2:00PM Water Cooler 2/27/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, due to a CloudFlare outage you yourselves may have experienced, Water Cooler will be a bit late. Talk amongst yourselves again — is it phases of the moon, or something? — until I can fill the body of this post. –lambert

And here we go! –lambert


” A research group says Chinese firms plowed $8.6 billion into the U.S. from 2000 to 2016, with companies offsetting higher labor costs with more automation and lower electricity and transportation expenses. They also can get around some trade barriers and more easily reach U.S. consumers. A maker of kitchen cabinets that has started assembly in the U.S. says the workers ‘are not cheap,’ for instance, but the company saves on logistics spending—an economic calculation that may change still more if the U.S. imposes new import taxes” [Wall Street Journal].

“Hasbro, which uses factories in China and Turkey to make Play-Doh, says the move to a new U.S. line is basic economics: Play-Doh sales have grown enough that the market is big enough to justify manufacturing in the U.S., with lower shipping costs offsetting the higher production spending” [Wall Street Journal].


#DNCChair Debacle

Time for some Dennis Green:

“”They are who we thought they were, and we let ’em off the hook!” Yeah, basically. If the insurgent Democrats are really different from Establishment Democrats, it would be nice to see some criticism/self-criticism for what was, after all, a loss. Yes, the (Sanders proxy) numbers at the DNC were better than the (Sanders) numbers in the Superdelegates. But a loss is still a loss. What accounts for it? From my armchair at 30,000 feet: First, Big Donor Saban fired anti-Semitic Smear Gas at Ellison, and Ellison didn’t really fire back. (And the Ellison camp should have seen this coming, since the Podesta emails showed the Democrat Establishment considering doing just that, and although IIRC Clinton decided not to use the tactic, some Clinton supporters certainly did.) Would it have been so wrong to say: “Haim, just because you build the headquarters doesn’t mean you own the party.” Or: “Wait, I thought it was a bad thing when a foreign power interferes in a U.S. election?” Second, in general, we need more polarization, not less. It really is time for the left to understand that liberals are not on their side (and that includes Obama). For example, the Ellison camp allowed the Perez camp to blur the distinctions between them. Why? We had one candidate (Perez) who was a creature of the banks, and another (Ellison) who wasn’t. We had one candidate (Perez) who had done no organizing (Perez) and another (Ellison) who had, and who — as a Black Muslim — had organized successfully in a Rust Belt “Red State.” In a way, then, you can’t blame the waverers for going with Perez; in a race with “two great candidates,” why go for the one who lets himself be slapped around?

“The race for the Democratic National Committee leadership is over, resolved with a Tom Perez chairmanship and a deputy role for Keith Ellison that momentarily quelled even the angriest Bernie Sanders-wing protesters in the room” [Politico]. Certainly not outside the room!

“During the 2016 DNC primary, Perez encouraged the Clinton campaign to paint Sanders as a ‘candidate of whites’ in a pathetic attempt to turn off minority voters. That should give people an idea of where the Democratic Party is headed” [American Greatness]. “As I used to tell my fellow Republicans who opposed the Tea Party movement, “you’ve gotta dance with the one who brung ya!” And if you don’t, you won’t go anywhere electorally. After the 2012 presidential election, with the exception of a handful of party elites, the GOP grasped this concept. … A similar battle has been raged between the grassroots segment of the Democratic base and the party’s elite. Except in this case, the elites have bested the base yet again. By denying the groundswell from the 13 million disaffected Leftists who both voted for Bernie Sanders and wanted Keith Ellison to lead the party, the Democrats have solidified their place as a permanent minority party. In all likelihood, the real threat to President Trump’s agenda over the next four years will come from congressional Republicans, not the Democratic Party ‘resistance.'”

That said, I followed the whole horrid spectacle on Twitter, and here are some of the juicier bits:

Starting out:

So, it’s a twofer: The current DNC chair, election-rigger Donna Brazile, can’t organize a meeting with technology that works, and then fires the Blame Cannons at the Russkis. Things went downhill from there.

Just to show they can, election chicanery:

And the rule:

The consultant class voted itself a ticket on the gravy train:

Frank Luntz does a happy dance:

And the closer:

And I don’t think Ellison being Perez’s Deputy is a positive thing at all. Now Ellison has no power in Congress — assuming being Deputy Chair is a full time job — and he’s going to be tarred with whatever crazypants talking points the Clintonite echo chamber emits.

But do not despair!

Let’s not forget that the Democrat Party has assets — ballot lines, data, and having been written into statutes nationwide — that are worth seizing. Personally, I admire people willing to step into the cesspit to do that. (And the counter-arguments: an important piece dissecting “entryism,” here.)

Our Famously Free Press

The once-proud New Yorker throws their brand furniture into the fireplace:

Trump Transition

“Donald Trump’s insistence that his tax and spending plans will provide an immediate kick to the U.S. economy and Wall Street’s belief that the new administration’s budget policies will lead to a quick boost in corporate profits now need to be tempered with a big dose of economic reality: The president’s promised fiscal stimulus isn’t going to be enacted or take effect any time soon. If it happens at all, the soonest the economy will begin to feel the impact of a Trump stimulus is in federal fiscal year 2018, that is, starting 7 months from now on October 1” [Forbes].

“The big story: Of all the bubbling questions and potential scandals of the early Trump administration, the one that now appears likely to hold is about Trump campaign contacts with Russians. There are sufficient questions surrounding these communications to merit a serious investigation, many in Washington believe” [ABC News]. One of the more remarkable features of the “Trump as Putin Agent” thesis is that nobody’s ever been willing to go on the record about it; the “nine” ringwraiths intelligence officials, for example. Given that the story amounts to charging a President with treason, isn’t it more than a little odd that nobody’s willing to be quoted on the record? Moving on… “Now, with GOP Rep. Darrell Issa’s endorsement of appointing a special prosecutor, there’s enough political momentum to keep these questions swirling for a good long while. Issa’s opinion is big, since it opens the door for the question to be posed to any other Republican. ‘This is the best time to show leadership,’ Issa told Politico. Of course, he has a political motivation to show that leadership. But he is not likely to be alone in that realm.'” One wonders if Issa would be so aggressive if Trump hadn’t defenestrated Flynn.

“Putinology considered harmful: the many legends we tell ourselves about Vladimir Putin” [Boing Boing].

“As Republicans try to figure out how to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Ohio Gov. John Kasich says they’ll encounter “a problem” passing replacement legislation with some House conservatives if it still includes any vestiges of the original law. Because of that, he said, the GOP will need to reach out to Democrats to be successful” [CBS].

“Despite Ryan’s supposed interest in policy detail, his party’s plans to replace the Affordable Care Act have been farcical. The website set up for the House plan literally consists of one sentence promising outcomes with no detail, and a video promising to come up with an undefined plan at some later date. Ryan’s previous blueprint, as Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post put it, was more “37 pages of talking points” than a plan. Ryan’s defense of the Republican not-plans-yet to replace the ACA are embarrassingly specious arguments, when they have any content at all” [The New Republic]. I do recall looking at Ryan’s website. it was pretty slick. There were PDFs!

“Add Medicaid expansion to the list of Obama-era health care provisions that Americans want to keep. A new poll finds that 8 in 10 say lawmakers should preserve federal funding that has allowed states to add coverage for some 11 million low-income people” [AP].

“Already, apparently unfazed by the mistakes of the past year, some of the same experts who insisted Trump could never win the Republican nomination and would never win the general election are declaring with absolute certainty that he will be a failure as president and a one-termer. That may prove to be true, but so is the possibility that Trump may once again defy expectations of the pundits” [Princeton Alumni Weekly].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“In her 35 years as a therapist, Arlene Drake has never heard so many clients talking about the same issue. Week after week, they complain of panic attacks and insomnia because of President Trump. They’re too anxious to concentrate at work. One woman’s fear turned into intense, physical pain” [Los Angeles Times]. Heaven knows I don’t want to mock human suffering, but anybody who can afford a therapist week after week probably doesn’t have all that much to worry about. Are they free from anxiety about retirement? Can they afford dental care? How are their teeth? Have they lost their jobs? Had their house foreclosed? Lost a child to heroin? And so forth.

“It’s time for Democrats to become the party of American exceptionalism” [Ronald A. Klain, WaPo]. “As Democrats engage in soul-searching about their future, here’s an idea: Progressives should claim one of the oldest ideas in American thought — the concept of American exceptionalism — for their own.” Help me.

