2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“According to an administration draft proposal being circulated in Congress by the U.S. trade representative’s office, the U.S. would keep some of Nafta’s most controversial provisions, including an arbitration panel that lets investors in the three nations circumvent local courts to resolve civil claims. Critics of these panels say they impinge on national sovereignty” [Wall Street Journal]. “The document appears to be a compromise between the desires of trade hawks to use Nafta renegotiations as a way to set a new trade agenda and moderates who back the U.S. traditional commitment to free trade. The Congress is split along those lines as well.”

“The decades-long rising wave of globalization that remade the world economy is receding. The recent rise of nationalist politicians and protectionist trade rhetoric is the culmination of a broader push against global business since the financial crisis… that’s left global trade barely growing when compared with overall economic output, international capital flows pulling back and managers of multinational companies starting to dismantle the sprawling supply chains that they’ve built up over decades. The overall picture, from Brexit to Beijing, shows a trading world undergoing fundamental, long-term change—Maersk Chief Financial Officer Jakob Stausholm calls it ‘a deflationary mindset.’ That’s left merchandise exports contracting and global supply chains no longer growing. China is helping drive the trend with its push to produce more goods for domestic consumption, and big industrial players are following” [Wall Street Journal]. So Trump isn’t leading. He’s following.

“The Trump administration is poised to demonstrate its promised tough approach to trade rules in a long-simmering dispute with the European Union over beef… and has a menu of goods lined up for punitive tariffs of 100% that could roll out in the White House’s first formal push in a trade dispute. The beef case, which has been simmering in the World Trade Organization for years, may provide a window into how aggressive the administration will be with trading partners. The value of imports involved is relatively small, amounting to only around $100 million, but the potential impact on light motorcycles and high-end groceries is also already prompting a backlash. U.S. importers say tariffs on products from paprika to foie gras and fine cheeses would be tough for their customers to swallow” [Wall Street Journal].


New Cold War

“The BBC has learned that US officials ‘verified’ a key claim in a report about Kremlin involvement in Donald Trump’s election – that a Russian diplomat in Washington was in fact a spy” [BBC]. Ah, just like “British intelligence has learned.” Moving on: “So far, no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency – nothing. But the FBI Director, James Comey, told a hushed committee room in Congress last week that this is precisely what his agents are investigating.” “Hushed!” Fancy. And this is the key claim (and the “verification”): “But sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.” Sort of amazing nobody’s willing to go on the record on this, given that — if liberals are to be believed — it’s a case of treason. Or let the public see any evidence. Why doesn’t the intelligence agency drop the other shoe and fake some evidence? After all, they’re experts at that.

“Who is ‘Source D’? The man said to be behind the Trump-Russia dossier’s most salacious claim” [WaPo]. “[T]he Trump administration remains unable to shake the Russia story. While some of the unproven claims attributed in the dossier to Millian are bizarre and outlandish, there are also indications that he had contacts with Trump’s circle.” Hard to see how any administration could “shake” this “story,” given how easy it must have been to write. (As per Water Cooler yesterday, I’d pursue the New York Real Estate angle. But that would take reporting, not access journalism.)

2016 Post Mortem

“Creating a National Precinct Map” [Decision Desk HQ]. Interesting, but unfortunately the interactive version isn’t online now because of server load.

Trump Transition

“President Donald Trump says he’s willing to work with Democrats to craft a new health-care plan, but that idea doesn’t appeal to House Speaker Paul Ryan” [MarketWatch]. “‘I don’t want that to happen,’ the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with ‘CBS This Morning.’ Ryan continued: ‘You know why? I want a patient-centered system. I don’t want government running health care…we should give people choices.’ House Republicans pulled a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare last week after it became clear they did not have the votes.” Shopping for health care. It’s the American Dream!

Well, this blew up fast:


“With the Republican caucus fractured and even moderate Senate Democrats feeling feisty, the road to legislation now runs through minority leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi” [Politico]. Gridlock is our friend. And this, IMNSHO, is why the story isn’t Trump’s tweets, or the Russian nonsense, but what Trump and the Republican caucus can do all on their own: Executive branch personnel, Executive Orders, regulations, international negotiations. And whoever in Congress or the administration thought to leverage the “Congressional Review Act” wasn’t stupid or incompetent; quite the reverse.

“Why Democrats Should Work With Trump” [Will Marshall, New York Times]. “Unlike depriving millions of Americans of health insurance, revamping America’s outdated tax code and modernizing our run-down infrastructure are progressive causes Democrats should be for. And unlike Republicans, whose ideological rigidity and strident partisanship often border on nihilism, Democrats still hew to the quaint notion that the people elected them to solve problems, not prevent them from being solved. McConnellism is not in the party’s DNA.” Marshall is from the Progressive Policy Institute, and what a loon. You don’t “work with” Baby Hitler! Until you do! (I mean, health care… What if (liberal) Pelosi could do a few deals with the (conservative) devil to stave off (the left’s) #MedicareForAll for another election cycle or two? Would that be so very wrong?

“In modern times Congress moves slowly. It took George W. Bush 166 days to win bipartisan approval of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit for older Americans. It took 187 days for Barack Obama to get the Affordable Care Act passed on party lines” [Lou Cannon, RealClearPolitics]. “But the replacement bill known as the American Health Care Act, proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, lasted only 17 days… How did this happen? There are many explanations, but the most obvious one is that the AHCA did not go through the usual legislative process.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Here’s why Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are wearing leather jackets” [Moneyish]. I don’t know when “rocking” came into vogue, or why. I wish it would go away.

“A Liberal Fantasy Ripped from a Hollywood Script” [Politico]. “No, Democrats—the 25th Amendment won’t save you from Donald Trump.” Now that Hitler couldn’t get a bill passed, perhaps it’s time for some of the other liberal fantasies to be laid to rest.

Stats Watch

Corporate Profits, Q4 2016: “Corporate profits rose 22.3 percent year-on-year in fourth-quarter 2016 to $1.741 trillion from $1.423 trillion in fourth-quarter 2015” [Econoday].

GDP, Q4 2016 (final): “An upgrade for consumer spending gives a boost to the third estimate for fourth-quarter GDP, now at 2.1 percent annualized growth vs 1.9 percent in the second estimate” [Econoday]. “Nonresidential fixed investment is downgraded to 0.9 percent from 1.3 percent.” But: “It seems GDP keeps getting better. Personal consumption is now stronger and in the normal range historically since the Great Recession. I have been a doubter on GDP improvement continuing into the 4th quarter, but this was a relatively strong quarter” (charts) [Econintersect]. “A particularly telling representation of slowing growth in the US economy is the year-over-year rate of change. The average rate at the start of recessions is 3.35%. Nine of the eleven recessions over this timeframe have begun at a higher level of real YoY GDP…. [T]he Q4 GDP Third Estimate of 2.1% topped forecasts but is well below the 3.5% GDP for the previous quarter.” And but: “In her press conference following the March Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting, Fed Chair Yellen stated that GDP was a noisy indicator, especially with underlying doubts surrounding seasonal estimates, and the data is also subjected to considerable revisions” [Economic Calendar].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of March 26, 2017: “Erasing a month of steady incremental gains, the consumer comfort index fell” [Econoday]. “The week included the administration’s unsuccessful efforts to repeal Obamacare. The nearly 50 level, though, still points to unusual strength in consumer confidence.”

Jobless Claims, week of March 25, 2017: “Initial jobless claims did fall 3,000 in the March 25 week but the level of 258,000 is higher than expected and, next to the prior week’s 261,000, is the highest so far this year” [Econoday]. “After last week’s report, the Labor Department issued seasonal corrections to this year’s data which lowered rates early in the year at the expense of March.”

Housing: “It is now official that the United States has turned into a renter’s paradise. Think that is hyperbole? Fifty-two of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. are now majority renter in terms of household composition. And there is no clear pattern here. You have places with incredibly affordable housing like Detroit tipping over into the renter majority category at the same time places like affluent Irvine have tipped over as well. Bottom line, more renter households are forming at a time when real estate values are once again peaking” [Dr. Housing Bubble].

Retail: “Canal Street was never a high-end retail experience. But, like many streets in New York City and in cities across the US, it is becoming increasingly desolate. Boarded-up stores line the thoroughfare that bisects much of lower Manhattan. Many stores that are still open for business also display signs that read ‘for lease’ or ‘for rent'” [Guardian]. “‘It’s not Trump,’ said one downcast store-owner recently. ‘It’s not the economy. Something else is happening. People aren’t spending.'” Yves keeps mentioning stores in Manhattan that are closing. What’s happening in retail where you are?

Commodities: “The Great Nevada Lithium Rush to Fuel the New Economy” [Bloomberg]. “The lightest metal on the periodic table of the elements and a superb conductor, it’s what gives the lithium ion batteries in our cell phones, laptops, newer Priuses, and Teslas the ability to recharge more times, last longer, and provide more energy per weight or volume than other battery chemistries. And it’s cost-effective: The lithium in a Tesla costs around $500, less than a roof rack. It’s also what makes devices explode.”

Shipping: “UPS Inc. said today it has added six locations to its full-container load and less-than-container load multimodal rail service between Europe and China” [DC Velocity]. “The company touts that the service can save shippers up to 65 percent compared to the cost of airfreight, while improving transit times by 40 percent over slower ocean freight services.”

