2:00PM Water Cooler 4/17/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, this is light partly because, as usual, I thought the post I just put up wouldn’t take as long as it did, but also because I must perform a tiresome bureaucratic task that many Americans perform this time of year. I’ll put up some more politics links shortly. I hope your Easter (if you celebrate it) went well! And talk amongst yourselves to make up for my dereliction! –lambert


New Cold War

UPDATE Newer readers may not be familiar with this classic:


“Trump Raises Millions for 2020 Re-election Bid” [New York Times]. Hoo boy.


GA-06: “‘I loved George W. [Bush], but I could not vote for Donald Trump,’ Vicki Ingram, a retiree in the district told me. Ingram was one of the people who split their ticket in 2016; she voted against Trump but for Tom Price. Most of the Republican candidates running to replace Price had alienated her with negative campaigning, so this week she attended a Jon Ossoff event at the encouragement of her husband. ‘I’m sick to death of both parties,’ she said, before mentioning that she liked Ossoff’s positivity. When I asked if she could see herself voting for the Democrat, she said, ‘Absolutely”” [Alternet]. 2016 all over again! And come on. Let’s be reasonable: Can you see Bush voters going for Thompson or Quist? I rest my case!

UPDATE KS-02: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that Democrats should’ve done more to support the party’s candidate, James Thompson, during the special House election in Kansas last week” [The Hill]. “‘It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election,’ Sanders told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas.'” Burn!

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “‘So many of our people are giving up on the political process. It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over — in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years,’ Sanders said. ‘We’re going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can’t just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party'” [Politico]. That time before Howard Dean lost his mind, implemented the 50-state strategy, won the House and the Senate in 2006, and then Pelosi promptly took impeachment off the table (and IMNSHO, Bush’s warrantless surveillance program provided ample grounds for impeachment). In other words, it’s not enough t have a 50-state strategy without hacking out the Democrat deadwood, of which there is rather a lot.

UPDATE On the upcoming Perez/Sanders dog-and-pony show: “Bernie Sanders, the left-leaning senator from Vermont who shook up last year’s Democratic presidential primaries, will join Tom Perez, the national party’s new chairman deckchair, in Mesa next Friday as part of their “Come Together and Fight Back Tour'” [Arizona Republic]. “The rally at the Mesa Amphitheatre, 263 N. Center St., is part of an effort that the Democratic Party says is aimed at strengthening its presence in each of the 50 states and building a party that ‘focuses on grassroots activism and the needs of working families.'” So much flaccid DNC rhetoric there: (1) “Fight back”; Democrats are perpetually “fighting back” or “fighting for,” as if that were an end in itself. But they’re never winning. (2) As far as “grassroots activism” goes, no Sanders activists need apply; that is the very clear message sent by Obama (and Clinton) installing Perez and not Ellison (and giving zilch to the activists who worked on the Thompson and Quist campaigns). (3) “working families.” I know it’s focus group-tested, guys, but it leaves out singles, and it impicitly disrespects alternative living arrangements. “Workers” or “working class” will do fine, thank you. I don’t fault Sanders for trying to make lemonade out of these lemons, because the record shows he can get through to voters on his issues, and that has to be done, but this enervated, flaccid, stale, halitosis-like apparatchik-generated rhetoric from the Democrat nomenklatura, faithfully recirculated by The Republic as if it were meaningful, doesn’t help.

UPDATE “The Violent Clashes In Berkeley Weren’t ‘Pro-Trump’ Versus ‘Anti-Trump'” [Esquire]. “To frame Saturday’s events as a fight between supporters of the president and his denouncers roundly misses the key tensions undergirding the confrontation: that of anti-fascists versus white nationalists.” I saw plenty of images from Berkeley on the Twitter. What struck me was the absolutely remarkble number of cameras (and cellphones held up in the air). The phrase “media circus” comes to mind. If the Black Bloc were serious, they’d take over the Winter Palace some FOX TV station and start broadcasting. As it is, they remind me of nothing so much as soccer hooligans. The thrill of it all.

UPDATE “The “sucker punch” at the Berkeley riot reveals the rot in our politics” [Fabius Maximus]. “Cheering violent rioters is especially daft for the Left, as they are a gift to the Right. Every appearance builds support for the Right — and for the police. It is an instinct response, like that of cats to snakes. Hundreds of years of history have taught the middle class that leftist mobs hate and despise them.”

UPDATE “There isn’t a “deep state,” really. There are competing bureaucracies, and they all have their mouthpieces in the press” [Eschaton]. With Flexians occupying key bureaucratic positions, and passing messages between bureaucracies, perhaps…

Stats Watch

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, April 2017: “Activity is thankfully cooling in the Empire State manufacturing area, to a general conditions index of 5.2 in April vs unsustainably strong levels of 16.4 and 18.7 in March and February” [Econoday]. “Delivery times appear to be grinding to a halt indicating an outright bottleneck in the supply chain…. There’s been a burst of factory strength all year in the Northeast with the next Philly Fed report, which was the first regional report to begin lifting off, on Thursday.”

Housing Market Index, April 2017: “Home builders remain strongly upbeat with extending strength in traffic a major highlight. The housing market index did slip 3 points in April but the 68 level is still very strong” [Econoday].

Retail Sales (Friday): “Worse than expected and downward revisions as well. Seems related to what looks like a continuing credit collapse” (charts) [Mosler Economics].Also: “the inventory-to-sales ratio is 1.48 which is at recessionary levels.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Has Something Hotter Than Cars to Sell: Its Story” [New York Times].

