wow ! .. Just cogitate on that for a moment … ‘;[

  7. alex morfesis

    all cash buyers (dr houzbub)…the zillow data has no real methodology attached to it, and from its own website, it appears a certain cody fuller in portland is the provider…his lnkdn profile says he is a data analyst “intern”…the purported brief from their stat page just brings you to some conclusions…the x-sell data is raw with no information as to input sources…

    perhaps an honest assessment is that people are using cash to close and then right behind it getting their loans placed in the property…

    buying without a loan contingency does not create a zero mortgage property…perhaps what has happened is the world of pre-approved loans and lines of credit are in place…

    also, when one refinances after a cash closing, especially if one has a crew that comes in and does some material but fairly inexpensive reworking of the aesthetics of the property(proper color scheme, proper landscaping, replace aged door and cabinet hardware, change old light fixtures, change entrance door and lighting, quadrant off specific areas in the rear yard for personal use nooks), one can crank a new loan and recoup all cash plus the costs of adjustments to appearance and use of the home…(paging dr.bill black…stat)

    mr. fuller’s only job after getting his masters is working at zillow…not to suggest he might not be a genius…but…

    1. lambert strether

      Thanks very much for this, especially:

      > people are using cash to close and then right behind it getting their loans placed in the property

      Any proxies to validate this scenario?

      1. alex morfesis

        A little late in responding…just scuttlebuttt, at least down hear and new jersey…if there were a source of these purported cash closing…a list of fifty, I would not have a problem tasking to see what happened soon thereafter…but…dont have any direct info and the title people I know, it would be a bit of a stretch for me to ask them to cross a line and hand me a list…but would be happy to be proven wrong, just the source of the data…some youngin fresh out of college…first gig…sounds like he is talking his book…no actual data other than conclusions…no zip code nor census tract breakdown…just seems like an empty proclamation…

  8. Altandmain

    If Trump actually does at least try to restore manufacturing and put some serious effort into it, he will have been a better president than Clinton ever could have been.

    That’s sad because Trump is going to betray his base on pretty much everything else and has appointed a bunch of oligarchs into his cabinet. You can tell that in a lot of areas, a sell out is inevitable.

    Oh and in regards to the disagreement between the left and Old Guard in Michigan (referenced above in the Water Cooler), the old guard needs to step aside. Their “chosen one”, Clinton was defeated decisively in a state they should have decisively won. That’s on them.

    They decided who their delegates were BEFORE the actual event behind closed doors. In other words, like the 2016 Democratic convention where they had already selected Clinton, they had already coronated their delegates. In other words, they have learned nothing from the defeat of Clinton by Trump.

    Only question is, should the left focus on trying to reform the Democrats or start a new party (or join the Green party)?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is that betrayal, or is Trump’s argument (perhaps wrong) that he and his oligarchs (specifically those to do with economics, budgeting, commerce, borrowing, etc) know how to restore manufacturing?

      Maybe his argument is not correct, but the acts of some of those oligarch appointments does not by themselves imply betrayal…(yet).

      1. Bunk McNulty

        With Trump, Personnel = Policy. I think I read that here first. The big innovation is giving the jobs not to the puppets, but to the puppeteers. I wonder how many of them will make it through the financial disclosure stage. I wonder which member of the House of Representatives will be first to suggest that this financial disclosure stuff is just a formality from the olden days, we can find all we need to know reading Forbes, the free market provides, eh?

    2. fresno dan


      There seems to be a great effort to convince people that the displacement due to the trade deficit over the last fifteen years didn’t really happen. The NYT contributed to this effort with a piece telling readers that over the long-run job loss has been primarily due to automation not trade.

      While the impact of automation over a long enough period of time certainly swamps the impact of trade, over the last 20 years there is little doubt that the impact of the exploding trade deficit has had more of an impact on employment. To make this one as simple as possible, we currently have a trade deficit of roughly $460 billion (@ 2.6 percent of GDP). Suppose we had balanced trade instead, making up this gap with increased manufacturing output.

      Does the NYT want to tell us that we could increase our output of manufactured goods by $460 billion, or just under 30 percent, without employing more workers in manufacturing? That would be pretty impressive. We currently employ more than 12 million workers in manufacturing, if moving to balanced trade increase employment by just 15 percent we would be talking about 1.8 million jobs. That is not trivial.

      There is an absolute dogma in the media that trade didn’t cause much unemployment, robots will cause some more, and there’s nothing we can do about it….except education (which hasn’t worked in 40 years but is STILL touted as the solution….)
      Its like we’re in the middle ages – God wants you to be a peasant, you can’t change that, so stop your b*tchin’

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They don’t talk about what has been causing unemployment at all…only about keeping wage inflation low.

        When you bring up trade causing it, THEN, they suddenly and immediately remember to explain it with automation.

        When you are not bringing the deplorable subject up, their attitude is, ‘Science good. Technology good. Robots = progress.’ (In the future, all houses are minimalist and painted white inside, and every in the family enjoys listening to some soft muzak music. I also think in the future, they ban antique furniture, for I have never seen one in any sci-fi movies set in the future.)

        1. polecat

          jeeze !
          .. before you know it, the robots will surpass the humans ….