Shipping: “Hong Kong registered online booking portal Freightos has raised $25m in funding from a group of investors led by GE Ventures” [Air Cargo News]. “Since its July 2016 launch, Freightos Marketplace orders have increased 600%, said the company, and there are now over 10,000 registered users, including top 20 global freight forwarders, and dozens of sellers. Clients include including Nippon Express, CEVA Logistics, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics and Sysco Foods.”

Shipping: “The number of idle boxships has fallen to its lowest level in six months, with demolition activity continuing at a pace and previously dormant vessels being given a new lease of life as carriers scramble to meet their alliance obligations” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents” [Recode]. The metric is “miles per intervention.”

The Bezzle: “One of China’s top bike-sharing startups is now paying users to ride its bikes” [Quartz]. “How can Mobike afford to pay users to ride its bikes? The company has received over $300 million in venture capital funding recently, including from a recent funding round led by Chinese tech giant Tencent and private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which gives it plenty of money to burn on ‘growth.'” Travis? Hey, Travis!

The Bezzle: “Airbnb Bribes Host With Cash Under NDA After 200 Partiers Destroy Apartment Complex” [Observer].

The Bezzle: “Munchery Stiffs Early Backers and Cuts Staff in a Bid for Survival” [Bloomberg]. Any time you see a startup with one of those cute names, run a mile.

The Bezzle: “Rover and DogVacay merge to dominate the pet-sitting market” [TechCrunch]. “Both had a very similar model, with a marketplace for pet sitting, dog walking and other pet-care services. Each take about a 20 percent cut from bookings. Total bookings on the combined sites amounted to $150 million for 2016. The growing businesses are not yet profitable.” As I said…

The Bezzle: “[Google and the Center for Financial Services Innovation] have been collaborating on ways to help customers wade through financial apps in the Google Play store. They are also trying to guide developers on building better consumer tools” [American Banker]. “The big vision is to help bridge the gap in the underserved community and bring the best financial tools to help them manage their day-to-day” finances, said Ashraf Hassan, partner development manager at Google Play.”

The Bezzle: “What makes economics a science?” [Lars P. Syll]. “[I]f we are to believe most mainstream economists, models are what make economics a science.” Well worth a read, all the way to the conclusion: “Mainstream economic models are nothing but broken pieces models. That kind of models can’t make economics a science.” But I never date models, so I wouldn’t know.

Labor Power: “There are now twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the US” [Vox]. “It all adds up to a lot of jobs. Even though solar power still provides just a fraction of America’s electricity — about 1.3 percent — the industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Solar Foundation. And it’s growing fast: Last year, the solar industry accounted for one of every 50 new jobs nationwide.”

Political Risk: “The Gap Between Sentiment and Certainty Is ‘Stunning'” [Wall Street Journal]. “The gap between “hard” and “soft” data measuring the U.S. economy has never been more disparate, according to a new report from Morgan Stanley, which means investors who have been putting too much weight on the soft data may be in for a rude awakening in a matter of weeks…. That’s typical of the way the soft data has been running lately: far above expectations, and pointing to an economy that should be growing sharply. The hard data, on the other hand, is coming in pretty much as expected, and pointing to an economy that is stuck in its familiar, unsatisfying rut.” Readers who have been following stats will have seen this playing out daily and weekly. Morgan Stanley produced a chart:

Political Risk: “[T]he GDP trackers that measure actual economic activity are much weaker than the NY Fed’s, which incorporates soft data” [Business Insider].

Political Risk: “How long will the soft data support Donald Trump?” [WaPo]. “Still, each day the hard data doesn’t match the soft data, the latter will be more likely to converge towards the former. What Mohamed El-Erian calls ‘The Confidence Economy’ will come to an end.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Greed (previous close: 34, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 30 at 11:49am. Apocalypse Later?

Our Famously Free Press

“If you publish serious claims without any basis that mislead readers, and then refuse to acknowledge new evidence that disproves your original claims – all because you dislike the people you originally smeared with falsehoods too much to correct your error or because you hope the embarrassment will disappear faster if just you ignore it – why should anyone view you as being different than Macedonian teenagers or “alt-right” conspiracy sites? What are the cognizable differences?” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“‘Appflash’ will come pre-installed on all Verizon Android handsets; it’s a Google search-bar replacement, but instead of feeding telemetry about your searches, handset, apps and activities to Google, it will send them to Verizon” [Boing Boing].

“The vote by the U.S. Congress to repeal rules that limit how internet service providers can use customer data has generated renewed interest in an old internet technology: virtual private networks, or VPNs” [Reuters]. “VPNs cloak a customer’s web-surfing history by making an encrypted connection to a private server, which then searches the Web on the customer’s behalf without revealing the destination addresses. VPNs are often used to connect to a secure business network, or in countries such as China and Turkey to bypass government restrictions on Web surfing.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“As the U.S.’s top tech brands ramp up operations in India, they are running into unexpected resistance: Their Chinese equivalents are stepping in to bolster their Indian competitors with billions of dollars in investments and expertise” [Wall Street Journal]. Good thing the chips in our weaponry all are US-made, since that seems to be all we’ll have left. Oh, wait…

Class Warfare

“Unauthorized workers in the US now earn almost as much as those who work legally” [Quartz]. “George Borjas, a veteran labor economist at Harvard, just made a strange discovery. Since the early 2000s, unauthorized immigrants have gotten paid around 9% less, on average, than legal workers with the same skills and backgrounds, he found. Then all of a sudden in 2008—just as the American economy tipped into the abyss of the Great Recession—the average hourly wages of unauthorized immigrants started to climb. And as their pay rose, that ‘wage penalty’ started shrinking, falling under 6% in 2010. By 2014, unauthorized immigrants, on average, earned only 3.4% less than their legal peers…. Indeed, Borjas’ research turned up an intriguing pattern that suggests the policy and legal environment could play a key role. Contrary to the “sanctuary cities” springing up in some states, a handful of other states—Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina—have instituted aggressive policies requiring businesses to check employment eligibility of their prospective hires, starting in 2008. In these states, Borjas found, the wage penalty widened by a whopping 40%.” I like “unauthorized,” if only because, at the systemic level, these immigrants clearly were authorized. Again, they call it “class warfare” for a reason…

“The picture is particularly dark at the bottom of American society. Death rates of people with no more than a high school education have increased at least twice as fast as the national average in every age group. Poorly educated Americans are also much more likely to say they are in bad health than in the past, or compared with their more successful compatriots” [Breaking Views]. “Something is going seriously wrong. It cannot simply be the economy, because the U.S. experience of growth, unemployment and de-industrialisation is shared by other prosperous countries, which have not suffered an increase in deaths of despair. There must be some other reasons for this grim variation on American exceptionalism…. It makes sense that anomie, alienation and the loss of communities are doing more damage in the United States than in other modern lands. Loneliness comes especially easily in a country that has always valued rugged individualism. It also makes sense that the damage is greatest among the Americans who have been most dislocated by the social devaluing of less-skilled labour. The economic pain of this group has been amplified by the fragmentation of families and the decline of what was once another example of American exceptionalism among rich nations: deep religious belief.” They call it “class warfare” for a reason…

“Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide Represent Growing Share of U.S. Mortality” [Shannon M. Monnat, University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy]. “Researchers have identified multiple physiological, pain-related, psychosocial, family and interpersonal, socioeconomic, and neighborhood environment factors that are associated with substance abuse and suicide.12 Recent academic and journalist workalso suggests ties to declining social supports and rising income inequality, economic distress, and instability that have followed from decades of declines in secure and livable wage jobs for those in the working class.13 Although there are political and economic constraints to implementing comprehensive policies that address the underlying causes of high rates of drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality, such policies are likely to provide the best chance for reducing these deaths.”

News of the Wired

“76% of high-performance employees say trade mastery, not money, most important in career decisions” [Medium]. So, not being alienated from your labor makes you happy. Who knew?

“Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?” (PDF) [Pierre Azoulay, Christian Fons-Rosen, Joshua S. Graff Zivin, NBER Working Paper No. 21788]. “To our surprise, it is not competitors from within the field that assume the mantle, but rather outsiders that step in to fill the void created by a star’s absence. Importantly, this surge in contributions from outsiders draws upon a different scientific corpus and is disproportionately likely to be highly cited. Thus, consistent with the contention by Planck, the loss of a luminary provides an opportunity for fields to evolve in new directions that advance the frontier of knowledge within them. The rest of the manuscript tries to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon. It does not appear to be the case that stars use their influence over financial or editorial resources to block entry into their fields, but rather that the very prospect of challenging a luminary in the field serves as a deterrent for entry by outsiders.”

* * *

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 (JM):

Because it’s been a gnarly week!

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. Pat

        I particularly love that Russian trolls fooled Sanders with Anti-Clinton information. Yeah, the guy who waved off her clearly illegal personal server/not turning in her work product until subpoenaed, was fooled with anti-Clinton information. I guess they made up her GS speeches, Bill’s meetings in various countries that donated to the Foundation and then got State approval for large sums of money from the US. And Donna Brazile was fired from CNN because her cheating with Clinton was all made up by Russian trolls.