“”There has been a lot of conversation on younger voters. It’s the future of the party. I have written a letter to all the chairs asking them to commit to a budget line item specifically dedicated to millennial outreach and technology,” said New York Rep. Grace Meng, 41, who was also elected vice-chair on Saturday and said the new leaders met late on Saturday night to discuss such new ideas” [Politico]. Gawd forbid that Democrats reach out by pushing universal programs that provide concrete material benefits like Medicare for All to everyone, especially the working class. All they can think is idpol, idpol, idpol.

“Democrats who are actively engaged in fundraising say the lack of an official party-wide autopsy is a constant topic of conversation for donors considering contributions — especially the big whales who sat on Clinton’s national finance council only to receive a thank you note, but no accounting of the loss from the candidate’s team after November” [Politico]. Those Clintons; all class!

“Are Multi-Million Dollar Consulting Contracts Worth the Future of the Democratic Party?” [Nomiki Konst, Medium]. “Members have repeatedly discussed the frustration with the conflicts of interests within the Democratic party. For Dillon — whose firm received $571,573 from HFA and $593,397 from the DNC, totaling almost $1.2 million — having a seat as a co-chair of the DNC’s rules committee, raises red flags. One DNC member voting for Mayor Pete Buttigieg stated, ‘When a firm with a large contract with the DNC co-chairs the new rules committee and makes calls on behalf of a DNC candidate, you can’t help but wonder whether Perez’s interests lie with the DNC members or if he’s cut a deal to keep the contract with Precision.'”

“What I Heard From Trump Supporters” [Sam Altman]. I’m generally sparing in my praise for Silicon Valley “innovators,” but Altman actually left the bubble and talked to people. Well worth a read.

The TL;DR quote is this:

“You all can defeat Trump next time, but not if you keep mocking us, refusing to listen to us, and cutting us out. It’s Republicans, not Democrats, who will take Trump down.”

Good to see (and NNU backed Ellison):

And a blast from the past: “UNLESS THE DEMOCRATS RUN SANDERS, A TRUMP NOMINATION MEANS A TRUMP PRESIDENCY” (February 23, 2016) [Current Affairs]. “Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.” Well worth a read!

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, January 2017: “Throw out the all the advance indications that show unusual acceleration in the factory sector, because the meat of the January durable goods report only shows the usual volatility behind which are sagging numbers for key readings” [Econoday]. “The worst news in the report is a 0.4 percent decline in orders for core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft). This ends 3 months of strength for this reading and pulls the rug out from expectations for a first-quarter business investment boom as indicated by business confidence readings.” And: “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]. “What should be concerning to analysts is the continuing contraction of backlog (unfilled orders).” And: “The underlying data is likely to be seen as slightly disappointing and will not trigger any additional pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy, although the overall impact is likely to be limited” [Calcuated Risk].

Pending Home Sales Index, January 2017: “Just when existing home sales seemed to be showing lift the pending home sales index, which tracks initial contract signings, is down 2.8 percent in the January report. This points to weakness for final resales in February and March” [Econoday]. “The West is the culprit in January’s data, with contract signings down 9.8 percent in the month for year-on-year contraction of 0.4 percent. The Midwest is also weak, down 5.0 percent in the month for 3.8 percent on-year contraction. The South and the West both show no better than low single digit monthly and yearly gains.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, February 2017: “Yet another advance report, in yet another contrast with definitive data, is showing significant strength” [Econoday]. “This report may be getting a general lift from easy comparisons as the Dallas factory region is just emerging from 2 years of energy-related weakness. But the wider risk for anecdotal surveys like this one is that, in their low key methodology where respondents often offer general, not numerical, answers to questions, they are picking up improvement in sentiment as opposed to actual measurable improvement in dollars or volumes.” Sobering thoughts! But: “The Richmond Fed manufacturing survey for February will be released tomorrow. Based on the surveys released so far, it appears manufacturing was very strong in February” [Calculated Risk]. No qualifier there! And: “Delivery times increased for the month and finished goods inventories declined which suggests capacity constraints. There was also an increase raw material inventories as companies built up stocks in order to boost short-term production levels” [Economic Calendar].

Commodities: “The Trump administration has made another pro-coal decision, this time relating to how Washington calculates royalties on coal mined from federal and Indian lands” [Mining.com]. [T]he Interior Department has put on hold changes to the value of coal extracted from public lands, meaning current rules governing the industry will remain in place pending court decisions. The Obama administration had sought to change the rules – saying they were improperly calculated – and argued that the changes were to ensure that taxpayers were given a fair share of coal sales to Asia and other export markets.”

Retail: “J.C. Penney Co. is joining the growing list of American retailers trying to survive by getting smaller. The century-old store will shut up to 140 stores and two distribution centers… extending the e-commerce-driven upheaval that is changing the landscape of U.S. retailing. J.C. Penney Chief Executive Marvin Ellison says the closings are aimed at adjusting Penney’s supply chain strategy to compete against ‘the growing threat of online retailers.’ The remaining stores will be used to ship or pick up online orders, minimizing delivery costs. About three-quarter of Penney deliveries touch physical stores, and closing the distribution centers in Lakeland, Fla., and Buena Park, Calif., suggests the company will handle more customer deliveries straight from stores. That’s a more complicated and potentially costly strategy that likely means adding inventory to the remaining storefronts” [Wall Street Journal]. Let me know how that works out…

Shipping: “Two things that signal what will, or could, be a shift to the more positive (freight) economic side are the most recent editions of the Cass Freight Index Report from Cass Information Systems and the monthly truck tonnage index from the American Trucking Associations (ATA)” [Logistics Management]. “The [Cass] report, whose most recent data comes from January, noted that freight shipments saw a 2.7 percent annual increase in October 2016. While that uptick is decent enough on the surface, what really drives its significance home is that the October gain represented the first time shipments headed up annually in the previous 20 months…. he ATA offered up some additional positive insight of its own, with seasonally-adjusted January truck tonnage up 2.6 percent annually and not seasonally-adjusted tonnage up 3.4 percent annually.”

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, 189 (October 10, 2016). Current: 180.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 69, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 27 at 12:19pm. Somebody watered the liquor at the Nineteenth Hole?

Health Care

“Single-Payer Reform: The Only Way to Fulfill the President’s Pledge of More Coverage, Better Benefits, and Lower Costs” [Annals of Internal Medicine].

News of the Wired

“How to Self-Publish a Novel in 2017” [Zack Hubert]. One of those projects that keeps life interesting?

“Annotation is now a web standard” [hypothes.is].

* * *

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:

Readers, I buy pretty plants and stick them in the ground where I think they’ll be happy (this one was) and then I forget their names!

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. allan

    Attorney Accuses Border Patrol Agent of Perjury [Courthouse News]

    A victim of domestic violence was arrested at an El Paso courthouse based on perjured testimony from a Border Patrol agent, her attorneys say in a habeas petition demanding her release.

    Irvin Gonzalez, a Mexican citizen, was arrested at El Paso County Courthouse on Feb. 9, just after she was granted a protective order to shield her from an abusive boyfriend. She is charged with illegally re-entering the United States after deportation. …

    Specifically, Steed says in the petition, Border Patrol Agent John Urquidi swore to false allegations in the complaint that was presented to the U.S. magistrate who issued the arrest warrant for Gonzalez.

    The complaint states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents saw Gonzalez leave the courthouse, then approached her on the street and questioned her about her citizenship and immigration status.

    But security video shows Gonzalez was arrested in the courthouse, then led out of the building by agents holding her arm. …

    El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza agreed …, saying the courthouse arrest sends a “horrible message to the victims of domestic violence on whether or not they’re actually going to have the ability to seek justice in our courthouse.” …

      1. epynonymous

        Can the media make it four years, intentionally misleading the pubic on what Trump actually says?

        Or are the somebodies gonna notice?

    1. fosforos

      If Trumpe-l’oeil is Yeltsin, does that mean he’s going to bombard the White House (and move the seat of government to Mar el Lago)?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump doesn’t drink.

        And I don’t believe he’s a vegetarian either…but that’s another story.

    2. optimader

      Can Trump (or anyone please) transform the USA from “Super Power” status to Benjamin Franklin’s Super Example status?

      1. jrs

        or if they had wanted to keep their superpower, they should have at least seen to it that the citizens of said superpower live as well as citizens of many non-superpowers. But instead there is poverty in the midst of superpowerdom. Just a practical consideration, there is nothing moral about being a superpower.

        1. dontknowitall

          This reminds me of the story in Julius Ceaser’s memoirs in that he wanted to raise an army to go after Anthony in Egypt but he reported he grew concerned because the people of Rome were complaining bitterly about the heavy taxation which stood then at 25% for citizens and 8% for freedmen. Lucky them. We get taxed heavily and our leaders are not the equal Ceaser and if we are lucky some future president Clinton will not appoint her pony to the senate.