Money: “How the Great Kaan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money Over All His Country” [Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo (PDF)].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 25, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 17 at 1:32pm. Good thing Kim wasn’t gifted with a nuclear test by his grateful populace…

Our Famously Free Press

“Conspiracy Theorists Welcome in Corporate Media–if They Have the Right Targets” [FAIR].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“What are the drums saying, Booker?” The Curious Role of the Black Public Intellectual” (PDF) [Adolph Reed]. A classic description of a social type.

Class Warfare

“Macroeconomic Conditions and Opioid Abuse” [NBER]. “As the county unemployment rate increases by one percentage point, the opioid death rate per 100,000 rises by 0.19 (3.6%) and the opioid overdose ED visit rate per 100,000 increases by 0.95 (7.0%).”

“Loans ‘Designed to Fail’: States Say Navient Preyed on Students” [Dealb%k, New York Times]. “New details unsealed last month in the state lawsuits against Navient shed light on how Sallie Mae used private subprime loans — some of which it expected to default at rates as high as 92 percent — as a tool to build its business relationships with colleges and universities across the country.”

News of the Wired

“The Social Graph is Neither” [Pinboard Blog]. Important!

News you can use:

And, if you think about it, quite a propos to the Pinboard Blog post preceding.

* * *

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 (Re Silc):

Resilc writes: “7 plums in today.” Now is the time! Readers, are any of you putting in shrubs or trees?

Also, some pretty plants from Costa Rica (Washington’s Blog).

* * *

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. Altandmain

    Here’s Sam Husseini writing for Counterpunch discussing how similar Obama and Trump are:

    Also worth a read is Patrick Cockburn on discussing the wars and how they’ve got to end:

    Now here’s a sad chart for Canada.

    Apparently we do very poorly in terms of low wage labor. It would be interesting to learn about why Belgium is doing so well by comparison.

        1. Dead Dog

          agree, well worth read. I knew the NKs had lost a lot of people in the war, but not that many.

          Where the hell did diplomacy go – a search for a peaceful solution? – so all those soldiers can go home and NK direct its spending to its people instead of defending its borders against US aggression

    1. wilroncanada

      I note the jobs article is 2-3 years old. I wonder how much worse it has become since 2014? Prime Minister Photo-op has certainly been doing lots of world traveling, campaigning for a UN Security Council seat, among other things, while promoting neo-fascism in the Ukraine, and playing poodle to Mr Trump in the latest US efforts at his authoritarian world order.

      Meanwhile, food banks have become ubiquitous, go-fund-me campaigns for medical procedures are a weekly occurrence out here on the west coast, and tent cities are a feature of both big cities and small towns, because provincial and federal governments have hand-waved at affordable housing to take care of the people working all those poverty rate jobs.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Medicare for all needs to be coupled with medical cost containment.

      Free college tuition – the same…must have cost containment. Otherwise, you get this – ever more costly tuition, in the future, gets passed on to state taxpayers. Right now, the corruptly run college education gets more expensive and it falls on the deplorables students, who skip nutritious meals to save the money for college, and whose grandchildren will not be healthy.

      1. UserFriendly

        What grandkids? I’m 31 and out of everyone I know from highschool and college I can only think of about 5 with kids. They all had rich parents who paid for college too.

      2. polecat

        All those Taj Mahcampus building don’t get constructed without that blood money to be squeezed from the sucker students …… or their even more sucked parents ! Then there’s the various virtually useless Admin Staff to think of, and of course lets not forget the Dean, and his Coachs, and the BIGPHARMA sponsered Science Dept., if they have one …. !! All those blood-letters need bodies … fresh bodies .. at ANY COST !

      3. different clue

        How do we have “cost containment” when we have the mass-production of mass-quantities of millions of cases of chronic disease?

        For example, we have a massively diabetigenic food and physical-activity-prevention grid matrix in this country. How do we contain the cost of diabetes if we lower the cost of treating a diabetic by 10% and then turn around and mass-manufacture 20% more new diabetics?

  2. Steve H.

    The Social Graph is Neither

    : And should restrainingOrder be an edge or a node in this data model?

    It’s an edge. Definitely an edge.

      1. Anon

        Mr. Postol really gets around.

        Is this a left-handed ad hominem? Writing on several topics in different publications is getting around? Or is he concerned with the false information being foist upon a non-critical public?

    1. jawbone

      I’ve been trying to get WNYC’s Brian Lehrer to bring Prof. Postol on his show — today a caller did raise the question of why everyone in the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) almost immediately accepted the administration’s declaration that the Syrian government was behind the chem attack this month.

      He asked what did the host and the guest, David Sanger (who has some history with supporting government lies), actually KNOW.

      I missed Sanger’s pablum, but the host helped him by mentioning that The Guardian, clearly a left leaning source (!), had written that there were records of Syrian planes in the vicinity and, get this, reports from autopsies performed in Turkey!! OK, by WHOM in Turkey? We know there are many anti-Assad fighters and manipulators in Turkey. WHO are those doctors working for?


      OK, update — I listened to the podcast of the segment (34:19). The question by Al from Redhook comes about 30:15 (blue line bottom of screen). The Guardian was described as “no toady” of the West. I think some would disagree.

      Sanger lists his evidence, adding that some questions remain but nothing supports the Russian contentions. Brian Lehrer adds that it was Turkish hospitals which stated serin was used, based on their autopsies. Or something.

      And now I must spend time doing my annual reporting to the IRS and state. My state does not send out tax forms; payers are required to print out their own, but Adobe 8 or 9 is required and I couldn’t get it to take with my old operating system. Fortunately, the local library still uses paper copies and will make copies for the patrons…. However, all the libraries used to have copies people could pick up. Progress.

      Seriously, does my state want compliance? Or do they just like messing with some of us? Cost cutting, for the state; time cost for the taxpayers.