        God, I hate stupid people who put 2 minus 2 together and get 100, rather than nothing. And yes anyone who buys that Sanders was fooled by Russians is that deranged, deeply in denial and unthinkingly stupid.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If one thought Hillary was a strong candidate for anything other than using her celebrity to advance the cause of the grifter class, one is either stupid or lazy. Anyone who believes the rantings of Donna Brazille (Gore 2000, Gephardt for America, and host of Crossfire) will believe virtually any claim by appropriately credentialed or tribal aligned people no matter how bizarre.

          The power of nostalgia and Hillary’s royal status inured her from criticism of her record and allowed people to concoct bizarre stories about a secret Hillary, and another DLC Democrat wouldn’t be able to get away with that kind of behavior. Kaine’s well attended rallies are where Democrats are without nostalgia/celebrity. I’m convinced Hillary was the strongest candidate Versailles could muster. Can you imagine Kaine on the campaign trail? “Trump wants to defraud you with public private partnerships. When I was governor of Virginia, I signed many public private partnerships, so I know how terrible they are. I also cut taxes on the rich, but it was bipartisan.” What would Kaine say beyond mindless neoliberal platitudes?

        2. BeliTsari

          Armies of paid trolls, spreading baseless agitprop & große Lüge: coordinated and scripted by soulless, dead-eyed sociopaths; lavishly funded by oligarchs, kleptocrats and international crime cartels? KOS is telling the whole smarmy story, and fails to mention David Brock, Robby Mook, Wassermann Schultz or any K Street social networking advocacy solutions firms or liberal blogs by name? https://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/03/30/1648777/-The-Russian-troll-army-that-swung-the-election-for-Trump not a sign of irony

        1. craazyboy

          3 words

          1) Android
          2) Dubbed soundtrack.

          Face was made using cheap Chinese plastic. hahahaha.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Remember folks this is Louise Mensch we’re talking about. Another Brit export to the USA along with Piers Morgan, Andrew Sullivan, and a very depressing stream of others.

      I don’t want to get too hot about this but what is it about Brit Catholics (like these 3) that they find the US more congenial ? Is it the neo-Neanderthal state of US Catholicism that appeals ?

      1. Plenue

        Is it that they actually like the US more, or just that the US is more willing to be deceived by people with posh accents? And it’s not Catholics, the US has also been receptive of atheist Brits like Christopher Hitchens and Niall Ferguson

  1. Altandmain

    Despite everything, does anyone else think that the Democrats may lose 2020?

    They have not for a moment conceded that they were wrong on the economy. It has been far more about blaming Russia and sinking to the Democratic equal of “Obama birther” levels of conspiracy to blame Trump rather than confronting the dirty truth about economic despair.

    I think it is because they are bought. Admitting that Clinton lost because she had nothing to offer and was extremely corrupt would fundamentally alter the relationship between them and the donors. They don’t see politics as a place to serve the public. They see it as a place to build ties and get rich after they leave. Witness the Clinton’s and their speech money.

    The tone of the Democratic leadership, the nomination of Perez, and their other actions do not suggest a party that is really interested in engaging their base.

    Counterpunch – Enough of Russia – plenty of economic despair in US:

    I guess that leaves the question, Primary the Democrats out or form a third party? Both require tons of work for Americans.

        1. Montanamaven

          To complicate things, the Greens finally got on the ballot his year. So there is a Green candidate. The republican is a billionaire and got lots of money. So outspending Rob Quist. Paul Ryan PAC has put a million dollars into Montana. This whole election deal is gross. Hard not to be sucked into it. Give money to the evil Dems or the ineffectual Greens? Or watch HBO’s Big Little Lies?

          1. justanotherprogressive

            To complicate matters even further, Montanans have this uncanny desire to shoot themselves in the head every few years. Montana politics has always just amazed me. I never know what Montanans are going to do from one year to the next……

        2. TMI

          Kansas 4th is one to watch. It’s next and will be a lot closer than predicted by previous races in that district over past two decades and this poll, that shows Thompson (D) down 56% to 32%

          Feuding with State Dems will probably work in his favor. Not much reported on the race and nothing nationally, because it’s Wichita and presumed in the bag for Estes [R). Thompson has to overcome the (D) next to his name, but has a compelling back story to appeal to independents, if he can get the story out there. Campaign says they’ve raised $1/2 million on small ($20 median) donations, majority from Jayhawks. They’re also relying heavily on phone banking and door knocking grassroots, which if you ask me is how these races really get won. Not by polling and TV ads and well-heeled consultants.

          Thus far, apparently unsuccessfully, Thompson has been both trying to link Estes to the unfavorable Brownback and Trump and offer a platform, though he’s somewhat weak on specifics of his platform – education, veterans and women and jobs – something like that. He’d likely be corrupted by the system after a few terms, but losing Pompeo’s seat unexpectedly would be seized on by the media as a clear referendum on Trump’s failing that I can’t help but watch the drama build. Still a long shot.

      1. mk

        Working people are not needed anymore, they are cutting us out of representation, we are being shed away. It’s only when millions stand up together and scare the sh** out of them will we turn it around.

        1. Charlie

          This is much of the basis for their hatred of the white working class. From the French and Russian revolutions, to the militant labor movement and the Battle of Blair Mountain, to open talk of communist revolt during the Great Depression, the white working classes have historically been the only group that scared the piss out of the wealthy classes.

          Trump is just there to divert that anger onto immigrants and people of color. Sure, a lot of us can be pretty stupid with racism and sexism, often the excuse used for institutionalized racism and sexism. But when we finally come to grips with who the enemy truly is, we’re efficient killers.

          Trump is the last stop before pitchforks and torches.

    1. Portia

      they are working on 2018, anyway


      Last month, Sanders ally Keith Ellison lost the race for the leadership of the Democratic Party to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. And when asked by The New York Times earlier this month what the Democratic Party stood for, Sanders struggled to provide an answer.

      “You’re asking a good question, and I can’t give you a definitive answer,” he said. “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

      1. Pat

        But wait didn’t you read those pieces in the last few days that say that Democrats are in sight of taking the House in 2018!!!. I mean people are upset, they are going to take it out on those dastardly Republicans who are still running as Republicans and vote for the ones running as Democrats! Watch, oh, and they can see Putin from Palin’s house as well, or would if they got an invitation to visit.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Democrats could win. Team Blue can’t win anything other than a safe, safe seat, and even then Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s seat.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They know you would never, ever threaten divorce, so the marriage is still good.

      “I endorse Hillary.”

      “We need to investigate Russians independently.”

      The latter is more like brainwashing you into believing that all men on dating websites are up to no good, and you should stay.

      “You must love me for what I am. Don’t try to change me.”

      And the mistresses out there? The illicit affairs? When you failed to take care of the one you promised to care for (who are not Deplorables), and the one, after you have taken in as many new lovers (because they will vote for you, you offered forgiveness, kindness, understanding, respect or amnesty) that you have no need of?

      The medieval way was for the mistresses and the out-of-wedlock children to go away.

      The more compassionate modern world lets the two-timer choose – her or them? Which one does your heart say?

      In a more progressive future, perhaps he gets to live with them all…everyone is so understanding and forgiving, in that enlightened world.

      1. Portia

        you must love me for what I am, don’t try to change me. LOL!
        That reminds me of an article I just read about Robert Lowell, where his parents were told by a clueless doctor when he was a young boy:
        He’s a Genius!, so you are just going to have to put up with him.

    3. Cujo359

      As I wrote in yesterday’s Water Cooler, I think it’s more likely the Democrats will remain the minority party in Congress until 2022 than that they’ll win the House next year. That’s assuming no dramatic changes in either the party or the country, of course.

      And yes, I don’t think they’ll win the White House in 2020, either.

      The Democrats who are in charge now are mostly the same ones who lost in 2004, the last time they were running against a deeply unpopular Republican President. To expect better performance this time is to believe in magic, I think. Those leaders have shown that they don’t believe they need to change course, and they have not been replaced. As long as the donor money keeps rolling in, and as long as PT Barnum’s favorite demographic is still around, they’ll continue to be in charge of the Democratic Party, and losing every fight we need them to win.

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        I’d just like to point out that the Whigs were in a relatively stronger position in 1848 than the Democrats are in 2016. And they pretty much collapsed by 1852 and completely ceased to exist by 1854.

        Other parties have come back from bigger drubbings than the Whigs then (Republicans in 1936 and 1964) so I’m not going to count the Democrats out now, but it’s clear that unless the GOP screws up immensely — and it’s looking quite possible, what with Trump feeling empowered to dunk on the most entrenched parts of the base — the Dems don’t have a good outlook. When the end comes for the party, it’ll be a swift dispatching rather than a slow bleed.

        1. Cujo359

          It stands to reason that at some point the Democratic Party will either become so weak that it can be taken over by people who want it to go in a different direction, or it will become so irrelevant that another party will replace it. That’s going to take a while, though, and then it will happen quite suddenly.

          Until that day dawns, though, I feel pretty safe in my predictions. The GOP isn’t good for much, but they’re good at using and holding onto power. The Democrats are not.

