2:00PM Water Cooler 12/28/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Trump Transition

“Just watched Steve Moore, chief Trump transition team economic advisor, on Fox, talking about ‘trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see’ etc. and the need for fiscal responsibility, as he then tied it into supporting the new cabinet as people who knew how to cut waste and fraud and able to run things on paygo, etc. And last week he was talking about how the $trillion of infrastructure spending would be large private infrastructure like pipelines and refineries, etc. to be encouraged by govt. policy, rather than govt. spending per se” [Mosler Economics]. “Yes, private sector deficit spending for said capex ‘counts’ just as much as govt. deficit spending, but this kind of effort to create incentives won’t happen overnight, and won’t kick in overnight, and in any case $1 trillion over 10 years is only $100 billion per year or about .5% of GDP per year. Also, their spending cuts ‘to pay for it all’ will be a force in the other direction. And their proposed tax cuts have far lower multiples than their proposed spending cuts.”

“Trump’s Transition Team Is Stacked With Privatization Enthusiasts” [David Dayen, The Nation]. ” In the Public Interest, a research organization monitoring privatization, has compiled a list of 32 different members of the Trump transition team or formal nominees for top agencies who have either close ties to privatization groups, or demonstrated support for the philosophy. If these officials get their way—and there’s no reason to think they won’t—America’s schools, roads, air traffic control systems, corrections facilities, immigrant detention centers, and critical social insurance programs will soon fall into private hands.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Our country is bitterly divided. How ’bout a little small talk?” [Garrison Keillor, WaPo]. Here’s a conversation starter: “The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting ‘Lock her up’ — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted ‘Stronger Together.’ It just doesn’t chant.”

“Heitkamp is one of 25 Democrats defending U.S. Senate seats in a post-Trump world. A few weeks ago she had a dinner of Chinese takeout for colleagues from four other states that went overwhelmingly for Trump: West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Montana’s Jon Tester. The consensus was that that there’s a fierce hunger for change that favored Trump and that Democratic candidates must find a way to satisfy it. No one was sure how” [Bloomberg]. How about a simple platform that would bring concrete material benefits to all working people? Start with Medicare for All.

“Don’t Let Trump Speak for Workers” [Richard Trumka, New York Times]. ” In industrialized countries all over the world, working people have come to believe that the institutions of liberal democracy have failed to protect them against the ravages of globalization.” Because it’s true!

“First, our elec­tions are get­ting in­creas­ingly more par­lia­ment­ary in nature. Tick­et split­ting is get­ting rarer, with straight-party vot­ing be­com­ing the norm. Every Sen­ate race this year was won by the same party that car­ried that state in the pres­id­en­tial race. Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures com­piled by Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port House Ed­it­or Dav­id Wasser­man, the House had a pat­tern that was fairly sim­il­ar. Only about 24 Re­pub­lic­ans will be sit­ting in dis­tricts car­ried by Hil­lary Clin­ton, only about 12 Demo­crats will be in Don­ald Trump dis­tricts, and only about 32 (7 per­cent) of House mem­bers won elec­tion by less than 10 per­cent” [Cook Political Report].

“One unfortunate result of this belief in the innate benevolence of the federal government was to turn the Democrats into a kind of “court party” that disdained the states as benighted appendages of an enlightened federal government. They became politically blind to the importance of state legislatures and ceded control of them to the Republicans, who gladly took on the role of congressional redistricting that gave the GOP a virtual easement on the House of Representatives. Topeka, Harrisburg, and Augusta might not be as interesting or as grand as Washington, D.C., but it is there that the Democrats need to plant their flag” [USA Today].

* * *

Harry Reid on 2020: “It appears we’re going to have an old-folks’ home. We’ve got [Elizabeth] Warren; she’ll be 71. Biden will be 78. Bernie [Sanders] will be 79.” [New York Magazine]. One funeral at a time…

“Warren stirs talk of 2020 White House run” [The Hill]. “‘We’ve already been worried about Donald Trump’s ties to the Russians,’ she told WCVB, a local TV station.” Unlike Sanders, Warren didn’t have the stones to challenge Clinton in 2016. This, of course, qualifies her in the eyes of the Democrat establishment. I’m resisting the temptation to make a 2020 section. It does seem a little premature…

“Joe Biden on a 2020 Presidential Run: “Never Say Never'” [Vanity]. The young people who that loveable goof Biden immiserated with college debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy should go for him in a big way.

Democrat Email Hairballs

“Appeals court revives suits over Hillary Clinton emails” [Politico]. Let me pull out two sentences: “Clinton turned over about 54,000 pages of messages at State’s request in December 2014. She also instructed her aides to erase a similar quantity of emails her lawyers determined were entirely personal.” Move along people, move along. There’s no story here.

Stats Watch

Pending Home Sales Index, November 2016: “The spike in mortgage rates is making for another setback in the housing sector. This is the indication from the pending home sales index which, instead of posting a healthy rise as was expected, fell very sharply” [Econoday]. But: ” One should expect a significant decline in home sales in December as many home sales were expedited to close in November to beat the interest rate rise” [Econintersect]. But: “The out-performance in the Northeast suggests that affordability was a key issue given that national valuations are at the lowest in the Northeast” [Economic Calendar].

Shipping: “The World Economic Forum in 2013 rated the Dutch infrastructure among the best in the world: first in the world for maritime, fourth for air, and 11th for rail. That kind of infrastructure is key to reaching large population centers quickly (500 million people live within a 24-hour drive of Rotterdam, the country’s main logistics entry point). It’s no surprise that half of Europe’s distribution center operations are located in Holland” [DC Velocity]. Lots of true facts about the Netherlands and logistics. Worth a read, if that’s the sort of thing you like!

Shipping: “Chinese port figures hint at global demand recovery” [Journal of Commerce]. “China’s top ports continued a relatively strong second-half throughput performance in November, supporting other trade data that indicates some recovery in domestic and global demand. November volumes at the top eight ports of the world’s second-largest economy expanded 3.9 percent year-over-year to just over 13 million twenty-foot-equivalent units…. China imported the largest volume of coal in 18 months and nearly 92 million tonnes of iron ore, the third-highest monthly volume on record. Copper imports also grew by nearly one-third. Despite strong November port, trade, and industrial production numbers, the outlook for weaker trade growth over the medium to long term persists in line with the general trend of decline in the contribution of the industrial sector to GDP growth.”

The Bezzle: “Redflex Gets Non Prosecution Agreement in Traffic Camera Bribery Case” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. Rahm. Of course. “Its former CEO was convicted as part of the probes into bribes paid to elected officials to procure or expand Redflex’s contracts with Chicago and Columbus. The investigations also resulted in the convictions of a Chicago official and a Columbus lobbyist. John Bills, a former Chicago assistant transportation commissioner, was convicted of accepting cash and benefits from Redflex in exchange for expanding the company’s business with Chicago.” Weird. The perps got convicted and the company gets a pass. Generally, it’s the other way round.

Capex: “All in all, Wednesday is not shaping up as a good day for the world’s two largest aircraft makers. Late Tuesday, Delta Air Lines Inc. said in a statement that it has cancelled an order for 18 Boeing Co.” [247 Wall Street]. “On Tuesday, Airbus announced a delay in delivering 12 superjumbo A380s to Emirates airlines, the latest in a string of cancellations and delays for the plane.”

Capex: “A recovery in U.S. productivity growth in the 1990s and early 2000s didn’t reverse the trend of declining investment. Second, a raft of policies designed to increase investment by pushing down the cost of capital — cuts in the capital gains and dividend tax rates, for example — failed to move the needle. A recent paper by economist Danny Yagan estimates that the 2003 dividend tax cut had no effect whatsoever on business investment” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg]. “So what’s going on? … It’s possible that business investment, in the U.S. and in other rich countries, is now mostly rationed rather than priced. A select set of companies — Apple Inc., or General Electric Co., or whoever — can borrow to their heart’s content at very low rates. Any business opportunity they see will get funded. But for hordes of smaller companies out there — including small businesses as well as up-and-coming ventures that could become the giants of tomorrow — it might be hard to borrow at any price. These unlucky companies could be shut out of the gated community of cheap capital, gazing sorrowfully in.” Interesting thesis.