          “WE ARE THE ROBOTS ! … DUM . DUM-DUM . DUM-DUM . DUM”…
          “YOU ARE the humans —————————————————

    3. Big Fish

      I live in Michigan, way up north, and my experience is that at the local level, the Dem Party is mostly an empty shell. I believe about 20 to 30 people could completely take over most county levels of the party by simply running for precinct committeeman and then seize the county level by just showing up.
      The main problem is that most Americans believe “political activity” is only about voting on election day. And the so called leaders of the Left groups are pretty much hopeless, just look at the efforts to change the Electoral College vote, really by writing letters to electors?? Why bother with a new party when a perfectly good shell in legal standing for every election sits idly awaiting good folks to run the machinery?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

        The simplest and the cheapest way is for all Democrats to sneak across party border into the Republican Nation.

        Is it illegal migration? Don’t think so.

        With numerical superiority, you take over that party.

        It’s yours.

      2. Oregoncharles

        In my experience, in a very blue state and county, most Democrats are very liberal/progressive. Despite that, neither the state party, nor the national one, are. You might also consider that Bernie really did lose the primaries with around 47%. the flood of new registrants probably about balanced out the rigging.

        What I don’t know, and can’t as an outsider, is just what the firewall between the rank and file and the leadership is. I assume it consists essentially of money, but I don’t know how it works. Someone who works in the party might know – that would be useful information.

        As before, this question invokes, first, history: progressive shave been talking about “taking over” the Dem party for at least 30 years. So far, the results have been entirely, disastrously negative.

        Second: the last year has documented, in great detail, just how dysfunctional the Democratic Party is. Do you really want it – even with automatic ballot access? Be careful what you wish for.

    4. lambert strether

      > the old guard needs to step aside

      But they won’t. So they need to be shoved. How? By whom? Would be nice to see Our Revolution helping with that… Or Brand New Congress….

      Adding, I didn’t say, since I was unsure how to phrase, but it would be very unfortunate if the split between labor and reformists (let’s say) that happened in the 60s happened again today, since labor means both membership and capacity. What I did notice, however, was that all the union people in the “old guard” were state-level muckety-mucks, and I wonder whether they represent the membership in the locals, or themselves. At the national level, certainly the latter.

  9. hemeantwell

    The courts are the only possibility for checking Donald Trump. With Republicans in control of Congress, we can’t expect to see Congress checking the President.’” “The only possibility…”? Really?

    Agreed. Leaving it up to the courts is a judicial/technocratic suppression of the political that proceeds in tandem with Fed + markets suppression of economic issues. Meanwhile, as political parties accordingly hollow out, we get the whining response to an inevitable “revolt of the masses” which is to be remedied by even more suppression.

    1. lambert strether

      > judicial/technocratic suppression

      Courts = highly credentialed authorities. So liberals love them.

  10. Mark Gisleson

    Social skills are only in demand if the manager in charge wants them. Half the time managers are challenged by subordinates who can talk in complete sentences.

    1. Portia

      in my experience, “social skills” are knowing when and whose ass to kiss, and how to massage delicate and insecure egos.

  11. Paid Minion

    “Middle Class”

    My 1040 says I’m “Middle Class”

    Everything else tells me I’m “working poor”.

    The sooner people in the middle class (small “m’ and “c”) figure this out, the better off they will be. For starters, the stress levels induced by cognitive dissonance will be reduced significantly.

    Getting the Caucasian, college educated, dual income, cash-out refi residents of Suburbia to buy into this defacto reality is a tough sell. Admitting that you are a Romney 47%er makes you a “loser”.

  12. Tim

    “Research: Technology Is Only Making Social Skills More Important” [Harvard Business Review]. “The call for social skills, ‘soft’ skills, emotional intelligence, and the like, isn’t something new. Employers are constantly stressing the need for workers who can collaborate and communicate on teams.” I’ve always loathed the “team” ideology because it obscures power relations. My priors tell me that “social skills” are a proxy for credentialing, but I dunno… Readers?”

    It is somewhat of a real trend in my engineering corporation. An analogy, is if you can have a quarterback that is an elite passer but not very mobile, vs an elite passer that can be a running threat too, which one would you take?

    As the talent pool has increased over the past decade due to limited “good jobs”, company’s have the luxury of asking for both old school skills (Credentials and engineering mindset), with new school skills (socially adept) too as an area of emphasis, and they term it as having “our corporate DNA”.

    Also it is 50% of the yearly evaluation weighting…

  13. Steve C

    Ryan Cooper in the week nails how Obama and the Democrats blew it in 2009, resulting in this year’s Trumpening. Joblessness and foreclosures. That’s what did it. They had two years to turn it around but they followed their neoliberal instincts and blew it all.

    1. lambert strether

      One of the nicer things about getting older is you can acquire the long view through personal experience. (Books work too, but who reads these days?)