          Ya gotta go with the guys who want to win…

      2. Biph

        What happened in 2006?
        GWB wasn’t deeply unpopular in 2004 he was at about 50-50 approval-disapproval. By 2006 his rating was mired in the low 40’s to high 30’s.
        Trump capped out at 50-50 right after his inauguration and his been trending downward since.
        Trump is every bit as unpopular as HRC and if his approval rating is below 40% the Dems will have a good shot at taking the House. The more important matter will be the gubernatorial elections. An unpopular Trump in 2018 would likely put Dems in charge of WI, MI, OH, IO, FL, AZ, GA, NV and maybe TX where they would remain till after the 2020 census, making it very difficult for the GOP to keep their extreme gerrymanders even if they were to hang on to the legislatures in those States.

        1. Altandmain

          A combination of a declining war in Iraq, Bush’s poor handling of Hurricane Katrina, and a few other smaller events brought Bush down.

          Keep in mind that in the US Senate, the Democrats are up for re-election in many vulnerable places too.

        2. oho

          >>Trump capped out at 50-50 right after his inauguration and his been trending downward since.

          take approval ratings w/salt, especially now.

          I’d bet a beer that a noticeable percentage points of Trump’s disapproval ratings are from otherwise Trump fans who want Trump to take the gloves off and go nuclear on RINOs/Ryan-McCain.

          1. Biph

            GWB had about a 60% approval rating after his inauguration and that was after the bitter 2000 post-election fight. Post inauguration is a high point for most Presidents, a time when a healthy majority of the American public is willing to give them a chance. The fact that Trump was never able to get more that a very slight majority approval at best is very telling. Trump is deeply unpopular and there is probably something like 40-45% of the people who will never approve of him and another 10-15% who lean towards disapproving of him.
            I don’t see Trump ever being popular and his approval rating will likely remain underwater throughout his term. He was able to squeek by an equally unpopular candidate in a 50-50 race.

        3. Arizona Slim

          One of my friends is about to make a major announcement. He’s going to run for governor, and he has a pretty good shot at it.

          However, I will NOT click on the donate link in his e-mails. The money would go straight to the AZ Democratic Party.

        4. a different chris

          >Trump is every bit as unpopular as HRC and if his approval rating is below 40% the Dems will have a good shot at taking the House.

          Yeah conflate the !!!PRESIDENCY!!!! with the House races. Classic Democratic-party think — president president president that’s all that matters. Obama was “every bit as popular as”… I dunno, Gandi and what happened to Congress?

          1. Biph

            It’s just math and history.
            The Dems need to be about 7% ahead of the GOP in the overall vote for the House to be in play. The party out of the WH as a general rule does better in mid-terms than the party holding the WH. This is pretty simple, for Dems Trump will be on the ballot for the GOP he will be in the WH. This means Dems will be more likely to turn out for the mid-terms. Throw in the 10-20% of true non-partisans who will break against an unpopular President as a check on him and that’s how a wave happens.
            If Trumps numbers are mired where GWB’s were in 2006 then the Dems have a good shot of picking up the House. If he’s unpopular enough the Dems could wipe out the GOP in the House. This goes to how the GOP gerrymanders work. To get their gerrymanders they put Dems into a lot of D+30% to 40% districts meaning those seats are very safe.
            Conversely they put themselves in to a lot of R+10% to 20% districts meaning those seats are generally safe, but get less safe in a wave election. If the Dems beat the GOP by 10 percent they take the House, every percent over that is another handful of GOP seats going down.
            However the House goes I think the bigger deal will be that the Dems will pick up a slew of Governors Mansions in the mid-terms and those are more important because they will effect post 2020 redistricting.
            Right now we are swinging between two unpopular political parties and the one in the WH is the one more likely to feel the voters ire.

            The GOP controls the House, Senate and WH they will be holding the bag for the condition of the country in 2018. If it’s as bad or worse than it is today, which I strongly expect it will be, the GOP will be who the voters blame.

    4. reslez

      The only reason we’re hearing anything about single payer from Democrats is because they’ve been surgically separated from the levers of power. As soon as they have any power whatsoever all that talk will go away. I have a memory longer than 5 minutes. I recall the last time Democrats wanted a chamber of Congress and all the sweet nothings they whispered.

      Both parties must be destroyed

    5. Deadl E Cheese

      In the reconstructive-articulating-preemptive-disjunctive theory of American Presidential-led regime power, when a regime reaches the end of its lifespan and becomes ideologically unmoored, it’s swiftly replaced wholesale by its competition.

      We may be in the stage where the theory fails altogether, with BOTH competing visions ideologically adrift. I’d say that the Democratic Party is completely finished by 2022, but the GOP is in the middle of engaging in the same stupidity that undid the W. Bush and Obama Presidencies. It’s as if a Carter/Pierce ticket was running against a Hoover/Quincy Adams ticket. Someone has to win, but it’s hard to see how either team wins even by default.

      1. craazyboy

        They still each need to have a campaign platform. Roe v. Wade has certainly stood the test of time. That plank has been good for 35 years now. So they both will need to divert all questions to the subject of Roe v. Wade for the entire 1.5 years of campaigning and speech making. I guess they could throw in gun control too. Similar, if not even better longevity. I’m gonna need new headphones for the mp3 player.

        1. PhilM

          You’re so right. And it’s not even theirs to talk about. Roe v Wade was a court decision, not a law passed by accountable representatives. Unlike in Italy, effectively 100% Catholic at that time, which managed to pass a law making abortion legal.

          The courage of the candidate: “Well, I wouldn’t like to see that decision overturned, but I certainly can’t sponsor a law that would achieve the same thing.”


          1. craazyboy

            Sure, but here in ‘Merica we have the Pope heading up Puritan Protestants. Works different than Italy….

            Besides, Anglicans never could make up their mind what side they were on.

            Also, when you have a bunch of bald old men wearing wigs and hats making policy concerning women’s rights, you’ve gotta expect some confusion.

            I’m in a trolling mood today. I expect lightning strikes in 10, 9,8,7….

            1. PhilM

              I don’t know, everything you said seems right to me, but I live under a bridge most of the time. Metaphorically speaking.

    6. Oregoncharles

      Framing point: calling it a “third” party is self-defeating – the term itself accepts the “two-party.” It’s also untrue: there are a lot more than 3.

    7. different clue

      If they run another Clintonite or another Obamazoid, they may lose. Especially if Trump ends up with something good to show for himself after 4 years.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Art becomes real life:

    [Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale] has surged in sales since the election of Donald Trump as president and since [a forthcoming] Hulu series [based on the book] was announced. It is currently No. 5 on Amazon.com’s fiction best seller list.

    “It does feel quite strange that it appears to be more relevant today than in 1985,” Atwood told MarketWatch in a telephone interview.

    Last week, a group of activists dressed in outfits inspired by the red dresses and white bonnets women in the book are forced to wear, sat silently in the Texas Senate as legislators voted on bills that would limit reproductive rights. The bills passed. Atwood said the scene of the women surrounded by gun-toting security guards was eerie. “It could have been a still from the show,” she said.


    Check out the haunting photo of the women in red dresses and white bonnets in the Texas Senate gallery. Their presence had no effect on the medieval, bible-thumping crackahs of the Texas R party.

  3. bob k

    “The value of imports involved is relatively small, amounting to only around $100 million, but the potential impact on light motorcycles and high-end groceries is also already prompting a backlash. U.S. importers say tariffs on products from paprika to foie gras and fine cheeses would be tough for their customers to swallow.”

    BFD. Trump’s base rides Harley-Davidsons and they don’t eat foie gras. On the other hand, the G-Sers might take offense.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And here in Downtown Tucson, an olive oil store is closing. It has been on Congress Street for, oh, about three years.

      I don’t know if it’s selling imported or domestic olive oil. Imported from Italy, I suspect. Never been in the place — it looked like it was too expensive for my wallet. Methinks that a lot of other people made the same decision.

      Any-hoo, the olive oil store is closing ahead of this tariff.

      And the locally owned and operated distillery and brewpub that are right behind it? Well, they’re doing just fine, TYVM.

      1. Uahsenaa

        When you can buy a bucket of extremely high quality EVOO from Costco, what’s the point of shelling out half your paycheck for a drizzle of tasty lipids? Sounds like terrible market analysis to me.

      2. craazyboy

        An olive oil store is the only biz idea I can think of that’s worse than shelling out $250K for a barbershop franchise. At least you can eat the unsold inventory.

        Craft breweries are pretty good! We make barley in America, hops too, and you can keep yeast cultures growing indefinitely. If you need to, you can spend $8 on a “fresh” culture and get an authentic 1000 year old strain of Trappist Monk yeast at the local beer supply store here. No kidding. Most of the employees are min wage, if you get a Brewmaster that drinks a lot, they don’t cost much, and the product has at least a 100% markup. Only real problem is keeping your customers outta jail. That may be the big problem….but, self driving cars!!!!

        1. Arizona Slim

          Well, you’ll love this: The soon-to-be-defunct olive oil store is right across the street from an NBA star’s tax writeoff. It’s a shoe store that has been open for years. And I have yet to see a customer in the place.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Selling addictive drugs is always a good business model.

        Personally, I wouldn’t miss beer, but I would miss tea. I can grow it, but not enough.