The Fed: “Is The Fed About To Experience A Repeat of 2016?” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch]. “the US economy settled into a nice little equilibrium in 2016 that obviated the need for additional rate hikes. To expect a repeat scenario in 2017, one would need to assume that the US economy does not pick up speed and threaten that equilibrium by pushing past full employment. Evidence, however, piles up suggesting that the slowdown of the past year is drawing to a close. ISM manufacturing and nonmanufacturing surveys are stronger, temporary help employment is heading up again, new manufacturing orders for nondefence, nonair capital goods have flattened out, and the broader inventory overhang is easing…. ll of this occurs in the context of an unemployment rate that suddenly dipped toward the lower end of the Fed’s estimates of the natural rate of unemployment.”

“The first of Halliburton’s [Christmas Eve] announcements focused on the proposed acquisition of Novomet Oil Services Holding Ltd., a drilling-equipment company based in Perm, Russia. The company announced that it had petitioned the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia to find out if the acquisition, which has not been officially completed, would face resistance from Russian regulators” [MarketWatch]. Hmm.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 28 at 11:48am. Still subdued…


“‘Jet stream’ of molten iron discovered in Earth’s core by geoscientists” [Independent] (original in Nature Geoscience). It moves 50km a year, which is pretty fast for a geological process!

” Gift of the fungi: Mushrooms — yes, mushrooms — could help save the world” [Salon]. “As lead cultivation advisor on a mycoremediation project to clean up oil spills in Ecuador, the most biodiverse country in the world, [Peter] McCoy [founder of Radical Mycology] has seen firsthand fungi’s ability to break down pollutants, too. Using digestive enzymes to break down complex hydrocarbons into simple carbohydrates for food, fungi can degrade dioxin, DDT, TNT, PCBs, PAHs and chemical dyes, and can trap and digest harmful microorganisms like E. coli.”

Will We Miss Our Last Chance to Save the World From Climate Change?” [Rolling Stone]. Interview with James Hansen: “[Hansen] is also deeply involved in a lawsuit against the federal government, brought by 21 kids under the age of 21 (including Hansen’s granddaughter), which argues that politicians knowingly allowed big polluters to wreck the Earth’s atmosphere and imperil the future well-being of young people in America. A few weeks ago, a federal district judge in Oregon delivered an opinion that found a stable climate is indeed a fundamental right, clearing the way for the case to go to trial in 2017. Hansen, who believes that the American political system is too corrupt to deal with climate change through traditional legislation, was hopeful. “It could be as important for climate as the Civil Rights Act was for discrimination,” he told me.”

Neoliberal U

“For the period between 1996 and 2012, we estimate that a 10% reduction in state appropriations is associated with an increase in foreign enrollment of 12% at public research universities and about 17% at the most resource-intensive public universities” [Working Paper 22981, NBER].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Black Lives Matter is making it easier than ever to find and support black-owned businesses” [HuffPo]. “In partnership with ad agency J. Walter Thompson New York, the organization launched a beta version of BackingBlackBusiness.com, a website that allows people to discover black-owned businesses throughout the country.” On the one hand, this looks a lot like The Green Book to me, so why not? On the other, it does seem a little… bourgeois. As for example:

“Walmart to stop selling ‘Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter’ shirts after police protest” [WaPo]. Oh, sheesh. Suck it up and grow a pair, the both of you.

“The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” [The New Yorker]. “In reality, and notwithstanding the viciousness of its many enforcers, slavery was institutional. The Underground Railroad, by contrast, was personal: a scattering of private citizens, acting on conscience, and connected for the most part only as the constellations are—from a great distance, by their light.” Hmm. I’m not so sure about that constellation simile.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Help keep an eye on police social media monitoring” [Muckrock]. “Join us by submitting your town or county to our list of places to survey, and check out what materials we’ve already gathered by consulting the map above.” With submission form.

Class Warfare

“America owes its working class, yes. But the working class has duties, too.” [WaPo]. I believe Algernon covered this, in The Importance of Being Earnest: “Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.”

“Economists who specialize in antitrust – affiliated with Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, the University of California, Berkeley, and other prestigious universities – reshaped their field through scholarly work showing that mergers create efficiencies of scale that benefit consumers. But they reap their most lucrative paydays by lending their academic authority to mergers their corporate clients propose” [Pro Publica, via Econintersect]. “Some of the professors earn more than top partners at major law firms. Dennis Carlton, a self-effacing economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and one of Compass Lexecon’s experts on the AT&T-Time Warner merger, charges at least $1,350 an hour. In his career, he has made about $100 million, including equity stakes and non-compete payments, ProPublica estimates. Carlton has written reports or testified in favor of dozens of mergers, including those between AT&T-SBC Communications and Comcast-Time Warner, and three airline deals: United-Continental, Southwest-Airtran, and American-US Airways.” Credentialism and corruption….

“Inequality and Skin in the Game” [Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Medium]. “In this chapter I will propose that effectively what people resent –or should resent –is the person at the top who has no skin in the game, that is, because he doesn’t bear his allotted risk, is immune to the possibility of falling from his pedestal, exiting the income or wealth bracket, and getting to the soup kitchen. Again, on that account, the detractors of Donald Trump, when he was a candidate, failed to realize that, by advertising his episode of bankruptcy and his personal losses of close to a billion dollars, they removed the resentment (the second type of inequality) one may have towards him. There is something respectable in losing a billion dollars, provided it is your own money. In addition, someone without skin in the game –say a corporate executive with upside and no financial downside (the type to speak clearly in meetings) –is paid according to some metrics that do not necessarily reflect the health of the company; these (as we saw in Chapter x) he can manipulate, hide risks, get the bonus, then retire (or go to another company) and blame his successor for the subsequent results.

“Whistleblowers Don’t Need Elite Credentials To Help Protect Us from Government Overreach” [EFF]. Although Malcolm Gladwell (unsurprisingly) disagrees.

News of the Wired

“This is a post about how to build a hackable cat feeder for $20.” [peter weissbrod]. “The basic goal is to spread small bits of cat food randomly across the kitchen floor during early time windows of the morning. This of course dominates tigers’ attention thus letting you sleep in.”

“On the existence of two states in liquid water: impact on biological and nanoscopic systems” [International Journal of Nanotechnology]. This seems to me extraordinary. Can readers comment?

“Q: What is the ideal New Year’s resolution for losing weight?” [Harvard School of Public Health]. “A: Forget calories, focus on food quality, and let your body do the rest.”

* * *

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 (B1whois):


B1whois writes: “More pics from Montevideo, Uruguay. Even though hot humid weather makes it hard to believe it is Christmas time, these Hibiscus are perfectly colored for the season.”

Readers, I’ve gotten many more plant images, but I can always use just a few more; having enough Plantidotes is a great angst deflator. Plants with snow and/or ice 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. dcblogger

    Elizabeth Warren carefully choses her issues not to ruffle the feathers of the Capitol Hill establishment. Notice no rude remarks about voter suppression.

    1. Waldenpond

      The D party selects a few members to speak on particular issues so that there are talking points to trot out for deflection (to pat voters on the head with) when needed but the party will never support the position nor ever have enough votes for action.

      1. polecat

        Uhh …I read that as “The D party selects a few racial / identity / social-justice issues so that there are Blah, Blah, Blah yapping points to spew out before ‘defection’ ( condescendingly so)

    2. Anne

      We all choose our issues, don’t we? It makes no sense to me to reject what someone says on an issue where there is agreement just because that person isn’t saying something about some other issue.

      I suspect that Warren speaks on the issues she does because those are the issues she knows the most about; she came into the Senate not as someone known for her interest in and work on voter suppression, but on banking, consumer debt, unfair banking and lending practices.