      The Obama clusterfuck fo squandered opporunity in 2008-2009 took eight years to play out…. The rot was masked at the Presidential level by Obama, but when the Dems blew it in 2010 — remember that Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts correlated to counties with worsening housing prices, hence the foreclosure crisis — they blew redistricting, and when they blew that, the Republicans (very naturally) locked down a lot of “Red States.” So “the Republicans are so mean!!!!” narrative really falls apart when you realize the Democrats painted the “Kick me” sign on their back all by themselves…

      1. Steve C

        The Democrats saved the banks instead of homeowners. Indeed, they saved the banks by throwing homeowners under the bus. Thanks, Obama and little Timmy Geithner!

  14. Bugs Bunny

    Re Harvard Business Review “Social Skills” – code for “went to our schools” and “doesn’t talk about money”. IMHO

  15. Uahsenaa

    And if you spend more than a week in Japan or any time outside of a major city, you’ll discover that everything, including river channels, has been covered in concrete, since construction in Japan is the epitome of corruption and “make work” policies. You’ll also discover that things are wrapped in far too much plastic packaging (individually wrapped garlic cloves were my favorite idiocy). There are plenty of ways in which full employment in Japan results in ecological destruction.

    Also worth noting that Japan has universal health insurance as well as a real social safety net.

          1. integer

            No, but they do put the wrapped wrapping paper in a plastic carry bag.

            (Tbh I’ve never been to Japan so wouldn’t know, but I do know that one can go to (almost) any supermarket in Australia and buy a pack of plastic garbage bags and they will put those plastic garbage bags, which are already packaged in plastic btw, in a plastic carry bag for you. Insanity.)

    1. John k

      Let’s also discuss their fishing whaling. Granted, it would be useful to employ the 16,000,000 not counted unemployed to work on infra over the next decade or so.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Will public views drive robot car algorithms, or will the results of this study be hard-coded by programmers? I’m guessing the latter.”

    If you actually click on the Moral Machine link in the article and take the test, when you’re done they will ask if you want to participate in some follow up questions, one of which was to rate how strongly you felt that the results of the survey would be used in the actual ethics programming which I found more than a little creepy. Not sure why they can’t just tell you up front whether they would be or not. If they were I might have been a little less flippant with some of my responses.

    No need to hurry across the street now Mr. Whiskers cause grandma’s going to get it instead!

    1. lambert strether

      It doesn’t matter if Moral Machines does more polling if the results aren’t integrated into the robot car software. I’m guessing that won’t happen, for a couple of reasons (techies feel free to correct me): (1) economically, writing code instead of designing it to be data-driven is job security for programmers; (2) culturally, programmers think of a program as their program, and so having an outside process they do not control drive “their” program is anethema to them.

      Much more likely a Moral Black Box is created. “Look! We based it on surveys!” Then don’t track whatever the black box does, and voila.

      1. flora

        “Moral” Machines implies agency on the part of the machines, instead of agency on the part of programming teams. So…. do programming teams have group moral agency? And/Or are they foisting digital pollution on to the public in much the same manner that manufacturers used to foist pollution on to the public by dumping manufacturing waste into rivers and the air?

  17. John S

    …the reported difference between Japan’s roads and sidewalks and the USA’s reminds me that in the early 1980’s, all large, delicate computer and telecommjnication equipment was flown within Japan because their roads were so bad that the machine would be knocked apart during transit…..

    I was in the electronic transport biz in San Jose and convinced a local Japanese Branch Office to ship their equipment via truck from San Jose to Los Angeles….the locals agreed, but their superiors in Japan said, “No!” because they feared the damage of a 300 mile trip…..

    the two local managers drove from San Jose to Los Angeles and filmed the entire trip, sent the film to Japan and, only then, did they start shipping via surface in the USA…..

    and, to thin that last week, Cal Trans said that if the CA Legislature doesn’t start filling in potholes on main roads, the roadways will have to be COMLETELY REBUILT due to years of deferred maintenance….

    Of course, it may not matter for electronics and telecommunication equipment today….what filled my truck now fits into my knapsack !!

  18. Carolinian

    Somewhat interesting.


    Welsh says that no matter what sweetheart deals Trump offers to the fat cats like Carrier he means to humble them, make them kiss the ring.

    When Trump convinced Carrier to keep some, not all, jobs, in America, he did so largely through bribes.

    What will be interesting, however, is to see how much he makes people bow.[…]

    We all, I presume, remember the picture of Romney meeting Trump, begging for the Secretary of State job (which he didn’t get). I suspect Trump really did want to give the job to Romney, simply so he could force Romney to bow on a regular basis, but Trump’s loyalists hated Romney too much.

    He also makes much of the Bannon behind the throne angle

    Bannon despises America’s oligarchs and wants to see them humbled.

    As Cersei Lannister says, “power is power.” Is this what our current elites are so upset about?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I never thought Trump wanted to give Romney the job – he just wanted to see him grovel and then kick him to the curb. Romney’s such an obsequious sap that he fell for it.

      1. alex morfesis

        Or…maybe we were all tricked by the repubz who put on a big show to sell the American public on the idea that mister gold leaf golf course was really an “outsider”…

        Just a thought…considering el donaldo has now suggested he never even liked the “drain the swamp” thingee and it was just some slogan he heard at his rallies…

        1. Carolinian

          Trump won because people didn’t want Hillary to be president. Trickery wasn’t needed.