    1. RUKidding

      I’ve often wondered if he’s dyslexic. He’s 70. Back in the day, I’m not even sure if dyslexia was recognized or not, but there were no developed programs to help kids cope and learn how to read. I’ve read somewhere that it becomes ever more difficult, as one ages, to utilize current techniques now taught to dyslexic kids. IOW, an older dyslexic adult may benefit somewhat from learning the techniques for overcoming dyslexia, but they will not fully “recover” the ability to read or write well.

      Trump clearly isn’t stupid, albeit I have never seen him as the sharpest knife in the drawer. That said, I think he has learning disabilities. He’s found ways to cope with these over the course of his life. That he’s so successful is due mainly to the fact that he was born wealthy and had a dad who bailed him out several times. And then he went on to be a cheater and a crook in terms of how he ran his businesses. But that doesn’t preclude one from being “successful” in the USA.

      Perhaps bc of his learning disabilities, he’s remarkably incurious. It’s clear that he gets most of his “briefings” from Fox “nooz,” the dog help us all.

      1. Harold

        Plenty of people with learning disabilities are intellectually curious. John D. Rockefeller comes to mind. On the other hand, boys often have reading difficulties and lag behind girls in reading and spelling until they catch up spectacularly in late teens. The fact that the catching up is so rapid and so complete has led to speculation that late reading in some boys may be caused by a lack of motivation and a greater tendency to rebelliousness, rather than an inherent “disability”. Not that some reading disabilities are not “real” — in is just that there is much that is unknown about this issue in which many factors, social, physical, and psychological may play a part.

        1. Lee

          My son had a horrible time learning how to read. We took him out of a Waldorf school that wouldn’t use phonics, insisting on sight reading. At the local public school he was way behind in third grade but his teacher remarked on how much he knew and wondered how that could be since he barely read. She noted over time that he interviewed people about the many subjects that interested him and remembered what they told him. With time and tutoring he became a reader.

          1. June Goodwin

            Yes, I had a daughter like that too. She’s now teaching children. She’s quite gifted at it.
            My point is that Trump is not honest and the video correctly states there are wide ramifications to someone who really does need to be able to think and read. I mean, Trump didn’t know that Lincoln was a Republican.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Apparently dyslexia is quite rare in Spain and Italy, which have languages with highly regular, logical spelling. (Spanish was engineered by a royal commission shortly after the country was reunified.) Reading English successfully, let alone spelling it, requires a specific type of visual memory that not everybody is good at. And there’s minimal connection with overall intelligence.

          Hence, it isn’t really a “learning” disability; it’s specfic to reading, and perhaps to learning English; and no impediment to learning in other ways. Lee responds to your comment with an example. My thought: of course, we tend to remember things we actually wanted to know. That’s a fundamental problem with school.

    2. Carolinian

      Well he must be able to read those alt-right websites since according to the press that’s where he gets all his information. Also he seems to do ok with a teleprompter.

      However if you mean he doesn’t read books one can recall how the Dubya press office used to regularly release a list of the heavy tomes that junior was reading. People just rolled their eyes. Presidents are figureheads and spokespeople, not philosophers. That great intellectual Obama reportedly took credit for a book he didn’t write (same accusation was made against Kennedy) and spent much of his time on the golf course.

    1. DH

      “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”

      I think I failed Alternative Math. It appears that Trump has written off the Democrats and the Freedom Caucus for getting legislation passed. As far as I can tell, that leaves him short of votes to get anything through Congress other than proclamations praising soldiers and veterans. I am not quite sure ho The Great Negotiator is going to get his agenda passed with this strategy.

      So the current Trump strategy appears to be to focus on getting a moderate Republican House in the 2018 election. I assume that golfing at Mar-a-Lago will be the other priority over the next 18 months.

  4. Fiery Hunt

    Regarding retail in the East Bay (SF Bay Area-Oakland side).
    The two 1500 sq. ft. retail spaces on either side of my studio (on a main drag travelled by thousands every day) have been vacant for 18 months. Landlord is great, price is really fair (rare indeed!) but the only interest is from Asian-dominated nail salons or massage parlors. And this is in a well-to-do white small town with an average home price of $940,000 and average income of $80,000.

    Outside of the occasional artisanal beer business and the waaay too many UBER drivers, nobody can afford to go entrepreneur.

    1. Lee

      I’m also in an east bay area town with very similar home price/income stats and have often wondered about the great number of nail salons we have, generally staffed with lithe young Asian women and few customers.

      1. RUKidding

        If there’s lots of nail salons with few customers, then possibly they are money laundering schemes. We have many nail salons in Sacramento, but most seem to be pretty busy.

        I live in Sacramento. Retail space useage is so-so. It has gotten better since the worst of the post-2008 crash days, but there’s still plenty of empty retail all over the county, including highly trafficed areas. Part of it is that brick and mortar retail is dying, in general. People shop online more.

        But who can afford to be entrepreneurial these days? I’ve commented before that I now have quite a few friends – the list seems to grow daily – who drive for Uber and/or Lyft. Often these are people with decent-paying full time jobs with at least some benefits. But many seem unable to live on one salary these days. I know many people who work two jobs including myself. It’s a way of life anymore.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Money laundering indeed. There’s a huge Chinatown nearby…with the men in construction flipping houses, hiding the income in nail salons manned by their women kin.

      1. craazyboy

        Furriners don’t know this, but $80K works fine when you bought the house for $150k in 1980.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Income inequality baby!
        Lots of renters vs the 20% making 400 to 500K.. Throw in craazyboy’s well-off oldsters who bought for 300K and pay 1980’s property taxes ($800-1,000 a year) and presto! Housing price appreciation, rental extraction and haves and have nots…

  5. Knot Galt

    How many people see Hillary’s new leather outfit reminding them of what the Gestapo in 1930’s Germany used to wear?

    1. Clive

      Theresa May’s stylist apparently went to the same school as Hillary’s, given their mutual fondness for leather garments. That isn’t a plus, incidentally. My mother-in-law, whose fashion sense is infallible and quite possibly her only redeeming quality says that women over 40 should never be seen in leather. That, and double denim. You’re inevitably going to end up looking like either you are tying too hard to recapture lost youth, or being a B.O.A.T. (Bordering On A Tart).

      I hope Yves doesn’t possess any leather womenswear (nor Carla, Susan the Other, Abe Normal, Portia nor any other Naked Capitalism stalwarts) else I will be in big trouble.

      1. Portia

        I have a bomber jacket that’s very warm in the winter. I ain’t giving it up, even if it is mistaken for a poor fashion statement

        1. Clive

          I think that’s the key. If you’re wearing it for practicality, that’s fine. It’s that sort of material, it’ll take everything you throw at it, keep you nice and toasty and that was the original point of making clothing out of it. Like me wearing jeans when I’m over 40, I know I can do the gardening in them and not worry about having to put them straight in the wash. But if I’m trying to pretend to be a superannuated James Dean, tragic-o-rama.

        2. craazyman

          Would you say you’re hot wearing it?


          It may not matter what fashion statement it makes if the temperature is high enough.

      2. meeps

        My immediate thought was, “How Gauche!” Unfortunately, I think that’s exactly why Clinton is ‘rocking’ the leather. Barf.

        *Gauche is one of several words that come from old suspicions or negative associations surrounding the left side and use of the left hand. In French, “gauche” literally means “left,” and it has the extended meanings “awkward” and “clumsy.”

        1. Synoia

          “Naff” is more appropriate.

          It’s the UK equivalent of “Kitsch” for clothing.

          Burberry is considered “Naff.”

      3. RUKidding

        I think a decent, nicely fitting leather jacket – whether bomber style or otherwise – might be exception to the leather “rule” for women and men of a certain age.

        I haven’t viewed the Clinton photo, but I do feel that after a certain stage of life, both men and women are better served avoiding leather pants or (in the case of women) leather skirts. JMHO, of course.

          1. Ian

            I always thought Two-Face was a far more appropriate Villian for her. The Joker kinda fits Trump.

      4. Harold

        What bothers me about Hillary’s clothing is that it never appears to fit properly and always either looks way too tight and/or shows awkward creases when she moves her arms. Surely she has enough resources to afford custom tailoring, or at least clothing with gussets to allow free movement and a flattering drape.

      5. Dead Dog

        Yes tread carefully Clive.

        My Mum used to say ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’

        The leather is certainly an improvement on the overflowing pant suit, but I wish she’d just go off and spend her money quietly

    2. Rhondda

      Yup. My first thought about the lady in leather was, “designed by Hugo Boss.”
      And you just know it was purposeful.
      Shiny, too. Ikk. Bizarre.