      I read your comment and those that followed with some irritation, because increasingly, it seems no one is willing to see how and where and when we can take advantage of expertise and experience to get what we want. It’s become whiny and bitter and it’s not accomplishing a damn thing, and it’s getting a feel of almost liking where we are because we know how that works. In my family, when people get like this, we tell them they should go out in the garden and eat worms.

      There is no one perfect person. No one person who is going to check every single box. I thought we knew this already, but it seems some people are still looking. They can’t see past what can be used to our advantage – all they can see is the negative.

      If I’m building a house, I don’t expect to find one person who can do it all, and I don’t give up on building that house just because the person who’s great at putting on a roof doesn’t know how to do the electric, or because the person who can draw up a good design doesn’t know how to pour a foundation. I put together a team, and we build the best house we can, using our collective skills.

      With the craziness of the holidays, I haven’t had the time to be online as much as I used to be – and stepping back in now is a little eye-opening, and a lot depressing – to the point where I don’t see it as helping as much as I see it as crippling.

      We need to snap the fk out of it, or two years or four years from now, we’re going to be able to go into the archives and not be able to tell the difference between what is happening in 2018/2020 and what happened in 2016.

      1. Waldenpond

        Some might find EW to be sincere on an issue…. I think it’s an act, based on knowledge, but an act. The Ds tolerate someone running and getting elected in a particular category to pacify voters on issues the PARTY does not support and will do very little about. We have a corrupt system and voters are blamed for not being more informed yet politicians are excused when they are mainly one issue pontificators and have overall poor records. The D party constantly plays musical chairs with their votes to pacify voters in their own states, trading votes so they don’t look as horrid at election time yet maintaining their overall corruption.

        It does not matter to my lived experience that a half dozen Ds speak about an issue and relate it to the 99%. What matters to my lived experience is that the D party does not support the issues and policies that will improve the lives of me and mine.

        I find your comment to be equally irritating… as if more and better Ds will save us. I voted for Ds for decades. Not any more. That’s on them, not me.

        1. Pat

          I think we are all addressing the need to reshape or destroy the Democratic Party in different manners. For me, Democrats/Independents are on a scale. Sanders isn’t perfect but is largely on the right side. Warren is just on the right side of center and should stay. Meanwhile my recently reelected Senator Schumer is on the wrong side either openly or covertly and needs to be in line for Lambert’s fire. Do I want Warren for President, no. But she is useful for the time being and I’m not willing to throw her on the bonfire quite yet.

        2. Lost in OR

          This is good, Waldenpond, very good. When we are irritated with each other, perhaps we are getting somewhere.

          Few following this site are for more Ds or Rs. And as I’m writing that there is no question but Ds and Rs are where our communal focus is. Are THEY the basket of deplorables? Scratch that. Different tack. As long as we, ourselves, are always blaming others for our predicament, can we, ourselves, ever be responsible?

          I’ve enjoyed watching the Rs battle themselves. I call it “eating their own”. You’re for a woman’s right to choose? You’re out. Can’t say “no new taxes”? You’re history. Can’t spell exeptionalism? You’re not with us. If not for the Ds corruption and incompetence the Rs would be greatly diminished.

          So here we are (speaking for myself), focused on what separates us. Consumed by what ails others. Self-identified by what we’re against. Really, this IS depressing. This IS crippling. Disabling. Disempowering. Dis-everything. Diss.

          And where can this lead us? Anywhere but where we’ve always been? Is there no alternative? We know there is. And we know we have no alternative but to try to get there. And so we need to snap the fk out of it.

          “What we do is proof of what we believe”. Don’t know who coined that. But I believe it is time for me to live it.

          I scan these links and comments that can lead to the constructive. And not bleeding-heart kumbaya constructive, but we’re in deep doodoo stop digging start soul searching constructive. There is far more of that here than anywhere else I’ve looked.

          So how can we be in a better place in two or four years? What thinking and actions do I need to adopt to get there? This is the first/last/best opportunity we will ever have. Right now, the world is our oyster. Drink it up. There will never, ever be a better time.

          1. different clue

            What we do can’t be proven if we are not visibly seen to be doing it. The next 2-4 years will provide opportunities for pro-conservation people to engineer their own personal lifestyles/ housekeeping styles/ etc. so as to put a measure of personal conserving on visible display. Such visible conservation-lifestyling would put such people in a better personal-credibility position for when large chunks of other people are ready to hear a conservation argument again . . . IF! they think they see credible people to hear it from

            For example, if people against excess carbon emissions wish to be listened to respectfully in 2 or 4 years time, they should engineer for themselves a highly visible energy-conservation lifestyle which will give them credibility to be listened to when enough bad weather events make people ready to listen to somebody if those somebodies have personal credibility.

            I used 120 cubic feet of natural gas per day on my last bill-month. I used 2.8 kilowatt-hours per day of electricity per day on my last bill-month. Is that less gas and electric than the average personal individual end-user uses in herm’s own home? Then I have some credibility to show when people say ” oh yeah? What’s in your footprint?” Is that more gas and electric than the average personal individual end-user uses in herm’s own home? Then I have some credibility-building visible conservation-lifestyling work yet to be openly seen openly doing.

        3. Lupemax

          My thoughts exactly. Thank you.

          IMHO the democrat party is too corrupt at this point to salvage and I will no longer support any democrat. I voted for Bernie but voted for Jill in the general. I will no longer vote for any Democrat.

          I live in Massachusetts. I was active in Democrat politics for 25 years. I actually volunteered for someone who challenged EW in the primary for the Senate (and didn’t drop out of the primary race as all the other challengers did when EW jumped into the race, anointed by the State Party). Thus I saw EW a lot on the campaign trail. She would show up at events (usually late) surrounded by very solicitous, protective young men who rarely let you near her. Young women EW supporters appeared in large numbers at the democratic State Convention in Springfield. They ran up and down the aisles like cheerleaders in the stadium throwing out hundreds of EW tee shirts and thousands of EW buttons like confetti to the masses of party activists. It really was a circus; It was also tragic and absurd; I laughed. She as not approachable there. I always had the feeling she really doesn’t like people.

          In the general election EW raised lots of money and the DNC was thrilled. So EW doesn’t speak about how awful BIG MONEY contributions are for democracy or how money is not really speech, how we no longer have one person one vote. She doesn’t speak much about massive income inequality or the plutocracy or how oligarchs will rule big time by the end of January.

          Sen. W’s phone has an answering line to leave messages much of the time. I think she inherited Sen. Kerry’s office staff because when any real person actually does answer the phone they know nothing about anything, even how she has voted or might vote. Could they let me know? Not really.

          When I get replies to emails from EW – for example on GMO labeling of food – it was barely discernible where she stands but as it turned out she supported the national lesser label that did not required food producers to label GMOs and made moot the real label that would require food producers to label GMOs that Vermont had passed. Gotta go along with Big-Ag and the DNC not what the people want

          And EW’s cruel stance on the massive student loan debt (1+ Trillion – with a T – and counting) was let’s lower the interest on the loans a tiny bit? Not that we need FREE higher public education because it’s for the common good. Don’t think she has ever said we need to encourage universities to move away from the ever increasing numbers of university administrators everywhere, who generally do not teach. Administrators make unconscionably high wages and benefits so they can blow time and billions on designing new buildings that aren’t needed, create the budgets that do not pay adjuncts even a living wage, offer mortgages to adminstrators, and very fat expense accounts and retirements for adminstrators. EW’s own university Harvard diddled for months about paying the food hall workers a decent wage and health care while profs like her make generally more than a quarter million $. Was she out there with the food hall workers supporting their cause at a University whose endowment is larger than God’s? Of course not, people who work in food halls are invisible to good democrats like EW.

          EW may be of the people but she’s not generally for the people, especially those who have the least.