  3. John k

    Can you see bush voters…
    Yes. Progressives are hated by both parties and Msm, but rank and file like many progressive positions:
    Medicare for all
    No more ME wars
    Less military spending. Spend the money at home on our crappy infrastructure.
    15/hr min wage
    Jail bankers that break the law
    Break up banks instead of fining them

    Progressives do need funding given the massive oppo. It seems Bernie’s model has not transferred well to local races. And unless I missed it, he has not campaigned for them.

    1. diptherio

      Quist is doing alright. He raised almost a million last month with a $40 average. Not bad. Gianforte is, of course, wildly outspending him, but he outspent Bullock more than 2 to 1 in the governor’s race and managed to lose that one handily. While I do live in the most “left” county of the state, I think it’s telling that I’ve seen Quist bumperstickers, but no Gianforte ones…not even on the rigs with a Trump sticker. Anecdotal and highly biased, but I do think Quist has a better than 50% chance of winning.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I certainly hope you are right. But my Montana relatives (all Bernie Democrats) just aren’t as sure as you are. They consider Quist to be kind of a flake that hasn’t been completely honest about his life so far. So they just don’t totally trust him. And as such, they expect Gianforte to come out with some 11th hour (no doubt minor) scandal that Quist just won’t have the time to explain away….

        I don’t know when Sanders will come to Montana, or if he even will, but he needs to be there in that last week or ten days before the election to steer the press away from any potential scandals. Any other time he shows up just won’t be helpful……

    2. Vatch

      And unless I missed it, he has not campaigned for them.

      He spends a lot of time in Washington, DC, and in Vermont, the state that he represents, which makes it hard to campaign for others. But starting today, he’s going on tour to several states.


      Senator Bernie Sanders, DNC Chair Tom Perez and other Democratic Party leaders will be traveling to nine “red” and “purple” states starting on April 17th. Along with local activists they are tentatively scheduled to hold rallies in Maine, Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Montana, Arizona and Nevada. More information will be released in the coming days. The purpose of their trip is to begin the process of creating a Democratic Party which is strong and active in all 50 states, and a party which focuses on grassroots activism and the needs of working families.

      Montana is one of the states with a special election this spring.

    3. beth

      Medicare for all
      No more ME wars
      Less military spending. Spend the money at home on our crappy infrastructure.
      15/hr min wage
      Jail bankers that break the law
      Break up banks instead of fining them

      …and stop killing young black and brown men with impugnity.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Unfortunately, that last one doesn’t poll as well as the others. The popular support for police impunity is alarming.

        1. John k

          Yes. Very tough to convict a cop, even with video of shooting an unarmed somebody running away in the back. Well, not anybody, a dark skinned somebody. You must admit this is quite consistent with our foreign policy… bombing dark skinned people now gets happy cheers from both parties plus Msm.

          Best to stick to what does poll well. Bear in mind the oppo (all flavors) are as like as not to lie about their positions (you have to have a public and private position.)
          Since progressives are usefully for what is now the deplorable consensus of what we want, might as well focus on the bits we agree with.

      2. ran

        Quit backing tyrants and apartheid states
        Whittle the panopticon way back, ie make privacy great again

  4. Anon4

    How much money exactly did Bernie raise for Thompson again? All of $900?
    How nice of him to offer his advice anyway.
    Did he release his taxes yet, by the way?

    1. TK421

      He released the transcripts of all his speeches to Wall Street. It didn’t take long, either.

    2. beth

      I don’t give to Bernie anymore because my money though ActBlue went into the wrong pot twice.

      Also many people (not the elite) are working on the local level in coalitions without Bernie being mentioned but with issues that Bernie raised in 2016.

      1. different clue

        Perhaps the Bernie people should craft a FuckActBlue infrastructure for people who want to give money to Bernie can give to/ through.

    1. Carolinian

      Then there’s the story about the poor child who got caught in the mechanism of the Peachtree Plaza revolving restaurant.

      However your traffic link now says blockage to be cleared soon.

  5. upstater

    re. And here’s today’s plant (Re Silc):

    The white tailed deer are salivating for nightfall!

    1. Randy

      I too noticed the missing fences around those young trees. After going through all the work of planting trees you have to protect them and cutting corners with human hair and other various, ineffective repellents is not sufficient. Deer are nowhere near as stupid as most people think, especially when it comes to putting delicious young fruit twigs in their gut.

  6. KTN

    ‘Quiddity’ already expresses whatever ‘haeccity’ is supposed to represent.

    Moreover it should have been ‘hoc(c)itas’ since haec is plural (or feminine singular, but the author did not appear to be trying to coin a word for ‘sheness’).

    Ah, for the days of competent, mandatory instruction in the classics.

    1. Uahsenaa

      As much as I hate Deleuze, I think the weird morphology is worth explaining. Haeccity is actually opposed to quiddity, quiddity being the essence of a class of things (daffodils, cruise missiles, apple pies), while haeccity is the specificness of any given thing you encounter (the uniqueness of a particular daffodil, a specific cruise missile, or the apple pie your mom made just now). It is not unlike what Heidegger refers to as das Ereignis.

      It’s the feminine form precisely so as to point to and avoid the presumed universality neuter and masculine forms can sometimes carry (i.e. man for humanity, it for any given thing or idea). In other words, using the feminine form draws attention to difference rather than assume it away.

      tl;dr Deleuze knew Latin perfectly well, so well that he felt the need to be super pedantic about it

    2. Andrew

      Uahsenaa already set you straight on quidditas (the medieval Latin term for Aristotle’s to ti en einai, the category of substance), but I’ll add that the distinction, and the pedigree, of haeccitas is almost as old, having been coined by no less a Latinist than Duns Scotus. Unlike quidditas, I myself don’t have much use for haeccitas (it’s not clear to me why a non-qualitative account of individuation is required, when the aggregation of qualities already does that for you); but you can’t really call it the product of lousy classical instruction.