  6. Elasmo Branch

    Being in the domain of law enforcement, the fruits of FBI subpoenas are secret until a Federal Grand Jury enters an indictment. However, people who transgress against their country do so for four broad reasons: money, ideology, coercion, and ego. In DJT’s case, let’s strike ideology off the list of suspects [an argument could be somwhere else that celebrity is ideology in this case]. The pathological possibilities of the remaining three corruptible areas run broad and deep within DJT’s complex and public character; even the biggest boosters have to concede at least that much. If GRU or SVR siloviki didn’t make serious attempts to recruit and/or compromise DJT at some point, it would be professional negligence on their part.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      If any foreign intell operation wasted resources looking for kompromat or creating kompromat on trump THAT THERE would be negligence…he was a political nobody who had never bothered trying to place even one person in political office…the chance of his becoming any type of politician or political power during his lifetime was algorithmically below zero….it took a joke for publicity sake campaign along with a half a dozen republican klown candidates to implode and the coronation of the wicked witch of the north who spent too much time saying…mirror mirror on the wall…

      This would be a straight to video, burried in the archive library if any of the supporting actors ever win an oscar, movie…

      1. Elasmo Branch

        When FINCEN beefed up money laundering scrutiny against banks after Sept 11, foreign black market capital was diverted through a number of other businesses, one of which was luxury property purchases. Because the perception was loan accounts receive less attention than deposit accounts, illicit cash transactions masked as loan repayments by crooked banks. Trump properties might be too gauche for wealthy native anglo brahmin with staid financial corporations, but ripe for overseas investors looking tuck some ill-gotten loot away from the prying eyes of their political constituents. The investments would have to be guaranteed by more than DJT’s word alone. Strong persuasive techniques would be employed by cautious people.

        In the Russian Federation, members of the Duma [parliament] are immune to prosecution. Becoming a politician is an effective way of staying out of prison.

        1. Gareth

          So Trump ran for President to avoid prosecution for legally selling property to bad Russians? Calling Louise Mensch!

        2. Alex Morfesis

          That’s a nice hollywood fiduciary theater version of needing to move and hide money…most real whirlpooling is done with derivatives, reinsurance, commodity and currency trading…real estate is used for the second tier babes, gardners and drivers of the powerful who might be asked to handle small operations…it is not hard to figure out how easy it is…it happens all day long in usa with “mystery middle man costs”…example…rolling garden seat…green…sold for 45-65 in usa…alibaba it…10 bux…

          It is the way of the world…trump is NOT and has never been a major developer…he has done some highly marketed, self proclaimed important projects…but he has actually always done rehab with former glory properties…if someone were looking to launder proceeds…there are better and quiter places to tuck your money away…

        3. fajensen

          In the Russian Federation, members of the Duma [parliament] are immune to prosecution. Becoming a politician is an effective way of staying out of prison.

          Isn’t that the same in France, Italy …. many other places ?

          I dunno about the US government but being rich is absolutely an effective way of staying out of prison, even while black as O. J. Simpson demonstrated, (which is perhaps more democratic than just being elected for government), however, certainly congress critters cannot be prosecuted for insider trading, so they will soon become rich and thus immune to their own laws.

      1. HoarseWhisperer

        Comes from”sila” – force. The “force” ministries are Defence, police, spooks. People who work for said ministries are “siloviki”.

  7. Carolinian

    Politico/Greenfield/25th amendment

    It is highly unlikely that we will see Reince Priebus locking Mike Pence in the Situation Room anytime soon, or that Nikki Haley and Rick Perry will be squaring off against each other for that crucial tie-breaking vote

    But which way would NIkki be voting? Oh wait I know….

    While Greenfield pooh poohs the idea of a Trump defenestration, Trump might want to watch his back when it comes to Pence and his proteges. They could just be biding their time.

  8. Goyo Marquez

    Re Solar Jobs
    Sounds fishy. Lot of jobs in installing solar power plants, two big ones hereabouts, but once built a couple guys in another county run the whole thing. Maybe some security and maintenance jobs, but that’s it.

  9. Synoia

    “What makes economics a science?” [Lars P. Syll]. “[I]f we are to believe most mainstream economists, models are what make economics a science.”

    A science follow the scientific method:
    Experiment – Repeatable experiments by 3rd parties

    Please explain how “models” of a chaotic system constitute experiment, let alone proof.

    First step – add time to all economic models, second step – add feedback…

    Then model your poxy “science.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You need the consent of those you want to experiment their lives with.

      “You might lose your job. You might die of starvation. Also, your family might lose health insurance.”

      “Yes, I volunteer for the test.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I guess I am asking this: How many of us will step forward to give economics a chance at being a scientific endeavor?

        1. DH

          Once the various schools of economic thought are willing to do the necessary empirical work that can falsify their theories. at this time, the more macro the thought, the less real world data appears to enter into proving or disproving it.

          Micro-economics has been doing a pretty good job of looking at individual markets. Behavioral economics has been doing a good job challenging its own and others precepts causing some real thinking. Macro-economics appears to be a religion complete with incantations and incense.

    2. Vatch

      There are some recognized sciences in which it is very difficult or impossible to perform experiments. Astronomy, geophysics, and ecology come to mind. Extremely careful measurements and observations are possible and required in those sciences, but there’s no way to experimentally create a star, a solar system, a tectonic plate, or a large ecosystem. Even the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest really isn’t an experiment. The researchers can’t control all the inputs to the system; all they can do is measure everything extremely carefully.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Agreed! Perhaps a better definition of the scientific method is necessary here:
        From Google:
        sci·en·tif·ic meth·od
        noun: scientific method; plural noun: scientific methods

        a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.

        Gathering of empirical evidence (systematic observation) is the first step in the scientific method……

    3. cyclist

      A theory in science is never definitively proven by experiment. It can only be falsified. A positive result does lend support.

  10. shinola

    The bezzle: What Makes Economics a Science?

    A rather wonkish article (to say the least) but I waded through it. If you haven’t read it, to save you the trudge, here’s the money quote:

    “The way axioms and theorems are formulated in mainstream (neoclassical) economics standardly leaves their specification without almost any restrictions whatsoever, safely making every imaginable evidence compatible with the all-embracing ‘theory’ — and a theory without informational content never risks being empirically tested and found falsified. Used in mainstream economics ‘thought experimental’ activities, it may of course be very ‘handy’, but totally void of any empirical value.”

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Thanks! I missed that article in my scan and this is something that I am so interested in. I need to read more of Syll’s writings to see where he is taking this…..
      I agree with his statement: “Economics — in contradistinction to logic and mathematics — ought to be an empirical science, and empirical testing of ‘axioms’ ought to be self-evidently relevant for such a discipline.” Indeed, “untestable tautological thought experiments” have only gotten Economics into the deplorable state it is today.

  11. Huey Long

    RE: Vacant Retail on Canal St. NYC

    It is likely high rent blight: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/why-are-there-so-many-shuttered-storefronts-in-the-west-village

    It’s not a huge issue where I live in Brooklyn near the belt parkway, but where I work on 57 street in Manhattan it is readily apparent. Scores of storefronts that previously had thriving small businesses are now vacant, and the few new businesses that move in cater to the artisanal cupcake shop crowd and/or are chains.

    1. PKMKII

      Building near where I work (Tribeca-ish) keeps shuttering stores. However, they’re just not renewing the leases one by one until the businesses are gone, and then it’s getting turned into luxury condos.

  12. David Carl Grimes

    If Munchery is failing or had a down round, I wonder about the other food delivery start ups like Blue Apron , Hello Fresh, or Plated. They must be bleeding cash. I liked Munchery’s idea of forgoing the restaurant in favor of delivery since a restaurant generally sits in a prime location and has to have an ambiance and interior decoration to entice customers. I don’t like Blue Apron’s idea of delivering pre-prepped ingredients to your door but you still have to cook the whole thing yourself. How much time do I save by not chopping up vegetables? I think if these ventures had been allowed to grow organically without too much VC money thrown at them, they might have had a chance to grow slowly and profitably.

    1. nowhere

      My wife and I have enjoyed Hello Fresh. They do a small amount of prep (the biggest being combining everything for the sauces), have organic produce and free range meat, and generally really good, fast recipes.

      I know we have to pay a premium, but with a young kid and both of us working, getting three meals worth of ingredients that we can cook at home that are fast, tasty, and continue to develop our culinary chops, :P is worth the bit extra we pay.

    2. Anne

      We did Blue Apron for about 6 months, and had some really interesting meals. But the ingredients weren’t prepped: the veggies still needed to be chopped, the meat cut in strips if that’s what the recipe called for – there really wasn’t any difference from the form in which you would buy the ingredients if you went to the store – and that was fine with me. I like to cook – I like the process, it relaxes me to mix and chop and whisk and what-not.

      So, why did we stop? Thinking about it, I would be more inclined to continue if I was just cooking for myself, but it often seemed like my husband just didn’t care for the meals – they were too spicy, or he didn’t like the veggies, so it just wasn’t worth it anymore. He’s really not much of an adventurous eater!

      But one of the nice things is that the meals come with these really nice step-by-step – with pictures – recipe cards that mean you could make the dish on your own some other time, if you were so inclined.

      1. Darius

        I’m sure I wouldn’t have turned my nose up ar any of it. Spicy or no. When I’m hungry I’ll eat whatever is on offer as long as it’s edible. And, judging from the podcasts I listen to, Blue Apron sounds better than what I am capable of most nights.

  13. justanotherprogressive


    What? The “leak” about Obama spying on Trump came from his own White House? And instead of talking to their boss themselves, they went to Nunes to have him tell the President?????
    Either the White House doesn’t talk to its own supposed boss (soo….IS Trump actually the boss?) or there is some serious shenanigans going on…..
    Time for them to pull out the “Move along folks – there’s no story here….” speech, I think….