      2. Procopius

        Rich people with investments overseas. They’ve been the ones pushing “manifest destiny” since 1811. Or earlier. It’s interesting to look into the history of the State Department. There’s a guy named William Appleman Williams who’s written a little about it.

    3. different clue

      Why should the US remain a superpower at all? Why should we even want to?

      Why be Exceptionalistical? Why not be Ordinary? Why not focus on making America an okay country for the Americans to live in?

      USA Okay! We’re Number Whatever!

      Time to be an American Okayness Ordinarian.

      1. Ulysses

        “Time to be an American Okayness Ordinarian.”

        Yes!! While there is much to deplore about Michael Moore in recent years, I thought that his movie– Where to Invade Next— made this point well.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        You’re gonna need a wristband of some sort and a badge on a lanyard and a somewhat sincere smile while looking over the the security guy’s head towards an imaginary friend on the other side. Wear something purple. Not in honor of Prince, mind you.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    The readership here doesn’t need a reminder as much as the rest of the country, but for anyone still getting the vapors over Trump I would suggest a little ancient history for some much needed perspective.

    It’d been a while since I boned up on the Caesars but I recently picked up a book on Seneca called Dying Every Day discussing his life as a politician/philosopher in the court of Nero. Trump’s got nothing on these crazy people. Here’s an interview with the author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbg8BF8NL5Q

    The same author, classicist James Romm, has also written another excellent book on the power grab after Alexander the Great’s death called Ghost on the Throne. This history isn’t nearly as well known as that of the Caesar’s and it’s a fascinating read.

    After reading both, I do think the Caesar’s had the Macedonians beat for internecine disputes, but just by a hair. Really didn’t pay off to be related to either of these families. Nasty, brutish, and short indeed.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      If anyone in this day and age is going to beat Nero by a hair it will be Trump. The only question is, What instrument does he play?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Heh. Trump’s twitter account might be the equivalent of Nero’s lyre – both were begged by their advisors to refrain from public displays but they couldn’t help themselves.

        If the ‘resistance’ does not prove futile, perhaps future generations will remember that Trump twitters while worm turns. ;)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump will drain the swamp, instead of Nero’s burning of Rome, and again, this time, blame it on Christians?

        “The Christians did it, not me. They have been seen by the FBI in catacombs under the district.”

        The penalty, then, is to throw them to reality TV shows and their lion hosts…they are the circuses of the 21st century.

    2. Lee

      Read this today in Mary Beard’s SPQR regarding the assassination of Julius Caesar:

      …the popular mood, which was certainly not behind the killers, despite Cicero’s later fantasies that most of the Roman people in the end believed that the tyrant must go. The majority still preferred the reforms of Caesar—the support for the poor, the overseas settlements and the occasional cash handouts—to fine-sounding ideas of liberty, which might amount to not much more than an alibi for elite self-interest and continued exploitation of the unterclass, as those at the sharp end of Brutus’ [usurious] exactions in Cyprus could well have observed.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The eminent stateswoman Nancy Pelosi divines the popular mood, from her designer district in the Peoples Republic of San Francisco:

        House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump has misled the public to a degree that “there are plenty of grounds right now for the current president” to be impeached.

        But the public is not fully on board yet, Pelosi said, because “many of the president’s supporters are not ready to accept the fact that their judgement may not have been so great in voting for him.”

        Pelosi said by the time the case is made for impeachment, “perhaps they will be ready to accept that.” She added, “It’s very hard, impeachment.”


        To which Trump logically should reply, “Go ahead, Nancy. Make my day!

        Setting aside that they are the minority party in both houses, this is another example of Dems’ self-definition as “not Republican,” rather than actually having anything positive to offer.

        Nothing prevents Dems from taking the lead in mending Obamacare … except that it was Pelosi’s and Obama’s signature achievement. So Nancy’s got her heels dug in, threatening to impeach Obamacare’s attacker. Me so scared.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Pelosi dangling the impeachment carrot as a ploy to get the speaker position – it’s the same ’05-’06 zombie tactic all over again.

          If successful I guess we know Trump will be serving out his full term.

          1. RMO

            Isn’t this the same person who ruled out impeachment of the president who committed – in the words of Justice Jackson during the Nuremberg trials – the supreme war crime? Yeah, lots of credibility there.

        2. different clue

          This from the same piece of fece who made sure that “Impeachment is off the table.” concerning Bush and Cheney. Perhaps the difference is that she liked and admired Bush and Cheney and wanted them kept in office AND IN POWER until the very last minute of the very last day.

          Pelosi is a Cheney Democrat and its time to start calling her that. Though if people want to call her a Martin Bormann Democrat, a case could be made for that, too.

  3. irenic

    It’s been said Clinton ran a 20th century campaign while Trump ran a 21st century campaign. Did these same out-of-date DNC (Clinton/Obama) campaign losers just choose Tom Perez to lead the Democrats back to the 20th century?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Ah, yes. The Bridge to the 20th Century.

      Wanna buy it? I’ll give you a really good deal.

      Heck, I’ll even throw in the Brooklyn Bridge!

    2. Pat

      Actually I would say her dependence on a computer program and its recommendations rather than reports from people on the ground says she was running a 21st Century Campaign as designed by the people who gave you the ACA roll out. If she had run a 20th Century campaign, she would have listened to the data and information the local offices tried to tell her. She would have campaigned in every state rather than setting up her transition team.

      But as I keep saying Clinton lost because she was so smart she was stupid (how do you forget the electoral college) and largely incompetent. And yes, the same people who were sure Clinton couldn’t lose are the ones who just chose Tom Perez to lead Democrats out of the minority pretty much everywhere. Another stellar judgment call.

      1. tgs

        And yes, the same people who were sure Clinton couldn’t lose are the ones who just chose Tom Perez to lead Democrats out of the minority pretty much everywhere.

        They don’t think she lost. People like Brazille, to name one of many, believe that Putin ‘hacked the election’. No need for introspection or a rethink of policy.

        That is their story and they are sticking with it!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Democrats ran Congress for most of the 20th century despite 20th century politics. The majorities disappeared after Bill took over. I wonder if there is a connection.

        The country doesn’t need two Republican parties. Only nostalgia and fear holds Team Blue together, and the battle tested Hillary with her unparalleled experience lost to Donald Trump.

        In 1992, Bill Clinton could only 43% of the vote against 41 and a guy who wanted to lock up alcoholics. The problem is Clinton Inc, not the century.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Democrats losing the House in 1994 after dominating it for forty years was telling. They thought they owned the House forever. Hell, so did I. When the election returns came in, I was like ol’ Osama bin Laden watching the twin towers fall: “Whoa, I did that?”

          A couple of factors in that epic loss: one was HillaryCare. After Hillary’s celebrity tour of Congressional committees to pitch it, not one of the six committees ever reported out a bill. They couldn’t make heads nor tails of where the real power lay in HillaryCare’s byzantine administrative structure.

          Then there was Bill’s 1993 tax hike, after he had campaigned on a middle class tax cut. With their platoons of insider advisers, the Clintons could not possibly have been so naive as to suddenly discover the real fiscal situation only after taking office. Bill just thought he could flimflam the public with slick talk and a big smile.

          Grandiose, Big Pharma ghostwritten health coverage remains a staple of the D party, along with bracing tax hikes for all. If we just double down on this platform — and the Clintons’ evergreen Permanent Campaign — surely it will work next time round! ;-)

          1. different clue

            I think it was the Forced Trade Agreements . . . NAFTA, WTO Membership, MFN for China . . . which minoritized the Democrats myself.

    1. chuck roast

      What is cloud flare anyway?
      Should I be afraid?
      Or should I just lapse into standard American sociopathy?

    1. Clive

      Another rampant one, too (certainly here in southern England, not sure about folks in Zone 4 and harsher) — but absolutely beautiful and a delight as far as I’m concerned.

      1. paul

        Hydrangeas are very good value, tough as boots. They flourish 400 miles north in the nascent land of jockistan.
        Tip, if you want a blue one, stick an old sardine tin in with the root.

        1. Keith Howard

          It’s acid soil that the blue expression requires, no? How does the sardine can help with that? Here in Denver, our biggest problem keeping hydrangeas alive is the dry weather and air.

          1. paul

            Just what my mum told me,seemed to work; I’ve got a red and blue one next to each other, but I can’t remember which one got the can. Both doing well in our crappy,wet and windy climate.

            1. Harold

              Acid soil helps makes iron, a nutrient, available to plants, and tin cans seem to be mostly made of steel — so. It may be that available iron is even more important than acidity for plants like hydrangeas.