          As you said, EW may be knowledgeable and able to speak in detail against Wall Street – but the DNC knows she’s virtually alone on that and nothing significant will result from her “histronics” that might interfere with receiving all those donations (bribes) they get from the banks and Wall Street. So that’s ok then to let her go at it. It looks good for the party, may even sucker a few voters with soundbites and tweets…

          Sadly, I’m seeing Warrenbots increasing in Massachusetts. It’s all about upcoming elections not issues. Warrenbots neither know about nor are concerned with issues or the 99% or climate change or how close we are to nuclear war. It’s “oh, my golly, it’s Liz’s turn.” She’s the only one who can beat Trump.

          Massachusetts unfortunately is a one party state where few state reps ever have any challengers, where credentials matter a whole lot, and going along with the democrat party to get along is a really really hard and fast rule for anyone who runs for office. The State House is also one of the least democratic state legislatures in the country. Even today I learned that a ballot initiative that passed in November that legalized the selling/growing of Marijuana has been delayed for six months by a very few legislators (6 according to the Boston Globe) in a quiet unpublicized meeting during this week. Where is EW on the voice of the people I wonder.

      2. Plenue

        Elizabeth Warren, the Eisenhower Republican the Democrats need!

        I for one will not be voting for her if she ever runs.

      3. nippersdad

        Using your house building analogy, if one is looking to build a house of a certain type then most of the architect applicants should have something in their portfolio that is representative of that type in its’ totality; design theories are much like ideologies in that one can extrapolate on feature and predict the rest. Doric columns do not belong on a Prairie style house.

        When one sees someone who purports to be a progressive, it is disturbing to see that they routinely do not support them, or even those who most closely approximate one, when it counts. This is not about perfection, this is about walking the walk. Warren is ambitious and talks a good game. We have seen that play before, so it would be well to have had this discussion four years before such as Clinton, Biden and Schumer propose her as the Presidential candidate for the deplorable masses that they have lost to the Republicans over the years of bait and switch tactics that they so excel at.


        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > , if one is looking to build a house of a certain type then most of the architect applicants should have something in their portfolio that is representative of that type in its’ totality

          That’s a very good analogy. Adding: Assuming for the sake of the argument that a political party is like a house.

          1. nippersdad

            They both have a structure, and as you have long lamented inverted pyramids tend to fall over when stressed. There is a reason why the Democratic Partys’ foundations have rotted to the point where they no longer support winning campaigns from the city to the federal level. If Nancy Pelosi and her friends votes were all that were required to maintain the status quo then there would be no problem here. The problem is that Nancy doesn’t realize that she is the problem…or, worse, maybe she does and doesn’t care.

      4. hunkerdown

        Anne, the difference is that you have legal recourse against the builder who didn’t know when to sub out certain kinds of work instead of winging it.

        And that the Democratic Party doesn’t exist to serve us. Whether we like or want it or not, they exist to preserve a space in the oligarchy for liberal appearances; their allegiance is to the system, not the rabble.

      5. a different chris

        I am irritated because again, we are looking to the Presidency to solve all our woes. There are >500 elected representatives in DC, from 50 – yes, there are 50, states.

        They don’t have to agree with you (or each other) on everything, but they need to be better – heck, would have a hard time being worse – than the Rethugs.

      6. Jim

        “It seem no one is willing to see how and where and when we can take advantage of experts and experience and get what we want.”

        One problem is that many in the expert/priestly groupings (tenured professors, media professionals, the upper eschelon positions in governmental bureaucracies and political parties, lawyers, information technocrats, trustfund babies and their NGOs etc.) tend not to be selfless servants anxious to help us “to get what we want” but more your standard self-interested upper middle-class gentry types attempting to impose their “truths” on the rest of us.

        As Nasssim Taleb stated in his recent article “Inequality and Skin in the Game:”

        “Simply, it looks like it is the university professors (who have arrived) and people who have permanent stability of income, in the form of tenure, governmental or academic,” are more and more a new envy-driven grouping exuding ressentiment towards those in the oligarchy who they now work for but yearn to replace in power.

        Trust has broken down between the “experts” and the average citizen. it is not going to be easy to get it back and maybe that is for the best–if we really want to get what we need.

      7. FluffytheObeseCat


        Elizabeth Warren may be “the Eisenhower Republican we need” but given the craptescence of the rest them…… why the hell would you snarling numbskulls be snarling about her? Do you actually prefer immiseration? Or do you think you won’t be touched by the impoverishment of others? Or that ‘drill, baby drill’ will not wreck your old age? (Hey, maybe it won’t. The elimination of individuals’ ability to sue any corporate entity will probably bankrupt a few of you long before a flood or a heat wave injures your nest egg).

        Anne is right. Warren is going to be a valuable contributor to what little (very little) pushback the Congressional Democrats have in them for 2017 – 2021.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Hilary Antoinette didn’t make it so we’re supposed to all get behind one of her main courtesans? Rubbish: off with their heads. 70% of Americans would need to borrow to fund a $400 emergency…so let’s back Eisenhower Dems like Warren while that goes to 80% and then 90% and more? This is hair on fire urgent direct action time, not “oh the best we can hope for is gradual incremental change”. More anger please…your kids and grandkids are counting on you.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Civics lesson: there will be no “urgent action” before 2018. The next federal elections are held that year, in November. And stagey malice in blog comments != action.
            Warren is one of the better hi-visibility politicians in DC (sad, but true). The Donald can’t stand her, which makes her gold in my book. He will undoubtedly disgrace himself repeatedly over her, in front of an audience much less forgiving than his ‘base’. He has such a chip-on-the-shoulder about women who have power independent of his…….. he won’t be able to stop himself.

            1. cwaltz

              Can I assume that means you think the Democratic party should cede the state legislatures where they are just a hairs breath away from having the plurality needed to form a constitutional convention and impact federal actions?

              Mind you I would agree that there are way better people to expend energy upon then Elizabeth Warren. Let her posture. Applaud her if she actually accomplishes something and worry about her running for President in 2020 in 2019.

              1. aab

                The problem with letting her posture is that four years of corporate media promoting her as a “progressive” will give her a HUGE leg up on obtaining the nomination. Once a brand identity has penetrated over years, it’s hard to dislodge. That’s why TV advertising was so effective for so many decades.

                Obviously, people like me criticizing her in places like this won’t have much impact on the mushy, non-activist voters who really make the difference in who gets elected. But it’s what I can do right now, so I’m doing it. And maybe, just maybe, if enough energized activists push hard enough in both public and private discussions, we can nip “Warren is our progressive hero” and “Booker is a community organizer” (or however they plan to brand/disguise him) in the bud.

                Also, this notion that taunting Trump is a good idea is ridiculous. What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? The people that love him will continue to love him if he insults Elizabeth Warren. The people that don’t love him already don’t love him. He’s about to become one of the most powerful people on earth, as the head of a party that already controls every branch of the federal government and the majority of states. Have you never been vulnerable, Fluffy? I mean that in a power imbalance way. When the weak taunt the strong, it generally goes badly for the weak.

                Liz Warren will be fine. But there are millions and millions and millions of less privileged people who can be very badly hurt by Donald Trump and the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party is both too weak and too corrupt to protect them. Why exactly is it supposed to be a good idea to incite him?

                Serious, tactical, policy-driven protest is going to be absolutely necessary, but even that’s not guaranteed to be effective. All this nonsensical Hamilton/safety pin style performative tantruming wastes energy, distracts, and potentially creates really nasty blowback. I wish people would stop giggling at the idea of Donald Trump losing his temper. They seem to generally be the same people who have been saying he’s a mentally unstable sociopath and the next Hitler. Which is it? He can’t both be the most dangerous man alive and a critter you throw your candy wrapper at through the bars of its cage at the zoo. (And for the record, I am opposed to throwing things at caged animals.)

        2. hunkerdown

          “Perfection” = “criticizes other insiders”?

          Nobody’s asking for perfection. They’re asking for broad public interests of ALL to be served, not just those who buy into the Church. For some reason, Democrats seem to believe that group narcissism is okay and competing with other groups for shares of the public interest is proper. Maybe because they’re really liberal right-wingers with a sandbox for its poster children.