          And honestly, given the response to her loss, it’s hard not to feel grateful that these people won’t be taking power. Trump is the devil we know–a garden variety businessman/hustler cooking up the old Reagan voodoo economics. Hillary and her cadre of neocons are in a whole other dimension of cloud cuckoo land. Such a statement may have seemed an exaggeration before the election. Now?…

          Whatever Trump is he’s not a fanatic. Better to have an opportunist than a loon.

          1. Propertius

            And honestly, given the response to her loss, it’s hard not to feel grateful that these people won’t be taking power.

            I actually voted for Clinton (after much soul-searching). The conduct of the Democrats after the election has appalled me. Trump may be a lout, but I think the various Clinton surrogates (Krugman, Brazile, etc.) have absolutely lost their minds.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I think it was the shock. They really thought they had it in the bag.

              I was with Democrats that night, for local reasons. The shock was very visible – and audible, even though locally, they’d done quite well.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Trump is Al Czervik – crude and hangs with a different crowd but still allowed into the club. And a lot more fun than Judge Smails

  19. JohnnyGL


    Sarah Silverman interviews Bernie Sanders.

    My favorite part was where Bernie disagreed with Silverman (who showed a very east coast elite mentality on display) about people being stupid or conned by Trump. He had a great line where he says, roughly, “When I was on the campaign trail I would go into these rural communities that are in a state of collapse and it seems crazy to tell them that the Democrats care about them after what has happened in recent years.” Nice reality check.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Yeah, you could see some of that convention-era condescension from Silverman when she rambled.

        I disagree with the opposition to rowdiness. It’s good to see some discord. If everyone agrees, that’s a problem. Shouldn’t the winning candidate show some ability to bridge a divided crowd?

        But, as we know the convention was supposed to be a coronation, no rabble-rousing aloud! To me it shows a lot of insecurity about your candidate to squelch any and all criticism. I suppose the insecurity was well-founded!

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            FYI on the comment you said recently vanished, I found it and will try to study why it disappeared. Thanks for letting us know.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

      But not caring enough to break a promise to some Democrats with low-information supporters.

      Could he have hit harder? Who can say?

      Could he have been a contender in Nov.? I think so.

      Instead, the guy who ‘updates’ his promises along the way is in a position to do what he believes in (others not necessarily believe in).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

          Had he won more the majority of the pledged delegates, he would have had a chance to swing their elector super-delegates. And the outcome? Who knows, but you go down fighting, instead of pulling punches.

          1. JohnnyGL

            He wasn’t going to be allowed to win the pledged delegate count, either. That’s what voter reg. purges and closed primaries are for!

            1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

              I don’t know if we can show it one way or the other. The final tally was close enough that we have to believe that whatever they did, it was possible to overcome.

              Trump did not say, just because the media was on Hillary’s side, and that was all that there was to it.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I don’t think Sanders running as a Green or Indep. wins in November. He probably gets 10% and attracts ALL of the ammo that can be loaded into those blame cannons!

        Hit harder during the primaries? Yeah, he could have, but that’s not what Bernie’s about. He’s just not a hater and it might have undermined his appeal as the classy, honest candidate with a positive message.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

          I think many would have been happy he gets in there to do positive things, and lets that be his positive message.

          People tend to forget the journey when they get there, especially if that means surviving to make it to the destination.

          If you get yourself a little dirty along the way, but you end up at the table making their deplorable lives better, which you witnessed yourself, people appreciate your effort even more.

  20. Carla

    Clive says: “business has always hated labor, but now they increasingly hate their customers too.” I’m wondering if the airline industry originated this.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When they can sell to rational, logical robot consumers, why waste time dealing with unruly, irrational human customers?

  21. allen

    No such thing as team in a trad corporate environment. Maybe in an employee owned business.

    they use that word allot where i work. All it means is one of the higherups takes a dump on the ones not so high up and says “team do this or your fired”

    team my ass

  22. Waldenpond

    The shift to universal ‘access to some type of coverage’ (insurance) will take four years…. so that will get them through 2018 and 2020 before the peasants will be allowed to disagree that allowing ‘competition’ of insurers to compete across state lines did not magicly make extortionist insurance premiums sparkly fun time.

  23. Timmy

    Social Skills….

    The global bank where I worked for more than a decade had a commonly used euphemism for those that lacked the “team gene” and were thus undesirable and paid down in annual reviews, even if they had business accomplishments. It could be pulled out casually to blackball an employee in compensation or promotion discussions. It is creepily neutral….

    Such an employee was known as an “Individual Contributor”. An employee that heard it might never ever know it was a bad thing.

    1. ekstase

      This is hilarious. How frightened of reality would you have to be to come up with, “Individual Contribitor,” as an insult?

      I think there are two different measures of “social skills.” One requires humility, and it involves valuing each person for what good they bring to the table. The other involves heirarchy, and it measures “success” and “worthiness” by what the person(s) who’ve usurped authority can then squeeze out of others, who are often kinder and more useful to the society than their überlords. Which world are we in now?