              I don’t know if steel or iron would actually acidify the soil, though. Sardines would certainly provide other plant nourishment, provided that cats didn’t get it first. I would worry about cutting my hands, or worse, my feet on old tin cans while digging or weeding. Tetanus.

  4. dcblogger

    Chris Hedges:

    The Return of American Race Laws
    The warmup act for a full-blown American fascism and orchestrated race war is taking place in immigrant and marginal communities across the United States: Racial profiling. Random police stops. Raids at homes and businesses. People of color pulled from vehicles at checkpoints. Seizures of individuals with no criminal records or who never committed a serious crime. Imprisonment without trial. Expedited deportation hearings and removal proceedings that violate human rights. The arrest of a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, who along with the program’s other 750,000 successful applicants had revealed all personal history to the government in applying for DACA status. Parents separated, perhaps forever, from their children. The hunted going underground. The end of the rule of law. The abandonment of the common good. The obliteration of a social state in which institutions and assistance programs—from public education to Social Security and welfare—make justice, equality and dignity possible.

    1. cocomaan

      Trump is a disaster for people who aren’t citizens, I recognize that. It’s not just a US problem, but a nation state problem: people who are not citizens of a nation have no rights. We have yet to deal with that, from Syrian refugees to Mexican ag workers to terrorists crossing borders. As I’ve said here before, Hannah Arendt pointed out a long time ago that refugees and non citizens were an unresolved hangover from WW1 that started the holocaust.

      But then Hedges says:

      White Europeans who are undocumented are not being targeted. The executive orders of President Trump are directed against people of color. They begin from the premise that white Americans are the true victims of neoliberalism, deindustrialization and falling living standards. The Trump orders are written not to make America great again but to make America white.

      I can’t take the first sentence seriously. Do we know this at all? Are Eastern European immigrants somehow exempted? Trump voters I talked to were once complaining about Eastern Euro immigrants here. What rules exist for Western Europeans in America? When are they “undocumented”? Who is white, under Hedges’ definition? Does the audience he’s speaking to know his definitions?

      1. Jim Haygood

        White Europeans who are undocumented are not being targeted.

        It’s an overstatement, but probably accurate as applied to mass profiling. In a crowd in Times Square, who are the undocumented ones? Profiling says to stop the hispanic, middle eastern and African looking ones first.

        Sure, they could raid some Irish bars and find some Irish working on tourist visas. Or raid some suburban homes in Westchester County to rout out eastern European au pairs without work visas. But how likely is that?

        It’s the millions of hispanic US citizens who are going to get seriously pissed at having their bona fides questioned based on how they look. A dark-complexioned Puerto Rican I know was once grilled by Customs on return from visiting the Dominican Republic.

        She “went Bronx” on the agent. “How many boroughs in New York City, huh?” she bellowed, waving her five manicured fingers in his face. “How many boroughs?” it was her full-on dose of NYC attitude, not the passport, that made the Customs agent back off. Multiply such confrontations by a few million, though, and there’s gonna be trouble.

      2. Gareth

        If you want to find some people who over stayed their tourist visas and are working illegally, start raiding Irish pubs. It ain’t going to happen.

    2. hreik

      ty. from the link you shared.

      Presidential chief strategist Stephen Bannon, in his public comments and his films such as “Generation Zero,” has embraced a historical determinism worthy of Karl Marx. He posits that Western culture has been contaminated and is being destroyed by darker races and barbaric religions and belief systems. His conspiratorial view of history and society sees a global war between the white race and the lesser breeds of the earth as not only inevitable but one that will reinvigorate and purify America.

      Racists and conspiracy theorists such as Bannon, Michael Anton, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka constitute Trump’s ideological brain trust. Gorka goes so far as to argue that the failure to understand the evil of radical Islam stems from a “systematic subversion of the national security establishment under the banner of inclusivity, cultural awareness and political correctness.”

      1. Harold

        Northern “races” were painting selves blue and practicing human sacrifice while darker races were building cities with plumbing, inventing algebra, and penning immortal poetry, etc. But racists like Bannon would then say that the urbanized folks were soft & decadent and the barbarians upright and manly — or something.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Using programs put in place by Obama, private prisons built by Obama, troops armed by Obama, ICE whose rules and regulations were set up by Obama, who also deported record numbers…

      One gets tired of the special pleading after awhile. I know why Democrats do it — hat tip, Ray Teixeira
      on the “coalition of the ascendant,” the strategy that lets Democrat elites lay back in their easy chairs on policy while waiting for the demographics to kick in — but let’s not pretend it has anything to do with humanity, principle, morality, or values.

      1. Procopius

        I kind of hope (probably futilely) that they wake up to the fact that demographics ain’t gonna save them, that’s a f*cking opioid dream.

  5. Roger Smith

    Al-Qaeda Gets An Oscar [Moon of Alabama]

    This was one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. Close to two decades of never ending war and death, and then terrorists we were fighting win a Hollywood award. Truly a wondrous series of events to behold.

    Then the double whammy from Bush’s interview with Lauer spurred by his book, “Guilty Paintings of Soldiers I Might Have Killed”. GWB: “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We needed the media to hold people like me to account.”

    Stop! It’s too much! We clearly are living in a comedy and whomever runs the Matrix is doing a poor job of hiding the cracks.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Living in a comedy would explain a lot. The NYT is shocked, shocked that Trump used the loaded term “enemies of the people” in referring to the press, without being appropriately lettered and credentialed:

      Nina Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev and a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York, said the phrase was “shocking to hear in a non-Soviet, moreover non-Stalinist setting.”

      Her great-grandfather, she said, “of course also used Soviet slogans and ideological idioms but still tried to stay away from sweeping denunciations of whole segments of the Soviet population.”

      She added that, in all likelihood, Mr. Trump had not read Lenin, Stalin or Mao Zedong, but the “formulas of insult, humiliation, domination, branding, enemy-forming and name calling are always the same.”


      Hell, I’ve been calling the Hudson River toll takers “enemies of the people” since time immemorial.

      But the term’s use becomes particularly appropriate after eastern Europe bolted from Comecon in 1989, and proceeded to be recruited and militarized as US satellites under NATO.

      We are the Soviets now, comrades. Stop reading this and meet your production quota.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Khruschev’s kids and grandkids have been trotted out to bray “Not since the Soviet Union have I seen such a thing!” for DECADES.

        1. epynonymous

          *redacted* Al Quada unperson. Stop. Redact to ISIS. Stop.

          Crimea and Syria are at peace. Stop. Redact Asia. Stop.

          Trump unperson.

        1. Jim Haygood


          Are we to believe that Stalin read Ibsen? Or it was just a case of great minds thinking alike?

      2. jrs

        ” said the phrase was “shocking to hear in a non-Soviet, moreover non-Stalinist setting.” ”

        of course Henrik Ibsen used it before then as the name of a rather famous play. Shocking?

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Don’t forget the “Best Picture” winner from a few years ago, Zero Dark Thirty.
      Propaganda of the highest order. Even includes a lovely “torture works!” theme. Hollywood goes wild with approval.
      It’s a nice business model: dolt with ten bucks pays it over in return for agreeing to watch state-sponsored agitprop. Dolt then signs tax return, paying to make the agitprop come true.

      1. epynonymous

        I hear the whole “mix-up” is fake.

        Steve Harvey got page views, so just rehash last year’s controversy.

        The muppets will fall in line.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Dolt then signs tax return, paying to make the agitprop come true.

        Trump’s proposed budget will add $54 billion to proposed war defense spending.

        This is pure, late Soviet-era value subtraction. It’s actually worse that paying people to dig holes and fill them up again: blowing sh*t up overseas produces blowback that necessitates billions more in avoidable security costs.

        What do you call the citizens of a fading empire that thinks it needs to hike global military spending, when it’s so far behind its developed economy peers in health care and life expectancy?


          1. Procopius

            Well, you actually have to cut Stillicho some slack. He couldn’t raise more legions because the Vandals had been pushed out of Spain and so conquered North Africa, both cutting tax revenue and raising the cost of grain and olive oil.

  6. fosforos

    There happens to be a law against material support to terrorists that specifically names Al Qaeda and includes any organizations helping it even indirectly. Trumpe-l’oeil swore an oath to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. In this flagrant case not to prosecute would be to violate his oath–ie., perjury, a very High Misdemeanor indeed. Now lets see which Demoncrud offers a resolution to impeach. But don’t hold your breath waiting…

  7. Altandmain

    This one is important. Sleeping walking into an arms race with the Russians.


    The military industrial complex needs to be fed after all, as do the neoconservatives. Importantly it sees things from a Russian perspective.

    More on the Perez decision.


    A lot of key grassroots people will stay away from the Democratic Party for a while because of this.