          Answer me this question: when IS it okay to discipline the Party for being right-wing? Why shouldn’t right-wing organizations be broken? It’s almost as if you’re defending the oligarchic system, or perhaps you’re just a winning-is-the-only-thing type. They don’t play football with me, why the f do I care about them from Adam?

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’d be a lot happier of Warren hadn’t gone the full-fealty-to-Clinton route with Trump snark on the trail. What happened to the incisive intellect we saw in the Senate hearings? We might also remember it was a losing strategy, one of many in the debacle that was the Clinton campaign.

          I think one thing we can all agree on is that the Democrats don’t need more of the same. If Warren is that — Booker certainly is — well… I don’t want a better version of the Clinton faction. I don’t want that faction at all.

      8. dcblogger

        the Russians stole the election is pure hysteria. Voter Suppression has been well documented. For political and moral reasons all Democrats should be very aggressive about this. I consider Warren to do great work on banking and consumer issues, but other than that she runs with the crowd.

          1. aab

            This. Elizabeth Warren is not progressive. I wish people would stop saying that. She is generally fairly honest, in that she merely wants existing institutions to be run more equitably on behalf of a functionally imaginary middle class, and more to the point, the courtier professional class. They’re the only ones now who could benefit from better consumer finance protections.

            She’s not at all interested in changing power or economic dynamics in any real way. And she has proved herself a coward. I don’t understand why anyone should be expected to get excited about her, and suspect that the only people who still are basically tightly align with her demographically: white, upscale professional women, primarily in middle age or older.

            Moreover, it’s not just that she’s a weak-willed coward now that she has real paths to power. She isn’t going to win the presidency. John Kerry or Al Gore with a vagina isn’t going to cut it, and that’s what she is. The razor-thin loss in individual states at the Presidential level this time around does not mean all the Democrats need to do is run a non-criminal. Hillary and Barack kindly resurrected the Republican Party. Now it’s up and walking, and will not be so demonized by the New York Times and its ilk in the next election. The Ds won’t be in the position to run as “not Satan” and get so much assistance in pushing their message. I see the appeal of assuming the Trump will tank so hard that the electorate will swing back in desperation, but that’s overlooking the most salient fact out of the voting patterns. Hillary didn’t really lose to Trump. She lost to passive despair. People who gave Obama a chance stayed home. If the Republicans continue to brutalize the populace, isn’t it more likely that pattern will accelerate? Who of those suffering in the non-Democratic citadels would look at Elizabeth Warren and see their champion?

            So: she’s inadequate on policy, cowardly, and precisely the kind of Democratic candidate that the voters have been rejecting for decades. What’s not to like?

            Under President Sanders or Turner, she could be a useful presence in the Senate — more useful than say, Scott Brown. But that’s about it.

            1. FluffytheObeseCat

              All that Anne argued for above is Warren as “useful [] in the Senate”. Unlike most of the “Wah!!!! Warren Isn’t Pure Enough” crowd here, she said nothing to indicate she wants to see the woman make a run for the Presidency in 2020.

              Do any of you understand how damaging the elite Dems’ monomania for the Presidency has been? They have no routes to other seats of power in most of the country, where even a sensible, moderate conservative like Warren couldn’t make it to the Senate due to the D after her name.

              They need people throughout federal, state and municipal government. Outside of California. Not all of those people will suit your every wish, but if the FIRE elite hates them, they’re good enough for me.

              1. aab

                That isn’t actually all Anne was arguing for. I respect Anne, and generally stop to read her comments when I’m here. But she was responding to dcblogger’s point that Warren demonstrably says only what is safe to say.

                And that is incredibly important. Warren is being set up to be the next useless Democrat with an Ivy League pedigree and handy biological identity to trick the suckers into voting against economic change. She continues to be branded and promoted a progressive, and she is not one. She is not a leader. She is a person of extremely limited usefulness.

                No one here is advocating that she be fired for her private speech or have her home or pension taken — all things Democratic leadership is complicit in doing to other citizens. But I neither trust nor respect her. She has no political courage. That matters, now more than ever. She’s not worth anyone’s time, attention or support. She’s just another neoliberal suit, in the end. What does her interest in consumer protection matter? She helped Hillary Clinton to the nomination, an actual criminal. She helped with that ridiculous stunt sit-in, gleefully “protesting” for the right to keep guns away from leftists and people of Muslim descent who had been placed on an extralegal list.

                There are many nice rich white ladies who have “sympathy.” They say words about justice and fairness. I have many elite-educated friends like that. And if the people of this nation and this world are going to bring about real change, those women are our enemy. They are PRECISELY the white moderate Martin Luther King warned about, and they have not changed.

                If “enemy” seems too mean, how about obstacle? But obstacles are passive, and elite liberals are not merely passive, they work against real change — as Warren did, and continues to do, by using her public platform to mouth lies and propaganda on behalf of the worst elements of the Democratic elite.

                The FIRE elite doesn’t hate her. She’s their servant, just like Barack and Hillary. Whatever they thought of her before, she was a good girl this year, and now she gets her treat.

                By the way, most Democratic politicians in California are no better. We don’t need more Democrats elected. We need more leftists elected, whether they want to be called that, or progressive or democratic socialist. The time for backing sensible, moderate anything is long past.

                I’m not even clear on what this expertise is she has that’s so valuable. Her pet project is about to be disemboweled. I don’t blame her for that. She had no legislating background when she came up with it, and it was attacked actively by the Republicans and passively by the Democrats. But do we have any evidence that she now knows how to set something up that’s sturdy enough to survive a change in administration? Because if not, what’s her actionable expertise that’s so meaningful as an elected official? If her value is that she doesn’t want to take food out of children’s mouths, and she can speak crisply while wearing a suit, lots of people can do that.

      9. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I put together a team, and we build the best house we can, using our collective skills.

        But that doesn’t scale. (And it’s also a category error: A house is not a political party, in the same way that a government is not like a household.)

        I don’t have much objection to Warren’s views on banks, although is true that as an academic she prefers to take unconventional views only on matters where she’s done (although I do have objection to her views on single payer, which she does not support).

        However, my hackles rise when already the powers that are floating a 2020 race of Booker v. Warren. No.

        1. cwaltz

          I think it would be more constructive for people who support party piracy or rebuilding to discuss who they support for 2018. And also who they do NOT support.

          I’m inclined to agree with Anne that Warren is far from the worst Democrat in Congress. If it were me I would be looking to field someone against those that are the worst…..of course it could mean that the party, as a result, loses more seats(since the DNC argues that they have to run center right because that is what the country wants.)

          1. lambert strether

            I don’t see any reason to talk about 2018 at all, in terms of personnel. In fact, I think it’s madness. It’s really all of a piece with the “Move along, move along, nothing to see here” attitude of the Clintonites.

            In fact, the longer the discussion is postponed, the more degrees of freedom there are for somebody genuinely of the left (besides Sanders) to emerge.

            Listening to this whole discussion from the Democrat establishment is like listening to survivors of the Titanic, in their lifeboats, discussing how great their next voyage is going to be. It’s just bizarre.

            Sure, Warren is by no means the worst Democrat. Neither is Sherrod Brown. And so what?

  2. Zilog Instantaneously Mojo

    “First, our elec­tions are get­ting in­creas­ingly more par­lia­ment­ary in nature.”

    Replace the word “par­lia­ment­ary” with “paramilitary” and I think you get closer to the truth…

  3. diptherio

    Some of you might recall a guy from France, Enric Duran, who took advantage of the shoddy underwriting practices of a couple of major banks to obtain multiple mortgage loans amounting to around, iirc, 600,000 euro. He took the money and absconded, and proceeded to fund a number of radical projects. Here’s one of them:


    Fairpay will be a payment card to use in physical stores. An alternative to Visa, mastercard, without fees. Using the latest NFC ‘contactless’ technologies that the most innovative companies are implementing, because cooperativism is not at odds with innovation.

    A tool to extend the networks of social and solidarity economy to all, all over the world.