      1. hunkerdown

        Neoliberals don’t believe in life outside the market. Therefore, it is unsurprising that their definition of “social skills” overlaps remarkably with most people’s definition of the pejorative “office politics”.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    Trump’s trade office will work with others “synergistically” – well then, you know it’s going to be so great. Bigly great. Maybe they’ll leverage something too while they’re at it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeIBeef

      A source close to the transition told Morning Trade it will usurp responsibilities from both the National Security Council and National Economic Council to create a new branch that will have “broad and expansive policy oversight” over trade matters.”

      That’s putting trade front and center.

  25. ewmayer

    o “Why Democrats should just treat the middle class like the extremely poor” [The Week] — Because that would be consistent with Dems’ decades-long elite-looting program whose aim is to turn the former into the latter?

    o “I’m picturing your exoskeleton freezing up on you in the midst of a software upgrade” — or in the midst of a crosswalk!

    1. Propertius

      or in the midst of a crosswalk!

      Where one can, of course, be mowed down by an “autonomous” Uber.

    2. uncle tungsten

      I’m picturing your exoskeleton freezing up on you after your morning dump but before you can stand!! Then you are left to meditate on the beauty of silicon valley design.

  26. LT

    Re: The Week…middle class

    People define themselves as middle class in the USA based on aspirations and not assets.
    While it is clear that the middle class in Western culture are the superconsumers, the global elite does not want to be tied to the concerns of populations captive to the tax laws of their respective countries. They’ve already untied capital from localities. By untying themselves from the aspirational middle classes, they free themselves from accountability.
    They call third worlders making $2 an hour middle class and pat themselves on the backs for improving lives. Then just stare blankly when the huge difference in the cost of living is brought up.
    Now the middle classes of west only have been able to live larger due to the looting of foreign lands. But the ones that could really get the third world out of poverty are instead laughing at their own countrymen as well…all the way to the bank.

  27. Brad

    As someone married to a Japanese woman and having spent time there, had to laugh to see this:

    “So is there work to be done in the U.S. that produces tangible, visible value? Of course there is. To realize this, just take a one-week trip to Japan. Where American sidewalks are cracked and uneven, Japanese ones are neat and beautiful. Where tables in American Starbucks are littered with crumbs and dirt, Japanese Starbucks tables get wiped down after every customer leaves. Where American cities like Chicago and Detroit are full of broken windows and crumbling facades, Japanese cities are clean and modern, with well-maintained, reliable public transit” [Bloomberg]. Before we start complaining about make-work, let’s make the U.S. look like that.” No shite Sherlock.

    The funny thing is, few walk on on the USA’s “cracked and uneven” sidewalks outside of Manhattan, while millions trod them in Japan everywhere, every day. Maybe if we were able to walk more here to accomplish daily tasks, we’d care about the condition of sidewalks.

    And the Starbucks are much larger, with more seating, in Japan, because people who can walk more often also tend to socialize more often in cafes and pubs.

    Then the punchline: all made possible “with well-maintained, reliable public transit” that you can WALK to in 10 minutes. With full supermarkets on the ground floor at urban train stations. But who cares about “broken windows and crumbling facades” as you whiz by in your automobile on your way to play bumper cars in a shopping parking lot?

    Trump, of course, moves in the diametrically opposed direction from this. The intent is moar cars, moar SFH suburbs, moar parking lots etc until America chokes to death on it.

  28. cwaltz

    I don’t think social skills are a proxy for credentialing at all. Our wonderful competing capitalists are looking for people who collaborate rather than compete. I personally think credentialing is the pushback of labor and consumers rather than management. It’s the means to ask for and possibly receive more than the minimum. So workers aren’t completely blameless.

    It’s ironic that the upper levels of management want people to collaborate since the whole entire basis of our economic system is competition, with winners and losers. Make more? It must be because you contribute more. Make less? Obvs, you aren’t trying hard enough. However to actually reach goals and create good products and services businesses need the people on the bottom to work cohesively as a team, instead of as individuals. So yeah the preach one thing while practicing the other is quite the conundrum.

  29. ambrit

    “[Middle class] is nauseatingly flaccid as a concept.” Well then, what word or phrase would we be able to come up with that would be stimulatingly tumescent as a concept?

    1. Cry Shop

      Bourgeois? :-)

      Some how “I’ve proudly become a member of the Bourgeois” just doesn’t sound right. Oh, well.

      American exceptionalism makes open membership of anything but the upper class a distasteful, self-deprecating event for many, and the last few decades have really fed that notion. It’s the aim of much of the neo-liberalism/neo-conservatism driving the editorial sweep of mass media/entertainment. Even lower class car thieves must demonstrate their high status in RPG about being the worst thug in order to gain honour.

      I remember men from my father’s generation, before we left the USA who were proud to be Union members, carried it on their sleeve so to say. When I visit, I see it’s not so much now.

      1. ambrit

        Yep, “proud to be union members” was a real identifier once. One of my Grandfathers was involved in the General Strike of 1926. He marched in London and was proud to have fought the police.
        For that, see:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcrQvxteO08
        Didn’t Franklin rRosevelt promote an idea called the “Four Freedoms?”
        Text of the Four Freedoms speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrthefourfreedoms.htm
        He could have been speaking about today. The same problems bedevil Americans.