      Here’s an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy with some background:


      1. witters

        “it’s not clear to me why a non-qualitative account of individuation is required, when the aggregation of qualities already does that for you”

        You got two identical spheres, intrinsic and relational properties identical. The point of haeccity is that there are 2 spheres, this one and that one. So there “is-ness” is an intrinsic property of each. How can aggregation help here, except as specified by the haeccity of each sphere? This one, and This one?

        1. Zzzz Andrew

          I understand “qualities” in this discussion to stand for all Aristotelian categories of accident (quantity, quality, relativity, place, time, attitude, habitus, action, affection, although the fine points of the classifications don’t matter as much as the point that these are understood by Aristotle, and by the mainstream Scholastic tradition, as individuating particulars of a thing, in opposition to the category of substance, its quidditas). At a minimum, two different spheres will differ in their attributes of place, for example. That’s sort of the point of distinguishing the categories of accident: they’re an attempt to exhaustively define the attributes by which a thing can be individuated. To say that, on top of the list of qualitative things which is at any rate intended by definition to be complete, there exists yet one more extra, ineffable, unqualifiable thing in which individuality *really* resides, seems gratuitous to me. Probably the lesson here is that I’m just not grokking or buying into Duns Scotus’ project contra quidditatem, and if that’s where KTN was going with the first part of her/his comment then we might be in agreement.

          I’ve noticed that I’m not the only Andrew commenter around here of late, so I’ll take this opportunity to change my handle to Zzzz Andrew (zzzz standing for the thisness distinguishing me from other Andrews, natch).

    1. Carla

      Lambert commented: “In other words, it’s not enough t have a 50-state strategy without hacking out the Democrat deadwood, of which there is rather a lot.”

      I must say, it would take a lot more than getting rid of some personalities. Until the Democrat party divorces itself from corporate money and crafting every policy according to corporate priorities, there is no hope for it. Since that’s never going to happen, why anyone would put their energy into reforming the Democrats is beyond me.

      1. John k

        I couldn’t agree more. It is a total waste of time.

        I assume Bernie is smart enough to know this. Maybe he felt committed to support hillary, but Perez? Granted he didn’t ask me, but seems a better ROI in campaigning for real progressives… bound to boost their chances a lot. And any wins would boost his clout way more than holding Perez hand… maybe antagonizing dem elites but showing them what he could do if riled up.

      2. Cujo359

        Yes, until progressives give up the notion that they have to vote Democratic, or “work with” that party, then the Democrats will never have the motivation to stop taking corporate cash.

      3. flora

        From Scott Adam’s blog today:

        “One of the most useful things I learned in business school was that you can usually make a deal whenever the parties involved don’t want full control of the same limited resources. ”

        The DLC Clintonistas want full control of the entire Dem party. They won’t make a deal or compromise with non-DLC Dems, although they might fake making a deal to get what they want.

        1. Marina Bart

          This is why it is important for everyone on the left to actively work against every corporate Democrat every time, everywhere. Always vote against them; explain to your friends and neighbors why it is important to vote against them. Don’t give them money. Don’t help them.

          There can be no compromise with the corporatists. They have made that crystal clear. “Unity” = submission. Either we submit, or they do.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Look, in the Bay Area that’s a great idea. But many if not most Democrats still live in places where unabashed, not-even-faking-decency Republicans are the only viable opposition. Voting against a Clinton Democrat in flyover commonly means voting for a man who is devoted to eliminating all public healthcare, many rights, most regulations that inconvenience the elites…. and to filling prisons with hapless low-level offenders. After grabbing their small resources via civil assets forfeiture.

            Voting for a tepid Clinton Democrat is often a righteous act, given the likely alternative.

            1. John k

              You can’t have a progressive party without destroying the dem party. If you accept that you accept that the dems are as much the enemy as the reps.
              Supporting the lesser evil means we live forever with evil.
              Was Obama better than bush? Really?

            2. Marina Bart

              But Fluffy, you basically described what the Democrats do, too. By continuing to give the Ds just enough federal representation to justify its existence to donors, people continue the system that enslaves them. Only by eradicating the conditions corporatists need to nest in the party can we clear the party’s mechanisms for use by the left for the benefit of the citizenry.

              It is never righteous to vote for a Clintonian. Every single election since 1992 proves this. They will never, ever do any good with the power we give them. They will only continue to steal, exploit and kill.

              1. different clue

                People against Clintonism will have to accept the fact that purging and burning all the Clintonites out of the Democratic Party will mean accepting several decades of Republican hegemony in the meantime. It will be painful.

                The hope is that a thorough and complete declintamination of the Democratic Party will leave behind a hard tight core of “Red Gingriches” who will then be able to obstruct and weaken the Republican Party to create more room for Red Gingrich expansion and the Red Gingrich agenda.

          2. neighbor7


            This fascinating book on the history of the corporation was quite educational for me. Corporation charters used to be time- and purpose-limited. What a sensible concept!

            It includes a very interesting account of the extremely devious origins of corporate personhood.

            1. Marina Bart

              I’ve been advocating for a while now that we need to time-limit corporations. I didn’t realize I was being conservative by doing so.

              Limiting corporate life is as important as an inheritance tax, I think; possibly more so.

  7. Patricia

    We have a black walnut tree in our front yard and many plants do not grow around it because the tree puts out a poison, juglone. It’s fun finding out what will grow, and doing some experimenting.

    Cherries will grow, so we planted a Stella last week. Also currants and gooseberries, and we’re putting in two each. And among various flowers, black raspberries, and 2 plums (planted last year), we’ll be adding squash/pumpkin, onions/leeks/chives/garlic. We got marjoram and oregano to grow fine, too, but not thyme or basil.