    The usage experience will be as easy as using a conventional system. It will be loaded with Faircoin, but neither the user nor the trade will notice it as simple as it will be. So you have no excuse to take the step. Easy will even be for the trade to change to euros if necessary. As easy as using a bank account and much cheaper than with conventional financial middlemen.

    It is a key step to extend the new banking system of the people in 2017. With this campaign we start launching right now!

    Clive, thoughts?

    1. Clive

      Heart in the right place (possibly… I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise) but a) it’s a crypto currency which is, to plagiarize Yves is ‘Litigation Futures’ (Yves is right) and b) it’ll need to replicate the existing card schemes EPoS infrastructure so is duplicating and adding cost to merchants and users for the sole benefit of avoiding (bypassing) the incumbents.

      I’ve yet to see anything that improves on the solution of capping interchange fees in the existing card schemes to cost+5% and, if they show the slightest sign of trying to game the regulatory system, nationalization. Not within the means of Faircard’s backers I do appreciate, but smacks to me like the same pitfalls that the group who raised funds to pay off small defaulted-on debts, which were basically uncollectable anyway, fell into.

      Sorry, I’d have loved it if I could…

      1. diptherio

        I wasn’t expecting rah-rah, that’s why I asked :-) Thanks for the response.

        The Faircoin thing is a little different than other cryptocurrencies, or at least it’s supposed to be. I think the basic idea is to provide an alternative currency for solidarity economy projects — so more like the WeTrade network than Bitcoin, although it sounds like this is a little more ambitious.

  4. diptherio

    “Walmart to stop selling ‘Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter’ shirts after police protest”

    Not surprising. Bloomberg ran a story not too long ago on the large amounts of crime that happens at Walmarts. In some places, the local 5-0 has a unit devoted specifically to answering Walmart calls. Wally World has outsourced it’s security to the local authorities, they can’t afford to go pissing them off.

  5. Steve H.

    : On the existence of two states in liquid water: impact on biological and nanoscopic systems

    This is not incompatible with Gerald Pollack’s work on structured water. Effectively, a liquid crystal (the change in refractive index is noteworthy here). Pollack was finding proton exclusion, so a charge buildup is possible. Figure 3 caught my eye with the difference between heating and cooling, with cooling showing the bilinear response.

    It’s important for understanding our planet as a water planet, and how this was supportive of life in the first place. The effects of the structuring encourage sequestering of different substances, which would help start life, and provide a mechanism for order within cells.

    With this work becoming more prevalent (water research was effectively suppressed for decades), other work such as entropic depletion force will have to be re-evaluated. There are practical applications like paint mixing and water filtration. But the big picture is a greater understanding of how important water is to life.

      1. Steve H.

        Gerald Pollack:

        By the middle of the 20th century, two things blighted the promising water harvest. First was the shift toward specialization…

        The second thing that made scientists shy away from water involved two sociopolitical incidents, each of which had a terrible dampening effect on progress in understanding water…

        So, largely out of fear, water research screeched to a halt. A few brave diehards persisted, mainly in the area of biological water, but the momentum was killed.

        * * *

        I can’t find the specific source, but iirc Pollack was suggested off of water as a subject (as a grad student, I think), not as a threat but as just not good for a career.

          1. Steve H.

            The first was Polywater, where Russian research in the 60’s failed to account for impurities in the water. Science marches forward on screwups, but the incident was used as impugning Russian science at a point when money was flooding into research after Sputnik.

            Then there was Jacques Benveniste, around 1988, a French immunologist claiming effects at heavy dilution. Accusation of ‘homeopathy’, failure to replicate, except some effects that are still perplexing… Anyway, the career effects were devastating. Whether there’s something to it or not, funding evaporated.

    1. voislav

      Well, this paper is flaky to me. Water is know to cluster in a specific way that results in certain sizes (so called “magic numbers”). The magic numbers have been shown to play a role in water interaction with biological systems as well (proteins and lipids).

      The changes in water properties look to me to be temperature induced change in the predominant water cluster. Higher temperature provides more energy for the thermal motion of water molecules and will disrupt the hydrogen binding holding a cluster together. The magnitude of change is fairly small, the graphs are just scaled so that it looks impressive.

      Correlation with protein denaturing is just horrible science, the authors cherry picked a couple of examples that have the correct temperature. It is important to know that protein denaturing is due to breakage of hydrogen bonds within the protein (forming its secondary structure). These are of similar strength to hydrogen bonds in water, so they break at similar temperatures. Denaturing will occur in other solvents, so it has nothing to do with the “structure” of water surrounding the protein.

      So in my opinion, the paper greatly exaggerates the nature of the two “states” of water and completely misrepresents its possible effect on biological systems.

      1. Dirk77

        The straight line fits wash out a lot of structure in the data. I mean I don’t think their inferences are that good.

      2. Steve H.

        Clusters are a molecular-level phenomena, while this is looking at changes in bulk effects. There is no incompatibility, but clusters are usually considered as free-floating, while the effect of order can have exclusion effects. Having an effective substrate surface allows for effects like charge separation, which clusters individually can’t account for.

        Clusters seem to be studied as surround ions, while this work seems to be dealing with pure water. (Please give a link if that’s wrong.) Having a fresh-water catalytic surface at temperatures with enough energy to drive reactions is important, ice doesn’t drive many metabolic processes.

        The quantum dots are being presented as capable of penetrating exclusion areas and so being able to elucidate structure. We used to think organelles just floated in the cell because we didn’t have the tools to measure the internal structure.

        As for the protein denaturing, it’s insufficient proof, but indicative of temperature-derived coupled reactions, allowing for high efficiency. So there’s room to get more specific on particular reactions, beyond hydrophilic/phobic and heat denaturing. Maybe a better understanding of cold denaturation. Main point, water active as a catalyst and not just a solvent.

  6. bob

    Underground railroad

    I’ve seen dozens of old manor homes that were described as “underground railroad” houses because they had hiding places built into them. Northern NY and VT.

    A quick check on the materials that were used in the construction of the homes usually confirms that the houses weren’t built until at least the 1900’s. Too late to smuggle slaves. But, they were just about the right age to smuggle booze in the 1920’s.

    How to clean up that first million — use slaves.

    1. Arizona Slim

      When I last visited my aunt in VT, we were going to take a drive over Smuggler’s Notch. Alas, it was too foggy up there.

      ISTR that she told me that the place was named for its use by smugglers during Colonial times. And afterward. Correct me if my memory is inaccurate.

      We also took a drive up to Canada. Crossed the border at Newport, VT, which is on the shores of a lake that extends into Canada.

      She told me that, ahem, certain people liked to go sailing at night. Just a little trip across the international line, and then you’re taking a little illegal something back to the US or Canada.

      In short, this region has a long association with smuggling.

  7. Vatch

    “Federal court rules dogs can be shot if they bark, move when officer enters home stemming from controversial Michigan case”


    Almost all dogs bark and move when a stranger enters their home. If a large dog lunges at a person, that’s threatening, but barking and moving? Really? According to the article, only one of the dogs that were shot lunged at the police. Somethings not right about this.

    1. Oregoncharles

      One of the things that strike me about the cops’ shoot-anything-that-moves policy is the level of sheer cowardice involved. They like to take credit for a risky job (a gross exaggeration), then refuse to take the slightest risk – and act self-righteous about it!

      Shame might be the only real weapon we have, given how deeply the legal system colludes with them.

  8. Clive

    Re: #BlackLivesSort-OfMatterButItDependsABitOnExactlyWhichBlackLivesTheyAre

    Nuclear Wintour commits to only being snooty and off-hand to black shop assistants.

    1. neo-realist

      Wintour isn’t all snooty. She got hot and heavy with Bob Marley for a while back in the 70’s.

      1. nippersdad

        I wonder if Feinstein would hang with Harvey Milk these days. Methinks she got more dining out on old stories than she would from current association with activists. Credentialism of a different sort.

  9. Bugs Bunny

    Trying to deal with tigers is a crap shoot.

    Best to just get out of there.