    Actually, does anyone else here suspect that Trump may get 60 Senate seats during the Midterms in 2018? There are a lot of Democratic Senators up for election and few Republicans.

    This is a dangerous time for the Democratic Establishment to be brushing off the left.

    1. Jim Haygood

      There are a lot of Democratic Senators up for election and few Republicans.

      Twenty-five Democrats [counting Sanders of VT and King of ME who caucus with them] and eight Repubs.

      Hay muchas hormigas y pocos vaqueros
      [There are many ants and few cowboys]

      — Calle 13, El Hormiguero

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Only two Republicans are in any real danger in Arizona and Nevada. The Dems have to hold serve on eight seats, and Warner’s results in 2014 don’t bode well for Timmy in 2018. Warner was really popular, and he was canceling rallies on the eve of besting a sacrificial lamb (probably the next governor) by less than 20,000 votes.

        I don’t see an anti-Trump wave materializing. The “Party of No” didn’t produce votes for Team Blue despite predictions of a wave.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Jeff Flake is in danger of losing his Senate seat? All right! Let’s make it happen, fellow Zonies.

    1. Portia

      that horse is like, well, that’s the expression I would be wearing if I got my nap and snack interrupted for that nonsense…

    1. ChrisAtRU

      from @es_snipes: “We gotta tea party the shit out of the DNC.”

      Explains the secret ballot, doesn’t it?

      1. Pat

        Were both ballots secret or only the second. Since Ellison’s numbers didn’t change, I’m pretty sure the secret ballot is not a lot of protection if it was only in effect the second ballot.

        1. ChrisAtRU

          Looks like it was both. NPR has a timeline of activities here. Donna Brazille makes the decision to go paper ballots after declaring, “It is time to vote.” (1:27 EST)

          1. Vatch

            All Democratic governors and members of Congress are also members of the Democratic National Committee. People could call their the offices of their governors and Congress-folks and ask whether they voted for Ellison or Perez. It might be interesting to see how they squirm.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          The original plan was to use “clickers,” so [head desk] on sucky and hackable electronic technologies, from a conference chair who couldn’t manage to play a video on a big screen.

          So, Brazile decided to go with paper ballots, and this was done for both votes. However, the vote was most certainly secret between round one and round two (and how hard can it be to fill out a spreadsheet with the yays and nays) and as far as I know the vote was never disclosed afterwards.

          Unbelievable, or all too belieavable, for a party establishment that used every form of chicanery during the primary would say “screw the bylaws!” when electing a chair.

          That said, why no floor protest? Let’s have some more polarization, not this “unity” bushwa.

    2. Pat

      Some important information in that article that makes clear it was as much about the gravy train as it was about getting Democrats elected. If ever.

      Not just the sticker and attitude, but a Trump war room manned by Podesta’s groups and Brock’s groups. Think about it. Kaine and DWS ran the DNC into the ground. Despite the fundraising the party was broke. And it will obviously continue to be broke even if they raise tons from distraught liberals. Because obviously paying people who were so divorced from reality they managed to forget how the President is elected millions to run your opposition campaign is truly good management. (And you know it will be millions on millions before they can exert enough revenge on Trump to oust him from office.)

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Oh no doubt … as someone posted recently, it’s like a hedge fund for party operatives … they literally don’t even care about winning any more (not that they can without anything positive to offer) … it’s all about grift and graft.

        Ian Welsh is right.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Candidates need money and on the ground operations by June 1st (this is why the Kochs wield so much power, they donate early.). Clooney and friends raising an ungodly sum for October TV and Facebook ads is just a wealth transfer. Direct “volunteer” contact is the best way to win a vote, but without organized campaigns to do this, energy will be misdirected towards parades and sign waving if there is energy.

        Every dollar spent on a twitter bot resulted in a Hillary loss to Donald Trump and the Democrats not winning the Senate despite a favorable map.

  8. WheresOurTeddy

    “It’s time for Democrats to become the party of American exceptionalism” [Ronald A. Klain, WaPo].


    A helpful guide for reading the Washington Post: Whatever position it espouses, your position should be the opposite. If you find yourself agreeing with anything, check your premise.

    Here’s IF Stone taking them to task for arguing for the exceptionalism of the Brazilian military, cheerleading the 1964 coup


    Cheering the conviction of Eugene V Debs in 1919

    If you are a billionaire or live at the trough of the Security State, disregard, for all is well.

  9. Oregoncharles

    All things considered, why does anyone on the left even care who is chair of the DNC?

    if they want to run themselves into the ground (25%, now), it’s all to the good.

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      Using this whimsical erudite blog as my soapbox, I’ve been predicting that the Democratic Party will go the way of the Whigs. Remember the Whigs? Of course not—nobody’s that old—-but it was a prominent political party for a while in the Estados Unidos. Like the current Democratic Party, it disappeared slowly, then all at once.

      Things are changing. CNN was once a seemingly omnipotent institution; now it’s merely an impotent institution.

      I agree with Oregoncharles above: if you’re going to be a leftist, you can’t support the mealy-mouthed crooks that comprise the dem establishment. The Democratic Party is an institution whose time has come—to die.

      1. Darius

        Democrats keep talking about opportunity. How nebulous. Now jobs is something to fight for.

        The Whigs were the not Democrats of their day. Unable to take a consistent stand on slavery, the overriding question of the day. The Democrats are the not Republicans, unable to take a stand on underemployment, stagnant wages or cratering life expectancy.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          The Democrats, since the days of McGovern and Carter, are also unable to take a stand on the issue of War vs. Peace. It was so easy for a Republican prez to usurp the used-to-be Democratic role as the peace party.

          The Democrats don’t stand for peace. They don’t stand for anything. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

          American leftists should indeed be cheering for the quick demise of the dems, all the while preparing the phoenix which will indubitably rise from the ashes.

    2. Vatch

      why does anyone on the left even care who is chair of the DNC?

      It symbolizes whether or not the leaders of the party have learned from their mistakes in 2016. 200 of them have learned (or were correct in the first place), but 235 of them still have not learned anything from the debacle.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Consider reading the post:

      Let’s not forget that the Democrat Party has assets — ballot lines, data, and having been written into statutes nationwide — that are worth seizing. Personally, I admire people willing to step into the cesspit to do that. (And the counter-arguments: an important piece dissecting “entryism,” here.)

  10. jerry

    Was just thinking about if there was no Naked Capitalism, and how much more isolated and insane I would feel.. looking out at a world gone mad with apparently no one actually SEEING whats happening other than me and very few others.

    Great to have you NC, thanks for your service to the American people!

    1. epynonymous

      Secretly, I wonder if our Glorious Exiled Leaders aren’t Russians.

      Like Vineyard for the Saker, Moon of Alabama, and Zero Hedge are. Stop me if I’m wrong.

      Alot of real Russians (not to be confused with *fake* Russians) are pro-western. The Russian internal situation RE: (politically) White Russians was always unstable. Even compromised. see Krushev.

      It’s ok to feel insane once you know it’s real name, independent enlightenment. Perhaps as a hermit on a mountain, or some jester to the throne.

      Our minds cannot see what it does not understand. I like to compare it to remembering the first time you looked inside a car’s engine compartment. You stood slack-jawed, and maybe watched and learned to imitate how your parents checked their oil and filled their windshield washer fluid.

      Maybe you put some time into it, and learned to recognize the car’s starter, timing belt, radiator, and power steering unit. Next thing you know, you can find the starter in any car. Even replace it yourself by replacing three or four bolts.

      Ce la vie. Much agreed.

      1. jerry

        Well said! Reminds me of Melville:

        “He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God”

    2. Peter Pan

      Was just thinking about if there was no Naked Capitalism, and how much more isolated and insane I would feel..

      Amen. Before I started reading NC in January 2007 I thought I was the only person that understood we were facing a great financial crisis. When I attempted to explain this to family, friends & acquaintances they’d look at me as if I were nuts. Sometimes they’d tell me I was nuts. When I told them that it would take down two or three top line insurance companies they didn’t want to hear about any more. (I was wrong, it took down only one, AIG.)

      I remember reading the text of a speech by NY Fed Timothy Geithner (March 2007 ?) and thinking to myself that this man is oblivious, ignorant, etc. After reading that I went to NC and there was Yves Smith’s take-down of Geithner’s speech. I was hooked.

      NC was crucial to my mental well being back then and continues to do so to this day.

      1. Darius

        I was still a yellow dog D then. I may have agreed with you about Geithner but would have said electing a Democrat was more important than worrying about him. How quaint. Huh?

  11. Oregoncharles

    That’s a lace-cap hydrangea. Only the tiny flowers in the middle are fertile; the others just serve to attract pollenizers. Not that they ever set seed, in my experience.