    1. curlydan

      Here’s my 50K ft timeline based on limited knowledge but a cynical temperament:
      -Someone in WH tells Trump about the incidental surveillance
      -Trump tweets it, incorrectly calling it a wiretap
      -Nunes is “busy” investigating Russia/Trump but not helping Trump
      -1-2 WH peeps call up Nunes, say get over here, we’ve got documents backing up our boss
      -Nunes stupidly goes to see them (is this guy not a lawyer?), says OK, maybe you’ve got something
      -Everybody else on the House intel committee freaks
      -Now WH is asking all the other Congress intel committee big guys to head over as well to see the docs
      -Will any Dems do it? Doubtful
      -Why did the WH never give the docs to Congress intel committee to start? Too Deep State?? Is someone’s life in danger?

      Inquiring minds want to know

      1. JustAnObserver

        One possible explanation that’s a mix of screw-up and conspiracy goes:

        o The Dems + IC want to keep the Russia/Trump show going as long as possible as a noisy distraction from the Real. Esp. from Hillary’s disastrous candidacy.

        o They get Nunes in on it knowing perfectly well he’d just turn it into a Benghazi-style omnishambles … he’s a useful idiot in the strict sense of the phrase.

        o Nunes, however, is such an idiot that he falls for the WH’s game plan and gets totally punked.

        o Pearl clutching, visits to the fainting couch by the Intel committee and all-round chaos and hilarity ensue.

        o WH now ups the stakes and “invites” the committee over for tea&docs.

        o The Dems+IC are now between a rock and a hard place. Damned if they reject the invitation and double or triple damned if they don’t and the docs show what Trump & the WH allege – wiretapping in its broadest sense.

        1. craazyboy

          Someone is gonna find an Oxford comma expertly placed somewhere in the docs, and all will turn out well for the Dems and our IC Heros.

          Or, the Dems may have video obtained via wireless webcam showing Trump in his office and sitting with all visitors in the original Max Smart “Cone of Silence”. Cheney kinda looks like Chief, so Trump must be Max. Melania looks like whatsername. Agent 99!

          That could happen. We just don’t know.

      2. craazyboy

        “Why did the WH never give the docs to Congress intel committee to start?”

        It would be impossible to speculate, but in hindsight it made for some great drama.

        When you go fishing, it’s not how fast you real the fish in. “Playing” it is the fun part.

      3. fajensen

        The movie “Burn After Reading” tells a good story, I think, about smart people overthinking everything that basically randomly happens into an epic intelligence-service cluster-fuck. The ending is funny too.

  14. nowhere

    Well…code is law. But you have to shell out over $1000 to know what it is.

    In Georgia’s view, there were two separate works at issue: the actual text of the laws, which were available to the public, and the annotations, which were copyrighted and owned by the state. The annotated code includes things like judicial decisions related to particular sections. In McKoon’s view, those extra notes are “value-added material,” created by LexisNexis, the state’s chosen publisher, and thus subject to copyright. (Materials made by the US federal government can’t be copyrighted, but states can hold copyrights and state contractors can make copyrighted works.)

    To Malamud, though, it was a faulty distinction. The OCGA is the only official copy of Georgia’s laws, so that was the one citizens needed to be able to read.

      1. nowhere

        Leibnizian – the best of all authoritarian, double-thinking, maze worlds that humanity can create.

    1. reslez

      Um, wow:

      In the fair use analysis, the judge treated Public.Resource.Org harshly. Story made the extraordinary finding that Public.Resource.Org is engaged in “commercial” copying despite being a nonprofit, stating that the organization “profits” by “the attention, recognition, and contributions it receives in association with its copying and distributing the copyrighted OCGA annotations, and its use was neither nonprofit nor educational.”

  15. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Greed (previous close: 34, Fear)

    Small typo; readings below 50 are “fear” according to CNN.

    Sentiment is too bearish, so Ms Market marches on in her boots made for walkin’. Today the broad Nasdaq Composite reached a fresh record high, eclipsing its previous March 1st record.

    Likewise the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index tacked on another record close, beating yesterday’s record.

    By the time this is over, the MSM will be pimping stocks the same way they were touting real estate in 2006 (“Home $weet Home,” exulted Time on a notorious cover).

      1. CRS

        Here’s some additional information about the bill from The New Republic:

        Conyers has introduced the bill yearly in the House since 2003, to varying degrees of support from fellow Democrats. Seventy-eight co-sponsors is the most it’s had since 2009


        “The will is there at the grassroots. The will is there among progressives which are the Democratic base. The will is there among the constituents of more moderate and centrist Democrats,” he said. “It’s just a question of if the party wants to decide to do something smart for a change.”

        He added, “I hope that the [Democratic] caucus decides to make it a campaign issue because I think it would work a lot better than some of the things we’ve been trying.”

    1. Vatch

      I predict Manchin and Heitkamp will switch parties within 6 months. They’re both in Senate Class I, so they’ll be up for reelection in 2018. They’ll want their new party affiliation to be secure well before the primaries start.

      Maybe Schumer, Durbin, and Murray will finally realize they need to purge Manchin from his “leadership” role:


      What a farce.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Except the GOP won’t have them. This is the flaw with their position. They won’t switch. McConnell will laugh at them. Unlike Democrats who have a desperate need for approval, Republicans won’t let an opportunity for a Senate seat go to waste. They are no longer looking for majorities.

        Even with Obama’s support, Snarlin’ Arlin couldn’t get the Democratic nomination. How do you think Republican voters will react to “RINOs” who use to be Democrats?

  16. Cujo359

    In spaceflight news, SpaceX is about to try to launch its first used Falcon 9 rocket in about an hour from when I write this (6:27 PM EDT). If it’s successful, it will be another step in the direction of cheaper space travel.

    1. Synoia

      Please read “The Fountains of Paradise” by Arthur C Clarke, and note that Rockets can never make space flight economical.

      Too much energy is wasted in lifting fuel and oxidant in the first stage. Better to use turbojet engines on the first stage, and use the air as oxidant.

      We need a space elevator or dozen.

      1. craazyboy

        I assume you mean an Up Elevator. I wouldn’t want to make a Space Alien Invasion too easy with a Down Elevator. Besides, the Pentagon would just point a bunch of nukes at it.

        But even an Up Elevator still begs the question – what do you do when you get to the top? If you’re first, you can call the Guinness Book of World Records, if they get cell reception up there. But what about everyone else?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Like Mt. Everest, or to be respectful, Mt. Chomolungma, though to be really, really respectful, you have to ask the mountain what it likes to be addressed as, but I digress, the thing about the tallest peak is this, what to do with all the garbage left behind by the bravest and toughest. or the most ‘I want to go back to nature’ humans around the planet.

          “What do yo do with burger wrappers when you get off the elevator?”

      2. Mark P.

        ‘We need a space elevator or dozen.’

        Pretty to think so. But with all props to Sir Arthur, physics-wise the Earth’s gravity is almost certainly too great for any hypothetical super-strong synthetic material to not come apart under the gravitational and atmospheric shearing forces. We might be able to hang a long tether-like elevator/tube halfway down from orbit and fly up to that, then ride it the rest of the way up. Dunno.

        If it’s any consolation, however, the Moon’s gravity might well permit a lunar space elevator.

      3. Cujo359

        Depends on your definition of “economical”, I guess. Reusable rockets should cut the cost by a factor of two or so. I know Elon Musk thinks it’s more like a factor of ten, but he’s been blessed with the optimism of an inventor. It’s certainly not going to make going to orbit affordable for your average joe, but it will be less expensive. That opens up new possibilities.

        I’m more interested in single stage to orbit space planes. Having a machine that doesn’t disassemble as it gets to orbit will probably make things a lot less expensive. Not having to reassemble and retest a vehicle after every flight is a big cost and time savings. But the first one of those is at least a decade away, and how expensive it will be in practice remains to be seen. Read Michael Flynn’s Firestar series for an idea, if you haven’t already.

        I read Fountains of Paradise many years ago. A cable that reaches geosynchronous orbit is four times as long as the Earth’s circumference. Gods help anyone who is underneath one of those cables if one breaks. As Mark P mentions, there’s a lot of engineering and materials science between where we are now and a space elevator. That tells me we’re a long way from figuring out how much that’s going to cost, too.

        1. craazyboy

          I quickly read about the space plane, but it’s really just a rocket with wheels on it’s belly so some very foolish pilot can take off, and worse yet, land on it’s belly.

          Some problems – no lift from the stubby little wings in the sparse air one gets even part way to orbit. This is why I call it a rocket. They stand it on it’s tail, and fully open the H and O valves. Another problem, no lift means you land and take off very, very fast. My bet is they get no takers for the job of pilot.

          Another problem. Someone is gonna suggest building a space station – you know it’s gonna happen. So we have the no lift, no payload capability, space rocket that can’t haul megatons of space station materials into orbit! So we’ll get another tiny little space tent, and humans hit the wall again.

          1. Cujo359

            The plan is for the flights to be completely automated. It’s certain that there will be moments when computer control is necessary. That was true of the Shuttle.

            It will land on its landing gear. At the end of the flight, the plane will be much lighter than at the start.