    Not sure if Jeri-Lynn has been in these areas (Periyar for me) but I stayed high up in a tree (with a ladder, 50m up) until the cat was away.

  10. JTMcPhee

    How much of the Netherlands’ fabulous trade infrastructure is far enough above “sea level” to endure the change in “sea level” that centuries of accelerating “trade-facilitated human behavior” has apparently rendered inevitable? Do they have a little Dutch boy with a finger big enough to plug the leak in the dike, the leak that “trade induced change” has apparently rendered inevitable?

    Which finger will he be using?

    1. nippersdad

      How much will it cost the European taxpayers to float an alp down the Rhine to build the dikes higher?

      I suspect it will be the middle finger for most people.

  11. Webstir

    Re: Harry Reid on 2020: “It appears we’re going to have an old-folks’ home.”

    Meh. Watch Van Jones make a run at it. I think he’d be about the strongest candidate the Dems could field.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Van Jones!?! He of the “This was a Whitelash!” rant? Prince Identity Politics?

      I’m hoping your comment was meant as an illustration of how weak the Demos are rather than an endorsement.

      1. different clue

        Wasn’t Van Jones something of an Obama groupie early in the Obama Administration? Wasn’t Van Jones rather silent about the Obama firing of Shirley Sherrod? (I sure hope he wasn’t overtly suPORtive of the Shirley Sherrod firing).

  12. lyman alpha blob

    “Heitkamp is one of 25 Democrats defending U.S. Senate seats in a post-Trump world. A few weeks ago she had a dinner of Chinese takeout for colleagues from four other states that went overwhelmingly for Trump: West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Montana’s Jon Tester. The consensus was that that there’s a fierce hunger for change that favored Trump and that Democratic candidates must find a way to satisfy it. No one was sure how” [Bloomberg]. How about a simple platform that would bring concrete material benefits to all working people? Start with Medicare for All.

    Are they really this stupid that they don’t know how?!?! Maybe they can all watch Bulworth for some bright ideas although his support for single payer didn’t turn out so well for him.

    Better yet, maybe they could just ask Bernie.

    1. different clue

      They are trying to update the excuse that DemParty officeholders are not conservative enough to attract the Trump Base. They are working out how to move closer to Steven Moore economics and politics to attract the Trump Base.

      It sounds like a fine old experiment to be run yet again. We’ll see if it works.

      This would be a fine opportunity for Berniecrats to primary and then naderize any one of these office re-seekers who is not Berniecratic enough. Show that any Clintonite-type Democrat will be un-electable in these states and show these states that until they are ready to vote for a Berniecrat, they will not get any kind of Democrat at all.

      “I want the Whole Loaf. NOW. Or no bread for anyone.” That’s the proper fighting spirit for waging a purge-and-decontaminate campaign against the DLC disease germs currently infesting the Democratic Party.

      1. John k

        You’d think they would have noticed the problem was too few dems turning out, not too many reps, which were the same as Romney had when blown away by big o.
        So are they blaming corruption so obvious with her even dems couldn’t stomach it?
        Not black enough?
        If not the above, was she too far left, or too far right, to get dems to the polls?
        This doesn’t seem to be rocket science, just how dumb are the dem elites?

        Wait, I remember something about how hard it is for somebody to understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it…
        So what do the banks thing the dems should do now? Bring in Bernie? Who wants to break up the banks? Bernie is door 1, a slowly dying dem party is door 2… as expected, the dem elites troop through door 2.

  13. Synoia

    “On the existence of two states in liquid water: impact on biological and nanoscopic systems” [International Journal of Nanotechnology]. This seems to me extraordinary. Can readers comment?

    Love to but linky don’t link anywhere but back to link,

    Must be a “false news” link, censored by the new Department of Falsehoods (DOF).

    1. Synoia

      Crossover state of 50 deg C, plus or minus 10 deg C.

      Hmm, we have a name for that: Cooking.

      I’d note that live gets extinguished at temperatures over the state change boundary.

  14. Dave

    “Heitkamp is one of 25 Democrats defending U.S. Senate seats in a post-Trump world. A few weeks ago she had a dinner of Chinese takeout for colleagues from four other states that went overwhelmingly for Trump: West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Montana’s Jon Tester. The consensus was that that there’s a fierce hunger for change that favored Trump and that Democratic candidates must find a way to satisfy it.

    The problem with Democratic programs, like Chinese food, is that a few hours after you eat, you’re hungry again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just order the extra large noodle soup.

      Not sure if you want extra large Democratic programs though.

  15. fresno dan


    In fact, increasing evidence suggests that various gut and metabolic hormones play a crucial role in satiation, hunger and energy expenditure.[3]
    So its not a calorie is a calories is a calorie? Off the subject, but how weight loss studies have been done drives me to distraction.
    First of all, being a scientist and being smart are two different things.
    Typical researcher commenting on how so many studies were done: We gave everybody the exact same number of calories using the different diets…..and everybody weighed the same afterwards….
    !!!! Well, duh. The idea of satiety and the desire to eat, and the desire to eat high caloric foods was something difficult to evaluate, so it wasn’t.

    Of course, the finding that foods are formulated to encourage mindless eating will not be addressed….because who pays for that?

    1. Foppe

      Of course not. If you consume 1000kcal worth of olive oil, most you do is empty out your guts, because of how oil is a natural laxative. Having said that, fat storage involves next to no energetic loss, only about 3% of calories.
      On the other hand, ‘de novo lipogenesis’ — turning sugar into fat — is something that the body is quite bad at, involving about 70-85% loss. But that’s usually not noticed because pretty much every regular diet out there provides way too many of its calories by way of fat — really, any percentage over 10-15% of calories (not of weight, as what one’s food weighs is largely irrelevant, all that matters is how many calories it contains, and whether they come from carbs or fat) is too high.

      As for weight studies, they’re pretty worthless generally for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that dietary patterns are only worth one’s time if you can live by those principles over one’s lifetime. And the results after 3-8 weeks are mostly meaningless, unless there is a specific emergency reason for needing to lose as much weight as possible in a short period, because pretty much anyone can keep up a “diet” for that amount of time before buckling. Yet that’s all that most “researchers” are interested in, because they know how unlikely it is for people to be able to stick to low-carb diets (where the money is, thanks to big meat/dairy/atkins/etc.) long-term. And because of that, so long as you can hack together 8-week results that look good, it will get published. As such, you’re better off ignoring them.

    2. jrs

      I’m not sure satiety has much to do with emotional eating though, so just focusing on satiety is missing a whole lot. It’s like economic man, who of course only eats when hungry and not when depressed and over-stressed. All very rational in his eating patterns aiming for that hunger equilibrium, where he’s exactly not too hungry nor too full. Meanwhile back in the real world.

    1. hunkerdown

      Disabling a public safety hazard, for now. No doubt this sudden push isn’t as driven by public spirit as a certain recent prank. I get the sense that, among the public, the bloom is off the rose as to whose benefit the constructive ownership inherent in remote device management serves.

      If you see an SSID in your neighborhood “Samsung Galaxy Portable Grill”, it wasn’t me…

  16. cocomaan

    “Garrison Keillor writes an article about how it’s good to talk to lower class people.”

    What would I do without my NPR personalities? I might have forgotten that other kinds of people existed and that being a prick wasn’t good policy.

    1. Cry Shop

      What make’s Keillor think Donald Trump would talk to him, much less someone not handing him money or doing something stupid on one of Donald’s shows?

      In general most of Donald’s voters have more class than Donald.

    2. Dave

      You can always tell a superior being, or a an artistic intellectual free spirit trapped in a shopgirl’s body, by the NPR tote bag they carry.

  17. Anonymous

    Regarding antitrust, about two decades ago at a pretty good law school, I took a course on antitrust law. It was taught by a devotee of something called “Law and Economics.” Every issue was presented the same way. People in the past had a concern about monopolies and other anti-competitive behavior, and enacted legislation to address these problems. Then the Chicago School economists came around and told us they were wrong. We (courts, professors, lawyers) are now required to do everything possible to render antitrust a dead letter, because economists say so.