    I am happy.

    1. Harold

      Siberian iris is one that is supposed to do ok under black walnut (not bearded iris, apparently). Daylilies do very well indeed, at least the orange ditch lily variety.

      1. Patricia

        Yes, we have lilies of many sorts, all thriving, including tiger lilies and torch lilies. Also several irises including siberian, but yeah, a couple of the bearded did fail.

        Also fine, among others: coneflowers, black-eyed susans, pulmonaria, japanese lantern, butterfly bush, lilac, peonies, spiderwort, silver-dollar plant, liatris, curia japonica, milkweed, quince, and every ajuga I’ve tried. I can’t get daffies to grow, but they’re on some lists, so maybe particular species? Tomatoes and peppers die in a day lol

        Apparently, it depends somewhat on place/soil/walnut, so online lists are not set in stone. The tree is old and lovely and accommodates a large family of grey squirrels because of the big regular harvest. This fall, I plan to make artist’s ink from the hulls, a gorgeous black-brown that allows much nuance.

        1. Darius

          No walnuts at my place but I just ordered a climbing Crimson Glory rose from Antique Rose Emporium for a sunny spot against the house.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Ahhh, one of the two best roses, ever. (The other is Fragrant Cloud.) If you want more of them, the flower stems, with a couple of joints, will root readily. As with most roses.

            The fragrance is glorious.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Look for a black currant called Crandall Odorata. It’s a selection from a Great Plains native, and truly extraordinary, Grows about 4 ft high and spreads; in succession, it has brilliant yellow, clove-scented flowers; delicious black currants; and then red and purple fall color. A spectacular plant.

  8. allan

    Boeing plans hundreds of layoff notices for engineers this week [Seattle Times]

    Job cuts at Boeing keep on coming: The company told staff in a memo Monday that “hundreds of Engineering employees” in Washington state and other company sites — but not in North Charleston, S.C. — will receive layoff notices Friday.

    This follows a round of voluntary buyouts Boeing offered in January. That proposal was accepted by more than 300 engineering staff and 1,500 members of the Machinists union.

    About 1,000 machinists who accepted that buyout offer will leave permanently on Friday. …

    Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said Boeing South Carolina will not be hit by this round of layoffs.

    That manufacturing complex in North Charleston has so far this year cut 110 jobs through attrition, all achieved without involuntary layoffs. …

    Washington … South Carolina … what could possibly be the difference … wait, wait, don’t tell me …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They still have American engineering employees?

      Management over there must have not tried hard enough. Couldn’t they have found cheaper and ‘smarter’ (so they say) workers abroad?

  9. dcblogger

    count me as someone glad of the Tom and Bernie show. Bernie wants to give Tom a first had taste of grass roots support of single payer, $15 minimum wage, fee university, et al. The repeated dose could have an effect. Human beings are social animals.

    1. John k

      The problem is that Perez was drafted specifically to push back on all such objectives. I’m quite sure big o gave him his marching orders.
      Dem and rep elites are well aware of what the deplorables want. They all are very well paid to see they don’t get any least little crumb.

      ‘Never, ever’ is the plan. (It must have been an angry moment when she let slip all of their long term plans…)

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Dem and rep elites are well aware of what the deplorables want.

        I think you give them too much credit. What the deplorables need (and it is need, and we should use that word) is so far outside the daily existence of those elites they truly don’t believe it exists. I’ve seen it over and over when discussing the facts of poverty with people who consider it a social faux pas.

        It’s even worse when the elite is the scion of an old elite family, because they don’t even see working people.

        1. Marina Bart

          It’s even worse when the elite is the scion of an old elite family, because they don’t even see working people.

          I’m not as up-to-date on the discussion in the comments at this moment as I’d like to be, but I can’t see where this is coming from.

          I’m not really happy to be defending the 400 Families, but I don’t see the evidence that the old elite was worse than the new elite. The old elite — the really old elite that cared to trace itself back to the Dutch who bought Manhattan Island — gave us both Roosevelts, in addition to both Bushes — and Bush the Lesser ruled more as a new elite guy in a lot of ways. The new elite gave us Clinton and Obama. So old elite arguably is a wash, while new elite is lying thieves all the way down.

          I’m not sure where people like the Rockefellers would fit in. I think my grandmother would have considered him new money, for whatever that’s worth. (I consider David Rockefeller, his neoliberal machinations, and his many purchased hearts to be a creature out of a horror parable about capitalism, but that’s a different issue.)

          From my experience observing fairly closely, I think the old elite actually was slightly more likely to produce people who weren’t monstrous. That’s not to say they were “good,” only that the new elite is even more horrifying, like approaching cartoon Caligula level of horrifying.

          I’m wondering who this scion of an old elite family is that you’re referencing. Because as far as I can tell, none of the remaining members of that withering class are public political figures these days. They have servants for that. Like the Clintons.

          1. UserFriendly

            Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt, but as far as presstitutes go he isn’t the worst.

  10. A1

    “The Violent Clashes In Berkeley” show how screwed the US is. These have a feeling of being staged about them.

    Look for Besiktas – Lyon and notice what a punch up looks like. The cameras becomes targets so the pictures are from a distance – no up close posturing like Berkeley. Then there are people rushing too and fro, and when the fighting starts they are too busy either running or fighting to take pictures. And finally lots and lots of garbage on the ground and lots of stuff thrown between groups, and the groups are mainly younger men. Berkeley has too many women and old men.

    Is this something Cal profs do for kicks with their coed girlfriends?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When I was there, as a young man, the problem in our college was never too many women.

      It was too many men or boys.

      1. Massinissa

        No offense MLTPB, but wasn’t that like 20+ years ago? Things may have changed on the ground since then.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          No offense…just it reveals my old age.