  30. Oregoncharles

    From “The Week:” “This disaster [the foreclosure crisis] is somewhat harder to explain, because it seems so nuts. Why on Earth would anyone do this? Once again I think the problem is ideology.”

    I don’t. Ideology may be the excuse, but the reason is corruption. I strongly suspect outright bribery; who would investigate? But even without that, mere expectation of rewards later is more than enough “reason”.

    And about investigating: one reason to switch parties in power regularly is so that investigations will happen. Obama thwarted that expectation, because corruption and because they’re fake rivals; Trump has the potential to be a loose cannon, though naming Sessions is not a good sign. Most of his picks so far are not.

  31. Tom Stone

    Here’s a thought for Steve Bannon, offer to contribute $65B toward rebuilding CA Levee’s IF the state of CA repurposes the HSR funds to the same end.
    It pokes Moonbeam in a sensitive spot.
    Hire delta Modeling to come up with the plan, one that emphasizes the importance of the fisheries. It’s a BFD because a levee collapse caused by a big quake on the Hayward/Roger’s Creek Fault could interrupt water flows to SoCal for quite some time. Lotsa Jobs, work done in mostly R Counties and it benefits all odf SoCal. The NEW Teddy Roosevelt!

      1. polecat

        Unless locks are built straddling the Carquinez Straits, the ‘swamp’ called Sacramento will happen anyway ….

        Aquatic Lives Matter !

    1. uncle tungsten

      That sounds like a mighty good proposal: Here’s a good gig for NC to compile a 50 state infrastructure renewal ledger for Bannon et al to contemplate and dangle it in front of their nose as the contributions from readers mount up.

  32. Richard H Caldwell

    “Social Skills” is a weak and whiffy way to refer to an important suite of non-obvious, counter-intuitive, and counter-instinctual learned psycho-perceptual and thinking skills. Start with listening. Add advanced self-awareness, precision in attention and observation, and a thorough understanding of limbic sensations and their effects on decision making, risk evaluation, and avoidance / approach. Layer in an intellectual understanding of the many perceptual biases humans operate under, informed by direct experience and self observation of same. Now add the ability to reliably parse and categorize others by personality types and communication modes and couple to that a practiced understanding of modes and techniques for interacting effectively and constructively with them. Next comes empathy / compassion training. And don’t forget a toolbox of proven mechanisms for managing time, tasks, responsibilities, and projects.

    You’ve just improved the operating efficiency of such a person by a huge amount, all by the accretion of simple, easy to teach skills. Why are we forgoing so much human potential by not making this a formal part of everyone’s education, rather than leaving it to chance?

    Talk about an investment opportunity!

    1. Yves Smith

      *Sigh*. There is a big part of this that really is social, in the sense that people who have upper class affects and manners have learned to handle situations where formal and informal power dynamics are a big issue.

      This is also one of the big reason parents send their kids to private junior high and high schools. One of my friends who could barely afford it was explicit: it wasn’t just the better formal education she was paying for, it was the social grooming. She knew this would help her son a great deal, in that while she was convinced he was smart, she had the objectivity to know he might not prove to be smart enough to get into a top college. But with the social skills he’d acquire, he’d do better in life even if he wound up at a second tier college than if he’d gone to a public high school.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Didn’t do me much good – and I DID get into a top-flight college.

        Some people are just untrainable.

        Plus, I suspect those schools are really mainly for making connections. The rest may be mostly a scam – though the education was pretty intense, so intense that I eventually broke down.

        1. Yves Smith

          I observed a big shift to more conservative conduct at campuses in the Reagan era. In the 1970s, women wore jeans and sweatshirts. In the 1980s, they were wearing makeup and sweater sets. Catching a man was clearly a higher priority than it had been in my era.

          You never heard anyone talking about networking when I was at HBS (1981 grad). My sense is that wasn’t seen as a reason to go to college till maybe the 1990s, but then that seemed to be seen almost pervasively as important. And I never understood that, since about 90% of the self-conscious networkers came off as users you were best to avoid.

          But there were less crass ways of accomplishing that end that have long been pretty conventional, for instance, for lawyers and consultants to do pro bono work or sit on not-for-profit boards to as a way to extend their personal contacts.

          1. Foppe

            Wouldn’t the demographic changes that follow from that huge influx make the crassness at least partly irrelevant (since a substantial subset would still go places, and also need to be able to tap into / rely on networks)? I mean, ‘good’ players would still have an advantage, but enough others would be around who are in similar straits that they might well understand/excuse it.

          2. Cry Shop

            In the early (pre-Reagan?) Bhraman USA, demi-myth of class mobility below the 0.001 % was encourage (Horatio Alger’s) , and the lack of it above that line was a sort of quiet secret. Networking was not talked about because it was inculcated at the wet-nurses teat, and was not something that anyone would even think of hawking to the rest of society. Dale Carnegie was the slim edge of a very long wedge that slowly cracked open that market, along with the birth of the Swiss finishing school industry. The need for mass instruction for higher level networking only came about with the birth of high pay professional services and mass market Wall Street, and the advent of selling ideas and not physical things.