    The quality and seriousness of the economic analysis displayed in probably every law school journal article and every published decision was far below what we see here on a daily basis, for free. The over-riding theme was that antitrust law was an unnecessary vestigial thing, no longer needed since the holy Market (pbuh) would immediately and decisively punish anti-competitive behavior.

    The most interesting thing about it all to me was the gall. In other areas of legal study it was taken as a given that the legitimacy of the law itself was dependent on it being the product of the people’s will, expressed through the legislative branch or enshrined in the Constitution.

    1. Robert Hahl

      “A pretty good law school.”

      All law schools are basically the same. They teach the same leading cases, which are the same everywhere. However there are idealog mills like George Mason in NoVA, which renamed itself after A. Scalia, but that is a special case.

    2. Charger01

      This. A great summary of why Bill Black and other white collar criminologists are more important now than ever.

  18. Carolinian

    Raimondo on Trump Derangement Syndrome or TDS.

    TDS victims routinely compare Trump to Hitler: Time magazine ran an opinion piece that asked “Just how similar is Donald Trump to Hitler?” The answer: “The comparison between Hitler and Trump is so poignant” because “both men represent their personal character as the antidote to all social and political problems.”

    Since Hitler has been dead for more than 70 years, though, victims may feel the need for a more potent bogeyman, a tyrant with more currency. And they’ve found one in Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they insist ordered a hacking campaign to help Trump win the election.

    The other day, Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewed TDS-riddled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Carlson asked for evidence that Putin’s alleged machinations had any effect on the election. Unable to come up with a coherent answer, Schiff morphed into J. Edgar Hoover: “You’re carrying water for the Kremlin,” he said, “you’re going to have to move your show to ‘Russia Today.”


    As Dimitri Orlov says treat the afflicted with patience and compassion so that they will soon regain their sanity. In a hopeful sign the Keillor column linked above doesn’t even mention the Rooshans much less the T word.

    1. aab

      No reason to treat Schiff with compassion. He used to be my Congresscritter — a seat was made available for him because he’s a good party apparatchik. He’s never had to run for election in a meaningful way. (He’s on specially created seat #2, IIRC.) He’ll do or say whatever he’s told to do or say to get ahead.

  19. LT

    Infrastructure plan…sounds like taxpayers pay twice. I’m imagining toll road after toll road except in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Of course it won’t just be toll ROADs — you got a chip in your Mastercard, right, that is a toll gate? and the Famous Free Internet (other than the cost of ISP access, the devices to contact, and the rest)?

      You need a drink of water? The town and county I live in are discussing with “consultants” from PE on “how to put the utilities on a more business-like footing,” and are about to force “smart water meters” on us all, paid for by the “customer,” of course, to get rid of meter readers who perform a bunch of other community functions like checking on people and the condition of the system, and so they can fire off your toll charge to you ever cheaper, and shut off your water, from “a central location” (via another dose of RF radiation, like the one coming from the Duke Power “smart meter” wired into my “public utility” electric access.)

      Around here, you can drill a well for $5 or $6,000, but you CANNOT use the water for any “domestic” purpose, like drinking and bathing or even washing clothes — because that would reduce the metered, toll-able flow through the soon to be private distribution of soon to be privately owned “public water supplies” like rivers and lakes and aquifers and rainwater. Rain collection off your roof to water gardens is also “legally questionable,” hereabouts, and I understand might even be a criminal act in Western states. Because some corporate entity already OWNS the “expectation of rainfall” via the “prior appropriation” legal notions…

      I am at a loss how ordinary people, who are still basically stuck with the strangely abiding notion that “the law is to be obeyed,” and therefore are easily corralled and ear-tagged and eventually slaughtered, are going to find ways to defeat those for whom “the law is only a whip, to lash the ordinary people.”

      The yuuuge interest in presidential and election politics and personalities and promotions and executive-office C-Suite-ing here, which seems to have kind of outpaced the analytical work that I personally prized NC for in the area of real-world economics and development of notions of how to effectuate “policy,” changes in service of the GENERAL WELFARE, seems maybe symptomatic of another kind of malaise — people who care about somehow directing things toward an operating principle and lodestar notion of comity and decency that might “make things better” for the most of us, can get seduced or just fall into the fascination with what is atop the news pile and part of the Meme Streme… Not to criticize the excellent thinking and exposition and investigation that gets put up here. But we mopes seem always to be fascinated by the skulduggery and shenanigans and murderous selfishness of our “betters…” The local news is running a series of “Gee Whiz!” “news” spots on the many houses and other wealth piles of the incoming Ruler Barons. And “the public” appears to just be lapping this sh!t up — “Look what we can aspire to! We should be proud to be able to support this wretched excess at the expense of our children.”

      Some stuff maybe just cannot be fixed? We mopes are on a raft, in the last half mile of the Niagara River before the Falls, without paddles or anyone “in power” or even the avid “reality gawkers” on the shoreline, interested at all in “saving us…”?

  20. LT

    Meet the new “progess,” same as the old “progress.”
    And don’t bother with any deluded hype about the future. If you’re here now, you’re lucky.

  21. LT

    I stopped reading the WashPo article.
    More people might be excited about day jobs. But my pet peeves about office work are the lingering effects of Taylorism and what’s been referred to as the tyranny of extraverts in office space design.

      1. vidimi

        i’ve never been sick as frequently as i have been in 2016, working in an open office. there is almost always a colleague sick with a cold.

  22. LT

    I just read about the anti-trust professors who get paid to cheerlead monopolies.
    And we still are supposed to believe “education” in these schools is the answer?

      1. JTMcPhee

        And law school admissions are way down of late, because so many oyung people are maybe getting smart about taking on a sh@tload of undischargeable debt, and also because they are starting to figure out that as in other areas of “the economy,” there are NO FOKKING JAWBS for them when the graduate, even if they manage to pass the bar exam in their chosen practice state — and for some reason, possibly due to gate-keeping by the Incumbency or crappy education or what-everrr, at this point a lot fewer are wanting to waste the time and money.

        A recent young acquaintance graduated well up in the class from a decent (sic) law school, paid the $10,000 to prep for the bar exam and pass it, and qualify for the local bar (another $3 or $4,000, for “fees” and background checks and all), and is now TENDING bar at two local joints to pay the freight. And she is even a very attractive, animated young woman, which when I graduated (1976), when law firms were all still partnerships with joint and several liability of all partners for their buddies’ bad acts, and could not advertise, counted for a lot, for some of my “endowed” female classmates.

        Who “makes a lot of money” is of course the Law Schools and their executives, the student loan bankers, the bar associations, the purveyors of bar exam prep services, and a very few grads from the law schools.

        But that’s just one anecdote, hardly a trend, now, is it?

  23. soulipsis

    Oil Spill Eater II, a non-micobial enzymatic oil spill remediation technology, has been approved for use by the EPA since 1996. The US Navy has used it to remediate 14,000 oil spills. It turns oil and many other chemicals, including the Corexit dispersant that was harmfully applied to the Macondo/BP oil spill, into water in a short period of time.

    Applications by Gulf states and communities, and even the Coast Guard itself, to use OSEII on the BP spill, were rejected.


  24. thump

    Re: two phases within liquid water. The compiled data of kinks in physical properties around 50C (122F) makes it seem so obvious that I find it hard to believe that no one has noticed this before. However, this paper does not seem very interesting. It presents no evidence or even speculative discussion about the physical natures of the supposed two phases or the transition between them. As far as I could tell on a quick read through, it just says, “Hey, here are all these physical properties that appear to have a kink in their values near 50C, so maybe that’s associated with all this other stuff.” I realize that liquid water is a hard system to understand, with the hydrogen nuclei jumping around between different water molecules and all, but you need to take a stab at it if you’re going to try to explain something. I would be very interested in a paper that actually presented experimental evidence of the physical structures behind these kinks in macroscopic properties.

    And just from personal experience cooking, 165F seems to be the critical temperature to sterilize food…

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