          In truth, life would have been much better had they let in more female students.

          1. Massinissa

            Pretty sure they have by now. IIRC female graduation rates and acceptance rates are both higher for women now in general, I doubt it would be different for Berkeley.

            1. Marina Bart

              There’s a general “problem” at most colleges now of more women than men being desirable applicants and sticking it through to the end. There have been all sorts of tactics tried to keep the genders “balanced” at universities.

              I know my daughter’s private LAC (not top tier, although her department is possibly the best in the country) has enrollment that skews female. Harvard, last time I checked, skewed male. I believe only Harvard and a handful of top schools still do skew male. This is not surprising, if you consider the role of the university in today’s highly unequal, financialized economy. Harvard is basically a tax-free hedge fund with a school as a front. As such, it is incentivized to favor the sons of its donors over the daughters, as well as why, although there are about 50 concentrations (that’s Harvard speak for “major”), almost 10% of the entire undergraduate population concentrates in Economics alone, and about 15% concentrate in either Economics or Government.

    2. danny

      They are staged to an extent. Like gang bangers or soccer hooligans looking for a scrum. You can follow the set up on Twitter. Next up is Auburn University on Tuesday and Berkeley again on 4/27.
      Storify with info about White Supremacists planning melee. Opposite fringe group follows and planned similar acts

      Richard Spencer put out a call for White Supremacists to come on Auburn on Tuesday after it cancelled a speech he was to give. Similar activity occurring on Twitter that occurred before the Berkeley brawls

  11. steelhead23

    Lambert, I hope hijacking the thread isn’t a capital offense in your book, but I want to open a discussion about something I think is getting far too little attention – the 911 victims lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/kin-9-11-victims-sue-saudi-arabia-complicity-attacks-article-1.3003438
    It is my view that this lawsuit has a chance of shaking, if not breaking, the US – Saudi Arabia alliance. I wish that someone on the left would discuss how this might affect the alliance and what the global repercussions might be. Hint, hint. I also find it interesting that MSM hasn’t said boo about it since the lawsuit was filed. Is that because there is nothing to say, or because they want to bury the story?

  12. allan

    With a Hollywood Writers’ Strike Looming, Here’s What to Know [NYT]

    The threat of a Hollywood strike is getting real.

    On Wednesday, television and movie writers — roughly 12,000, all members of the Writers Guild of America — will begin voting on whether to authorize a walkout. …

    A strike would have serious implications. When writers walked out a decade ago, the impasse cost the Los Angeles economy an estimated $2.5 billion. …

    Tempers have cooled (a bit) over the past week, as negotiators for the Writers Guild and an organization that represents studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, have made progress on pay increases. But at least one radioactive issue remains unsettled: health care.[But, but ACA.]

    And the union could be easily thrown into a rage by a single bit of news.
    Members were incensed on April 7, for instance, when CBS revealed in a regulatory filing
    that its chief executive and chairman, Leslie Moonves, had received a 2016 pay package worth $69.6 million [and your point is?], a 22 percent increase over the previous year, when the company did not perform as well. …

    Shirley all those I’m-With-Her LaLaLand moguls will show solidarity with the workers, amirite?

    1. Marina Bart

      The WGA strike is potentially a very big deal in a lot of ways. Basically, all creatives* who don’t have an enormous amount of personal power to bring to their contract negotiations are getting screwed six ways to Sunday on everything other than broadcast television — and even a network show will screw them, due to how ancillary revenues now get acquired; it’s just not as bad. There’s an interview I’ve been meaning to read with James Gray where he talks a bit about how Hollywood has been hollowed out so that there’s no middle class left (just like the rest of the economy), which is part of what is driving this: http://www.vulture.com/2017/04/lost-city-of-z-and-the-decline-of-middle-class-films.html

      The rules set in place back when unions had power basically defined revenues required to be paid to creative personnel on the basis of distribution channel: film (theaters) vs. television (broadcast on Big Three networks). IIRC, they were able to get some revenue requirements in place for cable shows, but this was back when cable was not a significant origination channel; the arrangement was always inadequate. I’m not up-to-speed on the current status of the contract, but I don’t think it has changed much in the years since I paid close attention. The actors, writers and directors who make all those streaming shows are being paid very little. They do not have the collectively bargained protections and revenue sharing that they would have in a show produced for and airing first run on CBS, NBC or ABC. If you’re doing an original show for USA or FX, you have some inadequate protections and required revenue sharing. If you’re working for NBC, your collectively negotiated rights and revenues are better, but they have not kept pace with current business practices in a wide variety of ways, from getting compensation when your work runs on Amazon, to getting compensation when your work airs in China.

      The result is that the vast majority of content being created is being done so under conditions which significantly undercompensate those actually creating it. That has numerous ramifications, one of which is that the Writers Guild Health Insurance benefit — which only covers a small subset of members, even currently working members — has been running at a deficit for several years.

      The amount of money Moonves was paid in 2016 was several million dollars MORE than the entire amount the WGA has requested from the Producers Guild to fund the entire health insurance benefit, to wipe out the deficit and get the program out of the red. That’s right, you could pay Les Moonves two million dollars for 2016, and cover the ENTIRE WGA health plan short fall with the rest of his 2016 pay. Just Les. That doesn’t count all the other CEOs, senior executives and big producers who also are being paid enormous sums of money while not actually creating anything at all.

      It used to be that the writers could use TV pilot season as a pressure point. That’s why the contract negotiations happen in the spring, I believe. Now that there is no “season,” that will no longer be true. I’m not sure if the extensive channel demands for fresh content and the fact that people are no longer conditioned to accept reruns will be an advantage for the writers. It will be interested to see how this goes. The WGA used to be an awesome union, very aggressive and very left wing. That, of course, was all crushed by neoliberalism, including the good little neoliberals who came to Hollywood from Harvard in the 80s like the profit-seeking locusts they are. It would be an interesting development if the union can find its way back to its roots.