      2. integer

        …people who have upper class affects and manners have learned to handle situations where formal and informal power dynamics are a big issue.

        I would suggest that this could/should be be rephrased as:

        …people who have upper class affects and manners have learned to handle situations where formal and informal power dynamics are a big issue in a way that is not seen as being confrontational and/or threatening to the status quo by those who are positioned further up the economic food chain.

        Perhaps I am missing something here?

        1. Yves Smith

          That is why I believe the term “social skills” fits.

          I can tell you from many years of personal experience that being confrontational when you are lower in the food chain is almost without exception a lousy strategy in interpersonal or group settings. The time it does pay off is in group on group settings, but by implication, the “lesser” party is telling the nominally more powerful group that they’ve misjudged their position and they may not win a fight with the people they are trying to roll.

          For instance, I have had the chance to observe a relentless infighter who has punched way above his weight when regularly taking on status quo (and has made a great deal of real headway in his arena). A big part of his success is that he is remarkably adept in his ability to not affect the manner of being confrontational while being confrontational in the substance of his actions.

          In this culture, among the upper classes, confrontation is a no-no. By contrast, the Brits have a good bit of tolerance for it, since Question Time is brutal and the Oxbridge debate culture emulates that. The Dutch are famously direct to the point of being seen as rude by most Europeans. Australians are also direct but are also very adept in wrapping it in humor to take the edge off.

          The other end of the spectrum, obviously, is the confrontation-averse Japanese.

          The real point is Americans are far less straightforward then they fancy themselves. While the working classes prize honesty, the middle and upper classes treat that as something to be done only in safe quarters, as in with family or with subordinates. And the effort to train college students that micro-aggression is verboten (which in many cases amounts to being required to take responsibility for other people’s neuroses; life is often not nice and most people are well served to develop psychological armor) will drive educated people further in the direction of coded communication.

          1. Portia

            I have found social skills in the workplace more tricky. Brought up with all-male older siblings, I learned how to proceed like a man would, because I was dealing with my brothers as I grew up. This caused confusion and jaw-dropping at work, and I could not really blame people because they are unconscious for the most part of their deep conditioning. I could not go back and learn how to act like a woman in social work circumstances, which amounted to role-playing I never learned. I was never mean, I always respected and listened to my co-workers. What was missing was that it never occurred to me that I was not equal as a human being, and many felt I needed to have my nose rubbed in my “ignorance” like a puppy in pee. And I think having an elite school in your background, as much as learning the codes of conduct, makes the road smoother. You’re more of a known quantity.

    2. Phil

      Seminars all over the country could improve 100-fold by following that precisely formulated, perspicacious agenda for “training in social skills.” It’s really good. I especially like the notice given of personality types and the need to use those simple cues to predict likely responses to different kinds of manipulation. It is a life skill no PhD can ever equal.

      Even many psychologists who understand it don’t have the patience and skills to actually use their knowledge in practice. It probably takes years of professional encounters to begin to implement an understanding of personality typing.

      To me, one of the best popular implementations of social skills training appears in customer service people from Amazon. “I apologize for your inconvenience, I can help you with that.” And even if you are short with them from fatigue, frustration, or impatience, they handle it beautifully, water off their backs; I am usually the one who ends up apologizing. They have actually trained me to be a nicer complaining customer, because they are almost always not only fair but even magnanimous.

      And ironically, the worst model, by far, is the woman (almost always a woman) Cerberus at the doctor’s front office. She sneers when you walk through the door; stares at her screen while you talk; never meets your eye; taps her pen with impatience as you stutter your arcane insurance information, some number that is an impossible hexadecimally encoded alphanumeric string; answers the phone while you wait; spits out the phrase “Date of birth?” like some archetypal Gestapo interrogator; looks at you incredulously when you ask for a copy of your visit notes; and just generally abuses the hell out of you when you are weak, sick, vulnerable, helpless, and (indirectly, and therein is the problem), paying for the privilege of being there.

      1. lambert strether

        > almost always a woman

        Hmm. Perhaps you can explain why the gender of the receptionist is relevant? I think what you’re seeing the results of EHR. And they’re not bugs, they’re features, designed to deny care if possible and make it as profitable as possible given.

          1. Phil

            If you haven’t seen Deadpool, there’s a great scene about this. He just can’t decide whether it is more sexist to hit the woman or not to hit her.

            That movie really nailed health care, too. There is an unequaled sci-fi metaphor for contemporary oncology units in it. Not for the faint of heart, though. In that way, also like contemporary oncology units.

        1. Phil

          It pre-dated EHR. It’s a multifactorial phenomenon. First, there are too many gerbils in the box, with only seven minutes per patient. But there is more to it than that. Most offices know the patient is not going to pay them personally, if at all–it’s a third party payment system, several removes from the actual social contact that triggers it, so there is no direct exchange of funds for services, and therefore no “service ethic.” And, there’s a Stanford-prison-slash-priest-class dynamic: the patient is a prisoner of illness, depending on the good will of the guards or the deity to get access to food, care, and even life, which are allegedly in the doctor’s power to grant.

          It’s a poisonous dynamic, and it poisons the poor souls who end up with the job, whatever their sex may be.