            Airplanes that fly fast don’t need big wings to generate lift. Look up the F-104. Definitely not a forgiving aircraft, but flying is possible under those circumstances.

            Another interesting thing about the Skylon is that while it’s in the atmosphere, it’s an air-breather. It’s only when it’s in space that it uses its oxygen fuel. It also uses its fuel as a coolant, so the engines are reusable. That’s something that’s been done with rocket engines before, but I don’t know of any air-breathers that do that.

            1. craazyboy

              You have to stay above stall speed to land. A 747 takes off at 180mph and lands at 160mph. I’m assuming a little space airplane has no real utility. Moreover, a low wing, stubby wing plane has terrible stall characteristics. It goes a combination of one wing down and nose down. It doesn’t want to straighten out again, at least very quickly, with gunning the jet engine to gain air speed and lift being the only option at that point. Nose and wing is still pointed at the runway and the inertia doesn’t like changing direction.

              IIRC, you need oxygen to burn above 60,000ft, so there is still a long ways to go in rocket mode. I really think this is someone’s pipe dream, and no one will volunteer to be test dummy pilot.

              1. Cujo359

                The plane will be much lighter on return. Those stubby wings ought to be able to provide enough lift. Test pilots of times past have flown much riskier designs – I don’t foresee a big problem. Anyone who is willing to go up in a Soyuz or a Shuttle ought to be willing to ride a Skylon.

                Incidentally, lifting bodies, an aircraft type that has been around for at least a generation, also have stubby wings. You’ll note Skylon resembles a lifting body.

                1. craazyboy

                  The C-5 is the largest military cargo plane we have. It can carry two M1 tanks. Weight has a significant impact on stall speed, but the additional payload is really not that much weight relative to the whole plane.

                  I fly radio controlled model planes. I also had a real pilot’s license (Cessna 150) long ago.

                  My little models do obey the same rules as real airplanes, Just scaled down quite a bit. We have all kinds, high wing trainers, highly maneuverable acrobat planes, flying wings, even jets. The closest thing I’ve got to a stubby wing jet, from a stall speed stability standpoint, would be my 47 inch wingspan, mid wing, 3 Lb., front propeller acro plane. The front propeller helps a lot vs jet, because it does the most dangerous kind of stall, wing down, nose down, but you can gun it and the prop moves air over the wing. The wing doesn’t care how the air got moving and makes the same lift either way. But I’m still gonna crash if I’m below around 15mph (assuming no headwind) and within maybe 15 ft of the ground. Even more likely to crash if there is a crosswind. Then if you don’t get the nose up enough, you hit the landing gear at an angle and shear it off.

                  The situation with model jets can get quite tricky.

                  But, just my opinion. Maybe Elon Musk has kids that wanna be pilots.

                  1. fajensen

                    Think about who will be able to afford flying in these things: Maybe Elon Musk is fixing on thinning the competition a bit?

                  2. Cujo359

                    You keep referring to cargo aircraft for comparison, but a space plane in the atmosphere is going to be more like a modern high performance fighter plane than a C-5. Think F-104,X-15,F-16,SR-71, for example.

                    Go look at the Wikipedia page. Empty weight plus cargo weight is 70k kg. Max takeoff weight is 320k kg. Nearly all of that is fuel, which will be burned before landing. That’s why I wrote that it’s a much different wing loading when it’s landing.

                    Comparing space planes to cargo aircraft is a good idea from an economic point of view, but they will be different beasts from engineering point of view. At least, they will until someone figures out a better way to beat the gravity thing…

                    1. craazyboy

                      I’m starting with the assumption that we want our space plane to carry our big space station parts into orbit.

                      Plus more than one male and one female astronaut to keep the human race going once in outer space.

                      Also, small fighter planes still have crappy stall characteristics. You just can’t make wings small enough for a rocket, but large enough to land nicely.

        2. a different chris

          >A cable that reaches geosynchronous orbit is four times as long as the Earth’s circumference.

          Quick google gives me Earth’s circumference at 24,901 and geosync at 22,236? Did you mean diameter, which would be about 3x?

          Agree with the “god help..” part regardless…

          1. Cujo359

            I was, though obviously the actual number is more like three (as in, pi). Don’t know why. So, yes, most of the circumference, depending where it breaks. It would take hours to fall, if not days, so a thin, basically unbreakable cable would end up strung over a significant swath of the planet after hitting it at high speed.

    1. Vatch

      Tragic. There are anti-science strains all over the United States — for example, people in Kansas have embarrassed themselves with their support for young Earth creationism. Anti-science might be a little stronger in the South, but there are also eminent scientists who either live there or originated there. The biologist E.O. Wilson is from Alabama, and, well, there must be more, but I can’t think of any right now.

    2. a different chris

      >”he said that the collections have not “been used by our students and faculty much in the last few years, except for instructional purposes,” ”

      I can see it. What does “instructional purposes” have to do with a university, I ask? /snark

      1. IDontKnow

        Yep, it’s so Southern Gothic.

        I don’t know, but perhaps there is also a bit of the self-licking ice-cream / non-virtuous cycle. Under fund research, then when research facilities become underused, cut them, and as there are less facilities to do research, then you can go back and cut out more research.

  17. Knot Galt

    Under [Breaking Views]. “Something is going seriously wrong.

    It’s not lack of deep religious belief as much as it is the poisons, pesticides and genetically altered foods that we eat and are fed. Add in the fact that FDA approved organic is not truly organic and we are a people being sickened by the food we eat. Physically as well as psychologically.

    It’s happening at a greater scale world wide and is far more insidious than the state of food was in the early 1900’s

    1. different clue

      No-GMO foods can still be known and found and bought. Suburbanites with mid-sized to biggish yards can grow some food of their own. It is possible for some millions of people to dodge the poison and the nutrient-free virtual food, even today. IFF! they understand what food even is, both in theory and in granular detail.

  18. LT

    Re: DR Housing Bubble on renting vs owning a mortgage..

    I like to phrase it that way “owning a mortgage.” He says even in places where home prices aren’t in fantasy land, people are still renting. Maybe that’s a sign that people are taking in to account that’s years of debt and maintenance in a world where finance and employers invest in ever more automation.
    Some people think the government will eventually bail out homeowners if a crash comes that is bigger than ’08. The government will bail out homeowners once the USA is at the feudalism stage and the .001 own all the mortgages.

    1. craazyboy

      Maybe some people think pricing a 40 year old home 10 or 20% less than a new home is still not low enough to cover the cost of a new home and utility hookups on the freshly bulldozed lot they really paid for.

      A friend with a mid sixties house in S. Cal pointed out his house was built with arsenic treated 2X4s. He said they stopped doing that shortly after. Everywhere I’ve lived in the SW has had major termite problems – they were buildings built post 1980. The apartment I’m in now routinely has stopped up pipes underneath the buildings and a couple times year a trucks are here for days probing and drilling underneath us. Then every 5 years or so something eats our exterior wood balconies and porches. More and more metalwork is replacing it. What goes on between our stucco walls, I don’t know. There is more to maintenance than new carpet and paint!

      “According to the latest 2013 American Housing Survey (AHS), published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the median age of owner-occupied homes is 37 years old, compared to only 27 years old in 1993.”


  19. Big River Bandido

    In modern times Congress moves slowly. It took George W. Bush 166 days to win bipartisan approval of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit for older Americans. It took 187 days for Barack Obama to get the Affordable Care Act passed on party lines. … But the replacement bill known as the American Health Care Act, proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, lasted only 17 days… How did this happen?

    Might it not simply be that Trump wanted the bill to fail because signing it would alienate his swing-state voters while winning him nothing? The end result looks to me like a political victory for him on all counts: he avoids the ire of swing voters who wanted to keep ACA; he gets to make a little noisy display for the Tea Party wing of the party; he wastes only about 3 weeks on the entire effort; he gets yet another opportunity to show the public that the media hates him; and he gets to preserve what is, after all, a Republican healthcare program subsidy for the insurance industry.

    And the whole circus serves as the perfect distraction for approving Keystone XL.

    1. knowbuddhau

      “And, yes, by that I mean the waste collectors, the nurses, *the cleaners – theirs are the shoulders that carry us all.”

      Well no wonder I’m always in pain ;)

      Thanks for the link. Why is it that everyone likes a nice clean place to be, but no one wants to be caught dead cleaning? The hatred of liberals for the working class is nowhere more apparent, to me, than here. If you talk egalitarian, but walk privileged, you might be a liberal.

      One of the things I really like about cleaning: it’s hands-on. I have yuuuge frustrations with modern life, and I can’t solve them right now, today. I can’t “drain the swamp,” I can’t reverse global climate change, I can’t stop the droning, I can’t put the wrongfully foreclosed back in their homes (looking at you, crittermom :( ), but I can go clean the bejeesus out of a place. And no one can stop me mwahaha!

      Making the world slightly more beautiful, one office/clinic/brew pub/night club at a time….

      A funny story. The other night, a co-worker was enjoying a band in the nightclub. When he found a long line for the men’s room, he investigated. Turns out my penchant for making things pointlessly beautiful had driven a guy mad. Exclaiming over and over about how immaculate the porcelain was, he was going around, “tipping” me by placing dollar bills on all the porcelain. He got 86’d when he wanted to do the same in the women’s.

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