      *I understand that the neoliberals have contaminated that term. But it’s the best way to think about the differentiation between the elite educated working as agents and studio execs, versus the usually elite educated writing, acting and directing. Eventually, how your income flows to you actually makes a difference in how you perceive union activism.

      1. allan

        Thank you for all that background. I seem to recall reading that `unscripted’ reality shows have also had a devastating effect on writers’ incomes and benefits.

        1. Marina Bart

          Yes, but a major part of that is that “unscripted,” “reality” television (I’m putting both terms in quote marks because these shows are scripted fiction, just via slightly different means) were not covered by the existing agreements. Because the genre was developed during the neoliberal period, after the creative unions had been severely weakened, those creators and performers have much weaker protections and remuneration systems than they would if they were correctly labeled as fiction. That is a significant reason why they are cheaper to produce and spread across broadcast television like a virus, pushing traditional fiction television production to cable and streaming, where it, too, has fewer protections and remuneration. “Reality TV” played an important role in starving the creative unions and their members. I believe this phenomenon (described in both this and my earlier comment) also eroded the protection and remuneration of the “below-the-line” unions in Hollywood (like the Teamsters), but I haven’t thought about this issue in a while, and I don’t remember the direct impact there.

          I signed a studio contract, back in the day, forcing me to give up all rights to something I had created in “both the known and unknown universe,” and “in all technologies including those not yet invented.” When the studio stalled on paying me until it could use a loophole to evade paying any but a tiny fraction of the contracted price, that clause remained binding, even though the studio cancelled the project — burying it so that it will never see the light of day (nothing to do with me; corporate infighting and a power struggle well above me). So for all intents and purposes, this studio stole my creation and killed it rather than let me share it with the world in any way. Not only can I not monetarily benefit from my creation, I can’t use or reference it. The studio fully owns it, and had the right to destroy it after evading its contractual obligation to pay for it first.

          And that used to happen every hour on the hour in Los Angeles. My contract wasn’t unusual. The only reason I think it’s not as common now is that the industry mostly confines itself to using intellectual properties the corporations already own. New stories are basically not allowed. That gets rid of the problem of artists wanting to protect their work; creators aren’t allowed into the process at all, only brand managers.

  13. Carolinian

    Thomas Frank and Bill Curry were on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour talking about the hopelessness of the Dems in light of their refusal to clear out Pelosi, Schumer etc even after the improbable loss to Trump. Frank had just returned from a listening tour of middle America and says the thing that surprised him–and that you’d never know living in DC–was the visceral hatred for HRC among the blue collars. He said that includes many union people although they love Bernie. Turns out nobody likes a smarty pants–unless, perhaps, they too are a smarty pants.,

    Anyway, link can be found here.


  14. tommy strange

    I’m a bit surprised you would post that about the Berkeley thing via Fabius, “A masked young woman using various pseudonyms (e.g., Louise Rosealma). She is a porn star (in one of her videos she says she has an affinity towards pain and is exploring that side of her personality). She describes herself as “Model, Photographer, Free Soul, ANTIFA, V, Queer, Aesthetic Muse, Spitfire.” See her bio and online mentions here. Compare with her high school photo to see the effect of an expensive “education” at America’s toxic colleges. See her history in photos here.” And so what? And ‘toxic colleges”….my god.
    What sexist and elitist smears.
    And to take that one person out of hundreds? I live in SF, and I don’t know any worker, or middle class person that is the least bit ‘disturbed’ that people want to beat the crap out of fascists. And though I am very old, I know people that were there and I cheered them smacking them down.
    Indeed, it is not a tactic for ‘progress’, nor does it do any ‘good’. Nor does it slow neo liberal economics, nor does it stop wars. But when outright fascists march down our streets, we have to make a point. Bullys only understand power. Do you or the writer of Fabius live in a mixed urban area? People are scared, and it is the duty of white anarchists, and all ‘left’ white americans to stand up and be heard and to show some goddamn guts against the Fascists. Yes, it leads nowhere in your big picture, and certainly not mine either. but it sure makes a difference in my neighborhood when people are on the streets and fighting back, no matter how many of us are ‘losers’ or whores, or bums.

    1. RudyM

      This is the United States and we have a tradition of free speech. If the government doesn’t protect it, armed citizens will. You are quick to lump everyone in as fascists, white supremacists, etc. I’m not convinced it’s true. Regardless, there is a free speech issue. Nobody has a right to “shut down” speakers they don’t like.

      A lot of people who feel the way I do on this issue are armed, including me, finally (as of December 2016).

      San Franciscans don’t get to make their own laws that contradict federal law. You better start thinking seriously about seceding, and possibly civil war, if that’s what you want. California disgusts me so much now. I can hardly believe there was ever a time I thought I wanted to move there.

    2. Irredeemable Deplorable

      Funny how those “fascists” you decry were in fact there for a pro-free speech event, it was not a pro-Trump rally, though certainly many of the attendees were probably Trump voters. But hey, when you are leftoid, any excuse to attack somebody you don’t agree with is valid, isn’t it? Free speech is only allowed for leftoids, isn’t it? Except of course when the shoe is on the other foot – leftoids better beware now, people on the right are not taking your crap anymore, no matter how many words you use to dress it up.

      The interviews your heroine Moldilocks gave to the MSM were total lies, she was caught on video (lots of it) throwing bottles at people from long distances, which YOU may call “protesting” but I would call domestic terrorism – if that’s what you call “fighting back”, better prepared to be shot on sight, because that is what is going to happen to you if you throw a glass bottle at me.