    Hydrangeas are a PH indicator: pink means your soil is neutral or alkaline. Acid makes them blue. (There are some that are only pink.)

    1. robnume

      The lace capped hydrangea is one of my personal favorites; they are hot-cold hardy but I have attempted to change the color using acid fertilizer, coffee grounds, etc. and the lace cap has always stayed mostly white, with a tinge of pink around the petal edges. Grandiflora Hygrangea are the only ones that I have had color change success with. They are the most commonly seen hydrangea and are the most popular Victorian era flowering plants; the most popular non-flowering plant back then was the Boston Fern. BTW, I have grown lace capped Hydrangea indoors, in front of a window with bright indirect light, and they profusely flower indoors.

      1. Darius

        There’s a hillside in Kamakura Japan that’s covered with hydrangeas. In late June it’s breathtaking.

  12. L

    Vox, oddly enough has a good article on the election here To my mind the most telling quote is actually one of the shortest from the Ohio DNC Chair David Pepper:

    “A few will say that, I’m sure, but with what Paul Ryan and Trump are doing, I’m confident we’ll unite,” Pepper said.

    So it seems that the strategy for the DNC has not changed from Clinton’s assumption that once people know what Trump is they will be “with her.” And that all the opposition would just “come home.”

    Given how well that worked the last time…

  13. Jim Haygood

    Today marks twelve successive record closes for the Dow Industrials, tying the previous record streak from Jan 1987. Note that the ferocious momentum of the Jan 1987 launch carried on for seven more months, to Aug 25, 1987.

    A CBS News article last Friday (which Skynet resolutely refused to allow me to post or even paraphrase) was headlined “Don’t get too excited about Dow’s eleven-session streak,” and contained more cautionary language in the text.

    Rest assured that by the time Bubble III reaches for the stars, the MSM will be screeching, “Just buy everything — fabulous wealth is within your grasp!”

    In other news, Dr Hussman posted his annual report this week, in lieu of commentary. His flagship fund lost about 11.5%, inversely mirroring the S&P’s 11.5% gain. This is strange, since his fund is neutral, not short. Explanation is the nightmarish time decay of the puts he uses to hedge out market exposure. No different than affixing a dozen leeches on each leg and watching yourself bled white.

  14. Darius

    American exceptionalism: a country where a tax audit hits a guy making minimum wage, derailing his plans to get his impacted, infected wisdom teeth removed. Because his employer screwed up his withholding then went out of business.

  15. JohnnyGL

    I’ve got Dem friends that were shrieking that Paul Ryan was going to take a hacksaw to SS/Medicare. I replied saying Trump’s driving the bus, not Paul Ryan, and Trump didn’t run on cutting entitlements and if he did, he’d have lost. Well, if this is any kind of signal…


    In other news….pay no mind to the mass graves from ISIS, it’s Assad who must go!

      1. L

        Thank you for the shout out Vatch. Clearly not all of Trump’s own team is on board with protecting Medicaire and SS. According to recent reporting there are fault lines within the White House on how aggressively to cut the medicaid expansion (not if but when) with Pence and Prebius favoring aggressive moves and the others arguing for delay.

        If they are that eager to cut that expansion even in the face of opposition from the governors I find it unlikely that they will hold off on Medicare and Social Security for any great deal of time. More than likely they will argue, as Paul Ryan always has, that the cuts are necessary to “save it.”

        Moreover, Vice news also added another two factors to the budget story that I had not noticed before, due to the budget control act the 2018 budget will need 60 votes to pass meaning that Democrats and deficit-conscious Republicans will be required meaning that some sort of Grand Bargain may be in the works or that they will have to resort to additional can kicking. Either way it will strengthen Ryan and McConnell’s hand in their dealings with Trump.

        When you add to that the fact they still do not have a 2017 budget which is now due in April, nothing seems to be safe.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To pay for military spending and to cut Social Security, they will have to say ‘old soldiers never die. They keep on defending the country.’

          It’s not so smart to say that though.

          Still, I hesitate to see people under-estimate the Republicans. Their being not-so-smart tends to lure the activists into letting the guard down just a bit. The more ‘conservative’ attitude, I think, is to remind ourselves that nothing really good ever comes easy.

          Let’s prepare as if they won’t cut Medicare and Social Security.

  16. Foppe


    China in particular is on a city-building spree that beggars anything the world has ever seen. Over half a billion Chinese now live in urban areas, triple the total of 60 years ago. That’s roughly equal to the populations of the US, Canada and Mexico combined. China is also home to the world’s biggest urban agglomeration: the Pearl River Delta, across from Hong Kong, bursting with somewhere between 42 and 60 million inhabitants. Even Nanchang, the unglamorous provincial city that is the nearest major urban area to Lake Poyang, is fringed with fast-growing forests of high-rise apartment blocks.

    In the past few years, China has used more cement than the US used in the entire 20th century. Last year alone, the nation used enough construction sand to cover the entire state of New York an inch deep.

    All that sand has to come from somewhere. In the region around Shanghai, it came until recently from the bed of the Yangtze River. That turned out to be a bad idea. By the late 1990s miners had pulled out so much that bridges were undermined, shipping was snarled, and 1,000ft swaths of riverbank collapsed.

    Unnerved by the damage to a waterway that provides water to 400 million people, Chinese authorities banned sand mining on the Yangtze in 2000. That sent the miners swarming to Poyang Lake.

    1. Foppe

      And keep in mind that this insane amount of sand is only *part* of what was necessary to keep the global economy chugging along at a (macro) snail’s pace, given that most of the world’s economies are either stagnant or in a de facto recession/depression. Leaving aside the question where we will get the sand, when will we start running out of the necessary physical environment necessary to keep up with the required 3% compound growth that keeps the system from collapsing? I mean sure, there’s parts of Sth-Am, and most of Africa, that are “undeveloped”. But unless and until those continents’ populations triple or quadruple, there simply won’t be demand for the volume of stuff that would need to be built 10-15y down the road.

      1. reslez

        > keep in mind that this insane amount of sand is only *part* of what was necessary to keep the global economy chugging along at a (macro) snail’s pace

        Don’t worry, all these problems will go away when we have a nice big world war. That is to say the current problems will be superceded with new, more pressing ones. Wars cleanse away demand deficiency and provide irrefutable reasons for rebuilding infrastructure. Deficit hawks don’t dare argue against war spending or full wartime employment. Since we clearly don’t want nuclear powers directly duking it out it’ll have to be a huge proxy war. I’m trying to think of a place that would actually be rebuilt after a war and drawing a blank… guess that leaves Europe (again) or (more likely?) Asia. (Or maybe this is what Ukraine is actually about.) Nobody cares about nuclear power plants going under so as long as nukes aren’t dropped all should be well!


    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Should have stuck with their Luddite construction method that was used to build the “Thousand Year Wall” – Rammed earth lined with bricks., and not greenhouse gas emitting Portland cement.

  17. Daryl

    > Despite Ryan’s supposed interest in policy detail, his party’s plans to replace the Affordable Care Act have been farcical. The website set up for the House plan literally consists of one sentence promising outcomes with no detail

    This is why my eyes roll up into my head whenever the media calls someone a “wonk.” It’s a lot like when sports commentators talk about a player’s “intangibles” in that they can’t point to something actually useful they have done.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Depending on the length of that sentence, I guess.

      The Oracle of Delphi used to speak in short sentences and it worked until it didn’t.

      “An empire will be destroyed.”

      “Great! I think it’s a Go!”

  18. Chauncy Gardiner

    I expect the continued hemorrhaging of public offices will eventually end the Dem establishment’s Morris-Clinton post-election triangulation strategy. But for now they just can’t quit it, and it will likely take another election or two of erosion before they finally acknowledge their strategic failure and do so, if they don’t fall on their swords.

    It was the staple meme of their political upbringing and is their perceived key to attracting corporate funding, which in turn is presented as THE key to winning elections. It is not. Votes win elections. As Mao said, “Politics rules all,” and if you build it, they will come… likely hat in hand because they really won’t have a choice after you win.

    I find it instructive to see yet another Republican administration quickly moving to the neoliberal right, rather than toward the center, despite losing the popular vote as did Bush II in 2000. Unsurprisingly, it seems they have adopted the Bush-Cheney playbook, rather than triangulation. It is also instructive that both Bill Clinton and Obama moved to the right after their respective elections, rather than toward progressive policy positions, as both those presidents adopted aggressively neoliberal and neocon policies post-election.

    So why are progressive policies forbidden fruit?