      2. flora

        Maybe with Amazon you didn’t get a real Amazon employee but instead got an Amazon Mechanical* Turk piece work person.

        *mechanical only in the sense that the work is broadcast and picked up by whomever clicks the ‘hit’ button. In a sense, Uber is a Mechanical Turk operation.

      3. Yves Smith

        I knew a therapist who gave that kind of training to therapists; I really wanted to take it but she wouldn’t open it up to laypeople.

        But I gather the core of what she taught was pretty simple: repeat back what the person says faithfully so they feel heard, empathize, empathize, empathize, and then politely stick to your guns. The repeating back is very important, since it makes the empathizing seem less phony.

    3. makedoanmend

      …’actually making me a nicer complainer’…hmm…being “groomed consumer” to accept shoddy goods and services because someone was so niceums about their shoddy goods and services?

      & on another note

      …mannerisms often covering for manners?…but, I suppose if it pays the bills…que sera

      (We have the team player shite inculcated at every possible moment during my studies for a Bsc. It seems a good employer [for school is now the de facto training ground] want cogs ready-made to fit the preconceived machine. When I refuse, and I always do, saying I’m exploring science in order to become more self reliant, I’m either met with sullen silence or outright hostility. But, still, I can refuse to play the game because of being a mature student.)

      Is there something about neo-liberal capitalism that bears witness to: freedom of markets means less freedom for individual?

  33. Darthbobber

    “Why Democrats should just treat the middle class like the extremely poor”
    Another reiteration of an argument that we pinko f-ing retards have been making for decades.
    Harrington actually covered the issue at some length in the New American Poverty (late 80s, I think.) He was talking about the way such a large fraction of the workers dragged down in the undertow that was the collapse of domestic steel and the auto industry found that because they still had some assets (usually equity in a house + a little bit), they couldn’t qualify for most programs until those assets had been fully depleted. And this continued to be the case during the 2007 to date creeping depression.

    The Democrats fascination with means-testing was on display during the primaries, when Clinton tried to spin her “maybe-kinda-sorta-free in some cases for some people in certain cases” college plan as better than the Sanders “FREE COLLEGE” plan because hers wouldn’t let billionaire’s kids benefit from the plan. This played remarkably poorly, as I recall.

    Services that are only for the poor tend to be poor services, and they are also the most politically vulnerable, because the very poor have the least clout of any group when it comes to demanding better. And things that are conceptualized as public goods should be for the public, not the “deserving”(whatever that means) poor.

    Obviously, if you didn’t need to crash all the way through the pavement first before the alleged safety net would kind of catch you, there would be broader support for such programs.

  34. amouise

    The Democrat Party may be dead, but it’s still walking. And you know how to kill a zombie…

    The Republican Party was a zombie in 2009 and look how they rebounded.

    Zombies can’t really be killed. Their masters’ just keep raising them from the dead.

    It’s just a game until…

  35. gepay

    I am one of those people who bought drugs from Canada. I saved 3000$ dollars a year by buying my wife’s two respiratory drugs (stage 4 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – even with shipping. I could have saved more but I my wife only felt secure with drugs made by the same manufacturers as those we were buying in the US. I too was leery about the quality control of generic drugs made in India or Turkey. Some drugs made by different manufactures that do basically the same thing often produce side effects (that another manufacturer’s didn’t) as every person is different. Canada drugs was a reputable Canadian pharmacy that made money on the drugs The drug companies still made money at that price. All because Medicare can’t bargain for drug prices like most every other developed country does. Why didn’t Obama with control of the both houses fix this? NC readers know

  36. gepay

    I am one of those people who bought drugs from Canada. I saved 3000$ dollars a year by buying my wife’s two respiratory drugs (stage 4 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – even with shipping. I could have saved more but I my wife only felt secure with drugs made by the same manufacturers as those we were buying in the US. I too was leery about the quality control of generic drugs made in India or Turkey. Some drugs made by different manufactures that do basically the same thing often produce side effects (that another manufacturer’s didn’t) as every person is different. Canada drugs was a reputable Canadian pharmacy that made money on the drugs The drug companies still made money at that price. All because Medicare can’t bargain for drug prices like most every other developed country does. Why didn’t Obama with control of the both houses fix this? NC readers know

  37. Victoria

    RE: Social skills. It’s basically bull, and here’s why. When I worked in a large corporation I was able to create a small team of people with very different personalities and non-competing skill sets, and spend most of my management time insulating them from the power structure so that they could, you know, do their jobs well without political interference. Some of them were better than others at working with other people, and if they wanted teamwork (communicating and collaborating, productive group meetings, that kind of thing) then that’s how they organized their work. Others who much preferred to close their doors, work away for weeks on end and then let me know when they were ready for me to look at their work, were also quite “productive” in the sense that they did good work that made them and our internal “customers” happy. What I liked about this approach is that it enabled people with very different personalities to work in a low-stress way. I.e., hire the talent and set it free.

  38. ian

    “Hello Mrs.Premise”

    You are referring to the Monty Python skit “Mrs Premise and Mrs Conclusion visit Jean-Paul Sartre?

    That is one of my all time favorites – thanks for jogging my memory.

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