  15. ProNewerDeal

    What do yall think about the HR676 MedicareForAll Conyers bill? Apparently several groups including JusticeDemocrats are using it as a litmus test, & promising to primary-challenge any anti-MedicareForAll Ds. Sanders has promised to introduce a similar Senate bill.

    Do you think there is any chance of MedicareForAll being implemented say by 2022 or 2027? It seems unlikely. The hopeful signs are this HR676 current effort, the ~60% polled support, & the historical record (if I understand history correctly) of good rights or concrete material benefits laws like say the Civil Rights Act seeming “wildly unrealistic” 5-10 yrs before passage.

  16. Oregoncharles

    We have more fruit trees than we can cope with, as I described before. But come to think, I did just plant seedlings of peach and Asian plum, because I enjoy seeing what becomes of them. Most of my peaches just died of a disease, so I’m not buying any more of them. Plums do well, so I’m looking forward to those.

    And last fall I planted (in pots) precisely 79 seeds of tea, Camellia sinensis, but they haven’t come up yet. And just planted a rosemary, to replace one that died in the winter. We had an odd set of losses, for a freeze that didn’t seem that severe. I need to replace a lavender, too. The garden has gradually come to be mostly shrubs, because they’re easier to care for than perennials and help shade out the weeds. I just planted lilies again, though, because i can’t help myself.

  17. perpetualWAR

    “Readers: are any of you putting in shrubs or trees?”

    Funny question to ask. The bank’s breathing down hard. I expect the house to be taken by the end of the summer. Ten. Year. Fight. Ends. In. Unlawful. Foreclosure.

    I am a statistic.

  18. Kukulkan

    Re: the Berkley Sucker Punch.

    I. Since both parties saw the respective punches coming, I don’t see how either constitutes a “sucker punch”.

    II. The fact that the blackbloc girl went down pretty much sums up what I said about Fearless Girl standing in the way of Charging Bull. Physics doesn’t care about identity politics.

    III. ANTIFA are just brownshirts — I know they call everyone they disagree with “Fascists” and “Nazis”, but they’re the ones behaving like Nazis. They should be declared a terrorist organization since their only purpose is to use violence and intimidation to close down the speech of anyone and everyone they disagree with.

    IV. The interesting thing here is how the police chose to wait this one out. I’ve seen videos with various police officers on the periphery of the riot just looking on. When questioned, they didn’t clearly say, but indicated they were under orders not to interfere and to just let the two groups fight it out. This resulted in the blackbloc being routed — even though as the ones who came prepared for violence and are the ones who initiated the confrontation, I would have thought they would been more tactically capable. I guess they’re only effective when dealing with people who don’t fight back.

  19. Carolinian

    Two very good articles from the Unz Review. The first states that the real source for hostility toward Russia among US elites is the realization that Russia matches or exceeds our military technology and that the “greatest military in the world” claim–always dubious in any case–is falling increasingly flat.


    Meanwhile Israel Shamir says that while Putin is willing to bide his time and go out of his way to avoid a hot conflict with the US the North Koreans have no such compunction and will use those nukes.


  20. Sean

    So the deal seems to be Trump gets to take out NK leadership, Xi gets to install a safe pair of China-friendly hands. Russia already on board, Pence doing the rounds to bring everyone up-to-date on the agreement.

  21. Sean

    May is going for June 8th because the mentats reckon Le Pen is going to win May 7th – leading to Frexit

  22. dk

    “The Social Graph is Neither”… arrgh!

    US Americans have really lost the meaning of “community”. It’s a physical thing, people living in physical proximity, even if they don’t often interact directly. When my house is on fire, it does me little good to electronically hail my remote acquaintances, who are too far away to help. I need my neighbors to help me (and I may need to warn them), and/or the community’s fire brigade, and maybe the hospital, and maybe the police, etc.

    If I can’t get that help locally, my community is not working (at least for me). And if I can (without middlepersons), then it pretty much is working, at least in that instance.

    If I can get help from my physical neighbors when I need it, or discuss local circumstances and reach agreements for action with people who are in physical proximity to me, I am operating within a functional community.

    Community is not about being friends or acquaintances or having shared interests or anything other than physical proximity, and functional, action-based relationships.

    Let’s say I’m new to the neighborhood, and don’t know anybody. Let’s say I don’t even speak the local language. Maybe I can use my phone to translate, great. But if the phone breaks, or it’s supporting networked computational resources do, and I can’t communicate, I’m going to have a lot of problems getting performance from the community in which I now reside.

    At some point, associations of like-minded or otherwise similar people became know as “communities”, this is commercialized double-talk, marketing tripe, newspeak labeling, abstract insubstantia. One can interact online, and call it “community” or anything else, but until one physically lives on the network, completely and absolutely, that does not constitute a functional community; only the marketed simulacra of one. So one should’t be surprised if those interactive connections (really, instances of communication, possibly asynchronous just to make it even more dysfunctional in the context of immediate urgencies), don’t yield the benefits of physical community, which are the physical cooperation and mutual support for proximally shared physical life.

    The kids (around 35 or younger, I’d say) need to understand this important distinction. Attaching a term (an abstract operation) doesn’t imbue the termed item with the properties of the thing the term was derived from (the concrete instance).

    The author walks right by the actual problem: computer happy social engineers are trying to map people by (social) criteria that have no fixed meaning; language artifacts that exist only in the abstract, as symbols used for communication. And communities are not abstract, they are concrete, or they don’t actually exist. Labeling something “community” doesn’t make it one.

  23. JTFaraday

    “The phrase “media circus” comes to mind. If the Black Bloc were serious, they’d take over the Winter Palace some FOX TV station and start broadcasting.”

    That’s a great idea. I would love to see that. Somebody tell them it’s what Our Guy Debord would want.

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