  19. Propertius

    Progressives should claim one of the oldest ideas in American thought — the concept of American exceptionalism — for their own

    That’s pretty funny, since the term “American exceptionalism” was IIRC coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929. I’m surprised some Democratic operative hasn’t tried to exploit this to further link the Republicans to Putin.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “American exceptionalism” was coined by Stalin? Ban it!

      Nina Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev and a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York, said the phrase was “shocking to hear in a non-Soviet, moreover non-Stalinist setting.” — NYT

      Okay, I took that quote out of context. Ms K was responding to Trump’s “enemies of the people” quip. But it just goes to show that the Russians have been hacking our culture for longer than we had thought. Obama, who told a class of military cadets that he “believes in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” obviously was a Putin dupe. /sarc

  20. Propertius

    The ABC News link appears to be dead. Perhaps they thought better of it and pulled the story.

    Given that the story amounts to charging a President with treason

    I hear this a lot, but I’m confused about how any of the allegations could satisfy the rather narrow Constitutional definition of “treason”. We didn’t declare war on them when I wasn’t looking, did we?

    I’m not sure you could even scare up the evidence to sustain an espionage charge. Maybe, just maybe there’s a violation of the Logan Act for conversations before the inauguration, but it’s hard to see anything more severe than that.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

      Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

      The argument, I suppose, is that “giving aid and comfort” to an “enemy” (Russia) is what Trump is going. To be fair, Trump could plead ignorance, since The Blob seems to have declared war on Russia (the next war, that is) without telling anyone else, but presumably they didn’t want to roll out a new product during an election.

      1. Propertius

        Leaving aside the question of whether Russia is an “enemy” within the meaning of the Constitution (my unfashionably narrow reading requires an actual state of war – something that hasn’t existed since 1945), the standard of proof required by the Constitution is somewhat problematic:

        No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

        I don’t know how long they’d have to waterboard Donald to get him to confess to anything worse than groping Putin’s secretary.

  21. Plenue

    I know nothing about sportsball (other than that it destroys brains and lives). What’s the story behind the Dennis Green clip?

  22. allan

    Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials [NBC]

    Last month’s deadly commando raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and a number of children, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News.

    Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced “actionable intelligence,” senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday.

    “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into [President Trump’s] administration?” Bill Owens, whose youngest son Ryan was killed during the raid, said. “For two years prior … everything was missiles and drones (in Yemen)….Now all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?” …

    Republicans support the troops and their families as long as they keep their mouths shut
    and are willing to be used as stage props. How long will it be before Mr. Owens is subjected
    to the same treatment from the GOP as Mr. Kahn was last summer?

    1. Goyo Marquez

      I’m fairly sure the father’s premise, everything was missiles and drones, is incorrect. The real disappointment for me is that it takes a change of administration for Democrats to actually care about U.S. Troops in Yemen. My question is why are we involved in Yemen in any way?

    2. jawbone

      Is anyone else amazed that in reporting on the results of the first major raid authorized by the Trump administration, our vaunted, supposedly now fact based and dedicated to Truth, MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) never mention that one of the children killed in that raid was an American girl, the daughter of Anwar al Alaki and his Yemeni wife?

      The summary usually indicates civilian deaths including women and children, but…point out that one of the children was an American citizen? Forbidden, even with Trump as president.

      Oh my.

  23. aletheia33

    lambert: re: who can afford psychotherapy.

    in my state, medicaid covers psychotherapy. many of the therapists in my area serve medicaid clients as part of their practices, on principle. the pay is bad. it is not easy work for them to do. i admire them for it. others do not take medicaid. i don’t know about other states.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That seems sane. I wonder how on earth it happened? That said, I don’t read the patients described in the story as Medicaid recipients. (This narrative began in New York, in Manhattan IIRC, where the patients very definitely were not; perhaps I’m reading that story into this one.)

  24. crittermom

    RE:“How to Self-Publish a Novel in 2017”

    I took a break from further editing on one of two children’s books I’m hoping to self-publish soon (two different age groups), to read Water Cooler.
    Wouldn’t ya know, I end up reading an article about self-publishing!

    However, I’m going a different route since both of mine are hardcover with full-color photos, rather than paperback novels. (MUCH more expensive, but necessary for children’s books). Apples v oranges.

    I’ve now spent months educating myself about publishing & promoting. It’s been very intense. What an education! The information is out there to learn, tho’, & since I have more time than money it’s worth it to me.

    I researched various POD places like CreateSpace, but they afford very little profit for the writer (in addition to not printing hardcover nor landscape format, which I need). And if you noticed, the author mentions hiring professionals for various aspects, which can get quite expensive.
    It remains a much easier way to publish if you’re doing a novel, however.

    When it comes to promoting your book, what surprised me is one bookstore I researched charges you $100-$250 to do a book signing/reading in their store (with other authors), in addition to demanding a 55% discount, as well as a $35 stocking fee per title to put it on their shelves, plus a buy-back guarantee for those books that don’t sell. (Major booksellers like B&N also buy only with a 55% discount & buy-back guarantee).

    They even mention on their site that sometimes no one shows up for book signings or readings, even for those authors represented by major publishers, but tell you ‘don’t be discouraged. You can always try (& pay) to do it again.’

    Now wondering if there’s more money to be made by owning a bookstore? Aarghhhh!

    I remain determined, however, to combine my passion for critters, photography & educating children (as well as adults regarding one of the books), so am forging ahead on my own.
    Also ‘thinking outside the box’ in regards to promoting it, in addition to traditional venues.

    Yes, Lambert, it’s a project that keeps life interesting–that can also drive you to the brink of insanity at times!

    1. Jen

      Seems like a both at a local farmer’s market or flea market would be cheaper.

      Keep us posted. I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

  25. Swamp Yankee

    I love Naked Capitalism, but I think you’ve seriously misfired on the question of therapists. I know you guys are a finance blog, and run in elite circles — but poor people like my kith and kin also have mental health problems and see therapists. This frankly feels rather glib from the standpoint of this opium- and alcohol-ravaged corner of New England — for therapists, paid for by Mass Health/Romneycare, keep me and a number of my friends alive.

    I’m in southeast Massachusetts. I’ve lost a number of friends to heroin, substance abuse, mental illness. I know a number of people who are in recovery, live in poverty, and get their bi-weekly or otherwise episodic therapist/clinician check-up thanks to Mass Health.

    It’s not just pampered Seattle suburbanites who see therapists. Indeed, some of the very victims of Neoliberalism, described in Case-Deaton, that this blog (in my view genuinely) claims to care for the welfare of, would be dead without them.

    This reminds me of one other moment a few months back where — I believe it was Yves — said they just couldn’t fathom why anyone who cared about workers would go through the self-checkout at a supermarket. Well, I am a worker; and I guess maybe you weren’t aware that, for those of us living in rural America on food stamps, going through a self-checkout with our EBT card is one less ritual of public humiliation before our neighbors that we have to go through merely to survive on a daily basis. I’m not sure if that had occurred to many of the folks who work in finance here.

    I like how much this blog points out the class origins of so much swill we see in our propagandistic press. I would likewise urge you to think about your own class position, and where it can steer the authors of this excellent blog occasionally wrong.

    Thanks, from your local scholarship kid.

    1. reslez

      At one point half the people I know were on food stamps, using your EBT card wasn’t judged by anyone I ever saw, and if you were buying organic vegetables with it or anything else good for you for looking after your health. Maybe it depends where you live. A lot of the clerks themselves are on SNAP or just barely above the cut-off. Maybe if you live in a snobby neighborhood? But even supposedly comfortable people are no more than next in line for the chopping block.

      It’s good when we can worry less about what others may be thinking and instead consider the effect our own actions have on the world, even for things like supermarket checkouts.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I don’t know where you are, reslez, but this supermarket serves everyone from super rich to super poor. The attempts at public humiliation are real and ongoing. And frankly, it’s not what others “may be thinking”, it’s what I’ve heard and had expressed to me. But go ahead, do tell me how my life experience doesn’t count.

        Re: “it’s good when we can worry less about what others may be thinking…” vs own effects on the world.

        Yes, it would be good. It would be good if my buddies didn’t die of heroin while a materially cruel but morally self-righteous overclass proclaimed themselves “woke” for using the right checkout counter after a lifetime on Wall Street, but history, as Gorbachev said, isn’t written in the subjunctive.

        And I will be glad to compare my effects on the world with anyone here or beyond, in terms of carbon footprint, local organizing, union action, you name it. Truly, this is some bourgeois bullshit — it’s okay to be finance d-bags, drive a car, fly on freaking jetliners* that destroy our atmosphere, live the good life, eat out at restaurants — but then feel alright telling people who are living hand to mouth that it is _they_ who really ought to “consider our own actions on the world” in their attempt to avoid real humiliation in our daily lives in a way that will — yes, will — be held over us for years.

        If you don’t see how condescending that is, my friend Byrnesie could put it far more plainly and Irishly.

        To the extent that you, reslez, are not part of the financial elite who wrecked the world and now wish to turn into Rosa Luxemburg (but I doubt give up that money!), I apologize for including you in the above; to the extent that you reproduce their reasoning in a profoundly insulting fashion, I do not.

        * This is when I figured that maybe Naked Capitalism really was not my kinda people, when you guys thought that CEOs could maybe move from flying private jets to just business class, as though that would make a goddamn difference in the cooking of the world — Jesus! Forgive this poor boy if I don’t trust you still.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Thank you, Lambert. You guys seem to value an honest appraisal of the world here, and that is what I aim to have provided. I am a poor man, from poor people, who was plucked out through the Common Schools and given the opportunity to see elite academia, etc. For all of that, the only opportunities to become wealthy there involved betraying my class, and I would rather starve than do that.

        If you guys think you’re hard on the banks, you should see what my friends and family have to say about them. I honestly think a lot of these comments — about checkout counters, private jets, etc. — you just may not realize how far removed from the lived experience of the poor they are.

        And while this and my other comments are certainly angry, and I believe justifiably, it would be a mistake to see them as hostile. Indeed, they are your best hopes for avoiding a Jacquerie. For make no mistake, those scythes and pitchforks will care far more that you have spent careers in finance than what you have said on this admittedly admirable (indeed, a daily read for me) blog.

    2. JTFaraday

      What you have here is the intolerant zeal of the newly converted. It doesn’t help that it incorporates a strong reactionary streak.

      I recommend therapy.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        “The intolerant zeal of the newly converted” plus “a strong reactionary streak.”

        Yes, I think that says it well. You would think after a career in finance capital that some humility in dealing with the rest of us after that they had done might be called for, but evidently humility isn’t taught at Harvard Business School, and is no doubt selected against at Goldman Sachs et al.

  26. different clue

    An operational reason for boycotting the self-checkout line might be that if enough people do self-checkout, the stores get to fire some cash register workers. The endpoint of that process would be firing all the cashiers and having only self-checkout lines only.

    Do the cashiers and cashier-line-users look down on EBT card users and make a point of making EBT card users feel humiliated? If they do, they may be cutting their own throats in the long run as rising disemployment drives more people onto EBT and cashier-line-humiliationism drives all those EBT users to the self-check line . . . thereby lowering the need and reason to even HAVE paid human cashiers.

    Now . . . if the cashiers and cashier-line customers do not actually desire humiliation from the EBT-users, then why do the EBT-users feel that they do?

    Can anything be done about this whole problem of really-inflicted and/or falsely-imagined humiliationism? Because enough people avoiding cashiers really will disemploy some cashiers . . . which might increase the number of people on EBT by just that many disemployed cashiers.

    1. Yves Smith

      I never use self checkout if I can at all avoid it. Agreed with your reasoning. If they aren’t sufficiently used, they won’t fire clerks. And if you ever really want to drive the point home and help workers, if you have time when visiting a neighboring store, drop in and tell management you are shopping at their store less due to long store lines and that you won’t ever use the self checkout.

      I think someone at CVS once “made” me use it, as in a live person walked me through it, showing how management was determined to get customers on board.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Different Clue — see my reply to reslez above. This humiliation is not imagined. This is lived experienced, with plenty of evidence to be adduced. The cause of all this is Capitalism, of course, pitting petite bourgeois elements against the poor (see the “deserving poor” ideology from the Tudor Poor Laws to the present). The amount of discrimination that occurs against EBT card users is real and has material effects (lost job opportunities for one – yes; lost social opportunities, i.e. “rich girls don’t go out with poor boys” as Fitzgerald put it). We cannot think of this abstractly. We are trying to survive. I envy those with the comfort who can think abstractly about it.

        And Yves, you will have to forgive my frankness, but I think the rather Victorian, noblesse oblige phrasing “if you really … want to help workers” gives a great deal away — I am a worker. My family and friends are all workers. We’ve never worked for McKinsey or Goldman Sachs. Forgive us if we are suspicious of figures from Finance Capital who made careers screwing us trying to “help”* us by making our daily lives harder (i.e., ordering us to suffer repeat & continual humiliation, which in small communities has huge effects) in order to assuage their own guilt at a lifetime of (no doubt remunerative) alliance with and employment by Finance Capital.

        You may want to help us, but I’m not sure if we want your “help”. We are going to take back what is ours anyway, and in that day, whether you tried to “help” us like Victorian missionaries or stood in our way like reactionaries, will make a difference of degree, but not kind.

        I appreciate your work, but you guys have real blind-spots when it comes to how you relate to common people, whatever later-in-life Road to Damascus moments you may have had.

        *The old Massachusetts seal had an Indian on it saying “Come Over & Help Us” — I like this blog a lot, but this image encompasses a lot of the attitude towards workers displayed in some of the above comments.

  27. Savonarola

    Lambert, it is a lace-cap hydrangea. Very pretty. My great-grandmother swore by driving nails into the soil around hers to get the color she wanted.

  28. JTFaraday

    “Heaven knows I don’t want to mock human suffering, but anybody who can afford a therapist week after week probably doesn’t have all that much to worry about.”

    You are mocking human suffering. At one point I had a weekly therapist and I paid all of $6 a week. Politics did something to do with why I was there, and I did talk about it.

    For that matter, many of you sound like you could use some psychological help yourselves.

    I was going to say “no judgment” but that is my judgment, so I guess I can’t say that after all.

    1. Plenue

      “For that matter, many of you sound like you could use some psychological help yourselves.”

      Oh really?

    2. jrs

      I don’t believe that having a therapist indicates any great wealth. However I also don’t believe that “you need psychological help” is actually meaningful. Because I did two decades of therapy or so (with more than one therapist) and don’t have that much to show for it. So I’m not A BELIEVER as it were.

      Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, and it’s up to anyone’s individual judgement whether it is worth the money (besides for some things there are alternatives anyway and yes they are often free such as the 12 steps – not that those are for everyone either, they aren’t, but saying people must seek out expensive therapy is absurd).

      As for therapy and money how it often is is if you have health insurance they will pay for part of it, they’ll pay their % (70% under a silver plan say) for a certain number of sessions (I don’ think it’s infinite). I believe some of this coverage is mandated under the ACA (some kind of mental health parity) but I’m not sure. Sure I guess people are lucky to have insurance as opposed to people who don’t. If you don’t go with insurance paying or the insurance runs out it will be whatever the therapist charges. Maybe you are poor and they treat you on an extreme sliding scale (but I can’t imagine any of them working for $6 without insurance or government or someone else ponying up, minimum wage is more than that, but they will do a sliding scale in many cases).

      The rest I agree doesn’t make sense. Is everyone in therapy free from anxiety about retirement? Uh noone is pretty much. Only government workers are getting pensions. A lot of people in therapy are probably middle class and playing the 401k game AND NOONE can afford Paul Ryan cutting Social Security or something. Have people in therapy lost jobs? Try to find anyone in Gen X or Millenial at least who haven’t had a bout of unemployment or several. That’s not the economy we live in. They might be quite anxious about their jobs. They might deal with it in therapy. Yes some problems of therapy would in an ideal world be solved by social change, but people try to make do in this world. As for losing a child to heroine, drug use cuts across class (though not perfectly equally perhaps) so yes they may have even if they are well off. And therapists have heard it, you can’t bet on it. There are people in expensive rehabs for heroine and other addictions afterall. I do of course think that if someone’s teeth are rotten they should prioritize that over therapy, but that’s my judgement call and not everyone’s will be the same (their mental distress may be greater than their teeth pain).

    3. jrs

      “For that matter, many of you sound like you could use some psychological help yourselves.”

      that makes it sound like therapy is magic. And it’s not. There is no guarantee that therapy will fix whatever others may think is wrong with someone personality (say they are hateful or a jerk or merely jealous of everyone or whatever). It’s not magic. And there is no guarantee it will fix it EVEN IF that person very much wants to fix it (the lightbulb wants to change).

      Even if the only thing that is wrong with one’s personality is that one is unhappy. Therapy does not have the answer to everyone’s unhappiness. It simply doesn’t. Now is it better to try therapy than killing oneself or something? Of course it is. But therapy doesn’t not have the answers to all human unhappiness. Therapist can’t always know you better than you know yourself. Yes I know that’s one of the un-articulated promises and there are many (and they look harsher in the full light of day), but they simply aren’t all that good to be so brilliant at reading people. No magic.

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